iron will broadheads on arrows

Iron Will Broadheads | An In-Depth Analysis

By: John Lusk

My purpose in this review was to find out how the Iron Will Outfitters broadheads perform when it comes to penetration and durability.

The Original Iron Will Broadhead | Beauty In A Box

I have never held a broadhead and felt like I was about to propose. But, that’s just what I felt like when I received the Iron Will Outfitters broadheads.

The hand-made box that each broadhead comes in is the definition of quality. The broadhead lies flat in the box on a felt background. It’s really impressive.

iron will broadhead and hand made box

The hand-made box gives the Iron Will broadheads a head-start in visual excellence.

But enough about the box, it was time to start checking out and testing the broadheads themselves!

Firstly, even to the eyes, the Iron Will broadhead screams quality. I have tested many broadheads and there are some that you can hold before testing and just know, “this isn’t going to be very good.” However, the broadheads from Iron Will made me go, “OK. This is top tier for sure.”

You are paying for them to be top tier, so you would expect them to be. But, these broadheads literally fit the bill.

To go straight to the testing for each Iron Will broadhead, click the appropriate link below:

Head Design And Construction

The Iron Will broadhead is made of A2 Tool Steel that has been triple heat-tempered as well as cryogenically tempered to produce incredible hardness.

It has Rockwell hardness of 60 but also has an incredible resistance to impact.

Its Charpy C-Notch score is multiple times higher than a typical stainless steel. So, it has a really good resistance to impact and it has a fairly good resistance to wear which will make a difference on edge retention. The bottom line is that it is top-notch steel.

Another thing I like is that it is a “cut on contact” tip, which aids in penetration. It has two larger blades followed by two smaller bleeder blades. Both the main blades and the bleeders are really thick (0.063 inches). All the blades are replaceable as well, which is nice. It also has a solid steel ferrule.

When you take a look at the tip of the broadhead itself, you’ll notice it has a chisel tip, even though it’s a 2-blade head. The chisel tip provides extra lateral strengthening as the ferrule goes up high towards the tip.

iron will broadhead in box

You may feel like there’s a diamond inside the Iron Will Outfitters box, but it’s just a precision-crafted piece of archery beauty.



The Trade-Offs

There are a few things about the Iron Will broadhead that are not my favorite. These are observations regarding design.

First of all, with the 2-blade tip and the A2 steel, the benefit is that you are going to get great penetration. But, you’re not going to get the lateral support that you would get with a real chisel tip or a 3-blade tip where all 3 blades come together. It structurally cannot be as supportive. So, while it’s a plus for penetration, it’s a minus on durability and hard impact.

And, then the protruding ferrule… again, there’s a plus to it in that it strengthens the blade going up pretty high. But, it has a little bit of a lip to it, and I can imagine that it could get stuck, not on flesh but maybe on bone, if it splits bone or a hard material.



Additionally, it’s a component head. And again, this is a trade-off. So it’s several pieces. The set screw has no tension on it that would go against the arrow itself and into the ferrule. But, you have multiple pieces.

Now, the plus side of that is that each piece can be stamped, ground and hardened to extremely high specifications with fine-tuned machining. The negative the the multiple pieces is that, in theory, is, it’s just not going to be as strong as a one-piece broadhead, especially a CNC machined head.

iron will broadhead diagram

The anatomy of the Iron Will Outfitters solid broadhead.




Iron Will (Original) Flight

In addition to the appearance and construction, I like the flight. I got to shoot these out to a hundred yards and it is extremely forgiving. I’ll put the Iron Will up there with the best heads I’ve ever shot in terms of forgiveness, if not the best.

I can pop balloons with this broadhead at 60, 80, and 100 yards fairly readily, and it groups extremely well.

But, how would the Iron Will perform in penetration, durability and hard-impact testing? I decided to test it against the best-selling 3-blade head on the market: The G5 Montec.



Penetration and Durability | Iron Will (Original) vs. G5 Montec

In my first penetration test, shot the Iron Will Outfitters broadhead into about 60 layers of cardboard with a Rinehart target behind it just in case.

iron will broadhead in cardboard

The Iron Will broadhead penetrated further into the layered cardboard than the G5 Montec.

