quail hunting with a labrador

The Best Upland Hunting Gear For Any Budget

Last updated on June 10th, 2024 at 05:41 pm

As a passionate upland game hunter, I’ve gone through my fair share of gear. I own 3 vests, multiple shotguns, too many pairs of pants including one I made myself, and have tried many different shooting ear protection systems. I’ve compiled what’s worked for me as well as my recommendations based on budget. The best upland hunting gear is what you can afford to get you into the field, fully outfitted for a day of safe shooting.

Upland Hunting Vests

The Best All-Around Upland Hunting Vest

Final Rise Legacy Vest

Final rise upland hunting vest
  • Weight: 2lbs 4oz
  • Material: 1000D and 500D Cordura
  • Why we like it: Incredibly thoughtful design by seasoned upland hunters. It even includes a dog carrying feature when in a pinch

Final Rise is an American company specializing in upland hunting gear and clearly designed by passionate bird hunters. What we mean by this, is that the design is incredibly thoughtful and includes a feature that can be used to carry your dog in a pinch. There’s plenty of blaze orange, should that be your preference, but also comes in an olive brown.

We like this vest for all-day comfort. It’s an ultralight design, coming in at 2.25-lbs with lumbar support. The shoulder straps aren’t padded to ensure a tight shouldering of your shotgun of choice. There’s ample space in the game pouch and it also features a zippered pocket for any first-aid, lanyards, or other accessories you need to carry. It includes two open side pockets for carrying water bottles as well as two covered pockets for ammo and your dog remote.

The brand is cool as hell and makes great content. I love supporting American-made companies but also understand that this comes with a premium price tag for the premium product.

The Best Budget Hunting Vest

TKLoop Pheasant Vest

TKloop upland hunting vest
  • Weight: 2lbs 6oz
  • Material: Durable Rayon, Cotton
  • Why we like it: Affordability for a premium product.

This is the vest I wear on my upland hunting trips. As a budget conscious upland hunter, the TKLoop Pheasant vest is hard to beat in terms of value. The material and structure are durable and the design is mostly thoughtful.

The game pouch is lined with waterproof material for easy cleaning. There are two netted compartments for water bottles, but they’re tight so you’ll need to go with standard bottles – wide bottles won’t fit. The two covered storage pockets are the perfect size to fit a box of shells. My dog remote sticks out with the antenna but is plenty comfortable in terms of fitment. There’s a zippered pocket with a mesh net that can be attached to the straps to carry soft outer layers as the day warms up. There’s even a zippered pocket for emergency gear or wire cutters should your dog get into a bind.

While this model isn’t conducive to dog carry, the other TKLoop Upland vest could do it. However, the materials are lighter-weight and doesn’t feel as premium as the Pheasant model.

Upland Hunting Pants

The Best All-Around Upland Pants

King’s XKG Field Pants

king's xkg field pants
  • Weight: 1lb 8.2oz
  • Material: Polyester, Spandex, Woven Nylon Panels
  • Why we like it: It’s stretchy and has odor control along with protection from brambles and brush

We’re big fans of King’s camo. Personally, I have a matching set of camo from King’s and have slight bias. However, the XKG Field Pants are objectively good.

They’re stretchy where they need to be and durable where it counts. The pants have articulated knees, a gusseted crotch area, and the waistband is lined with a grippy material to keep your pants in place.

Early mornings, brushing against dew, the polyester build is quick-dry. When the day warms up, you can unzip the mesh lined compartments to aerate your legs.

These pants are highly technical, meaning they’re purpose-built for upland hunting.

The Best Budget Upland Pants

Gamehide Heavy-Duty Upland Pants

gamehide upland pants
  • Weight: Not the lightest
  • Material: Cotton, coated denier panels
  • Why we like it: Affordable quality that gets you into the field

These are great upland pants on a budget. The pants have protection where it counts to keep the pokeys off your legs while keeping it to a reasonable price point. The coated denier panels are waterproof and the pants are made of cotton, similar to jeans in feel. They’re heavy-duty pants for those that aren’t hunting on a hot day.

I like the Gamehide brand and also own a vest. The quality and heavy-dutiness of their upland hunting gear will outlast other pants out there. I’m also a big fan of that traditional coyote brown with the dark brown panels.

If you’re looking for affordable upland hunting pants, this is my recommendation.

