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Hunting is a sport and, like any sport, it requires specialized equipment. This special equipment includes clothing. But selecting the right clothes can be confusing.
You have to figure out which style and camouflage pattern to use for hunting, and you also need to choose suitable materials. With all the options available, it cannot be easy to figure out the best material for hunting clothes.
There was a time when hunting clothes did not exist, at least not how we think about them today. Sportsmen would buy a sturdy pair of hunting boots, a warm coat, gloves & hat, and heavy-duty denim or canvas pants. They would wear the same outfit whether they hunted deer, elk, bears, or rabbits. Other than adding some thermals for colder weather or waders for waterfowl, the outfit remained the same.
So what material is considered the best for hunting clothes? Wool. More specifically, Merino Wool.
Some of you are probably thinking, "Wool? I can't wear that all day. It's too itchy and heavy for hunting clothes". That might be true with traditional wool, but Merino Wool is different. It is a lightweight version of wool, far less likely to irritate. Still, it possesses all the benefits hunters are looking for.
Merino Wool provides a natural material that is one of nature's best insulators, naturally repels waters, and, if it does get wet, retains its insulating properties. Plus, it is very pliable and can be cleaned in the standard washing machine—no need for dry cleaning.
Wool can meet all your hunting needs. Regardless of the season, species, or conditions faced. Most outdoorsmen know about wool jackets, trousers, socks, gloves, and headgear. But did you know there are also wool base layers, vests, and hoodies available?
Merino Wool is the standard bearer for hunting clothing brands. All the materials that have followed are trying to recreate an option that does what nature has already accomplished thru wool.
There are dozens of wool alternatives and new options each season, but three standouts. Gore-Tex, Thinsulate, and Scentlock. These three materials are among the most popular materials because they are standouts individually and when combined with other materials – including each other. Furthermore, they are found in some of the more popular brands such as KUIU, Sitka, First Lite, etc.
Gore-Tex was first introduced in 1978 and is waterproof, windproof, and breathable. It offers the protection of rubber or oiled canvas with a longer life, more flexibility, less need for long-term care, and the ability to let moisture out without letting water in.
Thinsulate by 3M is a lightweight insulator that can be layered to provide additional insulation. Unlike many other materials, the level of protection can be controlled by the number of layers applied. Thinsulate is also breathable, lightweight, flexible, moisture resistant, and easy to care for. It is now used to provide insulation in a wide range of products, including gloves, boots, outerwear, and base layers.
Scentlok is the newest of the three materials but is one of the most popular among hunters due to its ability to eliminate human scent. Through a combination of enzymes, cyclodextrin, and antimicrobials, Scentlok traps human odor, keeping the wearer virtually undetectable by wild game. Like Gore-Tex and Thinsulate, Scentlok is often combined with other materials to protect from wind, temperature, and rain.
If you wear anything other than Merino Wool, one of these three materials is included in its construction.
Many other materials are used in the construction of hunting clothes, and each has advantages. Some of these options may also meet your needs depending on when, where, and what you are pursuing.
Neoprene is designed to provide waterproofing and, in some applications, floatation. When combined with Thinsulate, it can also provide insulation. Neoprene is not a suitable material for general hunting clothing. However, it is prevalent in clothing used by waterfowl hunters. Gloves, waders, and diving suits are the most common products manufactured using neoprene.
Down, the underlayer of feathers from geese and similar waterfowl provides excellent insulating properties. It is also very lightweight. However, it requires special care and must be sewn into a durable outer shell. Many down products also need special care and cannot be laundered at home. Although still very popular with ski enthusiasts, hunters no longer favor down.
Polar Fleece is a synthetic material that replicates natural fleece or wool. Although it is not 100 percent as influential as natural wool, it is a comparable replacement. With qualities similar to wool at a lower price, polar fleece allows hunters to save money while still obtaining a quality product.
Polypropylene is a synthetic textile developed using natural gas and oil by-products. The result is a lightweight material that is stain resistant and suitable for a wide range of applications.
Polypropylene is a trendy choice in the manufacturing of base layers and compression layers. Polypropylene is often used to construct jackets, trousers, gloves, and headwear when combined with additional materials.
Cotton is one of the most commonly used textiles, so it should come as no surprise it is also used in the manufacturing of hunting clothes. Almost any piece of hunting gear you may desire can be made using cotton. However, despite its popularity, it is likely the least effective.
Cotton provides less insulation, especially when wet, than other options. Cotton also does not repeal water or block wind and is one of the heaviest materials on our list. Its only redeeming qualities are low cost and durability. Most experts recommend avoiding cotton hunting clothes.
Merino Wool is, without a doubt, our recommendation for the best material for hunting clothes. There are also several materials, many of which are attempts to replica wool, that provide equal protection, often at a lower cost.
Although these alternate materials may be nearly as good as wool, especially when combined in the correct blends, it is almost impossible to beat Mother Nature.
For a blog about the Best Material For Hunting Boots check it out!