OPINION | ARKANSAS SPORTSMAN: Quality gear makes hunting, fishing enjoyable

In my endless search for warm hunting clothes, I found a winner with Ibex Woolies base layers.

Base layers are the key to staying warm while hunting. They trap and hold heat next your body and prevent wind from displacing body heat. Without good base wear, you will not stay warm on a day as cold as Saturday, opening day of modern gun deer season.

Outdoors enthusiasts are fortunate to live in an era of high-tech apparel. I started hunting when the best stuff you could get was quilted thermal underwear that was so big and bulky that it required outerwear that was several sizes bigger than your normal size.

Of course, good thermal underwear wasn't available in little kid sizes, so little kids did without. Little kids need to be comfortable in the cold to keep them from getting discouraged and disgusted. No wonder hunter numbers started falling off with my generation.

Longjohns, thermal underwear made of cotton, were a big improvement, at least until you washed them. They shrank about four sizes. The elastic in the cuffs was very poor quality and stretched quickly. You had to hold the cuffs to your wrists with your thumb to keep them from riding to your elbows when you donned your under layers.

Nothing could keep your bottoms from riding up when the cuffs stretched. You learned to live with it. They lasted a bit longer if you allowed them to air dry.

My lifelong search for the best base layers had led me to some good to excellent selections, but Ibex Woolies are my favorite yet.

Made of nylon core Merino wool from Australia and New Zealand, Woolies are very light, with long sleeves and a crew neck. According to Ibex, Merino can absorb 30% of its dry weight in moisture, which makes it very efficient for neutralizing perspiration during strenuous activity.

Also, according to Ibex, Merino traps moisture and releases it as vapor before it becomes sweat. This prevents epidermal moisture from wicking away body heat, and it also prevents the formation of odor-causing bacteria.

Merino also does not itch. It is so unobtrusive that it's almost like not wearing a base layer at all.

I can attest to all of these claims.

I experienced a particularly bitter kind of cold when I emerged from my camper before dawn Saturday. I put on all of my clothes outside the camper, a teardrop design that is too compact to comfortably get dressed inside. I put on the Ibex base layers first, with a tee-shirt on top and a parka as a cover. I also used LIVESN Flex Canvas pants.

The crowning touch was a hunter chartreuse, fur-lined arctic cap that kept a toothy wind from climbing down my neck. The hat was a gift from my friend Mike Romine. I was toasty all morning, which was really important due to the utter lack of deer activity. You get cold a lot easier when you're bored.

For more information, visit ibex.com.

The pants!

LIVSN Flex Canvas pants, based in Bentonville, are my favorite hunting trousers. They are made of 8-ounce duck canvas made with 58% Global Organic Textile Standard Certified Organic Cotton, 40% Recycled Polyester, and 2% spandex. It feels like cotton, but the polyester adds strength and helps it dry faster. The spandex allows for a full range of motion.

Other features are crotch, articulated knees, zippered security pockets, discrete pockets for everyday carry items, roll-up leg system and reinforced stress points.

They are tactical trousers without a tactical appearance.

For information, visit livsndesigns.com.

Wader Socks

Another great Arkansas item I've been using is Wader Socks, made by Fayetteville-based Jarratt Industries. I have an unusually incorrigible pair of lightweight fishing waders that makes wearing thick wader socks very uncomfortable.

Jarratt's Wader Socks, which I've been using a long while for duck hunting, solves the problem. Composed of a 40 percent wool blend with nylon, acrylic and spandex, Wader Socks have a unique outer cuff that facilitates wearing Ibex Woolies as a base lower. Put your pant cuffs inside the sock cuffs and smooth out lumps and wrinkles.

When you put on your waders, the socks prevent your pant cuffs from creeping up the calf, but they also prevent your sock pipes from creeping down the calf and bunching around your feet and heels. They can also be used with multiple layers.

For more information, visit jarrattindustries.com.