What Is the Hunter's Most Important Item of Clothing? Your Guide to Hunting Season Must-Haves

August 18, 2022 5 min read

Close up of a man in a blaze orange hunting vest pointing a hunting rifle at a target off screen.

As the hunting season closes out in some parts of the country, like the West Coast, and starts in others, the East Coast and the Midwest, hunters will be putting their gear to good use. Some will be prepping their equipment for off-season storage, while others will don their hunting gear on the trail, once again.

Whatever stage it may be in the hunting season, off-season or just the start, if you’re looking to add a new piece of gear to your kit, or you’re hunting for the first time this season, outfitting yourself with the right clothing is the best way to come prepared.

But what is the hunter’s most important item of clothing? This question may be up for debate depending on how you prefer to hunt, but many will agree that a sufficient hunting outfit will contain at least one of these four elements.

#1. Blaze Orange

The number one most important item of clothing for the hunter is the Blaze Orange. This bright orange color, often worn in a hat, a vest, jacket, or all three, is as synonymous with hunting as camouflage is to the military. But what is the history of this color? And why is it such a crucial part of a hunter’s uniform?

The color first appeared in an article published in 1960 in Field & Stream Magazine. At the time, the author of the article, Frank Woolner, spearheaded a study in which the visibility of Hunter Orange was tested in a variety of visibility conditions. The test determined that Blaze Orange was the most visible compared to reds, which appeared almost black in shadow, and yellows, which looked off-white in low light.

The success of Blaze Orange comes down to its fluorescence. Wavelengths from fluorescent colors absorb red and blue undertones and reflect it back as the predominant wavelength. In Hunter Orange, the undertone wavelengths are absorbed and reflected back as orange, giving the color its luminescence.

It’s also the reason Hunter Orange is three times more brilliant than a garment dyed the same color that lacks fluorescent dye, according to Pressconnects. 40 states have mandated hunters wear a garment in Blaze Orange because it’s so effective at keeping hunters safe by distinguishing them from the natural surroundings.

#2. Base Layers

One of the best hunting clothes for cold weather is the base layer. It’s important to dress accordingly for the hunt and sport cold weather hunting gear, like a base layer of Merino wool, in case the weather should turn. Wool has natural moisture wicking and heat retaining capabilities, thanks to cuticles in the wool fibers. This makes wool a great material for protecting hunters from the elements while keeping them dry.

If you want to take your base layer to another level though, you can try garments with heating capabilities, like Gobi heated baselayer shirt and pants. These sophisticated garments use an integrated heating system and conductive-thread powered by an mAh Lithium Polymer battery to heat core muscles in the abdomen, back, and neck. More than enough to keep you warm for hours laying in wait in a tree stand or on a trail.

#3. A Layer With Windproofing

The windproofing layer is the outermost layer of your hunting outfit. It can either consist of a jacket with windproofing, a hat, soft shell pants to cover the mid or “active” layer, and the base. It’s important to find warm hunting clothes that also have the ability to safeguard against the wind.

What is windproof? A garment made of windproof materials is impervious to wind. Fleece is a good example of windproof fabric, but many companies will have their own proprietary version of windproof material. Gobi’s heated hunting hoodie, for example, is made of a lightweight polyester that is resistant to wind and water.

Some hunters may prefer to add a windproof element to their cold weather hunting gear in the form of a hat, instead of a jacket. This can be a great option for keeping your ears and the top of the head warm while you spend a few hours in the elements.

#4. Warm Accessories

If you don’t want to add a windproof hat to your hunting outfit, you can try an accessory with, you guessed it—thermo capabilities. Gobi’s heated beanie will provide a protective layer and an element of heating to your cold weather hunting gear thanks to conductive-thread, two “heat zones” over each ear, and a battery life of 7.5 hours.

But maybe you already have a trusty hat in your hunting kit, in which case, you can add heated socks or gloves to keep your extremities warm while you wait in a blind or tree stand through the coldest parts of the day.

Types of Clothes to Avoid

Just as there are fundamentals when it comes to staying warm (wearing wool, covering ears and the top of the head, etc.) there are also certain materials one should avoid when trying to keep warm while hunting.

#1. Cotton

Garments made predominantly of cotton, for example, are not considered warm clothes for hunting. Why? Because cotton holds onto moisture, drying slowly. Step in a puddle while wearing a cotton sock or get a cotton shirt damp while hunting and those garments will stay cold and damp for a long time. There’s a reason fishermen don’t wear cotton pants to fish in a cold stream. It’s because cotton gets clingy and cold when it gets wet.

#2. Wind-Resistant Accessories

If number two in our list of “things to avoid” has you taking a double take, we understand. Garments with windproofing make some of the warmest clothes for hunting, but the more wind-resistant a material, the more it muffles sound. If you wear a hat made of windproof material like fleece, you may have a hard time hearing your surroundings.

#3. Tight Boots

Another mistake first-time hunters make is purchasing a pair of boots that fit everyday socks. Hunting socks are often made of thick, moisture-wicking wool. Keep this in mind as you choose your boots and maybe even try on your socks with your boots before you wear them on a hunting trip. Clothing that is ill fitting, whether it is too loose or too tight, can actually cause you to get cold more quickly.

In addition to materials and fabrics to avoid, every hunter should avoid colors like beige, black, or green as this can put hunters at risk to other hunters. Staying warm is incredibly important when on the hunt, but it’s equally important to stay safe and keep others safe around you. So next time you head out, make sure to take your Blaze Orange and bundle up in all the appropriate layers.