The outermost layer of your hunting outfit is critical. This layer’s function is to protect against severe weather conditions, which is why making the appropriate choice between wearing a hunting bib and hunting pants is essential.

When it comes to choosing between hunting pants and hunting bibs most hunters will prefer bibs in colder, harsher conditions and pants in milder, early season conditions. This article will identify the factors which contribute to these assessments.

Hunting Bibs

Sitka Incinerator Aerolite Bibs

Bibs are worn as the outermost layer of your hunting outfit. They cover hunter’s legs and half the torso (bottom of chest), and they are held up by the shoulders with straps (like suspenders).

Most hunters like them for the weather protection in cold weather. They’re popular because they’re waterproof, breathable, well insulated, offer greater leg protection, and they have many pockets (with useful features).


Hunters typically prefer (insulated) bibs for harsher, colder weather simply because they offer greater warmth for the back and entire body. More specifically, by completely covering the waistline and kidney (eliminating the separation of bottom and top clothing), breezes and drafts cannot blow up the lower back.

Mossy Oak Sierra Insulated Bibs

Bibs are also warmer because they retain heat well. In addition to this, bibs are waterproof.

A convenient feature of various hunting bibs are the leg zippers which allow you to effortlessly slide in and out of the bib to regulate your body temperature.

Considering bibs are ideal for tree sitting in cold conditions, walking in them can make you uncomfortably hot, unzipping the legs of the bibs can reduce the heat within the clothing and alleviate your discomfort.

Additionally, the ease of getting in and out of the bib encourages hunters to carry it to their stand and slide them on once there to avoid overheating while walking.

A complication with hunting in pants is that any arm and shoulder movement may allow cold air to rush through the waistline to the lower back.

Bibs allow plenty of shoulder and arm movement because they cover the waist, and the shoulder straps guarantee the bib remains confined to the body.

With bibs, the weight is placed on your shoulders compared to the hips for pants and a belt. Many find that this little difference makes bibs more comfortable (others may argue weight at the hips is better). Additionally, bibs do not need constant adjustment (unlike belts and pants)


Bibs are ideal for cold days, not warmer conditions.

In mild weather it is important that air can escape from your clothing. The design of bibs is to retain heat, meaning that they do not allow hot air to escape within the clothing.

Therefore, wearing them early season or in warm temperatures can make you extremely hot, sweaty, and possibly exhausted.

Kings Camo XKG Wind-Defender Bibs

Walking in them as previously stated can also make you uncomfortably hot, even with the sides unzipped.

Often, hunters dislike the fit of bibs. They feel that they’re too bulky and simply uncomfortable. This is common for people who are unaccustomed to wearing bibs.

They’re quite bulky due to the insulation and environmental shell they offer. The additional bulk hampers mobility, particularly when climbing into trees. Properly sizing your bibs and base layer can significantly mitigate this problem.

In terms of fit, straps may feel too tight or too loose and the crotch too baggy or too rigid.

Bathroom breaks are more complicated with bibs than with pants. In an emergency, a slow removal of your bib may cause your day of hunting to end a little prematurely.

Hunting Pants

Sitka Traverse Pants

Hunting pants are normal pants but offer greater protection against harsher weather conditions. This mean they’re water resistant, waterproof, and insulated with extra pockets. Many hunters like to wear hunting pants for the protection they offer in mild weather conditions.


Most hunters prefer hunting pants over bibs in milder conditions. This is primarily because in warmer conditions (early season), having a breathable fit is more important than retaining heat.

Kuiu Talus Hybrid Pants

Therefore, having a breathable waistline (lower back) makes wearing pants in winter a challenge, but comfortable to wear in mild weather.

Hunting pants are easy to familiarize yourself with (unlike with bibs which may be uncomfortable to people who have never worn them).

They’re not as bulky as bibs which makes them easier to move around in. Additionally, you’re less likely to get exhausted or overheat while wearing them.

As mentioned above, taking a bathroom break is much more convenient in pants simply because you are only required to pull your pants down which takes a second.


As mentioned various times, it is difficult for pants to retain heat because cool air blows up the lower back at the waistline wear the top is separated from the pants.

This can be managed successfully sometimes by tucking your shirt and base layers into your pants, but often they will loosen and become untucked, or your jacket/coat will rise and allow a draft to blow up your back.

Tree sitting can be truly uncomfortable from time to time. Often, pants can contribute to the discomfort, especially in cool weather.

Kryptek Stalker Pants

An important aspect of wearing hunting pants in cold weather is ensuring that they are fitting tight/well enough to prevent cold air from rushing through when you raise or move your arms and shoulders. This may involve wrapping your waist uncomfortably tight with a belt.

Pants can also be simply annoying. While hunting you do plenty of moving which increases the likelihood of your pants sliding down (even while wearing belts). Having to adjust your pants and belt constantly is incredibly irritating.

Bottom Line

Essentially hunting bibs are superior in cold weather due to the protection against the wind it offers and consequently the ability to retain heat. Many hunters appreciate the ease of movement that they offer, their proximity to the body, and prefer shoulder straps over belts.

The breathability that hunting pants offer makes them a great choice for warmer temperatures. They also may be the better option for those who dislike shoulder straps and like the convenience of simply pulling pants down to go to the bathroom.

If neither sound like a good option for you, hunting coveralls may be the way to go. Hunting coveralls work very well in cold weather.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *