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Clothing For Bowhunters: 4 Things You Should Consider

by Lon E. Lauber   |  August 8th, 2011 3

Over the years I’ve had the fine and pleasant misery of hunting from Alaska to Africa and many places in between. During these 30 years of bowhunting I’ve endured 33 degrees below zero when chasing musk oxen on Nunivak Island, Alaska, and survived dehydration and a sweat-drenching stalk at 114 degrees while pursuing Columbian blacktails in northern California.

Most of my bowhunts occurred in weather conditions more moderate than those two extremes, but the point is you must have the right clothing for every hunt. Regardless of conditions, here are some guidelines for picking clothing for bowhunters.

1. QUIET
Bowhunting clothing must be extremely quiet. If a piece of clothing seems noisy in a store, just imagine how noisy it’ll be at 20 degrees on a graveyard-still evening when you’re trying to draw on an antsy whitetail buck! If you can hear it, game animals can hear it better.

2. LAYERING
Choose your hunting clothes in layers based on anticipated temperatures, activity level, and your personal metabolism.

Base layers are your first line of defense against Mother Nature. They move moisture away from your skin, help control your odor, and fit snugly. The microfibers of merino wool and several flavors of polyester make great base layers.

Midlayers can vary from wool, fleece, and polyester derivatives to goose down and synthetic down like PrimaLoft. Pick your midlayers to be quiet and cut to move with your body without restriction.

Outer layer choices vary in material and thickness depending on the style of hunting and temperature. You may need only a lightweight jacket to stalk in September but require a much thicker, more insulating coat to sit still and comfortable on stand in December.

3. VENTING
I have a volatile metabolism. Walking just a few minutes, I’ll be drenched in sweat if I’m dressed too warmly; sitting still for only moments, I will become chilled if underdressed. That’s why I look for jackets, bibs, and pants with full-length zippers or pit zips so I can vent off excess heat when walking and then quickly zip up to retain body heat when stationary.

4. LITTLE FEATURES
Make sure you check out the little features that might tip the scale when choosing one garment over another. I really like hunting pants with a rubberized waistband that keeps shirttails from coming untucked. Some coats now include a slot at the top of the back for threading your safety harness through. Check zipper noise levels, positioning, and ease of use. Make sure the pockets are easy to access and roomy enough for essential items.

In summary, think of your bowhunting clothing purchases with the same diligent thought process used when buying a bow.

  • Bill K

    Lon : You are right on target about layering . You should start the day with what you need as in reguards to temp. & weather . Be ready to adjust clothing as the day progresses, be flexable. You will have a much better day out if you can adapt.My backround comes from Moutainering in all seasons as well hunting bow style

  • Jesse

    Pit zips on your outer layer and heavier mid layers have made the most significant difference in my comfort levels both hiking in and sitting on stand. I am a believer to the point that I will probably never purchase another piece of outer wear without them. They improve the activity/temperature adaptation of your gear and let you flex with the weather.

  • Shelly Cooke

    Yes, it is true that Bowhunters should have perfect dresses for hunting. Thanks for your recommendation.

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