July 08, 2015
Waterfowlers still love their waxed cotton, and for good reason — the stuff works and wears like iron.
However, and this might be blasphemy, there is a better way as hunting clothing has come a long way since we first figured out a way to make fabric waterproof with a heavy dose of oil.
In the past decade or so, those advancements have been accelerated and what we're wearing into the field today bears little resemblance to the clothes that were the latest and greatest when we first started hunting.
Here's a look at six things that make modern hunting clothing better.
Waterfowlers have long loved their hooded sweatshirts, but the go-to garment is no longer made from killer cotton. Now the hoodie has entered the space-age with modern materials and technical designs.
These advancements have made hoodies so popular the pull-over has all but killed off the systems parka, which had ruled the marsh since the mid-80s.
While old army camo still works fine, it's hard to argue with the effectiveness offered by the many new patterns on the market.
From the photo-like realism of marsh-inspired patterns to the science of deception behind clothes designed look like nothing, there's a camouflage to fit every hunters need and budget. When shopping, consider the countryside you hunt in most often.
No, we're not talking about concealing your scent from birds, but hiding it from you and, just as importantly, those you share a blind with.
Unless you're washing them daily (and really, who does laundry during the season), hunting clothes, especially the base layers, can really start to stink. New technology, including strands of silver woven into the garments and odor-killing chemical treatment, keep you from offending your hunting partners and eliminate at least one argument starter at home.
Somewhere base layers lost their way, ceding from the wool that protected our grandfathers first to cheap cotton waffle then to that petro-chemical polypropylene.
Finally things have come full circle and now wool is in again, and better than ever.
A lightweight merino is a great all-season garment, insulating in the winter, yet remaining breathable for use as a primary layer in early teal seasons. Or ramp up to mid- and heavier weights for those hunts for late-season mallards and big corn-fed Canadas.
We've all been preached to over the years that down is the best insulator, until it get wets.
Once soaked, it's nothing but a worthless wad of wet feathers. To combat that, manufacturers now offer hydrophobic down, or down that's been treated with a durable water-repellent finish, often referred to in marketing materials as DWR.
Years ago, we would have written off an electric coat as a gimmick, but ever since Columbia introduced the Wader Widgeon parka a few years back, electric-heat hunting clothes have gone mainstream.
Most feature discrete, and lightweight, battery packs that fire up special fibers woven into the garment to provide instant heat at the push of a button. While coats and vests are great for warming the core, the real, and so far, best application has been in socks, gloves and muffs that help keep cold-blooded hunters in the field longer.