One of the questions we most often get here at Badlands global HQ is some variation of, “what is the best hunting gear for (insert species/location)?”
Most of the time we’ll ask some follow-up questions, get a better idea of your exact needs, and offer some suggestions that are right for your hunt. Then we started to notice certain items would always seem to come up. The best gear for hunters, in general.
So, in the spirit of western hunting, we put our collective heads together and came up with this list of the best hunting gear for 2023.
For those cold, high-elevation hunts where you’ll be doing a lot of uphill and sidehill hikes, the Active Hunter Series is a great choice for staying warm, while still maintaining flexibility and not overheating. We used body-mapping technology to design this line to ensure that we put the PrimaLoft insulation where it was needed, and not where it would hinder your ability to stalk game. The Balder, Surt and Odin jackets offer varying degrees of insulation, allowing you to match up with the degrees on the thermometer.
Speaking of matching up to the environment, for 2023 we redesigned the Flex 2.0 for men to go with its partner the Flex ½-Zip for women to be the ultimate in hunting hoodies. As the name implies, the Flex is designed to do almost everything. Water-resistant, temperature-regulating grid fleece and the ability to run as a mid- or an outer-layer. The men’s 2.0 now features a full-length zipper and new design, and the women’s ½-Zip has been designed from the start for the female hunter, including a large kangaroo handwarmer pocket and oversized hood to accommodate ponytails.
While we’re on the topic of women hunters, we also highly recommend the queen of the women’s line, the Lagatha Leggings. These combine the comfort of yoga or athletic leggings with tough, abrasion-resistant reinforcements to keep them together in the rough country. Whether you wear them as a base layer or as an outer pant, the Lagatha delivers cozy performance afield. And yes, they have pockets.
Now, this may come as a cold, hard fact, but hunting happens in the rain. Often, the best hunts involve wet weather, especially in the West. Sometimes you know it’s gonna be a rainy day, which is why we made the Omega Jacket. This is the heaviest-duty rain jacket we’ve ever made. If you need to go any higher, you might as well get a wetsuit. Completely waterproof, with a stretch outer shell and sealed zippers, the Omega keeps the wet where it belongs and not on you. Did we mention there’s a matching pant?
Then again, there are times when the showers pop up from nowhere and you need rain protection NOW. That’s where the Bail Jacket comes into play. While still 100% waterproof, the 13.5-ounce Bail can fold up to about the size of a hockey puck. It’s a great backup plan in your pack for any western hunt.
On the flip side of rain, there’s heat. And if it’s a toasty climate, you’ll want to look to the brand-new Andaire line (no, it’s not the latest Star Wars series) of hot-weather hunting gear. While you may not automatically associate hot and western hunting, we can assure you that the Southwest has some incredible game and some staggering high temps. Launching Summer 2023, the Andaire line, which has men’s and women’s crews, men’s shorts and pants, and women’s leggings, are all designed to wick away moisture, ventilate and breathe, and dry quickly.
One constant need to hunt the west is a good pack. Fortunately, we make nothing but good packs. In particular, we recommend the Mountain Range Killer (MRK). These packs are built from the ground up to perform as you hunt from sea level up to the top of the peaks. Three different sizes (MRK2, MRK3, MRK6) means there’s a perfect pack for your specific needs. The lightweight Allite® Super Magnesium™ frames combined with our featherlight, adjustable Strata Suspension System™ make these packs crazy friendly to your back while still hauling insane amounts of cargo or meat.
Another absolute must for any western hunt—where you will spend twice as much time on the binos than all your other glass combined—is the binocular case. For 2023, we reimagined our entire line of bino cases with an eye toward modularity. With four new or redesigned models (Bino AXS, Bino EZ, Bino X2, Bino Mag 2), you can select the size and features that fit your needs, then add on whatever accessory pockets, pouches or holsters you desire. From the minimalist Bino AXS to the top dog Bino Mag 2, you have a variety of sizes and colors (camos and solids) to choose from. Watch for their release Summer 2023.
The west is all about wide, open spaces that have to be walked or ridden across. No matter if you’re hoofing it, on horseback or on something motorized, it’s all easier when you don’t have to tote your bow at the same time. Our Ultralight Bow Sling keeps your arrow slinger protected, out of your hands, but instantly accessible. The UL Bow Sling is adjustable to fit almost any bow, and keeps the cams and strings covered, so you don’t have to worry about damage in even the roughest of terrain.
Is this a comprehensive list to get you ready for a western hunt? No, and it shouldn’t be. Your hunt is as special and unique as the animals you pursue. These are simply some common starting items that work for almost any western hunt.
No matter if you’re a beginner hunting elk, an experienced antelope hunter, a veteran hunter trying his or her hand at mule deer for the first time, or maybe you’re a lifelong midwestern hunter who’s always wanted to hunt the west. It doesn’t matter to us.
We welcome you to the great American West and all the magnificent hunting opportunities that it holds. We get it. This is our neck of the woods and we’re still in awe of it, too.