If you’ve followed Caribou Gear for very long, you may know that founder Ted Ramirez is passionate about DIY hunting in Alaska. There’s no doubt that the logistics and planning can be difficult. But Ted will quickly tell you that all that work is worth the reward.
If you’re thinking about a DIY Alaska hunt, now is the time to begin planning. The application period is open and the deadline to apply for 2022 draw hunts is December 15th at 5:00 p.m. Alaska time. Don’t miss your opportunity to apply for these hunts and let another year go by. As Ted always tells us, “Once you experience Alaska, you’ll wish you had started sooner!”
For a few tips on how to scout and navigate a DIY float trip hunt in Alaska, check out our previous article here.
We recently asked Ted which pieces of gear would be on his “must have” list for a remote Alaska hunt. Here are twelve of the items that he won’t leave home without:
1. The Hanger
You might be surprised to see The Hanger as the first item on this list. It may seem easy to overlook. But according to Ted, if he forgot this item, he’d turn around and go back for it. It’s really that important.
“I wouldn't go to Alaska without it,” Ted told us. “In fact, I wouldn't go anywhere in Grizzly country without it. You really appreciate its use when you're going somewhere you need to hang your food. You feel safer in camp and it simplifies the whole process.
“It's also extremely versatile,” Ted added. “We’ve used it to suspend a tarp shelter, to hang up a clothesline, or even to hang sleeping bags to dry out. It's one of those things that is absolutely essential on a remote backcountry trip in Alaska.”
2. Extreme Weather Binocular Cover and Harness
Hunting in Alaska means hunting in conditions that are wet and muggy. For that reason, Ted prefers a binocular carry system that’s as streamlined as possible.
“When you’re hunting in Alaska, it's so uncomfortably humid that having the least amount of gear and weight on your body means a lot,” he said. “I prefer a bino cover and harness that’s completely waterproof, but not big and bulky.”
That was exactly the inspiration behind the Extreme Weather Bino Cover and Harness. It keeps your optics protected from constant rain and snow, yet quickly and easily accessible. But instead of a big pouch on your chest, the sleek design reduces bulk, keeping you comfortable even in Alaska’s muggy conditions.
3. The Alaskan Bullet Wallet
There is simply no better bullet carry system for a hunting trip to Alaska. The Caribou Gear Alaskan Bullet Wallet carries ten handgun rounds and five rifle rounds for quick access.
“Whether I attach it to my belt or to my backpack hip belt, this Bullet Wallet gives me easy access to the bullets that I need for my handgun, plus the rounds that I need for my rifle,” Ted commented. “I can easily keep five rounds for bear protection, five bird-shot rounds for my handgun and five rounds for my .300 Weatherby Magnum all within reach.”
4. The Hunter’s Tarp
Another item that never gets left at home is the Caribou Gear Hunter's Tarp.
“I've been in Alaska when it rained 18 out of 20 days,” Ted told us. “This ultralight tarp is great for keeping you – or your meat – out of the direct rain. When out moose hunting in the rain, I'll find a spot at the edge of some trees where I can suspend the tarp above me. This allows me to call and keep watch while staying comfortably out of the rain.”
Weighing just five ounces, the Caribou Gear Hunter’s tarp is extremely versatile and it’s easy to see why it’s one of our top-selling pieces of hunting gear. It begins with a high quality rip-stop fabric that’s both lightweight and very durable. Then each side has multiple silpolyU™ coatings to make the tarp completely waterproof.
Using it as a field shelter or suspending it over the meat pole at camp to protect your harvest are just two of the possible uses. Learn more about the Hunter’s Tarp here.
5. The GPS/Phone Holster
“When hunting in Alaska, I'll always have the Holster on my backpack harness where the GPS unit has contact with the sky,” Ted explained. “When you're in the bush out there, you feel so much more disconnected. Everything looks the same. So being able to leave a GPS breadcrumb trail simplifies everything and provides a lot of peace of mind.”
