You’ve probably had that dream before where you realize you’re not wearing any pants. Were you ever in a deer stand in that dream? When it comes to hunting, pants aren’t just fashion. They’re an important part of your gear. They’re involved in several aspects of the hunt from camouflage to weather protection.
Picking hunting pants is about more than just finding the right size. Different situations, areas and climates all call for different features. As a bowhunter and a sportsman, take the time to research how your pants can affect your success. We’ve compiled some important tips to get you started after which we’ve laid out the pros and cons of our favorite seven pairs of hunting pants.
Our Top Hunting Pants Picks
- SITKA Equinox– “Top of our list because it minimizes sound and scent”
- HECS Suit– “We were impressed because it blocks your electromagnetic field”
- Cabela’s Men’s Lookout – “A great choice for its compact, easily packable design”
- Cabela’s Men’s Outfitter Series - Wooltimate – “Perfect for cold-weather hunting”
- King’s Camo Cotton Six Pocket– “The value of these pants is hard to beat”
- Kryptek Men’s Tactical Stalker– “The honeycomb camo stands out on our list and not in the woods”
- CQR Men’s Tactical Pants– “Versatile pockets make these ideal bowhunting pants”
Wool vs synthetic fabrics
There are a lot of options out there when it comes to fibers for your clothing. Some are natural, but many—especially the more affordable options—are made from a synthetic material or blend of materials.
Wool is a solid, traditional option. Other natural fibers like cotton have their advantages too, but synthetic fibers can also maximize certain features. Having some of each in your wardrobe, to mix and match as you see fit, keeps your prepared for any outdoor conditions.
For warmth, choose wool. It performs great, even when wet—actually creating heat. It is water repellent and functional, even when saturated. Wool can also help block your scent, and it’s quiet.
Not everyone will need the warmth that wool provides, though. If you’re hunting in a warmer climate or taking advantage of early bow season, it might not be necessary.
There are some drawbacks to wool as well. Wool can be heavy, especially when wet. It can also be restrictive. This can be a major problem for bowhunting where precise movements are key to an accurate shot. It’s also known for being itchy, if you’re sensitive to wool, it’s worth investing in synthetics instead.
The draw toward synthetic material might start with the price tag and its ready availability. But that’s not all synthetic materials have to offer. They’re often lightweight and thin, which means they can be worn with layers. They also maximize mobility.
So what’s the catch? They generally don’t perform as well in the elements, and they’re actually more flammable.
Know what you plan to do and where and when you’re going to do it before committing to your wardrobe. It’s worth doing your research when choosing a fabric because they all have their pros and cons.
What’s best for hot or cold weather?
Extreme weather can be difficult to dress for. This is especially true when you’re exposed to elements like rain, snow and wind.
Your go-to when dressing for a hunting trip should be layers.
Personally, I start with thermal underwear on the bottom. Over that I put canvas hiking pants and a knit sweater. If it’s really cold I’ll even add a flannel shirt before putting on my camo. A fleece vest is also a great cold-weather option because keeping your chest warm will help regulate your body temperature.
On an icy morning before dawn, you’ll be grateful for the added warmth. Of course, once the sun comes up, and you’ve climbed up into your tree, it might be too much. That’s when you can start stripping off layers.
Invest in a good hat too—about 10 percent of your body heat is lost through an uncovered head. Protect your neck from biting winds with a collared jacket or scarf.
If heat is more the issue where you live, you’ll still want to look for headgear. You’ll want a hat that shades your face, as well as something to cover the exposed back of your neck. Natural or breathable materials will be a must.
Tip – Animals don’t care if your gear matches
Matching gear is tempting, but at the end of the day, it will be for your benefit only. Functional clothing and gear are much more important than what they look like or whether they’re part of a matching set.
The one thing that will matter when it comes to your clothing and gear is color, so be savvy with your choices. Deer are red-green color blind and can’t tell the difference between green, red and orange. However, they can see the color blue, so that’s one to stay away from.
Other things to look for when choosing hunting pants
Where and where you are hunting will impact the features you need in your pants.
This one should go without saying. You want to be able to hunt effectively, rain or shine. Even if it’s not pouring outside, morning dew or damp leaves can still get you plenty wet.
Keep in mind that not all waterproof material is created equal. You want to stay protected from the weather, but remember that anything with a completely impermeable, plastic-like finish won’t be breathable.
