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Thread: Hunting Gear recommendations

  1. #1
    Member Kevin0718's Avatar
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    Default Hunting Gear recommendations

    I was not in Alaska this year for the hunting season but try to get ready now for next year is there anyone that can give me some suggestions and ideas on useful, helpful, good gear to get for moose, caribou, and bear for next year. Im on a budget so any help would be really appreciated. I know a wheeler is a must so i will be getting one of those.

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    I commented a little on the thread you had in the 'shooting' forum but some specific suggestions are as follows:

    Boots- US made Danners are pretty good for the money. Lowas are fantastic but $$$. There are some other good boots but I have "feet on" experience with these.

    Binos/Scopes- Lots of good choices in the $400-500 range. 10x42 or 8x42 or thereabouts. Try em all out at the store and see what you like, preferably outside for more than 1 minute. I like the Vortex for the cash. Nikon and Leupold both have some decent glass in that range. Almost all these companies also make lower end stuff you're better off avoiding- decent binos generally start about $400 and go up (way up) from there. Good binos will let you glass for longer without eyestrain or headache and see more detail at range. A Leupold fixed 4x or 6x will do everything you need. If you must have a variable, nothing over 3-9x- Leupold, Zeiss and Burris have all done well for me. Vortex gets high marks from the folks who have them. Cameraland (forum sponsor) is a good place for a deal once you figure out what you want.

    Raingear- Helly Hansen Impertech. Old school but works well and when compared to Goretex will keep you drier for a fourth of the cost.

    Packframe- Barney's, Bull Pac and Mystery Ranch are nice but $$$. You can get a serviceable frame for a whole lot less, a buddy just picked up a Kelty for $80 and it looks OK. For an inexpensive bag on the frame, a dry bag bungeed on the frame works pretty good. How far and how heavy will dictate what you need to spend. 10day sheep hunts and moose quarters a mile from the road equal the best you can financially swing. Don't overlook used.

    Tent- Lots of good choices. The higher in elevation you hunt, the more you should try to spend. Get one a bit bigger than you think you'll need. Being weathered in to "moutaineering standard" is like cuddling with your funky smelling sheep partner...for days. Don't.

    Sleeping Bag- lots of good choices. Go see Taylor at Wiggy's AK for the best "all around" bang for your buck bags. 0F or 15F is good place to start. Be wary of manufacturer temp ratings as they should start with "Once Upon a Time". Wiggy's and Western Mountaineering are the only two bags I've used that have accurate, comfortable temperature ratings. Get one 15F colder than you think you'll actually need. One day you'll be happy about that.

    Knives/Bone saws- you can overspend on a knife like there's no tomorrow. A $14 Mora will do everything you need a knife to do except give you bragging rights. Buy two or three and be set for life- get the orange handle, you'll be glad you did one day. Stanley "Sharptooth" toolbox saw zips through bone as well as anything made-$15 at Lowes.

    It's easy to get too concerned with weight- unless you're an ounce counting, backpacking sheep nut- heavier gear generally lasts longer and performs better for less cash.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Kevin. Try the search feature. Or go down to the gear section and look at the posts. Lots of information around on gear, hours of reading if you just search for it.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    A wheeler is most certainly not "a must". I own one, but I take the majority of my animals without its aide. If you don't know Alaska very well, generally what a wheeler will get you is a lot of company. At some point you'll have to park it and start hiking to get into good hunting - and such hunting can be found without one. They're nice to have at times, but if I had $4-8k to spend on a wheeler and I was just getting started on Alaskan hunting, I would spend that money elsewhere on either quality gear (tent, rain gear, pack, and boots top the list) or on 2-3 fly-out hunts which would dramatically increase your odds of success.

  5. #5
    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    A wheeler is most certainly not "a must". I own one, but I take the majority of my animals without its aide. If you don't know Alaska very well, generally what a wheeler will get you is a lot of company...., but if I had $4-8k to spend on a wheeler and I was just getting started on Alaskan hunting, I would spend that money elsewhere on either quality gear (tent, rain gear, pack, and boots top the list) or on 2-3 fly-out hunts which would dramatically increase your odds of success.
    I stated a bit of this in your 'shooting' thread but Brian is absolutely correct. Anywhere you can take a wheeler will usually get you lots of company. I hunted a lot on Denali Hwy this year- which when compared to years past was a total gong show. Even with the hordes on the road and trails, a mere half mile on foot and I could have been on the surface of the moon I was so alone.

