Upgrading your hunting season with the following gear will significantly better your experience outside.
It’s the lull before big game season. And if you’re anything like me, you’re scouring the web to see how you can best upgrade your hunting gear before opening day.
Most of this isn’t hunting gear per se, but it is a swath of gear from first aid needs to minimal creature comforts (and more) that can either save or improve your experience in the field. For me, the little things add up. And more and more, they’re worth the extra expenses.
We also offer a swath of articles that cover the best of the best when it comes to actual hunting gear. If you’re looking for the best hunting packs, boots, hunting jackets, pants, or more, we’ve got that too.
But the following is simply a hodgepodge of stuff that really helps whether you’re trying to get a good night’s sleep or make a decent steak after a tag is punched.
Badass Gear to Level Up Your Hunting Season
Two friends and fellow hunters have literally saved the lives of hunting companions in the field because they chose to put QuikClot bandaging ($16) in their pack. After hearing these stories of backcountry scares, I immediately purchased QuikClot and I keep it in my pack (and my truck) at all times.
The bandage closes wounds in an impressive period of time using a mineral called kaolin. Having QuikClot on hand can help in personal emergencies, pet emergencies, and more. It’s used by the military in combat. And it should be a part of our everyday vernacular when we talk about packing for a hunt.
At just $16, it should be a non-negotiable in your pack. This isn’t an upgrade; this is a must-have.
I always rolled my eyes at two-burner propane stoves until the Rainier 2X ($205) came into my life. But this one’s a grill and a stove, and that fit my life outdoors better than any two-burner before it.
Having the flexibility to grill bacon while boiling water or throw a steak on without making a fire is one of my personal favorite car-camping upgrades. And honestly, I’m not sure why anyone would even own a two-burner when a grill/burner option is on the market.
It’s the ultimate tailgate, hunting, camp, on-the-road-and-need-a-burger upgrade. It’s packable, perfect, and smart.
Plus, it’s an amazing option if you live in an apartment and just can’t do the grill thing on your small deck. The possibilities are endless, and the Rainier 2X is the best portable stove I’ve ever used.
I am an on-the-go kind of human. Also, I’m the kind that spills constantly. It’s a problem. Enter the YETI Rambler with HotShot Cap ($30).
The HotShot Cap is the real level-up in this outfit. Fill it with anything you want, screw it down, and shove it in a pack with no worries.
When you unscrew the cap, you don’t need to consider where you can drink from. It’s a 360-degree drinkable surface. For dummies like me who can’t wear white, it’s a literal godsend.
It also fits on a slew of larger YETI bottles in case 12 ounces just isn’t enough. Plus, with YETI’s reliable temperature control, you can sip all day and your drink will stay hot or cold.
When the temps turn up, I’m reaching for my Swiftwick PURSUIT HIKE socks ($21), and I’m deeply disappointed if I can’t track down a clean pair. Though the brand skews toward cyclists, their lightweight merino blend is flipping perfect on days that beg for coolness. Archers, I’m looking at you.
A snug compression keeps socks in place, negating problems like blisters. And they simply do their job. In addition to creating a near-perfect sock, the brand works hard to maintain a sustainable footprint (hehe), and their socks are made in the U.S.A.
The socks are available for both men and women.
If you’re a bird-doggin’ machine, this is the technology to upgrade your time in the field with your pups. Garmin’s top-of-the-line handheld GPS and collar system ($999) allows you to train and track up to 20 dogs from up to 9 miles away.
It provides InReach texting and Emergency SOS communication. Satellite and topo maps allow you to clearly view the landscape you and your dogs are covering. And you can correct your dog via tones, vibrations, and stimulation when necessary.
You can also pair this system with a Garmin watch for ease of use on the go. And the handheld can work on its own as a GPS device on hunts where the dogs stay home. This is, of course, a major upgrade to your kit. But sometimes, a major upgrade is necessary.
I’ll be using this system all fall as I hunt my Boykin Spaniel pup for his first season. I am VERY pumped.
Between the high loft and silky feel, it’s just comfortable. The zipper is solid and difficult to catch. It has no wild bells and whistles beyond the loft and the fill that you need to stay warm year-round. As someone who sleeps cold and is often sleeping out in wildly cold weather, this is a big deal.
Plus, these bags are light. Like, really light. At just 2 pounds 10 ounces, the zero-degree option is still packable on your back. You don’t need to sacrifice weight for warmth, I promise. The 15-degree maxes out at a minuscule 2 pounds 3 ounces if you don’t need the extra down.
This nifty little 5-ounce foam seat pad is something I probably would have huffed at back in the day. But after experiencing the added delight of a bit of cushion when hunting in the hills on a cold day, I get it.
The NEMO Chipper foam seat pad ($20) also has a great story. NEMO was looking for a way to recycle remnants from their sleeping pad manufacturing cycle. And they did just that.
“In the first year of production we [were] able to keep 8.8 tons of scrap foam out of the waste stream and 48 tons of carbon dioxide out of the air compared to using virgin materials,” the company’s site boasts.
And now this little pad is a constant in my life. Use it in the field, at sporting events, for day hikes, or anywhere you just need a bit of cush for your tush. It’s an affordable and sweet upgrade for life on the run.
Most people associate dry bags with fishing, but they’ve become an irreplaceable part of my personal hunting setup. And the Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Duffel ($299) is my all-time favorite bag. I’ve used dry duffels before, but this one takes the cake.
Why? The climbing rope handle system is burly and is located in all the right places. The diagonal zipper is easy to open and close, with none of the struggles I’ve had with other dry bags. The 39L size and shape are perfect for a multiday trip on the water or off. And I can throw it in the bed of my truck with no worries of leaking or damage.
I plan on using this as my top pack for packing my horse and mule this fall, and I’ve used it as an overnighter for nearly every trip I’ve been on since it arrived. I love this bag. It’s perfection, plain and simple.
Perhaps an odd but necessary standout, New-Skin Liquid Bandage ($3) has been a part of my life and gear repertoire since I was a kid playing soccer and lacrosse in the swamps of Ohio’s sports fields. Blisters have been a plague since those days over 2 decades ago, and Liquid Bandage is the gift that keeps on giving.
Wildly small yet unbelievably effective, Liquid Bandage has been the difference in moments I thought I couldn’t keep going and simply taking a quick application break.
I’ll warn you, it burns like the hot depths of hell upon application. But it does just what it says and provides a second layer of skin and protection. If you’re in the elements, reapply often. For anything longer than an easy walk, it’s in my bag. No question about it.
I’m not even sure how long the LuminAID solar lantern ($25-30) has been a part of my life, mostly because I forget life without it. I stick it on the dash of my truck when I know I’m gonna need evening light, and night after night, it performs.
It offers three separate brightness options, and it can be used as a charger. I don’t recall any time that it’s failed me in my quest for a brighter space. And it’s wildly light. The inflatable option is great. And if I could change anything about it, I would have picked the warm light option for optimal coziness.
This light was actually designed for humanitarian reasons, but it’s also a perfect fit for anyone who spends time outside. It weighs next to nothing, and it requires nothing but the sun. I love it.