GOOD QUESTION! It often seems like the weight limits that outfitters put on the gear their hunters can fly into camp are impossibly light, even if you stick to the letter of their recommended gear lists. So here are 10 tips for packing the lightest load, but making sure you have everything you need.
Make sure your gun is sighted in before you take off in the bush plane or float plane headed for camp. Allow only a couple of rounds of ammo for a final check before you hunt. Minimize the amount of ammo you take for hunting, too. If you and your hunting companion(s) shoot the same cartridges, so much the better as you can pool the ammo you’ll need.
Plan to layer your clothing for changing conditions. Have one primary set of clothes for hunting, and plan to utilize other layers differently if the main set of clothes is wet or otherwise unwearable.
Take only one pair of all-around boots for hunting, and a pair of light slippers or Crocs for camp.
4) Liquids and gels are heavy. Minimize both in your gear. Plan on drinking primarily what’s available in camp such as water, coffee, tea, juice(?) and perhaps soft drinks (?). If you want beer, wine or alcohol for camp, negotiate with the outfitter to have this ordered and shipped in separately from your gear.
5) When you’re getting ready to board the plane, wear as much of your heaviest gear as possible. While it’s likely they will weigh you to calculate the load, they won’t make you take off heavy boots or your parka. Put reasonable gear (compass, cameras, GPS, etc.) in your pockets.
6) Carefully consider what you’ll need for a sleeping bag on the hunt. If you’ll be staying in heated tents or cabins you can usually get away with a very light sleeping bag rather than a heavy model weighing 6, 7, or even 10 pounds or more.
7) You’ll probably have your firearm or bow in a hard case for transport whether you fly commercially or drive to the bush plane base. Bring along a soft case to take on the bush plane and stash the hard case in a secure location to await your return. If there’s any other gear that you brought to this point, but won’t actually need in camp, then stow it inside the locked hard case.
8) It’s great to have a complete set of clean clothes in which to travel home after a long trip, but there’s no need to take them into camp with you. Make arrangements ahead of time with the outfitter to have a secure location at the base to leave this gear behind.
9) Make sure you’re gun/bow is set up as light as possible. Not only can this shave pounds on the load for plane transportation, it makes the gear much more pleasurable to carry in the field.
10) Plan on sharing with your hunting companions. If you’re hunting with friends, plan ahead to only take in one tube of toothpaste, one can of shave cream, one spotting scope, etc. This preplanning quickly cuts pounds from each individual’s load against the weight limit.