The Ultimate Hunting Gift Guide for Women
Sure, holidays are for friends, family, and overeating. But they’re also for hunting. Get ready for gift-giving during the greatest season of the year (deer season, obviously) with these women’s gear picks. Many of these gift ideas are well-suited for cold-weather hunts, though a few are ideal year-round.
Some gift highlights:
For more ideas—especially if you’re looking for smaller gifts under $100—check out our previous women’s hunting gift guides. They include everything from budget-friendly items like cozy socks and sweat-defying sportsbras to a fancy GPS watch. And if DIY is more your style, consider a few of these presents.
Otherwise, read on for the latest and greatest women’s hunting gear that we’ve been putting to use and, in a few cases, on our own wish lists.
Once I’d sweated through one change of camo this early season (see above), I switched to this new lightweight set from DSG Outerwear, last year’s update to the company’s pullover lineup. The fabric is perfect for early-season deer hunts or late-season spring turkey hunts, with enough performance features that you can focus on the hunt rather than hoisting your pants every five minutes. The pants in particular have the functionality that I’m always looking for (but rarely find) in women’s hunting gear. The adjustable inseam and elastic waist make it easy to find the right fit without tripping over the hems or tugging up a sagging waistband. Both the pullover and the pants are available in three Realtree patterns: Edge, Timber, and Excape.
A collection of Merino wool baselayers, from Icebreaker. icebreaker
The best trait of a good baselayer is that you don’t notice it, and icebreaker makes some of my favorite Merino layers. Their soft wool is both warm and breathable, and their leggings and tops are sewn with flat seams to eliminate chafing and that bulky Christmas-Story effect on late-season hunts. My top choice for active cold-weather hunts—a spot-and-stalk in December, say, or dragging out a deer after a long morning sit—is the 260 Zone set from Icebreaker. The top and leggings are a heavier weight layer that regulates your temperature during “highly aerobic” days in cold weather. If that setup doesn’t sound right for you, you can choose from a whole range of wool weights (ultralight, lightweight, midweight) to stay comfy all season long. Best of all, Icebreaker layers come in a range of cool prints and colors. Different patterns help me keep track of different warmth layers, as well as what’s dirty and what’s not. And sometimes, it’s just nice to ditch the drab baselayers we’ve been seeing for years and wear something with a little personality.
I’m notorious (or trailblazing—depends who you ask) for mixing my gear on hunts. I don’t care which camo patterns are on my clothes or what pursuit my gear was originally intended for, as long as it all works. And these hiking pants from Helly Hansen are no exception. They’re not built as brush-busting upland pants, but they’re perfect on Western hunts, while camping, or for flying under the radar when scouting public spots. They’re moderately windproof and will repel water in a light drizzle, but these pants shine when it comes to their durability-to-weight ratio. They’re super lightweight, with reinforced insteps and a boot-hem lock system. Even better, they’ve got a 7/8 side zip with two zippers for ventilation from either direction.
I’m a sucker for a good quarter-zip hoodie that pulls triple-duty as a baselayer, mid-layer, or even outer layer, depending on how hot I get in the field (or how behind I am on my laundry). This Merino hoodie from Helly Hansen is killer for cold mornings, and still works well on days that warm up or demand more activity. I opted for the men’s hoodie, simply because it used to come in green; I wanted to be able to blend in even if I overheated and had to strip off my outer layer (which I did on a desert hunt last fall). The women’s hoodie comes in three colors (light blue, gray, and black), all of which would make great base layers for colder hunts. The high gaiter of the hoodie helps keep your neck and core truly warm, even in frosty, windy conditions.
Usually, a pair of hunting sunglasses that looks normal on a dude somehow makes a woman look like she borrowed her grandma’s prescription sunglasses. Happily, these Katmai lenses from Leupold can pass as regular sunglasses for men or women, since they’re almost as sleek as a pair of Ray-Ban-style shades. I never realized how useful hunting sunglasses were until I spent a week last fall hiking around the glaring Arizona desert in search of Coues deer. Baseball caps can’t control my hair and always cause me to overheat anyway, so I usually ditch them ten minutes into my hunt and just squint into the sun. These Katmai sunglasses, however, finally did the trick. I was able to ditch my hat without compromising my vision. They also protected my eyes from the spiky mesquite branches and dagger-like yucca I was always pushing past. Just make sure to pick a pair with non-reflective lenses so the sun doesn’t catch their reflection and spook whatever game you’re hunting.
