I recently covered this on the podcast so, if you’d rather listen to my breakdown of this material, download Episode 132. On that show, you will hear more than what’s covered in this article but, this is a good starting point.
When it comes to training gear, the most important variable I consider is versatility. If I can find a piece of gear, equipment, or a nutritional supplement or product that’s as valuable for training as it is for hunting, I’m a happy customer.
For me, mountain or backcountry hunting is as much about the lifestyle as it is the actual pursuit of an animal. In my worldview, they go hand in hand.
Regardless of whether there’s an open season or not, or whether I’m carrying a weapon or not, I train outside when and where possible. When I’m not training outdoors, the equipment I use indoors is catered to helping me handle the demands of the backcountry.
Last year, there were a few highlights that stood out for me. Each of these found their way into my regular training regimen. In my opinion, if your lifestyle is anything like mine, you won’t be disappointed with any of these products.
Quite simply, this is hands down the most breathable and versatile waterproof jacket I’ve ever owned and it continues to impress me. It’s light enough to be your emergency storm shell in the summer, and yet, assuming I’m moving and have layered appropriately, it’s a great winter trail running and rucking jacket as well. This past fall I found myself choosing this as my rain shell for light and fast day hunts and it handled some nasty mid-fall squalls easily. Overall, this jacket is a no brainer if you train outside throughout the year and want an uber-lightweight shell for hunting season and don’t need/want camo.
I have probably worn these pants once a week since getting them more than a year ago as, when I’m around home, I do at least one ruck training session per week. I own a pair in the solid pyrite colour and these are also my go-to pants for a lot of other general outdoor purposes as well. From a training perspective, these are light enough to be comfortable in the dead of summer but are more than capable, with appropriate layering, in the fall or even winter. They dry out insanely fast, stretch incredibly well, and therefore are insanely comfortable. Overall, the most versatile training/hunting pant I currently own.
Like the Ascent pants, if I’m home, I use this pack at least once a week. For more than a year this has been my pack of choice for ruck training. I drop a 30-pound kettlebell into the main compartment, toss the pack and dog into the truck and hit the trailhead. It’s a slick, agile pack that I’ve come to love. Further, it’s an awesome scouting and day-hunting pack, which in truth, is what it was designed for. If you’re looking for a dedicated training and day-hunting pack you can and will use year-round, the Divide is worth a close look.
Wilderness Athlete Nutritional Products:
I’ve been using WA’s Hydrate & Recover and Energy & Focus products for years now and you can’t go wrong with either. I know for a fact that H&R has been integral to staving off dehydration and muscle cramps and/or soreness on numerous hunts, especially multi-day outings, and I have yet to find an electrolyte supplement that tastes this good, yet works so well. Usually, the better it tastes, the worse it is for you. Not the case with WA’s drink mixes. I like mixing H&R with E&F (aka the Superman) for an extra boost both during and post training or, of course, on extended hunts. And, if you haven’t tried the Re-Bar protein and energy bars, you’re missing out. They pack enough substance and calories to keep you going, but don’t sit like a brick in your stomach. These are now my preferred day-to-day and backcountry snack bars.
These are mentioned frequently in the mountain hunting space, especially as it relates to hunts where traction devices other than crampons are applicable but, it wasn’t until a few months ago that I picked up a pair for myself. In short, if you live in a place where these might be useful, either for hunting or training, buy a set. You won’t be disappointed. I’ve used mine extensively over the past few months, for training that is, and impressed would be an understatement. From slick, hard packed snow to flash frozen (sheer ice) trails, these have proven their worth many times over. I’ve had numerous days this winter where I would have had to cut a training ruck/hike short if it weren’t for these. Although I have yet to use them in a hunting application, based on my testing thus far, they have earned a spot in my pack.
If you’re like many people in our audience, you likely don’t love going to the gym. But, a truly well-rounded home or outdoors based training program should include some strength focused elements, and this requires equipment. Again, versatility is key, and one of the most versatile additions to my program in the past year was a set of Sorinex’s Recon Rings. If a set of gymnastics rings, battle ropes and a Strongman truck pulling harness were to be combined and mutated into one product, these would be the outcome. Use them in the rafters of a garage or barn, or sling them over a tree branch and you can do a wide array of exercises for both the upper and lower body virtually anywhere. Unlike other “suspension training” products, these are designed with the outdoorsman (or woman) in mind. The thick Cordura sheathing that wraps the handles is incredibly durable and challenges grip strength, unlike a smooth or conventional handle. So, when it comes time to pick up that game bag filled with a boned-out elk quarter, your hands will be ready. These are an incredibly portable and versatile piece of equipment.