How do you know what is the best hunting gear to buy when you're a beginner and there are so many options to choose from. This question is a true challenge for all hunting rookies.
That's why we need a pro answer. Someone who has been there and done it. This is where veteran hunters come into play.
We scoured the web to find and contact experienced hunters and posed the question "What has been your best hunting gear investment, and why?" 25 experts responded and their answers are detailed below.
Enjoy the variety of answers and please share the post with others.
"What has been your best hunting gear investment?"
Why not see if your best hunting gear investment is similar to one of the experts below?
~ BIG DEER blogger, TV host/producer BIG DEER TV Sportsman Channel, Life Member NRA, Cabela's Pro-Staff, Remington man, Yeti Ambassador Proud Virginian ~
Good optics. Without a doubt, the best investment I have made to improve my hunting. Clear, crisp, quality binoculars let you glass for hours and find more deer without eye fatigue or getting a headache. And then, a bright, top-quality scope lets you make a precise, ethical and clean shot on a buck in any light conditions. Do your research and spend as much as you can afford on quality hunting optics and I guarantee you'll hunt better.
~ Wife, hunter, archer, bowfisher, writer, nomad. Touring the US hunting and fishing where ever I go. ~
My answer would be my Badlands Kali Pack. I've had it for 5 years and it looks brand new despite being used on every hunting adventure. It fits me perfectly, has more than enough room and the suspension system keeps your back cool and dry even in the swamps of the south. I can carry the Kali fully loaded even with a back injury. Tons of pockets and a hidden rifle/bow carry make this pack worth more than its weight in gold. Badlands unconditional warranty is the icing on the perfect pack cake.
I can't say enough about this pack.
~ Hunting Consultant | Hunting Guides, Hunting Outfitters, Fishing Guides, Wingshooting, Whitewater, Adventure Travel ~
My best hunting gear investment has been good optics. Bar none. If I have a stand-out skill, it is glassing, and you can't be a good glasser without great optics. Game animals are most active right at low light and lower end optics just don't cut it at that time of day.
~ I'm a hunter who loves the outdoors & enjoys the benefits of lean & healthy wild game. All meat is used to feed my family or donated to people in need. ~
My best hunting investment has been the investment of my rifle. I shoot a Winchester XPR in .300 Win. Mag and this gun has been through it all. Snow, rain, cold weather, heat and yet it always performs. The number one thing I look for is a gun that can take it all. I’m usually hunting in less than ideal conditions and when everything finally comes together for that moment of truth I believe it all boils down to my gun and my ammo. All my hard work and dedication has brought me to that moment so I believe this is my best hunting investment as it probably gets the most beat up but is also the most reliable.
~ Founder DeerHuntingBigBucks.com, outdoor writer, blogger, videographer, family man who loves bow hunting whitetails and filming and writing about it ~
This is a very tough question because I depend on a lot of gear when I’m in the field deer hunting. But living in Kansas for 6 years and now living in Kentucky the weather can be harsh during deer season and I have to keep my feet dry and warm or my hunt is over. So my best hunting gear investment would be a great pair of Muck Boots Woody Max hunting boots. They are comfortable and warm and dry and allow me to stay in the woods longer on those cold November days. And the longer I’m in the woods the better!
~ This life is all about bowhunting and whitetails. ~
I'm a bit of a gear head when it comes to bowhunting and I'm constantly upgrading and trying new gear to ensure I'm always using what I consider the best equipment available.
The most impactful investment I've made over the last several years has been my clothing system. I started using Sitka Gear back in 2011 and have grown to appreciate the benefits of hunting with a multi-layer system. I've used Sitka, switched to other brands and always ended up back with Sitka. Their clothing allows me to hunt comfortably from early October when the season opens until the last day in December when the season closes.
The fit and finish of each piece of clothing is second to none and I'm always amazed at the subtle details and the 'why didn't I think of that' features each piece of gear has. It's clear that this isn't just clothing made for hunters, it's clothing made by hunters.
