Top 9 Gear Picks for Mountain Hunts

Mountain hunting isn’t for the faint of heart. In country where the air is thin and the terrain is rough both hunter and gear are tested at a level far exceeding what you’ll encounter closer to sea level. Physically, these high elevation hunts are exhausting beyond words and you had better hope your pre-season fitness regiment prepared you for long days and long miles. Since many mountain hunts require carrying your gear — sometimes all of your gear — on your back you need to ensure all of your equipment is light and durable. I’ve used some excellent mountain gear, and many of the products that saw me through those hunts are listed here. I’ve also seen just how badly gear can fail — boots that fall apart, clothing that doesn’t protect from the elements, and optics that fail as the light fades. My own worst experience was having a pack with zippers that started falling apart and seams that wouldn’t hold so that all my gear started spilling out as I hiked. Thank goodness a friend had a roll of heavy-duty all-purpose tape. I survived the hunt, but the lesson was clear — If your equipment fails in the remote wilderness there’s nowhere to find a replacement.

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These challenges, though, are part of what mountain hunting so addictive. In the high country, you’ll view the world as few others can, and the challenge of finding an animal, harvesting it, and bringing back down from the top of the world is as pure a challenge as you’ll find. Preparation is key and the prep work begins with finding the right equipment.

KUIU Scarpa Rebel K GTX

For me, mountain hunting gear begins on my feet. I’ve hiked enough miles on uneven terrain to know a great pair of boots is as essential as good glass or an accurate rifle. KUIU’s new Scarpa Rebel K GTX isn’t just another lace-up boot that’s only qualification as mountain footwear is that it’s light. Rather, The Rebel K was designed from the onset to be an advanced high-country boot loaded with features that will keep you comfortable and upright. How advanced? They feature Super Fabric, a durable synthetic with integrated ceramic dots in areas where wear and stress are greatest for maximum reliability and life. Other key features include the use of comfortable Scholler S-Tech fabric linings, full rubber rand, Vibram Mulaz outsole, semi-automatic crampon compatibility, Gore-Tex Performance Comfort breathable liner, and much more. The end result is a boot that’s tough, supportive, and offers great feel and traction — yet weighs just over 3 pounds per pair. MSRP: $449.99. www.kuiu.com

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Kimber Mountain Ascent Rifle

Run down the checklist of essential elements for a mountain hunting gun. Lightweight? Check. The Kimber Mountain Ascent weighs just 4 pounds, 13 oz. chambered in .308 Winchester. Tough? It’s constructed from stainless steel and comes with a lightweight, weatherproof carbon fiber stock. Accurate? If you do your part Kimber promises minute of angle groups. The bolt-action Mountain Ascent is based on Kimber’s M8400 action and is available in a wide range of chamberings including such ideal long-range mountain cartridges as the 6.5 Creedmoor, .280 Ackley Improved, .270 Winchester, .300 WSM and many more. A controlled round feed action keeps cartridges moving in and out in an orderly fashion and this rifle comes equipped with a muzzle brake and thread protector. Gore Optifade camo on the stock aids in concealment and the trigger is factory adjustable from 3.5 to 4 lbs. and breaks cleanly for making long shots in tough country. MSRP $2,040. You can purchase this gun at GunBroker.com. For more information, visit www.kimberamerica.com

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Timber Hawk Killshot Pack

When out mountain hunting, a pack is more than just a place to store your lunch and an extra jacket. Every piece of equipment for every aspect of the hunt must fit in and be transported the pack, so choosing the right one is essential. Timber Hawk’s Killshot pack is expansive — 3,300 cubic inches — and features a cavernous main compartment that’s perfect for hauling your largest gear items. Pockets are found on the left and right side of the hip belt, and there’s a large padded front pocket for storing items that you’ll need to access immediately. A two-liter hydration reservoir that can be turned inside out for cleaning is included and the hydration line is insulated so it won’t freeze when hunting on the coldest days. Rifles can be carried on the right or left side of the pack, and there are four locations for fastening a bow with enough space left over for shooting sticks or a tripod. Padded should straps help secure the load and they are bolstered by three sets of adjustable vertical straps for a perfect fit. MSRP is $210. www.timberhawk.com

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Zeiss Terra ED Pocket Binoculars