Good socks are the unsung heroes of any successful hunt, no matter how, when, or what you’re hunting, and Swiftwick is the latest addition to my list of approved hunting socks. The Tennessee-based brand makes natural Merino wool socks here in the USA, all of which are packed with wicking and compression-fit tech. My favorite pairs for hunting are the Pursuit Hike socks, although the Pursuit Ultralights are great too.
This women’s boot from Lacrosse is a weirdly wonderful blend between a warm rubber boot (1200 grams of Thinsulate Ultra) and a highly-mobile fit for active hunts. The Alpha Agility boots somehow keep your heels in place while you hike to your stand or drag out a deer—without weighing you down. The pair weighs 4.3 pounds, and the combination of neoprene and rubber keep the rain and snow out while the Jersey-knit lining wicks away sweat. If you’re looking for an uninsulated boot, check out the Alpha Burly Pro in Realtree Edge.
Last fall, Hoyt joined the small pool of manufacturers who make a serious women’s bow, putting some of the company’s flagship technology into a compound with a short axle-to-axle (29 inches) height, a lightweight frame (3.7 pounds bare), and cams optimized for the shorter draw lengths that many female bowhunters need. The Hoyt Eclipse is available for draw lengths from 23.5 to 25.5 inches and 26-28 inches, and draw weights are available in ten-pound increments from 20 to 60 pounds.
A pack that can pull double-duty in the field or at the range will come in handy many times over, and the RUSH pack series from 5.11 is the definition of versatile. The backpack features durable nylon construction, MOLLE webbing, and extra touches like a hydration compartment (one feature I can’t hunt without). The pack comes in a handful of colors and three sizes, including 24, 37, and 55 liters.
I admit, I’m a little confused by the name of this product since this Brooks Sweater isn’t a sweater at all. It’s definitely a down jacket, but that’s the only quibble I have with this killer puffy from First Lite. The jacket is lightweight and packable, making it perfect for the backcountry, but with enough fill to feel like a regular jacket. It also repels moisture, so the down won’t get damp in a sudden shower and lose its heat. The extra coverage at the neck and along the back hem keep drafts from chilling your core and your backside, and I was thankful for both on extended glassing sessions this fall. The puffy has pockets in all the right places, and a cool cosmetic touch of subtle topo lines covering the interior liner. The Brooks comes in three colors and, as advertised, does indeed run true to size. So don’t be tempted to order a size up (as I often have to do with women’s hunting clothing).
If you’re looking for a pair of cozy bibs without the bulk, consider these women’s insulated bibs from First Lite. They’re not as heavy as some late-season bibs, and they’ve got all the little features that make a big difference during cold-weather whitetail hunts. The suspender straps are wide-set, attaching on the sides of the waistband so the straps sit on your shoulders like bra straps, rather than front-facing men’s-style suspenders that just end up squashing your chest. The pants include full zippers on each side, like your old breakaway warmup sweats. I pack mine for the hike into my stand to avoid overheating, then zip into the bibs before climbing up. This design also keeps your muddy boots from brushing against the inside of your bibs. And, unlike some pants with suspenders attached, they’re true bibs that fall just below your chest, with padding along the spine for extra comfort and warmth on long sits.
This backpack from Sitka is the perfect Western pack for day hunts from base camp. I used it to pack meat and ferry gear on a Coues hunt last fall, and the women’s version strikes the right balance between comfort and capacity. It’s got women’s-specific dimensions and suspension for a better fit, along with the thoughtful touches Sitka includes on their men’s pack: a hydration sleeve, a Velcro hip belt for bear spray, an ammo wallet, or accessory pouch, and roomy side pockets for tripods and trekking poles. If you like this pack but want a bigger-capacity bag to get you through a backcountry bivy hunt, check out the Sitka Mountain Hauler 6200.
It’s funny how such a small scrap of fabric can keep you so warm, but it’s hard to argue with a Buff around your neck during the coldest sits of the season. I used to just wear hoodies with built-in neck gators, but they don’t sit close enough to your skin. Buffs are supremely handy for cold-weather hunting, and if you overheat on a stalk, wrap it around your wrist like a hairband or shove it onto your head to keep your hair out of your face. Buffs also work as a lower face mask for bow or turkey season, especially if you get a camo version. They pull double duty as a handkerchief, bandana, ear band—you name it. They’re available in different fabrics, like Merino wool, and sizes, all of which make killer stocking stuffers.
The difference between childhood and adulthood is your reaction to socks on Christmas morning. Good hunting socks aren’t cheap, but they are important, so any true hunter will be glad to get a fresh pair in her stocking. After your boots, these are your best line of defense against blisters, frostbite, and sweat. These hikers from Darn Tough have enough cushion while still giving you a flexible fit. Darn Tough’s socks hold up wash after wash, and they come in plenty of colors, lengths, and cushions.
Technical base layers are the best thing since factory ammo, but you reduce their effectiveness if the layer closest to your skin is still cotton. There’s nothing worse than settling into your stand when the fabric between your shoulder blades is soaked from a long walk. It’s damn uncomfortable and it’ll sap your body heat—fast. So invest in a couple Icebreaker sportsbras for harder hunts on colder days. Icebreaker uses Merino wool, which is soft, comfortable, and, most importantly, doesn’t itch. The Sprite wicks away sweat and keeps you warm way better than your usual cotton-nylon-spandex blend ever could. Icebreaker also offers a matching pair of aptly-named Hot Pants if you want the set.
And speaking of base layers, these soft and simple Merino long johns are my every-hunt layer once the weather cools. They come in a couple different weights, but the midweight top is thick enough to keep you warm and thin enough to slip under your camo. Again, thanks to the magic that is Merino, these don’t itch. They come in a bunch of colors, including a Realtree pattern if you want to pay a little extra. They offer matching pants, too.
Until it gets cold enough for merino long johns, I wear athletic tights under my hunting pants for everything from upland birds to big game. I like the wicking baselayer to make my camo last longer between washes and so I can immediately shuck dirty or muddy camo when I get back to camp at midday. The Hedda Hybrid Tight from 5.11 is perfect for that. The nylon and elastane fabric is technical enough for training runs ahead of elk season, but the tights also have the pockets and reinforcement you’d want out of a pair of pants. The black and green options also make it easy to wear these and skip the camo if you’re planning on sweating it out in the blind during early bowseasons.
Every hunter should own at least one really great wool shirt. They’re never cheap, but that’s exactly the point. They last long enough and break in so perfectly that you forget the cost and initial itch. This button-down plaid from Pendleton has a longer hem than most over-tailored women’s flannels (good-bye, cold ass crack), it won’t restrict your movement, and it’ll keep you plenty warm. It comes in six sizes and 13 colors, including a couple classic buffalo checks.
If you haven’t gotten on board with sleeping bag liners, you’re doing a disservice to yourself and your sleeping bag. Cocoon makes silk, microfiber, cooling polyester, and even Merino sleeping bag liners to keep you cooler on summer scouting trips (pro tip: sleep in it on top of your sleeping bag) and warmer on winter hunts. Liners also spare your sleeping bag from the usual hazards of base camp and backcountry hunts: drool, smelly socks and dirty long-johns, elk blood crusted into your hair, etc. Lining your bag extends its life exponentially and keeps your extremities extra warm on the coldest nights. Each liner is lightweight, comes in multiple colors, and you can stuff it in the washing machine with your camo when you get home.
Rumpl makes a variety of camping blankets at different sizes.
Unlike some hunters who seem just fine walking around in jeans and a vest during a blizzard, I get cold as soon as I stop moving. I used to pack an extra jacket to drape over my legs in deer and layout blinds, but (surprise) it turns out coats don’t actually fit your legs that well. Last fall I actually packed Rumpl’s throw-size blanket and shot an elk with it in my lap after a four-hour stake out. The compressible puffy pulls double-duty on hunts, and it’s handy even if you don’t actually bring it into the blind: throw it in your tent at base camp, keep it in the truck for camping and emergencies, or pack it along when hunting with kids. The Rumpl comes in several sizes (throw, 1-person, and 2-person), and a bunh of concealment-friendly colors. Their down blanket even comes in camo. Rumpls pack into their own stuff sacks and are mercifully machine washable.
