Rob’s 9 Backcountry Scouting & Backpacking Kit Essentials

Wyatt Shaul glasses for big mule deer bucks last week.


By Rob Shaul

Below details the kit I’m currently running and/or recommend for backcountry hunt scouting (mule deer & elk) in summer. This kit would also work for backpacking. Note that many of these items are on – military, LE and mountain professionals should all qualify for this program.



1. Pack

Elberestock X2 Pack. This little bomber pack has a simple aluminum frame and handy, long, outside pouches which hold my hydration bladder, tripod and spotting scope. It’s comparatively heavy and this extra pouch volume isn’t needed for backpacking – but it rides super well, is super durable and organizes my gear perfectly for my scouting.
For backpacking (no optics needed) I roll with the Black Diamond Speed 30 pack. This is a bomber, multi-use, light pack from one of the top alpine gear makers out there – Black Diamond.


2. Cook Kit


3. Food

  • Breakfast: Starbucks Via Instant Coffee and a ProBar Meal Bar. Meal Bars are great calorie per ounce fuel and you can get them on Promotive.
  • Snacks between meals: Honey Stinger Waffles These are awesome – and also on Promotive
  • Lunch: Hard Salami, Hard Cheese and Coffee, or a Probar Meal Bar.
  • Dinner: Mountain House or other Freeze Dried Meal. Mountain House is on Promotive.


4. Emergency Kit

  • Black DIamond Spot Head Lamp (Trick: Make sure you turn one of the batteries around before you pack so the lamp doesn’t get bumped on and drain the batteries)
  • Sunscreen (Trick: You don’t need a full container. I fill a small, empty medicine bottle and take it only).
  • Sunglasses – I wear Native Kodiak sunglasses
  • Ibuprofen
  • 15 Feet Paracord
  • Ace Bandage
  • Athletic Tape (doubles as bandaid)
  • Moleskin
  • Firestarter and Lighter
  • Extra batteries for Headlamp

5. Water

Water is a big deal deer scouting. I like to bivy on the ridges … which means I have to carry my water (4-5 Liters) up from the last water source – usually 1,000-2,000 feet below – later in the summer. I use a 2-3 Liter Camel Back reservoir and carry extra water with Platypus collapsable bottles.
The Sawyer Mini filter is light, cheap and works great.

6. Electronics

  • Delorme In-Reach (no cell service and I often scout alone – not needed if you have cell service and/or are scouting with others). This unit allows me to send pre-set text messages at night letting family know I’m safe, and send an SOS for help if I get hurt and can’t get out on my own.
  • Smart Phone – Photos, GPS (Gaia App), Maps (Topo Map App)Kindle Reader (I read a book at night). With apps, you can download topo maps and use your phone for a GPS. It’s awesome.
Also, I’ll get on Google Earth, take screenshots of the area I’m scouting, and email the photos to my phone. Super handy!

7. Sleep System

  • Outdoor Research Helium Bivy – Light and bomber. I use a bivy over a tent – I’ve been rained on this thing and stayed dry. A bivy is lighter, faster, and you can sleep anywhere. I often sleep in deer beds!  OR is on Promotive.
  • Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite – Perhaps my most important piece of gear. This thing is awesome!! Last weekend I slept like a baby on rocks!
  • Enlightened Equipment Revelation Quilt: I replaced my bag with this and sleep in my fleece hoody or puffy jacket. Works awesome. You don’t need a 0-degree bag in early September. A 30-degree bag/quilt will work. Big Agnes and Therm-a-Rest offer quilt/pad systems together. Big Agnes is on Promotive.

Here’s a Video of my Sleep System:

8. Clothing

 It’s HOT during the day, and cool, but not cold, at night. You don’t need super warm stuff.

Here’s What You Need:
Shorts – Nylon, with side pocket (I Keep my collapsable mug in my side pocket, and use it to drink from springs on the way up to the ridges.) I find nylon is the most durable. I currently wear Arcteryx Lefroy Shorts.

– Long Sleeve Synthetic or Merino Wool. I like synthetic. Long sleeves protect you from the sun. A sun hoody is good too as I can put the hood up over my hat when glassing.

– Fleece or Merino Hoody

– Light down or synthetic hooded puffy jacket. Doesn’t need to be an expedition parka! Lightest level is fine. **Note – this last trip I combined the Fleece and Puffy into one jacket – one of the “Active Synthetic” jackets – and it worked great.

Rain Jacket
– Light and also doubles as a wind breaker.

– Lightweight (You don’t need winter gloves!)

2 Pair Thick Wool Socks
: You’ll wear one and keep another spare.

1 Pair Synthetic or Merino long underwea
r. I put these on at night under my shorts to sleep in and they keep me just warm enough in the evenings and mornings before I start moving.

1 Pair Synthetic Underwear
. My favorites are Outdoor Research Echo Boxer Briefs.

Ball Cap
– Again, it will be hot! You’ll need a hat.

: Don’t take any extra shirts or long johns, underwear. You won’t need them. Also, with a midweight or active synthetic hoody, you won’t need a warm beanie hat.

9. Footwear

You don’t need stiff-soled leather, gore-tex mountaineering boots! Trail runners work fine. I’m a fan of Hoka One Ones.

What I Wear:
Mid-Layer/Puffy / Combo: Acteryx Proton LT Hoody
Gloves: $2/pair acrylic stretch gloves you can get in a grocery story.
Socks: Patagonia Wool Mid-Weight


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