By David Link
When evaluating what to add to your hunting apparel collection, you tend to focus on the big items like parkas and pants. After all, that’s where the majority of your budget is spent, and it feels like that is where the biggest impact in apparel upgrades comes. In many ways this is true, and there is no doubting that a new parka is going to make you feel pretty sleek and keep you warmer than that old hunting jacket, but sometimes the most important upgrade comes in accessories. A new pair of gloves, or a new hat or mask can really up your comfort without the heavy investment that comes with new primary apparel items. Let’s cover some of the major accessory items to add to your collection.
If you hunt in cool to colder climates, then you’re already aware that quality gloves are a must. Even if the weather you typically hunt in isn’t that cold, there’s still the issue of concealment. Many species can pick up the reflection of sunlight against human skin, even if only your hands are exposed. But there is always an inherent problem when evaluating hunting gloves: how do you balance warmth with the ability to operate your firearm or bow effectively? It’s a common problem for most hunters, and you’ll find that the cheap hunting gloves do little to address this shortcoming. They are usually focused on warmth and end up being bulky and/or too big to fit through the trigger guard. Inferior materials are the other drawback to buying cheap hunting gloves, and although your hands are covered and receive some degree of warmth from the glove, you’re not getting the most out of what you’re wearing. You can also have the same problem of excess perspiration as you do in hunting jackets and pants, however getting cold hands from excess perspiration is more of a discomfort than it is a threatening condition. In response, there are three primary ways you can balance ease of use with warmth in gloves:
One of the primary ways manufacturers ensure gloves can be used with firearms and bows is to make them fingerless. These gloves ensure that you still get the skin to trigger contact you need while protecting the majority of the hand from the elements. You can find gloves like this in several varieties from open thumb and forefinger, to open forefinger and middle finger, to fingerless tips for every finger on the glove. While these gloves may be the most functional for use with triggers and your electronic devices, you will be sacrificing a little warmth since your hands will always be slightly exposed.
Another way to get dexterity out of your gloves while still offering warmth is to wear flip up mitts. The majority of your hunt can be spent with the mitts flipped down, and when it appears like an animal is moving in, you can flip the mitt up and use the glove underneath to operate your trigger or device. You’ll see flip up mitts with both full fingered glove and open tip finger designs. The primary drawback of this design is that the wearer has to take a little extra time to flip the glove up, and this extra movement could potential reveal their position. However when you’re facing colder temperatures, the extra warmth of the mitt can really make a big difference to prolonging your hunt.
Simply put, you can purchase a glove engineered to be thin if dexterity is your primary concern while wearing gloves. These gloves will be designed primarily for warmth, but since they’re thin you should have no problem using them with a weapon. There are also gloves designed for the primary purpose of shooting. These are typically called “shooters gloves,” and while they aren’t going to be approved for a trek through the Arctic, they’ll get the job done for the majority of hunters in reasonable climates. Just remember that shooters gloves are engineered to provide better grip, and warmth isn’t much of a priority in gloves like this. Most shooters gloves are primarily black in color, but if you can find a flat earth pattern or a camo pattern, then they will make all the better choice.
Head wear is obviously another important aspect of your hunting apparel collection, and while they provide an extra level of concealment that is important in hunting applications, heat retention can be the other vital characteristic to pay attention to in colder weather. The top of your head loses heat faster than any other region of the body, so when the temperatures drop, you need a hat that can retain that heat effectively. The beanie or stocking cap accomplishes this purpose better than anything else, and if the temperature is prone to drop during your hunt, skip the ball cap and bring a beanie instead. Something to keep in mind with stocking cap selection is how it performs in the wind. We’ve all had the cheaper or loose knit stocking cap where the wind seems to blow right through it, so make sure whatever you select for your hunt is made from quality materials and is rated well against higher winds.
The selection of a face mask is pretty simple, if it conceals your face effectively, then you’re pretty much good to go. The thing is most hunters do not think about how the face mask might impact their hunt. A poorly fitting face mask can reduce your field of vision and throw off your aim with a bow or gun, so be sure to practice with it before you take it out into the field. The masks that cover your entire head can especially cause problems with vision and weapon interaction, so if you can get a partial mask to work in tandem with your hat, that may be your best bet.
Need more than just accessories? We cover all the bigger items in How To Select Hunting Clothing: Primary Items.