If I had to pick one piece of gear that I couldn't live without it would be my Fanatic Jacket. The Fanatic Jacket is a feature rich jacket with a super quiet Berber fleece face and unique features such as a diagonal-zip design that allows for a large kangaroo pocket up front to keep your hands warm on those cold November mornings. Smaller details like the rangefinder pocket ensure you’re ready to range a buck that steps out at a moment’s notice.
I like to pack this jacket in as I walk to my treestand and then slip my safety harness teather through the pass-through port on the back of the jacket once I'm ready to climb into my stand. Once I'm settled in the stand I rely on the Windstopper fabric to block the cold wind and the Primaloft insluation to keep me warm so I can stay focused and alert.
Combine that with the other layers I'm wearing and I can control my comfort level simply by adding or removing layers during the course of the hunt. It's amazing what a difference being comfortable during the entire hunt makes - it allows me to spend more time in the treestand which means more opportunities of crossing paths with the buck I'm after.
~ News, reviews and stories about women who shoot, hunt, fish and lead lives of outdoor adventure. ~
That’s really tough. I always buy the best I can get that falls within my budget — guns, ammo, bows, camo, optics.
I am thinking, though, right now that one of the best investments was a Leupold Ultimate Slam rifle scope for my muzzleloader, that works in low light and accepts the recoil of the blast without changing the setting.
If you can’t see the target, you can’t hit it, no matter what your firearm or bow is …
And especially with a muzzleloader, you get that one shot. Unless you can reload quickly (which I have done and tagged 2 deer, filling the freezer for that season for the family).
~ God-fearing family man and bowhunter in Southern California. Bowhunting is not a sport or a hobby. It is a craft that takes patience, persistence and hard work.~
My best hunting investment, if we are talking gear, has been my MINOX Sport Optics. Without high quality optics I would not enjoy hunting as much as I do. They allow me to glass for hours and I would not leave home without them. Beyond gear, I think the best hunting investments I have made have been with the people. Finding good people to hunt with, talk hunting with, and share things with is worth more than gear.
The Suburban Bushwacker
~ From fatboy to Elk hunter - a suburban dad's bushcraft journey. Hunting, Storytelling and Blogging ~
Best investment: Lundhag boots and Kifaru Sleeping bag. If I'm not in one I'm in the other !
~ I hunt, I listen to metal, I write fiction...& podcast about all three. ~
The one thing I never skimp on is clothing. I can’t pull back my bow if I’m shivering. And I will fidget constantly if my clothing is ill fitted and uncomfortable.
I always opt for moisture wicking whenever possible. Temps change drastically throughout the day and it’s not uncommon to find me wearing heavier clothes. My body will heat as I’m moving from stand to stand or while I’m walking to a different spot, but once I get set up and my body cools, the cooler temps wreak havoc. So while it may be slightly too warm while I’m moving, I’m thankful for well insulated or well-crafted clothing.
Hosted by Carrie Zylka; “HuntFishTravel - where to go and what to do when you get there” is the first and longest running female hosted hunting podcast (you can find it easily on iTunes or any podcast listening app).
Jerry Ike Eulitt
~ Owner of IkesOutdoors.com ~
The best investment I ever made was my Carter Backstrap Release. I struggled with target panic for years and could not overcome the problem. The backstrap allows you to shoot back tension without the hassle of a true back tension release. My target scores have gone up and more importantly the number of bad shots on animals has went down to almost 0.
~ Hunter of Big Game, Founder of thebiggamehuntingblog.com and biggamehuntingadventures.com Senior writer for @WideOpenSpaces, member of @OWAAonline ~
My most valuable hunting equipment investment has been a set of high quality optics. Rifle scopes, binoculars, and spotting scopes are definitely pieces of gear where it does not make sense to buy something cheap because you really get what you pay for.
There is a vast difference between good and bad optics and a $50 rifle scope or set of binoculars is much more likely to break or fog up on you at exactly the wrong time than one that is just a little bit more expensive.
Fortunately, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a good set.
