The Purpose of Insulated Hunting Base Layers

Enjoyed by millions all over the world, hunting is a great activity that gets you closer to nature, wildlife and the environment around you. If you’re hunting for the first time, there are many important accessories and beginner tips to ensure you come back with a catch. But, when it comes to hunting in cold environments (which is often the case), staying comfortable is considered crucial for success.


It might be difficult to remain focused when hunting for game if you’re shivering from the cold. Likewise, feeling a cold breeze cutting through your damp clothes while glassing from a high ridge, can be uncomfortable and even risky as well. In both cases, the cold discomfort can lead to lost opportunities or put you in danger of hypotermia.

The experienced hunter, however, knows that besides picking the best hunting gaiters, jackets, pants or masks, it’s the insulated base layers that make the true difference in terms of temperature regulation. The base layer is considered an essential part of your layering ensemble, as it snugs directly against your skin, making your first line of defence. Selecting the proper base layer for hunting will also allow you to wear it all year round (these lightweight garments are excellent in the warm summer as they’re essential in the frigid winter).

High-performance insulated hunting clothing

Manage Interior Moisture

Hunting, by its nature, requires attentiveness and high level of exertion, meaning that you’ll sweat – a lot. So your wet body will lose heat much faster then when you’re dry. Try wearing a cotton t-shirt on your hunting endeavour, and you’ll be wet, cold and uncomfortable all day. Besides, it will lower your concentration during the pursuing game. If you’re wet and cold, you won’t be able to perform well.

That won’t happen with your thermal hunting gear. High-performance insulated hunting clothing will move perspiration away from the skin to the outside of the material. So, insulation isn’t exactly their main purpose, because this effect can be achieved with the layers of clothes worn above it. However, they significantly help insulation by keeping you dry, With a process known as capillary action, a base layer will transport the sweat from the surface of your skin to the outer side of the garment. It will further disperse and eventually evaporate.

This way, the insulating base layer will keep your skin dry throughout a long hunt, allowing you to stay in total comfort from start to finish. To gain the best results out of your insulated base layer, you should ensure that it feels tight against your skin, but you can still be flexible to move. Don’t be tempted to buy smaller sizes just because you need tight-fitting, but rather go for your normal dress size.

Keep You Warm

Good quality insulated hunting clothing can greatly assist in regulating your core body temperature to keep you warmer. Think of very cold conditions and challenges you might have when hunting deep in the mountains. With good next-to-skin layer (and mid-layer), you can weather temperatures from just above freezing to nearly 100 degrees. It’s amazing how only two pieces of clothing can offer you a great deal of flexibility, making you able to match your clothing to the environmental conditions.

Best Fabrics for Insulated Base Layers

In order to get the desired performance out of your insulated base layer, selecting a good material is crucial. Cotton is considered as a bad choice for a next-to-skin garment as it’s very moisture absorbent and dries slowly. So, what is the best material for a base layer, you might ask? Generally, there are two categories of base layer fabrics that are widely used and considered as best: natural fibre and synthetic.

Merino wool is the main natural fibre

Natural Fibres

Merino wool is the main natural fibre used for base layer clothing production. It’s considered very effective in regulating body temperature. Traditionally, wool isn’t used as a next-to-skin fabric, because it can be very scratchy (if the wool fibres are not at the finest level of production). However, today’s superfine merino wool makes these garment much more pleasant to wear directly on the skin.

It’s also naturally odour-resistant because the bacteria that causes odour can’t grow in merino wool. Meaning you can wear your thermal hunting clothes made of merino wool for several days without producing any odour. But you need to know that merino wool can be slow drying when compared with some other materials.


Synthetic base layers are mostly comprised of polyester, but nylon, spandex and other fabrics are also used for manufacturing this hunting thermal clothing. These fabrics are known for exceptional drying times and might be an excellent choice as a hunting base layer garment. This is of great importance in wet hunting environments, like in rainfall mountainous terrains where you most often won’t have a chance to light a campfire and dry your clothing.

Synthetics are also known for being very breathable and lightweight, which is another added advantage. However, synthetic has a reputation for holding body odour. And although it may be treated with some antibacterial materials which help reduce the buildup of odours, ultimately – it’s still possible for bacteria that cause odour to grow and develop in your synthetic base layers.