Let’s be real for a second; hunting camo is not going to make you a better hunter. Untold numbers of big game animals on every continent have been taken by humans hundreds, even thousands of years before modern camouflage was even a distant dream. Ok, now that that is out of the way, let’s take a look at some reasons why I, as a backcountry hunter, have chosen to spend my hard-earned money and invested in quality hunting clothing as a part of a complete gear system that is designed for one thing: optimal performance in the backcountry and in the deer stand that ultimately results in higher success rates and more meat on the table for my family. Hunters these days have more to top-notch research tools, accurate, long range weapons and a host of other gear items that have changed the world of hunting forever. Consequently, over the past several decades some game animals have become smarter and, in some cases, harder to kill then they were just a few generations ago. A perfect example is the mule deer in the western united states. In the 60’s when hunters began to use more effective weapons and optics to hunt mule deer, it was hard on many deer populations. But the mule deer adapted, and the biggest, smartest bucks changed the way they behaved. Now, in most places across the west, if you want to have the success on these older age class deer you can’t necessarily hunt the way your grandpa did. These days, there are just more smartly prepared and better equipped hunters in the field than any point in human history, so, just like the game, we need to adapt and hunt accordingly.
Part of the evolution of the modern hunter is technical, hunting specific clothing that will not make you a better hunter, but it just might give you an edge. If you have ever spent any time in the woods, mountains, or deserts you know that nature is unpredictable and there are many factors that are completely out of your control. One way to mitigate all these variables and ultimately to see more success is to, as the Navy SEALS say, “control your three-foot world.” That is, control whatever it is that is possible to control (which is usually only about a 3 feet radius around your body), and one of the best ways to do that is investing in quality gear.
Probably the most obvious reason for purchasing hunting specific clothing is camo pattern. Again, we all know that camo alone will not turn you into a game-stalking ninja. But it just might give you that little edge, that extra bit of concealment that allows you to slip into bow-range on a keyed-up animal, it might break up your outline just enough for that big bull to take those extra few steps into your shooting lane, or it might trigger curiosity in an inquisitive caribou instead of immediate fear. The biggest thing that a quality camo pattern is going to do for you is to break up your human outline and help you blend into the surrounding terrain and vegetation. I personally do not like patterns that are very dark or too detailed. You will see some patterns that are so dark that, from afar, you will look like a big black blob, which is not what you want. It is important to incorporate some blacks but avoid overly dark patterns. Though they are fading in popularity, you will also see some patterns with extremely detailed, almost photographic quality pictures of leaves, limbs, etc. In my opinion, these patterns are designed more to attract the hunter and less with any scientific data or thought of actual concealment in mind. You want to have something that is a good mix of micro vs. macro patterns (large shapes and pattern mixed in with small details) to help you blend in from afar as well as in close quarters. When you are trying to blend into your surroundings you want to make the smallest impact possible on the entire environment. Part of being undetected is being less visible not only to your target animal but to all the other animals you might encounter during your hunt. Not only will this keep you more incognito in your environment, part of being a good hunter is knowing when to take a good opportunity when one presents itself. How many times have you seen turkeys while on your deer stand and decided that tom might be good on the Thanksgiving table? Or, if you’re hunting Caribou in Alaska you might get an opportunity on a wolf, (which is only a $60 over-the-counter tag). Versatility is king when buying quality gear. Whenever possible, every piece of gear you buy should be able to serve at least two purposes. Though I personally wear camo whenever I am hunting for the reasons listed here, even if you don’t think it is needed for big game, there is no sense in decking yourself out with solids for a big game hunt and then needing a whole new system come turkey or predator season!
2. Terrain / Season Specific Pattern Options
When you purchase from a quality hunting clothing manufacturer, you will normally have at least 2 options in camo pattern. Sometimes these color / pattern options are made more to attract the hunter then to actually help you in the field.
This is another time when you want to use the right tool for the task at hand. Just like an NFL wide receiver would not use hockey gloves to in a football game, you wouldn’t want to use a brown-heavy dessert pattern while turkey hunting in the southeast in the spring. Also, you want to be mindful that even if you hunt all season in the hardwoods, the vegetation is going to be vastly different during early archery season then it will be during the late season. So if you’ve decided that you want to take advantage of using camo clothing, you should pick the right pattern for your location and season accordingly. I do a lot of hunting in Alaska in the month of August as well as in the whitetail woods of the southeast. So, for me, I like a pattern that incorporates some green in the mix for my base and mid-layers. A pattern like, the Summit pattern from SKRE works excellently on the tundra of early-season Alaska and virtually all of the deer and turkey hunting I do here in the south. For my outer layers, puffies and garments like that, pieces that I know I will only wear in the later season, I like a pattern with less green in it. For this, the new Solace pattern from SKRE is a great choice. Solace does not use green and though it can effectively be used pretty much anywhere, it blends very well in both dessert terrain and late-season deciduous forest environments. Both these patterns from SKRE, Summit and Solace, in my opinion, do a great job of concealment in a wide variety of terrains and vegetation types.
Quality hunting gear is designed for layering, which is one of the most important components of an effective hunting clothing system. Why is layering so important? Two reasons: insulation and thermo-regulation. First, if you remember from your middle school physical science class, air is the best insulator. So, you basically want to trap as much air as you can between your body and the outside elements, and layering is the best way to do this. Second, we have all experienced those long walks to the tree stand in the morning, the up-hill climb to the next knob or that freezing cold glassing session that quickly escalates to a sprint into shooting position. All of these reasons are why layering is important in a clothing system for hunting. Hunting is one of those activities that can be characterized by long periods of stillness followed by brief bursts of action, or long periods of exertion followed by long sits. The last thing you want to do is get hot and sweaty when the action heats up and then freeze when things get quiet again, or vise versa. So being able to quickly and easily add and shed layers is huge. One of my absolute favorite clothing items for the backcountry is SKRE’s full-zip merino wool thermal long john bottoms. I love having the warmth in the morning when starting the day but the flexibility of being able to peel those things off when things heat up without removing my boots and pants.
