I partake in antlerless rifle elk hunts to help fill the freezer and thanks to Utah’s extended archery season I also fill a tag in the lower country occasionally. For the most part however I can say that I’m exclusively a backcountry archery hunter. I began this journey a while back and I feel there is no way to truly learn other than first hand experience. I also feel there are few things out there that require as much trial and error.
I’ve spent a few years really tweaking my gear and cutting weight out of my pack, alot of that was learned the hard way. My first attempt at hunting from what I carried on my back sent me into the mountains with a $40 pack weighing 70 pounds with stuff hanging off all sides for only an extended weekend hunt. It didn’t end well or last the full 5 days but I was hooked as soon as I had a spike bull nearly step on me and never saw another hunter. Now my entire setup including water and food for 10 days comes in at under 50, last year’s pack (minus bow and clothing I wore) weighed under 45. The problem with this type of hunting however is you are never truly done tweaking your system.
I’ve already lined out my pack change choices, but I have one more change I’m going to implement/test. My current camp set up is an Easton Kilo 2p tent, a 20 degree featherlite bag, alps pillow and a thermarest z lite pad. The entire camp minus the pad fits in a dry bag and weighs in near 7 pounds. The tent I bought as soon as they switched to the new models and saved a fair amount of money on it and the rest I bargain shopped for, a 7 pound camp for around $300 seemed great.
There are plenty of options out there for camps, some even lighter than mine, but the price point can get astronomical. When considering my new camp I vowed to keep it affordable enough anyone could copy it within a year of saving. The bag I run currently is cheap and not the warmest, but $400 for a kifaru slick bag doesn’t quite fit the “budget” idea though I’m sure it’s worth it.
The other requirement is gear protection from elements, I love getting back from hunting tossing open the vestibule and tent and being able to sit and go through gear even in the rain. This rules out a bivy system, but I want nothing more than to have the mobility of a bivy system. Wake up, shove everything back into a stuff sack before first light and start hunting any direction.
I looked into the idea of floorless tarps over a bivy but I have 2 issues. I tend to hunt and camp in rocky areas or wet ground areas. I spend a lot of time hanging in a hammock relaxing and decided to take this into the hunting side of my life. I did some research on hammocks and found what I felt fit the bill, a base model Hennesy asymmetrical hammock with built in bug net and it comes with a tarp. The price kept me close to my preset goal of “affordable” and I would have the ability to move quickly, stay off of the rocks or wet ground and stash gear under a cover. On top of those benefits I can use the tarp for a floorless shelter and treat the hammock as a bivy if in an area without trees or if I don’t want to take the time to hang it.
The large issue regarding hammocks is the airflow beneath your body will suck your heat and the bag insulation will be smashed beneath you so it’s not as simple as adding a bigger bag. Companies build under quilts to hang beneath your hammock and create an insulating layer of warm air. I didn’t like the aesthetics, added weight and space of an under quilt though.
I spent some time looking for another insulation plan. I found exped down mats, inflatable sleeping pads filled with down. The exped down mat 7 has a 5.9 R rating at under a pound and a half and fairly affordable due to multiple sells I found online. It also features a built in pump and the pad had great reviews.
Id decided the direction for my camp finally and so I went hunting deals. I ended up finding a deluxe hennesy hammock, with extra accessories, an upgraded tarp and an exped syn 7 down mat from a singular person who had used them all only a few times. The mat is very similar to the one I was planning on getting, the deluxe hammock is a little bigger and heavier but I’m picking all of it up for $250. That is about the price of the base model hammock with the upgraded tarp, if I decide I like my set up but would like to cut weight I can drop down to an ultralite Hennesy.
The hammock and pad are Christmas and birthday gifts from my wife so I AM NOT ALLOWED TO use them until spring. However to verify I got everything and nothing is damaged I will set it all up when it arrives Saturday and since it’s setup i might as well spend one night in it for testing purposes….
Hangin in the dog house will have a whole new meeting that night…..