bull elk

How to Choose the Best Elk Hunting Camo

If you need some new camo for elk hunting, it's probably already in your closet. 

Very soon, I'm going to be going on my first open country elk hunt on the Western slope of the Rocky Mountains out in Colorado. I can't put into words how excited I am for this opportunity. Not only is this a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for many, but my lifelong buddy is going to be my guide.

As you can imagine, he's been giving all sorts of advice on what I need to bring before the trip. Hunting clothing, though, is one thing that seems to not be that big of a deal. Yeah, I know.

First off, I've been on record several times stating I believe camouflage clothing for hunting is overrated. After learning more and more from big game hunters out West, this only goes to affirm my believes. Right here you can probably already tell where this is going, but there's multiple reasons why.

Of course, you can buy all the expensive clothing you want from Cabela's with name brands like Mossy Oak, Sitka, Kuiu or others. However, if history has taught us anything, all of that may be more than you need for an elk hunt. Deer hunting during archery season, yes, those high-definition Mossy Oak and Realtree camo patterns can make a huge difference. However, in open country during rifle season, distance is on your side.

Base Layers

Before we get into the best camo patterns for elk hunting, lets first talk about base layers. In most places where elk live, there isn't going to be a whole lot of humidity. Therefore, if you've ever been in the high desert before in western states like Colorado or Montana, the cold doesn't feel as cold where there's less humidity.

Making sure you have good insulation that you can take off and put in a pack is key, though. For example, a simple T-shirt with a long sleeve on top might be all you need if you have a nice insulated jacket on top.

Wool is always a good choice for base layers as well. Elk hunters have a tendency to sweat a lot on the chase. Thankfully, wool dries out really fast. Not a lot of camo clothing comes in wool, but when you can find it, buy it. Wool socks are a must, too.

As much walking that normally takes place during an elk hunt, your feet can sweat out in a hurry. Having the ability to kick your boots off for a few minutes and everything gets dry is priceless.

The best camo in the world won't make a difference if you're cold and uncomfortable. The base layers you choose here can make or break an elk hunter in the backcountry before the hunt even begins.

The Down and Dirty

So here it comes. The truth about the best camo for hunting elk. There's no need to make this harder than it needs to be. During rifle season in the Rocky Mountains, we're talking stalking, chasing and long-distance shots. There's very little need for super expensive hunting clothing, unless, of course, you're bowhunting instead.

As the guides who I have been working with say, the more comfortable you are, the better you're going to be. I've been told to bring jeans on top of a basic base layer. Sweatshirts are a great options as well, you can easily take them off and pack them away.

The biggest factor in choosing the best camo for elk hunting during rifle season is simply to find a clothing pattern that doesn't stand out and blends into the background. Wearing light colors is a giveaway. On that same note, if you're wearing dark clothes with a light background, you stand out just as easily.

So basically, anything that's a neutral color, comfortable and easily packable is a simple winner for chasing elk.

Again, the distance in the shot is your best friend. The best camo for elk hunting isn't as good as simply not moving. At 400 yards, a walking human is easily seen no matter what camo the elk hunter is wearing. However, at 400 yards, an elk hunter wearing a bright pink jumpsuit is invisible to an elk if they're sitting still.

Ultimately, you're going to have to make an investment on hunting clothes if you don't have any. They aren't cheap, especially if you go with something like Sitka Gear, but they do pay off in the long run, so don't get bent out of shape if you just spent $500 on new hunting camouflage, as it's still money well spent. If that is what you believe is the best camo for elk hunting, then don't let me tell you any different. If it checks the box of being comfortable and easily packable, then all the better.

However, if you already have a decent assortment in your closet, you probably have all you really need. The trees and shrubs provide all the breakup pattern you need. Just focus on clothing that matches fairly consistently with earth tones and you're going to be in business.

The quality of your hunting gear matters far more than the camouflage patterns that look like they'll mimic the exact environment you plan to hunt it. Find something that feels versatile for a wide variety of applications, and focus on comfort and weather resistance features.

"Just wear jeans and a sweatshirt. I promise you, you will get an elk." Those are the words my buddy keeps telling me. I hope he is right.