Fall and Winter throughout the Midwest and much of the United States means one thing to outdoorsmen and women… Whitetail Hunting is in season! Hunting deer is a time honored tradition passed down through the generations. Bagging a deer (or a few) can be the highlight of the year. But with new and interesting gear, technology and equipment coming to market seemingly everyday, it’s almost impossible to keep up with everything essential for your next hunt.
Lucky for you… that’s where the Busted Wallet staff steps in and takes care of business. That’s right, our staff of hunters is seasoned, serious about whitetails and totally obsessed with new and exciting equipment. Here to help you get geared up and ready to roll, we’ve put together an epic list of essential gear to have at your disposal this season. Happy hunting!
– PACKS & STORAGE –
Outfitted with 1800 cubic inches of storage space this hunting pack is ideal for all-day stalks or hunkering down in your favorite blind. The padded shoulders and carefully placed mesh inserts make it comfortable to lug around even when loaded to the gills with gear.
A few key features that caught our attention throughout testing were the weapon carrying system, which allows hunters to strap in their rifle or bow for long treks in and out of the bush. This is very handy if, like me, you have some serious hikes to your favorite hunting spots. We also found the ripstop fabric was a nice choice – this gives the pack some added durability to fight against briers (prickers) and general use and abuse over time. Additionally, the integrated rain cover is a no-brainer. If you happen to get caught in a down pour this little puppy is a life saver – keeping all your gear and devices high and dry.
Overall, this is a fantastic day-pack. It can hold a lot of gear, quite comfortable and with the use of Realtree Camo, blends into your surroundings like a champ.
NOTE: Due to this pack’s short torso-length it is best suited for hunters 6′ and under in our opinion.
You’re looking at the quintessential carry-all for all your ammo, gear and hunting accessories. The Heritage Sportsman Bag from Filson has been one of our favorites for a while now. With blaze orange covering the top quarter and outfitted with rust resistant brass fittings, heavy-duty 2-way brass zippers and a genuine bridle leather grip – this bag takes care of business!
It may not be the most high-tech, lightweight or even the biggest bag you can find for hauling your essentials, but after testing it ourselves over the past three months we found it to be one of the most rugged and highly versatile (mid-sized) bags in our collection. Designed with a rather spacious main compartment and a handy front outer pocket – as well as two end pockets and a double back pocket organization options are virtually endless. Today we use it as a range bag exclusively, but it is capable of handling whatever you want.
Pro Tip: this bag comes with Filson’s Oil Finish Wax. Take the time to apply the wax to the entire exterior of the bag. This will make it virtually waterproof and extend the life of the bag. It is also suggested to re-apply the wax finish annually depending on use.
After scouring the internet and sporting goods stores over the years we’ve yet to come across another bow case with nearly this much storage capacity. In fact, the PassThrough 2 Bow Case from Game Plan Gear is like whole other piece of luggage when you get right down to it. With 4 inner pockets and 10 (yes TEN) exterior pockets this bow case can haul some damn gear!
Beyond its massive storage capabilities – best of all, this case is designed to protect your bow. With a super soft tri-coat inner lining and customizable velcro straps, you can adjust this case to fit your bow perfectly. If you’re looking for a soft case with some epic storage space and the ability to keep your bow safe on long trips we highly recommend checking out the Pass Through 2, it’s where my bow sleeps now.
Built for the long haul, the SJK Carbine 2500 is a day pack equipped to carry a boat-load of gear – which it does quite well! But what initially drew us to this pack is its unique compression system which doubles as a game carrying system as well. If you’ve ever been out in the bush on one of those unseasonably warm Fall days and laid down the buck of a lifetime there’s only one thing on your mind… and that’s getting your deer quartered out and back to camp as quickly as possible. With SJK’s unique compression system you can detach the back and use it to carry out precious meat and antlers. Couple that with an impressively comfy suspension system and packing out has never been easier.
Additionally, we loved the versatile multi-weapon carry system that SJK seamlessly integrated into this pack making it easy to attach your bow or rifle. On long hikes it’s a life saver. Another nice touch is the built-in rifle rest. Located between the two bottom pockets you can lay this pack flat on the ground and your rifle will fit snugly between the two pockets helping to line up the perfect shot. If you’re in the market for a pack with some serious carrying capacity, the ability to pack out meat and some great organizational options – do yourself a favor and check out the Carbine 2500 it’s a beast!
Lined with an ultra soft layer of foam and brushed tricoat fabric, this rifle case from Browning is flat-out functional without any bells and whistles to distract you. The exterior is durable with one pocket, a single heavy duty zipper, two handles and a leather capped muzzle. Sometimes it’s what you don’t have to say about a product which makes it truly unique. That being said… I think we’re done here.
Developed to keep your gear scent-free, the BaseCamp Duffle from GamePlan Gear is an ideal system for keeping your core hunting apparel organized and uncontaminated by all those smells floating around at deer camp. Scent totes and duffles are pretty common, I’ve had one for years now, but having a system of scent locking compartments isn’t. Typically to achieve this you’ll need to shell out extra money on separate bags that may or may not if your gear properly. With the BaseCamp Duffle all the thinking and extra purchases are taken out of the equation.
