‘What should I wear?’ Fortunately for some this question now comes in a very different context than the usual urban one. While some may still want to be stylish and would like to impress the trees and birds, the question here addresses more the technical aspect of what bushcrafting clothing looks like and how do they function differently than regular street clothes.
The most important factors to consider are: simple survival, utility, and comfort while in the woods. Just like other aspects of your gear such as bushcraft tools and equipment, what you are going to wear is also a fundamental element to address before setting out into the wild.
In fact, when it comes to bushcrafting, not being properly ‘dressed for the occasion’ can mean an early end to your trip or even worse. In order to properly face the many unforeseen which mother nature may throw at you, plan ahead and gear up responsibly and adequately.
Best Bushcraft Clothing Short List
- Long Underwear Top – Merino Wool Base Layer Shirt
- Long Underwear Bottoms – MERIWOOL Base Layer
- Wool Hat – Minus 33 Merino Wool Beanie
- Wool Socks – Cozia Merino Wool Socks
- Pants – CQR Men’s Ripstop Work Pants
- Shirt – Fjallraven – Men’s Canada Shirt
- Jackets – Pilgrim Anorak Jacket
- Gloves – Helikon-Tex Bushcraft Leather Gloves
- Boots – Bushcraft Boots
- Backpacks – Bushcraft Backpacks
Bushcraft Questions to ask Yourself
As some of you already know, the easiest way to start figuring out what to wear is to determine the conditions of your next bushcrafting trip.
Here are a few important questions to consider:
- How long are you going out into the woods for?
- What time of year is it or will it be?
- What is the weather like?
- What might the weather look like in one week or two (or in a month if you are setting out for a longer period)?
Don’t get Cold Feet
It is also important to consider the particular clothing adaptations that may be needed based on your general body type and whether you are someone who gets cold easily or not or someone who tends to overheat when wearing too many layers. If your someone who always has cold feet, packing some extra socks for dryness and warmth is a good idea.
Having in mind the type of activities you plan on doing during your trip can also help in planning your wardrobe. For example, if you are going to be stationary for a good part of the day and it’s cold out, you will want to pack an extra thick layer, unless of course you have a nice warm fire constantly blazing.
More is Often Better
If you are a beginner out in the bush or even as seasoned bushcrafter, packing a little extra clothing especially during the cooler months of the year is generally a wise idea. It’s one thing to be a little cold one night or in the early morning hours but it’s another thing altogether to be cold all the time.
Being cold is no fun, in fact it can really shut things down both mentally and even physically. A trip can end early if your core temperature goes down too much, hypothermia can set in pretty quick when cold rain or snow is involved and we are unprepared. Therefore not only dressing properly for the occasion but also packing that extra layer, be it a fleece or even just an extra pair of socks can at times be worth its weight in gold.
Keeping all of the above in mind, we’re hoping that the following brief guide on the top bushcrafting clothing will help clarify a few things and get you properly suited up. In the following short guide, we will list half a dozen important clothing articles to prioritize in your bushcrafting wardrobe.
We’ve focused on a guide for cooler regions which can include all four seasons and higher altitudes depending on where you are situated. This guide may be less relevant if you are planning some more tropical ‘junglecrafting’, thus leaving the Tarzan attire aside, let’s get started.
Best Bushcraft Clothing – The Long Version
1. Long Underwear Top
Probably one of the most important pieces of clothing you can wear on your ‘back’ out in the bush is a good quality base layer shirt and ideally one made of wool. As far as woolens go, Merino wool is the most popular pick these days since it is known for its minimal itch, high-quality wool.
You also get the natural benefits of moisture-wicking which is essential if you sweat a lot or are caught in the rain. This type of shirt can be worn as a base layer but also as a simple single outer layer when the weather agrees. Another big plus is that your shirt, as with all woolens, won’t start to reek (smell bad) after a day or two of sweating in it. Of course if you are alone in the woods that might not matter so much to you.
Merino Tech Merino Wool Base Layer Long Sleeve Shirt
Material: 100% Merino Wool
Features: 17.5 Micron Superfine, Lifetime Warranty
Pros: Easy care (washer and dryer safe) but handwashing will extend its life, Lifetime warranty, Various colours, Very comfortable and therefore can be worn as a casual shirt also, Non-itching soft wool.
Cons: More expensive than most conventional synthetic or cotton base layers.
Description: Merino Tech base layer shirts are naturally moisture-wicking and odor resistant. ‘It’s all in the wool’ we could say. The long sleeves are highly recommended since it gives you the added warmth and of course the flexibility of rolling them up when you get too hot or the weather calls for it.
