Dressing for a day sitting in the treestand might seem simple. Put on your favorite bowhunting duds and go, right? Not so fast, friend.
When it’s hot out, it’s easy to get all sweaty on the hike to your stand. Then once you’re sitting, you’re just sitting there wet and stinking.
When it’s cold out, it’s easy to overheat on the walk in, and then when you’re sitting, that sweat will make you real cold, real fast.
So how do you dress to be comfortable at all times?
First, let’s break down a hunt into two parts. The hike in is Part One. Sitting is Part Two.
Let’s start the discussion with an early-season, hot-weather hunt. Then we’ll switch to a hunt in the cold. Using those two hunts for reference, you can then modify what you do on in-between hunts.
Try to avoid sweating too much during early-season hunts. You could have a long hike followed by a climb into a stand. When it’s hot out, that’s a good deal of strenuous activity that can lead to sweating.
You need to get that sweat off your body. Wear lightweight, moisture-wicking base layers — shirt and pants. These clothes, made of synthetic material like polyester or nylon, will work for you, lifting sweat off your skin and moving it to the atmosphere to evaporate.
Cotton is a bowhunter’s worst enemy. Whether it’s cold or hot, cotton captures and holds sweat like no other fabric. And once it gets wet, it stinks. Do not wear anything cotton next to your skin when bowhunting. Period.
If it’s so hot and/or humid that you’re soaked by the time you reach your stand, it’s a good idea to have a change of clothes in your backpack. Wait at the base of your tree for a few minutes so you can cool down a bit, then change and climb up.
On stand for hot-weather hunts, wear as much or as little as you think will keep you comfortable. Covering your arms and legs with camouflage clothing is a good idea to hide you from wary eyes, so consider a lightweight, long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Again, clothes made of moisture-wicking material are a good idea. Top off your ensemble with a facemask and a baseball hat, and you’re ready to sit.
On cold-weather hunts, you need a little more planning and potentially a lot of backpack space. You want to be comfortable during the hike in to the stand, without overheating. That usually means dressing lightly at the truck and then hauling on your back much of the clothing that you’ll wear when it comes time to sit.
How lightly you dress for the hike depends on how far you have to go and how cold it is. There are plenty of moisture-wicking base layers that also have fleece to keep you warm, so those are a good option if it’s particularly cold.
Consider wearing a vest up top instead of a jacket for the hike in. Vests are great for keeping your core warm while allowing heat to escape at the armpits, where you’re likely to sweat. Cover your head with just a baseball hat or a light beanie, again, with the intent of guarding against the cold, while not overheating.
At the stand, it’s time to switch gears from moving to sitting. Now you can start pulling layers out of your pack. You don’t have to put on everything at once. Add layers through the sit as you start feeling colder.
Fleece is a bowhunter’s friend. It’s quiet and warm. Anything you can find with fleece in it is going to be great for a cold day on stand.
Bulky clothing is one of the banes of bowhunting because it can inhibit free movement of the bowstring. So rather than hauling one big, heavyweight jacket to wear in the stand, consider bringing in several thinner layers that will give you the warmth without the bulk.
Let’s say you wear a wicking T-shirt and a thermal, long-sleeved shirt on your hike to the stand. Maybe have a fleece pullover shirt, a vest and a fleece jacket in your pack to add through the hunt as needed.
For your lower body, carry a pair of fleece bibs. (See what I mean about needing a lot of pack space when it’s cold?) Bibs are great for warming your legs and midsection. With just pants and a jacket, heat can escape at your lower back when you’re sitting.
Bring a neck gaiter and a thick beanie. You’ll be surprised how much you can warm up simply by protecting your neck, face and head.
Bowhunters need to think about their hands in cold weather. Do you plan to shoot with gloves on? If so, keep them thin. Thick gloves soften the contact between your hand and the bow, which can make it difficult to find the correct hand position for shooting. If you plan to take off your gloves before shooting, then consider large gloves that you can pull off fast. Carrying a hand muff that straps around your waist is a good idea for hand warmth too.
Learning how to properly dress for a treestand bowhunt requires constant refinement. The more you hunt in varied conditions, the more you’ll learn what you need to be comfortable.