I prefer backpack hunting for early archery seasons. Elk are large dynamic animals that cover an immense amount of ground during the rut and I am more successful when I remain in the field for several days and move along with the elk. As such, the majority of my hunting gear is selected to be lightweight, functional, and it must be easy to setup at night and repack each morning. I primarily hunt off my back, meaning each morning when I get up, my entire camp goes back in the pack and I am moving to find elk. I almost always camp in a new location every night. For these reasons, I’ve found that a simple bivy sack, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag system are all I need for most nights. I also carry a lightweight tarp that I pitch in a closed a-frame fashion for weather protection if I do encounter some rain or snow. My clothing system is relatively simple. I do not carry back up socks, underwear, or additional base layers. I wear one pair of quality merino wool socks and the same base layer for the entire hunt. Any additional clothing in my pack is included to keep me warm and dry. I pack a mid-layer, a puffy insulation jacket, rain jacket and pants, and rarely anything else. My preferred choice for early season boots are synthetic/leather blends, which are typically lighter and more breathable. Additional gear in my pack is there to help me kill a bull, break one down and haul it off the mountain, or keep me safe and in the field hunting. Anything that does not help me achieve those doesn’t make the list. I avoid packing excess items that I do not use. My early season gear selection is built around a mindset of being mobile, lightweight, and functional.