This is part three in our four part series of essential gear, as chosen by our Sporting Rifle contributors.
Yesterday we hard from Paul Childerley on lowland stalking. This time it’s the turn of Byron Pace to give us the low down on kit needed for a truly memorable mountain hunt.
Mountain hunting gear, by Byron Pace
The mountains are a wonderful place to find yourself. Normally far from people, raw and wild, the elements and the terrain can test you. I think that’s why most people want to hunt on the craggy tops.
Over the last few years I have been fortunate to spend time hunting in mountainous regions of the world, including the high-altitude peaks of Nepal in search of blue sheep (a filming trip for me), and hunting for myself in New Zealand for chamois and tahr.
There are a few items you simply can’t live without, and a few that make your life just a bit easier.
• Good base layers.
Hunting in the mountains is all about layering. I have come to settle on merino base layers from Aclima or Devold, with a pre-mid layer micro-fleece to wick moisture away. Weight is normally at a premium on multi-day mountain trips, so having a layer that doesn’t smell after a day is useful, and merino offers that.
• Lightweight rain shell.
Forget your heavy, warm waterproof jackets. It won’t serve you well on the mountain. Unless it’s actually raining, I rarely wear waterproof clothing at all because I want to vent and breathe as I sweat. For this reason I have throw-over ex-MoD trousers, and lately the Tahr Ultralight from Swazi has been my choice for upper-half cover.
• Walking poles
These are often overlooked, and though a classic Scottish crook serves me well at home, it’s not practical for travel. In severe winter conditions I have come to like using an extended ice axe for traversing the landscape, but I have also used the single leg from a Spartan Precision tripod system. In that case, you can pack the second leg and give yourself access to a long bipod as well.
• Shooting rest
I have shot off my bag for many years, but with all my rifles now fitted with Spartan bipod adaptors, they have recently become my go-to option, and their carbon fibre build makes them lightweight. On top of that, they are extremely well engineered.
You never know what will break. I have used the same Gerber for almost two decades.
In the mountains, especially terrain you are unfamiliar with, a rangefinder is as essential, as are binos. It can be difficult to judge distance across valleys or dead ground. Options built into your binos saves carrying two pieces of gear and can be faster to deploy in changing circumstances.
I always carry a buff with me – not just for the obvious use of keeping my neck or face insulated when the temperature drops or when the wind picks up, but also because I find it a useful temperature regulator when a hat is just too much but I still need something.
• Good trousers
I spent years trying to find the right trousers for the mountains. I needed them to vent, be robust, stretch when climbing, and have pockets in the right places. It would be hard for me to look past the Fjallravens I use now.