Home-Made and Cost-Effective Solutions to Backpacking and Bivy Hunting Issues

Pilgrim

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Home-Made and Cost-Effective Solutions to Backpacking and Bivy Hunting Issues

First things first- My thanks and appreciation goes out to all you experienced mountain-trekking bow hunters that have contributed to my still yet very limited knowledge (respectively). If you've posted on here or bowsite, I'm referring to you. Short of GPS coords to your honey holes, I've been overwhelmed with the help, support and advice I've obtained from these sites. Thank you, it means a lot to me.

My Issue: I gather from the conversations and threads I read and the pictures posted on here that most of you are either sponsored or are otherwise blessed in ways to be able to afford expensive and lightweight gear, from clothing to optics and packs. I cannot. It is no question that you get what you pay for, I simply cannot afford the "good stuff" at this point in life.

Your Solutions: I'm curious to know what self-rigged solutions you all use that cannot be bought or those that are otherwise more affordable to the average guys/gals getting out there and pursuing their passions.

For instance, when backpacking, comparmenting and keeping gear organized is imperative. I've found that the three-pack of stuff sacks available at Wal-Mart are worth their weight in gold, figuratively of course. For the price, you can't beat these water repellent sacks. I've yet to bust one stuffing it or have one wear out. One was chewed through by mice in my garage, my mistake.

At any rate, I hope there are others that can benefit from this thread. I know I'll be taking notes. Good luck in all your adventures. Shoot strait.

Semper Fidelis
c.rash
 

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Beastmode

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I use to use crown royal bags for stuff bags to keep gear organized. I couldn't afford crown royal but I knew a guy who drank alot of it.

Pillow cases can be used as game bags.

Trash bags and masking tape can build a horrible looking set of rain gear but it works.
 

Aron Snyder

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The next issue of Extreme Elk has a large article that covers "backpacking gear on a budget" and covers just about everything from A-Z.

Anyway, what are you needing most? I always suggest to spend as much as you can on the some items and skimp on others.

Sierra Trading Post is a good place for footwear and clothing, but they also have decent sales on gear (tents, sleeping bags, walking sticks, headlamps).
 

dotman

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Always follow the classifieds, I have only paid full price on Kifaru gear which was bought new. For optics get used or demo and if that still isn't in the budget look for used mid grade. Off season deals I was able to pick up most of the first lite line (didn't get pants) for about 60% off plus there is more savings when you don't buy camo. I look at all my gear accumulated over time and most of it was bought on sale at 25% off.

No reason to be sponsored just slowly do what your budget can handle, heck I used a Eureka Solitare 1 man tent for years, bought it on sale for $60 and it is under 2lbs. Now I rock a Kifaru supertarp. I ran garbage bags as rain gear for years before I finally sprung for an actual jacket, still don't see the point in the rain pants unless you are on the coastline.
 

7mag.

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I am neither sponsored or have a large budget. I saved money for a long time for some high priced items, sold some things that I didn't use as much to buy some essential gear, and I get almost entirely, hunting and backpacking related gifts for birthdays, Christmas and Father's day. I also rarely pay full retail price. I shop for sales, and take advantage of off season close outs. I also buy used gear.
 

Goober

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My best advice (that I follow to a T) on how to save money in the long run: Buy the best the first time. Do your research to find out what that is, and save until you can afford it. Until then, make do with goodwill, garage sales, and homemade, and what ever you can beg/borrow/steal. Nothing chaps me more than looking at a $300 piece of gear, deciding I can't afford it, and buying a $90 imitator instead. Then buying another next year and having that one fail while halfway through a hunt. Then being so pissed off I eat Ramen noodles for 6 months to buy the $300 piece. Now I have the best, and instead of $300, it cost me $480 and a hunting trip wrecked.

And when I say best, I don't mean trend, most popular, brand name, or newest technology. Don't get caught in that trap.
 

ScottR_EHJ

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I'm not sponsored either, and have to work extra to pay for the good stuff. During the summer I mow lawns to have extra cash to make any of the last purchases I need before season starts. This may be boring but last year I asked for all cash to go towards the Longhunter pack I now use.

I do an inventory after the season is over and decide what needs to be sold, or what needs to be upgraded. The paypal account gets filled up with what I sell, then the big purchases aren't as big.

The best thing I EVER did though for anything related to the budget was make a commitment to get out of debt. No car payments, living under our means, and paying extra every time we can. One of my student loans is so to being done we can see it! The last credit card is going to take a little longer, but tackling the debt freed up money in the budget. We rarely drain our savings, and have enough saved up that when unexpected things hit us, we don't even have to blink. It took 3 years to get to that point, but it can be done.
 