This bombproof waterfowl coat from Sitka is killer for cold-weather hunts. The hand-warming chest pockets are lined with soft fleece, and the coat is pumped full of Goretex that will keep you dry no matter what (short of actually falling into the water). The fabric is still flexible, though, so you can move freely and shoulder your shotgun easily. The jacket comes with a bunch of fancy flourishes, like call holders and rubberized cuffs to keep water out of your sleeves when you’re picking up decoys. There’s a pair of matching bibs, too, which are just as warm and a great choice for field hunts.
If your favorite hunter needs new glass, consider these mid-size binos from Maven. The C.3 is their budget-friendly model, and it comes in two configurations: 10×50 or 12×50. But these binos feel far from cheap, offer a crisp picture, and are lightweight at 1.75 pounds. Bonus: The unconditional lifetime warranty is hard to beat if you’re prone to beating your stuff up.
onX is the greatest mapping app since Google turned your phone into a homing device. In fact it’s better, since onX thrives in off-grid locales and tells you exactly what ground is fair game for hunting. Downloading onX to use its GPS feature won’t cost you anything, but if you’re willing to upgrade there’s a range of annual membership options to help you identify access points, navigate public and private land boundaries, and mark your favorite hunting spots with customizable waypoints. It’s also been updated over the years with all kinds of layers and features, from CWD mapping to optimal wind directions for certain stands. This app is a godsend for any hunter, no matter if you’re exploring the backcountry or sticking close to home.
This merino-blend base layer from First Lite will keep you comfortable from your earliest season hunts through the dead of winter. Ordinarily, I consider camo base layers a waste of money and effort: The buck you’re after can’t tell whether your skivvies are covered in donuts or look just like an oak swamp. But camo versions of this layer are actually useful, since you can wear it as your early-season hunting top. If you’re going to be sweating your ass off, you’ll be grateful for the Wick’s warm-weather features. It wicks away sweat and has built-in odor control, along with mesh patches in the armpits for extra ventilation. The deep quarter zip will also help you air out. As the heat retreats, layer the Wick beneath mid and outer layers for the same performance. It’s got thumb loops, flat seams, and is machine washable. Available in five colors and as many sizes.
Studies show that women’s hands run about three degrees colder than men’s, on average. This means toasty, waterproof gloves are critical for shielding women’s trigger fingers on cold-weather hunts. The Grizzly from First Lite is a beefy, feature-packed pair of gloves that has a removable wool-and-synthetic liner inside a waterproof leather outer. Useful features like leather palms, wrist and arm cinches, and a snot pad make the Grizzly ideal for frigid conditions. It comes in three colors and four sizes.
The Danner Wayfinder comes in an insulated and uninsulated boot.
I’ve been a Danner Pronghorn acolyte since I started hunting, inheriting 30-year-old hand-me-downs and then buying the men’s boot in size 8.5 for my hulking, unladylike feet. Now the company is offering a mid-calf women’s boot without the ubiquitous pink, purple, and teal frills that traditionally afflict women’s hunting gear. The Wayfinder is a sleek, good-looking boot with the right balance of support and flexibility for flat and steep terrain alike. This boot is available in two styles, the uninsulated buff color and the Mossy Oak Break-Up Country with 400 grams of Thinsulate for $10 more. Both boots have a waterproof lining and weigh just over 2 pounds per pair.
I used to think vests were ridiculous garments. Who in their right mind would waste money on a sleeveless jacket? Then I tried one of Prois’ vests back in 2014, and I found it an essential layer for active hunting in nasty weather. My core stayed warm without letting my armpits get swampy, which is a feat indeed. Enter the Prois Callaid Down Vest, a beefier but lightweight mid-layer down designed for just that purpose. This vest is available in sizes XS to 2XL, and is one piece from Prois’ new line of offerings, all available in the company’s proprietary Cumbre camo pattern.
