5 Best Hunting Jacket for Cold Weather [2021 Reviews]
If you’re looking for the best hunting jacket for cold weather which is warm, windproof, waterproof and quiet for standing on the tree, then you’re in the right place. I’ll show you top camo hunting jacket brands with detailed reviews and comparison.
In this guide, you also know how to choose and clean a hunting coat - step by step. So let’s dive into it:
Best Winter Hunting Jacket:
5 Best Hunting Jacket Reviews
Let’s start with the reviews of the 5 top rated hunting jackets currently available on the market, and I’ll tell you all you need to know how to pick the best hunting coat later, okay?
1. SITKA Gear Fanatic Optifade Elevated II Jacket – Protection from the Wind
This jacket will prevent the cold from ruining your hunting trip, and you can thank the incredibly effective PrimaLoft insulation for this.
Hunting on those chilly Minnesota fall mornings will be a joy because the low temperature won’t bother you.
Also, you’ll need fewer layers of clothes, so you’ll move a lot easier.
The jacket is water-resistant, though not water-proof, so it won’t keep you 100% safe from getting wet.
Wind won’t be a problem
Don’t worry about wind ruining your hunt, because SITKA’s trademark Windstopper technology makes this model completely windproof.
This means that ripping winds will not get to you at all!
Another important feature of the Optifade Elevated II jacket is how quiet it is.
You should be able to significantly cut the engagement distance from deer and increase shot success. No matter it's from a treestand or ground blind.
They make the zippers and buckles silent while the animal’s getting close.
No need to disconnect the harness
The constant-connect port provides you with the ability to put on or take off the jacket without removing the harness and compromising your safety.
This feature is one of the main reasons why this model is so good.
As a bowhunter, it’s necessary to stay hidden, or at least as unnoticeable as possible to whitetails or elk.
SITKA’s jacket has a combination of micro and macro camo patterns, which makes it blend in with nature well.
Now, a diagonal zipper is something we’ve seen on previous models, and what it does is allow the jacket to have large pockets.
Big cargo pocket
With Optifade, SITKA introduced a big cargo pocket on the front that’s perfect for storing snacks or pieces of gear.
It closes with a zipper, so make sure to unzip it before you get into a position to avoid making noise.
Behind that pocket, there is another one that can be accessed from the side and is ideal for a phone.
This side pocket also doubles as a hand warmer as it is covered with thick fleece, and it has a magnetic closure for silent use.
So you don’t have to worry about noise to get your rangefinder, gps, binos…
It’ll stay out of the bow’s way
To prevent the jacket from getting caught in your bow’s string while drawing, SITKA placed a magnetic clasp at the top of the neck.
This detail increases the jacket’s overall user-friendliness, which is extremely important when you’re up in a tree.
Expensive but worth it
From all of the above, one can conclude that SITKA Optifade Elevated II is a darn great jacket for bow hunting.
However, there is one thing that might make it unappealing to potential buyers - it’s really expensive.
This leads us to the question, “Is it worth all that money?”
In my humble opinion, the jacket is definitely worth it, and I feel that it is one of the top models out there.
The money will come and go, but Optifade Elevated II will serve you for a long time!
- 100% windproof WINDSTOPPER technology
- Constant-connect port for the harness
- Body-mapped PrimaLoft insulation
- Large front cargo pocket
- Handwarmer pocket
- Extremely quiet
- Not water-proof
- Quite expensive
2. Rivers West Clothing Ambush Jacket – A Well Thought-Out Jacket
First, there’s the brushed micro-fleece exterior that utilizes the H2P waterproof technology, so right off the bat, you can be sure of two things: you’ll stay warm, and you’ll stay dry.
No wonder it’s the go-to jacket for late-season hunting - even the two-way zippers are weatherproof here!
The radial collar plays a huge role, too.
Thanks to its half-moon shape, it protects the back of your neck from the cold air that can get inside easily, especially when on a tree.
Paired with a fully adjustable Sherpa-lined visor hood, it provides an unmatched level of protection against the elements.
More Breathable With Underarm Zipper
If sweating is a big issue for you, you’ll appreciate the underarm zipper vents more than anything.
Whenever you feel like you need some extra breathability, they’ll provide instant relief.
That said, Rivers West worked on using more breathable fabrics for this model, too.
All in all, it’s a carefully thought-out jacket with plenty of nice, little touches placed in all the right spots.
Especially when we look at the pockets - there’s plenty of space for a compact binoculars, additional shells or bow release to accompany you in your hunt.
There’s one thing you should know, though – the jacket does fall into the heavyweight category.
So, if your goal is to keep things as light as possible, the two of you might not be a match made in heaven.
