Best base layer for tough physical hunting

Discussion in 'Backpack Hunting' started by mcseal2, Sep 15, 2010.

  1. mcseal2

    mcseal2 Well-Known Member

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    I have been experimenting with different base layers for a hunt in the mountains of Wyoming a month from now. I tend to be hot-blooded and will sweat plenty when walking hard uphill. The place we hunt involves a walk of several miles and gaining quite a bit of elevation to get to where we glass at daylight. I always end up drenched by the time we get walked in, and then I have to dry off before putting on extra layers to glass. I haven't experimented yet with the new moisture wicking base layers and wanted to see what worked for others before dropping $20-40 per pair for tops. I want something I can wear under a long sleeved shirt walking in that won't cook me, and later I can add my jacket and down vest for warmth. Color wouldn't matter as it would be covered. I also carry a heavy polypropylene turtleneck in my pack in case I get cold, but haven't yet needed it.
     
  2. the hunt guy

    the hunt guy Well-Known Member

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    Well you may want to consider bringing along another long underwear top to change into when you get to your spot. But then again, you know that you would inevitably have that trophy animal run by, as you're changing, and be gone before you could get a shot off.

    Here are some tips. Cotton is bad. It soaks up moisture and holds it like a sponge. Avoid it if possible. Some long underwear that are cotton/poly blends are ok.

    Polypropylene is basically a synthetic polyester and is good at wicking moisture away from the body.

    Wool is also a good choice as it wicks very well too. And don't be mislead in thinking that having wool on is only for keeping warm. There are some brands that make all wool garments that will, in fact, help keep you cool. Also, the newer wool garments, socks included, are not itchy. If it is merino wool, it should be pretty soft. If it's extra virgin merino wool, then it's really really soft. Rag wool is the old style itchy stuff.

    In addition to your long underwear top, look into getting some shirts that will work with your under garments. Go to an outdoor store like Cabelas or REI or whatever you have near you and check them out. You can get button up shirts if that's your style or long sleeve t shirts (or regular t shirts for that matter). If paired correctly, you'll sweat will be pulled into the long underwear and then the shirt will pull some more moisture from the underwear.

    When looking for long underwear, or t shirts, keep in mind that the ones that look like they have a waffle pattern (similar to the long johns worn in the olden days) will typically dry faster, if they're made of the right fabric. This is because there is more surface area for the moisture to spread to which thins it out to allow it to dry quicker. It'd be like taking a cup of water and soaking it up with a washcloth and then taking another cup of water and using a spray bottle to spray it evenly onto a thin blanket. The blanket will naturally dry faster.

    If you buy something with spandex in it, try to avoid getting pieces with more that 10% spandex because you'll begin to cut breathability. I think it will actually begin to loose breathability at about 8%, but who's counting?

    Fleece outerwear. The awesome thing about fleece is that it still insulates really well when it is wet. This would be a great choice if you have a hard hike in really cold weather and still anticipate that you'll sweat a lot. You obviously want to avoid hypothermia.

    Anyway, I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any specific questions about clothing and layering.
     
  3. mcseal2

    mcseal2 Well-Known Member

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    Any particular brand you recommend? I have the Medalist lightweight tactical shield silvermax bottoms that work well. They are 96% polyester and dry quickly while still stopping some wind. I may need a thicker layer for the top to wick more moisture.

    I have some good long-sleeved button up hunting shirts for the outer layer, and will have a pair of waterproof fleece pants, a Cabelas synthetic down pack vest, waterproof fleece jacket, extra wool socks, and the polypropylene turtleneck in my pack if I get cold. I prefer to have extra clothes in there and dry if I need them rather than wearing it on the hike in. I keep the vest, jacket, and extra gloves in the main compartment of my pack and have a small waterproof compression sack with the rest in the bottom of the pack.
     
  4. jmden

    jmden Well-Known Member

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    mcseal,

    I'm a big fan of Patagonia's Capilene base layers: Men's*by Patagonia
    Not cheap, but it doesn't get any better. Long before I hunted I started technical mountaineering and this is STILL where the best gear will be found. Much of it transfers to lightweight, hi-tech hunting.

    As far as getting 'soaked', as you mention...you are not going to sweat less with a good baselayer. It may dry out faster (not sure what you were wearing--hopefully not cotton), but you will still be wet. You need to go slower so you don't sweat, or wear less insulating layers, so you sweat at little as possible. Dress in layers and take 'em off so you sweat as little as possible--I don't care if you're in your shorts! :D:rolleyes: It's important to keep yourself and gear (esp. clothes) dry, if at all possible. Should something go south and you have a bunch of wet clothes, your levle of being able to adequatley cope with a potential bad situation is likely very reduced. Stay dry unless you are sure it's going to be a 90 deg day and you can dry your clothes you--but then your just using up body water to sweat that you might want later on in that 90 deg day. Get rid of clothes 'til you don't sweat, unless you're bushwacking and need 'em on for protection obviously.

    Gettting wet in the mountains is not a good idea, no matter where the moisture comes from. I'd suggest really thinking through what you are doing and try to figure out a way to minimize the sweating--you're using up your body's water from exertion and overheating and having to drink more (carry more) to replenish it.
     
  5. mcseal2

    mcseal2 Well-Known Member

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    I agree with the slowing down and not getting soaked going in, the problem is that it's not an option in my situation so I'm trying to cope with it as best I can.

