From Overlooked to Women-Specific.
Until recently the female hunter has had to make due with gear made for men or youth. These past few years women have been flooding the industry and have made it known that “Women hunt, too.” Companies have responded by creating women specific gear and there are even companies that cater only to the female hunter.
But the topic of gear is a very broad subject, so how do you know what gear is right for you?
The 6 Considerations of Outfitting:
1. What Type of Game are You Hunting?
When considering gear, a good place to start is to look at what type of game you will be hunting, snakes and the terrain you will be in. This will give you an idea of where to start in choosing the appropriate gear. What kind of hunting you plan on doing is another important consideration- The backcountry hunters gear can differ greatly from the gear of a tree stand hunter.
2. What Weather will You be In?
The kind of weather you get is important as well. Things you will need to think of are whether you need gear for hot weather, cold weather or both. Do you go with un-insulated and layer up for the late season or do you buy insulated gear?
3. Think about Your Body Type.
A lot of gear questions can be answered depending on your body type, are you a person who gets cold rather easily or are you one that heats up fast? Personally, I am one that is always cold and live in a cold, mountain climate, so I have multiple layers with insulated jackets and pants.
4. Do Your Research & Read Reviews.
Once you are able to answer these questions start doing your research on the different gear available and read the reviews.
5. Not Having Everything Camo is Okay.
You want gear that functions to your needs and sometimes that means it’s not camouflage. If it comes down to choosing gear that is not camouflage, look at the natural colors like browns and greens- Animals instinctively pick up movement quickly, so not having camouflage won’t make a huge difference.
6. Make Sure it Fits.
You want to try things on before you purchase them (unless you are able to do a return); fit is a much overlooked factor but couldn’t be more important. Clothing that doesn’t fit properly can hinder your movement, can make staying warm or cool difficult, and hinder your shooting ability. Gear that fits properly helps with your movement and will lessen your chances of any strains or sores.
My Gear – An Example:
What I carry with me depends on the type of hunt I plan on doing and whether it’s late season or early season.
For any hunt I go on I always have my Eberlestock X1 pack and in it I have:
- My water bladder
- Rain jacket – I don’t think anyone should leave home without one. They not only protect you from the rain but are very warm when the weather turns cool and work as a wonderful windbreaker.
- Head lamp
- First aid & emergency bivy
- Knives & sharpener
- Extra shirt & extra socks – Extra socks are key, they can add warmth to your cold feet or prevent hot spots and blisters that occur from hiking in wet pair.
- Game bags
- Wind checker
- Straps (if I shoot an animal and need to pack it out, I can strap my clothing to the outside)
- Toilet paper
- The appropriate call for that hunt
With all of these items my pack weighs in at 17lbs.
Outfitting for Multi-Day Hunts
When I am going on a multi-day hunt I pack everything mentioned above with the addition of a sleeping pad, sleeping bag, food, wet wipes, iodine tablets, spork and bear spray…and I never leave home without my binoculars.
For this type of hunt my pack weighs in at 28lbs – these weights are excluding my bow or rifle.
My husband and I do our multi day hunts together and being twice my size he carries the tent and cooking gear. Then as we get into the colder seasons my insulated jacket and bibs are added into the mix or if we are planning to hunt in a tree stand I always wear my insulated clothes, even in the early season. Sitting exposed to the elements and not being able to really move around pulls the warmth from you, so I counter that with wearing my insulated gear.
Bow vs Rifle Outfitting Essentials?
When it comes to the essentials in my pack, there is not much difference between hunting with a bow and hunting with a rifle. The difference is that when I hunt with a bow I will carry bear spray or a defender (if I’m alone), allen keys, and a rangefinder. When I hunt with a rifle I pack extra bullets.
How My Gear differs from my Husband’s
When it comes to my husbands gear and mine, the big difference I find is that he has more selection. We mainly hunt the backcountry and that is where the women’s gear is lagging behind in selection, quality and technology.
Where some of his gear is made for hunting in the backcountry, I have had to look into other areas like mountaineering equipment. Boots are a big one that I had troubles finding for what I needed. I ended up looking at the mountaineering products where I found the perfect pair for hiking the backcountry.
Final Tips on Outfitting Female Hunters
Think about Gear fit, especially in your Pack.
Women my size need to really think about their gear and how it fits, especially when it comes to packs. You need a pack that can handle the weight you plan on hauling and that it sits on you right with the weight distributed appropriately.
One thing I have found to be an issue with multi-day packs is having the head room to look up, a lot of times the pack sticks up above my head so if I am going to be glassing slides it limits my range of motion.
Think about your Physical Conditioning
We need to make sure we are in good physical shape for packing our gear and packing out an animal. When it comes to packing out an animal we have to accept the fact that we can’t haul as much meat on our backs as most and that we may have to make multiple trips, so being in good shape will help tremendously. It helps if you take into consideration how much each piece of your gear weighs, the lighter stuff you have the easier your hike will be.
It’s important to remember that all women are sized differently and whether you are petite or full figured it is a struggle for many of us to find gear that fits just right. What works for one person may not work for another, but always take the recommendations into consideration when trying gear on.