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Orvis Pro Series Vest

Orvis Pro Series Vest

 

The upland game vest may be the single most-utilized piece of gear in upland hunting. Regardless the terrain, bird species, weather conditions…. the vest is always part of the hunt. Depending on the time of year, it has to fit over different layers, carry different loads, securely stow essential gear. And for me it’s gotta fit like a well-worn glove. The Orvis Pro Series Vest has multiple strap adjustments reminiscent of a backpack, so the game pouch and pockets ride exactly where you want them. No matter your frame size, this vest should adjust to exactly how you are most comfortable busting cover. Zipping pockets to lockdown keys, licenses and phones. An expanding game bag could carry a bushel of birds. The hydration bladder compatibility allows me to carry a gallon for dogs to extend our range on hot days. Beefy buckles and materials, lightweight, solidly stitched — this vest is gonna be a constant companion for the foreseeable seasons – $189 click here to learn more.

Midland X-Talker T75

Midland Walkie Talkie

 

Walkie talkies may not be considered standard upland gear…… but maybe they should be. These Midland X-Talker radios let me check-in with a another remote hunter across miles of mountainous terrain without having to drop elevation to verify safety and location. And if you’re hunting with friends driving multiple vehicles, these radios are faster and more convenient than cell phones. The 38-mile range is terrain dependent, but we were able to stay in touch across 8 miles of forested peaks with no problems. The X-Talkers have great battery life and the Weather Scan is an added safety feature making them a must-have for backcountry adventure – $90 click here to learn more.

Filson Ultra Light Weight Jacket

Filson Ultra Light Jacket

 

Filson may have built their reputation on their indestructible Tin Cloth, but if they keep turning out jackets like this Ultra Light Weight made from ripstop Cordura® the mantle could be passed. For a weather-resistant jacket, the warmth-to-weight ratio is amazing due largely to the PrimaLoft Gold® Insulation which retains it’s insulating capabilities even when wet. Worn under an upland vest the absence of bulk allows you to stay warm without changing the mount or pull length of the shotgun for shooting consistency. Zippered pockets give another place to safely stow important items. And in the event you get too warm in changing weather conditions, the Ultra Light Weight Jacket rolls up and is unnoticeable in the game pouch. Most hunters will probably opt for the Field Olive but the Raven looks deadly with a blaze vest –  $295 click here to learn more.

Gerber Center Drive Multi-tool

Gerber Multi-tool

 

There are tons of multi tools on the market. Tons. The reason the Gerber Center Drive has made it into my every day carry is one thing, military grade rotatable carbide wire cutters. These cutters give me a level of confidence that if my dogs are ever caught in a snare, I have a chance to free them quickly with minimal injury. Yes, I like the spring-loaded pliers, knife, file, bottle opener, screwdriver and all the other bells and whistles on this multi-tool. But the replaceable carbide cutters are what puts this in my vest and makes it irreplaceable to me – $85 click here to learn more.

Eddie Bauer Alchemist 40/55 Pack

Eddie Bauer Alchemist

 

When you’re headed into the backcountry bird hunting, it’s always a balancing act between how much gear you can carry yet still have enough legs left once camped to follow dogs in pursuit of birds. I was able to easily pack four days and three nights worth of gear and food in Eddie Bauer’s Alchemist. The pack’s best feature is once you get a remote camp setup you are able to collapse the expansion and travel light for day use carrying only the essentials – water, snacks, dog treats and extra shells. It rides high, is comfortable to wear regardless the load and easy to shoot while wearing. Don’t let the rock climbing origins deceive you, this pack is perfect for backcountry upland – $150 click here to learn more.

onX Hunt

onX Hunt

 

The ability to accurately and easily identify public hunting land in any state across the country is now at your fingertips. The onX Hunt App is a GPS on steroids: National Forest, BLM, Wildlife Management Areas, State Trust Land, even the names of private land owners who you may wish to seek out for permission to chase birds on their property. The volume of information available is amazing. If cell service is known to be spotty, maps can be preloaded for off-grid capabilities, no cell tower, no problem. And with the latest version hunters can share waypoints via text, email, or any other messaging apps that are enabled on the users smartphones. The onX Hunt App is a must have for any outdoor enthusiast – $30 per year per state, $100 per year for all 50 states, click here to learn more.

Lowa Irox GTX Mid

Lowa Irox

 

100% vegan boots. Let that sink in for a bit…….a hunter wearing vegan boots. Now what does that really mean? One thing I know for sure is when leather gets wet it gets heavy. And heavy feet aren’t good when covering lots of miles. Whether shale slides, gnarly grouse woods or prairie grasses, upland boots need to perform, preferably just a single pair. That’s a tough ask but the Lowa Irox GTX have risen to the task. Waterproof GORE-TEX® lined, fully synthetic, lightweight with toe and heel abrasion guards, a fairly rigid sole to protect from repetitious pounding. I’ve been impressed with the Irox performance and it may be the first season I can remember where a single pair of boots survives the entire gauntlet. Hardiest vegan we’ve ever encountered – $260 click here to learn more.

Benchmade 560 Freek

Benchmade 560

 

We’re perennial fans of Benchmade knives: high-quality, edge retention, one handed opening, reversible clips on most models. What’s not to like? But here’s what makes the Freek stand out: it’s crazy lightweight. Benchmade has found a way to replace some of the metal components with space-age materials that don’t compromise quality. Unlike other Benchmade models, the Freek’s handle is made of Versaflex which makes it grippy. Why that’s important for birdhunters is pretty simple – it’s stickier in the pocket, not exactly glued in there but seeded. While walking through heavy cover the branches or thick brush aren’t going to be able to pry the Freek from its place. The ability to clean birds back at the truck is always better than cursing the pickpockets afield – $111 click here to learn more.

Thermacell Backpacker

Thermacell Backpacker

 

Biting bugs can ruin a backcountry trip. Since most of our hunting occurs after the frosts of fall, insects are rarely a nuisance. But when training in the off-season or even hunting in early-season those bugs can be absolutely maddening. I was one of the original testers of the Thermacell Backpacker at high elevation. The feature I like best is that it uses the same fuel canisters as our back country cook-stove so no extra weight is needed to carry this featherweight (4 oz) vampire repeller – $42 with two 24-hour mosquito repellant refills, click here to learn more.