There aren’t a lot of outdoor sports, where good equipment is as essential as in hunting. Next to your gun, proper clothing has probably the biggest effect on your success and the fun you have out in in the woods or fields. Next to suitable camo patterns on the outside, the best hunting clothing should be breathable and warm enough for cold weather. Since there is an unbelievable wide selection of products out there today, I will give you an overview of what you should look for and what is worth buying with quick reviews.
No matter what form of hunting you practice, if you are looking for the best hunting clothing for your needs, there are a few aspects and features that are universal and will benefit you, no matter if you target ducks, deer or other game animals. Today there are more products to choose from than there ever were and as a result, picking the one perfect for you can be harder than necessary. Reading up on all the different benefits and what exactly really improves your experience outside would cost a lot of time, so this article will give you a quick overview. Afterward, you will know exactly what you should look for and also be able to cut through all the marketing promises by big companies.
Which Materials Are Used For The Best Hunting Clothing
Often practiced in cold weather, the material used for hunting clothing should keep you warm, even after hours outside. It is important that it insulates well, prevents your body from cooling down, but at the same let’s moisture exit as good as possible. Especially for a sport like hunting, this is important, where fast movements like sprints and longer periods without any movement following each other are very common. You do not want to sweat and you do not want to freeze, so the more breathable the material is the more suitable it is for hunting. A combination out of wool and synthetics will serve you well. The best wool hunting clothes are made from merino wool. Merino wool does not retain stretch, is lightweight, breathable and less itchy than common sheep wool. Wool insulates better than synthetics and is also way more resistant to body odor, which is a great advantage if you plan on wearing it during a camping and hunting trip. Synthetics are usually a lot cheaper and although do not reach the standards of wool are still a good choice most of the time.
Best Hunting Clothing – The 3 Layers System
To achieve the best possible protection against rain, wind, and cold temperatures, the well-proven 3 layer system is a great choice for hunting. As the name implies, it consists of 3 layers, working together by blocking the wind, improving insulation, and limit extensive sweating during more exhausting activities. It also gives you the ability to adapt to different situations by removing the top layers if you start overheating. Making the right choices here is essential and could make the difference between a great day of hunting or cold and wet clothing.
The base layer should either consist of wool or synthetic fabrics. This layer is meant to absorb the moisture produced by sweating to pull it away from your skin and into the other layers. This achieves better insulation overall and prevents the horrible feeling of cold and wet fabrics on your skin.
For hunting, I would recommend wool over synthetic materials since wool insulates better and keeps you warm even when it gets wet. Most of the synthetic fabrics loose all of their insulation qualities as soon as they absorbed moisture. Another benefit from wool is, that it does not collect body odor that quickly, while synthetic fabrics start to smell way faster. In terms of thickness, your choice should depend on the art of hunting you are planning to do. If you plan to do long hikes paired with sprints the base layer should be pretty thin while waiting in a blind requires better insulating and thicker material.
A mid layer is mainly intended to improve insulation. They come in different weights as well and should be chosen accordingly to the planned level of activity. A good choice would be wool or fleece, since you want something keeping the warmth on your body but is at the same time breathable, to avoid extensive sweating. I recommend going for a long sleeve fleece with a zipper, which gives you extra flexibility in terms of body temperature management. Although it will be hidden by the outer layer most of the time, I would advise you to get something in brown or dark green color to fit in your overall outfit. Avoid colors like bright blue and green, since they are easily spotted by deer or other big game.
Although every layer in this system is important to get the best results, the outer layer should be chosen wisely. This layer is your jacket and will protect you from wind and rain and without it, the 3 layer system would fail even during the slightest drizzle. The challenge here is, that it still has to be breathable to create the desired synergy. You can choose from different weights here as well, but generally, you should aim to achieve most of the insulation with the mid layer, at least in moderate temperatures.
For hunting in any form, make sure to choose something that produces as little sound as possible while moving.
You do not want to scare game: Loud rustling materials are a no go!
This layer is the one, where you should pick a suitable camouflage pattern for the environment you hunt in. The outer shell will be the one that’s most exposed to the eyes of your prey. Almost all camo jackets or hunting coveralls available are made from polyester or synthetic blend, which are good choices.
Although this piece of gear depends highly on the terrain your hunt in, there are a few similarities that should be considered. First of all, pants should be durable: Hunting is a tough sport! Kneeling and crawling through mud and bushes goes hard on gear and especially on pants. Reinforced knees are a must-have and an extra pair of knee-pads might make sense as well. For pants you want something waterproof but breathable, making as little sound as possible while you move, so durable synthetics are a great choice. Pick camouflage patterns fitting to your jacket and other apparel.
For colder days you should wear long underwear underneath and again, the best choice here is merino wool.
