The Best Hunting Accessories of 2023
These essentials will make your life a whole lot easier, and more fun, when you’re deep in the backcountry
Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.
A hunter can’t have too many knives, and good glass is worth drooling over. This year’s hunting accessories delivered in both categories, with a couple great deals in the mix. One thing we learned while testing hunting accessories this year is that a big price tag doesn’t always mean big performance, and that a small name should not be dismissed. A few items surprised us—good and bad. Some of this gear will change what we’ve been used to: Optics tester Angie Kokes never thought she’d love $300 binoculars so much; I’ll never go back to using a bulky water pump purifier again; and we’ll all think twice about packing a proper first-aid kit in the truck, even if it’s just for a quick hunt down the road.
How We Test
Hunters love getting their hands on new gadgets, but we also like gear that we are actually going to use. Practicality and effectiveness were major factors in choosing the following accessories. In hunting, knives and binoculars are two essential tools. As the testing period was outside of the main hunting seasons, knives were put through the wringer in our kitchens and doing chores around the farm—skinning and gutting included. Testers Angie and Adam Kokes, life-long hunters in central Nebraska, spent long hours sweeping across the Sandhills through binoculars to determine the best glass. Waterproof bags had to step up to the plate in late winter rain, snow and/or submerged in our bathtubs.
Number of testers: 7
Number of products tested: 84
Reviews: The Best Hunting Accessories of 2023
Outdoor Edge RazorGuide Pak ($100)
This three-knife set includes all you need to bring your harvest from practically any game in North America to your table. Do the heavy lifting of field dressing, quartering, and even butchering meat in the kitchen with the RazorBone tool, built with an interchangeable blade system that comes with two 3.5-inch drop-point blades, two 5-inch boning/fillet blades, and a gutting blade. The RazorCape tool performs just as well on small animals as it does during the intricate task of caping trophy-quality game. Finally, the Flip N Zip Saw powers through cartilage and bone. Replaceable Japanese 420J2 stainless razor-blades are lightweight and scalpel-sharp, and they are surprisingly safe and easy to install with the push of a button. All tools and spare blades are neatly rolled inside a waxed canvas pack, and at 12.5 ounces, you can easily throw the RazorGuide in a backpack.
Best for: Big game, birds, and small game
Benchmade 15700 FLYWAY® Knife ($200)
Made for the cast-and-blast adventurer, the Flyway was our go-to knife for cutting precisely around the breast bones and joints of upland game and waterfowl, and slicing through the bellies of small fish like butter. The Flyway’s short, fixed blade and comfortable G10 handle allows optimal control when working on smaller animals, and high-end, CPM-154 stainless steel offers a nice balance between edge retention, corrosion resistance, and durability. Protected by a Boltaron (thermoplastic) sheath, wear this lightweight knife on your belt, store it in an upland vest pocket, or keep it inside a tackle box. A drain hole in the sheath keeps moisture at bay.
Best for: Upland birds, waterfowl, and gutting fish
Case Knives Kinzua ($140)
Case’s popular Kinzua flip-opening knife is now available in the new spear-point blade. The lightweight, corrosion-resistant anodized aluminum handle is a beast—everything down to the lock and joint are built heavy duty. The frame locking mechanism feels sturdy and secure, which means we weren’t worried about the blade getting wobbly or folding on us during use. The SV35N steel offers long-lasting edge retention, while the spear-point blade makes short work of cleaning upland birds, waterfowl, and wild turkey. You could even put a sharp enough edge on the Kinzua to skin big game. It’s also available in Case’s Tanto blade shape, which was inspired by Japanese swords and offers a stronger tip for better piercing strength.
Best for: Upland birds, waterfowl, and turkey
Maven B.1.2 10×42 Binocular ($1,000)
You’d be hard-pressed to find glass of the Maven’s quality. Improving on Maven’s flagship B.1 binocular, the B.1.2 offers a wider field of view, improved glass coatings, and a larger, wider Schmidt-Pechan prism. That means better clarity, color fidelity, and excellent low-light performance. We loved the rubberized chassis, which feels silky smooth in hand, yet grippy even when wet. At 26.8 ounces, its size and weight are just light enough for longer adventures. Twist-up, multi-position eye cups are user-friendly, and the binocular is suitable for not only hunting, but also general wildlife viewing. Maven offers an unconditional lifetime warranty.
