HomeNewsHow to Properly Layer Clothing for Cold Weather Fishing and Hunting

How to Properly Layer Clothing for Cold Weather Fishing and Hunting


As the winter season sets in, it's time to start prepping for the chilly weather. Say goodbye to flip-flops and beach gear and say hello to flannel shirts and warm wool socks. For those who love outdoor activities, it's important to know the significance of dressing in layers. Layering allows you to control your body temperature by removing or adding clothing according to the weather conditions. The layers also help to keep you dry, insulated, and shielded against wind and rain. With the advancement in outdoor clothing technology, each year brings better-designed and more specialized clothing to support layering.


Now, let's delve into the art of layering for outdoor activities in this blog post.


Why Layering is Important for Cold Weather Fishing and Hunting


When it comes to cold weather fishing and hunting, layering is crucial for both safety and comfort. This approach is engineered to regulate your body temperature effectively, so you can stay warm and comfortable while you're out there in the wild.


Scientific studies have proved the effectiveness of layering for cold weather activities. In fact, the American Journal of Physiology conducted a study that demonstrated how wearing multiple layers can help retain up to 65% of specific heat, which in turn promotes overall body warmth.


By being strategic about the layers you wear, you can manage your body temperature effectively and ensure that you have a successful and comfortable outdoor adventure. But it's not just about adding layers for bulk; it's all about thermal regulation that enhances your overall experience.


When planning your next fishing or hunting trip during colder months, make sure to layer up and stay warm. You'll be amazed at how much of a difference it can make to your comfort, safety, and success while in the outdoors.


Know Your Body


First and foremost, when you consider a cold-weather layering system, it’s imperative to think about your own body.  Are you someone who gets warm easily or do you tend to cool down quickly? Knowing this will help you plan not only your clothing system but also how to regulate your body heat throughout the day.


While it's easy to come up with a warm layering system for sitting still, we often forget that we have to move around to get to our hunting spots. And anytime we exert ourselves, we generate heat, which can lead to sweat. This is why it's crucial to not only minimize the amount we perspire, but also use a layering system that allows moisture to wick away from our bodies and dry quickly.


So, what happens if you fail to do this? Well, you're in for a very uncomfortable day. So don't let uncomfortable clothing get in the way of a great hunt, and know your body and plan accordingly.


Preferable Materials for Cold Weather Clothing


When there are so many different types of outdoor and hunting clothing for sale, it can be hard to know what will be the most comfortable and practical. While there are many desirable options, some stand out more than others.


For example, merino wool, a natural fiber sourced from sheep, is a moisture-wicking base layer that is odor-resistant and temperature regulating. When adventuring outdoors in colder weather, merino wool is a great moisture wicking base layer that is also odor resistant.


You might also consider fleece, down, and synthetic fill as mid layer options, which are both affordable and warm. According to a report from the American Down and Feather Council, down has the highest warmth-to-weight ratio of any insulating material, making it a preferred choice for many outdoors enthusiasts.

 Synthetic and down jackets can be an effective insulating mid layer, while nylon is ideal for keeping you dry. Some manufacturers create special membranes for nylon to form waterproof jackets for winter use.


The outer layer should comprise waterproof yet breathable materials. Technologies such as Gore-Tex and eVent are excellent for this layer. They are not only waterproof but also allow water vapor (sweat) to escape, preventing overheating and dampness.


Choosing the right materials for each layer enhances the overall effectiveness of your cold weather clothing, ensuring comfort and safety during outdoor winter activities.


FAQS about some materials:


Should you wear cotton?


No, it's not recommended Cotton absorbs moisture and takes a long time to dry. When cotton becomes wet from sweat or external moisture, it loses its insulating properties and can lead to a rapid loss of body heat, increasing the risk of hypothermia in cold environments.


Synthetic vs Merino Wool Synthetic: pros and cons


Pros: Dries the fastest of any technical fabric.  Durable.  Less expensive.Cons: Stinks, especially on physically active trips; is hard to deodorize; made from plastic, usually a polyester and nylon mix.


