About to go out hunting in the chilly weather for the first time. Stop what you are doing and read this first. Learning how to dress for the season could save your life.
No, we’re not trying to be dramatic to get your attention, we are genuinely concerned. Those with little hunting experience should just avoid winter hunting altogether. If you must go, don’t go it alone. Go with hunters that have been out in the cold before. Learn from them and go yourself next time.
Why do we give you this caution? It wouldn’t be the first time we had heard the story about the hunter they found in his sleeping bag when the spring thaw came. Every hunting region in the states has one story or another, all about the hunters that didn’t prepare for the cold and died. Hypothermia is an incredibly real threat. You shouldn’t go out into the hills, forests, or mountains, unprepared for that horrible cold.
Now that we have warnings out of the way, let’s talk about the best materials for cold weather hunting.
The Best Materials for Cold Weather Hunting
Here are the best materials for freezing weather hunting, ranked from best onwards.
1 – The Merino Wool Layer
The most experienced hunters already know that a Merino wool base layer is the best of the best in terms of softness, warmth, and durability. Taken from a sheep that is known for the finest of wools, this blend of fibers tangles up in itself to make an extra durable fabric that doesn’t tend to tear easily. Merino wool is regarded as the best all over the world. There are a few reasons for this.
Some of the reasons that make Merino the best base layer include:
- Extremely warm
- Hard-wearing and tough
- Lasts for years
- Waterproof and moisture wicking
- Soft and comfortable against the skin.
Merino wool isn’t the only base layer fabric out there, but it certainly is the best. If you can’t afford it and you need something else, consider the following options, instead.
2 – Polyester
Although polyester is typically best worn as a barrier layer, there are those that like it against their skin. Polyester keeps you warm by trapping air against your skin, which your body then heats. This can be a sweaty sort of warm, which some people don’t like. It’s not moisture wicking but it does keep you dry. Polyester will act as a water repellent, allowing that layer between your skin and you’re clothing to stay dry from outside sources, at least.
Some of the reasons polyester comes in second place include:
- It’s windproof
- Waterproof and moisture repellent
- Can be soft if brushed
- Heats you with trapped air
3 – Thermals
Thermal underwear is a good part of your base layer, but you do want to have something on top. They are usually made from man-made fibers and cotton blends. Try to avoid the cotton ones if you can, since cotton fabric soaks up water and makes you colder. Synthetic fiber mixes can be effective though, just remember to add layers for extra warmth.
The benefits of thermals include:
- Add warmth
- They are soft
- Provide an extra layer
Other Types of Base Layer Fabric
This is not an exhaustive list, but it should give you an indication of what to look for when shopping for chilly weather hunting gear. Favor merino Wool or manmade blends that contain it, avoid cheaply made gear, and don’t touch cotton if you can help it. Instead, aim for the best quality you can find, even if it means saving for a while. When you are out hunting in the cold season, that gear has to save your life.