Best Base Layer for Hunting: the battle against the cold

The best base layer for hunting helps you to fight cold. To face the low temperatures of the harsh winter successfully is, in the end, the difference between resisting a hunting day and being able to enjoy it fully. We must take advantage of the adverse weather we face these days. We want to share a series of concepts, tips, and features about the equipment for the cold. Those will surely help you to overcome the cold days of hunting successfully. So you will be able to face them at the end of the season.

Common misconceptions about the best base layer for hunting

It is challenging to break molds, but despite what most people may think, we accumulate as many garments on our bodies as possible. It will not guarantee an optimal comfort temperature. Not to mention the inevitable limitation of mobility that this entails. Neither is it a guarantee of success to using garments with excessive thermal capacity, high weight, or thick interior fillings.

The best base layer for hunting reduces our freedom of movement and will cause us a high sweat and too little physical activity that we develop. With the inevitable consequence, as our mothers said, “we stay cold.”
But do not think either that our mothers were always right. The conventional cotton “too tight” shirt or the beautiful green plaid shirt, in this same material, with which we prepped to go to our first clothes.
They are the worst possible defense in conditions of intense cold. Cotton cannot expel our body moisture, which should be excluded from any equipment to combat the cold that boasts.

Whenever you go on a hunt, especially among young people, hunters with outer garments very tight to the body are usually seen. We know that they enjoy wearing a size less than they need.
Technical garments trap the heat inside their fabrics and the hot air chambers we create between the different layers of clothing. We will never get proper thermal regulation if we do not leave space for these hot air chambers.

A fundamental principle to use the best base layer for hunting

All equipment designed to protect us from the cold is based on a fundamental principle: to use the right and necessary garments that allow us to regulate thermally well at all times.

That is, we must use the best base layer for hunting to adapt to different temperature changes during the same hunting day—abrupt variations in climate, varying degrees of physical activity, etc.
For this, the most technical manufacturers of the market build their garments based on a principle known colloquially as “the theory of the layers.”
This principle you base on an original superposition of different layers of clothing, which allows putting and removing garments efficiently to adapt to the climatic or physical variants that we can face in the natural environment.
By looking for an analogy that allows us to understand this concept better, we can compare the best base layer for hunting that forms a team to each football team player.
Although each player has a specific assignment within the field, which can make him decisive in different phases of the game, his work will only be helpful if he does it in collaboration with the rest of the players on the team.
best base layer for hunting
In the same way, although each garment of proper hunting equipment has specific characteristics, it will only be helpful if you have designed it, designed and constructed it, and used it in combination with the other garments that make up the equipment.

The different layers of a team to recognize the best base layer for hunting.

First Layer

For the best base layer for hunting, we understand the garments in direct contact with our skin. These garments collect the humidity we generate by transpiration and expel it to the outside.
In this way, our body stays dry at all times. The opposite implies that the residual moisture that remains in contact with the skin gradually cools and drastically reduces our body temperature.
For this to be possible, this type of garments you must construct fabrics with the capacity to absorb and repel moisture without impregnation of the fibers.

Years ago, the most used material that fulfilled this mission was silk. Currently, people impose synthetic polyamides on the market. In any case, cotton is the fabric we always have to avoid for this task.
Although we usually nickname this first layer “thermal clothing,” this is a severe mistake since these garments should never be able to trap our body heat.
Instead, they must allow heat to travel through them to successive layers of clothing and moisture. Therefore it will be counterproductive to look for such thick garments or those constructed with high thermal capacity fabrics.

best base layer for hunting

Another frequent error is that we should only use the best base layer for hunting on the trunk and extremities.
The principal areas (feet, head, and hands) are some of the areas of the body that generate more transpiration. Therefore, coat these areas with the first layer of clothing capable of keeping these areas of the body as dry as possible.

Main characteristics of the garments that make up the best base layer for hunting

  • Must be garments constructed with water-repellent fabrics (usually polyamides).
  • The fabric must have a high elasticity factor so that the garment fits and remains in permanent contact with all areas of the skin.
  • The fabric should be thin, lightweight, and with a satin finish that allows it to slide easily under other clothes.
  • They must not have zips or other finishes that could cause chafing.
  • The seams of the garment must be external to avoid chafing.

Second layer

The second layer of clothing is after the best base layer for hunting. It makes up a team that protects us from the cold and collects the heat that leaves our bodies.
Colloquially, when we talk about coats or garments with a high thermal capacity, we usually say that they “give a lot of heat.” This expression is not exact since garments alone cannot generate heat.

