Just FYI, there are no otc tags in the states you mentioned. You'll have to draw WY and MT. Idaho is first come, first served with caps and it was a total zoo trying to get one bought over the phone the day they went on sale from what I heard.
My go tos... pants, 2 pairs of socks, merino wool shirt, vest, softshell jacket (mine is the 90% from Sitka), baseball cap. I carry Cabela's space raingear. That's it... If it's supposed to be really cold I will bring a puffy, but I usually just skip it.
For rain gear, the Cabela's Space Rain is hard to beat for light weight and compactness. You're mostly just going to need it for a stray afternoon shower. Things can get nasty in the mountains in a hurry though, so keep an eye on the forecast every day.
You really don't need to spend the coin on Sitka, either, but that's your choice. I would go cheaper on the clothing and make sure you have 2 GOOD pair of boots.
For cheap, easy, and light warmth vs. an extra coat I suggest a baklava or similar. Not just to cover your head to hold in heat but your neck and sides of your face as well. Works great to control the dog shakes and fits in a pocket. That plus a high quality outer rain shell (I love my sitka downpour other than it is a bit noisy) are a sure fire way to stay dry, warm and cut the wind. Of course, it has its limits and will not do so well below 15F in a gale as something with more insulation....but it is great for less severe temps and you can put it on and off as needed as you get warm moving and start to cool from sitting.
I take a pair of Kanab 2.0, Llano and chama shirt, Uncompahgre puffy and a FL vest that I can't remember the name. Throw in space rain gear, a pair of gloves, cheap beanie, boots, 2 prs of DT socks and I'm covered. I normally pack an extra pair of pants and a midweight FL baselayer pant but have only had the pants on once. Normally that stuff stays in the truck.
On top of this....my pack is full of a bunch of other stuff I never use. :)
Check out SKRE camo. I love it. Works great. And their Merino Wool is very nice. They have all levels from warm weather to cold weather and rain gear. Great camo patterns too. And a lot less expensive than the other higher priced gear out there.
Nobody has mentioned that its possible to have a quick winter storm blow into the high country during those dates and have 6" of snow or more on the ground when you wake up one morning. You will be a long ways from home. Be prepared with gear that can save your life if need be.
No one is packing in so far that they cant just walk out. He isn’t headed to Alaska. He’s headed to the west. Get wet, walk out. Get too cold, walk.
There has been so much hype built into hunting gear, you’d think everyone was living and dying by it. Truth is. Few of us hubt where life and death is going to be defined by whether you have the latest and greatest gear.
cnelk posted on another thread there is a huge difference between first aid and second aid. To know the difference. I couldn’t agree more.
I agree that gear isn’t going to kill an elk. All you need is a tag and bow and arrow for that. However, being comfortable can help with the physical and mental stresses. I’ve spent nights in a cold tent underprepared and it definitely contributed to my hunt stamina. If you can’t get good rest then you won’t last. Staying dry, well rested, adequate calorie intake, and comfort are factors to the hunt. Example. Even blisters can ruin an elk hunt.
I’ve done 12 day trips with the set of clothes I hiked in wearing, 2 sets of extra socks, a puffy and rain gear.
I used to be obsessed with gear, the more time I got under my belt in the true wilderness/backcountry the less interested in gear I became. Partly from learning what worked for me and what didn’t, but also because I came to realization that gear doesn’t put arrows in animals, hunters do. For every hour spent thinking about gear, spend 5-10 hours researching maps, learning calling, glassing, camping, etc techniques.
No one on this forum elk hunts farther than a long days walk from their truck. Sure gear matters, but if shit hits the fan you always have the option to hike out and regroup.
Now that I talked down gear prep, make sure you use nice gear lol. Clothes are waaaaay down the totem pole of importance to me. Boots, pack, shelter are paramount. Everything beyond that is weight on your back in exchange for comforts while afield. Peak refuel tastes way better than mtn house and a light well dialed “kill kit” to deal with a downed animal is also a must.
Learn what you are hunting and where you are hunting, the what you are wearing or carrying in the pack pales in comparison.