Merino Wool: pros and cons


Pros: Dries fairly quickly; minimizes moisture from sweat; high warmth-to-weight ratio; naturally odor resistant; comfortable.

Cons:  Not nearly as durable as synthetics; more expensive than synthetics.


If you want to know more information, you can watch this video: BASE LAYER for Cold Weather: What weight, material and fit? For hunting, hiking, camping in winter


Layer Your Winter Hunting Clothing Wisely


Layering is the process of appending something on top of another. In our case, it is our clothing. Hunting in cold weather is just as challenging as it is exciting. You better be ready to handle both.


There are mainly three layers of clothing:


  • The Base Layer (Wicking Layer) - next-to-skin layers
  • The Middle Layer (Insulating Layer) - such as fleece or a down jacket
  • The Outer Layer (Warding Layer) - raincoats


The base layer is the first layer of clothing you'll put on and it should be a thin layer that sits close to your skin. It helps to keep you warm, but its main job is to wick away any sweat from your body, keeping you dry and comfortable.


Next up is the middle layer, which is your main source of warmth. This layer can be as thick or as thin as you prefer it to be, depending on your personal preference and the weather conditions. Its job is to trap your body heat and keep you cozy.


Finally, we have the outer layer which main job is to protect you from the wind, rain, snow, or any other elements that you might encounter. This layer also helps to trap your body heat, making sure it doesn't escape and leaving you feeling cold.


Base Layer


This layer is the one you wear closest to your skin and it's crucial that it wicks away moisture and dries quickly since it's the first line of defense against sweat.


This layer is incredibly important because it directly touches your body, helping regulate your body temperature and keeping moisture away from your skin. That's why it should fit snugly against your body, and typically comes in the form of long sleeve shirts and leggings. You don't want it to be baggy, as this hampers its ability to wick away moisture, which could make you cold and uncomfortable during your hunt.


While there are cheaper synthetic or cotton alternatives, nothing beats merino wool for its breathability and warmth. Investing in a high-quality base layer is essential since a wet one will make it tough to stay warm, no matter how many layers you put on top.


Middle Layer


Insulating layers are what keep you warm and snug between your base layers and outerwear. Essentially, they trap and retain your body heat to keep you comfortable in colder temperatures.


The best approach to insulating layers is to wear multiple pieces depending on the weather conditions. Usually, a well-fitting pair of pants will be paired with a merino sweater, hoodie, or even an insulated mid-layer jacket.


Just like base layers, mid-layers serve the same purpose, so choose items that will keep you warm and maintain body heat. Many hunters often wear mid-layers when hiking early in the morning to avoid sweating, making sure to be warm and dry by the time they reach their hunting spots. Remember to gear up appropriately to ensure that you stay comfortable throughout the day.


Our 8 Fans Fishing Jackets boast incredible insulation, thanks to the 2-Ply Waterproof Breathable Fabric and High-Quality Inner Mesh. The process uses fully taped and sealed seams to provide unbeatable waterproof protection. However, that’s not all; the jacket also features an air circulation system that keeps water out and prevents stuffiness, ensuring that you stay dry and comfortable all day long. So, our jackets offer both warmth and protection, to keep you performing at your best in harsh weather conditions.



Outer Layer


Outer layer is crucial for keeping you protected against snow, rain, and wind. If the conditions are dry, you can opt for wool or nylon-blend pants as your outer layer. However, in wet conditions, it's essential to have a waterproof but breathable layer for protection.


For upper layers, it's important to consider an insulated outer layer with a hood when you'll be stationary in consistently cold temperatures while hunting. If the temperature is warmer, a thin, breathable piece of rainwear with a hood and armpit zips can provide you with increased ventilation.


Hunters who rely on staying quiet will find that softshell outer layers, with their quieter, brushed surface, are very popular. These types of shells are water-resistant but not waterproof, so it's best to pack a hard shell layer just in case. Moreover, most softshells can also double as an insulating layer, although it's a very lightweight one.


