Elk Hunt Pack List

Elk hunt trips are popular among wildlife hunting enthusiasts. Hunting among the vast Rocky Mountain landscapes is an exciting and immersive experience. Generally, guided tours are popular for elk hunting because guides are familiar with the area and can help you find game. They also sometimes provide camping gear and food.

More adventurous elk hunters can choose drop camp trips, which get you to a specific location and let you choose your adventure or a complete DIY trip. DIY trips can save you money, but also require more planning. Regardless of the kind of trip you’re planning, it’s best to use an elk hunting pack list to make sure you bring all the essentials.

Elk hunting season

Elk hunting season can vary slightly depending on which state you are hunting in. However, elk hunting season typically takes place between late summer and late fall. Depending on the season, there are certain restrictions in place. Your elk hunt pack list should include approved gear for the season.

During elk hunting season, there are weeks that only allow for bow hunting, while other weeks allow rifle hunting. Each week will also allow for specific game (bucks, youth, or female), so it is essential to look into state regulations and plan your elk hunt pack list accordingly.

Must have gear for elk hunting

If you are planning a DIY hunting trip, you will need to plan for everything. While planning your elk hunting pack list, packing your hunting gear may seem obvious. However, camping gear, food, appropriate clothing, and other supplies are also necessary for success in the wilderness.

Picking easy-to-pack and carry items will help if you are planning to travel and camp at different sites.

Hunting gear

When you are hunting without a tour guide, it is crucial to know where you are. Cell phone service may not always be in range, so make sure to include a map, compass, and altimeter in your elk hunting pack list. These tools will orient you to your location and terrain.

 Bring any firearms, ammunition, or bow and arrows you are comfortable with. The following must-have gear for elk hunting should be on your list as well:

  • Backpack or daypack
  • Bright marking tape
  • Licenses, certifications, and tags
  • Binoculars
  • Headlamp
  • 550 cord to hang game
  • Cloth or plastic game bags
  • Folding saw and a knife
  • Collapsible shooting sticks

Check out our top picks for the best hunting blinds

Camping gear

Guided hunts sometimes offer camping or cabin accommodations, but if you plan on hunting by yourself, you will need to bring your own camping gear.

 Packing easily condensed shelters like a solo tent, bivouac sack, or 8×8 foot tarp will allow more portability when planning on traveling and setting up multiple campsites. Your pack list should also include these camping essentials:

  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight, headlamp, and extra batteries
  • Fire starting materials, like matches, a cigarette lighter, and paraffin cubes or other tinder
  • Toilet paper
  • Griddle for cooking stove
  • Thermos, cooking pot, plasticware, and a multifunctional spoon and fork
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Hand and dish soap


It is crucial to maintain your strength and stamina when you hunt. Hunting burns a lot of calories, so remember to eat foods that will replenish your calorie count as well as foods that are high protein and carbohydrates. Your elk hunt pack kit should include plenty of easy-to-consume foods and drinks that will keep you alert and hydrated throughout the day:

  • Nuts and seeds, like peanuts, cashews and sunflower seeds
  • Granola bars
  • Pro bars, or protein bars
  • Beef or venison jerky
  • Oatmeal
  • Dehydrated dinner meals
  • Powdered milk, which is good for quick meals like mac and cheese

It is just as important to make sure you are staying hydratedYour elk hunt pack list should include plenty of water and a convenient container, but it should also include water purifying tablets for emergencies. Aside from water, plan to back other beverages that will keep you awake and hydrated:

  • Instant coffee
  • Hot chocolate
  • Water electrolyte tablets
  • Water bottles
  • Gatorade or electrolyte drinks


 Always plan for the current hunting season, which means warmer clothes in the fall or early winter and breathable clothes in the summer. However,  unexpected rainstorms, heatwaves, or cold spells can happen, leaving you to face the elements. Bring these different clothing items so you can wear layers:

  • Rain jacket and rain gear
  • Down vest
  • Poncho (wear it or use it as a ground cloth)
  • Thermal underwear
  • Lots of socks
  • Gloves
  • Fleece layers
  • Balaclava (ski mask)
  • Boots (Check our picks for the best hunting boots)
  • A felt, brimmed hat
  • Camouflage

FAQs About Elk Hunt Pack List

What items should I bring for an elk hunt?

When hunting elk, you should bring items such as a rifle or bow and arrows, ammunition, safety gear (such as a first aid kit), navigational tools (like a GPS or compass), rain gear, extra layers of clothing for cold weather conditions, insect repellent, waterproof boots/footwear and gloves.

Are there any specialized tools or equipment needed to successfully hunt elk?

Yes, specialized equipment for elk hunting includes calls/decoys to attract the animal into range and scents to mask human odor from the area. Additionally it is recommended to bring along an ATV or other off-road vehicle if you plan on traversing difficult terrain in search of your game.

How can I properly store and transport my gear during the hunt?

You should pack all your gear in sturdy containers that are designed for outdoor use and can withstand wet conditions like backpacks with rain covers or waterproof bags. If using an off-road vehicle be sure to secure all items so they do not become loose during transport over rough terrain.

What clothing should I pack for an elk hunting trip in cold weather conditions?

For cold weather hunts you should pack insulated jackets/coats with hoods, multiple layers of warm clothing underneath (wool socks are highly recommended), thermal underwear tops & bottoms if necessary, hats & beanies that cover your ears and face protection such as balaclavas and goggles when needed.

Are there any specific food, snacks, or beverages that are recommended while on an extended elk hunt expedition?

Food wise it is best to bring high energy snacks like protein bars, trail mix, jerky etc. Plenty of water both bottled and stored in large containers depending on how far you will be hunting, plus instant coffee mixes / hot chocolate packets / tea bags so one can enjoy some hot beverages throughout their expedition without having access to fire sources.

The bottom line

Elk hunting is an exciting sport, but it takes a lot of planning and preparation if you are hunting by yourself. Many experienced hunters prefer DIY trips because they save money and they offer a more authentic experience, but it is vital to make sure you bring the right gear and to plan your pack list accordingly with the hunting season and duration of your trip. 

Preparation ensures that you have a great experience and don’t run into any challenges that you can’t handle. It’s also a good idea to brush up on some survival skills before leaving for your trip! 


About the Author

Trey is a lifelong hunter and avid camper. He lives outside Denver, CO with his wife Kaci and their lab mix Ziggy. They spend as much time as possible outdoors - hunting, fishing, and camping.

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