Current Gear Recommendations

The below items are current items we use and recommend for sheep, goat, elk, deer, and bear hunts. This page is meant to be an up-to-date repository of specific brand/model recommendations. For complete gear lists that are an overview of what you will need for your specific hunt, visit our gearlist page.

We recommend brands and models of specific gear below. Do not construe these recommendations as the only option. We use these items personally. Because we do this for a living, our choices are on the more expensive end of the spectrum. There is always a range of prices on gear that will get the job done. We do provide some "value" options below that we have experience with.

First Lite Layering Guide by Season

Early Season (August-September)

Wick Quarter Zip or Rigeline Quarter Zip– **Personal Preference based on Merino vs. Synthetic**

Fuse Zip Off Long John **Mid to late September when morning and evening temperatures are around freezing.**



Mid Season (September-October)

Wick Long Sleeve– Temperatures into 55+ for highs
Fuse Long Sleeve– Temperatures not getting above 45+ highs
Kiln Hoody/Kiln Quarter Zip– If Merino is Preferred. Ability to wear for days without worrying about stink.
Klamath Hoody/Klamath Quarter Zip.- If Synthetic base layer preferred. Blocks wind slightly better/more durable.
SEAK Rain Jacket-Not as packable as the Vapor, but with pit zips you have the ability to dump heat on the move.

Obsidian Pants– Merino Wool Pant and great option for open country hunting.
Corrugate Guide Pant– More durable option and extremely comfortable with the 4 way stretch nylon hiking in mountainous terrain.

**Zero Cold Weather Sock when highs are around 40 degrees**




Hanwag Alaskans

My main boot for over a decade. In terms of mountaineering boot, a mid-level sole stiffness. Extremely durable and comfortable. Goats, sheep, rugged elk terrain, I’ve done it all in these boots. I’ve also done glacier climbing in them too, but the lack of a back shelf makes them a subpar crampon boot. A kick ass mountain hunting boot for 99% of all conditions.

Hanwag Trappers

Higher top Alaskan. You may prefer these if you need some extra ankle support.

Lowa Tibets

Similar boot to the Hanwag. Fit folks with less broad feet. Not quite as durable, but lighter than the Hanwag.

Scarpa Charmoz

I’ve owned these and they never fit my feet quite right, but I know several sheep/goat guides that like them. These boots and the Triolet have bigger toe boxes than Hanwags or Tibets, but they fit “thinner” aross the ankle and arch. This fit is common for boots geared towards more technical backpacking and crampon use. They don’t have much for insulation so good through September only. True mountaineering desgin. Rear heel shelf allows for semi-auto crampon use. Sole stiffness similar to Hanwag. Ever so slightly stiffer. All synthetic material. A well respected boot.

Scarpa Triolet

The Charmoz with a stiffer leather upper and slightly “hardier” design. Slightly wider fit over the Charmoz. More breakin, more durable, and slightly warmer.

Scarpa Dru

The stiffest boot on the list. Only consider these boots if your primary focus is goat and sheep hunting. Great for heavy packs in steep country but overkill in milder terrain. In most elk terrain these boots will wear your feet out.

Kenetrek Mountain Extremes

High quality, all-leather boot. Almost everyone I know that bites the bullet on the price of these boots, ends up being happy with their purchase. My personal experience is that Lowa, Hanwag and these boots are of similar quality. These boots do come in differing insulation models, which is nice based on your hunting conditions. These boots have a little larger heel fit than the Hanwags, but over all a narrow fit.

Danner Boots

Durable mountain boots at a value price. Many elk hunters use different styles of Danner boots and are happy with them. They aren’t going to be the best on many metrics that the above boots perfect, but they are a hard to beat as an all-around value boot.

Merrel Moab

These are a great early season shoe/boot in mild terrain. They are not waterproof. It would be even a stretch to call them water resistant. Super comfortable with basic ankle support. Good for dry climate hunts also.

Muck Boots

I use to highly recommend Kenetrek Pack boots for late season snow hunts. I have moved to pushing Muck boots more as they are more reasonably priced and they seem to hold up better. Kenetrek boots tend to develop cracks in the rand well before a Muck boot will.

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Socks, Gaiters, Footwear Misc.

Kahtoola MicroSpikes

Particularly on goat hunts, wearing micro spikes can help you feel comfortable crossing steep, icy terrain.

Crampons are not needed or recommended on any of our hunts.

Kenetrek Boot Wax

For boots with a leather upper, this stuff is one of the best maintenance products. It is primarily beeswax as far as I can see. I have never had an issue with it affecting the adhesive on rubber rands and it does a great job keeping leather in good shape. I use it heavily on my Hanwag Alaskans.

