Reality gear check...

HellsCanyon

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So its been a few weeks since I first joined the forum. I've been on web hunting forums for going on 10 years or so and this one is definitely among the best I've been involved with (great job Rok staff!).

One thing I've noticed and I'm sure I'm not the only one, is the passion with which everybody is buying new gear! Myself included for a new pack and some clothing this year. But I've managed to be pretty successful in recent hunting years with an old military surplus wool sweater, cabelas microtex, and rivers west jacket (hate that thing now lol). Last year was my first with any sort of "technical" clothing and while I really enjoyed it, I wasn't necessarily warmer, or more successful with it. I cut some weight and had a bit more versatility but I don't think it made a difference on my hunting. With all of the Sitka, KUIU and Kifaru fevers going on, do we really NEED that one step above our own gear to make us successful?

I'm not knocking it at all and wish I could spend way more $ than I do every year on extra hunting gear (don't we all!). And I know how you really appreciate a quality piece of gear that just flat out works in the back country. But do you think that at some point it reaches a level where you aren't making yourself any more successful because you're upgrading already lightweight quality gear with NEW lightweight quality gear?

Hope what I'm trying to write out here is coming across clearly! I'm curious on what ya'll think about it... :)

Mike
 

thru-hunter

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I do have some friends that buy and sell rabidly but I am not quite as bad (probably because they test it all and give me reports before I buy!). I have been starting to shuffle through my gear list as I am inside of 50 days from Sheep season now. I have my gear pretty well dialed in except that I accidentally purchased a sleeping pad last year that is to large for what I need. Only other issue is my boots are just about shot and should be replaced soon if I am going to do it this year. Honestly though even with some big REI discounts and other "deals" coming along I just can't find anything to buy that I don't already have a solution for in the gear cabinet.

This is probably a good thing because in the next year or two my optics budget will need to absorb an across the board top shelf refresh!
 

swat8888

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Alaska
While I am always looking for newer, more durable/waterproof/faster drying gear every year between hunts I typically only purchase items on sale or try to snag some lightly used stuff off the forums. Then whatever I replace I usually sell off unless it is a good piece of gear that has application on other hunting trips (colder weather/warmer weather). I've recently decided I'm going to mostly get out of the camo business. I'll probably still hang onto my lightweight Sitka stuff for bow hunting....at least for closing the last couple hundred yards on stalks. I have no reason for spending $100's on matching camo rain gear or mid-layers.
 

sk1

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I have been very close to many elk and deer with my military issued bdu pants and then a camo long sleeve $10 shirt....as long as you have the right layers for the weather i dont feel like the the technical clothes are a MUST have....however there are some added benefits, such as some of the merino wool or synthetics dry out fast when wet, merino has less stench, and may or may not have more durability depending on the item. I have upgraded this year to hunt in kuiu gear, was it necessary? absolutely not, but i love hunting and everything about it, i was able to make it work in the budget so i went for it. if you have other needs or don't want to drop that kind of cash, maybe buy one piece a year and slowly let it build up....some people that hunt more extreme conditions maybe consider it a necessity, but i do not....just nice to have
 

Curtis C

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I dont think the high end gear is as connected to success levels as it is comfort. Sure there are some items that lead to more meat in the freezer(thinking optics).

You take some of deadliest hunters here and strip them of all their Kuiu clothes, Kifaru packs & shelters, and Swaro glass. Then send them out with Coleman tents, Slumberjack bags, Tasco glass, and a TAG. Chances are they will come back with a cheap frame hauler loaded with meat, They just wont be as comfortable getting it done.

Me on the other hand, I have decent gear but barely manage to kill a rabbit during season.

C
 
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cmeier117

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I dont think the high end gear is as connected to success levels as it is comfort. Sure there are some items that lead to more meat in the freezer(thinking optics).

You take some of deadliest hunters here and strip them of all their Kuiu clothes, Kifaru packs & shelters, and Swaro glass. Then send them out with Coleman tents, Slumberjack bags, Tasco glass, and a TAG. Chances are they will come back with a cheap frame hauler loaded with meat, They just wont be as comfortable getting it done.

