This article will cover some basic gear I use on a 5 day bivy or backpack trip into the backcountry. Since the majority of these trips occur in late summer for mule deer and September for elk, this gear list would need to be modified for a late season foray into the mountains.
I’ll state right off that there are definitely bowhunters with more backpacking/bivy experience than me, but I’ll share what I’ve learned through years of experience and with the ever changing equipment innovation. Pack weight, camp weight, food, and clothing are all important to consider when trying to keep your pack at a combined weight of 35-45 pounds. Any heavier than that, and you will wear down much more quickly. Spending more money can help shave off a few pounds, but unless you plan to make it a regular activity, you can do with what you have. If sharing the hunt, it can be advantageous to share gear like shelter and cook gear, and split the load packing in.
Most likely, you will want a pack with at least 4000 cubic inches for a 5 day stay. It should ideally weigh in somewhere between 4-7 pounds empty. I personally use the Sitka Bivy 45. I could shave a little weight on my camp gear, but it would be expensive to upgrade and what I have works for me. Besides, I’d rather spend the money on another elk tag!
Marmot Limelite tent
Marmot Helium down bag
Thermarest Prolite pad
Nalgene water bottle
3 liter water bladder
Plastic bowl and spork
Katadyn Hiker Pro water filter
Garmin GPS (if in new area)
Paper map in Ziploc bag
Piranta knife w/ spare blades
Caribou Gear game bags
50 feet of parachute cord.
Heads Up cow elk decoy
2 extra broadheads with spare blades
2 Allen wrenches (for minor bow adjustments)
Extra elk call
Small first aid kit
Sitka Merino Core top
Sitka Traverse Hoody
Sitka Mountain pant
G5 Striker broadheads
Nikon range finder
Bully Bull Grunt Tube
Small point and shoot camera in Ziploc Bag.
Licenses in Ziploc Bag
I am a fairly light eater while on a hunt, so adjust portions as needed for you. I also pre-pack my food for each day in Ziploc gallon bags to control intake. You should plan on a pound of food per day; or a little more if you’re a big eater. Remember to maximize calories vs. weight.
Breakfast: Instant oatmeal packs (2)
Lunch: Tortillas/bagels with peanut butter and honey or tuna from a foil pack (roll-out your bagels to save space). Peanut butter crackers.
Dinner: Mountain House Chili Mac/Lasagna
Snacks: Trail mix, jerky, pudding cups, Jolly Rancher candies, small candy bars
Drinks: Crystal Light or Propel mix for flavoring water