Success in bow hunting often hinges on a few key moments each season. In these fleeting instances, it’s the small details that can make or break your hunt. As a former US Army Green Beret, I learned that success in combat—and staying alive—required doing everything right. Still, the enemy always had a vote. I take the same approach to deer hunting. We can’t go into the field hoping we’ll be successful; we have to do everything right, and even then, the deer has the final say.
While hunting shows and professionals might rely heavily on the perfect wind conditions and might not emphasize scent control or camouflage, we, as everyday bow hunters, often don’t have the luxury of ideal conditions or unlimited time in the field. We need to outsmart the buck in every possible way – from our choice of camouflage and scent control to the often-overlooked aspect of stealth in our hunting clothes.
Through years of hunting and countless hours of research, I’ve optimized my approach to maximize my chances in the field. This strategy revolves around three key principles: mastering effective camouflage, minimizing my scent, and optimizing the stealth of my hunting clothes.
In this blog post, I’ll share the results of my research and field tests, presenting a systematic approach to cover, concealment, and quiet movement for deer hunting. Let’s dive into my specific criteria for hunting clothes, and discover the brands that are leading the way in optimizing bow hunters’ ability to blend into the environment and be virtually undetectable when hunting.
Bow Hunting Clothes Review Criteria
The criteria outlined below provide a baseline for all the deer hunting-specific clothing reviews I write on this website.
- Disruption Camouflage: Optimize for Deer Vision
- Dual Action Scent Control: The Science of Scent
- Stealth and Quietness: The Unsung Heroes of Hunting Apparel
- Camo, Scent, and Stealth Optimized Bow Hunting Clothing
- Hunting Apparel Brands that Almost Meet the Mark
- Customize and Combine Bow Hunting Clothing for Optimal Results
- Frequently Asked Questions
Disruption Camouflage: Optimize for Deer Vision
Deer perceive their surroundings in a fundamentally different way than we do. Equipped with vision primarily geared towards detecting movement and contrasting colors, deer can easily spot out-of-place elements in their environment. This puts us bow hunters at a significant disadvantage unless we employ the right kind of camouflage to outsmart their keen senses.
That’s where the power of disruption camouflage comes into play. Unlike traditional mimicry camouflage, which attempts to directly replicate specific objects or environments (leaves, trees, etc.), disruption camouflage uses a strategic combination of macro and micro patterns. These patterns work to confuse a deer’s eyes, disrupting their ability to recognize the human shape and helping us blend seamlessly into various types of environments.
This method of camouflage is a scientifically proven game-changer in the field, significantly improving our chances of going unnoticed by these vigilant creatures. For an in-depth understanding of how disruption camouflage works and why it’s effective, feel free to check out my previous posts below about how this works and why.
*Does mimicry camo work for deer hunting? Of course, it does. Deer have limited ability to see fine details, making mimicry camo effective, especially in environments where the camo closely matches the surroundings. However, based on my experience, I choose disruption-style camo 90% of the time. Disruption-style camo is designed to break up the human outline and create visual confusion, providing reliable concealment in various environments. While mimicry camo excels in perfectly matched environments, disruption-style camo offers versatility and effectiveness even when the colors and patterns may not perfectly align. This is why disruption-style camo has become my preferred choice for its all-around performance.
Deer Vision and Camouflage
Dual Action Scent Control: The Science of Scent
Equally important as how deer see us if not more so, is their keen sense of smell. This sense serves as a crucial line of defense against potential threats, making our job as hunters incredibly challenging. A deer’s nose is akin to a sophisticated alarm system that can detect and identify a wide range of odors over great distances, and we need to bypass this system effectively to succeed.
While single-method scent controls can be helpful, they typically address only part of the issue. These methods often rely on antimicrobial agents like silver or substitute fabrics like merino wool to reduce odors. However, they can fall short of completely controlling human scent. This is where dual-action scent control comes into its own.
This approach combines the use of antimicrobial agents (like Silver)—which prevent the growth of odor-causing bacteria—with odor-adsorbing agents. These agents, such as activated carbon or high-end solutions like Polygiene Odor Crunch, work to trap and neutralize existing scents. By adopting a dual-action approach, you can significantly minimize your scent profile and increase your stealth in the field.
