Comfort can play a vital role in the hunt. Not in the sense that being comfortable makes the hunt easy, more that it allows us to shift focus from the challenges of the hunt to the task at hand. When we bring our bodies and minds to a state of comfort, we become more effective, more efficient, and more durable to the conditions. Comfort becomes a tool.
We asked our Athletes and Ambassadors to share some of the tools they use to make their hunt more comfortable. The following is a list of gear you may want to consider adding to your list for a higher-performing hunt.
Back-Up Necessities - For example, I pack an extra pair of contact lenses. Anyone who relies on contacts knows that a particle underneath can derail your day. Being prepared with a backup set of critical items, just in case, is a confidence boost going into the hunt.
The Duck Oven Jacket - The Duck Oven is my “Never leave for a waterfowl hunt without it” jacket. The versatility gives me comfort knowing it can be used as my main outer layer if needed, or function perfectly as a warming layer under the Delta Jacket. This jacket, paired with a hot thermos of coffee, (another item I never leave behind) because there is nothing better than a hot cup of Joe waiting on the flight.
Black Diamond Whippet Trekking Pole - Trekking poles provide extra balance and help take the stress off your knee joints, especially when going downhill with a heavy pack. The Black Diamond whippet takes it one step further with the addition of a small metal pickaxe on the head. Originally designed for skiers and climbers as a way to self-arrest when falling, it also is great for digging out flat spots when pitching tents. This tool gives you added reach when ascending through steep terrain and provides a solid platform to glass with your binos.
Kelvin Down WS Hoody - The KDWS is like putting on a windproof sleeping bag. It goes with me everywhere and allows me to stay comfortable in some of the nastiest conditions, yielding more opportunities to find the game animal you’re after.
Apple Watch - One thing I wear every time I go hunting is my Apple Watch. It’s cut down on my phone usage while I’m in the stand or glassing. Now I can take a quick glance down at my wrist to see a notification, removing the need for me to dig my phone out of my pocket. Less movement in the stand and more focus on the hunt. 2) Heated Socks - I love heated socks. I have a battery-operated pair that I wear during cold sits here in Missouri. If my feet are warm I can sit all day in the stand, which can make all the difference in the outcome of my hunt.
Chapstick - This one may seem silly, but if you've ever had your lips crack, you know how painful that can be, especially when blowing a call. I always carry chapstick on my lanyard, so I know exactly where it is during the hunt. When I'm in cold or windy conditions I can protect my lips. This is vital to my job because when the hunt is over, I'm headed to the shop to tune calls and I don't want to be battling cracked lips.
External Battery Pack/Charger - Before I leave each morning I make sure I've packed my external battery pack/charger in my bag. This extra reassurance is important to me given that we're usually on the water where anything can happen and I want to be prepared. Being able to make a call out in the event of an emergency is always in the back of my mind and having my extra battery with me on my hunt gives me peace of mind.
Small Absorbent Camp Towel - REI Credit on this one goes to my wife, Frankie. We started using this small towel in coastal environments and on wet mountain hunts to manage condensation inside the tent and keep camera equipment and other electronics dry. I try to wipe the inside and outside of my tent before packing it up and it works wonderfully to avoid setting up a wet tent at the next location. Wring it out and it dries relatively quickly. Bonus use — drying wet feet after a creek crossing before going into boots.
Helinox Ground Chair - When I started shaving pieces of redundant gear out of my system in 2014, I found myself with about 2lbs. Of course I could’ve kept that deficit and enjoyed the lighter load, but instead, I added the Helinox Camp Chair, and now have swapped it for an even lighter version, the Ground Chair. It’s a luxury item, but I’m also convinced it makes for a more effective hunter. I can glass for hours on end in stable comfort, especially when using tripod-mounted binoculars. I know I’ve spotted animals I wouldn’t have normally picked up if I was sitting in the normal leg-numbing, rock-up-your-ass position. Also, to be seated off the ground around camp while pounding a freeze-dried meal saves the back a bit and makes mountain hunting even more fun — and that is why we’re out there after all, isn’t it?