I get asked a lot about what hunting gear I use or what gear I like. I know there’s a lot of great gear being made specifically for hunting these days, but this is what I specifically use. I have been a hunting outfitter for over 15 years and here are my recommendations for the best hunting gear.
Recommended Hunting Gear:
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, so I will earn a small commission if you buy through this link – at no extra cost to you. I only recommend hunting gear that I personally use and have tried.
Best Hunting Footwear:
Your choice of footwear can make or break your hunt. If you’re wearing boots that aren’t broken in or don’t fit properly, you severely limit your ability to go on stalks. That limits your shot opportunities, so your footwear is one of the most important pieces of equipment on any hunt. The rocks, and terrain, out in West Texas is very harsh and unforgiving.
I like a stiff sole boot for walking on all of the rocks with a heavy pack, so I wear the Scarpa R-Evolution trek GTX boots. Chippewa snake boots have a slick, flat sole with no support around the ankles. This makes them great when hunting in the South Texas brush country, or the Hill Country, but these boots aren’t well suited for walking up/down the mountains in West Texas.
I wear wool socks year-round. There’s a misconception that all wool is very hot, but the new merino wool products are great in both warm and cold weather. Darn tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion socks are my everyday go-to socks. I love these socks! These are the socks I wear in the Spring while turkey hunting and all Summer while chasing axis, blackbuck, fallow (plus any other exotics) as well as the Fall/Winter while hunting whitetail. These socks are super comfortable and last forever…literally. I’m still wearing the 3 pairs I bought in 2012, and they have a lifetime warranty, so if you ever wear out your socks Darn Tough will replace them. Get you a pair, or buy the 3 pack…I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
About the only time, I’m not wearing these socks is when I’m specifically hunting aoudad in the mountains of West TX. When I’m hunting aoudad in the late Fall/Winter. I wear the thicker Kuiu ULTRA Merino Crew Sock in the Fall and Winter and the thinner Kuiu StrongWool Hybrid Crew Sock in the Spring and Summer.
- Scarpa R-Evolution Trek GTX (Great boots for West TX!)
- Darn tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion socks
- Kuiu StrongWool Hybrid Crew Sock (Great warm weather socks!)
- Kuiu ULTRA Merino Crew Sock (Great cold weather socks!)
- Chippewa Snake Boots
Best Hunting Vests & Jackets:
Because I hunt so many different regions of the state and hunt 12 months out of the year, I have a wide variety of hunting vests and jackets. When the weather is cool, or when my physical exertion is going to be high in cold weather, I wear the Kuiu Guide DCS Vest. As the weather becomes colder, or when I’m going to be moving less or sitting more, I wear the Kuiu Guide DCS Jacket.
If you’re going to have colder weather and there’s a chance of light rain, I’ll wear the Kuiu Axis Hybrid Hooded Jacket. If it’s really cold, I’ll add layers underneath the Kuiu Super down ULTRA Jacket. This jacket is very warm and great at blocking the wind, but it has a ripstop outer layer so it’s not the quietest jacket and it’s probably not the best jacket to be wearing when you will be hunting in thick, thorny brush that could easily rip the jacket.
The ranches I hunt in Texas and Mexico don’t receive a tremendous amount of rain, but when I do end up hunting in rainy weather I wear the Kuiu Chugach NX Rain Jacket and Rain Pant set.
- Kuiu Guide DCS Jacket
- Kuiu Axis Hybrid Hooded Jacket
- Kuiu Guide DCS Vest
- Kuiu Super Down ULTRA Jacket
- Kuiu Chugach NX Rain Jacket
- Kuiu Chugach NX Rain Pant
- Carhartt Sandstone Traditional Coat/Arctic Quilt-Lined
Hunting Pants/Long Underwear/Overalls:
The pants I wear are pretty simple. I know I’m going to be walking through thick brush and getting dirty. Because I’m so hard on pants I just wear the Carhartt Washed Twill Relaxed Fit Work Pant. These pants are rugged enough to withstand all the abuse I dish out but they are inexpensive enough that if they get ripped, or torn (climbing over barbed wired fenced can be tough on pants) I’m not out a lot of money.
