My main boot for over a decade. In terms of mountaineering boot, a mid-level sole stiffness. Extremely durable and comfortable. Goats, sheep, rugged elk terrain, I’ve done it all in these boots. I’ve also done glacier climbing in them too, but the lack of a back shelf makes them a subpar crampon boot. A kick ass mountain hunting boot for 99% of all conditions.
Higher top Alaskan. You may prefer these if you need some extra ankle support.
Similar boot to the Hanwag. Fit folks with less broad feet. Not quite as durable, but lighter than the Hanwag.
I’ve owned these and they never fit my feet quite right, but I know several sheep/goat guides that like them. These boots and the Triolet have bigger toe boxes than Hanwags or Tibets, but they fit “thinner” aross the ankle and arch. This fit is common for boots geared towards more technical backpacking and crampon use. They don’t have much for insulation so good through September only. True mountaineering desgin. Rear heel shelf allows for semi-auto crampon use. Sole stiffness similar to Hanwag. Ever so slightly stiffer. All synthetic material. A well respected boot.
The Charmoz with a stiffer leather upper and slightly “hardier” design. Slightly wider fit over the Charmoz. More breakin, more durable, and slightly warmer.
The stiffest boot on the list. Only consider these boots if your primary focus is goat and sheep hunting. Great for heavy packs in steep country but overkill in milder terrain. In most elk terrain these boots will wear your feet out.
High quality, all-leather boot. Almost everyone I know that bites the bullet on the price of these boots, ends up being happy with their purchase. My personal experience is that Lowa, Hanwag and these boots are of similar quality. These boots do come in differing insulation models, which is nice based on your hunting conditions. These boots have a little larger heel fit than the Hanwags, but over all a narrow fit.
Durable mountain boots at a value price. Many elk hunters use different styles of Danner boots and are happy with them. They aren’t going to be the best on many metrics that the above boots perfect, but they are a hard to beat as an all-around value boot.
These are a great early season shoe/boot in mild terrain. They are not waterproof. It would be even a stretch to call them water resistant. Super comfortable with basic ankle support. Good for dry climate hunts also.
I use to highly recommend Kenetrek Pack boots for late season snow hunts. I have moved to pushing Muck boots more as they are more reasonably priced and they seem to hold up better. Kenetrek boots tend to develop cracks in the rand well before a Muck boot will.
Socks, Gaiters, Footwear Misc.
Particularly on goat hunts, wearing micro spikes can help you feel comfortable crossing steep, icy terrain.
Crampons are not needed or recommended on any of our hunts.
For boots with a leather upper, this stuff is one of the best maintenance products. It is primarily beeswax as far as I can see. I have never had an issue withit affecting the adhesive on rubber rands and it does a great job keeping leather in good shape. I use it heavily on my Hanwag Alaskans.
Fox River Liner Socks are great liner socks. Thin yet super comfortable and do the job. I’ve had several pairs for multiple years without durability issues.
Great socks with a lifetime warranty. These work as a single layer sock or layered with a liner for early season. In late season I have used these as my first layer, under a ragg wool sock.
Great late season socks. Great in pack boots and Muck boots. I will wear these in mountaineering boots that fit wide for my foot. Other mountaineering boots won’t allow for the bulk of these socks.
I have used these in the past, but no longer use non-stock insoles. Of the guides I know that use insoles, these are the most common.
Great gaiter. One of the most commonly used among mountain guides and hunters.
My favorite gaiter. I have used my most recent pair of these gaiters for over 100 hunts without any meaningful breakdown.
Both Kuiu and Sitka make top end base layers. I have used both and find them comparable. Kuiu lower layers fit shorter than others and make take some folks a little to get used to. I prefer merino baselayers.
I use Minus 33 lmerino layers a lot. More economical than Kuiu and Sitka but also not as durable.
Shirts and Pants
Great early season shirts or layer for later seasons.
Great shirts. Hood can come in handy on warmer days and you don’t want to pull out another layer from the pack.
There are endless options for hunting shirts. The above have been good for me but this is not a mission critical piece of equipment. Staying away from cotton is a good call in the mountains. A lot of the time I don’t wear any “shirt” when I have a base layer on. I usually wear an insulation or softshell layer right over the top of my baselayer.
In the late season or when trying to minimize my layering system while sheep/goat hunting, I will often wear older style wool button up shirts. These shirts are comfortable, durable and inexpensive if you catch them at thrift stores.
Great pants. Lighter than my favorite pants from Sitka, the Timberline.
Great pants. Less durable than both the Sitka Mountain Pants and the Sitka Timberline. Good September pants and sheep/goat pants.
My favorite pants once it gets cold enough that Prion Zions won’t make the cut. Love the waterproof butt section for glassing and sitting on wet surfaces. Super durable pants. These pants are my primary pants for rifle seasons and snow hunting. I will use these when goat/sheep hunting if it’s going to be cold and/or windy.
