Hunting might be one of the most rugged outdoor activities, but those of us who spend lots of time in the field know the importance of staying as comfortable as possible. Weather conditions vary greatly for hunters and having the right gear can be the difference between the hunt of a lifetime and a miserable time in the wilderness.
Staying comfortable in the woods
Proper planning and having the right gear is one of the most important parts of a successful hunting trip.
With so many different species of game animals and a variety of hunting conditions across the globe, it’s important to do plenty of research and select the right gear for your hunting trip. I’ve broken down the best gear items for some of the most common weather conditions encountered by hunters.
Staying Warm in Extreme Cold
We’ll start with the weather scenario dreaded by almost every hunter—frigid temperatures.
Many outdoorsmen and women dream of trekking into the Alaskan wilderness in search of some of the most elusive big game animal species in the world. Traveling to such a place is an adventure, but it can turn into a survival situation in an instant, leaving hunters to rely on what gear they have with them.
Thermal undergarments are an absolute must and thanks to some recent breakthroughs in the latest thermal technology, hunters can stay warmer in freezing temperatures. Be sure to select something that is fitted, but not too tight in order to eliminate extra bulk.
Choosing the right cold-weather jacket is also vitally important to the success of your hunting trip. Newer fabric technologies offer more warmth with less material. Look for jackets and coats made with polypropylene, which is a synthetic fiber that is superior to cotton due to its ability to breathe.
Cotton is a poor choice in cold weather
Cotton might be more budget-friendly, but it is a poor choice in frigid conditions as it collects moisture and holds it next to your body. Wool should be every hunters’ go-to fabric for cold weather. Wool will retain more heat than cotton, even in snow or rain.
The key to staying warm and having a successful hunt in icy weather is to dress based on what kind of weapon you plan to hunt with. Sitting in a blind with a rifle will allow hunters to get away with wearing more thick, wool layers, but those of us who are on the move or bow hunting will need as much maneuverability as possible.
Don’t Forget to wear proper footwear
Another must-have for frigid weather hunting is insulated boots. Nothing can ruin a hunting trip faster than losing the feeling in your toes due to the cold. Be sure to invest in a pair of wool socks. There are plenty of brands out there that provide exceptional comfort and warmth to your feet, which will keep you in the woods longer and help you harvest that trophy of a lifetime. I chose to wear insulated Muck Boots even in icey conditions.
Mild Weather Clothing
Mild weather between 60 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit can be tricky for some hunters to properly plan for. One of the most important factors for mild weather is controlling sweat. It’s important to wear something that is breathable and allows your skin to be cooled by the outside air.
Hunters should know how their body responds to mild temperatures in order to anticipate whether they will need a highly-breathable fabric or one that will help lock in body odor.
Cotton is an ideal fabric for mild weather as it allows for more air to circulate through your clothing and keep your skin cool and dry. Merino wool, made from merino sheep, is also very popular among most hunters who venture out into mild weather often.
Hot weather can be as brutal as any conditions known to hunters and wearing something that does not allow your skin to properly breathe will lead to a miserable day afield. It can be extremely tough to sit out the first day of bowhunting season in the Deep South when temperatures are in the mid-nineties with high humidity and you need to have the right gear in order to do so.
Hunting in hot, dry weather is a bit more tolerable than being in a very humid environment. As mentioned before, merino wool is highly popular among hunters in the western United States. Merino wool keeps you cool in dry heat, but is not recommended in humid conditions as it does not dry quickly.
Synthetics for hot weather
Synthetic fiber clothing is the top pick among hunters who brave sweltering heat and humidity. From hog hunting in the heat of the Okefenokee Swamp to sweating it out in a treestand during early bow season for much of the southeastern United States, synthetic fiber is a godsend for hunters. It allows for maximum breathability and also has moisture wicking properties that helps to keep sweat at a minimum. Synthetic fiber will also dry out much faster than any other material.
Best Clothing for Rainy Weather
Being caught in the woods during a rain shower means a hasty retreat for hunters who don’t have the right gear. Your goal for hunting in rainy weather is to keep your core insulated and your skin dry. Thanks to some impressive new developments in water-resistant and waterproof clothing, it can be possible to to stay warm and dry in the pouring rain and have a greater chance at a successful hunt.
Noisy rain gear
One of the biggest downfalls in older raingear is noise. Wearing waterproof nylon is excellent for remaining dry, but any movement in which the material rubs against itself is extremely noisy, especially to wild animals. Heavy rain pelting such material is also something game animals can distinguish from rain hitting a natural surface. Finding rain gear that will keep you dry and quiet is the key. I still carry a set of camo Frogg Toggs in my hunting pack. I do it because they are cheap and easy to pack. But if you find yourself in the rain with these you will hear every raindrop that lands on you.
Most polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) material is considered to be the best choice for wet conditions as it will repel water while also allowing water vapor to pass through. Some of the best rain gear available will have a hydrophobic brushed exterior that dampens the sound of movement and raindrops for maximum stealth.