Penetration Test #1: Layered Cardboard

First, I tested the G5 Montec broadhead and then the Iron Will.

For the first penetration test, the Iron Will shined. It penetrated a couple of inches further into the cardboard than the Montec.

For that first penetration test, you really can see that the penetration of the Iron Will shined. It went through 7 layers of cardboard, which was about 1-1/4 inch further than the Montec. Afterwards, the Montec’s blades just slid right across my fingernail. They obviously had been dulled. However, the Iron Will still bit into my fingernail. That’s A2 Steel for you.



Penetration Test #2: Compressed Fiberboard

In the second penetration test, I shot both broadheads through three layers of compressed fiberboard.

The Montec has a diameter of 1-1/6 inches as does the Iron Will. But the Iron will also has 0.75 inches in the cross bleeders. The Montec has only three blades. So, the Iron Will has roughly 1.8 inches of cutting cut, versus 1.6 for the G5 Montec.

iron will broadhead vs montec in fiberboard

The Iron Will also penetrated further into fiberboard than the G5 Montec.

Even with the larger cut of the Iron Will, it buried about a 1/2 inch further than the G5 Montec.

So, even with a larger cuts of animal tissue, you would be getting deeper penetration into soft material as well as hard material.

After this test, the Montec was again already dulled somewhat and would not catch on my fingernail. The Iron Will, even after this second test, shaved my fingernail and was still sticky.

Additionally, the Montec ferrule bent during the test and wobbled during spin, whereas the Iron Will still spun true.



Durability Test #1: 16-Gauge Steel

For the durability test, I shot the Iron Will into a 16 gauge steel plate.

The Iron Will had good penetration into the steel plate, but the top of the ferrule got stuck somewhat and was slightly chipped away. (Other broadheads that I have shot into the steel plate have suffered significant damage).

Iron will broadheads through 16 gauge steel plate

Here is the Iron Will broadhead penetrating a 16 gauge steel plate!

The tip of the broadhead held pretty firm. There was a little bit of a dent on it, but not as much as was expected. The Iron Will did really well compared to all the other fixed blades I’ve tested on the steel plate. The only one that has tested better is the Bishop Holy Trinity, with its 3-blade design of S7 Tool Steel.

The bleeders got a little thinned out and dinged up, but can be replaced.



Durability Test #2: Cinder Block

For this test, I shot another Iron Will broadhead into a cinder block to see how it performed on hard impact.

The Iron Will penetrated well into the cinder block. The bleeder blades did not make it into the block, so it was a relatively small area, but penetration nonetheless. The head got dinged up and the ferrule was cut, but still spun well post-testing.

iron will broadhead in cinder block

The Iron Will penetrated the block, and spun well after testing.




Durability Test #3: Steel Flat Bar

For this final test, I shot the Iron Will at a 1/8-inch fixed steel flat bar. I have shot other heads into this flat bar before and the only ones to survive it have been the Bishop Holy Trinity.

The Iron Will made made a nice cut in the bar and actually penetrated the other side. The ferrule we talked about was actually embedded into the steel bar.

The head itself did not fare too well. It also did not penetrate far enough for the bleeders to touch. The blades just disappeared; I’m not sure where they went, but they are somewhere in my backyard. While the Iron Will punched a hole in the steel bar, it didn’t endure it.

iron will broadhead after shooting iron bar

The Iron Will broadhead penetrated the steel flat bar, but some components went AWOL.



Iron Will Wide

I’ve had one small critique about the original Iron Will, and that is that it’s cut size. It’s 1-1/16 inches wide. It does have bleeders as well that are 3/4 of an inch.

So what that does in a good way is it maximizes penetration and it maximizes long range flight. But, sometimes you’re not going to be shooting over 60 yards and you have no trouble getting a fixed blade broadhead to pass through an animal, but you want a bigger hole, and that’s where the Iron Will Wide comes in.

iron will wide and iron will original broadheads

The Iron Will Wide (on left), is 1 and 3/8-inch wide. And, it has the same bleeders as the original (right), at 3/4 of-an-inch.