Like many others, I used to obsess about gear choices. But I have learned when to "Buy one, cry once" and when to shop for deals. Base layers- merino wool from Costco and discount websites. Raingear-Cabelas Space Rain. Outer layers- Buy name brands of last years model on clearance. Yes you can mix and match! LOL! FirstLight, Sitka, Core4 are all in my arsenal, depends upon what time of the year. (I will wear my Woodland camo Wrangler pants when hot. < $30.) Puffy- I have one synthetic and one down. Unless it is hot/no chance of rain, I always like one in my pack. (I will put it on under rain gear if I want to take a mid day nap in the field) Socks- Good wool socks- (Darn Tough, Smartwool, etc). Boots- Somewhat depends if you are day hiking or backpack hunting, but buy the best you can. (As you feet go, so goes the rest of your hunt)
Like has been mentioned, I care about food and shelter. (This old man needs to sleep!)
A lot of times you pay a huge premium for a name or if you need something that is very light weight but strong and durable. I agree that buying quality is often the cheapest way forward in the long run, and is appropriate if you are planning on a long run. Often I find I can save a significant amount by checking the materials and workmanship of competing articles and not getting attached to the big name.
Iowa, You can't beat the Paradox poly/merino blend zip neck tee top and long johns from COSTCO. They are all I ever use and cheap...$20 for tops and less for bottoms in Canada, likely cheaper in US. Not camo, this year's colors are black, a black camo that is well...mostly black as well as an electric blue. They dry 5 times faster than KUIU merino and wear 10 times longer in my experience.
I like KUIU Attack pants for versatility, the side zips rock for dumping heat and they are warm enough with long johns and rain gear over the top to take some snow on the ground. Don't use them in blackberry thickets or catclaw thickets, which shouldn't be a problem un less you are hunting coastal elk or in the deserts of AZ (no elk).
I still like the Cabelas Microtex button shirts the best but they are not made anymore.
Hard to beat a KUIU Peloton 240 hooded camo jacket for a mid-weight jacket. I wear mine hunting most of the time if its cold, for cross-country skiing, hiking, quadding, etc. Great gear.
KUIU Chugach light weight rain gear with pit zips and and nearly full length side zips on the bottoms are my go to. They also serve a heck of a good wind jacket and pants as required.
I do like the Super Down Ultra KUIU hooded parka and zip-off puffy pants but you likely don't need them for most elk hunts in Sept, especially if not around treeline (the elevation, not the CO bowhunter, haha).
FWIW....in certain parts of Montana there are OTC doe tags. If you draw a NR big game combo (or elk only) and doing elk in those areas you could also buy a doe tag. I just looked at this yesterday.
I picked up a blister last week while going up a mountain in Montana. There is horizontal walking and vertical walking. The vertical is what got me. Someone on another hunting site educated me with this video on how to properly get AND lace up your boots. I recommend checking it out, especially the part on how to lace your boots. It does make a big difference and blisters suck!
I disagree. You CAN mix Kuiu and Sitka if your Sitka is so old it was made by Kuiu..... =D
You don't NEED any of the higher end gear. As mentioned very little really existed back in the day and plenty elk were killed with sharp sticks. But there weren't cell phones and $60,000 pickups back then either. If you have the coin I'd put the first of it into a good pair of boots, some good optics and then look into clothing, good fitting synthetics or wool, avoiding cotton like the plague so to speak. In the gear world money hands down buys comfort with less weight and often higher performance despite what the curmudgeons say.... thinking about it.... kinda like women.....
Money they say, you can't take it with you..... OTOH I do plan on being buried in my Attacks......
Some of the expensive high end name brand stuff is cotton. 100%cotton. They advertise it as "Texas cotton" as though cotton grown in Texas is somehow different that Georgia cotton. I am all for quality if you are in it for the long haul, but look at what it is made from and check comparable products on the market. I agree that it costs money to get light weight quality products. But is that light weight better for the hunting you are doing? If you are hunting from a base camp , and hauling everything in with a truck and trailer, does it matter that you saved a few ounces on your cooking utensils, ect. How much would you pay to save five pounds for a two mile pack in to a spike camp? I can get a quality sleeping bag that is warm and roomy for less that half the price of a big name 850 fill down bag with a high end name. The tight little mummy bag with the brand X on it weighs under 2#. Would the 2.5# bag that was just as warm and a little more roomy and half the price work as well. My point is that by saving where it is reasonable to do so, I can buy the high end binoculars or quality tent and be well equipped and comfortable. The other day I went to Good Will and purchased two like new 100% polyester T-shirts that were high end to someone, but I got them for the same price they had their cotton Ts. I get Marino wool garments there for very little. They don't know junk from quality. It all goes on the same rack for the same price. My point is that by carefully shopping you can get quality equipment and clothing for your application at a good price, and it is not just a Kuiu or Sitka sale.