A Merino wool shirt is key to keeping dry and warm on any bushcrafting adventure and well worth the extra investment. Merino Tech is also great because of its lifetime warranty and its 60 days hassle-free refund policy if the shirt doesn’t perform to your standards.
2. Long Underwear Bottoms
‘So above as below’ sums up what you should look for in terms of long underwear. Another Merino wool pick is obvious, keeping in mind the same quality and material considerations as we did for our base layer top. Once again a bigger investment at first but paying off in warmth and comfort in the long run.
MERIWOOL Mens Base Layer 100% Merino Wool Thermal Pants
Material: 100% all natural Merino wool
Features: 18.5 micron-Merino Superfine, 30 day satisfaction guarantee + 1 year warranty.
Pros: breathable, wicking and odor resistant, super soft weave, comfortable, adaptable to hot or cold temperatures.
Cons: More costly than the regular cotton or synthetic competition.
Description: A loop has been sewn on the pants so they can easily be hung to dry on a line or tree out in the bush. These long underwear have the same great wicking and odor-resistant properties as other Merino wool products. Keeping things cool or warm depending on the season is once again one of the great benefits of wearing Merino wool.
If you have never tried Merino wool before, now is a good time. Meriwool’s 30 day satisfaction guarantee is a great reason why you can’t go wrong.
3. Wool Hat
If you are planning on venturing out into the bush during the cold months and are going to camp out then packing a wool hat is a must. You’ll probably be wearing one already on your head during the day but having a second one for sleeping is key. Some say we lose around 10% of our body heat through our head and while that might not seem like much, it can make a big difference when you are trying to stay warm at night.
Minus 33 Merino Wool Ridge Cuff Wool Beanie
Material: 100% Merino wool
Size: One size fits most
Pros: ‘one size fits most’ keeps things simple when ordering, moisture wicking and order repelling, naturally elastic fabric, warm and soft.
Cons: Big headed folks may not ‘fit in’ (might need to find a larger sized hat), Hat is not composed of only Marino wool.
Description: This a pretty straightforward purchase where you can’t really go wrong. Made of double fabric with an interlock knit for warmth and comfort.
This beanie is a good option not only for sleeping since it is thin and comfy but it can also be used as an extra layer under a bulkier hat when the temperature drops. Having a bulkier hat for colder weather is of course highly recommended.
4. Wool Socks
Don’t get cold feet! Probably one of the most important tips for staying warm while out in the woods is to always take care of your extremities. As you might already know, heat tends to flow out through the body’s extremities, the hands, feet and head, so covering these up is a great way to stay warm.
Feet are especially at risk of getting cold since they can more easily get wet. Usually, once you become idle, the toe wriggling begins and the battle is usually already lost until boots come off and there’s a warm fire nearby or a fresh pair of dry socks.
If neither of those luxuries are available your trip out in the woods can go sour pretty fast. Therefore to avoid getting cold feed, make sure you are well covered in the sock department, especially in terms of quality.
Cozia Merino Wool Socks
Material: finest quality Merino wool 80%, 15% polyester, 4% nylon 1% spandex.
Weight: med/heavy knit.
Features: natural sweat-wicking socks, full cushion footbed, engineered design and natural temperature regulation.
Pros: customer satisfaction guarantee (no questions asked), full cushion footbed helps give extra support and padding, good ventilation channels, durable socks made with reinforced yarn in the heel and toe.
Cons: can’t really go wrong with these socks.
Description: The reinforced stitching in the heel and toe is worth mentioning as well as the fully cushioned footbed. These Cozia Merino wool socks are made up of 80% Merino wool which goes a long way in keeping your feet warm.
It is good when looking to buy Merino wool socks to find out the exact percentage of actual wool used. Often a product may say: “100% Merino wool” but this almost always means that the fraction of the sock made of actual wool is of 100% Merino wool fibers.
Sound silly? That’s because it is. Just one of those marketing strategies to be aware of. With socks, you’ll most often find wool blends and never a sock made up of 100% wool. Mixing other materials often makes the socks less itchy, enables greater stretching and flexibility and contributes to overall performance.
Don’t forget that your feet are like your vehicle out in the bush and should always be given the utmost care. Some would say that the secret to warm and comfortable feet is in wearing more than one pair of socks. Whatever your sock layering configuration might be, choosing quality wool socks and keeping a few extra pairs in your pack will take you a long way, that and a good pair of boots to slide into.
When it comes to bushcrafting pants there are of course many options and the price range can very quite a lot depending on the quality you are looking for. It is always good to get a durable pair that won’t easily tear when crashing around in the bush.
Many of the light quick-dry pants are usually not recommended since they will easily rip. Having something a little heavier not only guarantees a better durability but can also help keep you more protected from the elements.
