Here are some must-have items in your daypack for those day-long hunting adventures in more remote areas.
When I go out hunting for the day in some of the more remote public land areas, I always make sure I bring a daypack with some essentials, just in case.
I am not talking about hunting the deer stands right near your residence; I am talking about the areas you drive out to, then hike into for those best hunting spots. While you intend for only a day hunt, you should always carry a few essential items with you and always let people know where you are going and when you expect to return.
I like to ensure that if I was injured or stuck I will be alright for at least 48 hours on my own until people come to get me. Here is some gear that will make sure you are good to go if your one-day hunt turns into more. The beauty of today’s products is that many are light and intended to keep weight to a minimum.
In my daypack I always have a small GPS. Today’s models are light, and typically run off of a few small batteries.
I always have a Garmin eTrex as these are simple to learn and navigate with. Mine runs off two AA batteries and I always carry spares in my pack. Wherever I park my truck, I mark its location and this allows me to hunt stress free of becoming “navigationally confused.”
As a backup I always have a lightweight Silva Ranger CL compass; these are one of the compasses I learned how to use in the military.
Paired with this, I have laminated paper topo maps of most of the public land areas I hunt. Topo maps are available on a number of web providers and easily ordered.
Having these as a backup gives me a great sense of confidence that I can always revert to basic land navigation; nothing beats a paper topo map in being able to identify potential hunting areas.
The next few items will ensure you can keep it together and remain in good shape if you get stuck; some of them are also great just to use for comfort while out on the trail.
The Jetboil stove was first introduced to me in the military and I was blown away. Along with one freeze dried meal, I always have this stove in my pack.
This self-contained stove literally boils water in its oversized thermos-like mug in minutes, and has its own push-button igniter, no matches required.
It is the fastest and safest small camp stove/ boiling vessel on the market. Carry one of these and you can boil water for safer drinking, cook food and make hot drinks. This item is not just for survival, you will use this every time you are out.
If you don’t carry some sort of small first aid kit you are taking unnecessary chances every time you go out hunting. With today’s lightweight kits, make sure you get one for your daypack.
Most, like the Adventure Medical Kit, come ready to go, eliminating the need to build adhoc ones like me and my hunting buddies built years ago.
I used to always carry an old army surplus poncho, which, while very versatile, was also heavier.
A poncho can be used for its obvious role as a rain jacket but it can also act as a shelter half, which could be critical in inclement weather and emergency situations.
There are super light emergency-style ponchos available that can act as a jacket to keep in vital body heat or as an emergency shelter as a lean-to, suspended with cord.
I always ensure I have some quality cord with me in my pack; the cord comes in handy for gutting and cleaning deer by keeping the legs open when on the ground, and also for suspending birds from my pack if I am grouse hunting.
In emergency situations it will allow me to suspend my poncho as a shelter half or put splints in place for a broken bone. A great way to ensure you always have cord available is to have it as part of your knife, such as with paracord/knife combos.
I don’t know any outdoorsperson who does not bring a quality knife with them into the woods, so this combo is handy.
It is always a sound idea to have at least two methods of getting a fire going.
I always have a lighter in a Ziploc bag and a small pill bottle of waterproof matches. This combined with a good fixed blade will allow me to gather kindling and get a fire going near my poncho lean-to if required in an emergency situation.
One piece of gear I carry in my daypack is an ultra-light down-filled jacket and toque if the weather has turned colder. And even if I don’t wear them, they are always available.
In the more northern climates where I hunt, exposure and cold-weather injuries are the number one killer of sportspersons. Carrying a jacket like the Columbia Trask Mountain 650 TurboDown Jacket could save your life.
Finally, I always carry a Petzl headlamp, even if I expect only to be out in daylight hours.
If I get delayed or stuck, a headlamp will be crucial and they also can act as a lifesaving beacon for search parties. Many headlamps can be set to a flash mode in white or red light with their high-intensity LED bulbs.
There you have it, this is some of the minimum gear I carry for those more remote areas in my daypack.
While not meant to be all encompassing, these are items you should consider carrying, even for day trips.
You never know what can happen, but you know you want to return to your loved ones.