September 4th, 2015 by Danielle Breteau

Hunting Pro Tips – Kirstie Pike

Story and photographs by Kirstie Pike


Hunting season is fast approaching, or maybe not fast enough. There are many different schools of thought on how to pack your day pack for hunting season, and I personally prefer the minimalist approach. Less is more. I do not believe that there is a need to pack 50 pounds of unnecessary weight on my back, so my goal is to pack as light and as smart as possible. For the overpackers out there, answer this question: When was the last time you used even a quarter of the gear you packed each day? 1992? I thought so!


If you are in a water-rich environment, why pack water around? It weighs a ton. I prefer a Lifestraw, which weighs almost nothing and filters 99.99 percent of the impurities from water. I just drink from a stream if I need water. This way I can hydrate all day if necessary and I’m not weighed down. But I fully realize there are many areas that do not have flowing water, and if that is the case, I fully encourage the use of any type of water-bladder system. Most hunting packs have an integrated water bladder, or at the very least, a system that can be used with one. It’s just a matter of finding the pack you prefer.


Kirstie Bag

Pike’s pack demonstrates the minimalist approach by only taking what has been strategically chosen for that day.

Think this through. If you are hunting in the West and are going to really exert yourself, you will need nutritional support. My recommendation is to condense your food and ensure the best possible protein and carb loads for your physical requirements. I pack a handful of protein bars, string cheese and hardboiled eggs. I also take a small bag of nuts, a couple of Power Blocks for extra energy and a few instant coffee packs to fuel my caffeine demon. All of this takes literally no space and weighs ounces. If you are working out of a blind or are doing a more stationary hunt, your physical requirements are less and you can pack accordingly.


If I am bowhunting or packing into the high country on horseback, I always pack a pistol with an extra magazine in the event I have to put an animal down. If I am rifle hunting, the sidearm, in my opinion, is unnecessary.


Whatever your preference, and they have multiple uses.

Wet Wipes

You can use your imagination here. Throw a handful in a plastic bag and you’re good to go! Literally and figuratively.

Hunting Necessities

Bring additional ammunition, but don’t go crazy. You most likely don’t need to tote boxes of ammo with you each day. Personally, I tend to pack additional rounds in the pockets of my pants for easy access. Game calls should also be readily accessible.

Kirstie Pike

Kirstie Pike is a Colorado resident and an avid hunter. Some would even say she catapulted women’s hunting fashion by creating the industry’s leading clothing line dedicated to huntresses.


I will pack the smallest tube known to mankind with minimal fragrance. I also pack a tube of scent-free lip balm with sunscreen.


A high-quality range finder is a must in all hunting situations. I recommend any product that effectively compensates for uphill and downhill ranging. Additionally, binoculars are as important as your weapon. High-quality glass is a game changer. While it may be spendy, I recommend Swarovski products, but there are many products out there with great quality at lower pricepoints. Also, binoculars should not be kept in your pack. Keep them somewhere where they can readily accessed.


I am a huge proponent of layering, and I will limit what I carry in the field. I prefer a merino-wool base layer. I often opt towards vests for core warming and will choose a jacket based on the temperatures and conditions. If it is cold, I bring a packable down jacket. If it is not, I will bring a lightweight jacket with wind stopping capabilities. If rain gear is necessary, pack the lightest option you have. There is absolutely no need to pack three jackets. Choose the most functional gear for your body type, climate and geography. I will typically have my jacket secured on the outside of my pack or on my saddle. I will not pack a jacket into my day pack; it wastes space and can become a huge nuisance.

Fire Starters

A lighter and some lightweight fire-starting product like Wetfire, a type of tinder, is perfect. I like this because you can light it in the rain. I keep these items in a plastic bag and squirrel them away in that one random and illogical pocket that is in every backpack.

Minimalist First Aid Kit 

You can pack a prefabricated kit or make your own, but think of weight and space. I prefer a SAM splint, Ace wrap, needle and dental floss for emergency sutures, medical tape, gauze pads and iodine tablets to make a disinfectant. Bend the SAM splint and pack supplies in the splint then wrap it all with the Ace wrap. This takes less room and the contents stay secure. I have seen some first aid kits that are loaded. While there is nothing wrong with preparation, you can make due with the supplies I’ve listed for most injuries.

Space Blanket 

Not a bad idea in case you get stranded or weather becomes severe. You can use it as a blanket or a shelter, and it folds up into a tiny weightless packet.

Rope or Cording

I recommend packing a small roll of lightweight nylon cord. You can “Macgyver” just about anything with this.


Depending on the temperatures, I will pack either lightweight merino-wool gloves or, if it is cold, I will bring a heavier, insulated, waterproof pair. Not both.

Hunting License

My tip? Carry all of your licenses, all states and all game at all times. I keep mine in a plastic bag inside an internal pocket of my pack. This way, no matter where I go, I never forget them. This works great for me because I use the same pack for hunting and fishing.

Fishing Line And Hooks

You never know!

Kirstie Pike

Along with her hunting partner Thaddeus and trusted steeds Hava and Blue Eyes, Kirstie Pike poses in the West Elk Wilderness, on the western slope of the Colorado Rockies, with a harvest of ptarmigan while sporting a Weatherby 20-gauge shotgun. 

