How to Layer for All Weather Conditions
Base Layer: Moisture Management
The base layer is the clothing that fits right against your body. The key function is to wick moisture away to keep you dry. This doesn’t just include pants and shirts—your socks and undergarments are base layers too.
Available in lightweight, midweight and heavyweight, generally, the thicker the fabric, the more insulation it will provide. Keep in mind, the base layer is meant for moisture management, not insulation.
- Merino wool has become the go-to for many hunters because of its comfort, moisture-wicking abilities and odor-resistant properties.
- Synthetic fabrics are mostly comprised of polyester and are lightweight and quick drying.
Stay away from cotton as a base layer since it absorbs and retains moisture instead of wicking it away. This is not only uncomfortable but can be dangerous due to a higher risk of hypothermia (even in slightly cool temperatures).
Outer Layer: Protection
The outer layer is for protection. This layer is designed to guard against wind, rain, snow and other elements Mother Nature might throw at you while outdoors. They should be built tough so they can withstand going through thick trees, heavy brush and thorns.
Depending on where and how you’re hunting, weight and packability should be considered when selecting an outer layer.
• Rain gear
• Waterproof shells will provide protection against full-on downpours; these are usually the most durable.
• Water-resistant shells are more suited for light rain/drizzle and higher activity levels; these are usually tightly woven nylon or polyester fabrics.
• Non-breathable shells are good for rainy days with low activity (sitting in a blind/stand instead of hiking) and are typically coated nylon. If you increase your activity level, you’ll likely end up saturating your base or mid layers with perspiration.
• Pants – Look for pants that are versatile and built for a range of temperatures and allow you to easily move.
When it comes to selecting your layers, there are many, many options and brands and it may come down to your personal preference and budget. You don’t have to choose the most expensive brands to get the best quality, and you may have to look past your go-to brand to get a wider range of options. Don’t ignore big-box stores for lower priced items—you can find great base-layer clothing, socks, gloves, neck gaiters and more.
Remember to choose quality items that fit and are comfortable, consider the fabric, and look for items that may perform multiple purposes, such as layered parkas. And since these layers are an investment, be sure to read all care instructions to get the most from them and ensure they last season after season.
Before you head out, be sure to check the weather on BaseMap for a complete 7-day forecast to help you plan ahead.