Layering System for a western hunting newbie

Joined
Jan 5, 2024
Messages
36
Location
Indiana
Hey folks, I have been reading threads similar to this one and it has been very beneficial. I would like to get some input on my specific system for an upcoming mid-September (9/12-9/23) hunt I have in CO at 10k+ feet. I likely have all the necessary pieces but am struggling to figure out what I actually need to take from an upper body standpoint as this is a backpack hunt. I am an avid whitetail hunter in the midwest and also do a lot of hiking which is why I have the gear I already have. Options below:

Base layers
Top
1. FL Wick Crew
2. FL Kiln 1/4 zip
Bottom
1. FL Wick boot tops
2. FL Kiln full length

Pants
1. FL Corrugate Guide pants
2. Sitka Dew Point pants

Mid layers and Jackets (tell what I need to take and what to leave at home)

1. FL Origin Hoody
2. FL Catalyst Jacket
3. Patagonia Nano Puff jacket
4. Patagonia Nano Puff vest
5. Orvis PRO vest (primaloft active insulation)
5. FL Unc Foundry
6. Sitka Dew Point
UPDATE: 7. Just bought an Ambient Jacket (40% off right now at GoHunt)

Appreciate the advice. Don't want to overpack or pack the wrong stuff!
 
Last edited:

Deli

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Apr 17, 2020
Messages
136
No expert here, but last year I did a CO muzzleloader hunt during this same week and we were around 11k ft. so I'll chime in. Base layer I wore a 180 weight merino wool shirt and around that weight for leg base layers (zip off's were great). Mid layer I wore a peloton 97, but any 100 weight or grid fleece will work. I also brought a wind shirt type jacket that was 5 oz. and I really liked, but not necessarily needed if you're counting ounces. Bring a puffy coat for cold mornings and sitting around and then any lightweight gore tex rain jacket and pants. Also consider bringing some gaiters which are nice to have on damp mornings. Some gloves and a beanie for cold mornings are good too. I wouldn't bother with any kind of softshell as it's too heavy and you won't really use it hiking around.

In terms of importance for what you should have and/or be researching, I would put Boots, Pack, Sleep System (tent, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag/quilt), Bugling/Calling, and E-Scouting.

Also look up how to avoid altitude sickness. I got pretty sick on the first day and it sucked. Otherwise just get just get in good shape (rucking, cardio, and lifting) and enjoy the trip!
 
OP
hoosierhunter11
Joined
Jan 5, 2024
Messages
36
Location
Indiana
No expert here, but last year I did a CO muzzleloader hunt during this same week and we were around 11k ft. so I'll chime in. Base layer I wore a 180 weight merino wool shirt and around that weight for leg base layers (zip off's were great). Mid layer I wore a peloton 97, but any 100 weight or grid fleece will work. I also brought a wind shirt type jacket that was 5 oz. and I really liked, but not necessarily needed if you're counting ounces. Bring a puffy coat for cold mornings and sitting around and then any lightweight gore tex rain jacket and pants. Also consider bringing some gaiters which are nice to have on damp mornings. Some gloves and a beanie for cold mornings are good too. I wouldn't bother with any kind of softshell as it's too heavy and you won't really use it hiking around.

In terms of importance for what you should have and/or be researching, I would put Boots, Pack, Sleep System (tent, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag/quilt), Bugling/Calling, and E-Scouting.

Also look up how to avoid altitude sickness. I got pretty sick on the first day and it sucked. Otherwise just get just get in good shape (rucking, cardio, and lifting) and enjoy the trip!
Thanks man, good tips! I have all other gear dialed in (Exo Pack, good sleep system, good boots, Garmin Inreach, etc.) and am enjoying the training intensity when I have something like this ahead of me. Cannot wait!

You have a good point about the soft shell. I am considering ditching that Catalyst and maybe getting something like Sitka Ambient to have under puffy if it gets really cold or just the Ambient while hiking. Were you fortunate to fill your tag?!
 

fngTony

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For the hunt you’re doing the only bottoms I would wear under my pants would be either silk weight or a midweight with the zip off feature. I’ve gone with a couple different philosophies here, extremely light pants (kuiu Tiburon) with zip off bottoms and light rain pants or a midweight pant (kuiu attack) with lightweight rain pants. Both will work. It’s just a matter of preferring some simplicity in your system or being able to dial it in a little bit better for the conditions.

I am a fan of the Dew Point set, a little overkill for Colorado most of the time but if you already have it, use it.

