Gear for an Elk Hunt: A Round Table Discussion

Gear for an Elk Hunt: A Round Table Discussion

Posted by Ryan McSparran on 7th Jul 2016

We recently sat down at Seek Outside headquarters for a round table discussion on gear and packing for an elk hunt. Specifically, we focused our discussion on mid-season hunting during the 2 nd rifle season and 3 rd rifle season here in Colorado.

While we all hunt public land in backcountry units, our gear preferences differ greatly. Each one of us takes a different approach to gear systems for a hunt. The following video offers an in-depth look at this discussion. But first, here were some of the key highlights from the video:

1. Sleep System:

Ryan: Ryan prefers to sleep warm and pack minimal clothing, typically using a zero to 15-degree bag during the 2 nd or 3rd rifle seasons in Colorado. He often carries a three-quarter-length pad to save on weight.

Luke: Luke packs for what he expects to encounter and then makes up the difference with clothing if weather turns worse, using a down hoody if needed.

Angie: She never compromises on her sleep system, ever. Angie will typically carry a 10-degree down bag and mat. It’s easier to unzip the bag and use it as a quilt than it is to get warm once she’s cold.

Kevin: Kevin Prefers a 15 or 20-degree down bag and will then supplement with clothing as needed. Kevin usually uses a stove and will start a fire if he needs to. Kevin favors a dual pad system with a full-length air mattress and a closed-cell foam pad. He will often pull out the foam pad and take it with him during the day.

2. Tent system:

Angie: Angie favors big tents because she likes to get dressed in the tent and be able to stand up. Typically she goes in before the hunt to set up, so she takes an 8-man tipi and an XL stove, maybe liners and definitely wine!

Luke: Luke has been a bivy guy for years but is from the west coast and discovering that doesn’t really cut it hunting here in the Colorado high country. So far, the 6-man tipi seems like a good compromise.

Ryan: Ryan prefers to stay fast and light, happy to sleep in smaller tents like the Cimarron or BT2. If staying close to the trailhead and more space is an option, he’ll certainly opt for a bigger tent.

Kevin: The further he plans to go in, the smaller the tent gets. Or the more unfamiliar Kevin is with an area, the smaller it gets. He can make the Cimarron work for himself and one other person. But he thinks the Redcliff 6-man is the best combination of weight, room and comfort for two or three people. You could even fit a fourth if needed.


Angie: Angie’s preference is the XL. She will always opt for the bigger stove, bigger wood and longer burn time. Angie likes to be able to enjoy it and just relax, but doesn’t use the stove for cooking.

Luke: Being a bivy guy he hasn’t always had a stove option but definitely enjoys mooching off of Angie’s giant stove! Generally, bigger is better with stoves. That’s just the long and the short of it. As big as you can afford to take is best, according to Luke.

Kevin: Kevin’s thought is that the SXL provides the best balance of being able to use it in both a small and a large tent and getting a pretty good burn time and not having to prep a lot of extra wood.

Ryan: Especially when trying to hunt fast and light, Ryan is content to travel without a stove in most situations. If the weather turns particularly bad, it is nice to have the option of bringing one.

Pack Systems:

Ryan: Ryan prefers to use a large capacity pack bag on the frame when packing in and use a daypack like the Peregrine as a compression panel. With spike camp set, he’ll ditch the large bag and hunt with the daypack on the frame. The load sling provides plenty of extra space for hauling meat back to camp when needed..

Luke: Last year Luke carried a smaller daypack on a frame. But as an over-packer he kept running out of room. So this year he plans to carry a big volume pack on a frame. When I set up camp I’ll dump everything out and hunt with it empty.

Angie: Angie prefers to carry a daypack on a frame. The great thing about the Revolution suspension system is having the ability to separate the bag from the frame and using that space to pack an animal or whatever. But Angie don’t need much pack space while hunting. She prefers to cinch down the belt on her pack and shove extra items in her jacket. Not conventional, but it keeps things handy!

Kevin: Kevin has hauled out the most animals using the Fortress bags on the Unaweep platform. But this year I he plans to use the Peregrine and Revolution suspension. That system offers the great versatility of having a daypack and then being able to throw a dry bag in the load sling when needed.

Check out the entire video here: