30 Apr Recommended Clothing for a Colorado Elk Hunt
Mountain hunting comes with a variety of challenges, not the least of which is staying warm, dry and comfortable through sometimes schizophrenic weather conditions. On a Colorado elk hunt in September, October, or November, you could easily find yourself hunting in snow, rain, or intense sun…in the course of a single afternoon.
As you get ready for a high country hunt, here are a few important things to remember about clothing and your layering systems.
Start with Quality Materials
Quality clothing for a high country hunt begins with quality materials. Great gear doesn’t make you a better hunter. But when you’re warm, dry and comfortable, you’ll be able to stay in the field longer and stay focused on the hunt.
Quality materials in your layering system begins from the base layer and goes all the way to your rain gear. I’ve heard complaints from hunters that their rain gear was leaking, only to discover that they were wearing a cotton t-shirt next to their skin. It’s very important to remember that the most expensive, waterproof, breathable outerwear on the planet won’t perform as designed if you’re wearing cotton underneath.
When it comes to high performing base layers, it’s hard to beat quality merino wool. For that reason, we are big fans of First Lite. First Lite offers some of the best merino wool base layers, as well as high performance synthetic mid layers and outerwear. Whether you are climbing through deadfall in the thick timber, or glassing from a windy ridge, quality materials should be lightweight, durable, breathable, quick drying, and help you regulate temperature in varying conditions.
Shed Some Weight
Weight adds up quickly in your daypack if you’re not careful. A heavy pack will wear you down quickly when you’re hunting steep country and at high elevations.
Keep it light with modern technology in both fabrics and insulation materials. We recommend merino wool base layers for their versatility in both warm and cold conditions. Versatility means having to pack fewer items.
For insulation layers, it’s hard to beat the lightweight packability of goose down. But not all down is equal. Look specifically for down that’s 800-fill or similar. This high quality down offers incredible warmth for surprisingly little weight. Plus, it packs down and takes up very little space in your pack.
In your pants, jackets, rain gear, and any other outerwear, consider synthetic materials that are highly breathable and lightweight. Heavy and insulated outerwear items are not ideal on an active mountain hunt, like an elk hunt here in Colorado. You want to be able to add insulation layers when it’s cold, but have the option of shedding them when you’re on the move.
Learn to Use Your Layers
Anyone with outdoor experience is familiar with the idea of dressing in layers. The trick is learning how to use those layers appropriately, especially on a hunt here in Colorado where you might experience all four seasons in one day.
All too often, hunters begin the day wearing too many layers. This is understandable when mornings are cold. But remember that you may begin the day with a strenuous hike. The last thing you want is to start your day drenched in sweat. Once you get chilled, it will be tough to recover.
Plan your layers based on actions. If you’ll be starting the day with a hike, it’s better to be a little cold when you begin. It only takes a few minutes of hiking to warm right up. If you feel yourself beginning to sweat, you might need to lose a layer. If you stop to glass, add a layer.
On an elk hunt, you might be hot one minute and cold the next as we alternate between periods of intense activity and sitting to glass. Proper layering is a balance between energy output and temperature regulation.
Let it Breathe
As a general rule, base layers and mid layers should be highly breathable. Fabrics that wick moisture and breathe are critical when you’re climbing through rough country. Again, we recommend high quality merino wool next to your skin and lightweight, breathable synthetics for outerwear.
When it comes to rain gear, packing an outer layer that is waterproof and breathable is also essential. Today’s technology in rain gear has never been better. High quality rain gear will serve a few different purposes, in addition to protecting you from rain. Rain gear is windproof. Slip it on when you find yourself glassing in a chilly wind. It’s also helpful when there’s snow on the ground, keeping your seat and knees dry.
There are plenty of times when we find ourselves climbing through steep terrain in wet conditions. For this reason, the breathability of your outerwear is essential. Nothing is worse that that wet, clammy feeling that comes from sweating inside a jacket that doesn’t breathe.
When you’re climbing over deadfall and scrambling through dense oak brush, it’s great to have clothing that moves with you. And this is more than just an issue of comfort. Clothing that limits your range of motion will actually wear you down more quickly. It will make you tired and more prone to injury.
Flexibility is especially important in your pants and other outerwear. Look for clothing items that offer built in stretch and wide range of motion. Items like the First Lite Corrugate Guide Pants are a great example. When you’re high-stepping over deadfall or scrambling across a shale slope, you’ll certainly appreciate clothing with an athletic fit and flexibility.
If you’d like more information on our recommendations for an elk hunt, or to learn more about hunting with us in Colorado, please send us a message or call Adam directly at 208-691-3014. We’d be happy to help you plan a memorable hunting adventure.