Best for: Hunting and wildlife viewing
Nocs Pro Issue 10×42 Binoculars ($295)
Small, but mighty, the Nocs Pro Issue 10×42 held its own against considerably more expensive giants. The Pro Issue’s Bak4 Prisms phase correction produced a crisp image with rich color reproduction. Coming in at only 23.98 ounces, it was the lightest binocular we tested. If you’re working on a limited budget and don’t plan on glassing for hours at a time, the Pro Issue is a solid choice for most outdoor applications. Our testers used it for scouting deer during the off season. It’s waterproof, fogproof, and backed by Nocs’ “No Matter What Lifetime Warranty.” This company proves that great glass doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
Best for: Scouting, general hunting, and wildlife viewing
Vortex Diamondback HD 2000 Rangefinder ($450)
From performance to size, weight, and design, I loved everything about this rangefinder. The HD Optical system offers amazing clarity, sharpness, and color fidelity. It’s made with great glass, with an objective lens diameter of 24 millimeters, which gives it a bit of an edge over rangefinders that are a step down from this price range. With 7x magnification, I can easily pick out faraway game within busy landscapes. The red OLED display is easy to read, even in low light, and different target modes allow for more accurate ranging in a variety of situations. The reflective ranges up to 2,000 yards, the tree ranges up to 1,800 yards, and the deer ranges up to 1,400 yards. Weighing 7.6 ounces and measuring 4.1 x 3.1 inches, the Diamondback was neither too big nor too small in hand, and the Armortek rubber made it comfortable and secure to hold. Also, button placements are easy to feel for without looking. The Diamondback is waterproof, shockproof, and tripod adaptable.
Best for: Big-game hunting
Six Moons Designs Flex PR Plus Pack Rafting Backpack ($315)
The construction of this pack is exceptional with its double-layer 420 Nylon Robic material, heavy-duty stitching, compression strap placements, daisy chains, and removable side pockets. Although the open design of the pack doesn’t allow for organizing smaller items, this 75 liter dry bag gives you the ability to haul things that wouldn’t normally fit into a pack, so packing out a quartered deer is a breeze. This 3.7-pound pack was one of the lighter options we tested, and when loaded down, it did an amazing job of stabilizing and distributing weight. The Flex PR Plus pack would be spot-on for packraft-based hunting. Four lashing points provide security in any boat, in any water condition.
Best for: Big-game hunting trips that require traversing water
Adventure Medical Kits Molle Trauma Kit Bag 2.0 ($80)
The Molle Trauma Kit Bag 2.0 includes two feet of QuikClot dressing to quickly stop major bleeding and a Multigate tourniquet for last-resort situations. A variety of bandages, dressings, and medications help address other wounds, bleeding, blisters, and sprains. This first-aid kit serves two people for up to four days, and with the included handbook, “A Guide to Wilderness Medicine,” the kit comes in at under two pounds, making it comprehensive but not too heavy. The bag is made of a durable nylon canvas, and the removal back panel with metal-buttoned straps, plus loop and plastic buckles, offer versatile attachment points to a backpack or vehicle. This is a must-have item for any backcountry hunter, whether chasing big game in the mountains or bird hunting in a remote location. The kit is offered in tan or black.
Best for: All outdoor activities
Camelbak Crux 2L Reservoir Filtration Kit filtered by LifeStraw ($69)
The Crux 2L Reservoir with LifeStraw filtration cycles water twice each time you take a sip, removing bacteria, parasites, and microplastics, while a built-in carbon filter helps reduce weird tastes, odors, and chlorine. The Lifestraw kit is easy to install and uninstall to the Crux 2L, and the reservoir can be used with or without the filter. The reservoir and filter weighs 10 ounces total, and its non-leaking cap is easy to open and close. The fill handle is low profile and comfortable to hold, whether using it underneath a sink or catching water from a natural source. The reservoir is made of Hydroguard anti-microbial material to inhibit bacteria in the reservoir and tube.
Best for: Multi-day hunting where access to clean water is limited
Yeti Panga Duffel 50L Bag (from $300)
Lashed to the top of a vehicle or inside a canoe, the Panga will keep your gear dry and protected. Welded seams and a HydroLok Zipper work together to make the bag completely airtight and submersible. The Panga is ultra-durable, constructed with a rugged EVA-molded bottom and reinforced lash points all around the bag. Metal hardware won’t break with rough handling, and the backpack-style straps allow for hands-free portability on and off a seaplane, in and out of a duck blind, or in situations where you have to cross water. New for this year, Yeti added the color tan. It’s also available in 75- and 100-liter sizes.
Best for: Basecamp-type hunting where contact with water is a high possibility, or use in a waterfowl boat blind or fishing boat
How to Buy
We tested a lot of great gear, and unfortunately had to leave off several items that we liked. While the products on this list were the ones that caught our attention the most, know that there are other options available with lower and even higher price points. If you’re new to hunting, stick to your budget and read plenty of reviews.
There is one piece of gear that I won’t skimp on, however, and that is a good knife. Invest in a few, take care of them, and they will likely last you a lifetime. If you’re someone who is less worried about aesthetics and prefers something more low-maintenance, knives with replaceable blades are convenient and practical.
Lastly, be wary of buying second-hand hunting accessories, especially binoculars, because this might void lifetime warranties. Although, that’s not to say that there aren’t great finds out there.