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The art of layering, I need input

Fluteman

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So, I'm looking for input on how everyone is layering for bow season here in Ohio. I've got an aging pair of Cabelas ECWS that is in need of replacing. They have been great, but I'm looking for something that is a bit warmer, as I'm looking to reduce layers. I will have the Sitka Fanatic bibs and Jacket before my bowcation starts the end of October, and I would love to find a set of base layers to pair with it that could get me through a cold day in November and December. Does anyone have recommendations on base layers, or even better, someone with experience in the Sitka Fanatic gear and how you layer to keep warm on the stand all day? I've finally figured out the boot/sock combination where I don't have to worry about my feet getting cold on the stand, so I'd like to get the rest of the puzzle figured out.
 

"J"

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So, I'm looking for input on how everyone is layering for bow season here in Ohio. I've got an aging pair of Cabelas ECWS that is in need of replacing. They have been great, but I'm looking for something that is a bit warmer, as I'm looking to reduce layers. I will have the Sitka Fanatic bibs and Jacket before my bowcation starts the end of October, and I would love to find a set of base layers to pair with it that could get me through a cold day in November and December. Does anyone have recommendations on base layers, or even better, someone with experience in the Sitka Fanatic gear and how you layer to keep warm on the stand all day? I've finally figured out the boot/sock combination where I don't have to worry about my feet getting cold on the stand, so I'd like to get the rest of the puzzle figured out.
@Jamie @jagermeister
 
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Hedgelj

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Mohicanish
Try here for what works for me.

 

Fluteman

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Southeast Ohio
Greg, what is your strategy for your feet? That’s the only issue I have anymore. I wear rubber boots and won’t change that.
I have always worn Lacrosse boots. Bought the Aeroheads and have been very pleased with durability and warmth. One of the biggest issues I had was feet getting cold, and the solution was always heavier socks or multiple pairs, or add boots with more insulation. I read an article somewhere that talked about cold weather strategies for cold feet. Essentially, you need a good quality wool sock. Early season, I wear a lightweight pair of wool hiking socks from Smartwool, and when it really gets cold, I switch to a liner sock with a heavy wool sock over top of it. The liner sock will pull the moisture away from your feet, and the outer layer will absorb it, keeping your feet warm. Wool can absorb something like 30% of its weight without loosing its insulating properties.

I also added, what I thought at the time was a gimmick, YakTrax Thermal Insoles, and have been extremely pleased with the results. After getting the sock game figured out, I was able to go with a boot that had less insulation, which meant less sweat and more warmth. I was still having issues with the bottoms of my feet getting cold when the temperatures dipped due to the cold transferring up from the stand though the soles of my boots. These insoles have layers of wool, and a reflective layer to redirect the cold back where it came from. For $13, these insoles were a game changer. Before, I would hang my feet off the sides of the stand to keep the bottoms from getting cold. Now, I can keep them on the stand and don't have an issue with cold fee. The biggest thing with these insoles is they are over a quarter of an inch thick, so they don't pair well with a tight fitting boot.

Right now, I run four pair of lightweight wool socks for the early season, switching them out daily. When the temperatures dip, I have four pairs of liner socks and 4 pair of heavy wool socks, and I rotate them daily as well, and wash them once the rotation is complete. The system as worked well for me the last three years.

The socks don't need to be 100% wool to be effective, but the higher percentage the better. Hope this helps!
 

bowhunter1023

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Try here for what works for me.

A lot of info in there from me as well. One thing I always pump up is Darn Tough socks. Absolutely the best I've ever had.
 
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Fluteman

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Southeast Ohio
Try here for what works for me.


A lot of info in there from me as well. One thing I always pump up is Darn Tough socks. Absolutely the best I've ever had.
Maybe I should have tried the search function first :ROFLMAO:
 
I have used the liner sock for years now. Learned that one from my cousin from Florida who could not handle cold feet. Years ago he would try just about anything; special powders to put in his socks, antiperspirant on his feet, women's nylon stockings, etc.. The stockings got him on the right path and about that time companies started coming out with moisture wicking socks. Now I have a couple pair of actual moisture wicking and some actual nylon dress socks that work great. My issue is my feet and lower legs sweat if they are too warm. The liner in the bottom of the boot is a good idea I may look into.
 
