Performance Hunting Apparel

Performance Hunting Apparel

Hanback, Michael

Technological advances in hunting apparel now occur at warp speed. If you ask me it’s about time. More and more garments are available each year with the fine Windstopper fabric, which blocks a bitter north breeze to keep you warm. Rainwear with Gore-Tex or Dry-Plus is quieter and more breathable than ever before. Scent-Lok and Scent Blocker camo keep getting thinner and softer.

The evolution continues with the introduction of Under Armour (UA) for hunters. You’ve probably seen NFL players wearing skin-tight red, white, or blue under-shirts and hoods in cold, nasty weather, say in Buffalo or New England. The UA outdoor line is the same performance athletic wear adapted for the woods in black, olive, and brown.

Cold Gear

My boys (ages 11 and 14) have worn UA for years on soccer fields and snowboard slopes. The garments keep them dry and warm and just as importantly have the necessaiy “cool factor.” “Dad, this stuff is awesome,” my son, clay, told me. “You need to try it.” So I jumped at the chance to be one of the first writers to test the new outdoor line. I wanted to see if this hot stuff was the real deal.

Last fall I wore a UA mock turtle, hood, and leggings on whitetail hunts from Nebraska to Virginia to Alabama. For clays I hiked around, scouted, hung tree stands, pulled them, and built blinds. I sat for hours in temps that ranged from 10 below (wind chill) to the single digits to the 40s. Some days it rained, sleeted, or snowed. I’ll say this: It’s time you and your buds tossed your cotton and polypropylene long Johns in the campfire. UA is the best base layer I’ve worn to date for staying dry and warm in a variety of climates and conditions. I only wish I’d had it on all those cold, wet hunts I’ve taken across North America in the last 20 years.

Cold Gear undershirts and leggings are a double-sided weave of nylon, polyester, and Elastane. The garments slide over your body like a second skin for an airtight layer of insulation. While the gear is great for any type of cold-weather hunting, it shines in go-and-stop activities-climbing a mountain and then sitting and glassing; still-hunting elk in rough country; or wrestling with a tree stand and then climbing up to hunt deer, On any of the “go” parts you’ll sweat. But by the time you stop to hunt you’ll be dry, warm, and comfortable. The micro-fiber fabrics wick sweat away from your skin to the outer layer of the garment. Another huge advantage: The base layers are thin, supple, and lightweight, allowing you to move freely and smoothly.

You should have a system. Start with a pair of sweat-wicking UA briefs or boxers, add a Cold Gear mock turtle and leggings, and top those with an outer layer of high-tech fleece (Scent-Lok or Scent Blocker Plus if you’re deer hunting). Add another coat or rainwear as needed. I really believe you’ll stay drier and warmer than ever before.

A very cool three-position hood rounds out the system. Wear it over your ears with your face open; pull up the flap for a half-mask; or pull it down and use it an a neck gaiter. The only things missing are UA liner gloves and socks. Perhaps these will be on the drawing board soon as hunting apparel continues to evolve.

Heat Gear

You don’t have to wail for late fall or winter to wear UA. The company’s Heat Gear is fine for turkey hunting or summer varminting. Also, try these ultra-thin, lightweight garments if you’ll climb a sheep mountain in August or hunt antelope, elk, deer, or birds in September or early October.

These T-shirts and leggings are also weaved from a micro-fiber blend that wicks moisture away from your skin. Wear the garments under your lightweight camouflage clothes. As they wick the sweat, you’ll stay dty, cool, comfortable, and hunting on all cylinders in warm weather. As I see it, these compression-fit garments have other advantages. They form a protective barrier against ticks and other pests. Also, unlike cotton, they don’t hold human odor.

Loose Gear shirts with a full, generous cut are also available for warm-weather hunting. I’ve a hunch these olive or brown tees will be a hit with guys over 40. They look and feel great, and you can wear them alone for clays, dove shooting, and the like.

Look Who’s Wearing It

Many professional and collegiate athletes love UA apparel. The U.S. Ski team wears Cold Gear. Millions of weekend warriors young and old sport the compression garments on hall fields and slopes across America.

Did you know the performance gear is also a favorite of our troops fighting the war against terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other spots around the globe? They like it because they can wear it for days or weeks at a time and stay dry and relatively comfortable in all sorts of brutal conditions. If UA is good enough for these heroes it will certainly work well for you, no matter your game and where you hunt it.

Look fur Under Armour outdoor apparel in sporting goods stores across lhe country. For more information or to find a dealer near you, go to or call 888-4-ARMOUR.

Copyright National Rifle Association of America Aug 2004

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