Nothing beats a night of sleeping under the stars after a day of hunting.

From telling stories by a campfire to the peace you experience when your head hits the pillow after a long day, an overnight hunting trip offers an escape from the daily grind you can’t get anywhere else.

An overnight excursion does take a bit of extra planning, however. Here are a few items you’ll want to bring along.

1.  A tent built to withstand the elements

Unless you’re really planning to rough it, a tent is a must-have for any overnight hunting trip.

There are many tent options out there. As you’re shopping for a tent, consider some of the following factors:

  • Size: If you have a few people staying in one tent, you’ll need a tent with multiple rooms.
  • Weight: If you’re planning to travel far, consider a lightweight tent.
  • Storage Space: If you have a lot of gear, search for a tent with vestibules.

Most importantly, you need a tent built for the season in which you’re planning to hunt. For winter hunts, you’ll need a four season tent, which is built to keep cold air out. Bear in mind, four season tents are primarily designed for winter camping. They do not work well in warmer weather.

2.  A hatchet and matches to build a fire

No overnight hunting trip is complete without a fire. But if you don’t have equipment needed to get one started, you could get left out in the cold.

Whether you’re planning to cook over a fire or just want it for warmth, you’ll need a few basic supplies. While camping purists will swear by a set of flint and steel to get a spark, your best bet is a box of waterproof matches. Unlike lighters, which can run out of fuel or get damaged by moisture, waterproof matches are designed to make starting a fire easy.

It’s also important to bring along a hatchet to cut larger pieces of wood. For kindling, you can easily scoop up twigs off of the ground or snap them from a tree. But once the fire starts to grow, you need the type of fuel only larger logs can provide. A hatchet can help you cut up fallen branches to keep the fire going.

3.  Sleeping bag

Tents stop the wind and rain from disrupting your sleep, but sleeping bags play the biggest role in keeping you warm at night.

Sleeping bag shopping is a bit like tent shopping.  Here are some factors to consider:

  • Shape: Rectangular sleeping bags are the perfect choice for those who value having space to stretch out, while “mummy” sleeping bags hug your body, providing better insulation.
  • Insulation Type: Synthetic forms of insulation are usually cheaper and dry faster than down insulation, though down insulation sleeping bags are typically more durable, compress down tighter, and provide greater insulation.

Much like tents, however, the most important criterion is the temperature rating. For winter hunting, you’ll want a sleeping bag designed for temperatures of 15 degrees or lower. With spring and fall hunts, on the other hand, a rating of between 15 and 30 degrees typically works well — though you should always factor in unexpected climate conditions. You don’t want to be out in the wild during a surprise spring rainstorm when the temperatures drop.

4.  The Right Clothing

Temperatures can change quickly over the course of a day. Make sure you’re prepared.

In addition to the camo gear you bring along on every hunt, you’ll also want to include a few extra sets of clothing in case anything gets wet. If you’re hunting in the winter weather, bring multiple pairs of socks, long underwear, and gloves. For summer and fall hunts, in contrast, you’ll need to bring along lighter clothing, such as short sleeve shirts and shorts, to put on when you’re winding your day down.

As always, check the weather forecast in advance to avoid being unprepared for the elements.

5.  A Map, GPS, and Compass

Very few of us ever anticipate getting lost in the woods, but you can never discount the possibility.

As you’re gathering up equipment such as your rifle and laser sights before your hunt, don’t forget to pack a GPS device. If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being lost in the wilderness, a GPS advice can help guide you back to familiar surroundings. You can even buy GPS watches.

Of course, it’s always wise to have a backup plan in place in the event technology fails you. A map of the area and a compass are a time-tested solution to an age-old problem.

Happy hunting

If you’re planning your first overnight hunting trip, you’re in for a treat. Enjoy some well-earned time unwinding out in nature!

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Tactical Gun Review, along with Texas Outdoors Network, is published by Michael Coker and Charles Coker.

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