How to Properly Layer for Hunting SeasonIf you’re an avid hunter, you know that it’s always peak season for something. Whether you get your tags based on the animal or the gear, year-round hunting possibilities mean you have to be prepared for various weather conditions and events. Proper attire is especially important for hunting in the fall and winter when you may be at elevation or in the snow for extended periods of time. Unsuitable clothing poses a threat not only to your hunting success but, more importantly, to your safety.

The first instinct of many hunters is to layer up before heading out into the cold wilderness. Layering is crucial for hunters to be able to stay safe and regulate their own body temperature. Bitter winter temperatures require your body to obtain more insulation, but you’re still able to shed a few layers if the exertion of hunting raises your body temperature. While layering is a smart strategy for suiting up to go hunting, further attention to the types of layers you wear will help you make safe and informed decisions before you head out on your next hunt.

How To Layer Outerwear

  1. The Base Layer -- The first layer you’ll want to put on is called the base layer. The clothing you choose for this layer is tight but comfortable. The snug fit and potential moisture-wicking properties will keep you both dry and warm. The base layer can be as thin or thick as you would like but should align with weather conditions. If you’re hunting during the summer, lightweight options still provide moisture-wicking qualities with less insulation to keep you from overheating. Midweight layers are suitable for autumn and certain winter climates. They are a little thicker to provide more insulation but won’t cause you to overheat. For hunters who plan to hunker down in the snow, a heavyweight base layer is the safest option to keep you warm in harsh cold temperatures for extended periods.

  2. The Mid Layer -- The second layer is called the mid layer and works with the base layer to trap heat and wick away moisture. There is lots of flexibility in the mid-layer depending on your climate. If the weather is warmer or you find yourself heating up from exertion, this layer can easily be removed. On the other hand, extra cold temperatures in particularly harsh climates can be met with doubling up of the mid-layer. Freezing elements call for extra layering, and this is where you should add to your attire.

    PRO TIP: Removing the mid-layer is the best first step if you get too hot while hunting. The base layer is important for insulation and moisture wicking, while the outer layer aims to protect against weather and nature. Since the mid layer is primarily for warmth, this will be the first layer to address if you feel overheated.

  3. The Outer Layer -- Also known as the protective shell, the outer layer is the outermost defense against the elements. Since you may be outside for hours, it’s vital to make this layer waterproof in the event of rain or snow. It is also good to consider a thicker garment that won’t be torn or damaged by branches and thorns. Despite the temperature, thick and waterproof outer layers protect you from weather, branches, and bug bites.

What Are The Risks Of Improper Attire While Hunting?

It may seem over the top to emphasize layering so heavily, but it’s important to note that improper attire for hunting could lead to serious medical emergencies and, in severe cases, even death. Proper layering and intelligent clothing choices can avoid or minimize the afflictions listed below. (1)

  1. Hypothermia: Many people enjoy hunting in extremely cold weather. Deer, coyotes, and beavers can keep you hunting all winter long, but depending on where you live and what you wear, this could put you at a very high risk of contracting hypothermia. Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce, causing your core body temperature to fall. Wet weather speeds up the process of dampening clothing and drawing heat from your body. Although many people associate hypothermia with subzero conditions, it can set in after prolonged exposure at temperatures up to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Hypothermia while hunting can be avoided by proper layering to ensure a dry body with extra insulation.

  2. Frostbite: Just like hypothermia, frostbite occurs when heat is drawn from the body, but in this extreme case, tissues freeze. Typically, only occurring in freezing climates, you can avoid frostbite by wearing a face covering and keeping your extremities warm. In extreme temperatures, layer gloves and socks and cover your face and head.

  3. Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke: In many ways the opposite of hypothermia, heat exhaustion and heat stroke occur when the body’s core temperature rises to unsafe levels. Heat exhaustion is serious, and heat stroke can be fatal. This is a severe threat to safety, especially in the isolated wilderness. You can prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke by dressing in layers and shedding them as you physically exert yourself. If you feel overheated, remove some layers, and take a break.
Hunting apparel comes in many styles, thicknesses, and even patterns. This season, make sure you put your safety first and wear the proper layers so you can hunt comfortably!