Iron Will Wide Flight

I was really impressed with the flight of the Iron Will Wide head. I didn’t expect it to be this good, especially at longer ranges.

Now, I will say that it’s not as forgiving, accurate, and consistent as the Original. With the Original, I can pop balloons even in a crosswind and so forth at all different ranges.

With the Wide, I’ve got to really pay attention to my form and even then, it’s a little bit touchy.

Iron will wide broadhead in a target

I’d feel a lot better taking shots with the Wide under 60 yards. But, as you can see, it can still work out to 80. But, on animal (mule deer, whitetail, elk, etc), I’d shoot the Original if I was going to be shooting past 60 yards.

Penetration Testing of the Wide

iron will original vs wide in ballistic gel penetration test

Here, you can see the penetration of the Wide into the ballistic gel. As expected, the Original penetrated a bit more deeply. It measures 7 and 3/4 inches. And the Wide penetrated 6 and 1/2 inches. The way I have the ruler set up there, you can’t quite see it, but that was the actual penetration, 7 and 3/4, and 6 and 1/2.




Durability of Original vs. Wide

The cool thing about the Original Iron Will vs. The Wide is, you have a choice. If you have a setup where you need to maximize penetration or you’re going after something really big and you need maximum penetration, or if you’re shooting something at really long range, man, the Original is the way to go. It flies like a dart and penetrates really deeply.

But, if you’re shooting something under 60 yards, the Wide shoots plenty well under 60 yards and it’s going to make a really big cut if you have the kinetic energy to handle it.

So, you can have something for any situation. Some people may want to consider putting both in their quiver. Say, if you are like a Western hunter, maybe you have a really long shot, well then, you can use this like a follow-up shot or something.

original Iron Will and wide head after going through steel plate

Here, you see the two heads after going through the MDF, of course into the gel, and then also through a 22-gauge steel plate. As you can see, man, this A2 steel is just – it’s just something. And the Wide on the right, again, has gone through a couple of deer, a raccoon skull with the raccoon in it, the raccoon skull, and a rabbit and into the ground multiple times because of those things. So these heads are just amazingly resilient and resistant to impact. They hold an edge incredibly well.

iron will wide vs original making holes in steel plate

Here’s a good way to see the difference in the hole size. Quite a significant difference. Of course, the Wide on the left and the Original on the right.

The Iron Will Wide Solid Broadhead

In addition to the Wide, Iron Will now also makes a WIDE version of it’s original SOLID (unvented) broadhead. It sports a 30% greater cut than the original.

The blades, as in all of the Iron Wills, are 0.062 inch thick. The ferrules are made out of a grade 5 titanium. This is a really stout titanium that is stronger than many steels, but a lightweight material which allows it to keep the weight down to 150 grains, even in this solid model.

I tested the Wide Solid for long distance flight, edge sharpness and edge retention, for penetration, and for durability. Let’s see how the Wide Solid performed.



Iron Will solid and wide solid broadheads

Here’s a good look at the Wide Solid in 150 grains. It has a cutting diameter of 1-3/8 inches x 3/4 of an inch (30% greater than the original solid). For comparison, the original solid is shown as well.

iron will wide solid edge retention test

I made this edge retention test a bit challenging. After every two strokes of an Easton HEXX shaft over the edge, I did a push paper test over the blades. I gave 2 points for every time it cuts paper after every two strokes.

Iron Will wide solid cutting paper in test

The Wide Solid cut paper after 10 strokes of the arrow.

iron will wide solid vs solid ballistic gel test

In the ballistic gel penetration test, the Iron Will Wide Solid penetrated 7 inches and the double bevel Solid penetrated 7 and 3/4 inches.