Next time you go to a store that sells optics, do a comparison between the cheapest set, one or two sets of mid-level optics, and a set of top of the line optics.
What you will likely discover is that there is a gigantic step up in quality between the cheap and mid-level optics and another significant, though smaller, increase in quality between the mid-level and top of the line optics.
Keep in mind that the differences between the optics will be much more profound when you are using them in the field as opposed to in the artificial lighting of a store.
However, the differences between them in the store should still be obvious.
For the vast majority of hunters pursuing whitetail deer in the United States or even on a plains game hunting safari in Africa, a mid-level ($200-500) rifle scope or set of binoculars will work just fine.
However, if you plan on doing some hunting where you will spend a great deal of time glassing animals at a distance or taking long range shots, such as on a mule deer or stone sheep hunting trip, you should probably buy a set of optics that is near the top of the line in quality.
The improved light transmission and sharper images that you will get from a top of the line set of optics will reduce eye strain after a long day of glassing and will make it much easier to count the points on that deer or see if that sheep is a full curl or not.
Additionally, top of the line hunting optics are often lighter and more durable than cheaper optics, which is a significant plus if you’re carrying them through rugged terrain or up and down mountains for miles and miles each day.
In situations like this, a few ounces can make a big difference. In short, spend a few extra bucks on a quality set of optics that will work well for you and last a long time.
Not only will they work better for you, but you’ll probably actually save money in the long run by buying a single optic and using it for many years as opposed to a cheap optic that you have to replace because it broke.
~ America's Passion for Hunting, Conservation & the Outdoors as well as the pursuit of a well lived life ~
I spend between 30 and 40 days a year outdoors pursuing my passion for hunting from locations all across the United States and Canada chasing whitetail, turkey, bear, coyotes, antelope, mule deer and elk.
The most valuable hunting equipment I carry is my clothing system from Sitka Gear as well as my boots.
Clothing and boots are what keep me alive in the outdoors. I appreciate having the ability to build an entire system with Sitka Gear.
Sitka Gear’s layering system allows me to plan my hunts around the kind of terrain I will be hunting and the weather conditions that I expect to experience during each trip.
Hunting from August through January, I experience a vast swath of terrain and weather.
I need gear that will keep me warm when needed and vented when I need to cool down from climbing vertical ascents. The gear I use on these hunts is essential to keeping me outdoors longer.
The Optifade camo pattern keeps me hidden and in range of animals regardless of whether I am bowhunting early season or tracking through snow in the late rifle season.
~ Award Winning Wildlife Artist, avid outdoorsman, bowhunter, father & husband ~
I was just thinking about this the other day while Christmas shopping for my sixteen year old. As an archer, what makes the biggest impact in my hunting? Rangefinder.
I practice all summer at varied distances using the Rangefinder to zero my shots in, but also to help recognize distances.
During the hunting season, to have that confidence in your hand and in your head. It's priceless.
I don't know what the statistic are, but I would have say that the number of wounded animals has gone down, since this devices has made it's way into backpacks.
~ Fiddler, Singer, Father, Brother, Son, Horse Lover, Hunter, Lover of Coffee ~
There is nothing that can ruin a hunt like sore feet and blisters. I've learned that the hard way.
A good pair of boots is one of the most important things you can get for your self. And, with boots, you get what you pay for!
I use Kennetrek for hiking and Muck Boots when I need something more waterproof.
The one thing I am always surprised that people skimp on when it comes to hunting are bullets and broad heads.
Why would you spend all that hard work preparing and the thousands of dollars on a bow or gun only to be cheap on the the thing that does the actually killing?
I rely on Dead Ringer broad heads and Black Hills Premium Ammunition.
~ Owner Fowled Up Waterfowlers ~
What is my most valuable hunting equipment investment?
Well I own three Browning shotguns, which I adore.
I have an enclosed trailer with Eight dozen fully flocked avian goose decoys which I fancy.
I own six mojo’s that pull ducks from the heavens and give me great shots with those Brownings.
Perhaps, it is my Ford 4x4 F250 diesel, eight foot bed, which pulls my trailer and myself to the areas I so much enjoy.