What I use for my tops is a very lightweight sun hoodie with micro holes in it (OR echo), a lightweight fleece hoodie (peloton 97), lightweight down jacket (kuiu super down) and a Dew point jacket. Not sure what the direct comparison would be between with what I have and what you have, just wanted to give you some ideas for comparison.

Something to consider out here in Colorado is the air temperature might only be 55° while you’re hunting but the sun factor will easily add 10° plus when you’re moving your generating heat and your pack straps pack against your back and bino harness if you’re wearing one all kinda limit your bodies ability to expel heat that’s why I like my first layer to be as light and breathable as possible. I will add lightweight gloves facemask before putting my mid layer on. Once I’m moving slowly or sitting still it’s a different story.
 

Deli

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Apr 17, 2020
Messages
136
Thanks man, good tips! I have all other gear dialed in (Exo Pack, good sleep system, good boots, Garmin Inreach, etc.) and am enjoying the training intensity when I have something like this ahead of me. Cannot wait!

You have a good point about the soft shell. I am considering ditching that Catalyst and maybe getting something like Sitka Ambient to have under puffy if it gets really cold or just the Ambient while hiking. Were you fortunate to fill your tag?!
My one buddy had an ambient and he loved it, but the rest of us just had 100 weight fleeces and were all comfortable. I really don't know of a situation where I would have used a softshell. If I needed more warmth, I put on my puffy. If I needed to block the wind, I'd just on my shell. Any other time I was hiking and sweating.

Sadly we didn't fill a tag. We saw a couple of good bulls who were pretty vocal, but not ready to fight so we struggled to get close for muzzleloader range with open sights. It was my first time elk hunting, so I definitely made mistakes and learned from it. I'm doing a Nov WY elk hunt this year and can't wait. Good luck!
 

Redthies

FNG
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Top of the 395
I’d be taking everything in your base layer and pants, and in the tops go for the Orvis vest, Nano jacket and Dew Point. You need to be prepared for the whole range of weather from sunny and 70s to snow. I first wore my Unc Foundary while camped on the Uncompahgre River in the last week of Sept. That said, it’s a bit bulky for a multi day backpack hunt. The Ambient (if you get one) and Nano combined should be enough warmth. If you were going a few weeks later I’d say take the Unc for sure, but your time slot is a crap shoot weather wise.

Photos were last Sept 30th at 10-11,000. We were there with 3 bird dogs, so fairly gear heavy. You can see if it turns (and it did) you can get Unc-omfortable pretty quick.



 

shwacker

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Aug 21, 2022
Messages
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For a backpack, depending on forecast, I'd carry the wick T-shirt, kiln top, nano puff jacket, and dew point jacket for tops. Wick bottoms, corrugate, and dew point for pants. Might skip the rain pants, again depending on forecast and how long/far I'd actually be out. Hats make a big difference in warmth!

Have fun!!!
 
OP
hoosierhunter11
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Messages
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Location
Indiana
Appreciate all the feedback so far. I ended up purchasing a Sitka Ambient jacket (40% right now!!) to throw in the mix. I'm thinking for upper layers I go with Wick crew, kiln 1/4 zip, Ambient Jacket, Nano Puff, and Dew Point. All 3 of those jackets are super packable.
 
OP
hoosierhunter11
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Messages
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Location
Indiana
My one buddy had an ambient and he loved it, but the rest of us just had 100 weight fleeces and were all comfortable. I really don't know of a situation where I would have used a softshell. If I needed more warmth, I put on my puffy. If I needed to block the wind, I'd just on my shell. Any other time I was hiking and sweating.

Sadly we didn't fill a tag. We saw a couple of good bulls who were pretty vocal, but not ready to fight so we struggled to get close for muzzleloader range with open sights. It was my first time elk hunting, so I definitely made mistakes and learned from it. I'm doing a Nov WY elk hunt this year and can't wait. Good luck!
Happy to hear you were in on some action though! I myself have an archery elk tag but I'm hunting with two others who have muzzy elk tags. Good luck on your WY hunt!
 

junitas03

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Aug 9, 2023
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Location
New York
Appreciate all the feedback so far. I ended up purchasing a Sitka Ambient jacket (40% right now!!) to throw in the mix. I'm thinking for upper layers I go with Wick crew, kiln 1/4 zip, Ambient Jacket, Nano Puff, and Dew Point. All 3 of those jackets are super packable.

My only feedback would be to switch out the 1/4 Zip to a hooded layer / get some hoodies in the mix.