Iron Will Wide solid cardboard penetration test

In the cardboard penetration test, the tip of the Iron Will Wide Solid penetrated through the 51st layer. The Iron Will Solid with bleeders cut through 60 layers.

iron will wide solid steel plate test

I shot the Iron Will Wide Solid through a .22 gauge steel plate five times. Here’s the Wide Solid after going through the steel plate 5 times. You can see it’s still in excellent shape. It basically looks brand new. And, it makes very nice holes. You can see those bleeders just widened that hole up and made a really make a nice oval cut. That’s going to create some serious blood-letting.

iron will wide solid broadhead after going through cinder block

Here is the Wide Solid after the fifth shot through the steel plate and then after being shot into the concrete and it still spun very well. So, this head went through a lot (steel plate PLUS broke the concrete in half after the third shot). And, you can see the tip did not curl and that main blade did not bend at all. Impressive!

The Wide Solid by Iron Will is a fantastic head. I’ve always really liked the Wide 125-grain vented version but I like this one even more!



Iron Will Single-Bevel Solid Broadhead

Iron Will also has a single-bevel solid head. They have a 2-blade, as well as one with bleeder blades.

The one with the bleeder blades adds and additional ¾ of an inch of cut.

The bevel angle of these heads is 32 degrees. The thickness of the blades is 0.062 inch thick. The ferrules are made out of a grade 5 titanium.

And it’s interesting with all the Iron Wills that use that titanium ferrule, the blades are completely interchangeable. So, you can interchange the double bevels. You can interchange the Wide series. You can interchange them with any of the heads that use that titanium ferrule.



The blades themselves are made out of an A2 tool steel. They are brought to a Rockwell hardness of 60, which is extremely hard which allows them to get really, really sharp, a fine edge on them.

Because the blades are made of the A2 tool steel, they have an incredible resistance to impact. That’s especially important with a single bevel, because as the head rotates, there’s a lot of pressure that is put on the blade’s leading edge in the rotation.

iron will single bevel solid broadheads

This is the 125-grain version of the Iron Will single-bevel solid broadhead. They’ve got a 2-blade and then also one with bleeders (both shown above). They both have a cutting diameter of 1 and 1/6 inches. It has the bleeders. The bleeders on the 4-blade add an extra 3/4 of an inch cut. The beveled edges on these heads aids in rotation during flight.

In stainless steel or carbon steel broadheads, you’ll often see an edge chatter, or bumps or dents that are in that leading edge as they hit a hard substance. But, given the resistance to impact of this steel, that really should not be an issue.

So, I was eager to put these to the test. I tested them for long distance flight, for edge sharpness and edge retention, for penetration, and for durability. Let’s see how these single bevel Solids performed.

single bevel iron will broadheads in target

Here are the two single-bevel heads at 70 yards, aiming for that lower left circle. As you can see, they grouped really well. Really great flying heads.

iron will single bevel cutting paper

The Iron Will Single Bevel cut paper after 10 strokes of the arrow.

iron will single bevel broadheads in ballistic gel

The Single Bevel without bleeders penetrated 8-1/4 inches. The one with bleeders penetrated 7 and 1/8 inches.

iron will single bevel broadheads after cardboard test

The Iron Will Single Bevel with bleeders cut through the 54th layer of cardboard. The Iron Will Single Bevel with no bleeders penetrated through the 56th layer. Both of the Iron Will single-bevel heads rotated just about 40 degrees, almost identical rotation.

iron will single bevel broadheads after steel plate test

Here, you can see a really good look at the wound channel that’s created by these single bevels. Here, the 2-blade is just your classic S-cut, nice hole. And then here with the bleeders, a nice S-cut going both directions. I’m really glad they made the bleeders single bevel as well, because that is a wicked-looking wound channel. Wow! And as for the heads themselves, you see here in the 2-blade, you literally can’t even tell it has been shot, let alone through steel plate. The onee with the bleeders got a bit more of a rotation and got a little bit more dinged up on the edges. But it’s almost entirely cosmetic.

iron will single bevel embedded in cinder block

The Single-Bevel just embedded in the concrete during the cinder block test.

iron will single bevel after going through cinder block

Here’s the head after going through the concrete. The tip did not curl at all and it held up really well and still spun true. (Since the concrete would keep the bleeders from impact, I did not shoot the 4-blade head into the concrete, since it’s essentially the same head).