Nothing will ruin a week in the backcountry worse than having to live and suffer through wet gear or freezing your tail off due to sub-par quality garments. To optimize your physical as well as mental performance, you want garments that are designed from the ground up to be used and abused while crawling around rock faces, bushwhacking alders or sitting through an epic rainstorm. Companies like SKRE are specifically designing their garments to give you the maximum performance. This will ensure you stay dry and warm, something that will keep you in the backcountry or in your stand longer which means you will be seeing more game and ultimately have more success.
5. Quick-Drying Odor Control
If you are a big game hunter, you know that controlling, or at least managing your odor is a big deal. Nothing will be able to completely eliminate your human scent, especially on a ten-day backcountry marathon, but there are ways to mitigate and reduce how bad you stink. One of those is Merino wool. Merino wool has been exploding in the outdoor and hunting apparel market lately for good reason; it has tons of natural benefits that make it ideal for a wide variety of conditions. In nature wool has one purpose: to keep comfortable and protect the animal wearing it. Because of its natural properties, it’s breathable and great for moisture management. Almost like skin, Merino naturally cools and heats your body as needed. It is comfortable and great for wicking, but it dries quickly, making it an amazing next-to-skin base as well as mid layer. Because of the quick drying properties of merino wool, odor-causing bacteria does not have the damp conditions that they need to grow unchecked so merino is naturally odor resistant meaning you can stay just that much more incognito while in the backcountry for days.
6. UV protection
Another factor that many hunters don’t even consider most of the time is UV protection. For me, sunscreen is not high on my gear list and I certainly don’t want to use any product that is going to significantly increase my scent profile in the field. But, if you have spent any time on an early season deer hunt out west, or a spring turkey hunt in the south or really any hunt that has you outside for multiple days in a row, you know that the sun can quickly become a very real factor. On my DIY Alaskan Caribou hunt in 2020, it was our last full day to hunt and I had still not filled my tag. That day, despite warnings from my hunting partner, I spent 15+ hours continually glassing, broken up by some hikes in between. I quickly found that on that particular day, the combination of the sun and constant Alaskan wind was baking and drying me out like a raisin. I noticed my face was getting pretty sunburned, but because I had invested in some quality hunting clothing, I was able to pull up my hood and face mask and continue to sit all day without being burned to a crisp before the long pack out the next day. Merino wool has natural UV protective qualities and breathable, hooded items like Kaibab 300 Merino hoodie will keep you comfortable and protected all day even when the sun and wind are trying to grind you down and make you crawl in your tent early.
7. Hunting Specific Features
As I said before, we all know the importance of picking the right tool for the job. When you invest in quality hunting specific apparel, like SKRE gear, you are getting a garment that is designed as a tool for success in the pursuit of wild game. As such, these garments are designed by and for hunters who understand the unique needs of hunters in the field. With high quality hunting gear, you will get key, event-specific features that you won’t find in lesser quality clothing. You are going to get things like long johns with full zippers, jackets with pit-zips, pants with breathable vents, the right number of pockets in all the right places, and lightweight packable garments that don’t weigh you down or eat up pack space. You are also getting different types of garments for different climates and phases of the season, like the Unita early season pant, the Hardscrabble pant and the Kodiak late season pant. You’re also getting Teflon treatment for added moisture resistance on mid and outer layers. These are just a few of the things you will get with SKRE gear; things that just might give you an extra edge in the field.
Last but certainly not least is something that you must have in all your gear before you head into the backcountry or climb into your stand, confidence. A quality outfit like SKRE will instill confidence in you from the buying process all the way through that first step onto the trail. With an easy return and exchange process and a lifetime warranty you don’t have to worry about stuff not fitting or falling apart on you. Mindset is huge. In life and in the field it is a game changer. I once heard mule deer hunting legend, Robby Denning, say that he believes that hunters see what they expect to see in the field. Meaning if you have a negative outlook and you’re not confident in your gear, chances are you will not have a great hunt. But if you know you have put in the prep work and invested in some solid gear you can be positive and confident and this will give you real, tangible help you to hunt harder, stay, longer and put down more animals. When it’s time to get out there and hunt, you can head into the woods with confidence, knowing that you have quality gear that you can rely on. Gear that will keep you comfortable but more than that, will give you a little extra tactical advantage.
When it comes to hunting, especially in the backcountry, the truth of the Navy SEAL adage that you should, “control your three-foot world,” is magnified. Tactical advantages are hard to come by when you’re pursuing an animal that, in most cases, has spent every waking second of its life trying not to be killed by any number of natural and human predators. So, for me personally, I will use whatever tool is at my disposal to increase my odds of success in wilderness.
Like any project, you want to use the right tool for the job, and to do the best job, you want the best tools available, if you can afford them. Something I learned from my hunting partner and Naval Special Warfare Veteran is something I live by when it comes to gear: “buy once, cry once.” You can buy some cheap stuff that might get it done for a year or two, but if you make an investment in quality gear, it will perform for many seasons and give you a competitive advantage. Fortunately, with SKRE gear’s pricing, the buying doesn’t include too much crying. Could you kill an elk or a deer in your work jeans and a flannel? You probably could, but when I’m headed into the backcountry or even to my tree stand for a long sit, I want to use every advantage available to give me the best shot at success and an all-around more enjoyable experience. That is why I invest in quality hunting clothing and gear.
If you are interested in getting started with some top quality hunting gear, make sure to check out the Elite Starter Bundle. For a limited time you can save 20%!