CQR Men’s Ripstop Work Pants
Material: Mix of Polyester and Cotton Duratex Ripstop Fabric
Weight/Size: Ex. Large for 6″ 215 lbs. / Medium 5’9″ 165 lbs.
Features: Duratex Fabric (liquid and dirt repellent, hammer velcro loop, multi-use large cargo pockets) fade, shrink and wrinkle resistant
Pros: Great price, zip fly with button, big and versatile pockets (can open the front ones even with gloves on), good quality, durable work pants.
Cons: innacuracies in the sizing
Description: The Duratex fabric repels dirt and liquids in the same way as Teflon does. There are inner pockets in the knees, specially created for insertable tactical knee pads (sold separately). There is also a comfortable elastic waistband that allows you to chose not to wear a belt (also sold separately).
These pants are a good middle way when it comes to wearing something tough but also comfortable and versatile.
There are a few different ways you can layer when you are going out, but layering is definitely something you are going to want to do. What’s nice about this shirt is that it is heavy enough as a stand-alone and thin enough to be able to layer with long underwear underneath and a jacket over top and it still will not feel too bulky.
Fjallraven – Men’s Canada Shirt
Material: Cotton, Polyester, Wool.
Features: Heavy wool w/ strength pf polyester, button down, breast pockets.
Pros: Good wool weight, Super warm, Super comfy, Blend makes it so wool doesn’t itch.
Cons: Runs a bit small
Description: Fjallraven has the quintessential bushcrafting look on lockdown. Their gear is super high quality, as is pretty much anything that comes from those Nordic countries. Fjallraven is a company based in Sweeden originating back in 1963. They are probably most known for their backpacks which have been become kind of a hipster bag. These shirts may put you in that camp, but we don’t care as they are super comfortable, and super woolly yet without the scratch.
This is kind of the sleek lumberjack look. Though a bit more understated. It’s a traditional button-down, with the ability to wear stand-alone or layered.
Looking for more gear? Check out our article on Bushcraft Backpacks
There are of course many elements to consider when choosing a bushcrafting jacket for your outer layer. And while some of us cannot recommend enough getting a high-quality waterproof rain jacket, there do exist more versatile and ‘middle-range’ jackets.
Pilgrim Anorak Jacket
Material: 63%Polyester, 34% Cotton, 3% Elastane
Features: DuraCanvas Fabric, 3 planes adjustable hood, fire spark resistant, inner tapes in pockets for attaching gear.
Pros: adjustable hood, can be made more waterproof with wax, kangaroo pocket with additional insulation, affordable.
Cons: This jacket is not waterproof, Sizing seems to be an issue.
Description: While this jacket is not waterproof it can be impregnated with wax which can give it that extra protection (this was one of the typical ways of waterproofing a jacket back in the day. This jacket has numerous pockets and some are equipped with tapes for attaching gear inside.
The Pilgrim Anorak is a good jacket for your bushcrafting adventure. Once again carrying along a more waterproof jacket is also recommended if you are planning to be out in the rain a lot.
Looking for more gear? Check out our article on Bushcraft Jackets
You are likely going to need a pair of gloves when you get out there especially since you are going to be working with your hands. And because of that, you are going to want something that you still have some dexterity. These gloves come in 3 different variety the difference being in the lining, whether you want a lining.
Material: 55% Cowhide Leather 45% Polyester
Features: Textured grip, side caribenear, adjustable elastic cuff.
Pros: great price, comfy and warm, looks great.
Cons: the leather stretches a lot (buy a bit smaller than you think).
Description: While there are three variations the Lumber gloves are pure cowhide and do not have a lining so you are able to get a good grip on just about anything you can get your hands around. These are super comfortable and will fit like a glove (literally). The snug fit will loosen as the leather will break in after some time.
Looking for more gear? Check out our article on Bushcrafting Gear and Tools
For More Bushcraft Gear Guides
9. Bushcraft Boots
If you are looking for more gear options 10 Best Bushcraft Boots
10. Bushcraft Backpacks
The Rothco GI Heavyweight Alice Pack is a budget-style bushcraft pack that comes high on our list where you can get the review:
If you are looking for more gear options: Best budget bushcraft backpacks
A lot more could be said about what to wear for bushcrafting including expanding on some important layers and articles of clothing that were not mentioned in this short article. One example is in regards to your ‘mid-layer’ or thermal layer. A good quality fleece or wool sweater are two good options to begin with.
With bushcrafting as with any other outdoor activity, a lot of experimentation and exploring is necessary in order to fine-tune what the right gear is for you and that, in itself, is a huge part of the fun.