Fox River Liner Socks

Fox River Liner Socks are great liner socks. Thin yet super comfortable and do the job. I’ve had several pairs for multiple years without durability issues.

First Lite Sock Options:

As an innovator in the merino wool world, First Lite has some great sock options for hunters

Mercury Crew Sock

**Zero Cold Weather Sock when highs are around 40 degrees**

Darn Tough Merino Socks

Great socks with a lifetime warranty. These work as a single layer sock or layered with a liner for early season. In late season I have used these as my first layer, under a ragg wool sock.

Ragg Wool Socks

Great late season socks. Great in pack boots and Muck boots. I will wear these in mountaineering boots that fit wide for my foot. Other mountaineering boots won’t allow for the bulk of these socks.

Super Green Insoles

I have used these in the past, but no longer use non-stock insoles. Of the guides I know that use insoles, these are the most common.

Outdoor Research Croc Gaiter

Great gaiter. One of the most commonly used among mountain guides and hunters.

KUIU Yukon Gaiter

My favorite gaiter. I have used my most recent pair of these gaiters for over 100 hunts without any meaningful breakdown.

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Base Layers

Sitka Base Layers

Kuiu Base Layers

Both Kuiu and Sitka make top end base layers. I have used both and find them comparable. Kuiu lower layers fit shorter than others and make take some folks a little to get used to. I prefer merino baselayers.

Minus33 Base Layer Lowers

Minus33 Base Layer Uppers

I use Minus 33 merino layers a lot. More economical than Kuiu and Sitka but also not as durable.

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Shirts and Pants

Sitka Shirts

Great shirts.

UA Hunt Threadborne Shirts

Great early season shirts or layer for later seasons.

UA Hunt Hooded Shirts

Great shirts. Hood can come in handy on warmer days and you don’t want to pull out another layer from the pack.

There are endless options for hunting shirts. The above have been good for me but this is not a mission critical piece of equipment. Staying away from cotton is a good call in the mountains. A lot of the time I don’t wear any “shirt” when I have a base layer on. I usually wear an insulation or softshell layer right over the top of my baselayer.

In the late season or when trying to minimize my layering system while sheep/goat hunting, I will often wear older style wool button up shirts. These shirts are comfortable, durable and inexpensive if you catch them at thrift stores.

Sitka Mountain Pants

Great pants. Lighter than my favorite pants from Sitka, the Timberline.

Kuiu Attack Pants

Great pants. Less durable than both the Sitka Mountain Pants and the Sitka Timberline. Good September pants and sheep/goat pants.

Sitka Timberline Pants

My favorite pants once it gets cold enough that Prion Zions won’t make the cut. Love the waterproof butt section for glassing and sitting on wet surfaces. Super durable pants. These pants are my primary pants for rifle seasons and snow hunting. I will use these when goat/sheep hunting if it’s going to be cold and/or windy.

Prana Zion Pants

I’ve killed as many goats and sheep wearing these pants as I have wearing anything else. Super comfortable, breathable and durable for their lightweight. Inexpensive for what they are. Not a late season pant and have little wind resistance.

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Insulation Layer and Jackets

Sitka Kelvin

Great insulating jacket.

Marmot Quasar

Less bulky than the synthetic Kelvin or Kenai, but also not quite as warm and you have to be careful of getting it wet. It is also not near as durable. However, the price is right and it is astonishingly warm for its bulk/weight. If I’m going minimalist I carry this jacket in my pack. I also keep it as an additional glassing or safety layer on late season hunts.

Kuiu Kenai Jacket

I prefer the hooded version. I use this jacket more than any other layer I own. Great mix of durability, warmth and weight.

Cabelas Outfitter Woolmite Jacket

I use this jacket a ton once October comes around. Affordable and durable. Great performance in wind and toasty when covering an insulting layer. Not lightweight and bulky.

UA Hunt Softshell Jacket

Lightweight softshell. Not a warm jacket but a nice layer.

Kuiu Soft Shells

Nice jackets. However, even the guide jacket is not that warm.

Columbia Soft Shells

Value option. Not the type of quality in the Kuiu jackets but similar warmth and wind resistance.

Kryptek Dalibor Jacket

My favorite softshell jacket. Decent wind resistance, warm for a softshell, cool camp patterns.

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Rain Gear

Sitka Rain Gear

Great rain gear options. For mountain hunts, stick to the raingear that is less bulky.

Yukon Rain Gear

My preferred rain gear, but admittedly overkill on a lot of hunts in Colorado. Given it’s additional durability, I don’t mind carrying it when I could get away with the Chugach.