Its function is limited to collecting heat from the body and trapping it between its fibers for as long as possible. In this way, people create a hot air chamber that provides a thermal sensation of heat.
For a thermal garment to be efficient, it must be able to trap the heat released by our body while allowing body moisture (in the form of water vapor) to penetrate the garment without being impregnated in its fibers.
This is complex if we consider that part of the heat these garments must absorb comes from perspiration or sweating that regulates body temperature.

In summary, we could say that this best base layer for hunting absorbs moisture from the skin and the first layer of clothing, extracts the heat inherent in it, and finally expels it to the outside so that our body remains dry at all times.
In the current equipment of the best base layer for hunting, you can divide it into two significant subgroups: T-shirts formed the first group, as sweatshirts or thermal jackets of medium thickness.
Manufactured in water-repellent materials such as wool or carded polyamides, the fibers that make up these fabrics are arranged to leave small gaps between them, where they can accumulate warm air from our bodies.

The main characteristics of the best base layer for hunting

  • Must be garments constructed with water-repellent fabrics (usually polyamides).
  • Its fibers must be interlaced, leaving gaps in its interior where they can accumulate warm air.
  • While inside, they have a soft and rough touch, the exterior must be satin to facilitate sliding under other layers of clothing.
  • Most modern garments have small micro-channels between their inner fibers that can distribute the heat between the different body areas according to their needs.
  • It is common to find garments of this type constructed with different panels of fabric depending on the body of the covering. In this way, you can adapt the properties of the clothing to a specific area of the body according to your needs for insulation, mobility, and breathability.
  • It is advisable to have zippers in the neck area that allow more excellent ventilation.

The thermal jackets are part of the second group of the best base layer for hunting.

The second group comprises jackets or vests with higher thermal capacity and insulation. Like the clothes of the first group, its function is to trap as much heat as possible while expelling moisture to the outside.
But in this case, they also fulfill the second function. The layer should isolate the body from external cold and humidity.
This second function is essential, and to understand it better; we will use as an example the thermal insulation of a house: if we live in a home without proper insulation, the cold will transmit to the house’s interior.

Therefore we will need very powerful heating to achieve a pleasant ambient temperature. However, if the house has adequate insulation, the cold will not be transmitted to the house’s interior.
In this best base layer for hunting, with lower heating consumption, we will get a more pleasant temperature.
Most technical manufacturers build these garments based on a design of parallel partitions of the first polyamide that contains thermal filler inside. That is as if it was a quilt.
Synthetic wool or duck/goose feather formed the hot filling we find inside these garments.
At the same time, this structure ensures a constant and homogeneous distribution of wool throughout the garment. This property is fundamental if we consider that these garments must have a high compression capacity.
That is to say; the hot filling must be compacted as much as possible so that the garment has an ultra-reduced transport volume and can recover its structure and properties when we wear it.

The main characteristics we should look for in the best base layer for hunting.

The exterior and interior polyamide partitions containing the thermal filler must be ultra-fine and have a satin finish. This point allows a good slip on other garments and ensures a good compression capacity for transport.

Using top brands with quality thermal fillers, such as Primaloft or G-Loft, is essential. These wools have a complex elaboration that provides them with unrivaled thermal and insulation capacity.
This garment should have a simple, almost minimalist design to occupy the least possible space under another layer of clothing.
The front zipper should be the entire body. Neck and cuffs have to fit perfectly to the body to prevent loss of body heat.

Third layer

The third layer of clothing is the one in charge of protecting the body from the elements; water, snow, and wind. And also to isolate it from adverse environmental conditions such as cold and humidity.

Since the launch of Gore-Tex and other membranes similar to the market, this is the basis for constructing these garments.
This option, without a doubt, is a fantastic choice for the best base layer for hunting since quality garments that incorporate this type of membrane guarantee maximum protection against water or wind.
But simultaneously, they generate a problem; their transpiration capacity is limited. This fact implies that in those stalks or ascents where the physical effort produces high perspiration, these garments cannot expel all the humidity that the body generates to the outside.
It is then that this residual moisture condenses inside the garment, moistening the inner layers and seeking a drastic decrease in the thermal capacity of the hunter’s equipment.

The current response from most technical manufacturers is called Soft Shell. This construction system allows the creation of garments resistant to wind, rain, and snow while providing maximum transpiration, thermal regulation, and stealth.
This differentiates between Soft Shell garments and others with waterproof membrane type Gore-Tex. This leads to manufacturers dividing the third layer of clothing into two subgroups for the best base layer for hunting.
The first group comprises Soft Shell garments: This is the right choice to be well protected against the elements in 80% of the hunting situations we face.
They block 100% of the wind. Also, they resist without problems. To moderate rainfalls of water or snow, and they will always assure us good perspiration.

