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Winter is a fine time for hunting, with snow to highlight tracks and make blending in a breeze. For some games, it’s the only time advisable.
As enjoyable as it is, though, winter hunting means combining preparations for two demanding outdoor conditions. The chilly conditions and the challenges of hunting conditions both need to be addressed before you are ready to go.
The generally accepted method for dealing with this weather is to dress in layers, wearing several garments on both the upper and lower body. This allows the hunter to add or remove clothing as necessary to modulate their body heat and perspiration.
Outer layers tend to be bulky and focus on insulation and storage capacity. Inner clothing will be tighter fitting and aerated, engineered to wick moisture and dry quickly.
Here are five of the best base layers to wear when going hunting in the cold. Although recommended for hunting, other winter sports may find these useful as well. For example, skiing or snowshoeing enthusiasts face many challenges similar to hunters, so they can prepare in a similar fashion.
Our Best Best Base Layer For Cold Weather Hunting Reviews and Comparisons
1. Smartwool Men’s NTS
This shirt makes an exceptional base layer thanks to 100% wool content and a seam layout that eliminates the risk of chafing.
Made of Merino wool in Vietnam
Shoulder panels mean no top seam
Breathable enough to be worn indoors as well
What We Like About Smartwool Men’s NTS
This shirt eliminates chafing, among the most serious problems for those dressing for an extended stay outdoors.
What We Don’t Like About Smartwool Men’s NTS
Wool threads are not as resilient as synthetic and can fray after only a few months of relatively gentle use.
Excellent seam construction
Controls perspiration easily
Wool can fray quickly
Exceptional insulation action can lead to overheating
2. Icebreaker Oasis
Made to be naturally odor-resistant, this shirt can keep you feeling fresh for longer outdoor adventures
Seams are positioned to avoid pack rub
Weighs 200 grams
Useable in a range of temperatures
What We Like About Icebreaker Oasis
Antibacterial qualities introduced during the manufacturing process keep this shirt fresh during long stalks or campouts.
What We Don’t Like About Icebreaker Oasis
This garment is so closely fitted that it can be hard to judge what size you need, especially if shopping online
Flat locked seams avoid chafing
Offset shoulder seams
Neutralizes body odor
Durable in the wash
Sizes can be hard to judge correctly
Nearly double the cost of similar products
3. Ibex Woolies
This shirt is a blend of natural and synthetic fibers that has won accolades from many professional wilderness guides for comfort and durability.
Roughly 15% synthetic
No tag for the label
Ribbed for comfort and fit
What We Like About Ibex Woolies
With flat-locked seams and a tagless label, this shirt takes even the minor details into account for your comfort.
What We Don’t Like About Ibex Woolie
Due to its synthetic elements, this shirt does not repel moisture quite as well as other options.
Ribbed and fitted
Machine washable for easy maintenance
Slim fit prevents bunching
Inferior moisture control
Wool scratches more than similar products
4. First Lite Chama
This shirt breaks away from the trend of skin-tight base layers to give the wearer a little more breathing space and flexibility.
Loose fit to accommodate multiple body forms
100% Merino wool
18.5 micron yarn
Knit is useable in casual situations as well
What We Like About First Lite Chama
This base layer’s relaxed shape and construction make it as comfortable and stylish to wear as an ordinary T-shirt.
What We Don’t Like About First Lite Chama
This is somewhat bulkier than most base layers and can become bunched up under an outer coat if you are not careful.
Useable as a casual shirt
Loose fit is more forgiving of body shape
Heavier than similar shirts
Wool fabric does not wick moisture well
5. Helly Hansen HH Dry Stripe
A base layer for the hunter on a budget, this shirt does everything you like in a base layer for less.
Loose and breathable fit
Exceptional moisture control
What We Like About Helly Hansen HH Dry Stripe
This base layer is all about perspiration, wicking sweat away from your skin and drying out again with impressive speed.
What We Don’t Like About Helly Hansen HH Dry Stripe
The fully synthetic material used in this shirt can deform more easily than wool and are more likely to cause skin irritation from overextended stays outdoors.
Fits many body shapes
Durable compared to wool
Good moisture control
Lighter than similar shirts
Can bunch up under an outer layer
Synthetic composition is more likely to irritate the user tha natural wool
The base layer is more important than it might seem. After all, with the larger and tougher hunting greatcoats that many opt for, what use is such a thin garment?
In reality, the base layer can be the single thing to wear in warm weather or to keep troublesome perspiration at bay under a larger coat. Many of these shirts are so warm and well fitted that they can be worn casually as well, like an ordinary T-shirt.
Considering all the sporting applications available nowadays, these shirts are truly the all-purpose choice for the winter months.