Perhaps it is one of the many fine acrylic duck and goose calls I fondle and whisper into trying to become more proficient at talking with the birds.
Maybe it is my new Waterfowl Wading Systems breathable waders I bought this year (they are so good they changed my life).
Although I feel lucky to have great gear and many fine “toys” the question remains which is my most valuable.
With only brief contemplation, I would have to concede that although I have never considered “equipment” to include my best hunting companion, “Bear” my English lab is by far the most valuable “tool” I have invested to enhance my hunting experience.
Bear is a better than average trained retrieving machine. He worships my daughter.
He is a joy in our home. He is a duck chasing demon in the field.
The characteristics I look for in any hunting partner are robust in Bear.
Well the first is easy, he should always be ready to go and be on time.
Here are the rest;
Dependability. A nice attribute to have in a hunting buddy. I value the partner who is always ready to go, always on time, and always happy to be there.
Jovial disposition. It is just more pleasant to be in the company of a happy hunting partner.
Altruistic. A partner that is happy to let you have the first shot, to jump up to help you find the lost cripple in the tall grass even though other birds are coming in, is a great trait that isn’t overly abundant in many hunting partners.
Reverence. Holding their hunting partners in high regard regardless of how they shoot or call, is a trait in rare quantities in most blinds.
These characteristics are what I consider ideal in a hunting partner.
In my time I have had some fine hunting buddies but only one consistently displays the above characteristics unfailingly.
In times of plenty and scarcity; when our aim is true and when it strays. When the flocks are small and far as well as when they are close and numerous.
Only one has consistently expressed the ideals above; my buddy Bear.
Until I see you in the field, be safe, be good and BE LUCKY!
~ Mentoring & Empowering Women in the Great Outdoors ~
To answer your question, I'll keep it short and to the point.
I buy anything that allows me to hunt independent.
Everything from a game sled to allow me to drag out the animal to a Parker Thunder Hawk crossbow.
The only cross bow that I have found that I can crank back myself and of course a really sharp hunting knife.
~ Professional hunter (PH), photographer and freelance writer ~
Best Hunting Gear Investment: My Binoculars
I have gotten myself 8x30WB Swarovski binoculars that has proven themselves over and over.
They are worthy of their price due to there durability, optical clarity and perfect weight to be able to walk and stalk all day long with them around your neck.
Binoculars in my opinion is a very valuable piece of equipment in any safari operation.
~ Host of SKULL BOUND TV on Sportsman Channel | Bowhunter | Angler | Skull Designer | Outdoor Writer | Conservationist | Member RMEF, NWTF, SCI, MDF, USSA and NRA ~
It's very difficult to name just one piece of hunting equipment that's been my most valuable investment.
Optics, boots, weapons, OnXmaps, etc...it's all crucial to being prepared for the hunt.
One change in equipment that has made a tremendous difference for me is my clothing choice.
Kryptek is the gear I've been wearing for two year now and they use the most technologically advanced materials on the market.
They also offer a layering system that is engineered for every single type of weather condition.
From breathable, lightweight materials for that early archery elk season to their heavier, waterproof, ultra-high performance gear for frigid cold temps, their gear is comfortable and dependable.
Before using Kryptek, I had instances wear I was stuck in the backcountry freezing cold or soaking wet from gear that just didn't perform. If the hunter isn't comfortable, the hunt is not going to be enjoyable.
I've field tested every piece of Kryptek, in the arctic air of Alaska to the sweltering heat of Texas, and it's reliable, comfortable and the camo pattern blends into 80% of the world's terrain.
~ Veteran of the French Foreign Legion and Professional Hunter in South Africa ~
It took me some time to think it over , I am a Professional hunter that operates a safari Business in Africa and a question as the one posed is not an easy one to answer , however after careful consideration And deliberation with colleagues and piers in my industry my reply would be my CZ 550 Safari Magnum Rifle chambered in .375 H&H.