As it gets colder, but I know I’m going to be walking and moving around, I’ll add the Kuiu Peloton 118 Zip-Off Bottom long underwear. This long underwear is ¾ length and has a full zipper down the outside of the leg as well as a quick-release waistband to easily remove without having to take off your pants/boots as it warms up or activity level increases.
When it gets really cold, or when I’m still hunting and my activity level is going to be low for an extended time in cold weather, I add Carhartt Sandstone Duck Bib Overall/Quilt-Lined. These overalls are very warm and comfortable, as well as being extremely rugged and durable.
- Carhartt Washed Twill Relaxed Fit Work Pant
- Kuiu Peloton 118 Zip-Off Bottom
- Carhartt Sandstone Duck Bib Overall/Quilt-Lined
Best Hunting Backpacks:
My “office” is the Kuiu Icon Pro 3200 backpack with Platypus-Kuiu Hoser water bladder. This backpack is with me on every hunt, and hunting over 250 days a year it sees a lot of use. It’s large enough to carry all of my gear plus it has the expansion capability to easily handle packing out a big aoudad ram head.
As many days as I spend hunting the high desert of West Texas, the 3L Platypus water bladder is a lifesaver, literally. The high desert of West Texas is very arid and water is your most important commodity when hiking in the desert. This pack is also very comfortable and can be worn all day without causing any discomfort.
I don’t have a big variety of hunting shirts. When I’m hunting in warm/hot weather I wear the Kuiu Ultra Tiburon Hybrid Zip – T. There are a lot of warm/hot sunny days where I hunt in Texas and this long sleeve, tall collar highly ventilated shirt is the best shirt I’ve found for these conditions. This shirt keeps me protected from the UV rays but still keeps me cool.
I really like wool shirts for cool/cold weather because “cotton kills.” Once it gets wet it stays wet for a long time, but wool will keep you warm even when it’s wet.
In cool weather, I wear the Kuiu ULTRA Merino 125 LS Crew-T. As it gets colder, I’ll add another layer with the Kuiu PRO Merino 200 Zip-T and the Kuiu ULTRA Merino 145 Neck Gaiter. A thicker wool shirt combined with a wool neck gaiter really helps keep you warm and keep the wind out. On really cold days I’ll have a couple of each of the wool shirts on, as well as the neck gaiter, so I can add/subtract layers as the temperature, and activity levels, change throughout the day.
- Kuiu Ultra Tiburon Hybrid Zip – T (great shirt for warm/hot weather hunts!)
- Kuiu ULTRA Merino 125 LS Crew-T
- Kuiu PRO Merino 200 Zip-T
- Kuiu ULTRA Merino 145 Neck Gaiter
Best Hunting Scopes and Optics:
I can choose to use any accessories, so I’m very particular about what I use. Optics are one of the most important pieces of equipment I carry on a daily basis, so I only carry the best.
My binoculars are the Swarovski 10×42 EL and my spotting scope is the Swarovski ATS 65 with the 25-50 Wide Angle Eyepiece. I’ve got 2 herniated disks in my neck, so I carry my binoculars in the Kuiu Pro Bino Harness. This helps disperse the weight of the binoculars and keeps as much weight off of my neck as possible. I don’t have the range-finding binoculars because they are heavier and the more weight I can keep off of my neck the better.
I have the 25-50 wide-angle eyepiece because most of my days in the field are very bright and sunny and the mirage is terrible. You can rarely turn the magnification up to max power because of the mirage, so having a little less magnification but a wider field of view is more helpful for my hunts.
My spotting scope is mounted on a Dolica ZX600B300 Proline 60” Carbon Fiber Tripod with the Jim White Pan Head. It’s a simple, lightweight combo that works great in the field.
Since I don’t have range finding binoculars, I carry the Leupold RX – 1600i rangefinder. It’s a small, compact range finder that works great and easily fits in the right hip belt pocket on my pack for quick access.