In terms of dressing systems, all the different components need to work together so that they can provide you with the needed level of protection. Without one component, the whole system will not be as effective. So, before you decide on the outer layer to go with, make sure to consider the temperatures, wind, and precipitation you'll encounter. Ultimately, choosing the correct base and insulating layers is imperative for your outer layer to work well.


Selecting the Right Accessories: Head, Neck, Hands, and Feet


You could have the best layering system in the world, but if you don't keep your extremities protected, you'll be uncomfortable. It's important to match hats, gloves, socks and footwear to the climate and your activity level, but also to your own personal nuances.




Given that we lose the most heat from the top of the head, a warm hat is absolutely imperative. 


The head, while only a small portion of your total body surface area, can account for significant heat loss. According to the U.S. Army Field Manual, up to 45% of body heat can be lost through the head. Therefore, suitable headgear is critical when layering for cold weather fishing and hunting. Beanies and hats made from wool are effective for retaining heat. These materials have proven thermal capabilities and can provide much-needed insulation. For even more coverage, consider balaclavas, which also protect the face while leaving only a small area around the eyes exposed.




The neck is another area where you can lose body heat. It's essential to protect it to maintain overall body warmth. Neck gaiters or scarves made from wool or synthetic materials can be highly effective in keeping the neck area warm. They serve as a barrier against cold winds, and if the temperatures drop significantly, you can pull up a gaiter to cover your face. For more severe conditions, balaclavas, as mentioned earlier, can cover the neck, head, and face, providing maximum coverage and heat retention.




Gloves are crucial for protecting your hands. Insulated, waterproof gloves are recommended for keeping your hands warm and dry. But mittens, especially those with removable finger flaps, maximize heat retention. Removeable flaps also allow the insertion of heat packs, a valuable option for extremely cold days. A big challenge for both bowhunters and gun hunters is the need to combine warmth with quick and easy access to our fingers. 




Then, there’s your feet. Foot protection should include thermal socks and well-insulated, waterproof boots. Wool or wool blend socks are a preferred choice, but there are other options out there if your feet sweat a lot. Some people’s feet just don’t seem to get cold, but if you have circulation issues at all, then this is a big one.


At 8 Fans, we offer a well-insulated, waterproof boot Waterproof Insulated Snow Pac Boots.


This type of boot are crafted from made of waterproof suede leather your feet will stay warm and protected.  The boot outsole is made of 100% waterproof synthetic rubber TPR shell, and its Seam sealed waterproof construction use 8Fans unique waterproof technology, so no water seeps into the seams can ensure dry feet through tough winter conditions.



We also provide other types of products to resist coldness, so you can Choose from our range of options to find the perfect fit for your needs.


Clothing Layer Tips


1. Don't overheat by wearing too many layers. Peel off layers as needed when you're active, and add layers when you're not generating enough heat.


2. To err on the side of having too many layers rather than not enough. You never know when the temperature might drop suddenly or you might get stuck outside for longer than expected. By having extra layers on hand, you can be prepared for anything.


3. If you're planning on being active and then staying stationary for a long period of time, such as when ice fishing, consider bringing an extra inner layer to change into after the activity. It might be tough to change in cold temperatures, but the dry clothes will make a huge difference in your comfort level.


4. Don't forget to stay hydrated when outdoors. The effects of dehydration will counter act the effectiveness of your layering system and your body's ability to keep you warm.




Proper layering is crucial for outdoor activities, and it's not as complicated as it may seem. By mastering the art of layering, you'll be more comfortable and prepared for any weather conditions. Avoid using cotton as it absorbs moisture and increases your chances of getting cold, instead focus on using three layers where appropriate.


Knowing when to remove layers to prevent overheating or add them to stay warm is also critical. Just keep in mind these basic rules, and you'll get a lot more enjoyment from your time outdoors!



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