Layering allows you to be prepared for a multitude of conditions, both in terms of what nature has to offer and how your body heats up and cools down during physical activity. By adding and subtracting the right layers, we can be comfortable in all temperatures without carrying too much weight.
This is where it all begins. This cape, either polyester or fleece, is worn on every outing. It should only be modified if you are targeting extreme temperature ranges. I’ll wear my basic long-sleeved merino wool shirt and pants from sub-zero temperatures to the 70s. In warmer weather, I swap it out for a short-sleeved merino t-shirt with no layers or bottoms. In extreme cold conditions, I’ll trade this in for an expedition weight merino wool base layer.
Insulating layers sit between base layers and outerwear. Common insulating layers would be a Primaloft merino wool vest, down or similar layers, or wool or fleece sweaters. Your insulating layers are where most of the modifications to your layering system should occur. These layers should be avoided or minimized during intense excursions, such as climbing hills, because you will build up too much heat and start sweating.
outer shell layer
This is your protection against snow, rain and wind. In dry conditions, nylon or wool blend pants can be your outer layer. In wet conditions, wear a waterproof but breathable layer over your pants. For top layers, consider an insulated outer layer with a hood when hunting in temperatures that are consistently cold, especially when stationary.
In warmer temperatures, wear a thin, breathable raincoat with a hood and underarm zippers that can be opened for increased ventilation. Since nylon hard shells tend to be noisy, the use of a softshell outer shell has become very popular with hunters who rely on stealth.
A typical softshell will have a quieter brushed type surface. These shells are water resistant but not waterproof so it should come with a hard shell in your package. Most softshells can function as an insulating layer, albeit a very light one.
Hats and Gloves
Light wool gloves to hide or for cool mornings; thicker gloves for cold and wet conditions; Waterproof and lined mittens for extreme conditions. Merino wool facial mask to hide and keep warm. A heavier knit cap and warm hoods for cooler temperatures.
Insist on merino-synthetic blend socks. Merino gives warmth and comfort; synthetic elements, usually nylon and spandex, give strength and elasticity.
Synthetic vs Merino Wool Synthetic
Pros: Dries faster than any technical fabric. Durable. Less expensive.
Cons: sucks, especially on physically active trips; it is difficult to deodorize; Made of plastic, usually a mix of polyester and nylon.
Pros: Dries pretty quickly; minimizes moisture from sweat; high heat-to-weight ratio; naturally odor resistant; comfortable.
Cons: Not as durable as synthetics; More expensive than synthetic ones.