Must-Have Mountain Hunting Accessories

For hunters who are living off their back, having the right equipment/tools is critical to staying out in the field without risking injury.

Must-Have Mountain Hunting Accessories

For mountain hunters, items in their backpack must meet three important criteria. First, the items must be functional, meaning that they must serve a critical purpose for both hunting and survival. Second, they must be durable, ensuring that hunters aren’t dealing with finicky pieces that break or get lost, thus leaving them without a critical asset. And lastly, they must be lightweight and compact, as every ounce on your back matters and space in a pack is always at a premium. 

For most hunters, a mountain hunt involves five to 10 days living off their back, allowing them to set up spike camps where the game is rather than having to traverse the mountain each day in search of game. This style of hunting requires fitness and mental endurance to battle the elements and unforeseen obstacles. While these aforementioned hunter attributes are important, the gear they choose is equally critical and can be the difference between success or succumbing to Mother Nature and the mountain. Simply put, little things like a non-functional stove, a broken backpack strap, or a leaking tent can ruin months or even years of planning in an instant. 

When hunters start to prepare their packing list, clothing should be a priority. While the intent of this article focuses on mountain hunting accessories, it would be short-sighted not to skim the surface, as clothing is one of or potentially the most critical piece of equipment a hunter will need. To simplify, clothing is what keeps a hunter warm, ensures they stay dry, and allows them to endure cold weather, rain or snow comfortably. First and foremost, hunters should employ a layering system starting at a base layer and including mid and outer layers that meet all three criteria of functionality, durability and lightness. While pants and jackets are important, don’t overlook the importance of quality socks, gloves and headwear. 

The brand and type of clothing a hunter chooses comes down to personal preference, but a good rule of thumb is to avoid cotton, use merino or alpaca wool wherever possible, and always include a good waterproof outer layer that isn’t just water-resistant. While there are many hunting-specific brands out there, quality mountain apparel is sold for many purposes, so don’t overlook brands that sell quality gear not designed specifically for hunters.

When hunters decide to go mountain hunting, the equipment purchase/planning starts with a backpack. From there, careful gear selection is required to fill up said pack’s interior with the gear that is necessary (and that fits). A good rule of thumb is to develop a packing list that can be checked off as gear is selected and then checked off again just prior to the hunt to ensure it makes the trip. It’s not a bad idea to offer your customers a sample packing list — with your store’s logo on it, of course. This is my personal mostly brand-agnostic packing list, less clothing, to showcase the depth and thoroughness required. 


  • Backpack, with rain cover
  • Backpack attachments including gun holder, GPS pouches, etc.
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Water bladder and bottle
  • Water purification system (tablets, filter, etc.)
  • GPS
  • Binoculars
  • Rangefinder
  • Satellite phone (can be rented by the group)
  • Headlamp w/ two extra sets of batteries
  • Stove, with fuel
  • Dry bags — enough for all gear that can be damaged/ruined by moisture
  • Bowl/plate set, with multi-function spork
  • Knives — one solid blade and one with replaceable blades
  • Small sharpening stone
  • Meat bags
  • Trekking poles
  • Microfiber cleaning clothes for optics
  • Camera or phone with camera
  • First-aid kit, including bandages and butterfly bandages/sutures
  • Lighter and fire starter
  • Toiletries, including toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Chapstick
  • Medications including pain, stomach, and cold medicine
  • Tape — electrical and a small amount of duct tape
  • Sunglasses
  • Tent repair tape, like Tenacious Tape
  • Toilet paper
  • Dehydrated food
  • Weapon of choice, with arrows/ammunition
  • 20 feet of paracord


  • Spotting scope, with tripod
  • Inflatable glassing pad
  • Solar charging station
  • Body wipes, for dry showers
  • Lightweight axe for chopping water or driving tent stakes
  • A small folding shovel
  • Portable battery charger
  • Chewing gum, mints or candy
  • Sleeping pillow
  • Handwarmers

For hunters attempting their first mountain hunt, this list is daunting and, frankly, expensive. While both of those things are absolutely true, the needs on this list are critical to having an enjoyable adventure and coming home safely at the end of it. While most hunters will have bits and pieces of all these things in their arsenal, items like backpacks, tents and stoves shouldn’t necessarily be the same items they’d use for a weekend family vacation in the summer, as they are often the wrong size or too heavy, thus ruling them out for hunters who must carry everything on their backs.