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giles

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Quality

No matter what you buy, buy quality. The time for Walmart gear has passed. It is time to buy quality gear. Start slow and the $20 pair of socks will hurt less. From there you will find out what thickness you like. In a few years you will have a bunch of quality stuff that you know when/what to layer. Everyone is different when they layer. The thing that matters is the comfort and longevity. With that comes a price.
 
The two things that I've added to my kit over the past few seasons are a vest and a hand muff. I find the vest helps keep my core area warm while still allowing range of movement for my arms which is needed during bow season. I use a climber, so I can wear the vest over my base layer for my walk in and still be warm enough for my climb during the late season, and it's compact enough to pack in during early season. The hand muff always seemed unnecessary if I had accessible pockets, but it has made a world of difference for me.
 

Fluteman

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Southeast Ohio
The two things that I've added to my kit over the past few seasons are a vest and a hand muff. I find the vest helps keep my core area warm while still allowing range of movement for my arms which is needed during bow season. I use a climber, so I can wear the vest over my base layer for my walk in and still be warm enough for my climb during the late season, and it's compact enough to pack in during early season. The hand muff always seemed unnecessary if I had accessible pockets, but it has made a world of difference for me.
I added a fleece vest with a windproof liner a few years ago, and it was a game changer for the early season cold mornings, and great as an extra layer in the cooler months. By far my favorite layer of clothing to wear. I have been looking at another hand muff, as I got away from them quite a few years back, but I always like having one big pocket on the front for my hands vs two separate pockets. Appreciate the input Steve.
 

Bowhunter57

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@Fluteman
The game changer for staying warm for me was buying a battery powered heated vest, by LeapSee. I purchased 2 battery packs to go with it and haven't had to use a second one, unless I was out on an all day hunt. I still wear the same fleece, wool and cotton base layers, but have a thermal long-sleeve shirt with the heated vest outside, then any other layers over the vest. 👍 💯 I purchased the fleece vest over the one with "windbreaker" material, because it needs to breath or it'll sweat you real bad. 🙄

As for my feet, I still wear LaCrosse knee boots with 1200 gram insulation. I vary the type of socks that I wear with them, according to how warm or cold it is outside. I only wear 2 pairs of socks in the coldest weather....cotton base and wool or thinsulate over them. :cool:
 

jagermeister

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@Fluteman I will shamefully admit that I own or have previously owned almost every piece of whitetail gear in the Sitka lineup... plus a wide assortment of their big game and waterfowl lines as well. I know a thing or two 'cuz I've worn a thing or two. ;) Over the past several years I've managed to really dial in my layering game.

Early-Season - down to 45 degrees-ish...
Next to skin: Sitka Core Lightweight pants and tee-shirt
2nd layer Bottom (if below 50): First Lite Kiln 250 longjohns
2nd layer Top: Sitka Fanatic Hoody
3rd layer Top (if below 50): Sitka Celsius Jacket
Pants: Sitka Equinox Pant
Outer layer (if needing windblocker): Sitka Stratus Jacket and Stratus Bibs
Gloves: none or Sitka Fanatic gloves
Hat: ballcap or Sitka Stratus beanie

The beauty of this system is it can cover me in anything from 70-degrees down to the low-40's, just by adding or subtracting a layer here and there. The Equinox pants and the Fanatic hoody are basically worn on every hunt, no matter what. They are staples. The Stratus Jacket and Bibs offer minimal insulation value, but are awesome for blocking the wind. They pack down incredibly well. My normal routine is to walk in and hang my set wearing the Equinox pants, Fanatic hoody, and everything underneath of course. My Stratus set (and sometimes the Celsius jacket) are folded up and attached to my pack. Once I'm settled in my stand, it usually takes 30-60 minutes for me to actually cool down and need the Stratus layer. Obviously that's when I dawn that outer layer. Which is one reason why I prefer the bibs over the regular Stratus pants... I find that the bibs go on easier and they also prevent any drafts going up your back.

Mid-Season - 45-25 degrees-ish...
Next to skin: Sitka Core Lightweight pants and tee-shirt (not always... only if it's a long walk or there risk of sweat and I need moisture-wicking)
2nd layer Bottom: Sitka Core Heavyweight bottoms
2nd layer Top: Fanatic Hoody
3rd layer Top: Sitka Celsius Jacket
Pants: Sitka Equinox Pant
Outer layer Top: Sitka Fanatic Jacket
Outer layer Bottom: Sitka Stratus bibs or Incinerator bibs
Gloves: Sitka Fanatic gloves
Hat: Sitka Stratus beanie

I do not own the Fanatic bibs because the previous versions were "berbery" down the entire legs and I didn't want the nightmare of burrs, like goldenrod and bidens seeds. The Incinerator bibs are arguably warmer, and waterproof, with a tighter knit that's less prone to accumulating burrs. The new Fanatic bibs are redesigned to help with that problem. Some say the Incinerator line is noisy. Is it noisier than the Fanatic?... Yes. Noisy enough to mean the difference in killing a deer?... Maybe. I haven't had any issues with noise yet.