And that is it. All of this gear has minimal weight and covers most of your needs. Again, consider that what I have described here is for a day pack. Proper planning and packing can truly reduce your energy expenditure when it is needed most! ASJ

Editor’s note: Kirstie Pike is the CEO of Prois Hunting & Field Apparel for Women. 


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July 16th, 2015 by Danielle Breteau

Mark your calendars!

Survival Kits up to 51% off!

Visit Ready America on July 19th, this Sunday, for the special BUY-OF-THE-DAY deal!

If you have ever wanted or needed anything for your personal or family survival kit, look no further. Be prepared for any emergency with Ready America!

Measuring America: How Ready Are We?

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Thanks so much for helping to spread the word on emergency preparedness.

Ready America

Victor Michael

Marketing & Public Relations Manager

1150 Simpson Way

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April 28th, 2015 by Danielle Breteau

By Danielle Breteau

After ten years of working overseas in high threat areas and wearing absolutely-not-designed-for-comfort-much-less-womens pants and clothing, I finally found a company that simply makes great stuff. They not only make great gear bags and packs but their clothing rocks.

VERTX PatchI was first turned on to VertX when a team mate who was working on my detail jumped into the suburban in tactical pants that had an emblem which looked like an X but really cooler.

This started the conversion…

“What type of pants are those?” and “where did you get them,” and “what did you pay for them?…where do I get them…can I have those…?” The following 10 minutes resulted in this guy practically getting raped, tugged and pulled at to see the material, the strength, the seam, the articulation and most importantly to the tactical world, the pockets.

ROUND 1 This session passed muster for me. I had to have a pair.

ROUND 2 I received my first pair of pants and even though they were a men’s model (I don’t think they were making women’s way back then), they were great albeit a little necessary hemming (I’m kind of short) which was easily accomplished with $1 US dollar and local national.  Womens Pants

I might be a girl but I’m really rough on clothing. Actually Im pretty rough on everything  but I trained, worked, scraped, scrapped and did all sorts of things with this one pair of durable pants and was so comfortable that I vowed to never wear anything else…much to the dismay of my husband so I had to put an addendum onto that statement which was…only while in high threat areas or training, shooting, camping or being outside or near water or breathing. Actually, we agreed that the only caveat was when we go out to a nice dinner, I have to take them off. Damn!

NOTE: American Shooting Journal is offering our readers an exclusive 20% discount on all VertX gear if you use this code—>   VTXASJ20




Posted in Editor's Blog Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

April 17th, 2015 by Danielle Breteau

Tough Guy Equipment

Review and photographs by Danielle Breteau

Pros:TOPS Knives Tanto (2)-min

The Packaging: I know, I know. Who cares about the packaging? But wait, it comes in a suede and sheepskin-lined zippered pouch. Nice touch!


TOPS Knives Tanto (4)-min


Appearance: Looks great. It’s a tough, sturdy looking knife with a great design and ergonomics.

Finish: Good meaty blade with a magnetized powder coat that is sprayed on and then baked for good measure. This finish is on both their black and tan models. The ergonomics of the handle and blade are very comfortable and feel exceptionally solid but then all the TOPS Knives I have owned or tried have that solid you-can’t-break-this feel. TOPS Knives Tanto (7)-min

Function: I’m not going to cut open a soda can or saw through the tree in my front yard to test this knife because that is not what I would use it for, unlike some kitchen knives. This knife will be carried day in and day out and be used for either self-protection, skinning something I want to eat or opening boxes. I usually assign my knives a job in the beginning and try not to waver. It confuses them.

TOPS Knives Tanto (5)-minThis is not a spring-assist knife. It has a nice sized thumb extractor allowing the user to readily crack open the blade just enough to get that hand-flick-open dynamic for quick and immediate access. I noticed that when I pushed on the thumb extractor, the blade exited the housing and stopped at what felt like a natural safety point, as if it had a hesitation. This, I found out, was intentional because it is a tip-up design. This keeps the blade from falling open when removing it from your pocket. I liked it because I don’t like knives that float freely from the housing, they feel wishy-washy to me. This natural break area is at the perfect point for the transition from thumb pressure to wrist flick moment.

As a woman, this MIL-SPIE 3.5 Tanto is a bit big for me to carry around as a daily pocket carry because I wear fitted pants. My knives need to be a bit slimmer. This would not be a problem for most men whose pants are baggier and have larger pockets.

The handle gets a bit slippery when wet and I’m sure blood would be even worse so if there is a downfall, that might be it. Then again, I don’t swim with my knives and if I have to kill something, I will only need to use this knife once. It’s that tough. ASJ

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March 17th, 2015 by asjstaff

karambitfox599The Karambit knife is becoming more popular in the U.S. thanks to Doug Marcaida as one of the pioneers to spearhead the knife through training law enforcement with various government and local agencies.

In this segment Doug demonstrates the use of the Karambit to control by using the hooking motion to trap and counter with a strike or maintain control. In the Filipino Martial Arts style of training once a technique is learned, it is then applied to a flow drill such as the hubbad.

This drill is used at the close quarter range. This segment Doug highlights the function of using the karambit natural blade curvature to hook (capture), deflect a limb and using the point on the top blade for pressure point in joint locks control. The pressure point control demonstrated in this video is used to temporarily control to get the arms out of the way, its not meant to hold the attacker in their place.

For more info on Doug Marcaida go to Doug Marcaida Facebook

Posted in Knives Tagged with: , ,