    Personally, unless I did a lot of specific hunting and found I really needed a wheeler for it or had some other use I wouldn't drop cash on one. I generally find them pretty aggravating to use and not particularly productive...so mine spends more time doing chores at the house than in the field. For more access, a beat up canoe or raft will get you a long way more cost effectively. At least borrow one or rent one for a couple of trips if you're on a budget.

    For the cash you can really get some great gear and a couple of fly-ins.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

  6. #6
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    +1 on what Brian said.

    Over a lifetime you accumulate a lot of gear. But I have found myself coming back every year to the same basic things: good clothing, good optics, a good rifle you can shoot well, a solid pack, a weather-tight shelter and a sleeping bag that will keep you warm. Most of the rest are "nice to haves" or things that caught your eye at the time-- but you never ended up using very much. And of course the gear shed is full of transitional items; things I bought just to "get by" until I could afford better gear.

    Some things to keep in mind:

    1. Buy quality gear. You will pay more for it, but you won't have to replace it. In the end it will probably cost you less as a result.

    2. If you can't buy quality gear the first time around (most of us can't), choose one item to go first-class on, and make the rest of it work for you until you can afford to upgrade. If you are just getting started, I would start with a good tent. There are lots of starting places, but at least with a good tent, you have a dry shelter if the weather goes bad on you. Without a solid, dry shelter, even the best sleeping bag will get wet. You've got to start somewhere, and your shelter is a great way to go. Plan to spend some coin on a good one too... somewhere between $400 to $600 or more. If you can only afford one tent, go with a mountaineering tent. You can use it anywhere. I have used Terra Nova for many years and they have never failed. Their Quasar is an excellent choice, and it's available in a Superlight version that weighs about 3lbs. less than the standard Quasar. One of the best places for lightweight tents is Alaska Mountaineering and Hiking, in Anchorage. Years ago when I first got into the tent market as a guide, I thought if it was tough enough for climbers to use on Denali, it would probably work for me too. If you have the resources to buy a wheeler though, I'd get the tent and a good bag. Wiggy's is certainly an option, but they're heavier than most and if you're planning to do much backpack hunting you would be wise to compare other brands. Consider Primaloft fill; it's extremely light-weight, with similar characteristics to down. And it's a synthetic, so it dries fast and will keep you warm even when wet. This is a huge consideration in Alaska. After the bag I'd go with top-quality rain gear. Many of us prefer Helly Hansen Impertech, and have, at least for now, about given up on the so-called "breathable rain gear", which always seems to leak eventually. The present product offerings leave you with little choice but to go with 100% waterproof. You're gonna sweat and build up condensation in it, but it will keep you out of the rain and wet snow at least. HH Impertech has a smooth outer surface that's really quiet in the brush too.

    You'll notice that my top three recommendations are related to personal comfort and survival. Unless you are warm and dry, the rest is irrelevant. You've got to get yourself stabilized first, then work on the other tools you need.

    Of course you need a good pack and frame, and for that I recommend the Barney's Moose Pack. But that may come later, if your budget won't let you do that in round one.

    You may not know that we have an ever-growing gear section of this website. You might check it out; it even includes gear reviews.

    Oh, and that money you have set aside for an ATV? Spend some of it on a fly-out trip. It will completely change the way you look at Alaska.

    Best of luck!

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
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  7. #7
    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    After 30 years up here I bought my first hunting purposed ATV this summer because I am getting old and tired of walking everywhere. It got me into the same tundra freeway as a thousand other guys. However, at home the ATV has proved itself in helping move boat trailers into the backyard and haul trash out of where the truck can't turn around. Priceless for that.

    This season the ATV was most useful for holding the caribou head/rack on the utility trailer for the drive home. It never made it off the trailer on the second trip up. I still ended up walking into a non-motorized area just to see any caribou that were not running for their lives. So much for getting old and tired of walking.........need to go get one of them barnies' packs I guess.....keep on walking until I can't any longer.

