Whether you’re planning an overnight trip or a month-long expedition, it’s important to pack the right gear for a successful hunt. Many of the supplies you bring will hinge on what, when, and how you’re hunting. But there are some essentials that will make your hunting camp more comfortable.
This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list. It’s a packing guide to get you started so you know what to bring and how to build on your gear collection for future hunts.
11 Things to Pack for Your Next Hunting Trip
These eleven categories cover all the gear and supply essentials you need for a successful, adventurous hunting trip.
The types of clothes you pack can make or break your camping (and hunting) experience. At a minimum, pack a moisture-wicking base layer, an insulating middle layer, and a protective outer layer (or shell). Pack extra pairs of socks and underwear, so you always have a dry pair on hand. And if you expect colder temperatures, bring a beanie or face mask and a pair of gloves.
The colors you wear also make a difference. Camouflage and other natural colors will help you blend into the environment. If you’re hunting deer, try to avoid wearing blue clothes. And you might need to bring a safety vest or hat, depending on the blaze orange requirements in your state.
Make sure you bring durable boots that can withstand long days or nights in the wild. Ideally, you’d pack hunting boots, but you can also get away with a sturdy pair of hiking or mountaineering boots.
2. Camp Shelter
You’ll be spending a lot of time in camp, resting, eating, and otherwise entertaining yourself. As such, your camp shelter needs to be a comfortable place where you can relax and unwind. Make sure you pack the right hunting tent for your trip, to avoid getting caught in the cold. Cotton canvas tents are the gold standard for most hunting expeditions, but if you’re hiking into the backcountry, you may want a lightweight backpacking hunting tent.
If you anticipate stormy weather, consider bringing a tarp, fly sheet, footprint, and rope for extra protection. And always remember to bring a patch kit in case your shelter tears or the guylines break.
3. Sleeping System
Hunting requires a lot of focus, so you need to be well-rested and sharp to nail that game. The quality of your sleep will depend on your comfort, so it’s important to build a cozy sleeping area where you can rest peacefully through the night.
Bring a sleeping bag specifically designed for the climate you’ll be camping in. If you’re hunting in the spring or summer, aim for a lightweight synthetic bag or quilt rated for warmer temperatures. If your trip falls in the autumn or winter, pack a down-filled mummy bag that’s rated for cold temperatures. You can also add a sleeping bag liner or fleece blanket for extra warmth.
Don’t get caught sleeping on the hard, unforgiving floor. Pack a sleeping cot or pad that creates a comfortable barrier between you and the ground. Sleeping cots are the best option for most camping conditions, but a lightweight inflatable or closed-cell foam pad will be easier to transport over long distances.
4. Kitchen Supplies
Whether you’re on the go or fine dining fireside, make mealtime easier by packing the right supplies to boil water, cook food, and enjoy your spoils with minimal time and effort.
You don’t have to get crazy with cooking supplies. Make sure you bring basic equipment like pots and pans, a mess kit (or plates, bowls, and cups), utensils, soap, and a multitool. But it can also be helpful to include a coffee pot, sponges or towels, garbage bags, a water tank, and flask(s). If you’re cooking by fire, do yourself a favor and pack a log carrier to make the process more efficient.
Of course, you’ll need a stove and fuel to cook your food. If you’re planning on staying a while, you can show off your culinary skills on the grill. Otherwise, pack a simple camping stove, fuel, and a lighter (or matches). If you’re backpacking, consider a portable cooking system.
If you bag some game, make sure you’re prepared with essential dressing tools. Bring plenty of knives and a sharpener, a small saw, extra tarps and cord, game bags, gloves, hand wipes, and a large cooler. You can also opt for a field dressing kit and add to it as you go along.
6. Food & Water
Hunting is a great way to work up an appetite. Make sure you bring plenty of nutrient-rich foods to keep you going through long bouts of waiting. Aim for three generous meals a day, with protein-heavy snacks in between. Backpackers will want to focus on calorie-dense snacks and dehydrated meals. You’ll want to pack a balance of perishable and non-perishable foods to cover your bases. Keep spices and condiments in your pack to ensure there’s always extra flavor on hand. Consider bringing a bear vault or ursack if you plan on bringing food into bear country. And don’t forget that sweet, sweet coffee.
It’s also important to bring enough water for everyone. Keep a five to ten-gallon water jug in camp at all times and plenty of reusable bottles or bladders for day trips. You’ll need enough water to stay hydrated throughout the day and cook food. If you’re backpacking, make sure you bring a water filtration system and purification tablets to treat your water.
It may not seem like it on the surface, but comfort can be the sole difference between a great trip and a terrible one. Comfort items generally aren’t required. But they’re highly recommended for an enhanced camping experience. Think about packing some comfort basics, like a chair or stool, games, a pillow, and electronics (with a charger). If you really want to get fancy, you can bring a portable heater or camping shower.
Your navigation strategy will be partially dependent on your personal brand of hunting. Nut some basic supplies will keep you moving in the right direction. At a minimum, pack a topographic map and compass, especially if you’re not very familiar with the area. If you can get your hands on a GPS device or phone app, you’ll fare even better.
No matter how skilled a hunter (or camper) you are, it’s easy enough to get blindsided by nature or accidents. Be prepared with the right safety and survival gear; it can be the difference between life and dearth.
Always keep a first-aid kit nearby in case of emergencies. You can buy a premade first-aid kit or make your own. If you’re backpacking, carry a basic kit with bandages, antiseptic wipes, antibiotic ointment, and medications. Otherwise, your camp kit can hold more specialized supplies that address a wider range of injuries and conditions.
In addition to medical supplies, keep an emergency survival kit on you. A basic kit will include a mylar blanket or survival shelter, water filtration tablets, snacks, duct tape, and fire starters. But it’s also helpful to have extra lights and batteries, a pocket utility tool, orange tape, hand warmers, and a compass. It’s also not a bad idea to carry a satellite phone or emergency cell phone in case you need to call for help.
10. Hunting Gear
You’ll obviously need to pack hunting gear and a backpack or duffel bag to carry it all in. Specific hunting gear will depend on the kind of hunting you’re doing (e.g., weapon, season, and game). But there are a few fundamentals that will help your trip go smoothly.
Most importantly, pack your weapon of choice with extra parts and ammunition. You may also want to consider bringing weapon-specific equipment like cleaning kits, tools, slings, and weatherproof casings.
Level up your tactics by packing optic supplies like scopes, binoculars, and rangefinders. Consider adding other helpful tracking gear like tree stands, face paint, decoys, or scent attractors/eliminators.
Make the harvesting process a little easier by packing knives, game (or trash compactor) bags, a carrier, gloves, field wipes, and paracord. And don’t forget your hunting license or tags.
11. Personal Items
Packing a few personal items will go a long way in making your hunting and camping experiences more comfortable. Start with some basic hygiene items like soap or hand sanitizer, a washcloth, deodorant, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and toilet paper.
It’s also a great idea to bring items that protect you from the environment. Pack sunblock, sunglasses, bug spray, lip balm, and a poncho. And make sure you bring at least one headlamp, plenty of batteries, gear repair kits, and prescription medications.