Important Pieces for a DIY Montana Elk Hunt

by | Adventures

What you need on your next Montana Elk Hunt

Everyone has specific needs while hunting, so my pack and your pack may vary a little. Personally, comfortablility is key. If I don’t have a place to stay warm and dry, I will not make it through the hunt. Secondly, I need a clean water source – you will go through more water than you could imagine. Often times I pick camp based on the closest water source. Bear safety is my next key factor – bear spray is my primary choice, but will carry a firearm as well in grizzly country. It gives me a piece of mind when walking through dark timber around dusk. A good set of glass is the last factor that I won’t hunt without – you cant hunt them if you can’t find them.

These are the key factors I think about while packing for every hunt. So, I will tell you about the products I took for my week long archery elk trip to give you an idea what to bring and what to leave home. 

Being Comfortable

Shelter and sleeping equipment is the first thing I consider when going on a backcountry hunting trip. If I don’t have a tent I can stay warm and dry, then I might as well hike back down to the truck. I have suffered enough to know I don’t want to be that uncomfortable again. In the backcountry of Montana, if the weather man doesn’t call for rain, there is still a chance. 

For this hunt, I would choose the Big Agnes Burn Ridge 2p tent. You will have plenty of room to sleep, along with being able to keep your boots and miscellaneous gear in the tent to keep them dry from dew. For sleeping gear, I would use the Big Agnes Lost Ranger 15° down bag with the insluated Double Z pad. These are all incredibly packable and lightweight made just for backpacking in rugged country. 

Finding Fresh Water

The next thing to run through my mind is fresh water and how I plan on getting it. Typically, I like to set up camp close to a fresh water source, but that can’t always be the case. In the past, I have used hand pumps and tablets/drops to filter the water, but for 3-4 guys filtering up to 10L of water, it can take awhile. This year, we tried the gravity filter from Katadyn, and I’ll never go back.

The gravity filter from Katadyn holds up to 6L of water and is the easiest and fasted way to filter water. You just need to screw in the filter inside the bag, scoop as much water as you can get, and buckle it around a strong tree branch. You can literally fill a watter bottle or platypus up in seconds. You don’t realize how much water you go through from drinking it to using it for cooking your mountain houses. It’s incredibly comforting knowing you won’t run out of drinking water. 

Bear Safety

Bear saftey is big concern when spending some time in Montana’s backcountry. They are around, and chances are you will run into a few. While hunting, its always a good idea to carry bear spray because sneaking around the mountains, you never know what you may bump. Luckily every bear I have came across has bolted and have never had to use bear spray. In grizzly country, I take more precaution weilding a gun as well, but my first reaction would be to the bear spray canister. 

Having Good Optics

Montana is full of open country – perfect glassing opportunities. In many areas of the state, it doesnt make sense to hike around with heavy packs just to find the animals. Let your eyes do the walking and get a good pair of optics. I stick to Vortex because they are incredibly reliable and crystal clear, even in low light conditions. To me, binoculars are a must on every hunt. 

Spotting scopes can also be incredibly useful for hunting and observing animals. I don’t typically carry these while elk hunting to minimize the weight, but there are a few times every hunt that I wish I had packed it. 

Rent from Explore

The best part of this gear list, is that Explore Rentals has it all for rent. From the tent to the bear spray, we have your hunting needs covered. I’m sure many of you hunters already have your own gear, but it is nice to try something new for a change because you never know what you could be missing out on. We have all of this top of the line gear for rent, so you don’t need to worry about spending tons of money on new stuff. Plus, this gear is already out here in Bozeman, so no need to fly your’s out!

Hopefully your next DIY Montana Elk hunt was as successful as ours!


Explore Rentals is the original outdoor gear rental agency in greater Yellowstone region. Our goal has always been to provide the best possible rental gear for outdoor adventures. With well over 200 different types of outdoor rentals for outdoor adventures, we certainly have an something that will make your Montana experience more fun, safe, and comfortable. 

Our location next to the Bozeman Airport, with after-hours pick-up and drop-offs possible, allows for tremendous convenience with no waiting in line, and no hassle of dealing with shipping- ever.