Understanding and effectively managing our scent can make a substantial difference in the field. For a deeper dive into the science behind scent control and the benefits of a dual-action approach, check out my detailed posts below.
Scent Control and Deer Hunting
- Scent Control Clothing for Deer Hunting: Yes or No?
- Polygiene vs. Scentlok: The Best Long-Hunt Solution
- Outsmart a Whitetail Deer’s Extraordinary Sense of Smell
- 26 Scent Control Tips for Deer Hunting (My Scent Routine)
- How to Use the Wind to Hunt Deer
- How Far Can a Deer Smell?
- Do Deer Have a Second Nose?
- Does Scent Control Clothing Work?
Stealth and Quietness: The Unsung Heroes of Hunting Apparel
The third pillar of effective hunting apparel lies in its ability to keep us unnoticed not just by sight and smell, but also by sound. The serene stillness of the woods can turn even the slightest rustle of our clothes into a loud announcement of our presence, alerting deer and thwarting our attempts at stealth.
This is why the material and design of hunting clothes play such a significant role in our hunting success. Quality hunting clothes brands often use soft, noise-reducing fabrics that minimize rustling sounds as we move. Materials like fleece or soft-shell fabrics, known for their low noise levels, are common choices.
Additionally, thoughtful design features like strategic seam placements and fewer loose parts can further reduce noise. By minimizing potential friction points and areas that could catch or rub, these designs ensure our movements stay as silent as possible.
Remember, in the quiet of the woods, even a whisper can sound like a shout. By choosing hunting clothes designed for stealth, we can ensure we stay as quiet as the wilderness around us.
My Latest Gear Reviews
- Exploring Sitka’s Equinox Guard: Hoody & Pants Review
- Asio Gear Review: Lightweight Pants & Hoodie for Bow Hunting
- Best Early Season Bow Hunting Pants for 2023
- Huntworth Early Season Gear: Gadsden & Durham Review
- Tethrd Skeletor Climbing Sticks Review: Lightweight & Durable
- 2023 Bow Hunting Gear List Breakdown (What I’m Carrying and Why)
Camo, Scent, and Stealth Optimized Bow Hunting Clothing
Surprisingly, the number of bow hunting clothing and apparel brands that successfully integrate all the things we just talked about; effective disruption camouflage, dual-action scent control, and noise reduction into their products are relatively few. This makes it all the more important to highlight and acknowledge their capabilities and value to fellow bow hunters.
These brands stand apart from the rest because they don’t just cater to hunters in general, but specifically address the unique challenges that bow hunters face. Their apparel is optimized not just for hunting, but for the close-range, stealth-requiring tactics that bow hunting requires.
In this section, I will showcase these brands and explain why their offerings are worth considering and why they are 100% optimized for bow hunters. By understanding the key features and advantages of these brands, you can make an informed decision that will elevate your hunting experiences.
FORLOH is a premium hunting apparel brand that stands out for its commitment to innovation, quality, and making everything it sells 100% Made in the USA. Their focus on producing everything in-house, from fabric creation to the final product, allows the brand to maintain rigorous quality control, ensuring that each piece of clothing meets the highest standards. Forloh also has a Lifetime Warranty on all their products and a free and easy returns process.
Forloh is a rising hunting clothes brand that is pushing the boundaries of technological innovation in the field. Notably, they incorporate dual-action scent control in their base layers, mid-layer clothing, facemasks, and headgear through advanced technologies: Polygiene Stay Fresh, an antimicrobial technology that prevents the growth of odor-causing bacteria, and Polygiene Odor Crunch, which neutralizes environmental odors.
Their approach to disruption camouflage is also unique, focusing on deer (ungulate) vision rather than appealing to human aesthetics. Their camouflage patterns, Deep Cover for close-in contact, and Exposed for distance dispersion, are built on this principle, making them some of the most advanced on the market. In addition, their clothing is all made to be exceptionally quiet.
*Forloh incorporates dual-action scent control into their early-season pants and shirts and mid-season base layers but not their mid or late-season outerwear. They operate under the assumption that a single layer of scent control is sufficient when using the Polygiene technology, expecting hunters to layer their apparel according to their recommended system. This approach allows for flexibility and customization based on the specific hunting conditions and needs of individual hunters.
