Finding the Best Base Layers for Cold Weather Hunting

top warm base layers for cold weather hunting

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There are a lot of things you need to consider when hunting – temperature is definitely one of them. There are a number of animals that don’t care about the freezing weather outside, so if you go hunting for one of such beasts, like deer, then logically you need to know what to wear when deer hunting in really cold weather, right? When it’s freezing, you’ll need a lot of layers of clothing to stay warm. The most important of these would be the base layer, because it touches your skin. Having a good base layer can help regulate your body heat and keep you focused. This can also help you avoid becoming wet and cold as you sweat. If you’re just starting out and want to know what is the best base layer for hunting, then you’ve come to the right place. After long research we can now bring you our best base layers for cold weather hunting review! Shall we begin?

Top 7 Best Base Layers for Cold Weather Hunting: Comparison Table

Brand Material Size Range
Thermajohn Poly-spandex XS – XXXL
HECS HECS Steelscreen XS – XXXL
Badlands Merino wool M -XXL
romision 92% Polyester, 8% Spandex M – XXL
TSLA 90% Polyester, 10% Spandex XS – XXL
SITKA 96% Polyester, 4% Elastane S – XXXL
MERIWOOL Merino wool S – XXL

What Is a Hunting Base Layer?

When hunting in the cold outdoors, hunters need to layer clothing under their jackets. This will help regulate the heat and keep them warm. Base layers are intended to be worn closest to the body, so they’ll be in contact with your skin at all times. An important thing to consider: when you wear clothing for base layering it’s important to ensure that you’ll be comfortable in your layered clothes. They need to protect you from the elements very well.

Base Layer Types

Base layers for cold weather hunting can come in many types and materials. And each material has its own advantage. Choosing the right one that’s best for your needs can come a long way in keeping you warm and comfortable during your hunts. We’ll be showing you some of the popular options in the market right now with their pros and cons.

Merino Wool Base Layers

This is a favorite among cold weather hunting reviews. And rightfully so – this is easily the best base layer for extreme cold, with many good qualities! It has excellent heat retention while remaining extremely breathable. Merino wool also protects you from UV radiation, has anti-bacterial and anti-odor properties, and is fire-resistant. Not to mention its unmatched softness and comfort! It’s safe to say that this is the warmest base layer for hunting since it’s suitable in cold environments, with temperatures between -30 and -5 °C.


  •     Great heat retention
  •     Soft and comfortable
  •     Natural
  •     Anti-bacterial
  •     UV and fire-resistant


  •     Expensive
  •     Poor moisture retention
  •     Slow-drying
  •     Like any other woolen material, can change size after washing

Synthetic Base Layers

If you’re looking for a durable and lightweight base layer, synthetics materials are a popular choice. It’s widely used for sports and mountaineering clothing, however it’s a great option as a hunting base layer. They are stretchable, resistant to abrasions, easy to wash, and have excellent heat retention for their weight. Keep in mind though, that this is not the best base layer for extreme cold. Synthetics suffer from a lack of breathability, so this makes them only suitable for cool temperatures between -25 to 10 °C.


  •     Durable
  •     Lightweight
  •     Easy to wash and care for


  •     Can cause a lot of sweating due to its moisture retention
  •     Needs regular washing due to inevitable sweat buildup
  •     Some still don’t have smell blocking and rarely have antibacterial properties

Cotton Base Layers

Used in almost all day-to-day clothing, cotton can also be an option for hunting base layers. With its moisture-absorbent and hypoallergenic properties, it makes a breathable and comfortable base layer, perfect for hunting in dry environments. This material is also relatively affordable. The downside to all of this, however, is that cotton retains moisture and sweat which can be uncomfortable and makes it unsuitable in humid or wet environments. Cotton hunting base layers can only be worn for hunting in environments with warm weather as they can easily draw heat away from your body.


  •     Breathable
  •     Hypoallergenic
  •     Absorbs moisture well


  •     Not very durable
  •     Not suitable for cold, humid, or wet environments
  •     Slow-drying
  •     Can change size after washing

Silk Base Layers

These kinds of hunting base layers use a silk-infused synthetic material. This provides unmatched strength and also increases the level of comfort compared to other kinds of synthetics. In addition, silk is also non-allergenic and pleasant to touch. Just like any other synthetic base layer, this is intended for use in environments with temperatures between -25 and 10 °C.