Backpack Hunter

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Not sponsored here either. I work side jobs as much as possible, and rack up as many credit card points as possible with normal purchases....and the card is paid off every month.
Most of my gear has come over years of accumulating, and the great majority was bought at a severe discount. If your not in a hurry you will eventually find a deal on what you are looking for.
Remember you can always buy good gear that will keep you warm/safe/etc. it just may not be the lightest toughest stuff out there.....the main thing is to be able to get out there.
 

Khaybes

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Not gonna lie, I use alot of MIL surplus gear and yes it does weight more but it does get the job done. Not always as comfy as I prefer but if a spark hits my sleeping bag or I fall and tear my rain fly, replacing is cheap or repairing is even cheaper. Water proofing and knowing how to layer not just clothing is how I stay warm and dry in N. Idaho. As far as homemade gear, there is nothing that can't be built, adapted or overcome with a good roll of 550 cord and some 100 MPH tape!

Lets keep this thread going!
 

trdhunter

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I would love to be sponsored or pro staff. I do not have all the gear that I want or even close to it. I do lots of research on items I need and then work overtime and save to be able to buy good equipment. I was always told buy the best gear that you can afford, and I take that to mean if I have to save for long time or go without for a period then thats what I do. I try to prioritize what is most important and work my way down. I also buy most everything on sale or last years model or whatever to save as much $$$ as possible. I also hear people say not to buy cheap, which I agree, but on some things I have to buy a few notches down from the best. One example is my pack is eberlestock, not the best but definately not cheap junk. When I have the funds I plan on Kifaru but for now at least I have a pack.

Good thread.
 

swat8888

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A good way to save some big $$ on high dollar packs is by taking a small hit in the weight department and doing keyword searches for Kifaru/MR and the like on craigslist (search in the cities that have high % of hunters who typically have the type of gear your looking for). There are a lot of military guys that get high end packs issued to them, and then in turn sell them off cheaper than you'd be able to find any of the Kifaru packs selling in the forums here which still bring premium dollar most times, even when used. Takes patience and you may be waiting for awhile but it does work. Also if you aren't in love with camo and can deal with some solid colors geartrade.com has some amazing deals sometimes...again, it takes patience and the search function isn't the greatest on that site either. If you have a sewing machine silnylon is pretty cheap to buy in bulk and sew up your own game bags (not breathable, but neither are the Kifaru ones they charge you $20 for) and dry bags.
 
OP
Pilgrim

Pilgrim

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I'll be watching for that article, Aron. My buddy gets that magazine.

Great tips everyone, definitely good for the research toolbox and "gear acquisition strategy." haha

The biggest thing on my list right now is boots. I'm using my USMC boots, which I still wear for work, lol. I'm looking at probably getting my old pair of boots re-soled for now and just using those.

I get by without a GPS, but I sure wish I had one of those sometimes. I borrowed one this year and it was nice to be able to mark the spots you like. I typically just use map/compass and terrain association. This year, I didn't really NEED any of that.

My pack is the mens golite 90L terrano. Certainly not the most functional for a hunter, but it fits awesome and rides like a champ. Picked it up as a 2010 closeout for $100. I have a Kelty cache hauler ($100) that I have strapped a day pack to in the past. That worked quite well.

Most of my camo is stuff I've used for year. I picked up some max1 pants and shirts from wal-mart when I moved to Colorado. The best piece of hunting clothing I have is a pair of first lite pants that a friend traded to me for a $40 REI gift card. He bought them new and wore them for one season.

I shoot the first model of the Bowtech Admiral, a 2009 bow. I love it. I'm pulling max poundage, about 72lbs, 403gr arrow, 297fps. Got it crackerized this summer. No complaints here whatsoever. If it hadn't moved, I'd have hit the mouse I shot at at 30 yards. Yes, I have a witness.

My wife bought me a clearance Alps Mountaineering 2 man tent from the REI outlet for $93. It's leaning toward heavy for what it is, but man is it roomy. She also got me a Kelty Cosmic 20 degree 550 down sleeping bag, another $100. It's fantastic but you better not use it in temps above 35, you'll roast. I have an old military bag I use for warm weather. Those were my b-day presents last year and she went WAY over budget. She knew I needed them though and she loves me.

All this stuff has been acquired over about 3 years, ever since we moved here in Oct. 2009.

I'm brainstorming and toying with making a custom harness for holding binos on your chest (pectoral level) and a pistol on your abdomen. When I wear it, I don't like taking my gun on/off just to take my pack on/off. I'll keep y'all posted. Could be my ticket to fame! LOL.

Take care guys. Good conversation. Thanks again.
 

7mag.

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If you need trekking poles, I use the cheap ones from Walmart. $15 each, and the are fliplock. They work great, and make a huge difference if you haven't used them before. Some one on this site suggested those poles, and I am sure glad I didn't spend $100 on brand name poles.
 