We’ve been able to try out a BaseCamp Duffle for the past several months and I have to say it’s pretty impressive. The scent control compartments are great (4-in-all) and the duffle itself packs a lot of space for additional gear and apparel. Not to mention there’s a drop-bottom compartment for storing your boots.
If you’re looking for a way to keep scent at bay in a nicely organized gear bag – you’ve found what you’ve been searching for here and it’s called the BaseCamp Duffle.
Designed to be used as a fanny pack, day pack, or both, the Big Bear from ALPS OutdoorZ is essentially a fanny pack that expands into a day pack when needed – giving you an additional 1,900 cubic inches of storage space. It’s transformer-like abilities make it a great pack for short hunts or all-day camp-outs where more gear is required.
If you’re going on a short trek and only need the capacity of the fanny pack, the expandable day pack section can stow away. You can also connect optional pockets to the front of the shoulder harness. There’s also a lot of organizational options, including pockets for a camera, binoculars, and deer call. These pockets are also compatible with the Little Bear. The fanny pack has a large main compartment, 2 side pockets, and a front pocket, giving you plenty of space to organize your gear. The Big Bear is outfitted with a comfy padded removable waist belt that has an easy access pocket to keep your smaller items handy. Available in Brushed Realtree AP HD fabric, as well as, Brushed Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity we found this pack to be one of the best values and most versatile on the market.
– HUNTING APPAREL –
This piece of hunting gear really grabbed our attention, but not until we put it on and tested it out in the field. Its lightweight construction is the same as UA’s Early Season Hunting Pants, and we found this 1/4 zip hunting hoodie to be exceedingly comfy (the hood is awesome) and tremendously functional. A stand out feature for us was the kangaroo pouch with bonus mini-pocket for your calls, devices, ect…
Ideal for bow hunters in mild weather, the Under Armour Scent Control Gloves are super lightweight, extra stretchy and have integrated rubber grips that cover the entire gripping area of the hand. The scent control aspect is great and built-in nose wipe might sound a little gross, but believe me… it comes in quite handy when you’re trying to stifle your sniffles as your prey approaches.
Designed purely for moisture management to keep you cool when it’s warm and warm when it’s cool, Sitka Gear’s Core Crew and Bottoms are some of the lightest and most comfortable base layers we’ve ever had the pleasure of suiting up in. The 4-way stretch fabric fits like a glove and they truly wick moisture away. The Core Crew is meant to be warn under your scent control shirt or jacket, while the bottoms are designed to be worn under any pants or bibs.
Sitka has made a name for themselves over the years and it’s not for nothing – their base layers proved to help reduce odor, provide warmth, and keep us dry in the field. Delivering a full range of motion while adding no extra bulk we found Sitka’s Core Crew and Bottoms to be best fitted for mild to moderate weather conditions, but could see using them during winter hunts when an extra layer might be needed for those oh-so-fridged mornings in the woods.
Darn Tough Vermont Socks featuring Scent-Lok technology are knit with odor inhibiting, fine gauge, shrink treated, Merino Wool. To keep you warm and elusive. We’re talking about hunting socks designed to conceal foot stank, all-the-while delivering an itch-free and breathable fit that is comfortable in even the most extreme conditions.
Recently we were given the opportunity to test and review three different models, including the Over-the-Calf Extra Cushion, Micro Crew Cushion and Boot Sock Cushion. After spending a few weeks testing each we learned two things… all of these socks are incredibly durable, we’re also happy to report that the comfort level is off the charts. As for their ability to keep orders from reaching the noses of your white-tailed friends, well we just have to trust them and Scent-Lok’s legendary technology. I’ve been a huge Scent-Lok fan for years now and their gear has always brought results. I have no reason to believe these socks would be any different.
Their motto: “Less bulk. More comfort.” and throughout our testing sessions with these three models that motto rang true for us. Some key features we specifically liked were the Zero Friction Heel which eliminates blisters. As well as the added cushioning along the bottom of the foot that seems to provide comfort and additional support. If you’re of the mindset that socks are just socks… well, my friend, you’ve not slipped on a pair of Darn Trough Vermont’s – but you should!
Produced from a rugged Taslon oxford and RedHead’s Bone-Dry membrane for 100% waterproof/breathable performance. The Redhead Bone-Dry Canvasback Insulated Bibs incorporate some nice features at an affordable price point. Some key features we locked in on while testing were the 2-way zipper with storm flap; chest pocket and cargo pockets. The non-slip shoulder straps were also a nice touch as we never had to worry about them falling off our shoulders even when climbing in and out of tree stands and other awkward situations. If you’re looking for a pair of rugged and warm bibs for when the bottom drops out of Fall and Winter’s chill comes knocking – the Bone Dry Bibs from RedHead make a great choice.
Like hunting from the comfort of your sleeping bag, SJK’s Thermal Cloak is down right toasty! We understand that this might not be a great option for our friends in the south, but for those of us who live up north this Thermal Cloak is a godsend on those fridged sub-zero mornings.
We’ll be the first to say it… this isn’t the biggest fashion statement any hunter has ever worn, but truth be told – it works! And that’s all that really matters. This cloak is warm. And if being warm keeps you hunting longer, and hunting for longer means you see more whitetail… well then, I’d say that’s a win!