onX Hunt x MTNTOUGH Challenge: The Simulator

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Test your readiness to hunt the steep and deep backcountry so you’re prepared for your next heavy packout.

Why The Simulator Works

We named this workout The Simulator because it simulates the demands placed on the body at high elevation, in rugged loose terrain, and on steep slope angles. Based on experiences the onX Hunt crew had packing out a bull, and the challenges faced in the backcountry, we teamed up with MTNTOUGH to design a simulation-style workout to prepare for packing into a steep-slope area and packing out a bull. The onX Hunt Slope Angle Layer exposes highly challenging terrain a backcountry hunter may face when hunting, harvesting, field dressing, and packing out meat from a 700 – 1,100 lb. animal.

Use onX Hunt’s terrain analysis tools to scout for this scenario in your hunting area, then use MTNTOUGH to perform and stay safe during a highly exhaustive and difficult packout. Remember that game day should always be the easiest day when preparing for an athletic event. The same holds true in mountain hunting. If you prepare for your hunt with intentionality, you’ll have a far better experience in the mountains.

A backcountry hunter packs an elk out of the mountains.

How to Tackle The Simulator

Perform these movements to replicate an actual pack into and out of the mountains. With The Simulator, you’ll experience steep terrain in a gym setting and test your mountain readiness. Regardless of your geographic location, you can train for the mountains with The Simulator.

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It is important to complete the warmup in its entirety in order to gain the full benefit of this workout. Take the time to execute proper form. By using the Slope Angle Layer, you can determine the exact steepness of the terrain you’ll be hunting. You prepare by scouting, but you should also prepare by training.

Two men performing walking lunges wearing ruck sacks in a crossfit gym.

Note: It you are just starting out or getting back into the fitness game, please take the time to try MTNTOUGH’s Bodyweight On-Ramp Program before tackling The Simulator.

“Steep slope angles can be devastating in the backcountry if you don’t train specifically for the mobility and stability needed to handle high angles under heavy load. onX Hunt enables hunters to learn the terrain of their hunting area, and this workout allows you to train for the demands regardless of where you live.”

– MTNTOUGH Founder Dustin Diefenderfer

The Simulator

Pack Weights: Phase 1

  • Beginner: 35 lbs.
  • Intermediate: 45 lbs.
  • Elite: 55 lbs.

Kettlebell Weights: Phase 1

  • Beginner: 20 kgs.
  • Intermediate: 24 kgs.
  • Elite: 28 kgs.

Pack Weights: Phase 2

  • Beginner: 50 lbs.
  • Intermediate: 60 lbs.
  • Elite: 70+ lbs.
  • Sled Weight: Bodyweight

Warm Up: 2x

  • 2-Minute Backward Pack Walk @15% Incline
  • Band Walks x 20
  • Fire Hydrants: 10 / 10 x 2
  • Toe Grab Squats x 5
  • Lateral Lunges: 5 / 5
  • Hand Walks x 5
  • Knee Hugs: 5 / 5
  • Butt Kicks: 10 / 10
  • World’s Greatest Stretch: 5 / 5

The Simulator Phase 1 (Note: If you don’t have access to a treadmill, find a hill and get to work.)

Block 1 x 3

  • 2-Minute Incline Walk @ 15%
  • Lateral Step Ups: 10 / 10
  • Incline Side Shuffle @ 15%: 1 Minute / 1 Minute
  • Forward Step Ups: 10 / 10
  • Incline Backpack Asymmetric Kettlebell Walk @ 15%: 1 Minute / 1 Minute
  • Lateral Lunges: 10 / 10

Block 2 x 4 (With Pack Off)

  • Kettlebell Chops: 5 / 5
  • High Pull Squats x 5
  • Chinups x 5

The Simulator Phase 2

Block 3 x 5 (With Pack On)

  • Lunges: 20 / 20
  • Sled Push / Pull: 15 yds. / 15 yds.


  • 5 Minutes of Mobility and Foam Rolling
Four men walk backward on inclined treadmills wearing ruck sacks.


MTNTOUGH+ is the leading home and gym training program for mountain athletes and backcountry hunters. Hunt harder, farther, stronger, and safer. World-class trainers, former military leaders, and avid backcountry hunters will keep you encouraged, motivated, and on the correct path. Programs are meticulously and scientifically tested in the Bozeman, Montana, Fitness Lab with local athletes before release to ensure they are effective, safe, and ready to improve your odds in the field.

Get an extended 30-day free trial to the MTNTOUGH+ app using promo code TRAINONX30.

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MTNTOUGH believes that mental toughness is just as important as physical strength and that the strongest muscle in the human body is the one between your ears. The brand’s best-in-class programs are developed, tested, and proven by former Navy SEALs, Army Rangers, and renowned physical trainers. MTNTOUGH+ programs are used by elite groups and operators, including special ops forces, wildland firefighters, backcountry hunters, professional mountain athletes, and more. The MTNTOUGH fitness lab is headquartered in Bozeman, Montana, surrounded by some of the world’s top mountain athletes. Learn more about MTNTOUGH.