- Micro-fleece exterior
- Sherpa-fleece lining
- Radial collar
- Sling-Gripper shoulders
- Detachable three-way adjustable hood
- Heavy-duty two-way zipper
- Underarm zipper vents for extra breathability
- Magnetic cargo pockets
- All the zippers are weatherproof
- It falls into the “heavyweight” category
3. SITKA Gear Incinerator Jacket – The Warmest Hunting Jacket
The SITKA Incinerator is the second SITKA model on my list, so you already have a good idea of what to expect.
The warm-when-wet PrimaLoft insulation, the water-repellent coating, and the safety harness pass-through port are all there.
What’s different, then?
Well, there’s the articulated patterning – the design minimizes bulkiness, and allows you to move freely at all times.
Plus, it won’t get in the way of your bowstring.
Furthermore, thanks to the outstanding job the triple-layer GORE-TEX membrane does at keeping you warm (and dry), you can wear the jacket over next-to-skin layers without worrying about the cold when spending countless hours in the treestand.
Time to say goodbye to layer upon layer of clothes!
The exterior fabric is lightly brushed, so it’s hydrophobic and stays quiet at all times.
Keeping your stealth has never been easier, huh?
The pockets are well organized and decent in size, but there are not many of them - bringing your hunting GPS alongside the monoculars and some grunt tubes won’t be a walk in the park.
With all that in mind, it’s pretty apparent that the SITKA Incinerator is an outstanding option for hunters worldwide.
However, it does come at a certain price – one that can’t exactly be considered budget-friendly.
That said, if the price isn’t the issue for you, I strongly encourage you to give this one a go.
It’s well worth the money, that’s for sure!
- PrimaLoft insulation
- Water-repellent coating
- Suitable for wearing over next-to-skin layers
- Articulated patterning and minimal bulk for freedom of movement
- It stays clear of your bowstring
- Safety harness pass-through port
- Not exactly a budget-friendly option
- Not enough pockets, existing ones aren’t big enough
4. First Lite Sanctuary Insulated Jacket – For Cold Days Spent In The Tree Stand
The next model on my list is the First Lite Sanctuary Insulated Jacket. Here’s how it earned the spot in my round-up:
First off, let’s talk about staying warm.
With seven – yeah, seven – layers of fabric and insulation combined, this one acts more like an oven, than your average jacket.
Add the water-repellent exterior, and that’s pretty much all you’ll need to stay comfortable (and dead quiet), even in freezing temperatures.
I’m talking freezing winds on heights, while you’re on a ladder treestand, completely calm waiting for that deer to come.
Here's the deal:
What makes it stand out is the biomechanically-accurate shooter’s cut.
Being able to draw your weapon accurately from the comfort of your jacket is one of the best feelings in the world.
The built-in stretch allows outstanding freedom of movement.
The pockets are not many, but they are quite spacious - enough to bring a hunting rangefinder and a few extras.
The only downside to this otherwise excellent hunting jacket would be the fact that it wouldn’t be able to stand up to briars.
I didn’t put it to the test, but just by looking at it, the fabric seems too light to withstanding all the snagging that can occur when you’re going through the bushes, and get out “unharmed” on the other side.
That said, if you know the area you’ll be visiting by heart, this shouldn’t be an issue.
- Consists of seven layers of fabric
- 100g insulation for extreme conditions
- Water-repellent exterior
- Stays quiet even in freezing temperatures
- Active Carbon Technology neutralizes perspiration
- Suitable for layering
- Features a biomechanically-accurate shooter's cut
- Doesn’t hold up well against the briars
5. Gamehide Deerhunter Parka – The Budget-Friendly Option
If you think you can’t get a great hunting jacket at an affordable price, the Gamehide Deerhunter parka is here to prove you wrong.
First off, it’s more than capable of keeping you warm – the high-loft Heat Tech insulation features tube-like filaments that trap your body heat.
You’ll be the one that stayed in your treestand the longest, even when others started heading home due to severe cold.
Furthermore, the fabrics used are waterproof, so no need to worry about sudden rain – or snow!
Storage space isn’t an issue with this one, either – there’s plenty of pockets, including a security one on the inside, as well as loops for your ammo shells.
You can bring a lot of your additional hunting gears with you without any problems.
The zippers work both ways, and you know how convenient that can be when you want to sit down, but don’t want to unzip your jacket all the way.
I have a question for the manufacturers, though:
How quiet do you think Velcro closures can be in the middle of the woods?
It’s a poor choice of closures, and you know it!
But if you’re looking to buy a decent hunting jacket, and save some money along the way, you probably won’t find a more suitable option than this one.
- Waterproof HunterHide fabrics
- High-loft Heat Tech insulation
- Two-way zipper makes sitting more comfortable
- The bottom hem features a drawstring closure
- Lots of pockets for storage
- Extremely affordable
- Velcro is a bit loud to be used in the woods
How To Choose The Best Camo Jacket for Hunting (A Simple Check List)
But what makes a hunting jacket great?
