On a winter deer hunt, what you wear is as important as what you shoot. No matter how fast your bow or accurate your rifle, neither will do you any good if you’re shivering too much to hunt.
The key, then, is to get the best cold-weather clothing you can afford. And the first thing to consider is fabrics, because these largely define performance and price. Here’s a rundown:
Cotton Long the choice of bargain seekers, cotton has always had a major flaw: It doesn’t insulate when wet. Today, however, some cotton outfits address that problem with water-resistant treatments or high-tech insulation. It still isn’t a great choice for extended hunts involving bad weather, but it can do a fine job on cold days with little or no precipitation. And it continues to be the most affordable fabric.
Wool One of the oldest options remains one of the best. Wool is naturally water-resistant. It wicks away perspiration and doesn’t easily retain odors. It’s also tough as nails and wonderfully warm. And some of today’s best wool outfits are washable, come in camo, and feature totally waterproof liners. These garments are an investment, but your dollars will likely be as well spent as those you laid down for your rifle.
Miracle Fibers No doubt, the biggest recent improvements have been made in short-nap polyester fabrics, often referred to as “miracle fibers”-and for good reason. Makers of these lightweight, whisper-quiet materials have paired their technologies with the likes of Gore-Tex, Windstopper, and Scent-Lok to make late-season outerwear that’s totally waterproof, as or nearly as warm as wool, and more scent-controlling than ever. Many such outfits are available as systems that offer zip-in vests and underjackets that let you add and subtract layers according to weather conditions.
**1. Cabela’s Late Season Coveralls ** (800-237-4444; www.cabelas.com)
Outer Fabric: Cotton-polyester blend Insulation: 200-gram Thinsulate LiteLoft Price: $150 Comments: With waist-high leg zippers, this hooded coverall goes on easily over boots. The Thinsulate LiteLoft boasts insulating properties similar to that of down but works even when wet.
2. Pendleton Outfitter’s Parka and Bibs (available exclusively from Cabela’s)
Outer Fabric: 100 percent virgin wool Optional Liner: Waterproof Dry-Plus Price: $140Â¿Â¿Â¿$170 for parka; $160Â¿Â¿Â¿$190 for bibs Comments: All the advantages of quality wool plus the option of a built-in waterproof liner makes this washable outfit well suited for the worst weather.
**3. King of the Mountain Standmaster Jacket ** System and Bibs (970-962-9306; www.kingofthemountain.com)
Outer Fabric: 100 percent washable wool with Omnitherm Liner Jacket: Polyfleece with Omnitherm Price: $690 for jacket system; $585 for bibs Comments: This outfit is second to none-as warm, quiet, and rugged as it gets.
**4. Arctic Shield H1 Jacket and Bibs ** (877-974-4353; www.arcticshield.com)
Outer Fabric: Microdenier brushed polyester with weatherproof laminate Insulation: Retain Liner Price: $130 for jacket; $100 for bibs Comments: Hunters have NASA to thank for Retain technology, which Artic Shield has incorporated into a lightweight liner that captures and returns over 90 percent of your body heat.
5. Browning Hydro-Fleece Pro Series 4-in-1 Parka and Insulated Bibs (800-333-3288; www.browning.com)
Outer Fabric: Hydro-Fleece with Gore-Tex laminate; Supprescent liner available Insulation: Thermolite, with zip-out liner Price: $300Â¿Â¿Â¿$350 for parka; $200Â¿Â¿Â¿$230 for bibs Comments: Perhaps the most tested (and proven) of the miracle fibers, Hydro-Fleece is quiet, warm but not bulky, and waterproof, with the option of a scent-control liner.
6. Mossy Oak APX Series Pinnacle Parka and Pants (662-494-8859; www.mossyoak.com)
Outer Fabric: Ripstop polyester with Torrent APX laminate and mesh lining Insulation: Removable camo fleece liner Price: $250 for parka; $120 for pants Comments: Mossy Oak enters the world of weatherproof clothing with a waterproof, windproof, and breathable combo designed to keep you hunting regardless of conditions.