5 layering tips from the founder of KUIU
Fall not only means the start of hunting season, it also means changeable temperatures and hard-to-predict conditions out in the field. Smart layering takes more than just knowing that base layers should wick, insulation keeps you warm and that an outer shell shields you from wetness and the wind.
Here are five ways to step up your layering game for hunts this fall:
1. Pick the right tool for the job.
Quivers don’t carry rifle cartridges. Cotton doesn’t repel water. Knowing the strengths of different fabrics allows you to choose the best functionality for your particular hunting circumstances. Cotton base layers can kill since this fabric doesn’t wick but instead traps water to the body, resulting in a higher risk of hypothermia in even slightly cool temperatures. Versatile pieces are the best as they’ll take you from mule deer hunts in August to backcountry sheep hunts in the winter.
2. Wool can keep you warm — and cool.
Merino wool is a great choice for base layers in cool temperatures, keeping your body warm and dry. Though it sounds counterintuitive, merino is also a great way to avoid heat stress (i.e., roasting because there’s no shade) on a desert hunt. Wear a long-sleeved base layer here; it protects you better from the sun’s rays than a short-sleeved one.
3. Not all fabric sounds the same.
Rainwear in particular is notorious for being noisy. Choose pants and top layers that are as quiet as possible instead of detracting from your camouflage with unnatural sounds. Hunters should avoid PVC because this waterproof plastic also won’t breathe, and also avoid ePTFE — although waterproof and breathable, this membrane can be quite loud depending on the face fabric. Most high-performance technical fabrics will give some indication of noise in their description. Knits are typically the quietest choice.
4. Waterproof down.
Hunters used to avoid down for cold weather hunting because when it got wet it became useless. Enter new waterproof-down technology that coats feathers so they repel water. With this hydrophobic down, your insulation layer, whether vest or down jacket, just got lighter and warmer. We love this feature in hunt-worthy sleeping bags too.
5. Weight matters.
What you pack greatly effects your performance on a 10-day hunt — more weight just makes the whole process harder. Wear pieces that will combine to keep you warm in the morning and evening, then strip down to minimal coverage in the heat of the day. Pack lightweight rainwear for fall elk and deer hunts. The near-constant wet-weather conditions of winter hunts means you’ll need waterproof outer layers all the time that won’t drag you down.
Curious about other innovations that are changing how hunters layer? Check out the latest and future technologies in hunting apparel.