    I hunt with a local in Wyoming that covers alot of ground in a day, and has little patience for anyone who can't keep up. He will take off in heavy colombia wool gear and not get hot. His work allows him to be in the mountains (of multiple states) hunting or scouting daily from September through the end of elk season, and he spends many days picking up sheds besides that. He is in better shape than anyone I've ever met, and one of the most dedicated and sucessful hunters I've ever seen. I like hunting with him because few other people I've met will hunt as hard as me. He hunts harder and pushes me to my limits. From past experience I know if I can stay with him he will get me a shot. I start hiking 2.5-4 miles per day with my rifle and a 30lb pack up the steepest hills on our ranch in July but can't match him in the mountains. We also hunt whitetail together at my place and he freezes sitting on stand. I guess that's the difference between 8000ft and a humid 1200ft elevation.

    I will definitely not be wearing cotton this year when chasing him, the T-shirts I've worn in the past were cotton. I have 3pr of the medalist bottoms and will find 3 good tops, and I already have the shirts/pants I will need. If I stick to good wicking, fast drying underlayers and the light shirt and pants I should be hopefully be able to dry out the bottom layers fairly quick and then I have plenty of dry warm gear in the pack from there.

    I will watch for sales on Sitka gear, it's not in the budget for the moment but I will pick some up for next year.
     
  6. jmden

    jmden Well-Known Member

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    If you can't slow down, then take your layers of clothes off 'til you don't sweat too much. It still takes awhile for 'wicking' layers to dry out--they won't solve your problem, just help it some. Like you said, leave the cotton home--stuff is next to worthless in the mtns if either you are working hard or it gets wet otherwise. Sweating alot, unless you have to for some reason, in the mtns. is just a poor use of resources on a couple of fronts--your stressing/overheating your body more than you should and then you have to pack more water or othewise obtain water to replenish what you sweated. Take the layers off... Sounds like your hunting partner is an animal...

     
  7. mcseal2

    mcseal2 Well-Known Member

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    If he had a dollar for every time me or someone else threatened to shoot him in the leg to slow him down, he'd own the mountain.

    Thanks for all the great advice. My carhardt T-shirts will stay at home this trip and be replaced with a good light longsleeved undershirt. Hopefully between that and a button up shirt walking in, and my baclava, down vest, and warm gloves when we set up to glass awhile I can find a good balance.

    I bought a Katadyn water filter also this summer so I can re-fill water bottles on the mountain. There are plenty of creeks to cross, so I should have lots of opportunities. I always carry a gatorade to drink after the walk in also.
     
  8. the hunt guy

    the hunt guy Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like you've gotten some good advice here. I totally agree with all the comments about wearing less in the beginning. If i know im going to be going hard for a while and then stopping to hunt, or slowing way down, I will wear the minimum amount of clothing. I know that when I am moving with all my gear that Ill heat up rather quickly so i try to start cold. If i start to notice my sweat ill either stop or slow way down for a bit, and possibly even take off some stuff, if possible.

    As far as brands, some good ones that I know of are Smartwool, Columbia, REI etc. That Sitka stuff sounds pretty nice. And when a piece has that bacteria stopping silver in it then i guess one could also assume that your odor will be less potent which could be the difference between meeting up with that trophy animal or not. food for thought.
     
  9. tt35

    tt35 Well-Known Member

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    Yep, bare naked (pronounced "neck-ed) mountain hunting is where it's at. You did say you were walking in in the dark, didn't you???? ;)
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2010
  10. mcseal2

    mcseal2 Well-Known Member

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    Walking in with nothing but boots & a headlamp. Would be good snow camo except for my farmer's tan.

    On a more serious note, I got 3 of the Patagonia capilene 2 zip-neck undershirts bought for $18 each on a clearance sale. I will give them a try when they show up and use them for hunting if I like them or work if I don't. Figure'd I'll find a use for them at that price.
     
  11. dogdinger

    dogdinger Writers Guild

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    if you read the memoirs of Ernest Shackleton about the ill-fated expedition to antarctica, he mentions that the reason he was able to get all his men out without a loss is that they were all outfitted in good wool clothing. All the fleece and other newfangled finery are just doing what wool has been doing for centuries. I am a firm believer in this. I like a base layer of fine wool with wool or fleece outer layers as well.....you are on the right track. you can hunt harder/stay out longer when you are comfortable. good luck AJ
     
  12. midnightmalloy

    midnightmalloy Well-Known Member

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    great choice on the pategonia! although i didnt pay for it (your tax dollars did) my pategonia has performed excellent and is or would be worth every penny. i have used it almost daily on all our ops. is camp pendleton in 100deg heat to frozen in the siera nevadas. i have washed a couple of my fleeces and tops upwards of 80-90 times with consistent results and no problems, even with the zippers. i was actually trown in the water and soaked through a pategonia fleece and long sleeve base layer. took them off, rang them out and in 10 min both were pretty much dry. pay to play. think of it as taking a 400yd shot with a rem 870 slug gun...not the right tool for the job. think the same about the gear on you.
     
  13. fmajor

    fmajor Well-Known Member

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    Just a friendly help on prices and such.... Wally world sells 100% polyester long-sleeve t-shirts (an essential clothing item for me in the mountains) for like $12.

    It's the same exact stuff North Face, Patagonia, Marmot, et al sell for 3x (and more) the cost. I'm not telling a yarn - i used to have a PT retail job selling gear in an Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) store and hawked that stufff to get an employee discount on expensive tents/sleeping bags/etc and saw it every week. I can afford the spendy stuff, but it is absolutely no different than the stuff i saw grocery shopping one find day. Ha! More cash for fuel to go places and the same excellent wicking performance.

    Otherwise, there's a wealth of great information here about mountain athletic wear - just NEVER wear cotton and you'll be worlds ahead. As mentioned, start out cold - you'll warm up soon enough.