What's your cold weather backpack hunt clothing?

Discussion in 'Backpack Hunting' started by roscott, Jun 20, 2017.

  1. roscott

    roscott New Member

    Jun 16, 2017
    I am headed back out to Colorado next fall for a DIY backpacking elk hunt. I went last year, and loved it. I will be accompanied by my dad and another hunter or two.

    The weather will be a little different though. Last year we hunted first rifle season, and this upcoming trip will be third rifle season Nov 3-11. We will be hunting/camping around 9,000 ft.

    We are all avid whitetail hunters, and familiar with cold weather hunting. However, we're not exactly sure how to plan our cold weather gear. Last time, we did lots of layers in order to adjust for whatever weather we ran into. (Our hunt started out with highs in the 60's and sunny, and was highs around 40 by the end of the week.) That worked okay, but we tended to be hot while hiking and cold while sitting.

    I read an article describing one hunter that brings a set of cold weather bibs and parka, and simply puts that on when he stops moving. If he gets up to move, he stows it back in his pack.

    How do you guys plan your gear, and what do you wear? This will probably be temperatures as high as 55 and as low as 15, with snow accumulation likely.

    Thanks for the help!
  2. FearNoWind

    FearNoWind Well-Known Member

    Jul 10, 2012
    Kuiu ... hands down the best I've ever used. Light weight, warm, tough and versatile.

    mpk1996 likes this.
  3. Andy Backus

    Andy Backus Field Editor Staff Member

    Dec 21, 2009
    For me the key is puffy layers because they are as light and packable as possible for the amount of warmth they provide.

    For base layers I have 3 different thicknesses of synthetic long underwear bottoms that I can choose from.

    Over those I wear my everyday hunting pants. If it's going to be wet or snowy I'll wear gaiters.

    On top I wear a merino wool short sleeve t-shirt that doesn't get stinky and a synthetic long sleeve Zip-T over that as my main shirt. Thickness depends on the weather.

    My rain jacket and pants are my outer layer. They're very lightweight and packable.

    Over all the other stuff and under my rain gear goes a puffy jacket and puffy pants. By puffy I mean ultralight down or a high quality synthetic like Primaloft with a very thin nylon exterior.

    When I put the puffy layers over my other clothes and the rain gear over the puffy layers I'm just as warm as if I wore a big parka and bibs.

    I'll often add some sort of a lightweight softshell jacket into the mix above too.

    And by the way, I get hot and sweaty easily and cold easily. I have to strip down to almost nothing when climbing no matter how cold out it is to avoid getting all sweated up. Then I have to add layers back on when I stop. It's just part of the deal.

    But the layers I described are light, packable and easy to get on and off. It's important for the puffy pants and rain pants to have full length leg zippers and for the rain jacket to have pit zips.

    Hope this gives you some ideas.
    mpk1996 likes this.
  4. ssssnake529

    ssssnake529 Well-Known Member

    Sep 10, 2015
    Here's my Colorado 3rd season rifle clothing. (Numbers next to the item are weight in ounces.)

    (Although last year, things were exceptionally warm, so I went a bit lighter and didn't bother with the puffy pants.) If temps are cold, I will often just not bother with the rain gear.

    Julbo Venturi sunglasses with Zebra light lenses and cloth bag 1.4
    Merino boxer briefs (2 pair) 2.6 ounces each 5.6
    Sitka Timberline Pants 32.7
    Kuiu Peloton 200 zip-off long john bottoms 8.5
    Patagonia Merino Air Hoodie (orange) 8.3
    Orange Patagonia Nano Air light hoodie 11.8
    Orange Cashmere Watch Hat (Golightly Cashmere) 3.1
    Orange Buff 1.3
    Orange Cap (LL Bean Technical Upland Cap) 2.2
    Zamberlan Lynx Gtx Mid height Hunting Boots 64.4
    Patagonia Expedition wool socks x2 (6 ounces per pair) 12
    Dachstein fingerless mittens with fold over cap 5.3
    Mountain Laurel Designs rain mitts 1.6
    Rab eVent gaiters 5
    Orange Patagonia M10 Anorak (waterproof) 8
    Kuiu Teton Rain Pants 6.9
    Mountain Hardwear Compressor Pants (insulated, zip off) 17.5
    Patagonia Fitzroy Down Parka (Orange) 21.1
  5. Litehiker