I’ve waxed poetic about Sitka’s Timberline pant before—still my favorite piece of women’s hunting gear—so I’ll spare you a rerun. In the interim, I’ve discovered that Sitka’s Equinox Pant is also a winner. These pants are about as lightweight as you can find, and are ideal for early-season deer hunts. They’re technically “tailored for comfort in the seated position” (read: suited for blinds and stands), but they’re just as useful for more active hunts and preseason work like scouting and hiking. Another bonus is the pants come in a non-camo gray (called Pyrite), as well as the usual Optifade Elevated II pattern. Sizes run from 25 to 40 Regular.
This down jacket from Filson is one of those rare coats you can wear both in the field and around town without announcing you were just hunting. It’s got super-soft Moleskin-lined hand warmer pockets, but with closure snaps in case you need to stash smaller items instead. The hood and shoulders are reinforced with durable, water-repelling fabric, which comes in handy for late-season upland or rabbit hunts. The nylon shell is full of goose down and compressible, making for a sturdy coat without hogging the space in your pack when you need to stash it.
If you’re going to do any late-season hunting from a stand, you’re going to want a serious pair of bibs. These are the first pair I’ve tried that keep me warm without adding the bulky layers of a kid suiting up for a snow day. The fleece is thick enough to keep you warm, but it’s cut the right way so as not to restrict your movement. The elastic suspenders are easy enough to remove if you need to drop trou, the pant cuffs are zippered for easy adjustment with your boots, and the cozy chest pockets are perfect for keeping your hands warm and tucked away. The bibs are just one piece from Sitka’s larger whitetail line, but arguably the best.
No, it’s not camo, but the buffalo-check shirt jacket is a brilliant invention that remains a classic for any hunter. This version from 5.11 looks like a button-snap flannel on the outside and has a soft sherpa lining on the inside. You can wear this thing around the campfire or by the fireplace, and side seam vents prevent you from overheating when you duck into a diner or a dive after a hunt. The Louise, which comes in white and red, also has 5.11’s signature RAPIDraw snap placket, which just means you’ve got a hidden pocket for stashing your EDC essentials.
After a spate of “women’s” bow introductions—with charming names like the Home Wrecker—that were often just smaller budget bows, Mathews introduced the Avail in 2017. It’s a compact bow suitable for navigating blinds and stands: it weighs 4 pounds, measures 30 inches axle-to-axle, and has a 6-inch brace height. Meanwhile, it’s still comfortable to draw and shoot. Mathew’s flagship Crosscentric cam is sized down slightly to maintain efficiency at shorter draw lengths, making this a true women’s bow. It fits draw lengths from 22 to 28 inches and draw weights up to 60 pounds. It’s compact, highly shootable, and available in seven finishes, none of which are pink. Since then, Mathews has released the Prima, another women’s bow. The name is not as comically terrible as Home Wrecker, but the omission of “donna”—as in, prima donna—is still implied. Fortunately, names don’t matter if the bow shoots well.
Weatherby introduced its first women’s rifle in 2016, and now the company has four versions available. Three are built around the company’s Mark V action. The Camilla features a shorter length of pull, a canted butt stock, and a slimmer forend compared to most rifles. I’ve used my model, the lightweight (5.75 pounds) Subalpine chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor, on a handful of backcountry hunts with excellent results. The newest model is the Camilla Ultra Lightweight, which also weighs 5.75 pounds. If the price tags on the lighter-weight models is too steep for what you’re looking to spend, consider the Vanguard Camilla, which is just as lovely and will run you under $1,000.
Yes, onX is incredible, but smartphones are a distraction once you’ve made it to your stand and a pain in the ass to extract from a pocket when you’re hiking there. Every hunter needs a watch, and most of us could use one that does more than tell the time. I wear my Solar Instinct from Garmin every day, but I appreciate it most during hunting season. The watch face tells me sunrise and sunset times at a glance, so I don’t have to keep checking my phone to confirm legal light. Apart from the other handy tools—alarm, altimeter, barometer, compass, moon clock, etc.—the Instinct will also pair with your Garmin inReach and navigate you back to waypoints, like your truck, on its own. My watch has a camo finish, but the Solar Instinct comes in a handful of colors. And, as the name suggests, it charges itself with solar power so that you can hunt longer in the backcountry or anywhere else before you have to break out the USB charger.
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