I’ve killed as many goats and sheep wearing these pants as I have wearing anything else. Super comfortable, breathable and durable for their lightweight. Inexpensive for what they are. Not a late season pant and have little wind resistance.
Insulation Layer and Jackets
Great insulating jacket.
Less bulky than the synthetic Kelvin or Kenai, but also not quite as warm and you have to be careful of getting it wet. It is also not near as durable. However, the price is right and it is astonishingly warm for its bulk/weight. If I’m going minimalist I carry this jacket in my pack. I also keep it as an additional glassing or safety layer on late season hunts.
I prefer the hooded version. I use this jacket more than any other layer I own. Great mix of durability, warmth and weight.
I use this jacket a ton once October comes around. Affordable and durable. Great performance in wind and toasty when covering an insulting layer. Not lightweight and bulky.
Lightweight softshell. Not a warm jacket but a nice layer.
Nice jackets. However, even the guide jacket is not that warm.
Value option. Not the type of quality in the Kuiu jackets but similar warmth and wind resistance.
My favorite softshell jacket. Decent wind resistance, warm for a softshell, cool camp patterns.
Great rain gear options. For mountain hunts, stick to the raingear that is less bulky.
My preferred rain gear, but admittedly overkill on a lot of hunts in Colorado. Given it’s additional durability, I don’t mind carrying it when I could get away with the Chugach.
Great rain gear. Lighter than the Yukon but less durable.
I use these more than any other glove. Inexpensive and warm.
A slightly better wool mitten. Nice velcro included for locking back the mitten cover.
Basic wool beanie. I use this hat as my primary headwear through the first week in October, including on sheep and goat hunts.
Great late season rifle hat. Makes my enormous head look even more egregious, but nice hats.
Nice multiple use merino layer. Keeps your neck, face, and head warm.
Hunt Accessories, Calls, Etc…
Tube paint keeps the best and is the cleanest to utilize.
Find one that you like and that fits the roof of your mouth. Diaphragms give you a huge range of sounds/volume but they also have the steepest learning curve. These are also the best calls to have handy to stop a running bull for a quick shot.
Simple bugle tube.
Simple to use elk call for folks wanting something that makes a basic, consistent sound.
Easy to use call that makes a unique, nasely cow elk sound that is unlike most other calls. Not quite as loud as other calls I’ve used. Great call for pressured elk.
Worth having. I carry one in my bino harness. I’ve been bailed out by this item several times.
My go to light. Heavy but reliable and has a shield that stops accidental turn on. Also has several light options. On high this thing is like a spot light.
This Etrex model is usable with OnXmaps.
Charger Packs for recharging phones and cameras.
-Keep in your gear so they are insulated and don’t get cold.
-I prefer these charging packs over small solar panels. Convenient and reliable.
If you plan on hunting Colorado a lot or just want some nice topos maps that include property lines and GMU boundaries, this is the best option. For most our wilderness hunts these aren’t a necessity.
Good backup/camp light.
The best satellite messaging system available. Not necessary for our hunts but I strongly suggest you get one if you are doing a lot of hunting in remote areas. Great devices and service. We utilize these more and more each year, as we move away from costly Sat phones.
A quality hydration bladder works well in September when the temps aren’t low enough to freeze hoses. I use these for a lot of my early season hunts.
When I know hydration bladder hoses will freeze, I carry one of these as an alternative.
I typically carry one of these on my Kifaru belt on all my hunts. Easy to get a quick drink from. Also, these are easy to treat water in with a steri-pen.
I put one of these on my smaller Nalgene bottle and view it as an essential item on my backpack hunts or on day hunts where I know water will be available, limiting how much water I have to carry. This item allows me to fill my bottle from a stream or pond, treat the water, and then drink the water. If you don’t have one of these on your bottle, the rim you drink off of will always be contaminated with untreated water.
These newer gravity filters are one of the best options out there. If you are cautious about limiting silt that enters filter, these filters are as quick if not quicker than pumps.
Super-efficient in terms of weight and are proven to work well if you use them properly.
Lightweight option. Good as a safety item but 30-40 minute wait period when treating makes them less than desirable as your primary water filtering method.
I add these tabs to my filtered water. These help with the taste and give you an extra boost through your hydration.
For an individual, this is still my top pick.
Lighter weight option over the Jet Boil. Less convenient nor as stable, but some weight and bulk savings for a minimalist backpack hunt.
Great stove if backpack cooking for multiple people. Super-efficient.
Just as good as dedicated backpacking towels.
My favorite cleanup wipe for in the mountains. Convenient packaging also.
Keep anything in these bags that you don’t want to get wet.
Light and indestructible. I like to have my own personal coffee cup on hunts.
Good cup, value alternative to the above cup.
Spoons that work well for eating out of dehydrated meal bags.
The best cream for face sun protection and can be used as lip balm.
I’ve carried one of these on a hundred plus hunts. Incredibly durable. The “ice axe” part of the pole allows me to put my hand on top of the pole (instead of wrapped around the handle from the sides). I find this ideal when going downhill with a heavy pack.