The reason why this would be my most valuable investment up to date is tenfold but I will try and Address it in a few points as to make a person planning on hunting in Africa understand the importance of owning a good rifle with sufficient power to stop or kill the biggest and meanest animals on the continent.
1. The calibre itself is over 100 years old and has stood the test of time on all continents and all conditions where anyone has ever hunted, produced by the Holland & Holland gun builders in 1912 it was originally loaded with cordite but has since then progressed to be loaded with modern day propellants and has for its size the most penetration of any rifle in its class, the shell is also tapered and will not get stuck in your chamber easily, making it a trustworthy tool in the hands of a marksman.
2. The rifle has a controlled feed action , and is perfect for use under stressful circumstances where you do not have to worry about closing the bolt completely before cycling another round, if you plan on hunting dangerous game , ensure your rifle has a Mauser K98 type action.
3. The CZ550 can take 6 bullets in .375 H&H which is two more than any other rifle in its class, and those extra two bullets will come in handy when the need arises, and in Africa that need arises more often than not.
4. It comes standard with express open iron sights, and standard CZ emplacements to mount a telescopic sight ( mine is fitted with a 1-5x20 Leupold VX3 telescope.) and is good to kill large game up to 300 meters
5. As far as value for money goes very few rifles beat the CZ magnums , these are not fancy or beautiful rifles, they are made to work and 90% of African professional hunters will have at least one rifle in CZ or its predecessor BRNU in their armory, they are the toughest rifles I have ever encountered and are 100% reliable even under the most adverse conditions.
6. Because the .375 H&H is such a popular calibre and rifle bullets are almost always available in any hunting camp throughout Africa, you also have a wide variety of ammo and bullets to choose from but in my opinion the standard 300 grain bullet traveling at 2600 FPS is more than adequate to sort out any problem in the African bush, but unlikely as it seems the calibre achieves very nearly the same point of impact over a very wide range of bullet weights which makes it ideal for use as a Clients rifle in a safari camp.
7. It has Manageable recoil, and I have had lady clients use this rifle on large thick skinned animals without any problems.
8. Its the ideal all round calibre and rifle with which you can hunt the smallest African antelope up to the biggest pachyderm and you never have to have a single moments doubt that the rifle will not perform granted that you are using quality ammunition.
So to conclude, I have used my .375 H&H extensively over my career , and successfully hunted hundreds of trophy animals both large and small with it, it has been used as a clients rifle by almost every hunting party that has visited our camps , and has up to today been the best all round rifle that I have ever owned, never failing and always producing accurate shots and delivering deadly results, our Safari business (www.ksbiggamehunting.com) would not be as successful as it is did we not own .375 H&H rifles.
~ Seeker of independent outdoor brands, whitetail hunter & aspiring outdoor enthusiast. Yooper & fan of all things flannel. ~
So much of choosing your gear is personal preference, it’s difficult to find something that is flexible enough to meet the needs of many different situations and strong enough to last year after year.
I came across the Hilljacked Chair and was really impressed with how it adjusts to fit a variety of situations, light enough to not be a burden, and yet built strong with quality materials to withstand not only the elements of sun, rain and cold, but the abuse that happens during a hunting season.
All while being pretty darn comfortable however I have it adjusted to fit where I’m sitting for a hunt.
Being able to adjust the chair to the terrain allows me to stay more comfortable and hunt longer. It ’s a great piece of gear.
~ @MinoxUSAHunting Team. @OncaGear Partner. @Ladies_in_Camo Staff Writer. Wife & Mom. Outdoors & Fitness ~
I would have to say my fitness has been my most valuable investment.
Living in the mountains and hunting all public land I have to get to where there are no people. So that requires packing my gear on my back and hiking a mountain or two.
If I'm not in good shape it won't matter what kind of gear I have, it won't get me up that mountain. But with that being said, good boots and clothing are important as well.
Good boots will get you farther off the beaten path and good gear will help you stay out in the elements longer.
You can be the fittest person in the world but if your gear is poor quality you won't reach your full potential while in the bush.
