What do you pack for a day hunt?
What you take in your pack, could be the difference between an awesome day out and a disastrous hunt. Everything you pack needs to be essential, fit for purpose and as light as possible. With weather systems continually changing and terrain that is going to give you a hard time, warmth and comfort are also a priority.
What type of pack you choose is also key. It needs to be strong enough to haul in your gear and haul out the game. Our Ridgeline Dayhunter packs, come in 25L and 35L sizes, with enough volume to pack what you need and built-in comfort so that you can walk with ease.
We have spent years refining what we like to carry with us on a day hunt, and have compiled a recommended gear list below:
You are on a hunt, after all! The most obvious gear your pack will carry is your hunting equipment. Here are our picks.
- Binoculars & bino harness
- Every hunter should carry binos to help spot your game. A bino harness is the ideal way to carry binoculars. Our new Kahu Bino Harness is designed in New Zealand to fit most sizes of roof prism binoculars. This low-profile bino harness features a forward opening and angled magnetic closure for efficient one-handed access and security. It also has 3 removable internal shims for customisation, a large zipped phone pocket, side pockets, a water-resistant raincover and a molle system for your rangefinder and ammo pouches.
- We love: Ridgeline Kahu (harness), Zeiss Victory RF (binoculars)
- Ammo pouch
- Essential for storing your bullets, an ammo pouch should have padding for bullet protection and be made from durable materials with secure closure. Our Kahu pouch domes to the Kahu Bino Harness for easy carrying.
- We love: Ridgeline Kahu
- Hunting tripods do add some weight, but they’re worth it. They allow you to spot more game, keeping your binoculars or spotting scope steady and weightless when in use. After all, more spotted game = more filled tags!
- We love: Whichever one suits your binos.
- You’ll want to take your prize back out with you! Choose a fully washable game bag for easy cleaning.
- We love: Ridgeline Game Bag
- Knives have become highly specialised over the years. You need one with a fixed blade from a reputable company that comes with its own sheath. Durability and strength are key here.
- We love: SOG
- Insulation tape
- Popping some insulation (electrical) tape over your firearm’s muzzle can stop mud and debris from getting into your barrel and clogging the bore.
- We love: Whatever’s cheapest!
Apparel & Accessories
Coping with tough outdoor conditions is key to having a successful hunt. Invest in quality outdoor apparel to stay warm and protected. It’s always a good idea to have some extras in your pack in case the weather turns.
- Shell Jacket & Trousers
- If it starts to rain, it’s important to stay warm and dry. Lightweight performance rain shells with full seam sealing and 10K/10K water resistance/breathability ratings are perfect. Make sure you get a comfortable (not tight) fit, as they should go over your fleece/merino layers or trousers.
- We love: Ridgeline Packlite Jacket & Pants
- Beanie & Gloves
- Merino wool is the best fabric for your hunting beanie and gloves, because it is thermo-regulating (keeps you warm or cool depending on the temperature), non-scratchy and odour-resistant.
- We love: Ridgeline Merinotech Beanie / Gloves
- A neck gaiter (buff) is a lightweight multi-use accessory that you can wear multiple ways. It can increase your camo coverage, keep your neck warm or sun-safe, block flies, or tie back your hair.
- We love: Ridgeline Neketai (Excape Camo)
Safety & Repair Equipment
The great outdoors is beautiful, but unpredictable. Things can and do go wrong on occasion, so make sure you prepare for the worst and keep yourself safe. These items will help you in an emergency, whether you’ve gotten lost, injured, or need to spend an emergency overnight in the backcountry.
- Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)
- PLBs are small emergency devices that should only be used in life-threatening situations (think severe injuries, lost and exposed to extreme weather conditions, pre-existing medical condition flare-ups like diabetes, etc.). PLBs transmit a distress signal when activated to the global satellite system Cospas-Sarsat, which redirects it to your local emergency service. A rescue team is then dispatched to the coordinates that the beacon transmitted.
- We love: KTI Safety Alert
- First aid kit
- You are hunting wild animals, which comes with many inherent risks. Always carry a first aid kit with appropriate supplies. At the very least, you should have alcohol swabs/antiseptic wipes/antibiotic ointment, sterile gauze dressing, bandages (including a snake bite bandage), and forceps for tick and splinter removal. If you have room, pop in some painkillers, blister bandage, and trauma pads.
- We love: Aidplus or Adventure Medical
- As handy as Google Maps is when navigating around the city, you’ll need a sturdy handheld GPS to guide you around the backcountry. A GPS will prevent you from getting lost and help you reach pre-decided destinations.
- We love: Garmin
- When it gets dark, a headtorch is the easiest way to light your path because it keeps your hands free. Check out battery life, water resistance and light modes (e.g. red light modes can preserve your night vision and enhance stealth; some headtorches also have green and blue modes for different conditions).
- We love: Black Diamond, Petzl, Ledlenser. Check out the Petzl Tactikka + RGB!
- Sleeping pad
- An ultra light sleeping mat makes a great rest when you are glassing or for taking a break as you wait for the deer to start roaring.
- We love: Thermarest
Food & Drink
Getting hungry or thirsty can quickly ruin your hunt. Your performance will start to suffer as soon as you feel those hunger pangs. Keep yourself fed and watered appropriately!
- Hydration bladder
- Water is the most essential thing you will bring. Invest in a quality hydration bladder with a routable tube that you can sip from throughout the day. If you’ll need to refill from natural water sources throughout the day, take some water treatment tablets as well.
- We love: Camelbak or Hydrapak
- Ready meals
- Dehydrated (freeze-dried) meals are great for multi-day hunts and hikes, but aren’t the best for day hunts because they require you to carry more water. Opt for ready meals full of protein and sustainable energy. You can eat them cold, or heat them up with an outdoors cooker and a lightweight, collapsible camp pot.
- We love: Go Native Butter Chicken and Spaghetti Bolognaise; John West Tuna Protein Wholegrains With Couscous
- Nobody likes a hangry hunter! Keep yourself fuelled with some nutritional snacks. Grab something easy and pre-made like muesli bars, energy bars or chews. If you’re feeling fancy, you can always make yourself some trail mix with nuts, chocolate chips, pretzels, etc.
- We love: Uncle Tobys muesli bars or Clif Bars
- You can leave this one out if you’re struggling for weight, but it’s a wonderful luxury to have on a hunt. An outdoor stove like Jetboil can boil water for coffees, teas and freeze-dried meals, as well as heat up ready meals.
- We love: Jetboil, Trangia, Optimus
- Grab a super lightweight camping cutlery set so you’re not weighed down by heavy metal. You might only need a spoon or a spork - judge by your ready meals.
- We love: Sporks or 3-sets bound by a carabiner
Standard contents for a day hunting trip using the Ridgeline Dayhunter Plus 35L backpack.
This list is perfect for a 35L daypack like the new Ridgeline 35L Dayhunter Pack. If your pack is bigger or smaller, your pack’s contents may vary slightly, but this is a great starter kit! Plus, it can be personalised depending on your hunt’s location, weather, and prey type by swapping out individual pieces. For example, if you’re hunting in hot weather, replace the beanie with a sun-safe hat or cap. Other items, like a laser rangefinder, may be more hunt-specific and only get included on relevant trips.