The Caribou Gear GPS/Phone Holster is designed to provide quick and easy access to your smartphone or GPS unit when navigating in wilderness regions. Whether you’re using OnX maps on your phone, keeping a walkie-talkie close at hand, or a traditional GPS unit, the Caribou Gear Holster will keep it secure and quickly accessible. It’s built with highly durable Cordura fabric and high quality components from top to bottom.
6. Knives of Alaska Coho
“The Coho and Steelheader knives by Knives of Alaska are two blades that I won't leave without,” Ted added. “People often think of these as fishing knives, but they are so much more than that. That long blade is perfect when deboning or anytime you're working on a moose.”
We recommend the Coho and Steelheader combo for working on an animal the size of a moose. Then the smaller Steelheader on its own is excellent for game of any size - we carry it on all of our hunts here in Colorado as well.
7. Rain Poncho
In the age of high quality Gore-Tex rain gear for hunters, is there still a need for a poncho? The answer is absolutely, yes! Ted says that the Patrol Poncho will always be on his packing list.
“Even when wearing my Gore-Tex rain gear, that poncho is a great addition,” Ted explained. “When it's raining day after day and especially when you're rowing in the raft and the seat is pooling with water, the poncho keeps your rear dry and is just a great comfort item in the hunting kit.”
8. Jetboil and Meals
When it comes to food on a remote backcountry hunt, there’s nothing better than a Jetboil stove system and hot meals from Mountain house or Peak Refuel to keep you energized. Both the stove system and the meals are extremely lightweight and easy to pack. The Jetboil stove is fuel efficient, even in bad weather.
9. Fire Starters
When it comes to fire starters – even in Alaska’s notoriously wet conditions – Ted highly recommends Coghlan’s Fire Sticks.
“They are inexpensive but they are hands-down the best fire starters we've ever use,” Ted told us. “Despite all the name brands and prices and options, you cant beat these Coghlan’s Fire Sticks. In wet conditions they just plain work. Half a stick is all you need to get a fire going.”
10. Outdoor Element Firebiner
You don’t need matches or a lighter to fire up your Jetboil stove. Outdoor Element’s patent-pending EverSpark technology lights every single time, no matter how wet the weather. This handy little carabiner clips to a belt loop or backpack loop where it’s always accessible. In addition to being able to instantly start a fire in any weather, the Firebiner comes equipped with a safety blade to cut paracord or fishing line, screwdriver and bottle opener. Clip it on your pack and take it wherever you go.
11. Roll Top Dry Bags
When it rains as much as it does in Alaska, a high quality roll top dry bag is absolutely essential. The Koyukon Gear roll top dry bags are built for this type of adventure.
“With no straps to get caught on trees, it’s perfect for hanging food,” Ted continued. “The 35 liter dry bag is actually designed to hold Mountain House and Peak Refuel food packages. Simply alternate the direction of the packages when you place them in the dry bag and they will stack perfectly.”
These dry bags secure tightly and will remain completely waterproof even in the worst conditions. In addition to hanging food at camp, keep your clothing, sleeping bag and other essential items dry.
12. Kenetrek Socks
“Kenetrek socks have proven to work well in all conditions,” Ted added. “They maintain their insulative properties even when wet, they wick moisture and help prevent blisters.”
High quality socks are another item that may be easy to overlook – but you’ll certainly be sorry if you do. Foot problems can ruin a hunt in a hurry. One way to help keep your feet in good condition is to pack high quality merino wool blend socks. This is especially important on long, tough hunts.
Contact Us With Questions
Planning a trip to Alaska? We’d love to help and explain our recommended gear for a DIY Alaska hunt. If you’re along the Front Range in Colorado, come visit us at our showroom in Highlands Ranch. Otherwise, you can call or send us an email. Click here for all of our location and contact information.
Don’t forget about the deadline to apply for 2022 draw hunts in Alaska, coming up on December 15th! No matter where your adventures take you, we hope you’re looking forward to some great hunts in the near future!