A bivy hunt is really no different than going on a backpacking trip. The main difference is that you are now carrying with you the means to harvest, work up, and pack out an animal. Whether you are going on a summer backpacking trip or a bivy style hunt in the fall you still rely on high performance and lightweight gear. Forget the bow, game bags, knives, and saws and focus on the gear for your comfort and survival first. The necessary gear one needs on a bivy hunt boils down to a few essential items. Gear is not what it used to be. Wool coats, and 10lb tents. You had to be tough. Here is my list of essential items you must have to keep your pack weight to a minimum yet have everything you need for some comfortable nights on the hill.
Tent – I use a Big Agnes seed house single person tent weighing in at 2lbs 13oz. There are a lot of excellent light weight tents out there. This is just the one I have experience with and highly recommend. When tent shopping look for a dome styled tent with a mesh upper and a rain fly setup. These tents tend to be light weight and allow for maximum airflow. This tent does not sweat which is very important for backcountry comfort. Tents with limited ventilation sweat and leave everything wet in the mornings. If you have ever woke up cold and wet after a dry night you know what I am talking about. A good breathable tent is a must.
Sleeping Bag – I am one of those people who get cold very easily. For this reason I opted for a sleeping bag that is rated to 0 degrees Fahrenheit. The bag I use is a Tundra by North Face. This bag weighs in at around 3 ½ lbs and has worked very well for me. I also have a eureka silver city sleeping bag that is rated to 30 degrees. This bag is lighter weight at just over 2 lbs. I use this bag in early archery season when I can count on warmer nights. In my experience you need a bag rated for at least 10 degrees lower than the temps you actually plan on staying in. I have tried the space blanket thing, leave these for a lightweight survival bag and hope you don’t have to use it.
Cooking utensils – I use an observer stove that weighs in at 5 oz. which operates on a propane/butane canister. A 4 oz. canister will last around 4 days for personal use. This includes boiling water for freeze dried meals and maybe a cup of coffee in the mornings. There are a lot of good setups out there. I utilize this setup, simply because I got a good deal on it and it has performed quite well for me. I also pack a 16 oz titanium pot and an 8 oz. cup for boiling water. A plastic fork and spoon work good for me.
Water purifier – I always leave the truck with a full 72 oz. camelbak w/ a shoulder straw. Sipping water frequently keeps is much more effective at keeping you hydrated than taking a water break every couple of hours. I also carry a PUR Hiker water purifier. This thing is 15 years old still performs well. I have replaced the filter multiple times. This particular purifier is now called a katadyn Hiker. I do plan on purchasing an Urban Pipeline straw for those times when I just don’t want to take the time to unload my pack and pump water. I think these will be worth their weight in gold. Even on a good long day hike it is essential to have the means to filter water. A 72 oz Camelbak usually only gets me through half a day, and even if a mountain stream looks clean it’s not. There are a lot of virus and bacterial sicknesses that can also live in these cold mountain streams. Do yourself a favor and get a purifier.
Food – My personal favorite is the chile mac by Mountain House. I do pack a variety of Mountain House meals including a few breakfast items. My morning and afternoon snack is comprised of energy bars and trail mix. Lunch is usually a peanut butter sandwich. I try to eat a high carb diet during hunting season. This keeps energy levels and strength up.
Clothing – Sitka gear. Turning clothing into gear, Right? Core zip T, Ascent pants, Celsius vest for archery season. I will add the 90% jacket when the temperatures turn cold. I also pack an extra pair of socks and a couple of t shirts. I wear the t shirts under the core zip T and change them out to keep myself dry.
The core essentials are items for you. These are the items that keep you going and comfortable while on the hill. These are basically backpacking items. After all when you hunt the backcountry you never know where you may end up for the night. The gear for bivy style hunting just keeps getting better and better. Take advantage of it. Staying on the hill is not what it used to be. Excellent performing and lightweight gear will allow you to go that extra mile in comfort. See you on the hill!