It’s midday, and you’re right in the middle of a hunt. After silently watching over the hunting zone for a few hours, luck finally strikes and you spot your prey. The hunt is on.
Before you know it, evening falls. A couple more hours later and the snow on the trees which looked so white and clear a few hours ago now is now very dark. You’re surrounded by a black fog, and you’re still miles away from home.
The harsh winter winds howl mercilessly around you. The cold is beginning to set in. And you don’t know which way to go.
Hunting is dangerous, even for the prepared. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Veteran hunters know that whenever they trek across the wilderness, stalking some big-game prey, they always run the risk of getting lost in dangerous terrain and quite possibly under foul weather conditions. And your hunting gear can make all the difference.
Obviously, the above example is the worst-case scenario. Hopefully, it’ll never happen to you. But there are also plenty of everyday hunting events which can injure you if you’re unprepared.
So that’s why this guide was written. Once you’re done reading through this article, you’ll understand exactly why each part of your hunting gear is so important and what qualities to look for in all of them. As an added bonus, some recommendations are also posted to get you started.
Balaclavas are the king of headwear when it comes to hunting. And Ergodyne’s wind-resistant balaclavas provide just about every quality listed above. Full-cover head protection? Check. Wind-proof fabric? Check. And as an added bonus, the camo color also helps conceal you from your prey when on the hunt.
Last but not least, this balaclava is made to be versatile in the field, and you can change how you wear it depending on the conditions. Have it cover your entire face and neck when it’s freezing, and pull down the mask as the weather gets warmer.
Customer reviews for this product are highly positive. However, one thing to note is that there are concerns that it may not fit very large heads, and can feel quite tight around the nose. So, depending on your size, you may wish to choose another option.
Carhartt’s 100% polyester fleece headwear protects every inch of your face, from your front to the top of your head, and even your neck and ears.
It also comes with its own adjustable pull-down mask which you can pull up to stop winds and pull down when it’s time to have a warm drink. The great thing about this piece of headwear is the way it fits snugly on your head without being too loose or tight, like many other alternatives.
Mossy Oak’s Full Spandex Face Mask is the headwear of choice for those on a budget and only looking for the pure essentials. It provides full face cover at a bargain price and can be easily worn under a cap for additional protection.
Finally, the peripheral opening is designed very well, leaving your vision unhindered. Do note that this headwear might be too tight for some, as indicated in the reviews. However, the material itself is quite flexible, so it should be a snug fit for those with normal sized heads.
The weight and thickness of your under layer depend entirely on the level of activity that you’ll be performing. Lightweight underclothes are best for high levels of activity, and heavyweight ones for extremely cold and stationary conditions (like fishing).
As a hunter, you might be tempted to go for lightweight underclothes due to the amount of hiking and trekking you’ll be doing. But it all depends. Remember, hunting also involves being stationary for long periods of time, like when you’re listening for movement in the hunting zone or stalking your prey. You’re not always undergoing high levels of activity. And as such, a medium weight underclothes might be better.
Material wise, do avoid cotton if heavy rainfall is a factor. A lot of cotton products cannot retain heat as well when wet, while silk and wool do.
You may also wish to consider leggings as an optional purchase. These basically function as underclothes for your bottom half, and the same principles apply. Underclothing for your top half is essential, but whether or not you need leggings depends on various factors, like how much you’re willing to invest in comfort and if you’re the type that tends to sweat a lot.
You can’t talk about underclothes without mentioning at least one Under Armour product. After all, they’re a company that’s famous for developing clothing that acts like practically a second skin. You know you’re getting quality heat retention and cold protection when it comes to Under Armour. And many buyers also appreciate the high mobility their stretch fabrics provide. If you’re someone who doesn’t like to take a risk with their purchases, then it’s hard to go wrong with Under Armour products.
ColdPruf’s underclothes are best sellers for good reason. Made from 70% polyester and 30% merino wool, it’s extremely soft and easy on the skin. It also does a great job at keeping the cold out and the heat in, and also has the added bonus of providing odor control.
Most importantly, it provides warmth for a variety of activity levels, ranging from mid to high activity levels, just perfect for hunting.
100% merino wool is something you won’t see very often when shopping for winter gear. It’s expensive. And I wouldn’t recommend splurging so much on a single piece if you’re tight on money.
But if you do have the budget, then Woolx’s base layer is the premium underclothing choice, smashing performance metrics in all areas. Not only does it keep you warm and dry during any cold weather activity, but the material also has natural qualities that eliminate odor and is lavishly soft, as you would expect. Washing it is also a simple matter. Just turn it inside out and put it in your washing machine. There’s absolutely no need to worry about shrinkage.
Woolx also provides a 100% satisfaction guarantee. That means you can simply return the item and get your money back if you’re not satisfied. They’re certainly confident in the quality of their goods. Do consider it if your wallet can handle it.
For those who are looking for a great set of thermal pants, Duofold’s thermals are a top-tier product, providing maximum warmth for minimal weight via their unique ‘Duofold’ fabric layers, which consists of two layers of fabric knitted together to form an effective barrier against the cold.
It’ll also keep all sorts of moisture away from your skin, making it perfect for wet weather or for people who sweat a lot. And comfort isn’t an issue, with 60% cotton and 40% polyester material providing little to no chafe. This product has gotten glowing reviews, and it’s not hard to see why.
One last thing. Pockets. Secure pockets are important, not only to stash vital equipment for easy access when you need them, but also to keep your house and car keys safe. Look for good inner pockets for your keys and great outer pockets for easy-access equipment.
Wildfowler call themselves “concealment specialists.” And their aim is to provide the great camouflage products at the best prices. But the waterproof capabilities of their parkas are nothing to sniff at either. It’s not a wetsuit by any means, but it will keep you dry in the snow and rain. And it also provides great insulation from the cold.
