The Art of Pack Organization: Getting the Most of Your Day Pack

The Art of Pack Organization: Getting the Most of Your Day Pack

Preparing for my hunts out west is one of my favorite aspects of the entire trip. I find a lot of enjoyment in scrutinizing each piece of hunting gear, clothing, tools, etc., as to what will make the cut or not for the trip. After all, it is quite an undertaking driving cross country, establishing a camp, putting the miles in finding the herd, and hopefully packing one out. It demands significant forethought and logistical planning to hit the sweet spot between packing everything, including the kitchen sink, or the bare minimum to survive. The same scrutinization must be applied to the pack you'll carry every day of your hunt unless you thrive in chaos and enjoy having a sore back. 


Pack Light and Intelligently. 

Packing light doesn't mean sacrificing essential gear but prioritizing what is crucial for what and where you are hunting. If you hunt in a relatively dry area, do you need to carry a complete set of rain gear, or will a cheap, light tarp and paracord keep you dry enough for a while? Can that same tarp double as a ground cloth when breaking down an elk? Typically, carrying redundant or unnecessary equipment does nothing more than add bulk and weight to your pack. Weed out the unnecessary and double down on the multi-use pieces of gear. 

I keep an Excel spreadsheet of essential items I take each year divided into several categories: camp, clothing, cooking/food, hunting gear, first aid, etc. When all your equipment is listed in front of you, it is easy to spot multi-functional items and where it is possible to reduce weight. Also, after each trip, I take this spreadsheet and weed it down further based on gear that never left camp, my pack, etc. This method takes time to dial in, but it is well worth the effort. 


Organization is Key

A well-organized pack can save you time and frustration in the field. I love my Exo pack, but let's face it: it is one giant compartment that can quickly become one big mess if it's not organized. Pack similar equipment together using separate pouches, ditty bags, or the like, for your clothes, food, etc. Additionally, using color-coded pouches is about as easy as it gets to keep your gear squared away. I used to carry my first aid kit and spare elk calls in the same style and color ditty bags, and rarely did I ever pull the correct bag out the first time. It might not sound like a big deal now, but when you or your hunting partner is hurt, the last thing you want to do is sift through all your gear to find the right bag. 


Tailoring Your First Aid Kit

Speaking of first aid kits, each hunting trip has risks, and being prepared for potential injuries or emergencies is paramount and severely overlooked by most hunters. Tailoring your first aid kit to the types of injuries you could sustain in the field is a must before leaving the trailhead, and more importantly, knowing how to use the items in your kits. Are you packing a tourniquet or suture kit? The first time you pull these items out of your kit better not be on the side of the mountain. 

Generic off-the-shelf kits are generally a good start for a competent kit but don't overlook adding extra items like compression wraps, suture kits, etc. Finally, keep this kit in an easily accessible portion of your main pack, like the lid or a dedicated pocket, and let others in your hunting party know where it is. 


Easy Access to Often-Used Gear

Hunting situations can change instantly and sometimes be the difference between success and failure with the ability to react quickly. Certain items like game calls, rangefinders, or GPS devices should be easily accessible, even while on the move. These items should also have designated spots in or on your pack so you know where to reach for them every time.  

Efficiency is key here; consider adding hip pockets to your pack's belt or a diaphragm call pouch to a bino harness if you carry one to prevent the need to stop and remove your pack. It might not sound like a huge deal to stop and remove your pack when you need something, but do it twenty times in a full day of hunting for a week straight, and it will take its toll. Not only are you saving time and energy by not having to stop, remove your pack, and dig through your equipment to find your gear, but it also eliminates unnecessary movement, hopefully preventing you from being busted.



Efficient pack organization is an art that every hunter should take the time to master. The good news is, the more time you take with your daypack, get to know how to pack, and efficiently use it, the smoother it will make your life on the mountain. Minor improvements like knowing your elk diaphragm is where you expect it to be every time lead to success in the field. A well-organized pack and knowing where your calls are is no guarantee for getting a bull to twenty yards, but it will surely help when the opportunity arises.

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