Me on the other hand, I have decent gear but barely manage to kill a rabbit during season.

C
What he said!
 

Matt Cashell

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It is definitely more about the hunter than the gear, but I will say as my load gets lighter, my optics get better, and I am more comfortable in the field, I can hunt harder, longer, and deeper. I would think that would lead to more success as well, over the long run.
 

Yellowknife

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As my dad always said... "a good hunter makes his own luck" I don't recall him ever say "Kuiu makes luck" Maybe I just missed it though. :)

I tend to think that an obsession with gear is most often just a byproduct of their obsession with hunting. I also suspect that the fact that guys who are successful hunters often have better than average gear is really more of a reflection of that individuals priorities than any sort of serious results based analysis. 20 years ago, the consistently successful hunters I knew showed up with Filson clothes, Leupold optics, and Camp Trails frame packs. Top of the line for the time, and that equipment would be no hindrance to good hunters today.

I also think that although hunters often make much of the features of a piece of gear (weight, size, breathability, pockets, etc), what most important thing we get with a high end purchase is QUALITY. Gear failure in the field stinks. Been there a few times.

Personally, I'm not an "early adopter" by any means. In fact, I try to stay several years behind the curve when possible. That way the gear I buy is both proven (by others) and usually on sale!

Yk
 

tstowater

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I made a wholesale update this year out of necessity due to weight loss (a necessity also). I had good gear before and frankly can't use it anymore. I would have replaced a few pieces due to the hunts I have scheduled. I don't like getting hot and/or wet and otherwise want to remain comfortable, so I have bought some of the front end gear. Would I have liked to have timed the purchases better--yes, but I needed to do something and as I am leaving in about 60 days; time does not allow me to pick and choose when the opportunity presents itself. I know the type of hunting I am going to do and want suitable gear to accomplish it. I upgrade with the intention that the useful life will be long. I bought Rivers West and Sitka when they first came out and would be still using it if it fit. I changed this time to KUIU, but I think you can get quality elsewhere for smaller investment. I can tell you that the Chugach was awesome the other day when I had to go outside in a downpour and stayed very comfortable. That is worth alot to me. Cold, wet and miserable makes people quit or otherwise not enjoy the hunt. I am willing to spend a little more to insure a reasonable degree of comfort. I would suggest making a list of what you want and then prioritize based on need and funding. Your list should be a little flexible if the opportunity presents itself.
 

Rizzy

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It is definitely more about the hunter than the gear, but I will say as my load gets lighter, my optics get better, and I am more comfortable in the field, I can hunt harder, longer, and deeper. I would think that would lead to more success as well, over the long run.
+1 on that
 

muleman

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The way I see it; those who really appreciate the benefits of uber technical clothing and gear are those willing to go the extra mile or ten in pursuit of stinky critters. I agree whole heartedly that gear or clothes don't make the hunter; but nice gear and clothes sure make the experience more enjoyable.
 

cmeier117

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The way I see it; those who really appreciate the benefits of uber technical clothing and gear are those willing to go the extra mile or ten in pursuit of stinky critters. I agree whole heartedly that gear or clothes don't make the hunter; but nice gear and clothes sure make the experience more enjoyable.
Yep... and I also feel cooler carrying my Kifaru pack than my buddies with their X2's and 2800's!!! ;)
 

slim9300

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I dont think the high end gear is as connected to success levels as it is comfort. Sure there are some items that lead to more meat in the freezer(thinking optics).

You take some of deadliest hunters here and strip them of all their Kuiu clothes, Kifaru packs & shelters, and Swaro glass. Then send them out with Coleman tents, Slumberjack bags, Tasco glass, and a TAG. Chances are they will come back with a cheap frame hauler loaded with meat, They just wont be as comfortable getting it done.
Exactly. But when the conditions get tough being more comfortable / protected from the elements, can equate to you staying in the field longer and being more successful because of it. Everyone has a breaking point. Once you have "good" gear, it becomes more about weight or non-survival based comfort, however having "cheap" gear can be a totally different situation. Obviously the OP is in the camp of having "good" gear, so I would say your point is valid.

