The hunters who chase mountain sheep are a unique and hearty blend of adventurer and endurance athlete. Their elite status in the hunting world requires them to have elite gear that comes with elite price tags. Even more rare are the sheep outfitters and guides who get paid to ensure hunting success in the most rugged and unforgiving topography in the world, and the cream of that crop reside in Alaska. Here is a list of vital gear used by a large number of Alaskan guides that any mountain hunter will cherish.
If you have ever climbed or hiked steep terrain, balance is the key to not wasting energy. Every ounce of effort spent on trying to stay balanced is precious fuel that should be saved for later. Trekking poles resemble ski poles and weigh under a pound. They give you four points-of-contact with the ground instead of the two that your legs provide. With their use you require way less power to navigate steep or uneven terrain. A lot of guides use them, but every mountain hunter should use them. They are worth their weight in platinum as they not only help you with balance, but can double as medical splints, tent/shelter poles or as levers. The absolute best makers of trekking poles are Leki (leki.com). They manufacture aluminum and carbon fiber trekking poles. A set of poles can run from $60 up to $200. One alternative to the Leki poles are a set that Cabela’s (cabelas.com) sells called the XPG Trekking Poles. I bought these out of curiosity and they have proven themselves to be a great economical set of poles.
Many brands of hardcore pack and frame packages exist, but the Frontier Gear brand sold at Barney’s Sports Chalet in Anchorage, Alaska (barneyssports.com) is the standard setter. Their package is built on their Freighter Frame which can hold an elephant front quarter, and they have a couple different options for bags that go on the frame. I can say from experience that you can find other high-end brands of packs that perform just as well, but you will never find a combo that is lighter than what Frontier Gear offers.
Rest and Relax
Sleeping bags are one of the most important purchases a mountain hunter will ever make. It is not cheap to find one that is both light weight and can keep you warm and dry, but one of the best investments that a few of my guide buddies have ever made are bags made by Wiggy’s. I have used their Super Light model, which weights less than 4 pounds, and I can testify that they keep you warm even if the entire bag is wet.
Knives are personal and hard to pick out for others, but the Piranta knives made by Havalon (havalon.com) are the ultimate utility blade. They are essentially folding, elongated scalpels with disposable blades. Trust me when I say that any hunter with any hunting interest will appreciate one of these knives. They are the ultimate mountain knife and they are always as sharp as a razor blade, and super lightweight. There is no substitute for being light and handy while risking your life on a mountain hunt.