As women in hunting and women in the outdoors, we often have unique needs for clothes and gear to be both comfortable and practical. Unfortunately, some women’s hunting clothes and equipment are designed for, well…. It’s hard to say what it is intended for, but pink is not a great color for hunting clothes. So, in this post, I’ll share my setup for women’s hunting clothes, gear, and thoughts on women’s hunting boots, hats, and gloves. And, I’ll share a short reflection on how I prepare my mind and prime my awareness the morning of the hunt.
I hope you enjoy and find this post practical and NOT pink. Please consider sharing this post and leaving your tips in the comments below to help support more women and girls to get into hunting and the outdoors.
Table of Contents:
- Part 1: Hunting Clothes for Women
- Base Layers
- Hunting Boots for Women
- Hunting Hats and Gloves for Women
- Don’t Forget Your Hunter’s Orange for Safety
- Part 2: Hunting Gear for Women
- Hunting Gear List
- Part 3: Preparing My Mind & Awareness for the Hunt
I look at the clock—9 pm. I’ve procrastinated enough. It’s past time to organize my hunting gear for tomorrow’s hunt. Tomorrow is Saturday, and this weekend is the last weekend of buck (male deer) rifle season here in West Virginia.
I click on the phone’s weather app. Partly cloudy tomorrow. No rain. Low 36F (2C), high 59F (15C).
I’ll be heading out in the dark during the coldest part of the night, just before dawn. I start piling up my clothes for tomorrow. This is my winter clothes list for hunting when the plan is to sit rather than move on the landscape. If I’m not moving, a cold winter day will feel like the Arctic at Christmas. I started laying out the hunting clothes and gear on the couch and the floor.
Part 1: Hunting Clothes for Women
I’ve developed these clothes and habits after ten years of hunting deer. As a woman hunter, I’ve had difficulty finding quality clothing that fits and doesn’t cost a lot of money. I’m not into brands. If I mention a brand, it is because I’ve worn it for a long time, and it works for me. However, the material is more important. For example, a wool coat is more important than buying a brand-name jacket that isn’t wool. I have found some great wool sweaters to wear out hunting in the thrift shops. My hunting gear is a mix of men’s, boys’, and women’s clothes—function matters. I don’t care where I find it.
Pick the Right Base Layers
This is the layer against my skin, the underlayer. I love Smartwool and have a set of pants and a long sleeve shirt. They are black or gray in color, quiet when walking (some materials make a lot of noise and will spook animals), and warm, even if wet.
One of the best qualities about wool is its ability to hold heat even if you get wet. Other materials such as cotton will pull heat from your body when wet and make you colder. Unlike traditional wool, Smartwool doesn’t itch. I can’t wear itchy wool as my base layer. Smartwool is great!
Use Proper Layers to Stay Warm When Hunting
Wool pants, with a wind liner, go over the Smartwool long underwear. I won’t need any other pants. For below-freezing weather, I love my Cabela’s Outfitter Series Wooltimates. I value the deep front, cargo side, and back pockets. It’s all about wool and bags for me. The padded knees with extra stitching allow me to crawl through thickets when trailing deer. There are zippers at the leg bottoms for easy on and off, and a wind liner is on the inside. I actually have two pairs, one regular camo and one in snow camo. They are heavy and wooly, and I’ve worn them for ten years, and you’d never know it. They pick up burrs like crazy, but they are super quiet. They are too heavy to hike in but perfect for holding still in the cold and snow for hours.
Over the Smartwool long-sleeved undershirt comes a down jacket. It is compactable and easy to carry. It is also noisy but so lightweight and warm that I always grab it. The loose design lets me move without feeling constrained in any way. Later, as the day warms up, I can take it off and pack it in a small bag in my pack. I also grab a fleece pullover. I layer it overtop the down jacket to muffle any noise it might make. Fleece is quiet. I value those with zippered pockets.
The final outer coat is a Browning wool jacket. They make a Wooltimate jacket that matches the pants, but I already had the Browning one, and it works great, so I stick with it. As always, the important thing is not brand; it’s wool. This jacket has a wind liner and good deep pockets in front, including a zippered chest pocket for easy access. That is where I always put my glasses. The coat itself is heavy and bulky. I wouldn’t like it if I was on the move, but I’ll be sitting so it will be perfect.
Hunting Boots for Women
I love my wool socks. Once again, I turn to Smartwool. You can get different thicknesses; like underwear, they do not itch.
The boot choice depends on how cold it is. If it is in the 20’s F or higher (or -6 to 0 C), I go with muck boots. I only like woody max muck boots because of the deep tread. Most muck boots are too slippery to wear in the woods, but this tread works as I climb up and down muddy hills. They are waterproof, and I can walk streambeds without worrying about getting wet feet. They are a little bulky and heavy, but I like the size, which allows for the thick wool socks. They are slippery on leaf debris, though. Not being super warm, I put a stick-on-toe warmer pad on each sock to compensate. That works, and I have warm, dry feet no matter the terrain.
If the temperature is below 20 F (or -5 C), I wear my women’s Stegers Camuks Xtreme Mukluks. They are for bitter cold only or days with lots of snow. I wore them in Yellowstone in the winter, and my feet were always warm. They are expensive but reticent and can handle artic cold. They are water resistant, so I don’t go wading streams in them. They can take a stream crossing without issue and quickly travel through the snow. They are an absolute joy to wear and so warm that it’s almost magic.
Hunting Hats and Gloves for Women
For my head, I have a camo hat with a short brim and a neck warmer that can be pulled up over my face, both synthetic. Another hat, this one wool, will go into my backpack if I get cold.
