For professional hunters, the offseason is a time to recreate before preparing for the next season. That includes trips between ranches, hunt cabins, and maybe some sport shooting.
We know Ahtila’s packing list for backcountry hunting trips is extensive, especially when she packs for guests. But we were curious about what she’s hauling around for work and fun. Spoiler alert: She wears Birkenstocks.
As you can tell, Ahtila is a YETI ambassador, and she knows how to put bags to the test. We’ll get around to what’s inside her bags, just like we did with Cameron Kirkconnell and Tatum Monod, so keep reading.
A Winter Stalwart
In the fall and winter, Ahtila incorporates the YETI Panga duffel bags into her trips (and has since they debuted more than 5 years ago). On her hunting trips, the bags ride atop horses and can be left in fields for resupply caches.
They’re tough, waterproof, and, as she taught us, an empty one makes a nice air chair while glassing. “They’re super comfy. It’s like a bean bag of the woods,” she said.
On a typical season trip, she packs both a Panga 100 and a 75 for top-packing on the horses. “They’re air-tight. You can suck a diamond down and get it super snug for safety travel-wise when you’re packing a string of horses,” she said.
And just in case the horses (and bags) end up in the river, she packs a YETI SideKick inside the Panga. For backcountry excursions, having a failsafe waterproof option is good practice. Inside the SideKick, Ahtila keeps batteries, memory cards, a journal, a book, and a toiletry kit.
“It’s nice to have your gear protected and airtight if your horses go bucking down the trail and step on a hornet’s nest or something,” she said.
But that’s the winter, when she’s in the backcountry for monthlong stretches. We were curious what a Canadian hunting ambassador does during the small window of summer — and what she carries.
Ahtila traveled to the U.S. for work meetings and to participate in the inaugural SIG SAUER Hunter Games. There, she competed in teams made up of nine other professional guides and 20 athletes from a range of disciplines.
“I used the little duffel in the States as my carry-on,” she said. “Coming from Canada and only having one international flight coming out of here, I wanted something that could stay with me.”
She packed her checked luggage with “civilian clothes” and a few other essentials.
Crossroads 29″ Luggage: Hunter Games Extras
- Schnee’s Granites
- Smartwool Medium Cushion Socks
- Sitka Equinox Pant, Camp Hoody, Basin Shot Sleeve, and Cloudburst Rain Gear system
- Birkenstock sandals
- Book: “Usually something in marketing, or furthering my education.”
Back home, the luggage takes some abuse in her one-ton truck as she drives horses around. “I’ll throw the luggage in the back of the truck,” she explained. “Or in and out of the horse trailer.”
Ahtila regularly travels between British Columbia and Alberta for work and uses a Crossroads Backpack as her office on the go, as it has a laptop sleeve.
Crossroads 40L Duffel: Go-To Office Bag
- MacBook Pro: “Always. I really enjoy writing, and I don’t go anywhere without my laptop or a notepad. You never know where inspiration might strike.”
- Garmin inReach Explorer Plus and charger cord: “It’s my fail-safe, as it has the maps big enough to use if your phone can’t connect on the Earthmate app and allows you to operate independently from your smartphone. I travel up and down the highways a lot, and most of Canada’s West doesn’t have cell towers enough to have service, so it operates as my backup safety device for communication.”
- Garmin fenix 6S and charging cable
- Extra socks: Smartwool hiking socks
- Schnee’s Women’s Kestrel hiking boots
- Sitka Women’s Core Hoody
- Leatherman Wave (spare)
- Snacks: “Because no one has time to be hungry.”
Versatile Gear for Every Occasion
As a YETI ambassador, Rachel Ahtila has access to all of the brand’s products. Here’s a quick peek into how she has used some of the gear in her own words.
- YETI LoadOut GoBox: “That lives in my truck for ranch and roadside needs.”
- Camino 35 Carryall: “This also lives in my truck. It’s either my shopping bag at the grocery store or farmer’s market. I’ll even use it as a carry-on just because it’s easy to open up and let security look through,” she said. “I’ve even used it to haul water for my horses.”
- Panga 28 Backpack: “I actually ranched out of it because I could throw it in the back of a horse trailer or truck for use when riding between pastures. Somewhere I have a photo of a calf sleeping on it.”
This article is sponsored by YETI. Learn more about the Crossroads Collection of luggage, bags, and backpacks here.