Hunting in inclement weather has always been part of my own hunting experience. Living in northern Minnesota can be one of the coldest places on earth. Last year we were actually colder here than at the north pole, and just the other day it was -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Now, I usually do not do much in that kind of weather, but even during rifle season for deer it can be downright cold. The most important thing a hunter can do in this weather is use one of the best base layers for cold weather hunting. This is the layer that really protects your skin, and keeps you dry and warm.
The best material that is in use for base layers today is, by far, merino wool. It comes from a breed of sheep that can withstand extreme temperatures in some of the harsher places on the planet. It is expensive due to the fact that it usually ships from Australia, New Zealand or other parts of the world. For those of you like me on a tighter budget, I have found some great base layers that won’t break the bank. For those of you that do not have to worry about a budget, I will show you the warmest base layer for hunting, money can buy.
The 5 Best Base Layers For Hunting In Extreme Cold Weather
Time to dive into the best base layers for hunting. I am going to provide some options that I think fulfill the needs of hunters, and outdoors people in general. I am also going to review what I consider to be the best merino wool base layer on the market today, in case your interests lie in that.
Yukon Gear Men’s Scent Control Mid-weight Base-layer Bottom
These are some very economical base-layer pants, but quality made with flat-lock stitching. This stitching also improves comfort. They have Mossy Oak break-up patterns incorporated within the stitching. Tapered ankles make it easy to add layers over the top.
They have a flap for when nature calls and you have layers on. It is a lifesaver many times. This particular pant is 92% polyester and 8% elastane to make it comfortable, and able to wick moisture away from the body.
Silver ion treatment helps to control scent, and conceal it from animals. Reinforced elastic waistband helps to ensure that they move with you, giving you much more freedom when crouching or walking. These are great base-layer pants for the hunter on a budget.
- Polyester wicks moisture away from body
- Tapered ankles and elastic waist for comfortable fit
- Silver ion scent control
- Flat-lock stitching for comfort and durability
- Open fly
- Run a little small
- Stitching can pull away after a year or so
Sitka Men’s Core Bottom
Sitka has been a force in the hunting world for some time. These Polyester blended pants will keep you warm even in the chilly winter weather. Great for the active outdoors men with four-way stitching to prevent stretching out. This stitching also enables freedom of movement.
They were made with the hunter in mind with anti-microbial scent blocking technology. They are ultra lightweight and quiet. These can be used for any outdoor activity when the temps begin to drop. These also come in gray for everyday use. I have the camouflage pair pictured for hunting.
They have open country, which is pictured, and a forest camouflage. I try to make every layer camouflage, because where I live the temperature can vary greatly in a short amount of time, especially in the colder months. The ability to remove layers, and still maintain cover is important in this kind of climate. They come in a heavyweight version for the bitter cold also.
- 4-way stitching for flexibility
- Anti-microbial scent blocker
- Is good for the lower temps of fall and winter
- Ultra light-weight
- Comes in variety of camouflage and colors
- Open fly
- Fit runs ½ size smaller to true size
Scent-Lok Men’s Thermal Baselayer Bottom
These are a great buy for the price. Scent-Lok is the name to look for if you want some of the best scent-locking technology on the market. They are 100% polyester. They are light-weight for an initial base layer, and carry moisture away from your skin, keeping you dry and warm.
Front snap fly makes them wearable even to the store, or to lounge around in after a long day of hunting. They even keep the tag off to make it comfortable against your skin. This pair of pants uses a carbon-alloy technology for scent control. Anyone who knows about air filters will tell you that carbon air filters are some of the best…seems to make sense.
For hunting, or any long excursions outdoors in the winter months, these baby’s should do the trick. They can be worn down to about twenty degrees. The fleece is micro-brushed to make them some of the softest, most comfortable pants for the money.
- Micro brushed
- Carbon-alloy scent control
- Front snap fly
- 100% polyester
- Great for colder weather
- Wick moisture
- Not as tight as other base-layers
- Not good for warmer weather
Guide Gear Men’s Heavyweight Poly-Fleece Base Layer
This set is a very economically priced pair of base-layer pants. These were developed for the military, and are of military grade. They are built to last, and are the warmest pair you can get without it being merino wool. Made with 10oz heavyweight polyester, they can be used even on the coldest days.
This hydrophobic base-layer is sure to keep you dry. Its design is made not to retain odor which makes it a good choice for hunting. The brushed fleece finish inside is sure to be comfortable on those long days out in the woods, in the field, or simply shoveling the sidewalk.
This base layers are made for extreme cold weather hunting. If you hunt in places that I do, you want something like this. Being cold can affect your shooting, and even your cognitive functions. It’s not the best idea to hold a shotgun or rifle in this state.