Chugach Rain Gear

Great rain gear. Lighter than the Yukon but less durable.

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Wool Mittens

I use these more than any other glove. Inexpensive and warm.

Fox River Glommits

A slightly better wool mitten. Nice velcro included for locking back the mitten cover.

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Wool Beanie

Basic wool beanie. I use this hat as my primary headwear through the first week in October, including on sheep and goat hunts.

Kromer Rancher Hat

Great late season rifle hat. Makes my enormous head look even more egregious, but nice hats.

Merino Baclava

Nice multiple use merino layer. Keeps your neck, face, and head warm.

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Hunt Accessories, Calls, Etc…

Camo Face Paint

Tube paint keeps the best and is the cleanest to utilize.

Wind Indicator

Get one.

Assorted Elk Call Diaphragms

Find one that you like and that fits the roof of your mouth. Diaphragms give you a huge range of sounds/volume but they also have the steepest learning curve. These are also the best calls to have handy to stop a running bull for a quick shot.

Elk Bugle Tube

Simple bugle tube.

Hoochie Mama Elk Call

Simple to use elk call for folks wanting something that makes a basic, consistent sound.

Elk Reel Call

Easy to use call that makes a unique, nasely cow elk sound that is unlike most other calls. Not quite as loud as other calls I’ve used. Great call for pressured elk.

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Wilderness Gear

Petzl Backup Headlamp

Worth having. I carry one in my bino harness. I’ve been bailed out by this item several times.

Fenix Headlamp

My go to light. Heavy but reliable and has a shield that stops accidental turn on. Also has several light options. On high this thing is like a spot light.

Petzl Headlamp

Basic option.

Etrex Gps

This Etrex model is usable with OnXmaps.

Charge Packs

Charger Packs for recharging phones and cameras.

-Keep in your gear so they are insulated and don’t get cold.

-I prefer these charging packs over small solar panels. Convenient and reliable.

OnXMaps Colorado

If you plan on hunting Colorado a lot or just want some nice topos maps that include property lines and GMU boundaries, this is the best option. For most our wilderness hunts these aren’t a necessity.

LED Flashlight

Good backup/camp light.

InReach with GPS

The best satellite messaging system available. Not necessary for our hunts but I strongly suggest you get one if you are doing a lot of hunting in remote areas. Great devices and service. We utilize these more and more each year, as we move away from costly Sat phones.

Hydration Bladders

A quality hydration bladder works well in September when the temps aren’t low enough to freeze hoses. I use these for a lot of my early season hunts.

Large Nalgene Bottle

When I know hydration bladder hoses will freeze, I carry one of these as an alternative.

Nalgene Bottles

I typically carry one of these on my Kifaru belt on all my hunts. Easy to get a quick drink from. Also, these are easy to treat water in with a steri-pen.

Drinking Cap

I put one of these on my smaller Nalgene bottle and view it as an essential item on my backpack hunts or on day hunts where I know water will be available, limiting how much water I have to carry. This item allows me to fill my bottle from a stream or pond, treat the water, and then drink the water. If you don’t have one of these on your bottle, the rim you drink off of will always be contaminated with untreated water.

Gravity Filter

These newer gravity filters are one of the best options out there. If you are cautious about limiting silt that enters filter, these filters are as quick if not quicker than pumps.

Steripen Water Treatment Device

Super-efficient in terms of weight and are proven to work well if you use them properly.

AquaTabs Water Purification

Lightweight option. Good as a safety item but 30-40 minute wait period when treating makes them less than desirable as your primary water filtering method.

Nuun Electrolyte Tablets

I add these tabs to my filtered water. These help with the taste and give you an extra boost through your hydration.

Jetboil Backpacking Stove

For an individual, this is still my top pick.

Pocket Rocket Stove

Lighter weight option over the Jet Boil. Less convenient nor as stable, but some weight and bulk savings for a minimalist backpack hunt.

MSR Stove

Great stove if backpack cooking for multiple people. Super-efficient.

Pack Towel

Good option.


Just as good as dedicated backpacking towels.


My favorite cleanup wipe for in the mountains. Convenient packaging also.

Ultralight Dry Bags

Keep anything in these bags that you don’t want to get wet.

Titanium Coffee Cup

Light and indestructible. I like to have my own personal coffee cup on hunts.

Toaks Titanium Coffee Cup

Good cup, value alternative to the above cup.

Long Titanium Spork

Spoons that work well for eating out of dehydrated meal bags.

Dermatone Sun Cream

The best cream for face sun protection and can be used as lip balm.