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Single Bevel Solid vs. Double Bevel Solid Battle

iron will single bevel vs double bevel solids

I decided to test the 100 grain Iron Will Solids head-to-head!

These heads are identical in every attribute except the beveling.

I used my Bowtech CP28 for most of the shots and the Bowtech SR6 for some others. I used the Bishop Archery FOC King Arrows for most of the shots as well and the Bishop Archery FAD Eliminator for the really hard impact stuff.

The ferrules in these are made out of titanium, which has a really good weight to strength ration. That’s to keep them at a 100 grains.

The blade thickness is 0.062″ both in the bleeders and in the main blades. The cutting diameter is 1-1/16″ this way and 0.75 or 3 quarters of an inch from bleeder tip-to-bleeder tip. this way.

There is one set screw that is not load-bearing. It just holds everything in place there but you don’t have to worry about that pin breaking or anything because all of the pressure goes back on to the arrows insert.



Now, what’s interesting about the 100-grain is they’re the same width, same size cut and the same blade thickness as the 125-grain and yet, they have a shorter overall profile. And, that’s going to make them a bit more forgiving in flight because there is less surface area. I would imagine it’s going to help them to penetrate a bit more because there’s less friction on the blade surface.

single bevel tip vs double bevel tip

Now, one thing I will note is if you look at the double bevel, you can notice that because of the double beveling, the very tip gets really narrow. It’s really pointy, which is impressive.

The single bevel. OK. Same material, same dimensions, but rather than having a double bevel on every side, it has a single bevel and that is brought a bevel angle of 32 degrees which is a really good balance of penetration, sharpness, and still getting a bit of a rotation.

Now as mentioned earlier, you can see that the end of it stays thicker longer because it has a bit stouter Tanto tip to it being single bevel in this design. I would imagine that’s going to make that tip just a little bit more durable, though I expect both of them typically really durable.

So, I was eager to pit these against one another!



Flight Forgiveness Test (1 Field Pt then 2 DB, then SB @ 40 yds):

single bevel vs double bevel flight test 40 yards

Here you can see the flight test results from 40 yards. The unmarked arrow on the farthest right is the field point.

Initial Sharpness

single bevel pre-test sharpness

Pre-test sharpness of the Single Bevel.

double bevel pre-test sharpness

Pre-test sharpness of the Double Bevel.



Penetration Test 1 (2/3″ rubber mat, 1/2″ MDF, FBI Gel):  

single bevel vs double bevel ballistic get

They each penetrated exactly 7-1/2″ (although it might not look like it from this angle.)

Edge Retention Test (sharpness after Penetration Test 1):

single bevel post test sharpness

Single Bevel post-test sharpness was 200.

double bevel post-test sharpness

Double Bevel post-test sharpness was 225.



Penetration Test 2 (layered cardboard):

single bevel vs double bevel cardboard test

They each penetrated through 68 layers of cardboard.

SB Rotation Test ( FBI Gel):

single bevel 15 degree rotation

The single bevel rotated 15 degrees at 10-1/2″ of penetration.

Durability Test (1/2” MDF, 3 shots):

single and double bevel after mdf test

Both of the heads are in absolutely perfect shape after going through the MDF 3 times.

Durability (22 ga steel plate, 2 shots):

single and double bevel after steel plate test

Here are both of the heads after going through the steel plate 2 times and they both did very well. The Double Bevel is on on the left and lost the very tip of the blade. The single bevel on the right got a little bit of edge chatter on one of the top edges. But, otherwise, they both did excellently.

DOUBLE BEVEL VS SINGLE BEVEL IRON WILL METAIL PLAT HOLES

And here are the holes from the Double Bevel on the steel plate as well as the Single Bevel. You could it got a bit more of an S-cut due to that single bevel rotation.

