By Will Grant
Autumn is here. The days have cooled off, the leaves have changed, and it’s time to put meat in the freezer. A successful hunt involves a lot of skill and a lot of luck. The last thing you want to do is jeopardize your chances of killing something by showing up with inadequate gear.
We’ve put together a collection of gear to ensure that you’re warm and dry, that your feet are protected and comfortable, that you don’t get lost in unfamiliar terrain, and that once you have an animal on the ground, you’re prepared to handle it.
Sitka Gear has become a favorite maker of outerwear for guides across the country. And it’s easy to see why. The tailoring and construction are top of the line. But what sets Sitka apart from other companies is the Optifade Concealment pattern. Developed by the scientists at Gore, Optifade camouflage makes a hunter virtually invisible to wildlife. Sitka’s Stratus Jacket is made of brushed WindStopper fabric that’s quiet for the stalk and warm for the tree stand. It’ll be your go-to jacket for every hunt this season and in the future. SitkaGear.com
Under Armour started making hunting boots last year. And like most of its products, they’re well made, functional, and comfortable. We prefer the Speed Freek 7” Hunting Boot for its aggressive tread, durability, and lightweight construction. The high-abrasion TPU toe cap increases boot life and protects your feet when moving fast over rugged terrain. The Gore-Tex outershell allows your feet to breathe yet keeps them dry, while the Ortholite footbed provides cushioning and support for all day in the field. And at 20 ounces, they’re lighter than most boots in their class. UnderArmour.com
Badlands packs, which has been making high-quality hunting packs for the last ten years, released a new pack this year called the Source. As the first pack on the market that features built-in binoculars holders, it continues the company’s tradition of innovative design and function. With its 1,100 cubic-inch capacity, it will easily carry some basic
survival gear, a day’s supply of food and water, and still have room to strap an elk head on the back. Its narrow profile allows you to move naturally, and the wide shoulder yoke effectively distributes weight across your back. Badlandspacks.com
The knife may be our favorite part of our hunting kit. And the most important qualities of a good hunting knife are the blade geometry and the blade material. Our pick is the DPx Gear HEFT (Hostile Environment Field Tool) 6 Woodsman. It’s stout enough to split firewood, has enough “belly” in the blade for the toughest skinning jobs, and the Sleipner steel will hold a razor edge through bone, hair, and hide. It’s also a damn good-looking knife with Brazilian Santos hardwood scales. The HEFT Woodsman is also available in a four-inch model. It’s available with a leather or Cordura sheath and with serrations at the base of the blade. If you’re looking for something smaller and lighter, the three-inch HEST II Woodsman is born from the same line of dependable field tools. DPxGear.com
Optics are essential. And cheap optics can get you in trouble—is that a mule deer or a whitetail deer? German company Steiner has been making some of the finest optics in the field since 1947. The company’s Predator Xtreme 10X26 binoculars preform as well as binoculars twice their size and twice as expensive. Like most of Steiner’s optics, the Predator Xtreme features the CAT (color-adjusted transmission) lens technology to enhance color contrast, which makes seeing game easier. Take care of them, and they’ll last a lifetime. Steiner.com
If you prefer the extra magnification of a spotting scope, we recommend Leupold’s SX-1 Ventana 15-45X60mm Angled Spotting Scope. It boasts the same optical quality found in all Leupold products (the Multicoat 4 lens coating captures available light like few others) and is fully water and fog proof. We love the fact that it’s digital-camera compatible. You’ll want a tripod for it, but the extra magnification opens up miles of country. Leupold.com
A GPS unit has become a mainstay in every hunter’s pack. When you kill an animal at dusk and spend two hours field dressing it, you’ll appreciate the helping hand in getting back to the truck. Garmin’s eTrex 30 is the best GPS unit we’ve used. It’s small enough to fit in the breast pocket of shirt, but has a big enough screen to allow for easy navigation. We don’t leave home with it. Garmin.com
Trying to hold a flashlight while setting up a tent, shaving kindling for a fire, or skinning an animal can be almost impossible. That’s why we love headlamps. We keep one in our pack, one in the truck, and usually bring a long a spare for the guy who still brings a flashlight. The 100-lumen Black Diamond Storm is one of the best on the market. The lamp locks in the off position to prevent it from turning on in your pack, and you can dim the light to significantly increase battery life. It’s waterproof, and will put up with years of abuse. BlackDiamondEquipment.com
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