Layering is the key to comfort on the hunt, but that doesn’t mean just piling layers of clothing on your body and hoping for the best. There is a method to the madness. You want each layer working together as a system to trap heat, remove moisture and defend against the elements.
There are three main types of layers:
Hunting baselayers include clothing that fits right up against your skin. The key function of the baselayer is to wick moisture away from your body, keeping you dry and warm.
Choose your baselayer weight based on your hunting conditions:
- Lightweight baselayers are great for wicking sweat off your skin, but they provide very little insulation to keep you warm. You’ll want a lightweight baselayer in milder conditions, especially if you’ll be active.
- Mid-weight baselayers are ideal for colder conditions. You’ll still get the moisture wicking you need without being overheated.
- Heavyweight baselayers are essential for harsh, cold-weather conditions. Heavyweights should provide the insulation you need but also be well ventilated and breathable.
There are several fabric options for baselayers. Synthetic baselayers, mostly comprised of polyester, are lightweight and quick drying. Many hunters today swear by merino wool because of its next-to-skin comfort, moisture-wicking capabilities and its odor-resistant properties. Other possible fabrics include polypropylene and silk.
The mid-layer works in conjunction with the baselayer, helping to trap heat while removing moisture. Mid-layers should be the most flexible of all layers. You can double up your mid-layer if needed, or remove it altogether if you’re overheating.
Polyester and merino wool work well as mid-layer fabrics, too, but nylon is also ideal.
Keep in mind that, in milder weather, you may want to use your mid-layer as your outer layer. In that case, you may want a mid-layer that offers some waterproof protection.
The outer layer is your protective shell—the first line of defense against the elements. Outer layers are designed to repel wind, rain, snow and anything else nature dishes out. Outer layers should be built to withstand the rigors of rough terrain like tree branches, thorny bushes and more.
Keep weight and “packability” in mind when choosing your outer shell; you want the option of putting it back in your bag if you’re too warm.
- The fabrics and styles you choose for cold-weather hunts will largely depend on the type of hunting you do. If you’re on an active hunt that has you covering lots of ground, insulation becomes less important and breathability is key. If you’re sitting for long periods while still-hunting, go with heavy-duty gear.
- Keep camo in mind. Think about the time of year and area you’ll be hunting. What will the landscape look like? Choose your camo patterns accordingly.
- No matter which fabrics you choose, stay clear of cotton. Cotton retains moisture, draws heat away from your body and tends to cause chafing when wet. That’s not good for anyone in any conditions.
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