Durability Test (Concrete 1 Shot):

single bevel vs double bevel concrete block test

Here are both heads after going through the MDF 3 times, the steel plate twice, and the concrete block. Notice that the tip is broken off of the Double Bevel. That’s not from the impact, but rather from me trying to get it out with a hammer and a chisel. It still spun true. The Single Bevel didn’t stick in the concrete, but that’s not a knock on the broadhead. There are so many variables that affect that. It took a huge chunk out of the concrete and it stayed perfectly intact and spun true. I was really impressed with the durability here.

double bevel scorecard
iron will single bevel scorecard

Conclusion

The Iron Will was very forgiving, flying very well at long range out to a hundred yards.

In the penetration testing, it out-penetrated the G5 Montec, which has a smaller cut than the Iron Will does. The head also did really well against the 16-gauge steel plate. It did better than all the other fixed plates I’ve tested with the exception of the Bishop Holy Trinity.

And then in terms of a concrete or the cinder block, it did really well, sticking deeply into the block with the two main blades, remaining strong.

The Wide Solid and the Single-Bevels also performed amazingly well.

The only place that the original failed (and you can’t really call it a failure) was when it was shot into the 8-inch steel flat bar, where it just kind of fell apart.

But overall, I have to give this head an A+. I put these broadheads up there towards the very top.



Colt Russell Buck picture 5

The Story of An Adirondack Giant | The Colt Russell Buck

– By Colt Bison Russell, US Army Vet

Three years…

That’s how long I had been watching this buck on my trail camera.

In 2019, he was an 11pt.

Years and points…

Then, in 2020, from what I could tell, he appeared to be a big 14 point. However, a couple of weeks before bow season began, he made an appearance. And then, just like that, he vanished.

Colt Russell Buck profile view

Getting to see this buck in the wild was a dream… Getting to harvest him was a dream come true!

He showed up again the final two days of our rifle season that year, but then disappeared once again.

As each year passed, he continued to have the same distinguishing characteristics; tall brows and tines that nearly touched. He also had split main beams.

Each year, he seemed to add a little more to what was already an impressive rack.



When considering what he had done the prior two years, I just figured I would never see him again.

The Video That Changed Everything

But, then, in 2021, on the 6th of September, I got one brief trail cam video of this buck in velvet.

This is the brief trailcam video clip that renewed my hope that I might actually get a chance to harvest this impressive New York buck!

One thing was for sure… this buck was an absolute stud, especially for Essex County, New York! You just don’t see bucks of this caliber around these parts.



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The Hunt For “Houdini”

I had hunted the same area the night before with no luck.

On September 30th, I really didn’t plant on hunting the same area again. However, I decided at the last minute that I would because two nice 8-pointers (both on my hit list) showed up on the trail cam.

colt russell with his big new york whitetail

I had nicknamed this buck Houdini, because he always seemed to disappear. But he showed up for one final act.

It wasn’t very long that I’d been in the woods when a mature doe approached, but I couldn’t get a clear shot on her.

So, I continued to check more of my trail cameras and still hunt.



It was 6 PM and I was roughly 1.5 miles deep on my hunting lease when I decided I was going to head back to the house for dinner.

I was looking for deer the whole walk back, but when I was about 250 yards from reaching my truck, I noticed the big body of a deer in the wood line about 60 yards away.

colt russell buck profile view in the field

What if I hadn’t stopped to check the trail camera? What if I had shot that doe? What if I hadn’t been so hungry that I decided to go home? I’m glad those all happened!

I instantly nocked an arrow onto my Mathews Solocam bow and continued moving down the trail. When I got about 10 yards into the woods, I drew my bow back.

I could tell that this deer was a buck, but the light was dimmer under the canopy of trees and it made it difficult to see the rack. I thought this deer was probably one of my two 8-point hit-listers that I was after.

I really didn’t have time to get nervous, because from the time I drew back until I released the arrow was only about 8 seconds. It all happened so fast!




The Shot

I was at about 50 yards when I let the arrow fly.

The arrow hit a little high and he dropped. When he did, I could see his rack and instantly realized what buck it was.

That’s when things got hectic. The panic was setting in!