    Litehiker Well-Known Member

    Sep 15, 2012
    More or less what Andy said. But here are my personal specifics:

    I bring layers for the worst and best weather I can reasonably expect.
    OUTER LAYER-> I always bring either a large camo Gore-Tex hunting parka or a lighter eVent backpacking parka. In other words a breathable "waterproof" shell for wind, snow and rain. And I always bring GTX or eVent pants for the worst weather. I wear nylon 5.11 brand cargo pants over long johns or for colder weather Duluth Trading fleece lined nylon "Dry-On-The-Fly" cargo pants. Best cold weather pants I've ever used.
    **BTW, Gore-Tex shells are for cold wind as much as rain/wet snow.

    BASE LAYER-> polyester mid-weight or polar weight tops and bottoms. Top W/ zip T neck.

    MID LAYER-> synthetic or wool sweater, synthetic fiber filled jacket (or down jacket if hiking far to make camp). Down vest if very cold weather is expected. Fleece is too heavy for backpacking.
    **A down vest is very versatile. You can wear it over a shirt or in cold weather wear it over or under your insulating layer and shell if the shell is large enough.

    GLOVES & HEADGEAR-> GTX gloves W/ two pair of removable medium and thick fleece liners & thin knit poly liners. Fleece baseball cap W/ear flaps. Thin poly fleece balaclava for sleeping & severe weather. (This light balaclava is an essential piece of fall/winter gear.) If I need mitten shells it is only for over glove liners for safety reasons for very cold weather. I take them as a "safety item".

    A great book for winter travel is "Allen & Mike's Really Cool Backcountry Ski Book". Most of it is on clothing and camping.

    Another book that can give you a heads up on how to handle winter conditions (and emergencies) is the national Ski Patrol's "Mountain Travel and Rescue". As a Patroller I took the NSP's course of the same name. It is a great way to practice your winter travel skills.

    P.S. ssssnake, that Patagucci Fitzroy parka is absolutely the warmest for the weight parka made. LL Bean's similar parka is great for the money but not quite as warm as the Fitzroy.
    See my post on neoprene VBL sox & footwear

    Eric B.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2018
  6. JohnyRingo

    JohnyRingo Active Member

    Jan 20, 2017
    I agree that layers are the key. I use Mtn Hardwear next-to-skin layers; a Kuiu vented soft shell layer; a vented Kuiu and Mtn Hardwear insulated layer when sitting; and a vented Kuiu waterproof outer layer for windy and wet conditions. There are a lot of possible combinations with those 4 layers and the venting is the key.
  7. WBecker

    WBecker Active Member

    Apr 4, 2013
    I use a mix, I love the Kuiu guide jacket, guide pants and Kenai insulation. I also like the Sitka Timberline pants. I use a lot of the First Lite Merino wool for base layers underneath and when it gets really cold I top it off with my Kifaru Lost Parka puffy. A layer system is the way to go, it gives you the ability to strip down when moving and layer up when glassing.
  8. smokecheckem

    smokecheckem New Member

    Jan 21, 2018
    I use First Lite products and have been very pleased.Use the Uncompahgre puffy for my sitting and glassing jacket. I use their wool shirts and wool under wear with the Kanab pants. also the halstead fleece for a midlayer . This set up is good for temps down to the upper teens . At least for me it does.
  9. Litehiker

    Litehiker Well-Known Member

    Sep 15, 2012
    -> to 15 F.- GTX lined Merrill Moab Mid boots & GTX gaiters & neoprene VBL diver's sox
    (The GTX keeps water out and the VBLs keep sweat inside the VBLs.)
    -> below 15 F. - Sorel felt pacs & Diver's sox VBLs

    As you can see, VBLs are a necessity for keeping boot interiors dry from foot sweat. Dry boots are warm boots. Wet liners take at least a day to dry in a warm house.