Pnuma Outdoors is a recognized hunting apparel brand renowned for its dedication to quality and performance. Offering a diverse range of hunting gear, Pnuma Outdoors is committed to providing products that stand up to the rigors of the outdoors while ensuring optimal comfort and durability.
Their clothing incorporates advanced technologies like SilverStrike antimicrobial and also uses merino wool in a lot of products, demonstrating their understanding of the unique challenges faced by hunters. With a lifetime guarantee on all their products, Pnuma Outdoors instills confidence in hunters, enabling them to focus on the hunt rather than their gear.
Pnuma Outdoors, similar to Forloh, employs the advanced antimicrobial discussed above and Polygiene Odor Crunch technologies for a dual-action approach to scent control. Their Caza camouflage, designed to create depth and focal confusion, is highly effective for hunting ungulates like deer, elk, and sheep.
Moreover, Pnuma Outdoors puts a strong emphasis on stealth. They offer a range of clothing items that are designed to minimize noise, allowing hunters to move quietly and go unnoticed in the field using their super micro-brushed Tricot outer fabric. This makes them another excellent choice for bow hunters seeking to optimize their hunting apparel.
*To my knowledge, Forloh and Pnuma Outdoors are the only two hunting apparel brands currently offering products that fully meet all the criteria of having quiet fabrics, disruption-style camouflage, and dual-action scent control. These brands have gone the extra mile to create gear that is supremely optimized for bow hunting whitetail deer. If you have come across other brands that meet these standards and deserve to be included in this list, I welcome your suggestions. Let’s build this resource together and help our fellow bow hunters make the best gear choices possible.
Hunting Apparel Brands that Almost Meet the Mark
We all know that there are a lot of high-end hunting clothing companies that have incredible offerings for bow hunters. You can be successful hunting wearing almost anything depending on your tactics and hunting skills, but this is about optimization. Listed below are hunting apparel brands that almost meet the mark for optimizing their hunting apparel for bow hunters according to the standards set in this post.
Scentlok is the industry leader in dual-action scent control hunting clothes. Where Scentlok misses the mark is in their camouflage offerings. Most of their camo is proprietary mimicry camo from companies like Realtree and Mossy Oak, but they do have a few items that are also available in True Timber Strata which is a great disruption style camo.
I consider scent control to trump camo and we all know that any camo that helps you blend into your environment is better than no camo at all, so Scentlok is still a top-tier option for bow hunters. Unfortunately, they are still pretty old school when it comes to their camouflage offerings.
Sitka Gear, owned by Gore-Tex, is arguably the premier hunting clothes company in the USA. I own quite a few items from Sitka and believe the quality of their hunting clothes surpasses most. Sitka is an industry leader in disruption-style camouflage created specifically for ungulate hunters of deer, elk, and sheep. They have invested millions of dollars in developing advanced camos like their Optifade Open County, Subalpine, and Elevated II offerings. In addition, they offer some of the most bow hunter-centric, stealthy, and quiet hunting clothes on the market. However, where Sitka falls short is in scent control.
Sitka only offers a single-action approach to scent control based on antimicrobial odor control with Polygiene’s Stay Fresh and merino wool based apparel and does not incorporate any odor-adsorbing technologies. Despite their relationship with Polygiene, they have yet to integrate Polygiene’s Odor Crunch odor-adsorbing technology.
Asio Gear is a small company that’s deeply committed to crafting bow hunting clothing specifically for bow hunters. They offer a unique approach to camouflage with their Asio Raptor Camo, drawing inspiration from the Great Horned Owl, which employs ‘disruptive coloration’ with a blurred pattern to fool a deer’s dichromatic vision. Characterized by high-contrast light and dark markings, it creates a visual effect that can render the wearer difficult to distinguish, even when in close proximity to deer or other prey. Especially when hunting in a tree.
Asio integrates antimicrobial odor control directly into the fabric during the production process, ensuring a lifelong treatment for their clothing. However, like Sitka, Asio falls short in providing dual-action odor-adsorbing technology.
When it comes to quietness and stealth, Asio Gear’s hunting apparel has received positive reviews for its quiet materials and design that minimizes noise. This is a crucial feature for bow hunters who need to approach their targets closely.