I ran over to put another arrow in him to finish him.



colt russell buck profile mount

“Houdini” grossed 205 4/8 inches Boone and Crockett and netted 196 inches (non-typical). It was the highest scoring buck ever in Essex County and was the largest buck harvested in the state of New York and all the Northeast in 2021.

I was in disbelief. The giant buck I had been seeing for 3 years was finally down!

His rack was covered in grass as if he had just racked the ground to shreds.

I picked up his head and just took a minute to soak it all in.



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I counted 20 points on his rack. All I could think was, “who is even going to believe me when I tell them that I just shot a 20-point buck with my bow?”

I started making phone calls. And, just like I thought, it took some convincing for my close friends and family members to believe me and understand that I needed help getting this buck to the truck!

colt russell buck wall mount on barn wood

I figured that this monster of a buck had to have watched me 80 to 100 yards down that trail before I had even noticed he was there. I truly believe that deer was going to just let me walk right past him.

All The “What Ifs”

When my friends and family came, they were as in shock as I was because, again, you just don’t see deer like this one in these parts!

There are so many things that could have been different that would have kept me from tagging this buck.

What if I hadn’t stopped to check that trail cam?



What if I had taken a shot on that doe I had seen earlier in the evening?

It’s very possible that I would never have crossed paths with this giant.

Everything just fell in to place that day and I truly believe that someone was looking over my shoulder.



Word Gets Around

I was shocked how fast the word spread across the country about this buck. In just a matter of hours, the state knew about it and friends of mine across the county were contacting me, offering congratulations.

I count myself truly blessed to have gotten the chance to harvest a true Adirondack giant!

man skiing in snow with hunting gun

Don’t Let The Cold Win! | How To Layer Clothing For Winter

There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing for the conditions.

While you might think you only need a warm jacket when venturing into the great outdoors to go hunting or fishing during the cooler months, there can be much more involved in keeping yourself warm and comfortable. 

man drilling hole for ice fishing

Hunting, fishing or camping in the cold weather requires a knowledge of how to best layer clothing so that you can stay warm.

When the time comes to plan your next hunting trip into the wilderness, take a moment to consider the following information, so that you can learn all about how to layer winter clothing to feel comfortable enough to explore all that nature has to offer. 

How to Remain Warm in the Great Outdoors

When you put on warm clothing to head outside, your goal should always be to manage moisture, maintain your heat level for comfort, and create a barrier between the elements and your skin. 

man walking to box stand in snow

You might enjoy being alone in the outdoors… you just don’t want to be COLD and alone!

Not all cold-winter clothing is created equal. So, purchasing high-quality outdoor garments from well-known companies like Kryptek and others is a critical component of remaining warm in the great outdoors, but it’s also helpful to understand the science behind retaining your body heat to know how to wear your clothing appropriately. 

mule deer standing in the snow

You may not have the anatomy of a deer to keep you warm in cold conditions, but you can learn to layer clothing in a manner that protects you from the elements.


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During winter, you’re often faced with many challenging elements, such as wind, rain, and cold temperatures. Heat is easily transferred from your body into the environment, and it’s easier to lose heat than it is to retain it. 

So, whether you’re ice fishing or hunting, you need to have knowledge of how sweat affects your body and heat levels. Body heat can be pulled away from your body much faster when it’s wet with perspiration than if it were dry. 


Prevent Moisture to Stay Warm

One of the best ways to stay warm, regardless of how you layer your clothing, is by being cold before you begin your hunting trip in earnest. If you add all your winter layers and then stand in front of a heater before venturing outside, you might start sweating and lose much-needed body heat.   

moisture

Moisture is the enemy when it comes to staying warm in colder weather, as it robs you of body heat.

So, as challenging as it might be to immediately venture outside to start hiking once you’ve put on your multiple layers, it can be essential for giving your body the best chance of retaining its heat. 



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Layer Your Winter Hunting Clothing Strategically

When you’re trying to dress warmly in cold weather, it can sometimes feel like you have to pack an entire closet full of clothing when you go on a winter hunting adventure or that you have to wear multiple layers until you’re no longer comfortable.