Quote: "The very remoteness kindles the imagination of the adventurous hunter. From the top of any mountain the challenge extends far and wide, until the mountains meet the sky." ~ Fred Bear
~ Christian | Father | Outdoor Author | @StoneRoadMedia Contributor | Hunter | Angler | Biologist | Lover of all things outdoors! ~
My Best Hunting Gear…It’s Not What You Think
Hunting is something I identify with on a very deep and instinctual level. I use it to secure nature's original organic food (i.e., wild game) to supplement my family’s food budget.
I use it to connect to the natural world. I even use it to test my own fortitude sometimes, and make sure I’m not succumbing to the rat race in cubicle-land.
For beginners, it can be daunting to walk into a Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shops and choose their hunting gear. Separating “critical” from “gimmick” can be as challenging as picking the right craft beer at a local brewery. (Challenging...but fun!)
While I have my own gear recommendations for new hunters, I kind of struggled to come up with my most valuable piece of equipment ever. That’s a big claim, after all!
After tossing a couple ideas around of my top contenders, it ultimately came down to one thing for me: comfort.
And though you’re probably going to laugh, my top gear choice is nothing other than a pair of boots.
Now I can already hear several of you saying, “Boots?! Of all the important hunting gear, he chose boots? What a nut job.”
Well I won’t claim otherwise, but hear me out. I’m from northern Minnesota, where deer hunting season usually takes place in weather slightly warmer than where hell freezes over.
Try to sit completely still perched in a tree all day long with cold feet. Not going to happen, trust me.
When your feet are cold, you're distracted and miserable. Facing those conditions, you simply don't last very long twenty feet up in a tree.
And it's hard to put free-range meat in the freezer when you're sitting in the vehicle warming up.
I have a pair of Rocky boots with 1,000 grams Thinsulate insulation, which have always kept my feet pretty toasty. They allow me to sit from dawn to dusk so I can ambush my dinner.
Don't get cheap when it comes to hunting equipment. Price usually does indicate quality.
If you choose to invest in boots that will last a lot longer and keep you comfortable, you're more likely to be successful at the end of the day.
And when success is a delicious venison tenderloin, it’s pretty easy to justify the purchase.
~ Co-Host of Heartland Bowhunter on The Outdoor Channel ~
I would say my most valuable piece of hunting equipment that I use is my Bow.
Bowtech bows offer light-weight bows that are extremely quiet.
The smooth drawback and stern back wall give me extra confidence when settling in on my target.
Without a bow I can rely on my job as a bowhunter cannot be complete.
~ World traveling #photographer, #conservation, commercial outdoors, vs pres. - Professional Outdoor Media Association ~
I'm on mountain hunts all over the world from my home state of Montana, to Africa and Alaska, Argentina to Mexico, and Switzerland and France, and the one thing I can not compromise on is hunting boots.
I'm mainly a mountain hunter so quality boots from makers like Meindl, Lowa, Scarpa, Zamberlan, and Asolo are always my top priority.
I use all five brands, each has their place depending on terrain and hunting situation.
I can get by just about anywhere even if I have to borrow or buy clothes, rain gear, sleeping bags, packs, and guns, or optics, but finding a pair of boots that will work for me while in the Swiss Alps, Sonora, or the Alaska Range or any one of the other mountain locations I'm likely to be in, is usually not possible.
A good fitting, dependable, reliable pair of mountain hunting boots are essential to my success.
Great Hunting Gear Advice!
What great info from a group of inspiring hunting experts! Thanks to everyone who contributed.
I hope you have benefited from the experiences shared by these hunters? If you feel someone else might benefit too please share this post with them!
You might also like to connect with these 25 expert hunters and get to know them better via their websites or social accounts.
If you have more questions on the topic or are not sure which is the best hunting gear for you, or you are looking for some gift ideas for the hunter in your life, ask them. You can also go with your gut instinct. Just do it!
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Simon is an avid outdoor enthusiast who is passionate about bringing you the most up to date, accurate & understandable information on hunting, optics, and the outdoors.