Well, stick around, and I’ll show you how to pick out the best one out of the bunch!
It Has To Keep You Warm
There’s no ifs, and/or buts about it – the best hunting jacket has to be able to keep you warm, even when the temperatures drop significantly.
I mean, let’s face it.
When you’re out in the wild, what other options do you have, except to rely on your jacket to help maintain your body heat.
As the surrounding temperature drops down, it’s vital that your body’s temperature doesn’t.
That’s why proper insulation is such an essential feature in hunting jackets.
It will prevent the cold air from passing through the fabrics, and getting to you.
That said, there are two more weather protection features you should look for in a hunting jacket, so keep on reading.
Even when the temperatures are not that low, you’ll still feel cold in severely windy conditions – unless you get yourself a windproof jacket, of course.
The trick is preventing the wind from piercing through, and that’s what windproof materials do.
One question I get asked a lot, especially by newbies, is:
If a jacket is waterproof, does it automatically mean it is windproof, too?
The only valid answer here is:
That said, in most cases, waterproof fabrics can be windproof, too, although only to a certain extent.
So, if you’re worried about the windy weather, the best advice I can give you is not to overlook the windproof feature, and rely solely on your jacket being waterproof.
Stay Dry With Waterproof Fabrics
Is there a sure way for you to tell if it’s going to rain on your hunting trip?
Unless you have a method that the rest of us aren’t aware of – in which case, you have to share it with us in the comments.
You never know when you’ll get caught in the pouring rain.
When you do, you’ll be glad you opted for a jacket with a water-repellent coating or one made from waterproof fabrics.
It could be a best waterproof hunting jacket.
And yes, there’s a difference between the two.
I get that it sounds a bit like an overstatement, but when you’re out there, away from the noisiness of the city, you’ll soon realize everything seems a lot louder – even your jacket.
Now, imagine what it must be like for the animals, especially elks and deer with their outstanding hearing, every step you take in a “noisy” jacket is a flat-out announcement of your presence
It means you can pretty much forget about stalking, let alone catching them.
So, opt for materials that make the least amount of noise – “quiet” materials, if you will.
That way, you’ll be able to move through the woods without being detected.
Another thing you should pay attention to in your search for the best deer hunting jacket is the actual weight of the garment.
Yes, you read that right – weight.
Here’s the deal:
If you go too bulky, you’ll limit your freedom of movement, not to mention tire yourself out pretty quickly.
And I don’t need me to tell you how much of a negative impact that could have on your hunting productivity.
Focus your attention on the lightweight to medium-weight jackets.
The former is an excellent choice if you’re going hunting in the early season, while the weather is still pretty warm.
Of course, you’ll want something breathable and lightweight.
The latter, on the other hand, is a better fit for the mid-season weather.
And don’t worry, medium-weight jackets aren’t that bulky or heavy – you’ll still have your freedom of movement, just in a slightly sturdier jacket.
Besides the vital features discussed above, some additional ones could come in handy on your hunting trips.
Here are a few examples:
- Harness Access – If you’re going treestand hunting, you’re going to have to use the best hunting safety harness. That’s why built-in harness openings are one of the critical “additional” features out there. Safety first!
- Zippered Chest Pockets – Of course, your hunting jacket should have plenty of pockets – essential items should always be readily accessible to you. That said, chest pockets that can be zipped up are particularly handy for all those valuable items you can’t afford to lose in the woods.
- Scent Control – You know the deer will notice you long before you see them? It’s your scent that gives you away. That’s where the so-called scent blockers come to play – they’ll eliminate or absorb body odor, and help you keep your stealth for longer.
- Detachable Hood And Sleeves – You won’t need your hood (or your sleeves) at all times, which is why it’s always better to have the option of taking them off, don’t you think?
Hunting Vest vs. Jacket: The Ultimate Showdown
To be clear, the question here isn’t whether you should get yourself a jacket or a vest – the two are inherently different, meaning you’ll benefit from owning both.
That said, here are the fundamental differences every hunter should keep in mind:
Provides warmth only to your torso
Keeps the entire upper body warm
Allows a more extensive range of movement
Can be a bit bulky and heavy, depending on the model
Can be worn as a mid or top layer
Usually worn as a top layer, but allows layering underneath, too
Limited number of pockets
Usually offers a bit more storage compartments
A hunting jacket is virtually unmatched when it comes to keeping you warm, period.
No matter how insulated the vest is, the apparent lack of sleeves will always tip the balance in favor of jackets.
However, all that extra material does run a risk of putting too much extra weight on you – sometimes to the point of limiting your range of motion.
Hunting vest will always be a much cheaper option, though.
