After a lifetime of hunting for women’s hunting apparel ensemble, I have finally found a winning combination that allows me to be warm, functional and look like a woman. My latest mission to find suitable range and hunting gear began at the 2023 SHOT (Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade) Show. I needed gear for a warm climate bear hunt, a cool- to- cold whitetail hunt, and everyday weather for the gun range.
I have been hunting for decades—long before there were any women-specific hunting clothes options. As a kid I wore jeans and my male cousin’s hand-me-downs, while everyone else was donned in warm and toasty camouflage. I was very encouraged when the industry started outfitting women for the field. However, my hopes were dashed when I did not find any selections in my size. I had friends in the same boat who were seeking out clothing that would fit middle-aged moms, not just the Olympic athlete bodies on whom most companies seemed to focus. What I found last January at SHOT Show was fantastic! From a few different manufacturers, I assembled clothes for range/hunting to create full outfits.
My biggest complaint with hunting clothes in the past is that I always must buy men’s clothing to fit my size. This leaves me feeling bulky, with sleeves that are too long and no room for my hips. Often I looked like a camouflaged snowman. Which is why I was extremely pleased to discover Ditale at SHOT Show.
Ditale was founded and named after some true outdoorswomen who are passionate about their company. At SHOT, they were excited to show their new products, and encouraged feedback as they prepared to improve and expand their line. As such, at first glance the Ditale website that has a limited selection—they currently offer five products plus accessories in several colors (in sizes XXS to XXL in regular and curvy). But after having tried their hunting wear, I can say that they may not need to do much more. Their clothing fits well and the hems can be altered with just a few snaps. Right on! Check them out at ditaleoutdoors.com.
Nothing is perfect, but the Ditale Sophia Adventure 1.0 pants are about as close as can be. I went with the curvy option in juniper green and probably should have sized down as they were a little big. But, since I was hunting in cold weather, I first put on base layers, and I was glad for the bigger size. The first thing I noticed when trying them on was that they fit my body very nicely. When I bent over to snap the hem and shorten the length for my boot height, they moved with me and stretched just like leggings. I put on my tactical belt and was relieved to find belt loops to accommodate. Then I started filling pockets with phone, knife, keys and gloves, which all found a suitable spot. I could even carry my old woman reading glasses in the thigh pocket! The pants were not heavy, at least not before I loaded down my pockets.
I didn’t think much about it on the range, but as I was sneaking through the woods on wet leaves, I found that my clothes were not making any noise! Their website calls it “ninja quiet,” and it was an exciting discovery. Because of the stretch and form fit, I didn’t have to worry when climbing into the tree stand whether my pants would bunch around my knees and make the climb harder like men’s pants. I liked them so much that I didn’t change out of my hunting clothes once I got back to camp. I completed my chores of getting whitetail from field to freezer and the pants did not even look like they had been worn outside, much less exposed to the gore of butchering meat.
I’m not much of a shopper and I don’t get excited over clothes, gear or guns unless it is THE one. The Ditale Sofia Adventure Pant (retails at $179) is THE one! I will be looking into getting more in different colors and maybe trying out the new Sofia 2.0. The Becca Adventure Jacket is on its way to my door right now (retails at $159). I am so excited for it to arrive!
But the fun did not stop there. I also tried the Eve long sleeve top (retails at $69). When I first put it on, I was worried that it would be too restrictive and too cool for hunting. While it fit very well and was very comfortable and snug, there just didn’t seem to be much to it. Well, I was wrong. The top was exceptionally well at wicking moisture and featured antimicrobial odor control. It was stretchy and quiet like the pants. It included the thumbholes that I use to keep sleeves from riding up while putting on the next layers and keep my hands warm. It was so comfortable that I easily forgot that I was wearing it. When I got back to camp, it was so comfortable that like the pants, I didn’t want to take it off. I found that it was the perfect first layer for cold days and outer layer on the sunny warm days. The most fun thing about wearing Ditale, is that I got to look and feel like a woman even while traipsing around in the woods with a rifle on my back. I looked stylish on the gun range as well. If they ever venture into making everyday clothing for women, I’ll be in line to purchase those as well.
