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Essential Hunting Gear for Beginners

hunting rifles on ground with hunting gear

Pursuing the sport of deer hunting is an exciting prospect, but some pitfalls may hinder a beginner. Although gear is an important part of any hunting trip, it is far too common for newcomers to over-stock their hunting pack list. Although there are a few basic items you cannot live without, the list of hunting must haves is actually fairly short. The misconception that you absolutely must buy scores of high-end gear can lead to an expensive and overwhelming situation. This can drive people away from the sport, and that’s a shame.

To combat this, we sought to compile a true essential hunting gear. By focusing on the basics, you can assemble the hunting necessities you need without the costly and complex “fluff.” If you’re just getting started hunting, here are the hunting essentials you can’t live without.


Although most newcomers naturally focus on weapons and tools, clothing is arguably the most important item on your hunting supplies list. Deer hunting will lead you to withstand a myriad of different environments, temperatures, and situations, and you need to have the gear to adapt. The name of the game is versatility.

Build From A Solid Base

A common pitfall for hunting novices is thinking that you can simply slap a camouflage jacket over a t-shirt and call it a day. While this may work for extremely mild climates, it is a recipe for discomfort in the vast majority of situations. Most experienced hunters choose moisture-wicking base layers that are specially designed for the job. By keeping your skin dry regardless of sweat or rain, these athletic-minded items stabilize your temperature and prevent chafing. Whether you choose synthetic fabrics or go all-natural with merino wool, this is a place you don’t want to skimp.

Always Assume It Will Rain

One lesson that every hunter quickly learns is that the local weatherman is about as trustworthy as a used car salesman. Whether the forecast is calling for rain or not, you should always plan for the worst. Getting caught in a downpour is not only uncomfortable, but it can be dangerous. Hyperthermia is a surprisingly consistent threat to hunters, and it can occur in temperatures up to 55 degrees. Look for rain gear marketed to hunters. It’s generally more durable and provides the necessary ventilation.

Good Socks Are Worth The Money

Buying specialty socks specifically for hunting may seem like a silly luxury, but they are actually must have hunting gear. You’re going to be spending a lot of time on your feet, and you need to protect them. Hunting socks are designed to maximize comfort and keep your feet dry. If you cannot find hunting socks, hiking socks fulfill a similar purpose of keeping your feet dry and blister-free. If nothing else, avoid cotton fabrics at all costs. Your feet will thank you.


If you don’t put another item in your gear bag, make sure you have a knife that is suited for the job. In many ways, the specific knife you carry is a personal decision based on your experience and preferences. If you’re loyal to a brand or style, there is no reason to not maintain that loyalty. However, any hunting knife should be light, sharp, and durable.

Are Fixed Blades The Fix For You?

There is a consistent debate among the hunting community about fixed vs. folding blades. Both have their advantages, and you may even opt to have both. A fixed blade knife is typically cheaper, more durable, and simpler to maintain. They also typically have larger blades which can be advantageous when coring animals.

Folding Knives Have Their Place

Folding knives on the other hand are typically lighter, easier to carry, and more compact. However, the mechanisms can be prone to failure and they may lack the rigidity you need for precise work. Whether you opt for a fixed or folding blade, make sure you keep it sharp and use it safely.

The one point of agreement among the hunting elite is that multi-tools are generally not an ideal choice. While the versatility makes them great for camping or DIY projects, the complexity makes them unnecessarily heavy and hard to clean. While you may opt for a multi-tool in your gear bag, it should not be your primary blade.

Emergency Supplies

In many ways, hunting is merely hiking with an objective. Thus, a deer hunting gear list is bound to be very similar to a hiking list. This means emergency supplies are of paramount importance. Deer hunting can be a time-consuming endeavor that causes you to venture well off the beaten path. It is easy for an expedition to surpass your two-hour plan and last long into the evening. Whether you become lost, stranded, or merely want to continue to chase, you need to be prepared.

Never Overlook Hydration

The basics here are what you’d expect: water, food, shelter, first-aid, and light. Although carrying water is a must, carrying enough for a long trip can become burdensome. Thus, we highly recommend anyone venturing into the wilderness carry a “life straw.” These all-in-one water filters are compact, efficient, and allow you to safely drink all but the most contaminated water. They’re a wonderful addition to any gear bag.

Stay Fueled

Food is an important component to keep you alert, satisfied, and energized. Although you can always pack a few snacks just to enjoy, you should also stock some emergency rations among your gear. These foods should be calorie-dense and high in protein to keep you charged for any situation. Whether this is beef jerky, camping meals, or protein bars is up to your preferences.

First Aid Can Make All The Difference

Even if you are only planning a short trip, you should never venture more than 100 yards from your truck without a first aid kit. Hunting can be a tricky pastime, and accidents happen. Whether you get cut on a knife, trip over a root, or simply develop a headache from the heat, you want to have a decent first-aid kit to tend towards any situation. This is another area where borrowing from hikers is a great idea: hiking-focused first aid kits are compact, comprehensive, and easy to find.

Illumination is Key

Finally, never overlook the importance of good illumination. A bright flashlight or powerful headlamp can turn a tricky deer cleaning session or a precarious hike into a walk in the park. Flashlights are not a place to skimp on quality, as the cost difference between terrible and excellent is often fairly small. Focus on battery life over brightness, and make sure you choose a waterproof option.


Hunting is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable pastimes, and assembling your personal hunting list need not be difficult. When you’re out in the field, it is the subtle items that make a difference. Deer hunting gear must haves are straightforward: stay comfortable, stay safe, and know where you’re going. With just a few key items on your hunting checklist, you’ll be able to track down your next ten-point with more confidence, enjoyment, and fun.

Matthew Russo
Hey, my name is Matt, an avid outdoorsman, prepper and action taker. If you have found this article informative please feel free to leave a comment below and share it with your friends and family, it would make my day!

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