Start Now: How to Layer from the Thrift Shop.

Hunting, fishing, and shooting are not inexpensive sports.  While all of us love the feel of a brand new item to take out with us, sometimes due to finances, we have to make some cutbacks.

The end of summer is actually the time to get the best deals on layering items because it’s still so warm no one is thinking of it. Well, we hope we got you thinking…


Growing up, my family never had much, but we usually stayed pretty warm out on the land no matter what we were doing – and we were active! Hunting, ice fishing, just walking in the woods, riding horses, you name it and we were covered.

While some things you look for might be “sport specific,” you’ll find that there is a lot of overlap in some of the basics.

First Step: Find the “Good” Thrift Stores in your Area.

That one is on you.

We all know that if you’ve gone to thrift stores like Goodwill or the Salvation Army, there is a big difference between a “great one” and one that never has a thing.

Sometimes if you trek out to the suburbs you’ll find better ones because there are simply more people contributing the kinds of things you’ll be looking for.

So, assuming you found your thrift shop…here are the tips.

The 4 Great Finds at Thrift Stores:

1. Wool Sweaters

sheering sheep

Price out a wool sweater at any outdoors shop, and you’ll practically be running to the thrift store. Thrift stores are GOLD for genuine wool sweaters. Vintage sweaters especially tend to be of much higher quality, and are usually very thick.


Vintage sweaters also usually run small if they’re mens, meaning that even if you’re a small woman, you might have some luck. If you love the outdoors and don’t care about a silly design on your sweater, you’ll easily save yourself a fortune on this one.

2. Base Layers


This is the layer that goes right next to your skin, and the job of a base layer is to pull moisture away from your body, and keep you insulated.

Three types to be on the lookout for:

Under Armour Cold Gear base layers (tops and/or bottoms).

Sometimes you’ll find those who used these items for running, snowmobiling or other outdoor sports. These normally can run $60 a piece, so if you find them, grab them. If you don’t plan on wearing your base layer as your outer layer, camouflage or not doesn’t really matter.

Wool base layers (tops and/or bottoms).

If your area is popular with hikers or other folks who love the outdoors, you might get lucky. A thin wool base layer is arguably the best out there.

Traditional Thermals (tops and/or bottoms).

Yes, they’re old school, but they are better than nothing. They can still keep you toasty and be really functional in helping you beat the cold.

2. Flannel Shirts

Flannel shirt

These are great to put on top of your base layers, but under your sweater. Look for shirts that are thick, well-constructed and fit comfortably. Vintage shirts often have a bit of wool in them…which can be particularly wonderful. Flannel shirts get really hard to find once the fall comes around.

3. Jeans


A lot of people might not like this one, so if it’s not for you, skip it. The jeans I’m talking about aren’t your typical “going out on a friday night” jeans – they tend to have a bit of room to fit a base layer under them.

These are jeans meant for getting beat up and going under an outer layer. Be sure they fit correctly or a bad pair of jeans will haunt you for the entire time you are outside. Find a good fit, or leave them on the rack.

4. Down Anything

down jacket

Anything with down in it. Most shops have a “jackets” section, and sometimes you can get lucky and find down jackets,  vests or  even those with the lighter thinner primaloft filling…it’s a rare bird (okay, bad joke) to find, but it’s completely worth it to get if you see it.

The 4 Things to Never Buy From Thrift Shop

We all know that there are some things you just don’t buy at a thriftshop, ever (underwear, etc..), but these items should be included on that list.

1. Boots

womens hunting boots

Finding a beautiful pair of boots in a thrift store can be tempting…but don’t do it.

Your boots are one of the most important parts of your wardrobe – and if you can avoid it, get these new. There is a lot of wear on boots that is both visible (sole of the shoe) and not visible (cracks, cushioning, etc..).

Someone else’s wear on the boots can affect how you walk in them, your legs, and your comfort. Not worth it.

2. Socks

wool socks

You likely know this, but these are also worth buying new. Invest in good wool socks. You can find them at a discount store, but just don’t get them used.

People only give away solid wool socks when they’ve worn incredibly thin, have holes in them, or have some other defect. Once you get a great pair, you keep them until they fall off your feet. Literally.

3. Hats & Gloves

womens hunting hat

Find one that fits your head. Though gloves can get pricey, a great hat doesn’t have to be an expensive one. Find one that easily can be stuffed in your pack.

When these types of essentials are given away, it’s usually because they are so worn or stretched that they’re no longer worth their salt. While they’d be better than nothing, they’re usually not going to be solid for you secondhand.

4. Outer Layers

women's insulated bibs

These are really your hunting coat and pants. Some you won’t wear jeans under, and others you might depending on the style and what type you buy. It will also be your camouflage layer.

This layer should be water resistant, wind-resistant, insulating and comfortable. It’s your heaviest layer, and the layer that should be able to fit multiple layers under it.

So Let’s Get This Layering Going…

Deer stand

I am assuming that you are about to enter into very frigid temperatures. So, feel free to adjust these layering items as you need for your own comfort.

Layering the Top:

  • Base Layer
  • Flannel
  • Wood sweater
  • Down vest/jacket
  • Outerlayer

Layering the Bottom:

  • Base Layer
  • Wool socks
  • Jeans
  • Outerlayer

Depending on where you live and what you’re doing is how you’ll adjust this arrangement. Some of you live in Canada where this might not be adequate, others live in areas of the country where this would melt you into a puddle….so use your judgment to scale it up or turn it down a notch, and stay warm!