Backpack Elk Hunting on a Budget

aaron14

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2013
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141
Location
Southeast MN
I'm working on accumulating gear for a future 7-ish day backcountry archery elk hunt. I'm a college student so I'm trying to stay within a budget, but I don't mind spending a little extra for quality gear.
I posted this on ArcheryTalk and was recommended to ask here also. I'll probably have more questions but this is what I can think of.
Just looking at some "big ticket" items right now. Trying to keep a good balance of cost, weight, and quality.
Listed is the gear item and price I'm trying to keep it at, with the specific products/models I've been researching.

Clothing - around $500 - Core 4 Element from CamoFire. I have a few pieces already and so far love C4E. Not as worried about spending money on clothing because it would get solid use hunting here in the Midwest as well. Also, how much clothing should I plan on bringing?

Boots - around $300 - I know it's subjective, but looking at Lowa Tibet, Crispi Wyoming, Kenetrek Mountain Extreme, Meindl Denali & Perfekt. I need to go to a dealer and try some out one of these days.

Pack - no idea - debated everything from the REI XT 85 to Kifaru Timberline. I'm basically wondering if the Kifarus are THAT much better than a backpacking pack, or if I could get by with an REI, Gregory, or Osprey. If a Kifaru is truly worth it, I don't mind saving up extra money or decreasing my budget for other items.

Sleep System - total <$500
  • Tent - Kelty Salida 2. Backcountry.com rep told me it was best/lightest for under $200
  • Sleeping Bag - Mountain Hardware Piute 20, REI Radiant, or Marmot Sawtooth 15
  • Pad - Therm-a-Rest Z Lite, Big Agnes Air Core Insulated or Uninsulated
Binos - <$300 - Vortex Diamondbacks or Zen-Ray ZRS HD (10x42)

GPS - no idea really, just want something that I can mark the trailhead and base camp on, maybe buy a Hunting GPS Maps card - looking at a few Garmins: eTrex 20 & 30 and Dakota 20

Cooking System - <$100 total - Snow Peak GigaPower Stove and GSI Outdoors Halulite Ketalist Cookset


Any other recommendations or opinions on the items mentioned would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
 

ohhiitznik

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Feb 24, 2012
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Rochester Hills, MI
I remember you had this thread on AT. I'll help you out here again.

Clothing: I use a system of layers.
Merino wool base
Puffy/insulation layer
Hardshell outer (windproof/waterproof)
Lightweight pants
Lightweight merino bottoms for colder days (Don't really need)

Boots: I use saloman Quest 4d's they are around 200 bucks and they are an awesome boot.

Pack: Don't skimp. Get a kifaru or a stone glacier. Use the extra money from your optics budget and put it into your pack budget. You won't be sorry when you're carrying a heavy load.

Sleep system:
Looks good. Roll with what you picked.


BINOS- USE YOUR WHITETAIL OPTICS. They work perfectly fine for elk hunting in the timber. Especially since its your first time and you aren't judging scores from 1000+ yards.

GPS: I have a Dakota 20. Love it. Works great, has great features and is easy to use if you have a touch screen smart phone. You'll pick up how to use it in no time.

Cook set: Primus ETA express. it can be had for 60-70 bucks and its everything you need in one little kit. Pick up a ti spoon and call it good.
 
OP
aaron14

aaron14

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Mar 21, 2013
Messages
141
Location
Southeast MN
Thanks! For merino base layers, I'm thinking about bringing 2 tops, 2 boxers, and 1 bottoms. Good?
 

Manosteel

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Jan 24, 2013
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Alberta, Canada
Get a list together like you are starting and start looking for used stuff or big sales. Start off by researching gear lists from people on here to see what they wear. I have lots I picked up over the years that handles everything Canada throws at you during hunting season. But I could get buy with one layering system for 90% of what I rum into.

I just bought a bunch of krypteck clothing 40% off at my local cabelas. I also picked used 1 man MSR Hubba tent - 2 lbs 13 oz for $80 locally a couple years ago. Has served me well and still good to go.

Look at demo optics and research the Bird forums on what is the best bang for the buck, they are really big on Zen-ray Ed3's which u can pick up for $330 demo model.

I also picked up a garmin legend cx GPS for $40 used a few years ago - color screen and with maps - it dose everything I need.

Boots go new and spend your budget, for the mountains nothing beats a good quality proper fitting boot!

Pack - I say go with a kifaru or stone glacier, spend money now and it will last you years ( trust me, i started off long ago from the hard luck school of buying cheap just to replace what you had every year - you lose money over the long haul but its not until you hit your 30's that you figure that out)

Jetboil is great, I love mine and its fairly inexpensive.

Sleeping bag - BB is doing a review on a Kelty mid-priced bag that should be Interesting. Again you can pick up good used stuff here. As for tent you can buy like I suggested or make your tarp if you or you significant other is good with a sewing machine.

Above all don,t wait to get all your gear together to go out hunting - when I started decades ago, I had a rifle, and the clothes on my back and an old buck knife, it was ugly but I got the job done more often then I didn't.
 
Last edited:

blb078

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Dec 18, 2012
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Wentzville, MO & Port Charlotte, FL
Right now Cabela's has awesome deals on the Russell APX stuff. Wing Supply has some too but limited stock. It's not Kuiu, Kryptek, Sitka but it's damn good for the price. As far as pack like ohhiitznik stated Stone Glacier or Kifaru, there's a few others too. I had an off the shelf pack before I got my SG and while it was ok the SG was by far better. I just got done doing a lot of research on budget optics, my budget was a little bigger than yours but Vortex Talon HDs or the Zen Ray ED3 can probably be had for the $300 range if you can find demo or used pair, there's also a few other mentioned in the thread I started that you might be able to find in your price range too. If you do go the Russell APX route on clothing the money you save you can put towards a pack or optics. For cooking I have a Jetboil Zip, which is really awesome.
 