The main characteristics we should look for in the best base layer for hunting.

  • Preformed pattern, articulated elbows, and elastic multidirectional fabric for greater freedom of movement.
  • Light and not too bulky for more comfortable transport.
  • Silent and abrasion-resistant exterior fabrics.
  • Exterior finish with Teflon treatments that increase waterproofing.
  • Zippers and airtight and thermo-sealed pockets.
  • Zipper openings in armpits and other areas of the garment to increase ventilation.
  • Cuffs and necks are adjusted to the body’s contours that prevent the loss of body heat.

This layer comprises a second group for the best base layer for hunting.

The second group consists of garments with waterproof membranes type Gore-Tex. As we have seen, these garments offer a degree of impermeability close to 100%. But they also have the handicap of a limited transpiration capacity.
Therefore, higher-quality manufacturers tend to offer garments of this type for more sporadic use, that is, only when you need them.
For this, they use very light fabrics and minimalist designs that give these garments a minimum volume of transport. This way, we can carry the clothing easily and use it only when necessary.

The main characteristics we should look for in the best base layer for hunting.

  • Zippers and seams thermo sealed and waterproof.
  • Maximum lightness and compression capacity for easy transport.
  • Preformed pattern, articulated elbows for greater freedom of movement.
  • Light and not too bulky for more comfortable transport.
  • Exterior finish with Teflon treatments that increase waterproofing.
  • Zipper openings in armpits and other areas of the garment to increase ventilation.
  • Cuffs and necks are adjusted to the body’s contours that prevent the loss of body heat.

Use of the best base layer for hunting in different parts of the body

A team by layers ensures excellent thermal regulation and a high degree of comfort. However, we can make mistakes that can decrease our effectiveness.
One of the most common best base layers for hunting is to use several layers of quality to protect the trunk and upper limbs, while we only use a single layer of dubious quality to cover legs, hands, feet, and head.
The thermoregulation of our body works as a whole, not independently, in each area of our body.

best base layer for hunting

In the same way that when we run, we regulate our temperature by expelling sweat from all the areas of the body, not only the legs; when a part of the body stays cold, it can be because the rest is not well sheltered.
To understand it, we could say “that our feet have been cold because we have not used a good hat.”
This statement seems absurd, but if we take into account that by the head, we can lose 60% of body heat. Moreover, the areas of the body where we previously felt the cold are those whose blood flow is farthest from the heart. We understand that this statement can be true.

Recommendations to protect yourself correctly with the best base layer for hunting

In the case of the lower extremities, we must be clear about how the hunt will proceed: if we are going to remain static or if, on the contrary, we are going to walk for a long time.
If we are going to be static, as in a ride or a wait, it is advisable to use the best base layer for hunting. As many as on the trunk or upper extremities. If, on the contrary, we are going to remain active, as in mountain stalking, we must at least use two of the three possible layers of clothing.
best base layer for hunting
In the case of the feet, it is always advisable to wear three layers of clothes. An ultra-thin polyamide sock, A sock of carded polyamide or wool, and finally, boots with excellent thermal insulation.
In hands and head, we must wear two layers of clothes.

Best base layer for hunting: Characteristics of softshell fabrics

  • They are breathable: they must allow moisture to pass through the first and second layers you can expel, keeping your body dry.
  • The fabrics act as windbreaks thanks to membranes or other tissue properties for the best base layer for hunting.
  • They offer resistance to friction to protect you from branches, thorns, and rocks.
  • This material will protect you from light rain thanks to its hydrophobic treatments or waterproof-breathable membranes.
  • Light in our high mountain hunts. The weight we carry in the long run is noticeable.
  • Silent will be helpful if we like to get close to the maximum when we hunt to stalking and avoid the noise when moving in the field, ruining our cast.
  • Characteristics of waterproof fabrics
  • They will protect you from the rain thanks to the laminated structures. Usually, three layers prevent rain from getting wet, regardless of the storm’s intensity.
  • Also, they are breathable and prevent condensation inside the garment thanks to waterproof-breathable membranes.
  • They are light and take up little space. This is essential since our jackets and pants will always remain in our backpacks.


The best base layer for hunting has been created for the moments when we are going to hunt, and the cold is imminent.
best base layer for hunting
They are ideal for low temperatures with prolonged periods. Also, for sudden drops in temperature in shady areas or at dusk. They have an excellent capacity for thermal insulation thanks to the volume of air in their fill.
Frequently, these layers bring a lot of heat. Therefore, always keep in mind to use them when there is cold to protect your body as you are hunting.