Much of your success as a hunter relies on choosing the correct clothing and outerwear for hunting. While tracking skills, proper gear and knowledge of the land are all important, the wrong clothes, especially in winter, can ruin a day in the woods.
Dressing for hunting is challenging because you need to account both for temperature and your physical activity. Hunters regularly switch between periods of activity (covering ground) and long periods of passivity (waiting and watching). The key to a good hunting wardrobe is accounting for these two major modes.
Sweat: A Danger on Sub-Freezing Days
Sweating is the biggest problem on days when the temperature drops below freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit, or 0 degrees Celsius). While it may feel cold, you can work up quite a sweat on cold days while moving, and that sweat can cause you big problems when you need to sit and wait.
Hunting requires patience, and there's no bigger patience-killer than wet clothes and a chill. If you can't sit and wait passively in the woods because your wardrobe is either not insulating enough, or captures too much sweat, you have a problem. A good hunting wardrobe needs to capture the balance between adequate insulation and sweat control.
Your Main Apparel For Winter Hunting
As for most outdoor activities, you need to plan your hunting wardrobe in a layer system. Let's start with the most inner layer: For this, a moisture-wicking layer is essential. Micro fiber shirts and pullovers are perfect to wear right against your body. Avoid using any cotton in your inner layer especially because it will only trap moisture and chill you.
Your next layer should be a fleece or wool sweater. This gives you extra insulation. Wool and fleece are both great choices because they continue to insulate well even when wet.
Keeping your feet warm is also essential. Generally, a layer of liner socks beneath a heavier weight of moisture-wicking wool blend will be adequate to keep your feet warm.
As for shoes, you should wear what is comfortable. If you layer your socks properly, you won't depend on your shoes for insulation. However, a waterproof shoe with a Gore-Tex layer and high ankle will keep any ice and snow away from your feet.
You will also need proper clothing for your lower half. Regular boxers are made of cotton and will trap moisture. Instead, opt for a pear of biker shorts and top with moisture-wicking long underwear. On top of the long underwear, you can use any kind of fabric that isn't cotton, so steer clear jeans and khakis. A wool blend is perfect. For wind and rain, a layer of rain pants or windbreak material will give you a needed extra layer against the cold.
Hats, Scarves and Masks
Once the temperature drops below freezing, keeping your head warm is crucial. For just-below-freezing temperatures, a hat and scarf is plenty, but when temperatures drop down close to 0 degrees Fahrenheit, a mask will help greatly. Adjust your layering for masks, hats and scarves according to the temperature and wind chill. The more wind chill there is, the more important a mask becomes.
Wear the Right Clothes For Winter Hunting
The right clothes are one of the most important components of your hunting gear. By staying warm, comfortable and sweat free, you will better be able to focus hunting and stay outdoors comfortable for longer periods of time.