Possibly the most important item to keep them dry and warm next to clothing, tents for hunters should be either hunting-specific or mountaineering options to keep size and weight to a minimum. If a multi-person hunt is on the books, hunters can look to share the load and buy a two- to three-person tent, but remember that even a two-person tent is small, and if you get socked in with rain, it will be a tight fit for two hunters and gear.

When it comes down to the type of tent, manufacturers make standard three- or four-season tents, tepee-style tents, tents that accommodate heating stoves, and even minimalist tents that are essentially just a rain cover. Tent selection boils down to where and when the hunt will take place. For warmer-weather hunts, perhaps a minimalist tent is sufficient, but for later-season hunts with snow, a stove-capable tent might become a must.


While tents are important, hunters can’t even bring a tent if they don’t have the right backpack. Like tents, there are many different manufacturers of backpacks designed for backcountry hunting. Selecting the type of pack is important, as some are expandable for packing out meat, some have integral frames, and others are more basic and lightweight. 

To select the right backpack, start by determining the duration of the hunt. While having a larger pack is good for multi-hunt use, it also often tricks hunters into bringing gear they don’t need because they have space. Remember, a pack on flat ground weighing 75 pounds may seem manageable, but that all changes when you start gaining elevation. Fifty pounds is a common goal weight, and this number includes all gear, food, and the weapon of choice, so selecting a lightweight pack that has enough room is critical.

As a rule of thumb, 3,000 to 4,000 cubic inches is good for a two- to three-day outing, 5,000 to 6,000 is required for week-long adventures, and 7,000-plus is necessary for 10- to 14-day hunts. While the needed gear for these hunts is often the same, food takes up a lot of the space, so the longer the trip, the bigger the pack to carry the necessary nourishment. 


Focusing on cooking, not heating, stoves, they are broken down by fuel type. Three fuel types are available: canister, liquid and alternative heating (wood or pellets). For most mountain hunters, canister stoves like Jetboil are a popular choice. They include a cooking vessel that doubles as a bowl and are simple, durable and quick to heat up. With all stoves, remember, most fuel cannot be taken on a plane, so if your hunters intend to fly, the should plan to buy fuel locally at their destination before hitting the mountain. 

All backpack hunts require extensive preparation to make them enjoyable, successful, and safe. By selecting the right gear for your pack, hunters are helping to ensure that regardless of punching a tag, they won’t be left on the mountain missing a critical piece of equipment.

Gear Recommendations

Cooking Stove – Jetboil Flash Cooking System

This system is simply, durable and effective. It uses canister fuel that is readily available in most regions close to the airport. It boils water fast both for sanitation and cooking purposes, reducing the frustration of waiting for dinner. Purchased with a utensil set, it makes for a lightweight solution to ensure hunters have warm meals each day.

Dehydrated Food – Mountain House Adventures Meals

Pre-packaged meals with sufficient calories that taste good. Lightweight and compact, allowing hunters to minimize food weight and space without sacrificing on having a good dinner at the end of the day.

Trekking Poles – LEKI Legacy Lite

Lightweight, durable and comfortable are all things LEKI trekking poles have to offer. They collapse when not in use and are light enough not to forgo them in lieu of other gear.

Trekking Pole Add-On - Quick-StiX trekking pole adapters

A great way to turn trekking poles into shooting sticks! These are lightweight and easy to use. 

Backpack - Stone Glacier Sky 5900 Pack with Xcurve Frame 

A great pack for a week-long outing. Can handle up to 150 pounds when packing out meat using the expandable load shelf that adds an additional 2,500 cubic inches. Pack can covert from 4,300 up to 5,900 cubic inches with the addition of the Sky Lid, allowing for multi-hunt use. 

Knife – Havalon Piranta Edge

Uses removable/replaceable blades. Can handle everything from quartering to caping in a lightweight package using surgical-style blades. Allows hunters to avoid the need for sharpening blades by simply replacing the blade with a new one. For hunters looking for a more conventional-style knife blade, check out Havalon’s REDI. 

Sleeping Bag – Big Agnes Anvil Horn 0˚F

Includes treated down to repel water and an excellent temperature rating for most types of hunting. It is roomy inside and has a Pillow Barn to keep your pillow or rolled up jacket in place when sleeping. It also has a Flex Pad Sleeve that easily connects a pad to the bag to keep it in place.

Add-On Sleeping Pad - NeoAir Xlite NXT Sleeping Pad

Super lightweight and packs down small. Adds 4.5 R-value to a sleeping setup and easily inflates without blowing your lugs out. It even comes with a repair kit, just in case.


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.