  •     Extremely strong and durable
  •     Has excellent heat management
  •     Will never give you any allergic reactions
  •     Fungi and mold resistant


  •     Expensive
  •     Silk clothes are known to crumple a lot
  •     Moisture can affect its appearance, forming undesirable spots

How to Choose the Best Base Layers for Cold Weather Hunting

Now that you know about the base layers and their different types, you probably consider purchasing one yourself. But it’s not as easy as you think. When you’re choosing the best base layer for your hunting trips there are some really important tips you need to keep in mind:

Fabric Weight and Durability

The weight of the fabric determines how thick the base layer is and how well it can keep you warm. Manufacturers often use fabric density to specify the weight of their base layers, measured in g/m2. Pay attention to the weight, since the best base layers for cold hunting will be heavy. The heavier the layer the warmer it will be. Not to mention – more durable. 

Another thing to remember – choose a hunting base layer that suits the temperature of the area you will be hunting:

Classification Fabric density (in g/m2) Suitable conditions
Featherweight 120-140 Hot temperatures
Lightweight 140-180 Warm temperatures
Middleweight 200-240 Cool temperatures
Light heavyweight 250-280 Cold temperatures
Heavyweight 320-400 Freezing temperatures

Comfort and Warmth

If you want to hunt for longer periods, then you need to be warm and comfortable. For that choose a base layer with good insulation – this will help you stay in the cold for longer. Always make sure that the hunting base layer is comfortable, and allows free movement. Lastly, you should always make sure that the layer suits your hunting environment.

Antimicrobial Features and Scent Control

Since hunting is a physical activity, sweating will be inevitable. With all that layered clothing on your body, your sweat won’t be going anywhere which gives odor-causing bacteria and other microbes a place to proliferate. Because of that, you might start to smell bad which not only feels unhygienic but can also alert your game once you get close.

So if you tend to do a lot of intense activities, go for the layers made from materials that are naturally antimicrobial such as X-static nylon thread, a synthetic material coated with a layer of silver or Merino wool.

Heat and Moisture Control

The best base layer for cold weather hunting must keep you warm, but not not. Clothing cannot generate heat to warm you up, but your body does. Your clothing traps this body heat to keep you warm. However, when you sweat, both heat and sweat are trapped. And this can be really uncomfortable! 

To address this problem, your hunting base layer needs to be able to absorb that sweat and keep the heat, while still being able to keep dry. This is the main principle behind breathability which is something your base layer should always have.

Aside from this, heat control is also affected by how tight your base layer is. A base layer should be tight if you hunt in a warm environment and need cooling.

Cleaning and Maintenance

The ability to easily clean and maintain your hunting base layer is important. Typically, the more expensive it is, the easier it is to clean. Always look for base layers that are fast-drying and stain-resistant. Antimicrobial resistance is also a factor as layers with this feature tend to be easy to clean and care for.

Hunting in Cold Weather: Essential Tips

When hunting in extreme weather, you need to be physically prepared with all the necessary gear and clothing to protect you from the elements. You also have to be mentally prepared with knowledge and tips to keep safe outdoors. Here are some tips to help you stay safe during your cold-weather hunting trips:

Prepare for the Unexpected

When you’re hunting, accidents and mishaps can happen. You really wouldn’t know when or where something bad will happen until it’s too late. But, it can help if you are prepared. Be sure to pack a survival kit on your hunts. It’s also best to bring a warming blanket with bright colors in case you get stuck and need to catch someone’s attention to call for help.

Tell Someone Else Where You’re Hunting

This may seem a bit obvious, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Always tell a loved one or someone you trust where you will be hunting and around what time you plan to return. They will be able to contact you, call for help, or search for you in the case that you haven’t gotten back when you were supposed to.

Dress Warmer Than Required

The cold weather can be unpredictable at times. It’s always best to dress warmer, to make sure that you stay safe and avoid the risk of hypothermia. This will be incredibly helpful especially when you unexpectedly encounter heavy rain or snow. If you don’t want to dress warmer, you can always pack those extra clothes in your bag until they are needed.

Keep Moving

When in the cold outdoors, it’s always a good idea to keep moving, to stay warm. Your clothes can’t do that –  they only trap heat, not generate it. Try not to stay stationary for too long – flex and move your limbs. This will also help your brain keep focused on the hunt, and not get distracted by the extreme cold of your environment.

Best Base Layers for Cold Weather Hunting – Conclusion

And that’s all! We browsed through a lot of information to bring you our own, best base layers for cold weather hunting 2023 review! Hopefully, it will help you make an informed decision about choosing the best layer hunting clothes. Keeping warm in the cold outdoors during your hunts is extremely important. Keep these tips in mind and you can better ensure your safety, comfort, and enjoyment during the activity. Happy hunting!