Fitting the Female Hunter-Nikita Dalke

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Good fit and comfortable clothing makes a good hunt even better. Photo: Nikita Dalke

From Over Looked to Women Specific
Until recently the female hunter has had to make due with gear made for men or youth. These past few years women have been flooding the industry and are making it known that “Women Hunt, too.” Companies have responded by creating women specific gear and there are even companies that cater only to the female hunter.

But the topic of gear is a very broad subject, so how do you know what gear is right for you?

Here are 6 considerations to make:

1. What type of game will you be hunting?

When considering gear, a good place to start is to look at the game you will be hunting, snakes and the terrain you will be in. This will give you an idea of where to start in choosing the appropriate gear. What kind of hunting you will be doing is another important consideration-the back country hunters gear will differ greatly from the gear of a tree stand hunter.

2. What weather will you be in?

The kind of weather you get is important as well. Things you will need to think of are whether you will need gear for hot weather, cold weather or both. Do you go with uninsulated clothing and layer up for the late season or do you buy insulated clothing?

3. Think about your body type.

A lot of gear questions can be answered depending on your body type, are you a person who gets cold easily or are you someone that heats up fast? Personally, I am one that is always cold and I live in a cold, mountain climate, so I have multiple layers and insulated gear.

4. Do your research and read reviews.

Once you are able to answer these questions start doing some research on the different gear available and read the reviews. Also, asking other women hunters what gear they use and going onto online forums can help you find different companies that you may not have heard of before.

5. Not having everything camo is okay!

You want gear that functions to your needs and sometimes that means it’s not camouflage. If it comes down to choosing gear that is not camouflage, look at the natural colors like browns, greys and greens. Animals instinctively pick up on movement, so not having camouflage won’t make a huge difference.

6. Make sure it fits.

You want to try things on before you purchase them; fit is a much overlooked factor but couldn’t be more important. Clothing that doesn’t fit properly can hinder your shooting ability, can make staying warm or cool difficult, and can hinder your movement. Gear that fits properly will help your range of motion and movement, and will lessen your chances of any strains, injuries or sores.

My Gear- an example

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Nikita’s personal gear. Photo: Nikita Dalke

Keep in mind everyone carries different items and has their preferences, but here is my gear as an example. What I carry with me depends on the type of hunt I plan on doing and whether it is late season or early season.

For any hunt I go on I always have my Eberlestock X1 pack and in it I carry:
●water bladder
●Rain jacket -I don’t think anyone should leave home without one. They not only protect you from the rain but are very warm when the weather turns cool and work as a wonderful windbreaker.
●head lamp
●first aid & emergency bivy
●snacks
●knives & sharpener
●gloves
●hat
●paracord
●vest
●extra shirt & socks- extra socks are key, they can add warmth to your cold feet or prevent hot spots and blisters that occur from a wet pair
●game bags
●wind checker
●toilet paper
●straps- if I shoot an animal and need to pack it out, I can strap my clothing to the outside
●the appropriate call for that hunt

With all these items my pack weighs in at 17lbs.

Outfitting for Multi-day Hunts

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Nikita packed for a multi-day hunt. Photo: Nikita Dalke

When I am going on a multi-day hunt I pack everything mentioned above with the addition of a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, food, wet wipes, iodine tablets, spork, and bear spray…and I never leave home without my binoculars. For this type of hunt my pack weighs 28lbs-these weights exclude my bow or rifle.

My husband and I do our multi-day hunts together and being twice my size he carries the tent and cooking gear. As we get into the colder seasons my insulated jacket and bibs are added into the mix or if we plan to hunt in tree stands. I always wear my insulated gear, even in the early season, when hunting out of a tree stand- sitting exposed to the elements and not being able to move around, pulls the heat from you.

Bow Versus Rifle Outfitting Essentials

When it comes to the essentials in my pack, there is not a lot of difference between hunting with a bow and hunting with a rifle. The difference is that when I hunt with a bow I will carry bear spray or a defender (if I’m alone), Allen keys, and a rangefinder. When I hunt with a rifle I carry extra bullets.

How my Gear Differs from my Husband’s

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Your won body size and condition will determine what you are able to take with you. Plan for the outing you are on, and use multi-use products when possible. Photo: Nikita Dalke

When it comes to my husband’s gear and mine, the big difference I find is that he has more selection. We mainly hunt the back country and that is where the women’s gear is lagging behind in selection, quality, and technology.

Where some of his gear is made for hunting in the back country, I have had to look into other areas like mountaineering equipment. Boots and back packs seem to be where I personally have trouble finding for what I need. I ended up looking at mountaineering products where I found the perfect pair of boots for hiking the back country.

Final Tips on Outfitting Female Hunters

Think about gear fit, especially in your pack. You really need to think about your gear and how it fits, especially when it comes to your pack. You need a pack that can handle the weight you plan on hauling and that it sits on you properly with the weight distributed proportionately. This is crucial so that you don’t injure your back. One thing I have found to be an issue with multi-day packs is having the head room to be able to look up, a lot of times the pack sticks up above my head so if I am going to be glassing slides it limits my range of motion. Also, finding a pack that will adjust to smaller frames but will also haul the right amount of gear and an animal.

Think about your physical conditioning. We need to make sure we are in good physical shape for packing our gear and for packing out an animal. When it comes to packing out an animal we have to accept the fact that we can’t haul as much meat on our backs and that we may have to make multiple trips to get an animal out, so being in good shape will help tremendously, especially if you are petite like me. It helps if you take into consideration how much each piece of your gear weighs, the lighter the stuff you have the easier your hike will be.

It’s important to remember that all women are different sizes and whether you are petite or full figured, it is a struggle for many of us to find gear that fits properly and fits your hunting needs. What works for one person may not work for another, but always take recommendations into consideration when trying gear on.

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