Shotguns for Upland Hunting

The Best Upland Hunting Shotgun

Beretta 686 Silver Pigeon

beretta silver pigeon
  • Price: $2550
  • Gauge: 12ga
  • Weight: 6.8 lbs
  • Why we like it: It’s really, really pretty. Drool.

While this isn’t the most expensive shotgun you can buy or a competition gun, I’ve selected this model as the sweet spot between eye-candy and field gun. For the price, you probably won’t cry when you ding the furniture after tripping over a rock.

The 686 models from Beretta feature the legendary 686 action. The canonical locking lugs at mid-action are placed between the barrels, resulting in a shorter action. This gives you a better plane to shoot from which is an edge.

This is a perfectly balanced shotgun with a lot of heritage. It’s also a fine specimen to hold and look at, which sometimes gives you more confidence in your shooting.

The Budget Shotgun

Savage 560 Field Semi-Auto

savage 560 field
  • Price: $460
  • Gauge: 12ga
  • Weight: 6.6 lbs
  • Why we like it: Light-weight, looks good, affordable, intermediate-level brand name

While upland hunting can be a bit bougie at times, your budget for upland hunting gear won’t necessarily bag you more birds. This is especially apparent in shotgun choice. The most expensive piece of kit are incredibly decorated over-under shotguns.

The main requirement for upland hunting is being able to shoot quickly, and in my opinion, a budget semi-auto does the job beautifully. In California and many other states, we’re limited to 3-shells while hunting – one in the chamber, and two on deck. This is an additional shooting opportunity benefit over a double-barreled heirloom piece.

I own a Savage 30-06 and am incredibly happy with the quality that Savage Arms provides. I also own a Turkish over-under and am also happy with what’s coming out of the Turkish factories. This is a solid choice and frankly, plenty attractive.

Upland Hearing Protection

The Best Electronic Hearing Protection

axil xcor shooting hearing protection ear buds

Axil XCOR Ear Buds

  • Why we like it: High-quality ear buds form factor and recharging carrying case for multiple hunts without a charger

The Axil XCOR ear buds come in an ear bud form factor that feels like you’re not wearing hearing protection at all. The light-weight ear buds have multiple inserts for any ear-canal size to protect one of your most precious senses.

That said, ear buds can fall out in the field without proper fitment and that’s a bad day when chasing birds.

I like these ear buds not only for the sound-quality and form factor, but also for the convenience of Bluetooth functionality. You can take a call in the field or stream music. 5.2 Bluetooth allows for pairing with a Bluetooth radio for 2-way communication.

The best feature, in my opinion, is the ability to recharge your ear buds multiple times without carrying a wired charger. This is especially convenient for multiple day hunts.

The Best Budget Electronic Hearing Protection

Isotunes Pro 2.0

isotunes pro 2 electronic hearing protection
  • Why we like it: Bluetooth standard, wired headphones for minimizing losing one

I have the Isotunes Sport, which are slightly pricier than the Pro 2.0. These

From my experience, wired headphones are much harder to lose than ear buds. That said, in the field, I’ve found the wired form factor to be slightly annoying. They often get caught on my vest and pull themselves out of my ear. The wire management could use some work, but having affordable hearing protection is better than not having hearing protection.

These are also Bluetooth compatible with the ability to pair to a Bluetooth radio for 2-way comms. The sound quality in these isn’t the best, but the purpose is really to stop loud, percussive noises from beating on your ear drums.

The Best Budget Hearing Protection

Banded Ear Plugs

banded ear plugs
  • Why we like them: they’re incredibly affordable and the hard band makes managing your ear plugs easy

You don’t necessarily need electronic hearing protection to go and have a good time. Ear plugs are just as good in protecting your hearing. For me, I prefer the banded kind so that I can unplug and replug my ear easily when having a conversation with a field partner.

Not only are these great for upland hunting, but are even better for big game hunting. The low-volume shooting nature of big game hunting allows you to wear these around your neck all day without impeding your hearing. When you’re ready to shoot, you can do this single handedly without taking your eyes off of your shooting opportunity.

The downside to not being electronic is that hearing game can be more difficult, especially when upland hunting. I often use my ears to listen for quail to determine which direction I need to be hiking towards.

Final Thoughts

The best upland hunting gear is highly subjective. What one person can afford doesn’t necessarily make them a better hunter. However, there’s something nice about buying and crying once. I don’t let my budget restrain my passion for hunting and neither should you. Outfit yourself with what you find the most value in and put in the boot leather to get there.

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