By Clay Newcomb

Editor/Publisher of Bear Hunting Magazine

           The last four years I’ve exclusively hunted in Merino wool base layer clothing. Before I started wearing it, I thought it was a high-priced fashion statement for Instagram hunting models. I may have even jested that people needing high-end clothing for hunting were compensating for lacking skills (I can neither confirm nor deny that I said this). However, my mind frames have radically shifted. I now see my clothing as a legitimate tool for success in the field. Why? The more comfortable you are, the longer you’ll stay. The longer you stay, the higher your odds of your success go. I'm headed to Montana for a spring bear hunt in a few days. I'll need all the help I can get to stack the odds in my favor. 

            For those who aren’t familiar with Merino wool here is a basic overview. Merino is a breed of sheep originated in Spain, but is primarily raised today in New Zealand and Australia. It’s a high-grade wool known for it’s fine particles and soft texture. Most people think of wool-on-skin as scratchy, but not Merino. It’s soft like cotton (especially after the first wash). Its best attributes are its ability to wick moisture away from the skin and to resist odor. Both of these are important for active hunting.

            Getting body moisture away from the skin is always a good thing. When it’s cold, removing moisture away from skin helps keep you warm. When it’s hot, removing body moisture cools you. I wear wool-on-skin in the highest temperatures that I hunt in. I also wear it in the coldest. Several people I’ve introduced to Merino wool have said, “Sounds hot.” They couldn’t be further from the truth. A light-weight Merino is exactly what you want to wear in the heat while sweating.

            How about odor? I didn’t really believe it until I went to Alaska on a 10-day brown bear hunt. I brought two pairs of Merino wool socks and planned to rough it through stinky-sock syndrome. I was shocked when after three days when I could hardly smell the difference between the clean pair and the pair I’d been wearing for three days. If you sweat in a cotton tee shirt (or socks) one time the next day it smells sour. After a few days you can hardly stand to put it on. Not so with Merino. After intense usage for several days it does hold some odor, but considerably less that cotton. Also, it will dry out much quicker.

         The Minaret Aerowool Crew Top from is quickly becoming a favorite of mine from the First Lite collection as an ultra-light base layer. The fabric is 65% high-quality Merino wool and 35% polyester. The poly section is 37.5 by Cocona. The. 37.5 active particle technology captures and releases moisture vapor to help maintain the optimal temperature your body needs. The Merino wool is doing the same thing but is also fighting odor buildup in your clothing. I really like the cut of the Minaret Crew top for active hunting. I like to wear a long sleeve shirt even in warm conditions, and this top is my go-to. Back in the fall I was wearing a Minaret shirt when I killed an Arkansas black bear. When I left the truck the temperature was 55 degrees, but coming back it was in the mid 70s. This was the perfect weather for this shirt. 

If you buy one new shirt in 2017 check out Aerowool line from First Lite.

 *I’ll be heading to Montana in a few days on my first spring bear hunt of the year. Going to be using a Best of The West Series rifle and hunting with my friend, Jim Sessions of Huskemaw Optics.

 clay newcomb first lite

Aerowool from First Lite is 65% Merino wool and 35% polyester in the form of 37.5 Cocona technology. It's a got a very comfortable cut, ventilation holes under the arms, and is ultra-light weight. The new Cipher camo is exceptionally versatile. 


First Lite's Aerowool line is a good mix of natural and synthetic fibers that produces a comfortable, odor resistent and excellent moisture wicking combination. 

Clay Newcomb waterhole bear

I was wearing a Minaret Aerowool crew top shirt on my Arkansas hunt last October. When I left the truck it was 55 degrees, however it got into the mid 70s during the day. I was also wearing an First Lite LLano short sleeve shirt underneath the Aerowool. 

clay newcomb first lite

I'm intentionally up against a background that contrasts the camo pattern. I really like the new Cipher camo. 

clay newcomb first lite

I'm headed to Montana next week for a spring bear hunt. I'll putting all this First Lite gear to great use on this trip. Temperatures will range from the high 30s up into the 70s - perfect Merrino wool weather.