    Eric B.
  10. ScottMc7

    ScottMc7 Active Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    I'd recommend Kenai Hooded Insulated Jacket matched with the Yukon rain pant. Not as heavy but will definitely keep you warm. Bought early last year and been very happy I did.
  11. mpk1996

    mpk1996 Well-Known Member

    Oct 24, 2010
    I was going to say just about this exact thing. and this is how I pack/hunt. I have gone with the Kuiu stuff, and its been great, but its spendy. Sitka makes some great things as well. you have to take all this with a grain of salt as everyone is a little different. for years I was wearing heavy boots hunting (just walking in and deer tree stand hunting) and my feet would be freezing. couldn't figure out why cause I had such "warm" boots on. well I decided to go the other way with the insulation, and guess what. my feet stay warm now. I was getting so sweaty (my feet) walking in, that they got cold fast. now I don't sweat as much and the boots breath better. so I stay warm. if its real cold, I throw some booties over my feet once I'm in the stand. so, same with some of the other gear, I hike in a t-shirt. others can hike in a jacket.
  12. Opie1977

    Opie1977 Active Member

    Jan 2, 2018
    I personally love the Kuiu (except for the price). The merino wool base layer is the best hunting clothing I own. I always start with the wool as a base and add layers as needed. The insulation and outer layers are awesome but i often end up in just the wool.
  13. dougduey

    dougduey Well-Known Member

    Apr 11, 2011
    Bite the bullet and spend the money on Sitka or Kuiu. You won't regret it. I purchased all my Sitka gear from the LRH Store and Andy Backus was so helpful with getting me into the correct gear and sizes for what I needed. When I truly realized how great this kind of clothing was when I had to hike up a very steep canyon in Vail Valley back to camp with elk quarters in my pack. I was wringing wet with sweat by the time I made it back to our camp, yet was never cold. Hung all my wet clothes up inside our tent and made a fire in the camp stove. Within an hour to two, all my clothing was dry
  14. stirner

    stirner Active Member

    Mar 10, 2012
    There's a lot of good advice here, and I'll add a little more. First though, I need to tell you that I live in Montana, and I'm a very warm-body, except for my hands and feet. I like bibs, and the ones I just wore out had a scent-blocker liner in them. I wore them with nothing else on my legs until the temps got to 10 or less. Then I put on a pair of light polypro long john bottoms. Good to -40. I bought a pair of Walls insulated, reversible bibs for the colder weather. Wore them once or twice-too hot and too bulky, not to mention they weigh a ton. For my feet, I have a pair of Kennetrek mtn extreme with 1000 gram thinsulate, and for really cold (-10 or below) I have a pair of Cabelas 2000 gram leather boots. These are FAT boots, and on the heavy side. But they are warm. I wear a good knee high wool sock, and a polyester liner from Cabelas. These liners are about as thick as a woman's nylon, and keep the moisture away from your feet. Other things I do for my feet are to wash them every morning and night. I also douse them with talcom powder to keep them dry. Sometimes I'll even dump a bunch in the boots. I already mentioned the bibs, except to say that the advantage they offer is in keeping your torso warm with no added bulk. I have polypro tops of varying thickness. The temp determines which weight I wear. 20 degrees or warmer, all I need is a top and my coat. After that, I add a fleece vest or fleece shirt. My coat is just a basic waterPROOF coat, with a mesh liner and hood. My gloves range from plain leather to fleece lined mittens that I can also wear liners in. I wear a cap, and when it gets cold I add a balaclava that my daughter knit for me. If you have a knitter in the family, buy some quiviut, and have a scarf made. Pound-for-pound, it's 10X better than anything else going. When the weather gets really miserable, the hood on my coat comes up.

    I lived in Colo in the early 70's. I'm not too sure I would try backpacking in to 9000' and setting up a camp. There's a weather service, the name of which I can't remember, that gives you historical weather for any area. Also contact the FWP rep for that area and see what you're getting into. Remember, as the snow accumulates, the elk will migrate to lower elevations.

    I drove to a campground in NW Colo in Nov once. The only place I could drive a steel tent peg in the ground was next to a tree. A guy and his son were in a pickup camper, and they came over just to see what kind of man would be in a tent in that weather!

    Anyway, have fun and be careful.