Wearing merino wool for hunting is the perfect way to stay warm and dry so that you can focus on what you’re really out in the cold hoping to accomplish – bagging that big game animal to fill your freezer!
Hunting gear, especially clothes, socks, and gloves worn right next to skin, needs to be warm and comfortable. Even more importantly, they cannot bunch up or be itchy.
Imagine stalking through woods or lying on your stomach waiting for a sighting – and feeling cold, wet, or itchy. You get the picture, right? Not fun!
Wool is one of the warmest natural materials known to man, theoretically the best material for outdoor, hunting material. But wool often tends to be itchy, something you can’t afford.
Enter merino wool, an ideal material for hunting clothes!
What is Merino Wool?
Merino sheep became known in 12th century Morocco. The sheep were further developed in Spain, then eventually Australia and New Zealand. Throughout, they continued to be known for their soft, thin wool, a quality that makes them famous and sought after to this day.
Though merino sheep were grown in Vermont for a time, their population died out over time – rams from the Vermont merino population were introduced into Australia in the 19th century.
Today, most stock of merino wool comes from Australia, with some coming from Canada and New Zealand.
Characteristics of Merino Wool
Like all wool, merino wool is a natural fiber made of keratin – the same fiber that human hair is made of – along with portions of sodium, calcium, and fat. As such, they are better than synthetic clothing materials.
Merino wool further distinguishes itself from normal wool in a number of ways:
- It is naturally flexible wool which happens to be very durable.
- It’s milder, less irritating, and more adoptable.
- It is naturally light.
Simply put, merino wool is often the best option when choosing outdoor, comfortable wear.
Why Choose Merino Wool for Hunting?
Wool is breathable, keeping moisture away. It is insulating, which means that wearers are warm during cold weather, and vice versa. It is also layered enough to allow for adjustments based on levels of exertion. Wearing wool next to the skin is the best way to keep warm and comfortable under cold and wet conditions as often happens during hunts.
Merino wool is softer, lighter, and more flexible than regular wool – making it easier to wear over an extended period of time, as is often required when hunting. That, in a nutshell, is why merino wool is often coveted by hunters.
Merino wool is lightweight, but it generates as much heat as normal wool. This attribute helps in strenuous activities, such as hunting and trekking, greatly.
Besides comfort, merino wool clothing is also really easy to take care of. Regardless of where you’ve been, merino wool clothing can easily be washed in washing machines most of the time.
Best Brands for Merino Wool Hunting Clothes
There are several brands that carry merino wool hunting clothes, but our recommendation is First Lite products. They have some of the best quality and customer service in the industry. You can read more about my review of First Lite hunting apparel.
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I wear this merino wool base layer piece underneath my coat or as a layer of its own when the temperatures start to warm.
I tried these for the first time on last year’s elk hunt and they were great. They stayed dry and the moisture wicking kept my skin dry.
I’ve used this base layer bottom for every elk hunt so far and I can’t recommend them enough. The boot top feature allows the base layer to stop around the middle of your shin which keeps you from having a double layer with your tall socks. They’re a great wicking base layer when temperatures range from cold to warm.
I just bought these full-length merino wool long johns for this year’s backcountry elk hunt. I expect them to work as well as my other First Lite merino wool pieces and I’ll report back on how they performed.
Additional Merino Wool for hunting options
- Smartwool Men’s PhD Hunt Over-the-Calf Heavy Merino Wool Socks
- First Lite Aerowool Neck Gaiter
- First Lite Obsidian Foundry Pant
- First Lite Tag Cuff Merino Beanie
Merino wool has become a standard-bearer in terms of a material that simply works for hunters when they seek clothes – be it tops, bottoms, gloves, or socks.
Look for the brand qualities and prices that work for you. You won’t be disappointed!
More Hunting Tips and Tricks
- My Honest Review of First Lite Technical Hunting Apparel
- 6 Resources for Planning Your First DIY Colorado Public Land Elk Hunt
- 2018 Colorado Over-the-Counter Elk Hunt
Primal Pioneer is a food blog and public land hunting resource by Mike and Jennifer Shreckengost. We’re a husband and wife team who combined their two passions – a love of the outdoors and food – into a joint effort with Primal Pioneer! You’ll find resources on planning and executing your own DIY over-the-counter public land big game hunt, along with wild game recipes featuring mostly venison and elk.