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Trekking Poles

Whippet Trekking Pole

I’ve carried one of these on a hundred plus hunts. Incredibly durable. The “ice axe” part of the pole allows me to put my hand on top of the pole (instead of wrapped around the handle from the sides). I find this ideal when going downhill with a heavy pack.

BC Carbon Trekking Poles

Highly regarded trekking poles among guides. Cork handles.

BD Trail Back Trekking Poles

Highly regarded trekking poles among guides. Plastic handles.

Costco Carbon Trekking Poles

The value option. Great poles.

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AGC Bino Harness

Great harnesses that protect your binoculars and give you some additional pockets for survival gear and other small items. I primarily use these harnesses. I once had a pair of $2k binoculars get launched over 30 feet in this harness with zero damage. To say the least, I was sold.

FHF Bino Harness

Similar to the AGC harness, but more streamlined. Slightly less storage for other items.

OV Bino Harness

Streamlined harness that opens from the top. I prefer this harness 2nd to the AGC, but know guides that like it best.

Kuiu Bino Harness

This harness is similar to the OV harness in that it opens top down. However, it has minimal protection for the actual optics. Comfortable and well-engineered.

Leopold Mojave Binos

Great mid-level binocular.

Vortex Rangefinder

The best value option I’ve used.

Swarovski EL Ranges

My primary binocular. Absurdly expensive but a well-engineered lifetime investment. The ergonomics of these took a while to get used to. For me, I preferred the glass on these compared to the Geovids.

Leica Geovid Range Finding Binos

Better ergonomics over the EL Ranges. Great binoculars that many top guides use.

Swarovski ATX Scope Eye Piece

Great scope. Crazy expensive but worth the investment if you can utilize the scope over decades of hunting.

ATX 85mm Objective

I prefer the 85mm objective. For me this objective is the best tradeoff between weight and performance. I pack this scope on every sheep/goat hunt I guide.

Vortex Razor Spotter

At a third of the cost, this scope is a great value compared to the ATX. I know several guides that use this scope and use one myself for many years. Swaro glass is better in 5% of conditions (low-light, glassing into an angled sun, intense heat waves, etc…).

15x Swarovski Binos

I utilize 15x binos on a tripod for glassing intensive hunts. Mule deer hunts in thick sage or pinyon/juniper, sheep in thick vegetation, etc… These are the best tripod binoculars on the market.

Vortex Kaibab 18×56 Binos

Value option relative to 15x Swaros.

Nightforce NXS Scopes

The best rifle scope that I have used. Expensive, big, bulky and damn near bulletproof. I prefer simple reticles with mil-dots combined with mil turrets, but folks should choose those options based on their long range training. I prefer a 5.5-22×50

Leupold Vx-3 Scopes

These scopes are well built and a great mid-tier option. These scopes are more than capable as a reliable “longrange hunting” setup. Consistent turrets and the features you need to dial elevation while holding wind.

Nikon Prostaff Scopes

For those not interested in high-end scopes or long range shooting, these scopes are a good value. I have used these on several beater mountain rifles. These keep their zero and hold up well if you mount them correctly, in good rings. 3-9×40 are versatile and good for mountain hunts.

Spudz Lens Cleaner

Convenient micro fiber cloth cleaner you can attach to your bino harness.

Talley Scope Rings

The best rings I’ve used on hunting rifles that don’t utilize a picatinny rail. A lot of the trouble folks have with their rifle optics are related to using a subpar ring.

Vortex SS Tripod

Value priced tripod. I use this tripod more than any other. However, it is not the best tripod out there in terms of stability. I utilize this tripod most because it is lightweight and less bulky.

Slick Carbon Fiber Tripods

My choice of the higher end tripods. I don’t like backpack hunting with these larger/heavier tripods but they are awesome to glass off of.

Outdoorsmans Pan Head

My preferred tripod head. Crazy expensive but great performance over dozens of hunts for me. Given the way I glass, I like to be able to lock in my vertical or horizontal as I grid. This pan head is perfect for my style.

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Havalon Replaceable Blade Knives

I’ve used these knives for over a decade. I still use them for my post-field work (face capeing, turning lips, ears, etc…). Can be a little dangerous removing/replacing blades in the field.

Razor-Lite Replaceable Blade Knives

Was designed to compete with Havalon and solve some of the issues many users have with Havalons. Easier to change blades than the Havalon and the attachment and blade design gives the blade more rigidity. For better or worse, the profile of the blade is less scalpel and more similar to a traditional hunting knife. I prefer the scalpel for the work I still use replacement blade knives for.