Most of your heat loss is through your head. I know if I’ve been still a long time and I start to get cold, I can put on the wool hat and layer the camo hat on top of it if I want. A good wool hat is worth another layer of clothes. I also like a frumpy hat. Something that breaks up the roundness of the head. My hat has that “leafy look” and is not smooth. It helps not to be seen. My system of two hats allows for heat flexibility.
I have camo gloves, lightweight and skin-tight, with a tech finger for phone operations, and camo mittens with tops that pull back to reveal the fingers. Once pulled back, the elastic band can hold the top of the glove in place. The thin camo gloves go on first, then the mittens over the top. Sometimes I need the mittens to keep my fingers warm. Sometimes I need finger access for the phone, binoculars, or trigger. This combo works great for me. Like my hats, I like having two kinds and can adapt accordingly. I can also put hand warmers directly in the gloves if I want.
Don’t Forget Your Hunter’s Orange for Safety
The final piece is the orange vest to wear on the outside of it all. I like an orange vest with black lines that camo it a bit. Be aware that if you put your vest on and then a backpack over it, you just camoed your back. Not safe. Put an extra orange vest or orange fabric on the backpack, too. When I go out, I want my entire back to be orange at all times. I have my orange vest on, and so does my pack.
Everything in West Virginia seems uphill. I will get overheated on my walk to my hunting spot in the dark. Most of this clothing is packed away to be put on only when I reach my destination. The goal is not to sweat and soak my underlayer of Smartwool. I don’t want to sit still for hours in wet clothes.
Part 2: Hunting Gear for Women
MORNING OF THE HUNT
It’s still night when I rise and get dressed quickly. I pull out three hand heat packets and two for the toes. I lay them to the side to give the oxygen a chance to hit them.
My Backpack – Hunting Gear List
The backpack is organized and packed ahead of time. Everything in gear should be a habit. I try to put things in the same space every time. Nothing is worth more than needing something and not knowing where it is. I wouldn’t say I like the sound of a zipper being opened when hunting. When I arrive at my hunting spot, I often unzip the pockets I need access to. I know where things are, so I can pull something out without looking or making a sound. Cloth bags are silent and better than plastic, but they are not waterproof. Binoculars come out of the pack and sit next to me or on top of the pack.
- Water bottle or hydration bag, outside pocket for easy access
- Food/snacks, ziplocked or bagged together, front pocket
- Clippers. The greenbrier here is fierce. Outside easy access backpack pocket or a cargo pant leg pocket, if I know, I’ll need it right away.
- Lighter. I usually carry two methods of fire-making. I also like a magnesium fire starter.
- Tobacco. In a necklace around my neck. It’s my way of giving thanks.
- Flashlight. I like headlamps, leaving my hands free as I work my way through the dark. I used to worry about deer seeing the light, but they see lights all the time. I don’t worry about that anymore. I use it because it is safer.
- Extra bullets. I’ve never needed them as the magazine carries five, but I still pack them in a pocket in the backpack.
- Whistle. I came out in the wrong holler one night. The sun had set, and it was dark with no moon or stars. My better half was waiting for me in the next holler over. It was pitch black, and my flashlight and phone both died. Poor prep on my part. It all worked out, but a whistle sure would have helped shorten our time connecting.
- Paracord. I will need it to drag the deer out.
- Urination funnel and TP packed in a ziplock with an extra ziplock for the used stuff.
- Knife, so I can field dress the deer.
- My hunting license. It is printed, signed, and has packaging tape to waterproof it.
- My driver’s license. You need an ID to be legal.
- A tag must go on the deer and a pen to fill it out. I like to rubber band it on the deer leg, so I include strong rubber bands, usually the ones I’ve saved from buying broccoli or a ponytail hair band.
On the outside of the pack, I might carry a small seat cushion, attaching it to my backpack with a carbineer. If the ground is wet or I want to be on a rock, it helps insulate me and keeps the heat from being pulled out of my body. Often, though, I stand still for hours.
The toe warmers go on now, and my feet slide into my boots. One hand warmer goes in the right cargo pant pocket next to my phone. The battery will die in the cold, but not if it has its own hand warmer. The other hand warmers go in each front coat pocket for easy access when needed.
The flashlight goes on my head. I’ve already checked for fresh batteries the night before. A walkie-talkie is in the left pant cargo pocket. I’ll probably do whispered check-ins on the hour with my better half. Cell phones aren’t as reliable, and service doesn’t happen unless you are on the ridge.
I put the backpack on, dressed in its orange fleece, and reach for my rifle. The magazine is loaded but will not be put into the rifle until I’m outside.
Part 3: Preparing My Mind & Awareness for the Hun
When I step out the back door, the cold air freezes my lungs. I look up at the stars. The dark sky shows the milky way tonight. I allow myself a minute to stare into the depths. They say there are 2 trillion galaxies in the visual universe.
Eventually, I lower my gaze and look into the shadows. I listen to the silence. When everything seems right, I move forward, boots crunching softly over the gravel driveway and then in frosted grass.
I disappear into the woods, already knowing that the hunt has been worth it.
Are you new to hunting? Do you want to learn but don’t have a mentor or know how to start? Or, have you started but are looking for a mentor and community to help improve your skills and success?
Suppose you answered yes to any of those questions; I invite you to check out a cool project I’m involved in. The Hunter’s Journey is an inclusive and welcoming community and mentorship program. We have a fantastic team of hunting mentors (several women) waiting to support you in taking your next step.
You can learn more here.