I was in CO, last year - last week of September, similar elevation, backpack hunt and 6 days. For what it's worth, I went with a SG Chinook LS, SG Helio, Sitka Ambient Hoody & SG Grumman Lite. Bottoms I wore Fjallraven Keb Agiles, KUIU Ultra Merino Socks.

In my pack I carried a Sitka Core Lightweight SS, which I ended up wearing a couple days under the SG Helio or under the Ambient.

Daytime was warm, nighttimes got cold - having (at least two) hooded layers might offer more versatility, esp. in the mornings / evenings.

Other than my first layer, I'm a big hoodie guy. Personal comfort thing. And, IMO easier to pop on and off vs. a beanie.
 

taskswap

WKR
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Oct 6, 2021
Messages
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This is a super subjective area (I hate hoodies) but everything here was great advice. One thing I'd add is if it's your first time and you don't mind a little insurance, carry a spare base layer shirt like you carry a spare pair of socks, and for the same reason. If you misjudge, you can be a pool of sweat by mid-day an come nightfall for temps to drop 40-50 degrees. It can be really nice to have the option to put on a dry undershirt when the chill sets in.
 

ForlohFamily

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Hey folks, I have been reading threads similar to this one and it has been very beneficial. I would like to get some input on my specific system for an upcoming mid-September (9/12-9/23) hunt I have in CO at 10k+ feet. I likely have all the necessary pieces but am struggling to figure out what I actually need to take from an upper body standpoint as this is a backpack hunt. I am an avid whitetail hunter in the midwest and also do a lot of hiking which is why I have the gear I already have. Options below:

Base layers
Top
1. FL Wick Crew
2. FL Kiln 1/4 zip
Bottom
1. FL Wick boot tops
2. FL Kiln full length

Pants
1. FL Corrugate Guide pants
2. Sitka Dew Point pants

Mid layers and Jackets (tell what I need to take and what to leave at home)

1. FL Origin Hoody
2. FL Catalyst Jacket
3. Patagonia Nano Puff jacket
4. Patagonia Nano Puff vest
5. Orvis PRO vest (primaloft active insulation)
5. FL Unc Foundry
6. Sitka Dew Point
UPDATE: 7. Just bought an Ambient Jacket (40% off right now at GoHunt)

Appreciate the advice. Don't want to overpack or pack the wrong stuff!
 
Joined
Aug 10, 2015
Messages
2,447
Wear the wick base layers. Leave the kiln bottoms at home. I like the kiln top but probably not taking it backpacking.

Pick a fleece and a puffy jacket to pack. I wouldn't take a vest.

Take your rain gear. You probably won't need it much but it's better than hypothermia.

I would not take a softshell backpacking.

Take some extra stuff and leave it in the truck.

base-fleece-puffy-rain
 

COJoe

Lil-Rokslider
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Nov 22, 2023
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158
Location
Southern Colorado
I'll add that I bought the Black Ovis merino wool beanie and gloves for last years hunt. I wore them at 15 degrees while walking and they were surprisingly warm for their light weight. I also wore them everyday while walking to work from a remote parking lot. I liked the extra layer of warmth and even wore the beanie while sleeping mainly due to a faulty zipper on my sleeping bag so it's a good emergency head covering too. Camofire has them on sale periodically.
 

NickyD

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Sep 24, 2020
Messages
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Location
Denver, CO
I think you’re way overpacking. Everyone is different so at the end of the day you need to do what’s right for you. Typically I have a synthetic top, Sitka ascent pants, Sitka jetstream or light puffy, light gloves, and a hat. I always have a second set of underwear and socks.

I prefer a parka over rain jacket/pants. Colorado summer showers typically only last a few minutes so having a parka ready to go is very useful and way quicker and if you get a good one it will fit over your backpack.

If you’re worried maybe bring an extra light baselayer top and bottom and keep them at the car, but likely you’ll be overheating. But of course an occasional September snowstorm can change this.
 
OP
hoosierhunter11
Joined
Jan 5, 2024
Messages
36
Location
Indiana
Hey y'all, just wanted to say thanks for all of the input! Since this initial post I snagged a few Sitka pieces on fire sales: Ambient Jacket and Kelvin Aerolite. I'll take both of those pieces in addition to the Dew Point in the pack. September is getting close...
 

Deli

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Apr 17, 2020
Messages
136
Good luck! Report back on how the clothing system worked as well as the hunt. Always good for future people reading threads when they have similar questions.
 
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