Hunters spend billions of dollars every year. I have certainly played my part in boosting that number over the past few years. I try to repurpose gear when I can, and buy used when I can’t, but sometimes heading out to buy brand new gear is inevitable. And of course, fun. Don’t forget fun.
I was like a kid at Christmas when I got to buy my new bow. I scrimped and saved. I researched, compared and contrasted, and then I made a decision and placed my order. The process of shopping for my bow was fun, and the joy of receiving it, shooting it, and realizing that it was everything that I had hoped for was gratifying. That is how it is supposed to work, right?
One of the downsides of getting in shape has meant that nearly all my clothes don’t fit me anymore. Over the last year I have bought a mass of new work clothes, casual clothes, workout clothes, and every other wearable item that you can imagine. Shopping for that type of stuff is easy. I have a simple style, or maybe a complete lack of style altogether; jeans and basic shirts for home, khakis and button-ups for work. Easy stuff.
Why is shopping for hunting clothing frustrating?
My real problem is that I don’t have any hunting clothes that fit me anymore. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
I can hear you wondering, “Problem? I thought you just said that buying new stuff was fun. I thought you enjoyed the research, comparisons, and nerdy excel spreadsheets that analyze every conceivable specification known to man.”
Normally I do enjoy all that, but shopping for hunting clothing is frustrating me for several reasons…
The cost of hunting clothing
The first problem I am having is that no matter where I turn, I am blown away by the price of hunting clothing. Premium brands like Sitka and KUIU are all the rage these days, and of course they have a price tag to match their reputation. Premium brands aside, even browsing through a Cabela’s catalog has left me with a severe case of sticker shock. I could pony up for a good piece or two, but…
The Quantity of clothing needed
The cost of each clothing item is only magnified by the fact that I legitimately need a good quantity of clothing. I am fortunate enough to have a long hunting season, which will expose me to temps in the teens up through the mid-80’s.
I hunt from a tree stand, and I hunt by covering ground, glassing, and spot and stalk. I don’t care what any one garment promises, it won’t be suitable for that wide variety of conditions. I need early season clothing, I need mid-season clothing, and I need late-season clothing. I need clothing that is good for sitting still, and I need garments that are good for being active.
The sheer number of options that a hunter faces when shopping for clothing is overwhelming. Which one of the dozens of camouflage pattern do you go with (light, dark, macro, micro, realism, etc.)? Does camouflage even matter? Do you go with this new miracle fabric, or that one? Maybe you skip all that innovation and go with natural fibers such as merino wool? Do you get a hard shell, or a soft shell outer layer? Do I need water resistant or water proof? How many grams of insulation is enough, or too much? Is Brand A’s proprietary technology better than Brand B’s? (Or is it the same stuff under a different name?) The options and questions are endless, which is only complicated by…
Window Monitor Shopping
To truly consider all options, there is no choice but to shop online. I can walk into my local pro shop, or make a short drive to Cabela’s, but both places will only show me a fraction of what is on the market. It is hard to judge the quality of clothing unless you can put your hands on it. It is also hard to gauge other very important criteria such as – noise, fit, weight, potential interference with shooting form, etc.
It all comes down to this – proper clothing is critical for a hunter that wants to go in deep and stay out long. You can get away with cheap cotton hunting clothing if you don’t mind being hot, cold, wet, stinky, and altogether miserable. If I were one of the many people that hunted 2 or 3 days a year, then that is what I would do.
However, if you want to make the most of a 6 month long archery season, or head into the backcountry of the west on a backpack hunt, then clothing is an important decision. In those scenarios proper clothing isn’t just a matter of comfort; it can be a matter of safety. You don’t want to get caught unprepared when you are several miles from the trailhead, don’t have any means of outside communication, and are facing weather that can change in an instant. Even when I am not hunting miles deep into the wilderness, proper clothing is essential when you are looking at surviving a few 13+ hour days in a row, 25’ up a tree.
What to do?
To be honest, I don’t know. I am still shopping, comparing, and most importantly saving. More than anything, I am dreading the fact that it looks like I won’t be able to outfit myself without spending hundreds of dollars. I know one thing for sure, when I do find what works, it will certainly help motivate me to stay in shape. I can’t afford to have my weight fluctuate and go through all of this again!
How about you? Do you just get what’s cheap, and grin and bear it? Have you sucked it up and spent some decent money on quality clothes? What pieces of hunting clothing are most important to you? What hunting clothing are you looking to purchase next?
Let’s hear it!