Highly regarded trekking poles among guides. Cork handles.
Highly regarded trekking poles among guides. Plastic handles.
The value option. Great poles.
Great harnesses that protect your binoculars and give you some additional pockets for survival gear and other small items. I primarily use these harnesses. I once had a pair of $2k binoculars get launched over 30 feet in this harness with zero damage. To say the least, I was sold.
Similar to the AGC harness, but more streamlined. Slightly less storage for other items.
Streamlined harness that opens from the top. I prefer this harness 2nd to the AGC, but know guides that like it best.
This harness is similar to the OV harness in that it opens top down. However, it has minimal protection for the actual optics. Comfortable and well-engineered.
Great mid-level binocular.
The best value option I’ve used.
My primary binocular. Absurdly expensive but a well-engineered lifetime investment. The ergonomics of these took a while to get used to. For me, I preferred the glass on these compared to the Geovids.
Better ergonomics over the EL Ranges. Great binoculars that many top guides use.
Great scope. Crazy expensive but worth the investment if you can utilize the scope over decades of hunting.
I prefer the 85mm objective. For me this objective is the best tradeoff between weight and performance. I pack this scope on every sheep/goat hunt I guide.
At a third of the cost, this scope is a great value compared to the ATX. I know several guides that use this scope and use one myself for many years. Swaro glass is better in 5% of conditions (low-light, glassing into an angled sun, intense heat waves, etc…).
I utilize 15x binos on a tripod for glassing intensive hunts. Mule deer hunts in thick sage or pinyon/juniper, sheep in thick vegetation, etc… These are the best tripod binoculars on the market.
Value option relative to 15x Swaros.
The best rifle scope that I have used. Expensive, big, bulky and damn near bulletproof. I prefer simple reticles with mil-dots combined with mil turrets, but folks should choose those options based on their long range training. I prefer a 5.5-22×50
For those not interested in high-end scopes or long range shooting, these scopes are a good value. I have used these on several beater mountain rifles. These keep their zero and hold up well if you mount them correctly, in good rings. 3-9×40 are versatile and good for mountain hunts.
Convenient micro fiber cloth cleaner you can attach to your bino harness.
The best rings I’ve used on hunting rifles that don’t utilize a picatinny rail. A lot of the trouble folks have with their rifle optics are related to using a subpar ring.
Value priced tripod. I use this tripod more than any other. However, it is not the best tripod out there in terms of stability. I utilize this tripod most because it is lightweight and less bulky.
My choice of the higher end tripods. I don’t like backpack hunting with these larger/heavier tripods but they are awesome to glass off of.
My preferred tripod head. Crazy expensive but great performance over dozens of hunts for me. Given the way I glass, I like to be able to lock in my vertical or horizontal as I grid. This pan head is perfect for my style.
I’ve used these knives for over a decade. I still use them for my post-field work (face capeing, turning lips, ears, etc…). Can be a little dangerous removing/replacing blades in the field.
Was designed to compete with Havalon and solve some of the issues many users have with Havalons. Easier to change blades than the Havalon and the attachment and blade design gives the blade more rigidity. For better or worse, the profile of the blade is less scalpel and more similar to a traditional hunting knife. I prefer the scalpel for the work I still use replacement blade knives for.
Great fixed blade knives. I prefer the handled Ovis knife over the other options.
My “truck knife”. For the value this is a great hunting knife. Not going to hold an edge like the Kestrel, but is easy to sharpen.
A knife all about utility. Ugly as sin, and shape is harder to sharpen. Very easy to use and after using it on different tasks, you will understand why it is shaped the way it is.
The sharpener I carry in my backpack.
My “shop” sharpener. Getting a sharpener that can hold angles is a necessity. Every once in a while, you need to unscrew up knives that have only been sharpen in the field where it is impossible to hold a consistent angle over time.
Game Bags and Field Dressing Gear
My favorite reusable game bag. These are great ultralight bags for backpack hunts.
Great bags that hold up well. Pack-in hunts and truck hunts, these are my go-to. Anytime I don’t need to carry them around with me while hunting or when I can keep them on a packhorse.
Useful for marking trail and downed game.
For day hunts, most the Eberlestock packs are awesome. Their frame and engineering is not suitable as a long duration back pack hunt setup, but they excel on day hunts.
The packs I use for all my personal guiding and hunting. I use the AMR (3+ day trips) and 22-Mag (less than 3 days) most. Great packs. Durable and well-engineered.
Great, lightweight bags for backpack hunts. Always keep in a drybag while in the field.
Good bag through 1st half of October. Packin or road based hunts only. Heavy and bulky.
Good bag through all rifle seasons. Packin or road based hunts only. Heavy and bulky.
Good treated down bag for sheep/goat hunts. Always keep in a drybag while in the field.
Economical down bag for early season hunts and sheep/goat. Heavier than WM of Kuiu bags but much more economical.
Awesome sleeping pad for backpack hunts.
More economical than the Xtherm. Great pad but not as comfortable or warm.