Layer, Layer, Layer
By Mark Campagnola
Any time you hunt from October through March there is always a high possibility for bad weather. Even towards the end of September you are running the chance of dealing with some really nasty elements. The last time I hunted elk with a gun (1976) we had above normal temperatures the first few days of the hunt and then a snow storm came in overnight dumping almost 2 feet of snow followed by some very frigid temperatures. The storm was bad enough that my brother Gene and I had to walk the horses out instead of riding them because the danger of one slipping and going down with you on top was very high. With that said, what type of clothing do you need for a late season hunt?
It wasn't too long ago that wearing big, bulky clothing was the norm. However, the days of walking around like the Michelin Man are over. The technology of today’s clothing allows you to layer like many years ago but with less bulk, less weight, and less sweat. When you hike you sweat, the more you perspire the wetter your clothes become and the colder you will be when you stop for any length of time. Plus your chances for getting hyperthermia are heightened. This is where the layering effect comes in handy.
The most important piece is choosing the correct base layer. Base layers are the first piece of clothing you put on. The are supposed to be light weight, breathable, and moisture wicking for your comfort. Base layers come in a multitude of choices, from cool early fall weather down to very cold extreme 20 below zero weather. Bass Pro/Red Head has two different types of base layers, first is their Endura Skin and second is the Red Head XPS Premium Base Layers.
The Red Head Endura Skin has two types of All Season Performance Base Layers. Relaxed Fit and Compression Fit, both have Anti-Odor Technology (AXE) and 4-way stretch fabric that is form fitting, comfortable, and wicks moisture away as you sweat.
The Red Head XPS Premium Base Layers have the whole gamut of base layers you would ever need for any type of hunting you could come up with. From those cool crisp fall mornings to the middle of winter when it could be 30 below, Red Head XPS Premium Base Layers have you covered with four different styles? From the Base Layer 1.0, Midweight 2.0, Expedition Weight 3.0, and the High –Loft XTREAM 4.0 All four have the new X-Odor for anti-odor protection.
Everyone is different when it comes to what type of base layer that works the best for different situations. If my son and I were on a goose hunt and were sitting in a pit blind I may use the Expedition Weight 3.0 and my son might use the Mid-weight 2.0 because he has a higher metabolism and doesn’t need that little extra added warmth. If you do a lot of cold weather hunting, try these base layers out. You might find out what you have been missing out on for so long.
Now that I have the right base layer on for the weather conditions I’ll put my HECS Stealthsceen top and bottom on over my base layer and then a True Fit T-Shirt and then my Silent-Hide pants and Silent-Hide button up shirt. From here I wear a fleece vest under my Silent-Hide hooded sweatshirt jacket. With this layering and a good pair of boots and gloves I can hunt in below freezing weather all day.
So this is all well and good you say, but what about while your out and the weather starts getting worse, the wind starts blowing harder, the temperature starts dropping, then what? This is why I always carry a day pack when I’m out. When I’m in this possible situation I always have one of two sets of rain gear with me. The first set I carry all the time is the Red Head Stretch Rainwear. This rain gear, pants and coat, packs down to a size that’s a little bit bigger than a softball each and takes up very little room in my pack. Stretch Rainwear is not insulated to help with the colder temps but it is wind proof so it will keep the wind chill factor down. My other set of rain gear is the Squaltex bibs and coat which is insulated, water proof, and wind proof, but it doesn’t pack down as small as my Stretch Rainwear does. With the right base layer and the rest of my layering system on plus adding my Squaltex rain gear I can stay out in some pretty nasty weather for a long time.
The above is how I layer for most hunts, but, when I know the weather will be below zero with the wind and/or snow or just flat out cold I break out my Red Head 200 gram Thermolite insulated parka and my 150 gram Thermolite insulated bibs, both are wind and water proof. I still keep my Stretch Rainwear in my pack along with an extra pair of gloves, hat for my ears and a full face mask to cover my whole head and face down past my neck line.
I’ve been out where the ambient temperature was 5 degrees with a steady wind of 8 mph and wind gusts over 35 mph giving us wind chills between 20 and 25 degrees below zero. I was able to record all this with my Brunton ADC Summit, and with the way I layered, I was able to stay out about six hours and not get cold, plus I had the mobility to move around without any problem. On this trip I wore all the above plus my Red Head 16”Ultra Hunter side-zip boots with 1200 grams of Thinsulate. The gloves I wore were the Red Head Insulated Hunter Glove with 70 grams of Thinsulate. Without any of the above there was no way I could have stayed out any longer then maybe a half hour.
Hunt Hard & Shoot Straight