Sometimes it feels like the modern day hunter takes more equipment and gear into the field than an infantry squad. I can just picture what my grandfather would have said if he was reading this article, lecturing me on how he never needed anything other than his 2WD pickup, the rifle on his back, and the knife on his hip. Granted, this is coming from a man who would exclusively make his own fishing poles because he didn’t like the one he ordered from a Sears Roebuck catalog back in the 50’s.
So if my grandpa represents the “less is more” crowd, then you can count me in the “a good boy scout comes prepared” crowd — or if I’m honest with myself, the “I like cool gear and gadgets” crowd. The next time my girlfriend asks me why I need another pocket knife I just can point to her rack of shoes. Same thing, right?
So with that being said, let’s get into some of the handy, and “I swear this is essential” gear we can outfit our trucks with for this hunting season:
I’ve never been known for my organizational skills, but even I can appreciate the possibilities something like the Decked bed storage system opens up. Not only is it a tough and secure way to organize and store your gear, but it still leaves your truck bed open to load up a quad, sheets of plywood, or up to 2,000 lbs of whatever else you can think of.
The drawers can be configured however you want, with plenty of length to fit your rifle and bow cases, a full length fishing rod, or sectioned off into smaller sections or removable compartments for organizing different smaller items. Each drawer can safely handle 200 lbs of gear, and that doesn’t even factor into the payload of the deck above them.
Each Decked unit is built specifically to fit your exact year, make, model, and size truck bed, and installs with no drilling in most applications. The unit is made right here in the USA from a galvanized steel sub-frame for corrosion resistance with HDPE molded around it and is backed by a three-year warranty.
Floor Mats and Seat Covers:
OK, this is a little more utilitarian, but unless you strip down and change into a fresh set of clothes and boots every time you get in and out of your truck, things are going to get dirty. Even just besides the fact that you might want to keep your truck nice and for yourself, but there is always resale value to consider. Most of us don’t plan on keeping our trucks for the rest of our lives, and it’s not a bad idea to do what you can to maintain some value on an already depreciating asset.
I recommend a neoprene or neosupreme material, myself. These are easy to clean, provide just about the tightest/closest fit you can get, and can be had in just about any shade or pattern you can imagine. The neoprene covers in particular are great because that wetsuit material is essentially waterproof, and therefore mud and grime-proof. Coverking, Saddleman, and Covercraft are some of the best brands in this space to look out for, with the Coverking Neoprene seat and Carhartt Precision Fits being my top picks.
The same deal goes for your carpet. Not only will a set of all-weather floor mats help prevent stains and damage to your carpet, but they make cleaning a hell of a lot easier along the way. Personally I’m a fan of the Husky X-Act Contours, as they have at least as much coverage and spill containment as anything else in the market, but are made out of a more rubber-feeling material than other thermoplastic options out there. Not that the thermoplastic mats aren’t tough, they are, they just don’t have the same give and grip under the foot as mats like the X-Act Contours. I just wish they made a set for my Bronco!
A well built and designed tonneau cover can come in equally handy out in the middle of the woods as it can in a grocery store parking lot. For one, it’s great to be able keep your stuff covered up and out of the way of the weather, prying eyes, and sticky fingers. Then if you do need the space, a roll-up, folding, or retractable cover can be opened up out of the way so you can fit whatever large cargo you need to.
In particular I’d like to call out DiamondBack tonneau covers, as they add a ton of versatility to the mix that is perfect for the avid hunter. Let’s take the 270 as an example, you can fit the rear gullwing panels with storage bins for a built-in, separate storage for your gear or tools. Each panel is lockable, and features a think compression seal around the perimeter of each panel to keep your stuff dry no matter what. Plus, despite the lightweight aluminum panels, you can still load up to 400lbs of gear on top of the cover.
For the ultimate choice in heavy hauling, the DiambondBack HD can haul a full 1,600 lbs on top of the cover while leaving plenty of storage underneath for the gear you need to keep out of the way. With 12 tie-down cleats pre-installed around the perimeter of the cover, you have plenty of options to haul just about anything you want up there.
Unless you plan on going full Les Stroud and live out in the woods, it would be handy to be able to bring that deer back home to your family, right? Sure, my grandpa probably used his immense old man strength to push his truck out when it got stuck, but I don’t have that. Instead it’s not a bad idea to keep a few key items with you to be able to get out in case you get stuck out there.
A winch is an obvious go-to here, especially if you’re going out alone. With a little cutting and drilling, you can mount up a winch plate behind the factory bumper, or just ditch it for a beefier one. Then just a little bit of wiring, and mounting up a fairlead, and you’re golden. These are also handy if you come across someone else who is stuck as well, or if you find a fallen tree blocking the trail.
At minimum you really should have some pull straps so you can recover someone else, or a passerby can grab you out. TJM makes a great, affordable recovery kit that comes with just about every strap you might need, plus some handy tools to pair with a winch, like a snatch block and shackles.
One thing I would say is absolutely essential is to keep a battery jump pack with you, because who knows how long it will be before you can get someone over to you to jump your battery if it does happen to die. I keep one in all of my cars as it is, but especially for heading out into the wilderness, I wouldn’t leave without it.