Best Base Layer for Hunting: the battle against the cold

The best base layer for hunting helps you to fight with cold. To face the low temperatures of the harsh winter successfully is, in the end, the difference between resisting a hunting day or being able to enjoy it fully.

We have to take advantage of the adverse weather that we face these days. We would like to share with you a series of concepts, tips and features about the equipment for the cold. Those will surely help you to successfully overcome the cold days of hunting. So you will be able to face them at this end of the season.

Common misconceptions about the best base layer for hunting

It is difficult to break molds, but despite what most people may think, accumulate as many garments on our bodies as we can. 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 use garments with excessive thermal capacity, high weight or thick interior fillings.

The best base layer for hunting reduces our freedom of movement, will cause us a high sweat too little physical activity that we develop. With the inevitable consequence, as our mothers said, that “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 is unable to expel our body moisture, which should be excluded from any equipment to combat the cold that boasts.

Whenever you go to a hunt, it is usual especially among young people, to see hunters with outer garments very tight to the body. We know that they seem to enjoy wearing a size less than they need.

Technical garments not only trap the heat inside their fabrics but also in the hot air chambers that we created between the different layers of clothing. If we do not leave space for these hot air chambers, we will never get proper thermal regulation.

A fundamental principle to use the best base layer for hunting

Currently, all equipment designed to protect us from the cold that we base on a fundamental principle: to use at all times the right and necessary garments that allow us to regulate thermally well all times.

That is, we must use the best base layer for hunting that allows us 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 easily 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 better understands this concept, we can compare the different best base layer for hunting that forms a team to each of the players of a football team.

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 useful 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 useful if you have designed it, designed and constructed you use in combination with the rest of the 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 set of garments that are in direct contact with our skin. These garments fulfill the function of collecting the humidity that we generate by transpiration and expelling 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 in 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, the fabric that we always have to avoid for this task is cotton.

Although we usually nickname this first layer as “thermal clothing,” this is a serious mistake, since these garments should never have the capacity to trap our body heat.

Instead, they must allow heat to travel through them to successive layers of clothing as well as 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. It is, therefore, necessary to 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 designed to protect from the cold, is responsible for collecting the heat that leaves our body.

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 inside 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.

Something complex if we take into account that part of the heat that 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 large subgroups: T-shirts formed the first group, also 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 in such a way that they leave small gaps between them, where they can accumulate warm air from our body.

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.
  • The most modern garments have small micro-channels between their inner fibers with the capacity to distribute the heat between the different areas of the body 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, breathability.
  • It is advisable to have zippers in the neck area that allow greater ventilation.

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

The second group consists of 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 especially important 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 interior of the house.

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 interior of the house.

In this best base layer for hunting with lower consumption of heating, we will get a more pleasant temperature.

The most technical manufacturers build these garments based on a design of parallel partitions of the first polyamide that contain thermal filler inside. That is as if it was a quilt.

Synthetic wool or duck/goose feather formed the hot filling that 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 especially important if we take into account that these garments must have a high compression capacity.

That is to say; the hot filling must be able to be compacted as much as possible so that the garment has an ultra-reduced transport volume, at the same time that it can recover its structure and properties when we wear it.

The main characteristics of we should look for 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 also ensures a good compression capacity for transport.

It is essential to use top brands with quality thermal fillers such as Primaloft or G-Loft. These wools have a complex elaboration that provides them with unrivaled thermal and insulation capacity.

This type of garments should have a simple design, almost minimalist so that they occupy the least possible space under another layer of clothing.

It is advisable that the front zipper be full 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, 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 on which you can construct these types of 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 at the same time, 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 are not able to expel to the outside all the humidity that the body generates.

It is then when 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 the most technical manufacturers is called Soft Shell. This construction system allows creating garments resistant to wind, rain, and snow; at the same time, they provide maximum transpiration, thermal regulation, and stealth.

This differentiate between Soft Shell garments and others with waterproof membrane type Gore-Tex. Leads to that again manufacturers divide the third layer of clothing into two subgroups for the best base layer for hunting.

The first group is composed of Soft Shell garments: This is the right choice to be well protected against the elements in 80% of the hunting situations that we can face.

They block 100% the wind. Also, they resist without problems. To moderate rainfalls of water or snow, and they will always assure us adequate perspiration.

The main characteristics of we should look for 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 adjusted to the contours of the body that prevent the loss of body heat.

This layer is made up of 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 types of 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. In this way, we can carry the clothing easily and use it only when strictly necessary.

The main characteristics of we should look for 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 adjusted to the contours of the body that prevent the loss of body heat.

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

It is clear that a team by layers ensures an excellent thermal regulation and a high degree of comfort. However, we can make mistakes when using it that can decrease its 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 protect 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 expelling sweat for all the areas of the body, not only for 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 a 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 use 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, the minimum we must use two layers of clothes.

Best base layer for hunting: Characteristics of softshell fabrics

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

Conclusion

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 of time. 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 so that you can protect your body as you are hunting.

Magdalena Morales
 

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