Quiet gear can make or break your shot.
There’s no place for noisy material in the field. Bowhunters have to make several precise and delicate movements to make an accurate shot. Any seasoned hunter probably has a story of when their jacket rustling spooked a deer.
Cotton and other natural fibers tend to be quiet, but they do have drawbacks. While cotton is breathable, it won’t be waterproof. Wool is waterproof, but it’s also warm and can be restrictive. Try to strike a good balance between weather protection, breathability and sound prevention.
Camouflage and quiet fabrics are essential, but they’re not the only deer sense you have to hide from. Deer rely on all of their senses for protection, their sense of smell is much stronger than ours. In fact, it might be their best tool of all.
Scent-blocking fabrics, as well as staying downwind of your quarry, can help give you an extra competitive edge.
Knee-length zippers may seem like an unnecessary convenience, but if you’re properly layering, they can be a real asset. These zippers start at the knee and extend down the hem of the pant leg. They let you wear thicker socks or high boots.
If you’ve got more than one camo layer on, they’re extra handy. You can remove your pants without taking off your boots. This also keeps you from clanging around up in your stand, hobbling to get your boots off.
Pockets are a big feature for bowhunters. You’ll want a quick place to stash your release or rangefinder. Pay attention to how deep the pockets are, where they’re located, and whether or not they are easy to get into. Some may even have pockets specifically designed for certain accessories.
You also want them quiet and easy to open, but you need at least one pocket that fastens shut. These are great for items you need less frequent access to but don’t want to risk losing like your hunting license. Many have zippers, but buttons can be a good option too. They might be less convenient, but they’re much quieter.
Some pants will include a belt, others will have belt loops, or be held up with suspenders or an elastic waist. This can help you customize the pants to your exact needs and preferences. If it isn’t functional and comfortable, go with something else.
When shopping for your next pair of pants, consider whether or not you want knee pads. Some pants come with them sewn in, while others may have removable pads.
Knee pads make pants more durable. Especially if you’re standing up and down a lot or getting down on your knees to track, they’ll prevent holes from forming in the knees. Make sure they don’t impede your mobility, though.
Knee pads can be bought separately. If you’ve had a problem with knee holes in the past, consider this investment. You can use them with different kinds of pants and take them off if you’re positioned and need more mobility for your stance.
Don’t forget to try everything on together before heading out. A functional, comfortable outfit is one of your best tools.
Our Top Picks In Detail
The SITKA Equinox are like a suit tailored for bowhunters.
First of all, they work great for the early season bow hunt. They’re durable and waterproof. This is especially important if you live in an area where those early September and October hunts mean a high chance of rain.
Thanks to four-way nylon stretch, they’re light and breathable and don’t interfere with your mobility. Unfortunately, that means they can get cold come the late season. You can add extra layers, of course, but this will affect the mobility of the pants.
Roomy pockets also make these a bowhunting dream. You probably have a lot of small equipment, not to mention your phone and hand warmers. Plus, strong zippers mean you won’t lose anything.
Equinox pants even minimize sound and scent, and of course camo keeps you hidden from the deer’s eyes. SITKA even uses a proprietary digital pattern called Elevated II. You can hunt effectively and in style.
- Great for early eason
- Light, mobile stretch fabric
- Roomy pockets
- Minimize sound and scent
- Effective camo pattern
- Minimal insulation
The HECS Suit is straight up futuristic. It actually blocks the electrical fields created by the human body, electrical fields which deer can sense. It sounds like something from a sci-fi movie, but it can actually make a big difference.
Despite its high-tech features, this suit is still lightweight. The fabric is comfortable, which is nice for anyone who plans to do all-day hunts. Plus, it’s machine washable. Even with its advanced design, it’s still convenient.
Speaking of convenience, this suit has thumb holes. It might not seem like much, but for an archer, keeping your hands and wrists warm is imperative. Just be careful when picking a size. HECS can run small.
- Electric-field-blocking fabric
- Three-piece set
- Thumb holes
- Sizing runs small
Cabela’s Men’s Lookout
Since deer hunting season mostly takes place in the fall, layers are a must. Cabela’s men’s lookout pants are lightweight, so you can easily wear them over thicker gear. These are a great all-season pair of pants. They won’t be too hot in the early season, but you can use them on a frigid December morning as well.
These pants are also impressively quiet. For a bowhunter quiet fabric is extra important because you make more moving drawing for your shot. The material is flexible, too, so you can get in your best stance possible.