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    Member 907pride's Avatar
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    I would have to semi-disagree with some of the guys on here. Yes, I agree that an ATV will get you to where most other people are, but if you put in some time researching areas to go to get away you will get into the game and away from the people. My last 2 moose were shot from the wheeler and hauled out on them. Last year I helped my friend get his first moose and it was also seen while driving a very lonely little trail. Both my sheep and my brothers sheep this year were hauled out on wheelers. So, I guess the point that I am trying to make is that you can be a successful ATV hunter.

    The best results that I have found is when you take a wheeler umpteen miles and then start walking. This gets you deep into the field where the animals are and you will have success. I used the wheelers this year on our sheep hunts, but that doesn't mean that the sheep dropped right at the wheeler. I still hauled mine 8 miles out of the mountains to get it to the wheeler, but I would have never been able to access the area without my wheeler.

    There are great uses with the wheelers. I also get out and walk but having a mode of transportation is great in the field. ATV trails are exactly like Hodgeman described the Denali hwy. They are a gong show, but they get you into great areas. Most people never walk away from their wheeler, but if you do, you will find yourself very alone.

    I just wanted to play devils advocate here. I also agree that most of the game I have taken has been on foot, but I also wanted to point out the pros of having an ATV as well. I also used a jetski to get a caribou this year and I'm going out in a boat this afternoon to look for a moose, so there are many alternatives to a wheeler as well. ~907~

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    I don't think anyone is arguing that ATVs don't have their uses - I've put a fair bit of blood in the bed of my six wheeler - but I was simply pointing out that they're not a "must" as was mentioned by the original poster. If folks really enjoy riding and will use their ATV year-round, then by all means they're a great investment. If only for hunting, well - they're a great option, but for some people they may not be the best investment. I own two and will likely buy one more so that I can take my family of four out for some cool hunting/grayling fishing/camping trips, but overall I think I'll start putting money that would otherwise go into ATVs into a fund for periodic fly-out hunts. I used to think that fly-out hunts were only for the really wealthy, but if you put the numbers on paper, they're no more expensive than the cost of owning a few ATVs (and especially so if you add in the cost of a few snowmachines). There are advantages to each, no doubt - I just wouldn't consider them a must.

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    907- I'm not disagreeing that an ATV is a useful tool, but I see a lot of beginning hunters think they have to make the investment as a first requirement to hunt, simply because they see everyone else with one in the back of a truck.

    At this point, I've mentored 2 younger hunters who both had wheelers but the rest of their gear was either junk or nonexistent. In both cases, they wished they had not spent the cash on the ATV and outfitted themselves a little more efficiently prior to the major purchase. One spent a couple of frustrating seasons just riding and looking unsuccessfully.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    Member 907pride's Avatar
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    Hodgeman and Brian,

    I hope you don't think I was arguing with you. I was just trying to play devils advocate. That's why I said that I only semi-disagree. I grew up without ATV's. I didn't hunt from an ATV until I was around 24. I have done my share of packing animals on my back. My family still jokes about how my dad would drag us around for endless miles on the tundra. I do love my wheelers though. I couldn't sell them even if I wanted to. My wife enjoys them too much.

    As for the original post I very much agree that money must be spent first on some other good gear or you will regret it. Kevin, you should get yourself a good pack, sleeping bag, tent, boots. There is weeks of reading material on here for guys like you that are looking at getting gear. If you are going to be hiking allot then do yourself a favor and get a Barney's pack.

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    ATV.... It's all in how you use em....

    The biggest problem with atv's for hunting is that most guys spend their time burning gas on the thing. I use mine to get me to an area where I setup my camp. It then usually never gets turned on until I'm ready to retrieve a critter or go home or if I decide to move to another area.

    There is an area I hunt close to town and every year I see the "road hunters" drive around burning gas. I stay put, hunt and have killed 3 moose there. My buddy has done the same.
    A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and donít have one, youíll probably never need one again

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    Member Kevin0718's Avatar
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    I just want to say thank you all very much. This has been VERY VERY helpful i think you all have saved me money on a atv after reading what you said it really does make sence. Besides the rain gear what else is some good clothing items to have and get the must type things. i know this has been talked about before im new to the site and still getting it all figured out. I appreciate you opinions and time to help a first time hunter get started on the right foot

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin0718 View Post
    Besides the rain gear what else is some good clothing items to have and get the must type things.
    There are tons of choices out there. You can go higher end mountain type hunting with Sitka or Kuiu- lot of folks are pretty happy with them if you got deeeeeeep pockets. You can go way cheaper with generic fleece- up to you and your wallet. You can go a long way in plain Jane synthetic pants and a fleece jacket available almost anywhere. You might check out Sportsmans or a Cabelas catalog but keep in mind a lot of what you're seeing is geared for a midwest whitetail hunter. I like more generic gear, like what you'd find at Beaver Sports or REI as spending a bunch on dedicated "hunting" garb just doesn't seem practical to me and I like to hike, camp and XC ski as well as hunt.