Kestrel Knives

Great fixed blade knives. I prefer the handled Ovis knife over the other options.

Buck 113

My “truck knife”. For the value this is a great hunting knife. Not going to hold an edge like the Kestrel, but is easy to sharpen.

Canadian Belt Knife

A knife all about utility. Ugly as sin, and shape is harder to sharpen. Very easy to use and after using it on different tasks, you will understand why it is shaped the way it is.

Kershaw Field Sharpener

The sharpener I carry in my backpack.

Lansky Sharpener

My “shop” sharpener. Getting a sharpener that can hold angles is a necessity. Every once in a while, you need to unscrew up knives that have only been sharpen in the field where it is impossible to hold a consistent angle over time.  

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Game Bags and Field Dressing Gear

Tag Bags

My favorite reusable game bag. These are great ultralight bags for backpack hunts.

Alaska Game Bags

Great bags that hold up well. Pack-in hunts and truck hunts, these are my go-to. Anytime I don’t need to carry them around with me while hunting or when I can keep them on a packhorse.

Flagging Tape

Useful for marking trail and downed game.

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Eberlestock Packs

For day hunts, most the Eberlestock packs are awesome. Their frame and engineering is not suitable as a long duration back pack hunt setup, but they excel on day hunts.

Kifaru Backpacks

The packs I use for all my personal guiding and hunting. I use the AMR (3+ day trips) and 22-Mag (less than 3 days) most. Great packs. Durable and well-engineered.

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Sleeping Bags/Pads

Western Mountaineering Bag 20 Degree

Great, lightweight bags for backpack hunts. Always keep in a drybag while in the field.

Teton 0 Degree Bag

Good bag through 1st half of October. Packin or road based hunts only. Heavy and bulky.

Teton -25 Degree Bag

Good bag through all rifle seasons. Packin or road based hunts only. Heavy and bulky.

Kuiu 15 Degree Bag

Good treated down bag for sheep/goat hunts. Always keep in a drybag while in the field.

Hyke and Baker Down Sleeping Bags

Economical down bag for early season hunts and sheep/goat. Heavier than WM of Kuiu bags but much more economical.

Wiggys Sleeping Bags

Great quality, durable bags. Good pricing for what you get. Not the lightest bag on the market. Great synthetic insulation technology.

Xtherm Backpacking Sleeping Pad

Awesome sleeping pad for backpack hunts.

NeoAir Sleeping Pad

More economical than the Xtherm. Great pad but not as comfortable or warm.

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4-Day Summer Fishing Trip Gear

Merrel Moab

These are an excellent wilderness fishing shoes/boots. They are not waterproof. It would be even a stretch to call them water resistant, but they are comfortable with solid ankle support.

Keen Hiking Shoes

Great fishing shoe/boot. Comfortable with good support.


Great camp shoes.

Fox River Liner Socks

Thin liner socks. Great extra sock layer when doing some hiking.

Darn Tough Merino Socks

My favorite summer mountain sock.

Outdoor Research Croc Gaiter

Great gaiter for the mountains

Minus33 Base Layer Lowers

Minus33 Base Layer Uppers

I use Minus 33 merino layers a lot. More economical than other brands of merino.

Prana Zion Pants

Great early season mountain pant. Comfortable and economical.

Marmot Quasar

Great insualation jacket. Packs small to keep in the pack.

Columbia Soft Shells

Economical soft shell jackets for the mountains.

Merino Baclava

Nice multiple use merino layer. Keeps your neck, face, and head warm.

Fishing Buff Baclava

Lighter weight warmth layer for face, neck, and head. Super versatile item.

Petzl Headlamp

Basic headlamp. Reliable brand.

Charge Packs

Charger Packs for recharging phones and cameras.

Hydration Bladders

A quality hydration bladder works well in the summer. Make sure to get one that fits in your day pack.

Steripen Water Treatment Device

Super-efficient in terms of weight and are proven to work well if you use them properly.

Nuun Electrolyte Tablets

I add these tabs to my filtered water. These help with the taste and give you an extra boost through your hydration.

Pack Towel

Basic option.


Just as good as dedicated backpacking towels.


Basically an adult baby wipe. Nice for quick cleanup in the mountains.

Dermatone Sun Cream

The best cream for face sun protection and can be used as lip balm.

Teton 20 Degree Sleeping Bag

Comfortable and economical sleeping bags.

Osprey Day Packs

Great day packs.

Dry Bags

Great dry bags for getting packed into remote areas. Most find the 40-55L bags the most useful for trips like the ones we offer.

Where the road ends, adventure begins...

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