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No matter what, when or where you hunt, every moment you spend fighting the cold, wind and rain means less quality time actually hunting. So knowing what’s new in apparel and boot design can help make you a more comfortable and maybe even a more successful hunter.

Every hunter knows the benefits of layering. Multiple layers of clothing, starting with a light-weight base layer, help keep you warm and dry in cold temperatures and remain comfortable by removing outer layers when temperatures rise. A tight, body-hugging base layer can, however, sometimes bind and make you feel uncomfortable even after just a few hours. Worse yet, it might even restrict your mobility just when you need it most.

If that’s ever happened to you, you’ll really appreciate new Evolution Cold Gear from Under Armour. It’s the first breathable base layer legging and mock designed specifically for hunters. “Our Evolution Cold Gear includes all the moisture-management and Armourblock odor protection you expect when our name is on the label,” says Under Armour. “It also features a soft inner layer for excellent all-day comfort, along with a slick-finished, low-friction outer layer and slightly looser fit hunters need to move around more easily.”

If you hunt in extreme cold or spend hours waiting patiently in a blind, look for base layer clothing that offers maximum thermal protection. Under Armour’s new Base Layer 3.0 legging and crew, for example, feature a special breathable heavyweight fabric grid designed to trap heat and channel it across body surfaces. “Base Layer 3.0 gear, topped with an ultra-warm Hurlock Hoody, is an exceptionally warm, dry and comfortable combination,” according to Under Armour.

When shopping for outerwear, look for quality-made waterproof and breathable parkas and pants with plenty of extras. Don’t wait until a cold, rainy and windy day to discover how convenient a pack-away hood, deep cargo-style pockets and pants with draw cord adjustable ankles can be.

Scent-blocking and noise are other important considerations. Animals have highly developed senses. Most can detect your scent or hear you before you ever see them. Hunters have long relied on odor neutralizers, scent-blocking laundry detergents and fabric softeners to help solve the problem. But now, there’s a high-tech solution.

Waterproof and breathable Scent-Factor parkas and pants from Yukon Gear feature a soft, scent-inhibiting, silver ion-treated micro-fleece inner lining. Fabrics treated with silver ions were first used in hospital operating rooms. Undetectable by sight, smell or touch, silver ions inhibit the growth of odor causing microbes such as bacteria and fungus. Yukon Gear Scent-Factor protection is good for up to 50 washings. The ultra-soft outer fleece layer is also extremely quiet.

“In addition to solving the scent and noise challenges, the Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity camo design also makes the hunter practically invisible,” according to Yukon Gear. “The design has amazing detail and an almost three-dimensional depth.”

Hunting boots are usually constructed of fabric, leather or rubber uppers, and a rubber or synthetic bottom called an outsole. When shopping for boots, start by carefully considering how you’ll use them. Will they be worn more for walking through open fields, or standing in a blind for hours? Will the ground be rocky, muddy or sandy? Will the terrain be hilly or flat? How important is waterproofing, weight and insulation for the type of hunting you do?

Waterproof field boots with sturdy leather uppers provide excellent protection from rocks, thistles and thick vegetation. The right fit is important. Allow just a little “wiggle room.” Too much movement may eventually cause blisters. Padded insoles provide added comfort, even if your feet are normal, flat or highly-arched. Some insoles are treated to prevent bacteria and odor buildup. Boots may be un-insulated or insulated with felt, foam or Thinsulate, which is a heat-trapping microfiber padding available in different weights. The higher the number, the greater the insulating capacity.

If you hunt in swampy, marshy grounds or wetlands, consider a quality-built rubber boot. The best feature 100% waterproof construction, protective toe caps, sturdy rubber outsoles, drawstring collars and scent-free camouflage imprints. “Our Swampwalker rubber boot is designed for comfort and outstanding field performance,” says Itasca Boot. “Important extras include a super-warm 1000-gram Thinsulate inner and an ankle-fit design that securely holds your foot in the boot, so you can walk comfortably and confidently even in muddy terrain.”

Recent advancements in boot design include the use of new materials and the introduction of new comfort-fit technology.

Servus Boots, which has been keeping fire rescue workers safe for over fifty years, now offers a new waterproof boot that combines neoprene and rubber construction  “Neoprene boots have superior insulating property, that’s why deep sea divers use them when cold weather diving,” according to Servus Boots. “Our Outdoor Comfort Series Hi Boot has a cold-beating closed-cell neoprene sock, overlaid in UV-resistant 100% virgin rubber. Toe, heel and Achilles reinforcements provide added protection, and our tough, durable Geo Trac outsole is designed to be slip resistant.”

The RutMaster boot from Irish Setter introduces a whole new level of comfort. It features durable, scent-free, all-rubber construction, 1200-gram Thinsulate insulation and an exclusive ExoFlex comfort-fit system. “ExoFlex technology allows panels in the back of the boot to expand and, once the foot is securely in place, then detract for a lock-tight fit,” says Irish Setter. “It not only makes RutMaster the easiest on-off boot every designed, ExoFlex technology also holds the ankle in an anatomically correct position so you’ll enjoy an optimum fit and amazing all-day comfort.”

Before choosing any boot, be sure the outsole tread design matches the terrain you hunt. A shallow tread with a thin wavy pattern will provide good traction when traveling through mud, grass and other slick surfaces, but is not recommended for climbing over steep terrain. Tall lugs or thick rubber cleats will dig into hard surfaces such as rocks and clay, but can easily pack with mud if you suddenly move to swampy or marshy ground. Shallow lugs or air bobs, which are rounded knobs with hollow cores, offer good all-around traction and grip, yet may pickup and hold mud in extremely wet or soggy terrain.

You don’t “ready, fire, aim” when you hunt. Don’t do it when you shop for hunting apparel or boots. If you’re not in the know, just ask a Dunham’s professional to explain how new advancements in apparel design and boot construction can help make you a more comfortable and maybe even a more successful hunter.

-Deer Abby

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