The pockets are disappointingly shallow, but there are a lot of them.
Two front pockets, two side pockets, and one rear pocket mean there are plenty of places to stash your accessories.
Finally, these pants are durable. Knee pads keep the material from wearing down, so they’ll last you season after season of rough weather and terrain. Cabella even sells them with a warranty, which means they stand behind their product’s quality.
- Lightweight and easily packable
- Quiet, flexible fabric
- Knee pads
- Shallow pockets
Cabela’s Men’s Outfitter Series: Wooltimate
Well, if you like puns, these are the pants for you. And we’re not just talking about the name. Wooltimate pants also come with “windshear technology,” which had to be on purpose.
Seriously, though, these pants mean business. The wool is warm and comfortable, and Cabela’s took steps to minimize wool’s downsides. The material is also blended with fleece, so it’s light and quiet. Plus, that windshear technology protects you from the elements.
Woolimate pants are versatile. They’re available in two exclusive camo patterns to suit different hunting areas. One is digital and the other classic woodland. With six pockets—two front, two side, and two back—there’s plenty of space for accessories depending on your specific situation.
These pants have reinforced knee pads. This along with the weather-protective technology make Woolimate pants extremely durable. They’re great for bowhunters in cold and windy areas who are going to be battling the elements season after season.
- Windshear technology
- Warm but light wool blend
- Quiet fabric
- Two camo patterns
- Inconsistent sizing
King’s Camo Cotton Six Pocket
King’s is renown for revolutionizing camo patterns. Now they’ve extended their clothing line as well as their print options.
With these pants specifically, King’s really focused on comfort. They’re a cotton and polyester blend, so they’re breathable and effective in a lot of different kinds of weather for long periods of time. Since bowhunting season is so long, this is really helpful. You won’t have to buy multiple sets of gear, and since these are already in a low price range, they’re a great economical option. The one disadvantage of the cotton fabric is that it can wear down more easily.
The waist is elastic, so they’ll still fit after Thanksgiving. The seat is also reinforced for maximum comfort while sitting in your stand. The deep pockets let you keep a wider range of accessories with you, or you can fill them with hand warmers when the weather gets cold in the late season. These King’s pants are a great choice for anyone looking for a low-price option they can use all season long.
- Effective camo patterns
- Breathable cotton/polyester blend
- Low price range
- Reinforced seat
- Deep pockets
- Subject to wear
Kryptek Men’s Tactical Stalker
The Tactical Stalker pants are another cotton and polyester blend. The poly blend is more hygienic than a full-cotton option. It prevents the growth of mildew, even in multi-day, wet conditions. They’re also less likely to shrink, which helps maintain comfort.
Since they’re cotton, these pants are breathable. Unlike a lot of other cotton gear, though, Kryptec added heavy-duty stitching and reinforced knees and seat. All this prevents the pants from wearing down while still keeping them in an affordable price range.
The honeycomb camo pattern is where these Kryptec pants really shine. Other camo types traditionally work well up close but lose effectiveness at a distance. These work equally well in both scenarios. This is important for bowhunters because you will often have to wait for longer periods with your quarries feeding far away until they come close enough for a shot. You don’t want them spotting you during this period.
- Anti-mildew cotton/polyester blend
- Durable stitching
- Reinforced knees and seat
- Low price range
- Effective, versatile camouflage
- Retain moisture
CQR Men’s Tactical Pants
These pants are indeed tactical. They’re made from Duratex, a material that repels both dirt and moisture to keep you clean and dry for long periods. They resist fading, shrinking, and wrinkles. This means they’ll stay comfortable, and the camo will continue to be effective season after season.
With eight pockets, you have room for everything you need. Even more impressive, they’re specialized and versatile.The front pockets are roomy and convenient to reach, so you can put your wrist guard or release there. The back pockets have a hook and loop closure for their flap. This will keep something secure you don’t want falling out like your phone or wallet. There’s even a specific pocket for your knife.
These pants are lightweight, but the flipside of their water-repellant design is a lack of breathability. They’re great for the late season or colder climates, but they’re not your best bet if you’re going to be hunting in Florida in September. They do, however, serve anyone hunting in snow. You don’t have to worry about it melting down into your gear.
- Water-resistant Duratex material
- Versatile pockets
- Great for cold weather
- Not great for hot weather