KUIU Layering System Guide

Choosing the proper layers for a hunt can take some thought. Our layering guide will help you build the system that’s right for you.


All our apparel is made to work as part of a “layering system”. What that means is - there is no one piece that can do it all. A layering system is a collection of clothing put together based on the weather and activity level that you will be experience on your trip. The chart below is a guide to help you determine the types of layers that best meet your needs. There is an endless amount of options when it comes to choosing your layers each with different benefits; natural vs. synthetic, weight vs. durability. A lot of these decisions are based off personal preference and hunt style. The following information is to help you make the most educated decision when investing in your gear.


There are numerous different ways to layer, these temperature chart recommendations are a guideline to help decide the layers that work best for your situation.


This temperature category is pretty self-explanatory, its HOT. When it’s hot, a layering system is not about heat retention, but more about breathability and cooling the body as efficiently as possible. The products that we offer for this temp range are made of thin/light fabric and excel at wicking and air movement. Our Tiburon collection is ideal for hot weather and allows the slightest breeze to pass through. Lightweight Merino and Peloton base layers are a good choice as well. Keep your clothing light with a focus on air movement.


This is the temperature range where a couple more layers can be added for the lower end of the spectrum. You won’t need anything too insulating, and based off your activity level, an insulation piece may not be necessary. Mid-layers are a great addition here, they have more insulating properties than your base, and will be cut to fit over your next-to-skin layer. Another option would be a lightweight jacket like the Peloton 240 or Rubicon. In this range you will most likely be putting on and taking off layers as the weather and activity levels change. Rain could be in the forecast, so make sure to have rain gear if needed.


This is where you will see the most erratic weather conditions. You can encounter rain, sleet, or snow. Your layering system will need to be more intensive and based off your expected conditions. The addition of insulation and multiple mid-layers will help with heat retention — and make sure your rain gear is in your pack. A soft shell can be used, but personal preference based off the weather. Ultra Merino, Peloton, and Super Down Zip-Off Bottoms are a great addition here. Depending on your activity level they can be easily put on or taken off. Heat management is key, so check the weather, determine your activity level, and plan accordingly.


This is the temperature range where warmth becomes more about survival than comfort. Insulation pieces are the most crucial additions, as they trap the heat in making the below freezing temps tolerable. Super Down Pro Jacket and Pant would be a good place to start, and you will most likely need more. A base layer, multiple mid-layers, plenty of insulation, and rain gear will be your best bet. Heat retention is the number one priority with this layering system, and with new innovative fabric technology, you can achieve the amount of warmth you need without feeling like the kid from the “Christmas Story”.


Mid-Season Example

During mid-season the temperature can fluctuate drastically, so your layering system needs to be set up to handle it all.

Base Layers: ULTRA Merino 145 Zip-T, ULTRA Merino 145 Zip-off Bottom
Mid-layer: Peloton 200 Zip-T Hoodie
Insulation: Kenai ULTRA Vest, Super Down ULTRA Hooded Jacket
Pants: Pro Pant
Rain Gear: Chugach NX Rain Jacket, Chugach NX Pant
Accessories: ULTRA Merino 145 Beanie, ULTRA Merino 145 Neck Gaiter, Peloton 240 Beanie, KUIU Air Mesh Flexfit Cap, ULTRA Merino 210 Gloves, Yukon Pro Glove, ULTRA Merino Crew Sock.

Late Season Example

Late season hunts can often be cold with frequent snow/rain. Your layering system should focus on heat retention and comfort.

Base Layers: Peloton 97 Zip-T Hoodie, Peloton 97 Zip-Off Bottom
Mid-layer: StrongFleece 210 Zip-T, Peloton 240 Full Zip Hoodie
Insulation: Super Down Pro Hooded Jacket, Super Down ULTRA Pant
Pants: Talus Hybrid Pant
Rain Gear: Kutana Storm Shell Jacket, Kutana Storm Shell Pant
Accessories: ULTRA Merino 145 Beanie, Kenai Beanie, Peloton 97 Neck Gaiter, KUIU Pro Cap, ULTRA Merino 210 Glove, Super Down PRO Glassing Glomitt, ULTRA Merino Over-the-Calf Sock

Base Layer

Base layer

Your base layer is the foundation of your layering system. As your next-to-skin layer, comfort is important. Keep in mind this layer is always on, hot or cold. The decision that needs to be made when looking to acquire a new base layer is fabric type. At KUIU we offer two different kinds, merino wool and knit synthetics.

Each fabric type has its own number of benefits that will help you decide which to choose. Merino wool is naturally odor eliminating, which allows you to bring less extra clothing and not worry when in close quarters with the target. Peloton synthetics are very fast drying and excel in humid and wet environments.