Serious mountain hunters know good glass is critical to the success of any hunt because you can’t kill what you can’t see. But high elevation hunts also require lightweight optics, and the Zeiss Terra ED Pocket binoculars are the ideal combination of low weight and high optical quality. Terra binoculars all have crisp, multi-coated lenses that perform above their price point and the Terra ED Pocket is available in either 8×25 or 10×25 versions with a double-link bridge design that allows them to be folded up and placed in a chest pocket when not in use. Both versions offer impressive fields of view at 1,000 yards; 357 feet for the 8x version and 291 feet for the 10x. With a waterproof body and functional temperature range of -4 to 145 degrees Fahrenheit, these compact binos will work in just about any imaginable condition. Both the 8x and 10x models weigh under 11 oz., and you won’t find any lighter glasses that offer this kind of feature list — especially at this price. MSRPs range from $299.99 to $329.99. These binoculars are available for purchase at GunBroker.com. For more information, visit www.outdoor.zeiss.com

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Sitka Gear Subalpine Ascent Shirt

Whether worn as a lightweight hunting shirt in warmer conditions or as a layering garment for cold weather pursuits the Sitka Subalpine Ascent is a garment mountain hunters need. The nylon chest and torso and polyester arms and sides keep weight down and allow moisture to escape so you stay dry. The flattened seams ride comfortably and the sleeves are tight enough so that they won’t interfere with your bowstring when drawing. Two vented chest pockets help keep you cool when not in use and the flip-up collar is ideal for keeping your neck from getting burned by the sun. There are also printed mesh panels under the arm to improve ventilation. Available in Optifade Subalpine camo, these shirts are rather expensive ($169) but these are highly specialized garments that are designed to keep hard-core hunters comfortable and dry. www.sitkagear.com

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Christensen Arms Mesa

Christensen Arms rifles are a favorite tool of mountain hunters, but these extremely accurate, precision-built mountain rifles were priced out of the range of most hunters — until now. At $1,295, the Mesa is a real bargain considering everything this gun offers including features like a hand-lapped featherweight contour 416R stainless steel barrel with seamless stainless steel removable muzzle brake and match chamber, stainless steel billet receiver, a two-lug, spiral fluted bolt that is nitride treated, a carbon fiber composite stock with invar pillars and spot bedding, and too many other accuracy-enhancing features to list. Available in 6.5 Creedmoor, 28 Nosler, .300 Win Mag and several other calibers that are ideal for mountain game, the 6.5 lbs. (short-action calibers) Mesa is a great gun for your next mountain hunt that’s backed by a sub-MOA guarantee. You can purchase this gun at GunBroker.com. For more information, visit www.christensenarms.com

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Leupold VX-2 3-9×33 Scope

The VX-2 3-9×33 is everything you’d expect in a Leupold riflescope it offers blackened lens edges to reduce light diffusion and allow more usable light to reach your eye, DiamondCoat abrasion-resistant lens coatings, and the CDS custom dial system allows you to purchase custom laser-engraved elevation knobs that make long-range shooting easier and faster. The VX-2’s waterproof and fog proof design means you won’t have to constantly wonder whether or not your optic will fail in tough conditions. The big news, though, is that this scope weighs a mere 9.3 ounces. The VX-2 offers the durable construction and brilliant clarity that you’ve come to expect from Leupold in an ultralight optics package. $454.99. Available for purchase at GunBroker.com. For more information visit www.leupold.com

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Browning Hell’s Canyon Men’s Mercury Jacket

The newest addition to the Browning line of clothes is the Hell’s Canyon Mercury jacket which features two-layer water-resistant construction to keep you dry and warm but its minimal-bulk design makes it ideal for high country hunts or mountain hunting. ADDVANCED Scent Elimination technology reduces human odors by eliminating bacteria and trapping scent so you won’t alert game, a bonus when hunting in the mountains where warm and cool-air thermals can carry your scent a great distance. There’s a full-length front zipper with a chin protector and three pockets for easy access to gear. Available in a variety of camo patterns, the Mercury Jacket is an ideal jacket for cool mountain mornings. MSRP $169.99. www.browning.com

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Leatherman Skeletool RX

Though it’s designed as a first responder’s tool, the Leatherman RX is a great all-purpose gear item that makes sense for mountain hunting. Weighing just five ounces, the all-stainless Skeletool RX features a 2.6″ serrated blade that’s perfect for cutting through food packaging, paracord, or, in an emergency, quickly removing clothing or backpack straps.  Also included are standard and needle nose pliers, two wire cutters, a large bit driver and a carbide glass-break bit, and an integral carabineer for attaching the Leatherman to your bag, a limb, barbed-wire fence or hanging in your tent at night for quick access. No one expects to have an emergency in the woods, but the Skeletool RX is an essential piece of equipment to have with you — even if you don’t need it for medical emergencies you’ll still be able to use it for a number of chores while hunting. It’s well worth carrying that extra five ounces of weight. MSRP $79.95. www.leatherman.com

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