Last but not least, the must-have piece of apparel for every duck hunter: Waders! There are quite a few companies producing waders exclusively for hunting and you can choose between all kinds of camo patterns. In terms of material, I highly recommend getting neoprene waders for hunting, since they are more durable than the materials used for breathable waders. The neoprene used is usually between 3.5mm and 7mm, depending on which environment they were made for. Make sure to get a pair with reinforced knees and attached boots, which are called bootfoot waders. These are easier to clean and you do not need to get separate wading boots. For insulation, you can choose between a few different weights ranging from 600gr Thinsulate up to 1600gr or more.
Since waders are a fairly complex piece of equipment, you should have a look at our wader buyers guide, which provides all the information you need, or just have a look at the list of the best duck hunting waders.
Warmest Hunting Socks
While it does not make a lot of sense to use the full 3 layer system for your feet, two layers work perfectly. Two socks will obviously insulate better and since feet tend to cool down first, this can make a cold day of hunting far more comfortable. Another benefit is the reducement of spots that could possibly create blisters. You can see a lot of hikers or runners using that technique for blister prevention.
A thin merino wool liner combined with thicker wool socks will keep your feet warm and comfortable.
Not necessary but certainly beneficial in some situations are head masks. With fitting camo patterns they are improving your overall stealth game and they can also be used for scent control. You can get them pretty cheap and on colder days with strong blowing winds, they are definitely worth the money. Another great thing to have in colder temperatures are hunting and shooting gloves. While a common pair of gloves will often do the trick if camouflage patterns are important for your hunting style, there is a wide range to choose from, that is exclusively designed for hunting. For extreme cold weather, you can even get heated hunting gloves.
Which Camouflage Patterns Should You Use
Good camouflage patterns are a big part of the best hunting clothes. They improve your stealth game and although some people say camos are overrated, everyone agrees that they provide at least some benefit. So if you are going to buy hunting clothes, there are quite a few good reasons to choose apparel that blends well into the environment you are hunting in. There are tons of different kinds to choose from today and describing all of them goes beyond that article, so this short list presents some very basic and popular patterns.
Realtree MAX-4 Waterfowl Camo
We start with a classic in today’s hunting industry, the MAX-4 Waterfowl Camo. As the name implies this pattern was specially designed for duck hunting, although it performs well in almost every environment you could hunt in. A combination of maple and oak leaves, cedar limbs and cornstalks lets you blend in perfectly in bushy open terrains such as marshes and grassland. No matter if you plan on duck, turkey or deer hunting MAX-4 is a great choice.
Mossy Oak Duck Blind
Since it was released in 2007 this camo almost revolutionized the stealth game for duck hunting. While a lot of camo pattern seem to look great, the vision of animals greatly differs from ours, so judging how effective it will hide from us is difficult. The design used here was created to hide perfectly from a bird’s point of view, which makes sense considering that is what you target while wearing it.
The pattern was created by simulating wet and dry dirt grounds covered up by native grass, wild oaks, millet and a few other plants you find in the same area. Loved for its diversity by duck hunters all over the country, there is pretty much no terrain you could encounter while waterfowling, where you would not fit in perfectly. High bushes, cut corn or timber, the birds will have a hard time spotting you.
Another all-around camouflage pattern performing well, as soon as you leave urban rooms. Suitable for almost every form of hunting big or small game this pattern provides maximum break up of the hunter’s outline and that is exactly what you want. The combination of high-definition printed native leaves and limbs works well on every distance from close to long range. “AP” stand for “all purpose” and that is exactly what Realtree achieved here.
Warn Color Orange
In most states required during big game hunts, this color serves the opposite purpose of camouflage. A bright orange color can be easily spotted by other hunters and at the same time won’t be identified as a threat by an animal. You do not have to worry about gaining visibility for deer or similar since most animals see the bright colors in a different way than the human eye does.
- More Information About The Vision Of Animals – Quality Deer Management Association
Best Hunting Clothing Brands
There are a few “big players” like Sitka, Under Armour or First Lite that you can not really go wrong with. These companies offer a huge selection of specially designed clothing for hunting, in all different kinds of camo patterns. That being said, do not get tricked into thinking that only big brand stuff is worth buying. I got quite a few cheap deals on lesser-known brands, which performed surprisingly well out in the field.
Something that can certainly save you some money, is buying hiking clothing. While this is not advisable for your outer layers, since they do not care about noisy materials and camo patterns, they work great for your mid and base layer. Same for long underwear or socks, there is absolutely no need for “special hunting socks” and everyone that tells you otherwise just wants to make money. Buying from non-hunting brands increases the selection you can choose from and can be a fair bit cheaper than the stuff from big hunting brands.
As you can see there is a lot of information worth knowing before you buy new apparel. Buying the right gear in the first place will not only save you money but also makes sure you have a great experience in the field. There is nothing worse than having to stop mid-day because you can not stand the cold anymore. The right materials combined to a well-working layer system will be worth gold out there and does not have to be overly expensive!
What is your advice for a perfect hunting outfit? Share the first thing that comes to your mind in the comments!