I have written about it before, but during one nasty Alaskan storm during a caribou season, I had a brush with my mortality with crappy shelter while one hunter died just a few miles away during the same storm. I vowed never to compromise on a tent again, and I haven’t. Instead of my $200.00 joke of a tent, I now have a $700.00 Hilleberg tent. If it sounds expensive, there are plenty of personal tents that cost twice that amount, but Hilleberg is the best in my opinion.
I think all hunters have had cheap binoculars and I am no exception. I started off hunting in the late 1970’s with a pair of Tasco binoculars that cost $35.00 at the time. Not to bash Tasco, but I was impressed with their ability to build a binocular that could fog inside all four exterior lenses. I now carry a pair of Swarovski 10×32 Travelers. They cost way more but are worth every penny to me.
I used to think backpacks are just simple bags with frames and shoulder straps. My first experience with packs were rucksacks while I was in the U.S. Army for a time. I put in hundreds of miles while carrying at least 40 pounds in mine and I learned to hate backpacks. I used a cheap backpack on a sheep hunt on year and I experienced pure misery as the buckle on my waste strap failed and I my shoulders were left to carry all of the pack’s weight with the two inadequately padded straps. Now, I carry a Frontier Gear Yukon bag with Freighter Frame purchased at Barney’s Sports Chalet in Anchorage. These pack systems cost over $600.00 and are some of the best money I have ever spent. These packs are worn by tons of Alaskan hunters and guides, so they are definitely good enough for me.
Finally, having a quality rangefinder and GPS is essential. I am flexible on rangefinders but I don’t leave me house without my Magellan eXplorist 350H GPS. It has taken me to great places and has helped me return home safely despite darkness, nasty weather and impenetrable brush and timber where I couldn’t see 20 yards ahead of me. For not much more than $200.00, you can buy this electronic life-preserver and the peace of mind that comes with using it.
Gear is important but safety is a priority. You owe it to yourself not to compromise when it comes to your well-being, but to also enjoy (and suffer financially) upgrading your personal gear list.