- Military grade
- 10oz heavyweight poly-fleece design
- Micro-brushed inner fleece lining for extra comfort
- Warmest base-layer for money
- Expels odor
- Made for bitter cold
- Open fly
- Could be tighter to skin
- Not very quiet
My Personal Choice
Since these are all synthetic-based clothing, it should say “The Best Synthetic Base-layer.” Anyhow, out of these four, well made, economically priced base-layers, the one I would by for hunting in cold weather is Sitka’s Core base-layer. It is designed with the hunter in mind. It comes in many different options and has many different camouflage choices.
The Best Merino Wool Base Layer For Hunting In Extreme Cold
After making it through these four I found to be the best quality base layers for the money, it’s time to give you the best merino wool base-layer. This wool, while expensive, is your best bet for durability, comfort, quality, keeping dry, and temperature control. It is the absolute best when hunting in extreme cold, or any other outdoor activity, in the extreme places of the world. I live in one of those places, and so it is no surprise that I use merino wool for my base-layer.
ICEBREAKER Men’s Ika Leggings
These are some of the best merino wool pants out there. A base layer designed for extreme cold. They come in camouflage for hunters, but can be used for any outdoor activity. They are 100% merino wool. This wool is noted for its unmatched ability at regulating temperature, keeping you warm even when wet, its ability to wick moisture away from the body, and even control scent. When most people think of wool, they think itchy, scratchy type stuff. Merino wool is some of the softest, most comfortable material that you can buy. If you have the money, this is the best choice for anyone who lives in the cold.
A good base layer should do a few things. It should keep you warm, dry, and comfortable. It should be durable and easy to layer over your other clothes. A few things to look for would be what material is used. Merino wool is the best, but advances in synthetics have given hunters better options these days than in the past. Polyester and fleece have both come a long way in keeping hunters warm and dry. So, instead of freezing your butt off, waiting for that turkey, deer, or whatever you may be hunting, to pass by, why not get a good base layer to put those chills to death.
This should go without saying for most hunters, but durability is an important aspect to any hunter’s clothing. Just because the base layer is underneath your other clothes does not mean it is safe from wear and tear. Many base layers are form-fitting, and for good reason. It is the best way to wick moisture away from your body. This can also lead to tears and rips if it does not have enough room to allow you to move.
It is always a good idea to look for reinforced areas that will receive the most abuse; knees, bottom, around the ankles etc. Also look at the stitching to make sure it is of high quality. Loose strings or uneven stitches and hems are a bad sign. You do not want something that is going to fall apart in two or three seasons of use.
Merino wool will last a lifetime, but many other base layers will last a long while. Now, with new technology, some companies have began using merino wool with other materials like polyester. I know what it is like to hunt on a budget, but do not skimp out on the layer that is most responsible for keeping you warm.
I have heard from some of my hunting buddy’s that certain kinds of base layers can become itchy, and that is not good when trying to stay still in the stand or the blind. Comfort is paramount when sitting or standing for hours on end.
It is a good idea to go up a size or two to allow for more comfort. When bending and walking, you really do not want the bottom layer of your hunting outfit to start bunching up in certain places. I do not need to go into more detail, because if it has happened to you, you know exactly what I am talking about.
Material is important when talking about comfort. Obviously, merino wool is soft and great for comfort, but other styles can be just as good without the hefty price tag. Always keep in mind that this is the layer which is in direct contact with your skin. The one bonus for merino wool is that it stays warm even if you get it wet. Another important thing about this is weight. When wearing layers, you want the warmest, but most lightweight layer possible.
Now this is an important aspect. Depending on where you specifically hunt, the needs of warmth will change. I like to have the warmest base layer possible, because I hunt in rather cold conditions. How cold it will be when you are hunting is relative to your geography. Try to find ratings that will give you a good idea of where a particular base layer will work best and go from there.
Another important thing to remember is if you have a few layers they can always be removed if you get too warm. This is, of course, if you have camouflage clothes under your outer layer. Where I hunt, the mornings and evenings can be much colder than the middle of the day, so I usually have to take a layer off during this time to stay comfortable.
Being breathable is just as important as warmth, and go hand in hand. Being warm is important, but can become miserable if the material does not regulate body temperature. Merino wool is great for all of these things, but there are other, less expensive options that have been created. Always keep in mind the place where you are hunting, and use that to determine the best base layer for hunting..
So What’s The Warmest Base Layer For Hunting?
If you have not figured it out yet, merino wool is, by far, the warmest base-layer you can get for hunting. The Icebreaker’s I have pictured above are, accordingly to the hunters I have talked with, some of the best you can get. Any merino wool product is going to be of high quality, and great for hunting. With that being said, it’s time for you to man-up and get a good base-layer. Then get outside and get hunting or fishing, or whatever you want to do. Don’t let the cold stop you. As always, happy hunting.
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