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Shopping for hunting pants can be challenging--it's one of the clothing items I've had the most trouble with. Hunting pants have to be driven by functionality, but hunting has such a variation in season, needs, and movement that it can be tough to double dip.
There's a lot to consider here: weather, terrain, what you're hunting, and activity level are just the beginning. For instance, early-season antelope pants need to be lightweight and highly breathable, but you're doing a lot of crawling, so they need to be durable. A mid-season big-game stalk needs to be durable as well, but highly articulated for lots of movement in challenging terrain. Whitetail needs to be warm and comfortable for long periods of sitting, and waterfowl needs to be protective and waterproof for a variety of elements. Not to mention, all of these animals have different vision, so your concealment patterns will be changing as well. A waterfowl pattern seen from the sky has different needs than a close-range big-game pattern in tight trees during an archery stalk.
For that reason, I've broken this down into a few categories based on the type of hunting and conditions. There are some weather categories and some animal-specific categories, along with enough crossover that if you want to wear a certain pair of pants between seasons, you'll be fine. Hunting clothes can be a major rabbit hole, but as far as broad use goes, these pants options will serve you well.
1. Best for Wet Hunts
As the season gets later, the possibility of rain, sleet, snow (or all of the above) increases. Hunting can either be highly active or stationary, so you don't want to saturate your non-waterproof pants. Packing (or wearing) a pair of waterproof pants can be the difference between staying out in inclement weather and retreating to camp. These waterproof pants from Forloh have a similar design as ski pants, with excellent breathability and protection. These pants are comfortable and protective enough to be sitting in snow or on wet ground for periods of time during a glassing session, but they will still feel comfortable and breathable on the go when you're on the chase. I also love that this company is made in the US, even if the price tag is a bit painful.
2. Best Big Game Hunting Pants
Sitka has some of the most thoughtfully designed hunting apparel for the incredibly specific needs of different types of hunting. Since a lot of their clothes are system based, it can be hard to recommend just one item out of a certain line. However, I've worn the women's version of the Timberline Pants for big game hunting for the past few seasons, and they're incredibly versatile throughout the season in different terrain. Articulated knee pads and reinforcements on the knees and backside are incredibly tough, and the pants are made with a durable four-way-stretch polyester. They move freely and breathe well, even with all of these reinforcements, plus they're waterproof. These pants come in Subalpine for forested close-range hunts, Open Country for long-range open spaces, and a solid option for upland hunting. These are a bit hefty for early-season archery, so I start wearing these pants towards the middle of archery season, and with the right layering they take me straight to the middle of rifle season.
3. Most Versatile
Available in 11 different colors and patterns, these are about as versatile as it gets for a pair of hunting pants. The Attack Pants have a simple design that can take you from the upland fields to bushwhacking through dense underbrush, and are easily layered with a base layer underneath, rain pants over, or worn on their own depending on conditions. These feel great next-to-skin, with a soft and stretchy polyester that moves with you and doesn't bunch or feel stiff no matter what position you find yourself stuck in near a wary animal. I love the range of motion with these pants, enhanced with a gusseted crotch and articulated knees. These are a higher rise, which is great to avoid gapping if you find yourself sitting and glassing in cold or windy conditions. Kuiu is direct-to-consumer, so their prices are also quite reasonable compared to other top-line "designer" hunting brands.
4. Best Whitetail Bibs
Staying comfortable in a whitetail stand pretty much entirely depends on your clothes. There's no heart rate to elevate and no tricky terrain to navigate to keep your core warm. It's just you in the elements, which is why a good pair of bibs really matters. These bibs use 37.5 insulation in the core and seat, a thermoregulating technology that uses activated particles to help keep your body at the ideal temperature. These bibs are built for the coldest and most challenging conditions, with body-mapped insulation that keeps them as light and flexible as possible by maximizing insulation positioning based on where you need it most in a treestand. The pattern is built to be invisible from below at close range, and the face fabric is soft and silent, so you don't have to worry about crinkly rubbing fabric.
5. Best Waterfowl Bibs
Similar to whitetail bibs, a good pair of waterfowl bibs will make a frigid session in the blind manageable and productive. These bibs from Sitka are an investment, but the comfort and protection they provide are worth it. Made with a durable Gore-Tex face and featuring body-mapped micro-grid fleece and flannel interior, these are a versatile set of bibs for early season to late season, with plenty of layering options under and over. These are waterproof and breathable, with a reinforced seat and knees, and have a built-in stretch where you need the most flexion and mobility for waterfowl hunting in a blind, from a boat, or on foot. The Waterfowl Marsh concealment pattern is based on avian vision, with a "swirl" pattern that matches how birds see from above.
6. Best Upland Bird Hunting Pants
These pants are affordable and versatile, but it doesn't make them any less effective or comfortable than the hunting-specific brands on this list. Under Armour has built their brand off mobility and comfort during extended periods of exertion, and for long walks in varying conditions flushing grouse and pheasants, I can't think of a better pair of pants. These pants have reinforced knees, a moderate fit based on range of motion, and the neutral colors I look for with an upland setup. These pants are comparable to name-brand upland hunting pants, and they're comfortable and breathable enough to wear hiking in the off-season.
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