However, if you apply the right layering strategy, you might be surprised at how easy it can be to prepare for an outdoor trip

Before heading out, read up on the weather conditions you can expect. This allows you to take all necessary precautions with supplies and provides insight into the type of clothing you need to take with you and what to wear when you set off. 




You’ll need to continually layer up and down on most hunting trips. Take note of how your body is feeling, and when you’re feeling too warm, take off a layer before you start sweating. 

If weather conditions change and rain or snow sets in, you can add more layers from your hunting backpack, including a waterproof jacket to keep your mid layers warm and retain your body heat. Weather conditions can change rapidly, so you may be layering up and down throughout your hunting trip. 


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Adopt the W.I.S.E System

If you’re new to hunting, it may not be immediately apparent which clothing you should buy to remain warm, dry, and comfortable.

However, you might have a much easier shopping experience when you familiarize yourself with the W.I.S.E system. This system involves:

  • Wicking – Next-to-skin base layers
  • Insulating – Mid layers, such as fleece or a down jacket
  • Sheltering – Rain jacket and rain pants
  • Extra – Additional layers in case of an emergency, such as an unexpected snowstorm  
layering WISE system

The W.I.S.E system will give you a fundamental understanding of the basic garments to purchase, but don’t forget to buy wool socks, waterproof boots, hats, and gloves. 



Choose Your Base Layer

Now that you’re aware of the garments you require for the W.I.S.E system, you can learn more about each layer and how it contributes to your overall warmth, dryness, and comfort.

A base layer is a snug-fitting set of garments designed to wick sweat away from your skin to keep you dry. 

base layer

When choosing a base layer, go with wool, silk or synthetics, rather than cotton (photo credit: Wikihow.com)

While cotton can be a preference for everyday wear, it’s less suitable for outdoor activities like hunting.

Instead, opt for base layers featuring wool, silk, or synthetic fabrics. Your top base layer can be a long or short-sleeve shirt and leggings with these materials, paired with a high-quality pair of synthetic or wool socks. 



Choose Your Insulating Layer

Equally as important as your base layer is your insulating layer. This layer prevents the outdoor environment from taking your much-needed body heat.

insualting layer

The insulating layer will help maintain valuable body heat while in the cold weather. (photo credit Wikihow.com)

Typically, you would wear a wool or microfleece top, a puffer jacket, and fleece leggings. You can also pair your insulating layer with a wool or fleece hat and neck gaiter, glove liners, and insulating socks. 



Choose Your Sheltering Layer

If you are going on a hunting or fishing trip, you certainly like to see favorable weather conditions. However, weather conditions can certainly change, and sometimes rapidly.

sheltering layer

Wearing a sheltering layer is critical in protecting the insulating layer underneath. (photo credit: Wikihow.com)

You might be caught out in the rain or snow when you least expect it, and you need to protect your insulating layer at all costs.

Pack a sheltering layer, and you can be prepared for any eventuality. Typically, this layer consists of a pair of rain pants and a rain jacket, both of which need to be waterproof to remain effective. 



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Best Materials for Winter Outdoor Clothing

When there are so many different types of outdoor and hunting clothing for sale, it can be hard to know what will be the most comfortable and practical. While there are many desirable options, some stand out more than others. 

For example, merino wool, a natural fiber sourced from sheep, is a moisture-wicking base layer that is odor-resistant and temperature regulating.

snow on evergreen trees

When adventuring outdoors in colder weather, merino wool is a great moisture wicking base layer that is also odor resistant.

You might also consider synthetic fleece as a mid layer option, which is both affordable and warm. Although, it’s not an ideal wind-resistant layer. 

Synthetic and down jackets can be an effective insulating mid layer, while nylon is ideal for keeping you dry. Some manufacturers create special membranes for nylon to form waterproof jackets for winter use. 



Final Thoughts On Layer Clothing For Cold Weather

Layering winter clothing is an integral part of preparing for any outdoor adventure or hunting trip.

so, before you begin planning your next trip, take the time to make sure you’ve got a full closet of winter options to keep you warm, dry, and protected from the elements.

Remember the W.I.S.E. system and have fun outdoors!