The first elk hunt of the year took us to the Kootenay region of southern British Columbia in mid-September. While we would be hunting the rut, we knew that our area of focus was not the most population-dense spot around but has a history of big bulls and is steep, so we would be in for a heck of an adventure regardless. Among the crew, we had a great mix of previously tested gear as well as some new pieces to put through the paces. Here are some of our top picks!
Crispi Briksdal SF boots: 200 grams of insulation was more than enough for me despite the cool weather we had as I don’t generally run into cold feet problems. I don’t like a super stiff boot, but the Briksdal SF’s did great on the wide variety of terrain we encountered during the hunt. It was the perfect blend of stiffness, but also flexibility and agility to still feel the things I wanted to feel. All things considered, a phenomenal boot that I can’t recommend more strongly.
Beyond A5 Rig Light Backcountry Pant: I ran these pants last year in Tajikistan, but this hunt was the first test for them in really wet conditions. They got wet at times on the trip, but I was really impressed with how quickly I could get them dry again. For additional insight, check out The Dynamic Re-Warming Drill if you have not already.
Beyond A5 Stretch Alpha: While I had used it in very dry conditions in the past, this was the first time I had it in very wet terrain and it performed very well. Coupled with a mid-weight fleece, I stayed more comfortable than expected.
Fenix HMR50 headlamp: I feel like I finally found the headlamp I’ve been looking for.
Pilsner: no explanation needed.
OR Enigma Half Zip: I had this thing on for eight days and it performed beautifully. We went from wet to dry more times than I care to think about. The 80/20 synthetic to merino blend surprised me by keeping the funk to a minimum over the course of the hunt.
OR Ascendant Hoody: Awesome lightweight, breathable synthetic puffy. I used this as my pillow most nights. Would be great if it had some windbreaking abilities as well.
Mystery Ranch Beartooth 80: Awesome pack, as soon as you figure out the buckles! I did not run a pack cover for the trip and everything stayed far more dry than expected. I put the pack through the paces over the course of the hunt and it performed extremely well.
MSR Reactor 1.7L: I’ve run this stove for three years now in a variety of conditions and absolutely love it. The argument against it is its size and weight compared to other stoves, but I find the speed and fuel efficiency more than make up those negatives. It truly shines on a group hunt as it can hold enough water for 3-4 people at a time.
OR Ferrosi Hooded Jacket: I wasn’t sure it was going to be the right soft shell when I first got my hands on it, but quickly had my mind changed during the hunt. I figured it was too lightweight for the temperatures and precipitation we were expecting, but it more than held its own and surprised me with its wind and water resistance. Can’t wait to test it out in warmer conditions next year.
Beyond Velox Softshell Pant: This was the first time using these pants and I was super impressed. They stayed far more dry than expected and on the few occasions when they did get wet, I was easily able to dry them out again in short order. They took quite a beating from a few spills along the way and proved to be far more durable than I had initially expected. Like the Ferrosi jacket, I can’t wait to use these in different conditions as I am sure they will excel.
Kuiu Super Down Pro puffy: I usually bring a couple of smaller insulation pieces but changed it up for this trip. The jacket was super warm and really convenient to just throw on quickly when stopped. Makes a great pillow as well!
Peak Refuel: With twice the protein and less than half the water needed to make them compared to most other freeze dried meal these things are my new go to. It can really save you time and effort in the mountains when getting water could mean losing some serious elevation. I’ve also never had freeze dried meat re-hydrate so well.
Kuiu Peloton 97 Zip-Off Bottoms: These are always in my pack. At only 4.5oz and super warm these are a must on a hunt like this when temperatures are always fluctuating and you don’t always have time to take off boots, gaiters, and pants to add or remove layers.
Therm-a-rest NeoAir Xtherm: This was my first trip with this sleeping pad and it did not disappoint. With an R value of 5.7 and a weight of only 430 grams there’s not a lot else I need to say about it. It kept me warm and comfortable at night and unnoticeable when in my pack.
Therm-a-rest Z seat: The sleeper of the whole trip for me was another Therm-a-rest product, the Z seat. This accordion-style foldable pad has a 2.6 R-value and costs less than $20. It was a last minute suggestion from Adam and wow… it made my bum very happy.
Sitka Kelvin Down WS Hoody: A friend lent me this piece for the trip and I am so glad he did. When hiking, and sweating(like I did, fully soaked every time), then stopping on a cold windy mountainside, having a good puffy jacket was critical to dry out and bake off the moisture from my clothes before our next sweat. With this puffy and a merino base layer, I was able to go from soaking wet with sweat, to dried out, SEVERAL times a day.
Good Boots: This was my first mountain hunt, period. I borrowed gear from friends and bought whatever else I needed. My choice in boots was a huge bust, but a valuable learning experience for me. I had wet feet more often than not and a lack of ankle support at all times. While I made it through the hunt without being too worse for wear, it was abundantly clear to me after the first hike of the trip that this was a piece of kit I would have to upgrade ASAP.