It may seem like you need a lot of special clothing to go hunting, but you really don’t. Mankind has been hunting and successfully killing quarry for thousands of years. Your ancestors did it wearing loincloths and carrying sticks (I don’t recommend that).
I’ve hunted in the wrong clothes before and hated every minute of it—keep an eye on the weather and plan accordingly.
I suggest wearing layers. That way if you get a little too hot, you can take something off and continue on with your day. If you don’t wear enough layers and you’re cold, you’ll be uncomfortable all day.
Also, you don’t have to have brand new everything for your hunting clothes. You probably own most of what you need already. Before you go out and buy a bunch of new clothes, go through your closet and see what you already have that you can use.
With that said, let’s take a closer look at what you need.
When most people think hunting clothing they think the outer layer—the camo and blaze orange clothing. When I think hunting clothing, I think long underwear, wool socks, and thermal shirts. I like hunting when there’s snow on the ground (it’s a little easier to spot your quarry), and that means it’s cold out. You need to have a warm inner layer of clothing to stay comfortable.
If you don’t have some warm long underwear, thick wool socks, and a thermal long-sleeve t-shirt, go to the store. Those articles of clothing make the biggest difference for me. They also come in handy during the winter months even when you’re not hunting. The outer layer of clothing is very important, but if you want to be comfortable, these inexpensive items are well worth their price.
When purchasing these items, stay away from cotton. If cotton gets wet or even damp, you get cold. Stick with wool or polyester material. There’s plenty of great options out there. Many of the sports-focused brands make excellent products, but you don’t have to spring for the high-dollar stuff to get something sufficient.
Remember the layers I talked about above? Here’s layer two. This one is in place to help keep you warm and regulate your body temperature. If you’re just starting out, you should be good with the wool sweater and jeans you already have in your closet.
Make sure this layer isn’t too hard to take off. If you’re going to remove a layer of clothing, this is the one I usually take off first. The outer layer is important because it protects you from the elements, branches, bushes, and everything else that you’ll come into contact with. So, you should take off your middle layer if you get hot and put the outer layer back on.
If it’s reasonably warm out, the middle is the one I’d leave at home or in my truck. The base layer and outer layer are the ones I see as the most important.
If you want to buy something new for your middle layer, again, stay away from cotton. Get wool or polyester jackets, sweatshirts, and pants. Try to stay away from anything that’s too bulky. You have another layer of clothes you need to put on, and you don’t want to look like Randy from A Christmas Story.
The outer layer is the one that most people think of when they think hunting clothing. This is the blaze orange and the camo. For game like deer or turkey, you’ll need camo, for others—rabbit or pheasant—you can pretty much wear whatever. Orange is also not always needed and depends on the game you hunt and the laws in your area. It is always recommended, though.
While you don’t always need a camouflage outer layer, it’s not a bad idea to have it. If you only want to buy one hunting jacket and a pair of pants for your outer layer, I suggest getting camo as your outer layer. Even if you don’t need camo, it doesn’t hurt to wear it.
The same goes for blaze orange clothing. Every state has different requirements for orange clothing, but even if you don’t have to have it, you probably should. The International Hunter Education Association has a breakdown of what states require blaze orange and how much of it you have to wear.
The association also discusses the importance blaze orange for hunter safety. Blaze orange can keep you safe from other hunters and reduce the chance of an accident. Most animals rely on seeing movement or hearing noises to alert them to your presence. This means blaze orange won’t hurt your chances of getting a kill in most cases.
If you’re really worried about an animal seeing you, consider going with a blaze orange-style camouflage, as long as it’s legal in your state. This presents a broken-up pattern to the eyes of your game, hiding you better than a typical plain orange vest, jacket, or hat.
Aside from colors and patterns, when it comes to outer layers, look for something that’s at least water and wind resistant. Also, consider getting something that has plenty of room inside. You’re going to have a couple layers on underneath and a little space inside the jacket or pants will help you hold in heat better.
Be aware of the noises the jacket or your pants make. You don’t want to wear something that will let the whole forest know you’re coming. Try on everything beforehand and move around in it. If you’re buying online, take a look at the reviews of the product to see if anyone mentions anything about noise levels. The last thing you want is to scare off game every time you turn your body or take a step.
Gloves and Hat
Quality hunting gloves and the right hat are vital pieces of clothing. Without a good pair of gloves, your fingers will be too cold to pull the trigger at the precise moment you need to. Also, you lose a lot of heat from your head. Having a good, warm hat will keep your head and ears warm while you’re out there.
There are all kinds of gloves made specifically for hunting. There are many opinions on what’s best. My only recommendation is to go with something warm and not too bulky. It’s annoying and unsafe to try to jam a puffy gloved finger into the trigger guard when you need to take a shot. Get something that allows you some dexterity. You shouldn’t struggle to get your trigger finger in place.
As far as hats go, I recommend something that will cover your ears. Mine get cold easily. It’s hard to concentrate if your ears ache from the cold. If you want to wear a camo or orange ball cap, that’s fine, but I’d also carry a warmer hat with you just in case. Another option is a hood on your jacket in conjunction with a cap of some kind. I don’t usually like hoods, though, because they limit visibility. I recommend blaze orange for your hat no matter what you choose.
If you spend a lot of money on any one piece of clothing, let it be your boots. As any seasoned hunter will tell you, high-quality hunting boots are extremely important. They protect your feet, help keep you warm, and give you traction on wet or muddy terrain.
Get a boot that’s both well-insulated and waterproof. This will ensure your toes stay nice and warm while you’re out there. Most of the time you’ll be hunting in the winter, and that means you’ll do a fair bit of hiking through the snow. If your boots aren’t waterproof or at the very least water resistant, it won’t take long for your feet to get wet.
As far as sizing goes. Don’t forget you’ll be wearing some thick wool socks with your boots. You want something that doesn’t fit too tightly. It has to lace up well and not fit sloppily on your foot, but you want plenty of room inside the boot, even with your thick wool socks on. A little extra space inside will help trap heat inside the boot and keep the blood circulating well. All this helps to keep your feet comfy.
Keep in mind the weight of the boot. While insulation is extremely important, you don’t want a pair of boots that feel like leg weights. Luckily, there are plenty out there that are lightweight, waterproof, and warm. They can, however, get a little expensive. You get what you pay for here. If I had to, I’d spend less money on my outer layer jacket so I could get some seriously high-quality hunting boots.
What kind of hunting clothing do you have or recommend? Leave a comment below!