How smart is your shirt?

A look at the hunting apparel of the future

Jason Hairston

What will your hunting gear be made out of in 5, 10, 20 years? Here is a look at innovations already underway and how they have changed what hunters wear today.

Lighter, faster, stronger textiles…Hunting apparel is much lighter than it was a decade ago, thanks to advances in textile construction. Along with new synthetic development has come a re-visioning of favorite fibers. Take Nuyarn, for instance, which creates merino yarn without the twist of traditional spinning. The result? A warmer, stronger, lighter fabric, as seen here. Imagine what the next fifteen years will bring.

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…and gearCarbon fiber advancements have also changed how hunters carry their gear. Nano technology, which grows nano tubes on carbon fibers, has already greatly reduced the weight of backpack frames and tents. In a few years, thanks to developments like Cubic Tech’s Cuban fiber, it’s likely that hunters will see complete backcountry-worthy packs and tents that weigh less than 1 lb. Now that’s a literal weight off your shoulders.

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A molded carbon fiber backpack frame.Photo Credit: KUIU

Unparalleled breathabilityPut on an old raincoat and chances are you’ll start to sweat. The plastics that made most jackets waterproof are notorious for not breathing at all. Today membranes let more air in, yet still keep water out. Given the huge leaps in the past years alone with innovations like Toray’s Dermizax, we expect even more comfortable and breathable fabrics for rainwear and snow gear. There’s also promise of a shell that is equally resistant to wind and rain, getting rid of the need take separate rainwear on a long hunt. As with the previous innovations, less gear weight means better hunter performance, especially for multi-day hunts.

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Photo Credit: KUIU

Smart clothingSmartphones are ubiquitous. But what about smart base layers? Companies like OMsignal and Intel have recently unveiled shirts that can track your heart rate, preparation, body temperature and other data through conductive yarns and electrical signals. In coming years, hunters might see similar pieces that remind them to calm down before taking a shot or to drink water to avoid dehydration on a cold weather trek.

What’s that smell?There’s no need to smell like a rose on a 10-day hunt. But stinking by day five not only will drive you and your companions crazy, it can also give your game advance warning. Fabrics that get a dose of heavy metals (often copper, silver or a combination of the two) have greater antimicrobial properties, so you can smell better for longer. We expect further developments by companies such as Scentblocker, Scent-Lok, and Under Armour in this direction. Then again, merino wool is naturally antibacterial, so expect it to stick around as a base layer material perfect for weeks in the field.

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Looking at the wool of a Merino sheep.Photo Credit: KUIU

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