The pockets are very well designed, making it easy to reach your stash, and the hood is a welcome addition, especially if your headwear isn’t waterproof. All in all, a lot of thought has gone into the design of this parka.
Legendary Whitetails is famous for providing a variety of quality clothing for the winter season, and their Maplewood shirt jackets function great as a comfortable option for when you’re outdoors.
The pockets are conveniently well-placed and the jacket overall is extremely functional and practical. I highly recommend combining this with some sort of waterproof layer on top.
Here’s a great option for all the ladies out there who’re looking for extremely practical outerwear for the upcoming hunting season. This mid-weight hoodie is made from extremely soft fabric and is silent as night when outdoors. And for how thin the material is, the amount of warmth it keeps in is quite extraordinary.
Again, when it comes to getting gear that is so smooth fitting and light you hardly feel encumbered, one has to mention Under Armour, the specialists in making clothing that provides maximum warmth while preserving (and sometimes enhancing) freedom of movement.
These camo liner gloves are extra-long, extending their protection all the way to the forearm, and also comes with built-in moisture management technology to keep sweat from hindering your aim.
Rocky Men’s Level 3 Waterproof gloves are made specifically for those on the hunt. They’re lightweight, breathable and provide top-notch insulation. The built-in Rocky SIQ Atomic technology helps get rid of odor, a great feature when you’re trying to hide your scent from prey. And there’s no need to worry about any impact on your grip due to its reinforced digital textured palm.
One thing to note, however, is that there are conflicting views as to whether these gloves really are waterproof. Some say that they are absolutely water-repellent, while others claim that it doesn’t hold up as well in cold weather.
King’s Camo’s Insulated Gloves does a good job at keeping you warm, but they also retain a bit of sweat while in use. They should also provide enough dexterity and freedom of movement for you to be able to feel the trigger while on the hunt, but this can vary depending on your trigger guard.
If these look too bulky, then I recommend taking a look at their lightweight option.
A word on socks. Buy more than one pair. And take extra pairs with you when you’re outdoors. Sometimes water just ends up getting into your boots, regardless of how waterproof they are. This could be rain from above or splashing water. Either way, it’s going to happen. And when it does, you’d better have a pair of spare socks to change into.
Wools and silk are arguably the most comfortable materials. And wool is great for providing that extra layer of insulation. Do not skimp and get low-quality socks. These are usually made from poor materials which absorb too much water too quickly. Great for the home, but not what you want when you’re out in the open.
Kamik’s Cold-Weather Boots are a reasonably priced option for those on a budget. The shaft is approximately 13″ from the arch, while the heel measures approximately 1.25″. Overall, the boot opening measures approximately 16.75″ around and it’s waterproof at least from the bottom up.
Furthermore, the explorer rubber outsole allows top traction even in the slippery ice or thickest snow.
These boots are quite a bit more expensive but come with a ton of additional features to justify their price. Irish Setter’s boots utilize their unique RPM technology to significantly lower the overall weight of the boots while at the same time enhancing their durability. This makes them more comfortable while at the same time stronger and lighter than any competitors.
Furthermore, their eping the water out for long periods of time.
These socks are made from 80% merino wool and are absolutely perfect for outdoor activities. It’s very clear that these socks were made for extreme weather conditions, with reinforced heels for extended wear times as well as a cushioned heel and arch support for traversing rough terrain.
Combine these with comfortable shoes to make walking through even the roughest terrain a simple matter.
Layering – Something to Keep in Mind
Before you start shopping, you should focus on the concept of layering. This is absolutely key to staying safe and comfortable in the cold. Why? Because layering makes you more adaptable to constantly changing temperatures and condition.
Imagine a typical trek out into the wilderness. When you first leave your house, you may be overwhelmed by the cold. This is normal, as you’re leaving a warm environment (your home) and throwing yourself into a cold one.
But as time passes and you start working up a sweat (trekking through rough, hilly terrain will quickly get you hot and bothered), you may find your current clothing uncomfortable. And this is where layering becomes important. Being able to remove your upper layer and not get too cold allows you to control your body temperature. And this way, you’ll never find yourself excessively sweating or freezing.
It’s all about versatility when it comes to layering. When you’re out hunting, your heat levels can fluctuate wildly. For maximum efficiency, don’t invest heavily into one or two products to keep you warm, or you may find yourself jumping from being too hot to too cold in an instant. Instead, have three or four (or even more) layers of clothing which you can add or remove as conditions change.
Here’s a checklist of things you should have prepared when it comes to hunting gear for the winter. Use this to double-check the most important qualities when it comes to your gear and make sure that you’ve purchased the right one.
Your hunting gear matters. And with so many types of equipment out on the market, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. However, this guide can help you navigate all of the choices to make sure you have all of the necessities. Focus on the practical aspects of your gear, and don’t get bogged down by your fashion sense. Fashion doesn’t protect you out in the wild. Smart shopping decisions will.
Some final tips on hunting in cold weather. A lot of it has to do with getting the right gear. And we’ve already discussed layering. But part of being prepared beforehand is also about having the right diet before leaving your home.
You see, the heat generated from your body comes from the food it digests, and different types of food have different levels of heat generation. Specifically, look for foods that are high in calories, and combine these with a high-protein meal for your body to store before leaving the home. Sardine is a famous survival food due to the amount of fat and protein it packs. And you can’t go wrong with a warm cup of hot chocolate before leaving the home.
Preparing for your hunting experiences is critical to making sure you thrive while out in the field. Keep these important tips in mind when you select your gear and the only thing you will have to worry about is waiting for the right moment to strike your target.