Honorable Mentions and Where to Go From Here
There are numerous other companies that come close to ticking all the boxes, and while it would take an entire day to highlight each one in this post, I’ve compiled a brief list of top-tier brands that offer quiet and stealthy choices for bow hunters, despite falling short in other areas:
- Under Armour: Under Armour has a powerful zeolite and silver-based dual-action scent control system in their UA Scent Control and focuses mainly on mimicry camo. UA Hunting clothes are some of the best you will find with this kind of scent control.
- BlockerOutdoors: This brand is quite comparable to Scentlok, with a focus on mimicry-style camo offerings.
- Kuiu: Very similar to Sitka, Kuiu is one of the top hunting apparel brands in the USA and offers advanced disruption-style camo and high-end products, but they employ a single-action antimicrobial approach to scent control.
- First Lite: Renowned for their merino wool base layers and innovative disruption-style camo designs, First Lite also offers solid options for hunters. While their primary focus is on providing breathable, moisture-wicking, and quiet clothing, they do not have a specific dual-action scent control technology in their offerings. Despite this, their quality garments can still be a valuable addition to a hunter’s gear, especially in the base layer category.
- Drake Waterfowl: Drake’s Non-Typical line of deer hunting-focused clothes are treated with dual-action scent control Agion Active XL. Drake uses mimicry-style camo and provides very affordable prices.
- Kryptek: With an incredibly diverse range of disruption-style camouflage and high-end gear, Kryptek only offers an antimicrobial approach to scent control.
- Badlands: While they offer two disruption-style camos, much like the others on this list, Badlands only uses an antimicrobial approach to scent control.
- Huntworth: A budget-friendly brand that also has extremely advanced disruption-style camos and antimicrobial scent control, making it a great option for bow hunters tight on cash. *Huntworth has added some dual-action scent control items to their lineup in 2023.
Customize and Combine Bow Hunting Clothing for Optimal Results
Achieving the perfect balance of camouflage, scent control, and stealth throughout the deer hunting season can be challenging, especially during the hotter early season. This is why I adopt multiple strategies for scent and stealth, including a flexible scent control routine and using the wind and thermals to my advantage.
Despite not fully meeting the dual-action scent control criteria, several high-end hunting clothing brands provide impressive features that make them excellent choices for base and mid-layers. Combining different brands allows me to maximize camouflage, scent control, and stealth. Brands like Forloh, Pnuma, and Scentlok offer some of my favorite scent control baselayers and mid-layers and I wear them often. For those seeking budget-friendly alternatives, Element Outdoors is a fantastic choice too. I wear these under higher-end options like those I talked about above including Asio and Sitka.
Each bow hunter is unique, from the environments we hunt in, to the game we pursue, and even our individual preferences and hunting styles. It’s therefore essential to customize your approach when selecting your hunting apparel.
While I’ve outlined some of the top hunting clothes brands that excel in camouflage, scent control, and stealth, don’t feel bound to choose one brand for all your gear. Instead, consider mixing and matching items from various brands to meet your specific needs.
For instance, you might prefer the camouflage patterns of one brand, the scent control technology of another, and the comfort and stealth features of a third. By combining these, you can create a customized hunting apparel set that fits your unique hunting style and circumstances. This approach not only allows for greater flexibility but also opens up a wider range of options to suit your budget.
Just as we adapt our hunting strategies based on the game, weather, and terrain, we should also adapt our hunting apparel to best equip us for success. Remember, the key is to find what works best for you in your specific hunting environment.
Whether you’re a seasoned bow hunter or new to the game, integrating these principles into your hunting approach can help you maximize your chances of success. These aren’t just theoretical ideas; they’re techniques I’ve tested and refined in the field, rooted in my experiences as a Green Beret and as a dedicated bow hunter.
Remember, the best bow hunting clothes brands aren’t just about aesthetics; they’re about practicality and performance. And while the perfect hunting apparel won’t guarantee a successful hunt, it can provide an edge that could make all the difference when the crucial moment arrives. I am always looking for an additional 2-3 seconds when the moment of truth comes and a big buck is coming in. That’s what this bow hunting clothing criterion is all about.
As I’ve learned both in combat and in the woods, success is about doing everything right—even when the enemy, or the deer, can’t predict your next move. So, make every effort count. Choose hunting clothes that meet the criteria we’ve discussed, and step into the field with confidence. Good luck!
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