    The big thing to remember is to avoid cotton (although a day hunter might choose it with an eye on the weather) and don't get really hung up on camo patterns, most of it is too dark for up here anyway.

    Some sort of long underwear is pretty much a must- I really like merino wool over the synthetics but both have fans. Our early season (Aug) can be pretty warm and later seasons can be brutally cold so some notion of layering is required.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    Member Kevin0718's Avatar
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    good info thank you like others have said i dont want to go cheap and keep buying things time and time again. I want to get some quality equipement and be able to use it for a long time. I just dont know how deep my pockets need to be until i get back home and start shopping around and looking. Im sure online might be cheaper but i will not be able to try anything on i want it to be comfortable and work. Especailly when it comes to footwear

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin0718 View Post
    I just want to say thank you all very much. This has been VERY VERY helpful i think you all have saved me money on a atv after reading what you said it really does make sence. Besides the rain gear what else is some good clothing items to have and get the must type things. i know this has been talked about before im new to the site and still getting it all figured out. I appreciate you opinions and time to help a first time hunter get started on the right foot
    After raingear (Helly Hansen Impertech) I would say boots would be another thing to get. Danners are good for moose, caribou or bear I have an older pair of Danner Raptors that I am retiring (after 10 years) and my buddy has a pair of Danner Pronghorns he is getting a new pair mainly because the pronghorns weren't fireproof. Which leads to the next item I would recommend is a good set of gaiters Kenetrek, OR, Kuiu all make some good gaiters Sitka has a pair at Sportsmans but they don't look tall enough to do what I believe gaiters should do ie help keep moisture out of the boot which will inturn keep people from trying to dry soaking boots next to a fire which can in turn make boots unusable. Another option would be the Bog/Muck style boots they are water proof tall and at least those brands have decent traction however they have no ankle support.

  17. #17
    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    I bought some cebela's microtex camo in their outfitter pattern. Its synthetic, drys fast, and is quiet. I have yet to test out how tough it is for rock crawling in sheep country, but in brush it is fine. Much better than my old carharts or levis and lighter than wool. Due to my weight loss I will be needing to invest in some more for next year.

    If you are going to wear hiking boots gaiters are a requirement. They keep stuff out of the boot top and your lower legs dry/drier when the grass is wet.

    This is my first year with Alpha Burley rubber/neo knee boots and my second year with high end rubber boots. The Cabela's name rubber boots were OK until month 11 when they rotted out. The Alpha Burley's cost nearly twice what the cabela's did, but they are a much lighter and better fitting boot. Foot gear is where you are going to be spending money.

    I like to hit the sports authority in the spring and see what kind of last years style fleece pull overs are on the steep discount rack. Getting a $60 fleece for $20 makes me feel special. None of it is camo so I can use it for work or play.

    My advice for an ATV is to shop for a used one on craigslist. Lots of deals due to PCS moves, and equipment upgrades. There is no reason to buy new up here since you can buy nearly new for much less. There are so many folks that buy into the ATV thing, and then never ride more than a few hundred miles in several summers its just not funny. The Yamaha Grizzly models are pretty popular and great machines for most of AK.

  18. #18
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Last spring one of our Mods (Steve, our local gear head) tested out Carol Davis Sportswear and had great results. They're a small company specializing in synthetic long underwear. You might check out the gear review. You're going to need good long underwear and they sound pretty good.

    -Mike
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    Member Kevin0718's Avatar
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    Thanks again for the tips i will check out these new synthetic long underwear that you are talking about

  20. #20
    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Default Hunting Gear recommendations

    If it were me I would look into merino wool. Warmer than synthetic and it doesn't stink like synthetic which is a major advantage!

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