For me, gear has become an addiction that's difficult to explain. I don't use my gear near as much as Aron or many others, but for some reason it gives me the confidence that I'm a better hunter. Having the money to purchase the gear is how I can rationalize it I guess.

The reality is that I'm going to kill my elk every year, if I fail, it means that I get to contemplate that failure daily for 11 months, not to mention everyone I know reminding me on a regular basis. I'm guessing most of you know how much that sucks unless you are just out there for the experience.
 

dotman

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It is definitely more about the hunter than the gear, but I will say as my load gets lighter, my optics get better, and I am more comfortable in the field, I can hunt harder, longer, and deeper. I would think that would lead to more success as well, over the long run.
x2..... After years of saving I went crazy but I also dropped 20lbs from my total gear weight head to toe to pack.
 

dotman

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In the end though this conversation is no different then deciding if you need a bigger house, newer car. It all depends on what you can afford and what you feel comfortable with. Some guys make gear a high priority and live in a shack but have all the best gear others have a nice house and new car (some have both), it is a choice and it is purely up to you.
 

dreamingbig

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Be patient buy it on sale and let certain technologies gain some footing before jumping in. The new gear doesn't directly make you a better hunter but I find when I am comfortable, I hunt longer and harder and this gear increases the comfort factor greatly.
 

thru-hunter

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To put it in perspective I have a lot of very nice gear and probably one of the nicest custom packs that anyone could own. I have solid glass though not top tier and lots of great light weight technical clothing. My hunting partner had cotton BDU pants and mil-surp gear stuffed into a Cabelas Guide frame pack. The only two pieces of gear he had that came close to mine were his Cebelas boots by Meindle and his beautiful featherweight synthetic wby MkV 280rem. At the end of the hunt my light gear did make it easier to haul out his ram I guess...

How about a hero shot of my buddy getting it done on a budget!
 

Yellowknife

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In the end though this conversation is no different then deciding if you need a bigger house, newer car. It all depends on what you can afford and what you feel comfortable with. Some guys make gear a high priority and live in a shack but have all the best gear others have a nice house and new car (some have both), it is a choice and it is purely up to you.
True that.... My truck is a beat up 11 year old F150 with a reconstructed title. It drives just fine (and I paid cash for it), but I'd lucky to get $4000 for it on Craigslist. The replacement value on my loaded pack is easily more than that. Alaska Airlines lost it coming back from a bear hunt this spring, and I about died before they found it again! Hey, those are my priorities in life...

Yk
 

a3dhunter

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Colorado Springs,CO
I dont think the high end gear is as connected to success levels as it is comfort. Sure there are some items that lead to more meat in the freezer(thinking optics).

You take some of deadliest hunters here and strip them of all their Kuiu clothes, Kifaru packs & shelters, and Swaro glass. Then send them out with Coleman tents, Slumberjack bags, Tasco glass, and a TAG. Chances are they will come back with a cheap frame hauler loaded with meat, They just wont be as comfortable getting it done.

Me on the other hand, I have decent gear but barely manage to kill a rabbit during season.

C
A RABBIT?
Where'd you see a rabbit? Was it an OTC unit? Can you give me gps co-ordinates so I can try to stand in the same spot? I would love a rabbit......




I also agree that the better gear is a comfort issue, not a necessity.

In the end, as of right now, I have dropped about 40 lbs off last years total weight for doing a 5 day backpack hunt. Some of that is gear, most is lost weight from exercise and eating healthier. I have also found that to be more expensive as well, good, healthy meals are more expensive to prepare but worth it in the long run.
 
OP
HellsCanyon

HellsCanyon

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Great stuff guys I'm glad to hear your thoughts and know that ya'll got what I was trying to get at!

Mike
 
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