Goober

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Cotton pillow cases. I use 2 to stuff a down vest in at night, great pillow. While packing, compress down with paracord. If needed, makes a great water filter to get the big chunks out. When you kill something, they make a great game bag. Wash and re-use! I plan on using no more of the expensive "compression bags/stuff sacks" when cotton pillow case with 550 cord does the same thing, and is mutil purpose. I just double bag some stuff, so I can take off the "outer" bag to pack out meat.
 

Goober

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Another cost saver: Be in shape. Like when you got out of boot camp shape. You dont need a $2000 spotting scope if you've got legs that wont quit on you. Plus, if you are walking to find animals, instead of laying on the ridge above timberline glassing for 6 hours, you wont need an expensive down coat to stay warm!
 

tstowater

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Another cost saver: Be in shape. Like when you got out of boot camp shape. You dont need a $2000 spotting scope if you've got legs that wont quit on you. Plus, if you are walking to find animals, instead of laying on the ridge above timberline glassing for 6 hours, you wont need an expensive down coat to stay warm!

I won't dispute being in shape, but I am a strong believer in quality optics. What happens if you see an animal that is questionable at a distance and not where you intended to hunt: do you elect to potentially blow a day or go as you had planned? Sometimes, the better optics will tell you whether the trip should or should not be made. I have seen too many times where good optics saved time, made for a better hunt and kept us on track. IMO.
 

ohhiitznik

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You can use garbage bags and pillowcases like everyone is mentioning. Also watch the classifieds. I know many guys like me who buy one thing this year and then decide we want something different sell it for a great price. You could get by with a shelter using a regular blue tarp you get at Lowes for 4 bucks. Bunch of stuff can be had for cheap, just look around. Also watch REI outlet and the other sites everyone is mentioning. I got by my first year using heavy gear that I bought cheap. When I decided I was going head first into it I invested in more expensive stuff.
 

Becca

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Lots of ways to find things at a discount if you think "outside the box". We subscribe to a lot of "deal" websites, and often find great deals on items out of season. It also helps if you can use gear that isn't necessarily intended for hunting. Very little of my clothing or outerwear is camo, and much of it is intended for hiking or mountaineering. I have never met an animal yet who complained about my solid color clothing with the rei or smartwool tag :)

I won't dispute being in shape, but I am a strong believer in quality optics. What happens if you see an animal that is questionable at a distance and not where you intended to hunt: do you elect to potentially blow a day or go as you had planned? Sometimes, the better optics will tell you whether the trip should or should not be made. I have seen too many times where good optics saved time, made for a better hunt and kept us on track. IMO.

I agree with Tstowater. Being in shape makes an incredible difference, and allows you to cover way more country, which in turn can help you to be successful. But having the best optics you can afford makes all the difference in finding animals and determining their legality, or if they are worth going after, etc. A lot of times you can find good binos or spotting scopes at a discount by buying used, particularly if they are a few years old, or the previous model. Many companies will still warranty products even if you aren't the original purchaser. Another option is to share a spotter with your hunting partners. When I first met Luke, he owned 1/4 of the Swaro spotting scope he shared with his father, brother and family friend. Since they usually hunted together, it worked out for them at the time.
 
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Matt Cashell

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Another cost saver: Be in shape. Like when you got out of boot camp shape. You dont need a $2000 spotting scope if you've got legs that wont quit on you. Plus, if you are walking to find animals, instead of laying on the ridge above timberline glassing for 6 hours, you wont need an expensive down coat to stay warm!

I agree that being in shape is a total cost-saver. You can carry heavier lower-cost gear and go deeper.

I also agree that a $2000 spotter isn't required to be an effective hunter. I just happen to believe it could make you a more efficient hunter.

As far as glassing above timberline for six hours ... that is EXACTLY the most effective way to hunt, in my experience. You can save money on that down coat though, mil-surplus is a good way to go. It will be pretty heavy, but hey that's why you're in shape!
 

Hardstalk

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Personally I feel your situation of starting at the bottom gear wise is the greatest of blessings. Majority of "prostaffers" or sponsored guys started the same way. It all comes in time, and having to rush into the greatest and best gear available I feel is simply a product of marketing. Would I need a $1,000 driver if I have been golfing twice and dont know the fundamentals of how to swing a golf club.. Imo. No. Would I need a $400 dollar bass fishing reel when I first started fishing and am unaware of how fish act? Imo. No.

That being said (didnt mean to run off on a tangent) I whole heartedly believe having a super $hitty pack for the first several years has let me decide what I want in a pack. Each year I found new and different styles I created as a hunter which would lead me into different thoughts on different packs and when I am ready I will have it dialed in. By then the funds are there to get a life time pack.

Same goes for my optics, bow, rangefinder, clothing. I love "making gear work" I learn each time I use it what I want in the longrun and once a decision has been made and I feel that im confident that what I am purchasing is truly what my style of hunting has created. Than I pull the trigger.
 
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