All these fabrics are measured by g/m² (grams per meter squared). This is a measurement of base fabric weight, the higher the number the heavier the fabric. This does not always mean the higher the number the warmer the garment. For example, the Peloton 97 is a warmer base layer than the Peloton 118. So, when choosing a next-to-skin layer make sure to research the fabric before purchasing.

Example of Base Layers
ULTRA Merino - 125 & 145
Peloton - 118 & 97

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A mid-layer is any piece worn over your base layer and under your insulation and outer layer. These are typically a lightweight fleece or a light insulation piece. This is where extra warmth can be added with a minimal weight penalty. These layers function as extra warmth, while during the heat of the day or high exertion activity will become your go-to when your base isn’t enough. Add one or more of these different options depending on the temperature and conditions of your hunt.

Just like your base layers, these merino and synthetics fabrics are measured in g/m². They are sized to fit over your thinner next-to-skin, but will still fit on the “athletic” side so there is not a lot of bulk fabric when more layers are added. Hooded options are available and are a nice addition to protect your head and neck from the sun, wind, and bugs. Before purchasing the hooded option make sure to count the number of hoods already in your layering system. Too many hoods can be a little cumbersome when all layers are on.

Example of Mid Layers
StrongFleece - 260 Zip-T Hoodie & 210 Zip-T
Peloton - 200 & 240
Insulated Snap Shirt

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Although on the heavier side, soft shells do have a place in your layering system. Known to be durable, they are a great outer layer in thick vegetation or deadfall. Soft shells also perform exceptionally well in windy situations, and with a DWR coating (excluding the Peloton 240) offer protection in snow and light rain.

Soft shells are a layering category that really is based off personal preference. You don’t need to have a soft shell, but in certain situations they do perform exceptionally well. When deciding on this layer, consider your terrain, weather, and vegetation levels.

An outer layer cut gives you ample room for your base and mid-layers, with the addition of a thinner insulation piece. If precipitation is consistent, a hard shell will fit over the top.

Example of Soft Shell Layers
Kutana Soft Shell Jacket, Axis Hybrid Hooded Jacket & Pant
Guide - DCS Jacket, Pant, Vest
Rubicon Hooded Jacket
Peloton - 240

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The whole premise behind insulation is heat retention, but choosing the proper insulation is based off your activity level. Super Down options are constructed with a down proof coating to keep the clusters from migrating through the fabric. That coating makes these pieces windproof and limits breathability, which in turn traps body heat inside the garment. With that being said, these are not pieces for active hunts. Down insulation should be picked for stationary situations where the heat being trapped is generated by resting body heat, i.e. long glassing sessions, sitting in a blind/stand.

Kenai ULTRA is insulated with 3DeFX+ synthetic insulation. Unlike its Down counterparts, these pieces are uncoated maximizing its breathability and eliminating a majority of the noise created by these coated fabrics. With its breathability and features like ventilating pit-zips, Kenai is known as “active insulation”. It excels in cold weather situation when you are constantly on the move and need the warmth and breathability to stay comfortable and prevent the accumulation of sweat. In milder conditions, this can be worn as your insulation layer without the worry of overheating.

Choosing an insulation layer should be strictly based off your activity level and hunt style. These are designed to be lightweight and packable, and are typically not the most durable pieces. Keep that in mind when in the field.

Example of Insulation Layers
Super Down - ULTRA & PRO Hooded Jackets
3DeFX+ - Kutana Hybrid 3DeFX+ Jacket, Kenai ULTRA Jacket, & Insulated Snap Shirt

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Choosing a hard shell really isn’t about weather conditions since the only reason to bring them is for rain. Picking the right hard shell is more about the style of hunt. Hard shells also inherently make great windbreakers and help retain heat when layered over insulation. Backpack hunting is all about weight, the lighter you can get your pack the better. Since rain gear lives in your pack when it isn’t raining, be sure to check the overall weight. If wearing your rain gear all day, hunting in an area full of thick vegetation or rocky terrain, or a hunt where weight isn’t an issue, heavier duty rain gear can be utilized.

All KUIU rain gear is built off of a breathable membrane. The membrane is made of small pores to allow your body vapor to pass through the membrane preventing the buildup on condensation on the inside. This helps during high exertion activity to regulate body temperature.

Sized with the largest cut, these are the last layer in the layering system. No need to order a size larger as we have already done that for you.

Example of Rain Gear Layers
Kutana Storm Shell Jacket & Pant
Chugach NX Rain Jacket & Pant
Yukon Rain Jacket & Pant

Shop All Rain Gear Layers