Hunting gear doesn’t have to be field-specific. Check out this gear that transcends the outdoors for more genteel spaces.
I don’t always want to look like I’m going on a covert military mission when I head into the field. And really, the majority of the hunting here in the U.S. doesn’t call for the most technical gear on the planet anyway.
So, what to do?
Often, I opt for a pair of athleisure leggings and throw on a quick layering system of a merino T-shirt, a flannel, and whatever jacket I deem necessary for the day’s weather and head out. But, I am also enamored with the more sporting sartorial history of the hunt.
Tweeds, big plaids, and traditional fabrics like wool, silk, and denim still perform in the field. And as long as one remains with legal limits of blaze orange (or blaze pink) for visibility, anything goes.
And the good news is that there are a ton of boutique brands in addition to more traditional sporting brands on the market. Companies like Ball & Buck, Upland Bespoke, and McKenna Quinn carve out cultural niches and offer duds that can crossover from a night on the town to shouldering a shotgun on a bird hunt.
But, not all “hunting” clothes need come from established hunting brands. I threw a few ringers in from brands on the periphery that cross over into our world pretty durn’d well.
Here are my picks for some of the most fashionable and timeless gear on the market right now. Hashtag coveting.
Hunting Gear That Boasts Fashion, Form, and Function
Ball & Buck’s Active+ Field Shirt collection ($128-168) marries fabric tech with a traditional aesthetic. Toray 2.8 oz. technical stretch shirting adds four-way stretch and wicking properties. Added venting allows for even more breathability, and classic reinforced shoulders and elbows provide extra durability in the field.
An athletic fit flatters, and color options vary. Whether you need orange for upland hunting on hot days or prefer vintage camo for an old-school vibe, these shirts have both men and women covered in the field.
If a single coat design holds strong for more than 100 years, it’s gotta be doing something right. And the iconic Filson Mackinaw Wool Cruiser coat ($495) remains true to its origins.
Made from 24 oz. wool from Pendleton Woolen Mills, the Mackinaw can absorb up to 30% of its weight in water without feeling damp or clammy. The complex fibers of the wool also allow for a warm-when-wet performance factor that keeps hunters safe in the field.
This jacket is an investment, but it’s lifelong as long as you can hold onto it. My own father’s Mackinaw is now worn by my brother-in-law, and at more than 30 years old, it looks brand new.
The working vibe of the ever-popular Bean Boots still holds after 109 years of production. And the brand doesn’t hesitate in making a ton of options that can serve hunters as well as the general population.
Available in funky to neutral colors, various linings from sheepskin to flannel, mocs to knee-highs, the Bean Boot can traverse whatever you’re looking for — and your feet can be both warm and dry in the process.
And I’d be remiss not to mention that the Bean Boot looks as good on the street as it does in the woods.
A friend of mine wore an Upland Bespoke Sporting Vest on a Kansas hunt we did together, and I was enamored. The fun fabric and flattering fit combined with the practicality of a shooting and hunting vest. And the boutique brand continues in that vein in all its offerings.
The Custom Sporting Vests ($320-375) are available in various colors, and you can even customize them with a personal monogram or logo. The vibe of the brand is undoubtedly Southern, and the colors and silhouettes aim to impress.
More designed toward southeastern styles of shooting and upland hunting, the vests lack the back pocket of many more technical hunting vests. But if that’s all right with you, then you’re gonna look damn good in the field.
Washable wool is one of life’s greatest gifts. OK, I’m slightly exaggerating. But to be able to throw a high-quality wool flannel in the wash without worry is a helluva upgrade. And Pendleton’s Board Shirts ($159) allow just for that.
Made of 100% virgin wool, the Board Shirt is a simple garment. With no added blend, Pendleton’s wool delivers on all the goodness of the fiber. Warm when wet or dry, breathable, long-lasting, and good-looking, you can’t go wrong with the brand’s most popular shirt.
Bird hunting gear for women can be hard to come by. And McKenna Quinn puts itself staunchly in the position to serve that demographic.
It’s developed upland pants ($298) that provide solid protection from brush, burrs, and the elements while offering a jean-like silhouette. The protection creates a boot-like look to the lower leg while adding quilted protection to the front of the thigh.
The blocking is slick and the line of the pants is beautiful, as opposed to the often baggy and low-slung look of other technical pants on the market. Available in a variety of colors, these pants add panache to the hunter’s closet.
Another brand with long-term accolades, Stormy Kromer’s wool caps have been in production since 1903. Born of the cold of the upper Midwest, the caps cover a wide range of needs during the frigid months. And hunters have taken to these caps for over a century.
The Rancher Cap adds a functional ear flap to the iconic silhouette, and it’s available in blaze orange for those of us needing legal coverage in the field. But, why have just one? Myriad colors and patterns are available, and you can even buy a matching Stormy Kromer for your hunting dog.
Will I be purchasing my bird dog his own Stormy? Yes. Yes, I will.
It can be hard to make modern technical gear that pays tribute to past tradition, but Orvis nails it with the Pro Series Hunting Vest ($198).
A mix of olive green nylon, blaze orange paneling, and mesh builds a vest that does everything a hunter needs in the uplands. You can stash a water bladder in the back pocket, and shells, birds, and dog gear fit in a plethora of pockets. A hip and chest strap combo allows for a carry that distributes weight evenly and effectively.
And the design is as minimal as it can be. It stays out of the way while keeping gear close at hand.
If you want to emulate royalty in the field, Barbour’s Beaufort ($415) is your best bet. The Queen of England has been sporting the same Barbour for more than 25 years, and you may have spotted a swath of Barbours in the hunting scenes of “The Crown.”
The Beaufort is my pick for this series because it boasts a full-size game pocket in the rear of the coat, making it a fully functional hunting jacket for bird hunters. The waxed cotton only gets better with age, and the iconically flattering silhouette is never out of place in town or on a hunt.
Carhartt has surely staked its claim at the cool kids’ table in the past few decades, and workwear continues to be front of mind in both trend and outdoor trials.
I personally love their Rugged Flex line of gear, and the Canvas Vest ($70) brings a classic look to whatever you want to throw at it. The quilted canvas and flattering cut make a working garment feel less like it’s working and more like it’s werking. Know what I’m sayin’?
Plus, Carhartt is always mega affordable on top of being one of the most durable on the market. This vest is warm, sized for layering, and quite perfect if you ask me. Throw some blaze orange over it and hit the hunt.
Agh! Dovetail! Another workwear brand with street cred and a feminine focus. It’s hard to nail down what exactly to include in this piece about its stellar collection of badass garments. I wear my stretchy Dovetail Givens Work Shirt ($69) almost daily, but it’s the brand’s pants collection that makes the list for me today.
The Christa DIY pants ($89) are a hybrid jogger and work pant, and when I’m going 10+ miles in the field on a given day, I need a pair of pants to move with me, not against me. The in-between of this pant provides just that, but it adds a double-walled hard-core denim efficiency to the feel.
My Lightweight Give’rs ($29) are my holy grail work gloves for everything in my life. From horses to hunting, they save my hands constantly. And they look so awesome that people actually ask me about a pair of work gloves.
The first thing I show them is the nice soft leather that makes up the pair, but the cool mountainous logo certainly catches eyes. The next thing I show them are the monogrammed initials burnt into the underside of the glove, cementing that, no, they can’t have them.
I like the Lightweights as an everyday glove that I keep in my truck console at all times. But, Give’r offers warmer, weatherproof options that are just as cool as the basic work glove I’ve come to love so much. Plus, the personalization for just $8 makes these gloves that much more lovable. And they make killer gifts.