Beastmode

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May 9, 2012
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Shasta County, CA
I would check classifieds as much as possible. You can find a lot of great deals on here and other sites. You need to check many times a day though because a good deal usually only lasts an hour maybe... most things guys are going to recommend will hold value. Welcome to your new addiction! Its expensive :eek:
 

Solitude

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Feb 28, 2012
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Northern CA
You are definitely heading the right direction. Two quick things, buy used and strongly consider a JetBoil unless you plan on eating more than Mountain House dinners and needing to do more than boil water. They are so darn simple, store neatly together and boil quickly. About the only piece if gear I have yet to replace.
 

Lawnboi

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Mar 2, 2012
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North Central Wi
Do yourself a favor and wait for the deals. Besides kifaru you should be able to find most of that stuff for a good discount.

If your patient and wait for deals/coupons to get your stuff you can have top dollar stuff at the prices that you listed.
 

Moose Drool

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Aug 26, 2012
Messages
281
Sierra Trading Post has some good deals on boots. You could save a bit by going with a tarp too, there is a good thread on hear about the Mountain Smith Mountain shelter. I think you can get it for $100 or so. If you can get on a promotive team, you could really save some cash and get some deals. First lite, big agnes, and zamberlan are all on there to name a few.
 

Shrek

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I second the STP deals. If you join their email list they send 30% , 35% , 45% off deals. I just paid $26 each for heavyweight merino long underwear and bought some Hanwag boots for $153. My primus eta stove was $46 from them. I bought my tent and wood stove used for $200 off another forum. I think of bargin hunting as another type of hunting to enjoy.
 

WV Hunter

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Feb 29, 2012
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West "By God" Virginia
Everybody has different tastes when it comes to clothing and boots. From your list though I can speak about the following:

Pack: I have used and really like the REI XT 85. Here is a review from a guy who might be familiar around here (at least I assume it's the same person);



By ELK REAPER

from Denver.CO


About Me Outdoor Professional

See all my reviews





Pros

Comfortable
Easy To Load
Good Padding
Good Suspension
Highly Adjustable
Large Capacity
Lightweight



Cons




Best Uses

Extended Hikes
Heavy Loads



Comments about REI XT 85 Pack:

After many good years with my Bora 80, it finally met it's end (shoulder strap ripped off).

As a guide, I needed a pack that would hold up to 100 pounds loads and work as a day pack as well, this pack has met all my expectations and more. I have put about 65 miles on the pack and no less then 70 pounds each trip and the pack has shown no sighnes of ripping or tearing. My bora has stood the test of time and abuse, but the 85 XT is much more comfortable and weighes about 3 pounds less( on my scale).

I will give a follow up review when I have gotten over the 300 mile mark, but things are looking good so far:)


Bottom Line Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

Binos: I really like my Zen Rays and really like the price too
 

Matt Cashell

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Feb 25, 2012
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Western MT
Great info on here.

Rokslide is a high-end gear website. The members here are serious about hunting, and see the benefit in using the best.

However, the best isn't required to have fun or be successful. I would say boots are the top priority. If you have a store where you can try on a number of options, preferably with a knowledgeable salesperson, you are going to be ahead. I have spent well over $1500 on various boots trying to find the right one before going to Lathrop and Sons, and paying for their help in getting the right one. Money well spent.

On packs, the various backpacking packs are quite comfortable for intended use, but they aren't designed to pack huge amounts of weight. I have had decent luck with REI and Gregory packs, but I would recommend looking hard at Eberlestock (maybe the Destroyer?) if you are buying new, and can't find a deal on a used high-end pack. Eberlestock packs are built tough for hunting, in my experience.

I also heartily recommend jetboil. You can find the original version for cheap on eBay, etc.

I don't pack extra clothes, other than a change of socks.

On sleeping bags, get a down bag you can afford. Extra money in bags gets you lower weights and more compressibility, but not necessarily a warmer bag.

Good on Sanchomaes, and good luck to the OP.
 

Justin Crossley

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Buckley, WA
Some of the backpacking packs will work just fine for hunting and you can get them for less than half of what a Kifaru will cost you. I just sold a Bora 80 for $150 and it was better than the Kifaru that I use now in some ways. The reason I switched was weight and pockets. For someone starting out backpack hunting I would spend the extra money on other gear.
 

SHTF

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Feb 4, 2013
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Colorado
For tent I went with Mountainsmith Mountain LT the Tarp Tent. 130 bucks and it rocks.
 

trophytaka

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Mar 24, 2013
Messages
248
I as well am just getting myself set up for backpack bivy style hunting and have a strict budget like you do. The pack i recently purchased is the REI XT85 as you mentioned. Looked at the pack a bunch of times, tried it on and had it fitted to my body and so far it is one of the most comfortable packs ive owned. I have not hauled with it yet but hopefully all that will change this fall!!! Sleeping bag im using a Marmot never summer +15. The pad i chose was a Klymit Static V. My cook system consists of a Snow Peak 700 titanium pot, Brunton titanium fold up spork, and DIY Bud Light aluminum can alcohol stove. Ive got a couple canister stoves that ive had for a while and generally use but have recently started making the alcohol stoves and testing them out. If you can make them yourself they are cheap and ultralight weight and burn fairly efficient.
 

Above Timber

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Apr 16, 2012
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Colorado Springs
Aaron,
I just got an email for CampSaver with a 20% off coupon code TETON-20. They had some good prices on some of their products. Just thought I would share.
 
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