The days are finally getting longer, with sunlight well into the evening, and temperatures are beginning to climb. Summer is either here or just around the corner, and it is an exciting season for any hunter. Some of us may call summer 'prep' season, but there are a lot of excellent summer hunting experiences and game to be had. Quite a few of us, no doubt, already have our early season tags in our pockets and are raring to go. Whether you're excited about glassing new terrain or returning to a favorite spot, in some areas within the U.S., temperatures can soar upwards of 100 degrees or more.
If you've got the summer hunting bug and are willing to endure hours in the scorching heat, you will need some critically essential items to stay safe and comfortable. Today, we'd like to share our expert opinions on the most important summer hunting gear.
Go Lightweight for Everything
The last thing you'll probably want to experience is summer's sweltering heat and humidity while lugging around a bunch of heavy-weight, possibly unhelpful stuff. The first thing you'll want to make sure is lightweight is the clothing you'll be wearing.
Not only is lightweight clothing necessary to keep the summer heat at bay, but the material your hunting clothing is made out of will also be critical to your comfort. There's a reason why Merino wool is one of the most sought-after materials for outdoor and hunting gear. You might hear the word 'wool' and think: itchy and hot. Merino wool, however, is one of the most comfortable materials to wear during the summer. But how?
- Merino wool fibers respond to both the external and your body's temperatures, helping to transfer heat away from your skin to balance its microclimate.
- Merino wool can absorb up to 35% of its weight in moisture before it feels damp. It's breathable, which means as it absorbs your sweat, it draws it away from your skin and releases it into the air via evaporation, and evaporation can help keep your body cool.
- Merino wool is also an incredible odor-resistant fabric.
- Merino wool is a delicate fiber, unlike traditional wool. When it comes in contact with skin, it will bend out of the way, which means no itchy, prickly sensations.
We also suggest a hood or a hat to protect your head and the back of your neck from the sun's heat and allow you to carry your cooling shade wherever you go. Along with lightweight shirts or hoodies, you'll want lightweight socks, bottoms, rain jackets, and gloves, too, so you aren't wasting precious energy carrying all the extra weight from bulky clothing. Last but never least, a lightweight summer backpack is a must. If you don't have one, time to clean out your fall and winter backpack of all the items you won't need during the summer as you definitely won't need hand warmers in the middle of August, for example.
What To Eat
Many of us may be less inclined to want to eat the hotter it gets. Protein bars that come in clutch during winter may not appeal as much when the weather is hot and dry. Anything with chocolate will melt and turn into a mess, which is the last thing you'll probably want when spotting and stalking.
You'll probably want something light and quick to eat, and the traditional trail mix (maybe without the melting chocolate) is still the unofficial king of backpacking, hiking, and hunter snacks. Dried or freeze-dried fruits make excellent, easy-to-grab snack food.
You can't go wrong with the traditional go-to of jerky, whether beef, turkey, or chicken. The trick to picking the right foods is getting the most nutrients and calories from the smallest and most lightweight foods. At around 140 calories per package, jerky is an excellent protein-packed energy booster for when the afternoon starts dragging.
What else can you pack to eat?
- Oatmeal packets
- Cup of fruit (in plastic containers)
- Pop-tarts (grab and go)
- Good old peanut butter and jelly (or favorite combination) sandwich
- Tuna in a pouch
- Cup of Noodles or Ramen
- Snack-packed pudding
Generally, if you are backcountry hunting even for a day, you'll need to pack enough food to replenish 2,500 to 3,000 calories. If you are backcountry hunting for several days, you will need several days of food, equaling this many calories.
You can easily organize the meals into plastic bags for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks before heading out, that way you can keep track of the calories and pack what you need, which you can grab from your pack, open, and enjoy without rummaging around or worry of whether or not you're getting the right amount of calories.
If you need to cook, a compact, lightweight canister stove and a pot for boiling water will likely suit your needs.
Remember to avoid strong-smelling foods or foods with a lot of garlic, so your scent won't give you away.
Game Bag Plan
You'll want to have a plan around what game bags you'll be using for your harvesting needs. You'll want something strong, durable, breathable, and lightweight, like your clothing and supplies, to aid the cooling process and keep the bugs off the meat. Breathable bags will help build that nice crust on the outside that happens after hanging it up in a tree. You'll also need to plan accordingly on how to get them from the bag to a cooler in your vehicle and whether you'll be processing the meat at home or bringing it to someone else to process.
You don't want to drive several hours and back for processing, so make sure before you go that you have someone nearby that can do it for you if you aren't going to DIY the goods from your hunt.
You know we can't talk about summer hunting without talking about water. Water is crucial for you to keep safe out there in the heat. Staying hydrated is something we can easily take for granted, whether distracted or concentrating on the hunt. We get excited and can forget to drink, or perhaps we're discouraged from drinking more when the water is warm.
Whether the water is warm or not, it is imperative to remember to hydrate, so ensure you have enough to drink and are drinking water frequently. We highly recommend a hunting pack with an internal hydration sleeve so you don't have to rummage about finding a thermos and can save space in your bag.
We recommend putting ice in a bladder or using flavor components that add electrolytes to make drinking more water as easy as possible.
Beat the heat with the most important gear for summer hunting this season and ensure that no matter what the temp is, you'll be comfortable for whatever comes your way.