3 Items I Never Leave Home Without

Hunting packs are a mainstay in my equipment line-up. No matter what kind of hunt I am going on I will always have a pack of some type, usually to carry a lot more hunting gear than I actually need. Nevertheless, there are some items that every hunter should always have handy. Some of these hunting items fall in the emergency category, while others should be a commonsense staple of every hunter’s kit. Personally, I have narrowed down my must-haves to just 3 items.


The Everyday Carry

everyday carry - good knife

One hunting item that you will never catch me without is a good knife. I carry a knife every day, everywhere I go, but especially when I am hunting, I will have at least one knife on my person at all times. When it comes to knives there are a vast array of options on the market. These options mainly focus on the blade material, the knife’s locking method (or lack thereof), and blade shape.

The two most important aspects for me in a good hunting knife are blade material and locking method. I tend to prefer carrying a fixed blade when I am out in the woods. For me, a fixed blade is tougher, requires less cleaning, and allows for quicker deployment in emergency situations. I also put a high value on having a blade of some type of stainless steel. A rusted blade is not a sign of hard use, but instead an embarrassment that shows not only the importance of steel type, but also why knife maintenance is a must. The more expensive the steel, the longer a knife will typically hold its edge. Don’t overthink it, just find something within your budget that best fits your needs.


Going Analog 

going analog - compass

For those of you that hunt small chunks of private ground, this next item may seem far from something you should carry. But I have found that when hunting far from home it is always best to double down and add one to the pack. Having back-up, fail-proof items on hand in the odd chance that technology fails is vital and that’s why item number 2 for me is a compass. With space and sometimes weight being a premium, the smaller the object, the better and for that very reason, a compass fits the bill.

Whenever I am hunting somewhere new or somewhere that may be thick and disorienting, I always take a bearing of my truck before I strike out. Yes, I know we all have GPS on our phones, and with apps such as OnX, using these even when out of cell service has become easier, but if you’ve ever experienced a GPS unit failing then you know nothing can be more intimidating than getting lost in the wilderness. Getting turned around in the woods isn’t difficult and can happen to even the most seasoned of hunters, so having a good back-up to help you find your way back is a no-brainer.


The Non-negotiable

non-negotiable - first aid kit

Having a first aid kit in my pack is non-negotiable. Though this is easily the heaviest item on this list, believe me when I say that they are worth their weight in gold. I used to be of the mindset that carrying a first aid kit was a waste of time, but all of that changed when I started hunting with dogs and other people. I’d be willing to bet that out of a group of 5 hunters, you would be hard pressed to find a single one of them with a thorough first aid kit in their packs.

Bad things happen to people all the time and when they strike, they strike fast. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Do yourself a favor and go out today and put together a small, yet useful, first aid kit. When you are loading out your first aid kit, you will probably start out filling it with too many items. But as time goes on, you will start to refine your kit and only take the items that you find necessary. For me, some of the essentials include: Benadryl, QuickClot, a tourniquet, and if you’re hunting with dogs like I do, a muzzle to restrain your dog and a good set of wire cutters in case they get trapped in a snare.



If there is one thing I hate about hunting packs it’s that I tend to use all of the space available in my pack out of fear of possibly needing something and not having it. This doesn’t mean you have to be like me, but being prepared and having some of the most essential gear when heading out into the woods doesn’t have to be bulky and complicated. All of the aforementioned gear can help you if something were to go horribly wrong, but even more importantly, can give you and your loved ones a little piece of mind the next time you head out on a hunt. Take the time this offseason to thoroughly evaluate what is in your pack so that you can keep yourself prepared and safe next season.

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About The Author
Lance Louth

Lance Louth is a waterfowl and upland hunter located in northeast Ohio. He owns and operates Honeybrook Kennels, a gundog training facility that focuses on developing a retriever’s natural abilities. Lance chronicles his passion for his dogs and hunting through his writing and photography. He is driven by his love for the outdoors and his obsession with the art of storytelling. You can follow along with Lance as he highlights the endless hunting opportunities that can be found in your own backyard on Instagram at @lancelouth or through his own personal blog, Into The Uplands.