By Everett Headley
There is a hunting gear evolution happening that we can all benefit from. If you follow Gary Larson’s Farr Side, you know we started as mammoth hunters in loincloths. Thankfully, we didn’t remain there, and mountain men like Bridger and Beckwourth were rampant in their buckskins. Just a few generations ago, heavy wool, in forest green or red buffalo check, was cutting edge.
Today’s gear uses the latest technologies and benefits from outside sources like NASA’s space program. Advancements and features add new choices to product lines every year. Technical hunting clothes are an investment that will provide you with many seasons of service. Refining your equipment after a hunt helps you to perform better next time you're out in the field.
With so many options, choosing the right hunting gear can feel overwhelming. These are my suggestions for what to consider when adding to your kit.
Table of Contents
Look For Versatile Hunting Gear
I look for ways that the same pieces can serve two or three purposes. There may be a slight performance sacrifice, but the saved space and weight make it a worthy trade.
The AllClima Soft Shell Jacket excels as an all-weather outer layer and replaces the need to carry a jacket, rain gear, and another insulating layer. The underarm vents help to control and regulate your body's temperature in warmer weather.
Around 90% of my kit goes on every hunt, and I tailor which items are added and subtracted based on the pursuit. Gear that pulls double duty must be rugged and resilient.
Learn From Others' Experiences
When I encounter a new brand, I ask them, “How do you use it?” The field experience can often be very different from how an item is advertised. Reading online reviews from those who've tested gear to its limits also builds my confidence that it will perform equally well for me.
On a spring snow goose hunt last year, the last day of hunting presented us with blinding driven snow and 20 MPH winds. It was nearly impossible to see anything in the snow and even more difficult to stay warm. Sitting in the A-frame blind, everyone was cold—except me.
Wearing my Thermoneutral Down Jacket and Pants under my AllClima Soft Shell meant I didn’t feel the cold's sharpness. That’s part of the reason those two pieces are on the top of my must-have FORLOH cold weather hunting gear list. Don’t be afraid to ask a salesperson (IRL or online) if they have worn something and how it worked for them.
Build Your Kit Over Time
Budgets matter, but you can complete your kit by shopping for gear over several purchases. Focus on what you’ll use immediately for the next hunt and then prioritize future hunts by what's coming up next.
As gear wears and needs to be replaced, opt to fill in your line then. FORLOH gear is built on our tri-layer system and each piece works in tandem. The Method and One packs have been developed as an ecosystem where frames, bags, and accessories all interchangeable. You can customize and add to your hunting pack system over time, instead of all at once.
Think Beyond The Gear's Intended Purpose
Manufacturers usually develop gear that's intended for specific climates and activities, but many times what works well for you may be entirely different. If you tend to run warm, lightweight pants or jackets can often substitute for heavier ones.
You'll also find that you can wear your hunting gear for lots of other activities. The SolAir Technical Hoodie is so comfortable, I wear it as leisure wear around the house. Just be careful that you don’t expect an item to perform beyond the manufacturer’s recommendations; use your judgment and experience to make sure your gear is the best fit for your purposes.
Remember That Quality Matters
Perhaps more than with any other endeavor, lives depend on quality hunting gear. If it fails, dangerous situations can quickly become lethal. I depend on my gear to last several seasons and if it doesn’t, I quickly replace it.
FORLOH backs all of our gear with a lifetime warranty. We stand behind our gear and the sportsmen and women that wear it. That's why all of our rain gear is made with the highest breathability and waterproof ratings. Peace of mind comes with knowing that no matter what, FORLOH gear won’t disappoint.
About the Author: Everett Headley is an outdoor writer and educator. He was raised hunting and fishing in Montana. He lives in the Bitterroot with his Chesapeake Bay retriever, Cane, and his peregrine falcon, Freyja. You can find more of his work on his website, on Instagram @everettheadley, and his podcast Elevate The Hunt.