If you’re looking for a great hunting scope, I’d recommend the Nightforce 5-25×56 F1 Scope. It’s a little heavy, but it’s a bulletproof scope and has incredible glass. If Nightforce isn’t within your budget, check out the Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25×56 scope. It’s another great scope with great glass and rugged enough to handle all of my hunts. I use both and they both work great.
All of my scopes are first focal plane so I can use the hack marks on any power. Much like I mentioned with the magnification on the spotting scope and mirage it’s rare that you’ll be able to turn your scope up to full power on a bright sunny day, so being able to use your hack marks on any power is very helpful.
- Swarovski 10×42 EL Binoculars
- Swarovski ATS 65 with 25-50 Wide Angle Eyepiece
- Dolica ZX600B300 Proline ZX Series 60-Inch Carbon Fiber Tripod
- Jim White Pan Head
- Kuiu Pro Bino Harness
- Leupold RX – 1600i TBR/W DNA Laser Rangefinder
- Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25×56 MOA Scope
- Nightforce 5-25×56 F1 Scope
I know there’s a lot of great knives made these days, but several years ago I met a gentleman that completely changed my way of thinking about knives. His name is Ruben Ramos, out of Jal, NM, and he makes the best knives I’ve ever wrapped my hands around. His custom knives are works of art, and I have several, but to cut down on weight I carry the Ruben Ramos 7” Bones with paracord handle. This knife is very simple and light and holds an edge like no other knife I’ve ever seen/used.
- Ruben Ramos 7” Bones with paracord handle knife
With it being bright and sunny most days, I never hunt without my Oakley RadarLock Path sunglasses. I make a living with my eyes, so keeping them protected and minimizing eye strain is a must for me. I typically use the Black Iridium lens, which only lets in 11% visible light, but when I’m driving the buggy in low light, or at night, I’ll switch to a clear lens.
For my hunts in the late spring, summer, and early fall (Axis, Blackbuck, late-season Turkey, early-season Elk, etc) one of the products I’ve found to be extremely important is Sawyer Products Premium Permethrin Clothing Insect Repellent.
We spend a lot of time walking/stalking through tall grass and with Sawyer Permethrin I don’t have to worry about getting chiggers or ticks on me. You spray it on your clothing, and once it dries it’s odorless and colorless. Chiggers itch so bad that they can really ruin a hunt, but with Sawyer Permethrin you don’t have to worry. I LOVE this product, and literally never leave home without it!
In Case of Emergency
Safety is very important to me and that’s why I always have a Con10gency Consulting Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK) with me. I have one in my pack, one in my hunting vehicle and an even larger, more comprehensive med bag back at camp. I’m certified in Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) so I’ve been trained to use everything in my IFAK and take continuing education classes to stay up to date on all of the latest life-saving techniques.
Because I’m in pretty remote parts of TX and MX I have Ripcord Travel Insurance year-round. Travel insurance is very affordable so I highly recommend it to all of my hunters. You may hurt yourself before your hunt and not be able to make your hunt, and with Ripcord, you won’t lose your deposit or be out much/any money. Plus, if you have an accident and end up injured on your hunt, Ripcord is money well spent to keep from having huge medical bills.
In this day and age, I know it’s hard to believe that you could go hunting and not have cell service, but it’s very common for me to be in areas with no cell coverage. Keeping safety in mind, I don’t like to be out of communication in case of an emergency, so I always have an Iridium Extreme 9575 Satellite phone with me. This phone also had built-in GPS, so you can give first responders your exact location.
- Con10gency Consulting Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK)
- Ripcord Travel Insurance
- Iridium Extreme 9575 Satellite Phone with GPS – Patterson Communication – 817.556.9330 – Will Patterson
I tried to cover all of the hunting gear I use, and the specific reasons why I use them. Like I mentioned above, I know there’s a lot of great hunting specific equipment being these days but everything listed above are my personal preferences. If you have any questions about specific gear or why I use what I use or what gear I would suggest you bring on your hunt, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I hope this info is helpful to make all of your hunts more successful.by