Essential Bow Hunting Clothing

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Every year, countless bowhunters take to the woods in the hopes of filling their tags. In order to find success, long sits on stand or in a ground blind are typically necessary.

A hunter must be adequately prepared for these lengthy hunts and the weather which accompanies them. Much of this preparation takes place when choosing which clothing is to be worn when going afield.

When properly clothed (read our review about the Arris heated vest here) for the occasion at hand, you are able to stay on stand longer, thereby increasing your odds of a successful hunt.

On the other hand, if inadequately clothed, you are far more likely to become uncomfortable and abandon your hunt to seek refuge from the elements. 

The following will present you with a working knowledge of essential bow hunting clothing, thereby allowing you to be better prepared for the seasons to come.

Deer Season

In the majority of states, the weather encountered during deer season can vary substantially from the beginning of the season to the end.

Most bow seasons typically begin in September or early October, when daytime temperatures can reach 80+ degrees quite regularly.

During this early portion of the season, lightweight, breathable clothing is a must. 

The use of this lightweight clothing not only keeps you comfortable but minimizes odor-causing bacteria and sweat.

The more you sweat when afield, the harder it becomes to conceal your human odor, and the more likely spooking game becomes. 

Upon reaching the latter half of the season, temperatures in much of the nation dip significantly, with some of the coldest mornings lingering in the single digits (read.. post-rut hunting tactics).

On frigid hunts of this nature, the use of heavy, insulated clothing is essential. If dressed too lightly, it is highly unlikely that a hunter can bear to sit on stand or in a blind for more than a couple of hours at a time.

The Different Layers Of Clothing

While not every hunter chooses to wear the exact same articles of clothing when going afield, there are several essential pieces of clothing that every deer hunter should have at his or her disposal.

These items ensure that one remains comfortable while waiting for a shot opportunity, no matter the weather conditions that are presented.

These essential items of clothing include a base layer, mid layer, outerwear, jacket, pants, rain gear, hat, and footwear.

Some of these clothing items, particularly those pertaining to layering, will not always be required during warm early season hunts. However, having such gear at the ready will have you adequately prepared, should the weather take a sudden turn.

Base Layer

A quality base layer is far more important than most hunters realize. This layer of clothing assists in suppressing human odor, while simultaneously retaining heat. During warm early season months, base layer clothing also wicks away the sweat that comes as a result of oppressive heat.

A base layer is worn against your body and is typically relatively tight-fitting. This tight-fitting design increases heat retention, by preventing heat loss through openings in pant legs and sleeves.

Base layers pants and shirts come in a variety of compositions, but few are as popular as merino wool. Additionally, a number of scent suppressive base layers are now offered.

Mid Layer

Whether or not a mid-layer of clothing is needed on a given hunt hinges solely on the conditions that are to be encountered.

During warm early season hunts, a mid-layer is unnecessary. However, when hunting during the late season, such layers become a necessity.

Mid-layer clothing comes in several forms. Some hunters wear sweatshirts and lightly insulated pants as part of their mid-layer, while others choose to simply wear lighter weight clothing, such as a long-sleeved camo shirt and basic jean-style pants.

In any regard, this layer of clothing is worn directly over a hunter’s base layer.

Outerwear

Outerwear is characterized as any layer of clothing that is worn over other attire and serves as the outermost layer of clothing with the exception of a jacket.

This layer of clothing is generally the most heavily insulated, especially when hunting during the late season, or in extremely cold climates.

A hunter’s outerwear most commonly consists of hunting bibs or coveralls, which shield their wearer from the elements and serve as the first line of defense in keeping the biting cold at bay.

Alternatively, some hunters wear heavily insulated pants and a thick pullover top, as their outerwear of choice.

Jacket

A versatile jacket is one of the most valuable pieces of clothing that a deer hunter can own. A jacket provides a hunter with a final layer of warmth and protection while shedding rainwater and snow.

Jackets are also popular deer hunting clothing for nearly every point of season.

Even during the earliest days of season, a lightweight, non-insulated jacket can be worn for protection from insects, and the sun’s UV rays.

During the later days of season, a heavily insulated jacket can be worn as a means of body heat retention.

Pants

Pants worn when deer hunting differ greatly in design and are most often selected based upon a knowledge of the weather conditions that are to be expected.

Pants of a thin design can be layered to provide versatility, or heavyweight insulated pants can be worn over a hunter’s base layer to stop the cold in its tracks.

Hunting pants that are designed for use as outerwear also usually feature a number of pockets for gear storage. This not only keeps a hunter warm and dry but provides a level of utilitarian functionality as well.

Rain Gear

When deer hunting, you can never bet against the occurrence of a pop-up rain shower. If caught off guard, even a brief shower can soak a hunter, leading to substantial discomfort.

This discomfort has the potential to force a hunter from his or her stand, as they seek relief from the miserable conditions.

In order to prevent such occurrences, you should always have suitable rain gear at the ready. While a poncho or similar attire can be worn, a quality rainproof jacket is far and away the most popular way of dealing with less than ideal weather conditions (read.. Rut Hunting Tactics).

These jackets resist water saturation, due to the use of a specialized exterior treatment, thereby keeping a hunter dry.

Hat

Every deer hunter should have a hunting hat of one form or another, with them on every hunt. The reason for wearing a hat when in the deer woods is multifaceted, providing numerous benefits to the hunters who wear them.

One such benefit is the reprieve that a hat provides from the blinding sun. If a deer approaches with the sun at its back, a hunter’s hat will shield them from the otherwise blinding light that can limit visibility.

Another such advantage is that a hat better aids in hunter concealment (read.. best hunting face mask), by breaking up an individual’s outline while in the stand you had to climb or blind.

Footwear

If your feet are cold, or otherwise in discomfort, your hunting experience will likely suffer. There is no quicker way to be forced from the woods than to find your feet going numb due to frigid temperatures and poorly chosen footwear.

By planning ahead and choosing your footwear wisely, you can avoid such a scenario.

While the type of boots that you choose to wear during the warm early season portion of bow season is not as vital, late-season boots should be chosen based upon their insulative qualities.

The same rings true with regard to socks. As temperatures drop, heavier socks should be chosen for use.

It is also worth mentioning that skimping on quality when purchasing hunting boots, in a bid to save money, can cost you in more ways than one. Poor quality boots are seldom water-resistant or comfortable when on the trail.

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Poorly chosen boots have the potential to end a hunt as soon as it begins. If you were to splurge on any one area of clothing, make it your footwear.

Dressed For Success

When heading to the deer woods this season, make sure that you are dressed for success. In order to be at the top of your game, your clothing should be capable of working as hard as you do.

However, even the most rugged of clothing needs to remain comfortable while in use, as a lack of comfort can easily translate into a lack of success when afield.

By making sure that you always have base layers, mid-layers, outerwear, jackets, pants, rain gear, hats, and quality footwear at your disposal, you will never be forced to make do without.

Alexander Knobloch
Alexander Knobloch
Hi. My name is Alex. I am the founder of BowAddicted.com. I love my kids, archery, and the outdoors.

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