My second excellent find at SHOT was Minus 33. I tend to be cold even when temperatures are mild. So, I wanted to start with a good base layer. My experience wearing men’s thermals is that I end up with chaffing. (Plus, I have no need for a fly.) Minus 33 has been a family-owned business since 1916. Their products are backed by a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. I tried the midweight Ossipee women’s crew (retails at $79.99) and the Franconia bottom at the same price. They offer sizes up to 3x and fit as expected. They are made from Merino wool, which is known for moisture wicking and antimicrobial properties as well as being soft. Wool as you know is a renewable source, is fire resistant, and will insulate even when wet.
I tried the top and bottom midweight at Gunsite Academy in the high desert of Arizona in March, and in the West Virginia mountains for hunting in November. In Arizona, the temps fluctuated from the 30s to 60s and was rainy a few days, windy one day and sunny another. In West Virginia, the temps fluctuated from 30s to 50 degrees Fahrenheit and was the same as Arizona with alternating days of rain, wind and sun. In Arizona, the base layer performed exceptionally well until the temp was in the 60s and the sun was shining. The top layer had to come off then from overheating. In West Virginia, the layers were not quite warm enough for me while tree stand hunting in the 30s, but was perfect in the 40s and 50s even when on the move. To remedy getting cold when treestand hunting in the 30-degree temps, I plan to purchase the expedition version. My husband already has the expedition top. He swears by it and will not go hunting without it.
I was able to stretch, move and sit comfortably. The material moved with me and was so comfortable that I wear the bottoms around the house as my PJs on cold nights. There was no itch or sweat and I basically forgot about having them on. I’m so enamored with these that I plan to check out their balaclava, gloves and socks. Perhaps I’ll even invest in a blanket to keep in the truck just in case I get stuck somewhere cold. Check them out at minus33.com.
Fits Like a Glove
Let’s not forget to accessorize! Seirus had a display at SHOT that made me feel like I was in a retail store. So many selections were available that I was having a hard time deciding. I settled on the HWS Heatwave Glove Liner in Realtree extra. It was unexpectedly warm for a glove liner, and I mostly wore it as my outer layer especially when I was on the move. Perfect if you like to warm your gloved hands in jacket pockets. Seirus.com.
Heat factory also had a great display and I found camouflage fleece pop top mittens. They are made with 3M Thinsulate and have perfect little pockets to hold your warmers. I did not have to take the gloves off to make my shot on the whitetail. I just popped the top over and let the inside glove trigger finger find its place. The top stays “popped” because of little silent magnets that will hold it back and out of the way. The gloves were perfect for treestand hunting in the cold and really help when driving the side by side and holding on to a cold steering wheel. If your hands get cold in these gloves, you had better check in with a doctor. heatfactory.com.
DSG did not show at SHOT last January, but they deserve mentioning for carrying larger sizes. Their clothes go up to 5XL (fits about one size smaller). I tried out the Bexley 3.0 Ripstop Tech pants (retailing at $90) and the Bexley 2.0 Ripstop Tech Shirt (retailing at $40). For being so thin and lightweight, they were surprisingly warm in the cool morning (temps in upper 60s) and cool in the warm afternoon (temps in the upper 70s). They are not as quiet or stretchy as Ditale, but they were comfortable and best of all lightweight. I would like to check out their cold climate clothes. dsgouterwear.com.
My hunt for larger women’s outdoor wear was successful this past year. I can’t wait to see what will be available at SHOT Show 2024!
About the Author: Samantha Mann, MA, is a WV Licensed Psychologist, Licensed Professional Counselor WV, and Nationally Certified Counselor. Raised in West Virginia, Samantha was the youngest of six grandchildren (and the only female) who were raised to love the outdoors and hunting. She has hunted from Texas to Africa, and believes that while Superman gets his power from the sun, her power comes from the outdoors. Samantha lives in southern West Virginia with her supportive husband, who doesn’t mind showing off her trophies to his buddies. She balances her time in the office helping others with time in the outdoors, focusing much of her career on helping children and adults who have been abused, neglected and mistreated.