A hunting pack should have everything you need for a successful hunt, but sometimes things don’t go as planned. While there are some hunts when all you need is a pocket full of shells and a buck knife, many will require a wider assortment of gear.

Here are nine items that I always carry in my backcountry hunting pack. Whether I am out for an entire day, or I’m in the bush for a whole weekend, I have found these items to be essential in many hunts. Sometimes I came into the hunt planning to use them, sometimes I was just glad to have them.

Rain gear

It only took me one wet weekend to reinforce this item’s importance. A good set of rain gear goes a very long way, and if it’s packable and lightweight, then that’s even more indispensable. Even if there’s not a cloud in sight, the mountains can make for fairly unpredictable weather. Clouds can roll in fast, and when they do, you are going to want to stay dry.

Another reason why I like to keep some rain gear handy is because it acts as a barrier for wind, if and when temperatures drop. A set that I recommend is the packable rain gear made by Rocky.

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Medical kit

Another critical piece of gear is a medical or first-aid kit. This item may never be used, if you are lucky, but it is without a doubt one thing that every hunter should carry.

Even if you aren’t hunting, a first aid kit should be on you whenever you venture into the outdoors. Though I encourage you to carry as many medical supplies as possible, I prefer to carry a small kit in my pack, but I am sure to have a larger kit at my car.

Sewing kit

Though it may not be an extremely crucial item to carry, I’ve been happy to have it on numerous occasions. A needle and some thread is really all you need. Maybe even throw in a safety pin or two. This will help you out when you tear open your pants or even rip off a backpack strap.


A jack of all trades – paracord is always good to have. And it weighs almost nothing. There is an insame amount of problems that a small roll of paracord can solve. Not to mention, it is often rated for a fairly high amount of weight.

Sometimes it is referred to as 550-cord, due to the load capacity of 550 lbs. From setting up shelter to packing out an animal, paracord is a must to have in your backcountry pack.

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weapon maintenance supplies

When in the field, your rifle, bow, or shotgun is the tool of your craft. And you need it to function at all times. That is why I always carry supplies to help it function the way it was meant to. If I am carrying a firearm, a cleaning kit and allen key wrenches are in my pack.

And don’t forget to bring along plenty of extra ammunition. When I have my bow, I carry a complete allen key wrench set. I am also sure to have extra D-loop cord, and sometimes even extra fletchings, along with the packable Arizona Fletching Jig. Extra arrows and broadheads may also be necessary on some hunts.


One of the most forgotten pieces of equipment. Face it – that sun is going to go down at some point, and you may not have camp set and a bright fire just yet. You may not have even planned to be hunting that late. Maybe you shot a buck and have to pack it out in the dark.

The last thing you want to do is be doing so in the dark. I tend to carry multiple light sources. A headlamp, a flashlight, and a few glow sticks. The glow sticks are important for marking points of interest – down deer, camp, a boat or vehicle.

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game bags

Another somewhat overlooked piece of gear. Game bags are so light that I hardly notice them in my pack. Having a few game bags, or even a few pillowcases, can make the difference in obtaining the maximum amount of meat possible. Several companies also make high-quality game bags, such as Alaska Game Bags.

6×8 tarp

I like to carry a simple tarp for a few reasons. There are several uses that can be vital in a hunt. My number one reason is to be able to create a waterproof shelter. All I have to do it string it up, and I am good to go for the most part.

My next big use of it is as a clean meat processing area – I can lay out several big game quarters without worrying about dirt getting into any meat. I can safely bone out the quarter as well.

The third big one is as a footprint for my inflatable mattress pad, the Static V, made by Klymit. On a dry night, I can sleep here and not worry about my pad getting popped or picking up any burrs on my sleeping bag and gear.

multipurpose knife

My knife of choice is the Havalon Baracuta. It comes with multiple blades, including a saw, a utility blade, and a boning blade. Though I also tend to carry a heavier knife, the Baracuta is a blade that I always have in my pack.

Needless to say, there are a tremendous amount of applications for a good knife, but the primary function I plan to use this one for is skinning and meat processing. I carry the baracuta in my main pack, but often carry the Havalon Piranta in my lightweight stalking pack.

Pro-tip: Need help selecting the perfect pack to put these items in? Read this article, on the top hunting packs on the market.

© Gary Bass | Dreamstime.com – Rifle and backpack