And if you’re going hunting in a warmer climate, what’s the point of spending money on a jacket you’ll barely wear, anyway?
Plus, vests do allow some versatility regarding layering, so feel free to experiment with that until you get the right cold-fighting recipe – or give the best heated vest for hunting a try!
When it comes to vests, their biggest downfall seems to be their most significant advantage, too.
Lack of sleeves not only gives you freedom of movement you can only dream of while wearing a jacket, but it offers a lot more breathability, too!
I guess a hunting jacket with removable sleeves – a crossover between a hunting jacket and a vest – could be the solution to this never-ending vest vs. jacket dilemma, huh?
How to Clean a Hunting Jacket (Step-by-Step)
Of course, the best advice anyone could give you is to follow the instructions found on the jacket’s label, but if you’re looking for a more detailed guide, check out the steps below.
Step 1: Start By Preparing Everything
If you’re going to wash your jacket in a sink, or a tub (which is a lot more convenient space-wise), the first thing you should do is clean the area thoroughly.
You never know what kind of skin care product traces might be lurking in there, and you don’t want it to damage your jacket, don’t you?
And speaking of preparations, another thing you should have at hand is a gentle, preferably scent-free liquid detergent.
Remember, the goal is to remove as much of the scent as possible.
Step 2: Let It Soak In Cold Water
Once everything’s ready, and you’ve filled your tub with cold water (always use cold water, I can’t stress this enough), submerge your clothes in it, and leave it to soak for a bit.
You don’t have to go overboard with soaking, though – even five minutes should be enough.
Step 3: Time To Swish It Around
Now, here’s where the hard work starts:
After the initial soak, swish the jacket around and plunge it in and out of water for a couple of minutes.
That will help wash out the majority of dirt that loosened up during the previous step.
Step 4: Drain, Rinse, Repeat
Once you’re done with the swishing and plunging, drain the soapy water, refill the tub, and add half a cup of baking soda to it.
It does wonders for removing odors! Submerge your jacket, and go back to swishing and plunging.
Repeat this step as many times as necessary, but with one fundamental difference.
Use only plain, cold water for every rinse that follows.
Step 5: Wring It Out And Leave It To (Air) Dry
Lastly, you should get rid of excess water, and get to the drying part. Now, there are two ways to go about this
If you’re confident that you won’t stretch out the fabric, you can give good, old wringing a try.
If not, there’s an alternative – use a large chamois towel to spread your jacket on it, roll them up together, and twist lightly.
As far as the drying goes, you could use the dryer, but I prefer leaving my hunting jacket to air dry.
Just put it on a rack or a clothesline, if you have one, and you’re good to go.
Once your jacket is dry, place it in a sealed plastic bag, to avoid all those smells in your home from attaching to the fabric.
What Is A Hunting Jacket?
A hunting jacket is an outer garment worn by hunters to insulate themselves from the frigid temperatures that are common across much of the nation in the winter and fall.
The majority of hunting jackets are camouflaged in one form or fashion, and are designed to provide a hunter with the stealth that is required to get within bow range of the game that they pursue.
Hunting jackets come in a wide range of sizes, designs, and insulation ratings, offering a jacket for every hunter and nearly any scenario that they might face.
How To Wear A Hunting Jacket?
Hunters wear hunting jackets as an outer layer, adding extra thermal protection and resistance to the wind, over that of standard base layers.
You should meter your use of base layers in regards to the weather at hand, even though hunting jackets are quite warm.
How To Make A Noisy Hunting Jacket Quiet?
Unfortunately, the options for silencing a noisy hunting jacket are limited.
This is because the noise you perceive results from the friction of the jacket’s interwoven fabric structure.
As these fibers rub past one another noise is produced, and this is quite common in wind and weather-proof jackets.
How Many Grams Of Insulation In a Winter Hunting Jacket?
The level of insulation that is needed to retain warmth, when hunting in the winter months, varies by region and climate.
It is important to meter your selection of insulation carefully to the climate in which you hunt.
This stems from the fact that as insulation ratings rise, so does the bulkiness of the garment.
What Size Hunting Jacket Should You Get?
Many hunters find it helpful to purchase a jacket that is one size larger than what they would typically wear in a non-hunting scenario.
This allows often bulky base layers and sweatshirts to be worn beneath, without restricting movement to the point of discomfort.
A jacket that is too small can create difficulty when attempting to draw a bow due to binding in the shoulder region of the garment.
The Bottom Line:
Okay, folks, it’s time to announce the best hunting jacket. And let me tell you something – it was a tough choice to make.
After long deliberation, though, here’s what I’ve decided – my best bow hunting jacket on today’s market is the Rivers West Clothing Ambush Jacket.
Here are some of the remarkable features that sealed the deal:
- Half-moon radial colar
- Three-way adjustable hood
- Waterproof and windproof