Late-Season - 25 degrees and under...
Next to skin: First Lite Kiln 250 longjohns or Sitka Core Heavyweight bottoms
2nd layer Bottom: Sitka Gradient pants (these fuggers are a gamechanger... seriously... either worn under waders or while deer hunting)
2nd layer Top: Fanatic Hoody or First Lite Furnace Henley
3rd layer Top: Sitka Celsius Jacket
Outer layer Top: Sitka Incinerator Jacket
Outer layer Bottom: Sitka Incinerator bibs
Gloves: Sitka Fanatic gloves, with Sitka merino liner gloves underneath
Hat: Sitka Stratus beanie or Sitka Fanatic beanie

You DO NOT want to walk any sort of distance while wearing the Fanatic or Incinerator outer layers. You WILL sweat... No way around it. My only bitch about the Fanatic line is that it doesn't pack down very well. It is quite bulky. The Incinerator line is warmer and (somehow) packs down to a more compact and manageable bundle.

---

What I have found, Greg, is that while I do prefer a quality baselayer system, I don't personally think the brand or type of baselayer matters as much when you have it paired with HIGH QUALITY mid-layers and outer layers. I can't stress enough how important those outer layers are. The whole trick to being comfortable for long periods on-stand is moisture management and wind management. Insulation is the easy part. It is absolutely essential that you walk in to your spots wearing as little as possible, in order to prevent sweating. Then... give yourself ample time to cool down while in the tree or blind, before putting on your mid- and/or outer layers. Once your body temp is stable and you've got a good insulation system, that outer layer's ability to block the wind really comes into play. At that point, it's simply a matter of ergonomics, fit, pocket layout, zipper layout, etc that makes one piece shine over another. And in my 100% honest opinion, Sitka does that better than anyone else on the market. Kuiu is right up there as well.

I don't want to toot my own horn here, but I pride myself on the amount of time I spend on-stand while I'm out hunting. I don't hunt many days in a given season, but when I do, it's usually during the rut and it's usually at least a 6-8 hour sit... sometimes longer. I've been hunting this way for a long time. Early on in this approach, I would absolutely suffer through a sit because I was so uncomfortable... usually due to the cold. The past 3 or 4 years I've been building my Sitka regime and it has made an incredible difference. I can honestly say I've never been more comfortable while hunting in extreme conditions than I am currently. I can say that for my deer hunting, my duck hunting, my ice fishing... you name it. A lot of people scoff at Sitka and say it's a waste of money, or that it's not worth it, insinuating that hunters spending that kind of money on gear are foolish. Well, the fact is, those people simply haven't owned any Sitka, or other similar "high-end" garments. And that's totally fine. You certainly don't need to spend that kind of money on "hunting clothes." But me personally, I like to prioritize my money on things that keep my ass comfortable in a treestand or in a duck marsh. It simply makes everything much more enjoyable.
 

Outside

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I found FirstLIte gear to keep me warm, but it is expensive. Never tried Sitka gear, but it looks as good or perhaps better. I also carry a disposable pain pack (heater), which I can use on my lower back to stay warm. Gloves, boots and face coverings are a challenge. I would love to hear the opinions about those, because for me, everything is less than perfect there...
 

jagermeister

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Ohio
I found FirstLIte gear to keep me warm, but it is expensive. Never tried Sitka gear, but it looks as good or perhaps better. I also carry a disposable pain pack (heater), which I can use on my lower back to stay warm. Gloves, boots and face coverings are a challenge. I would love to hear the opinions about those, because for me, everything is less than perfect there...
I’ve never worn a pair of true gloves that kept my fingers warm all day. Mittens seem to do the best job. But my go-to is a hand muff around my waste or a part of my jacket. Thin liner gloves on my hands, and hands stuffed into a quality hand muff. They only come out for glassing and killing. Well, and dicking off on my phone now and again.
 
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