Hunters have always disagreed on certain topics – which is the best way to hunt, what’s the best weapon for a specific animal, blinds vs tree stands, and so on. However, nothing splits them more than what to wear when out in the woods. While some younger hunters prefer wearing the traditional pants and jacket combo, older hunters swear by the hunting bib. But how good is the bib, and what exactly are its pros and cons when compared to a regular ol’ pair of pants?
In this article, we will talk about hunting bibs vs pants and try to settle this argument once and for all. I will do my best to put them side by side with all of their advantages and disadvantages, as well as showcase specific scenarios in which one or the other might excel. Additionally, we will go through why coveralls might prove a decent alternative to both bibs and pants in certain conditions.
Visit my guide on some of the best hunting bibs for cold weather to learn about the newest models for this year and all of the features that you need to look for!
Hunting Bibs Advantages & Disadvantages
Bibs have been the traditional attire of hunters for quite some time now. Their reputation of “old people wearing them” while true is fading away now since a lot of younger folk are convinced by their effectiveness. Still, due to some of their drawbacks, they’ve been challenged for their number one spot by pants or even coveralls. And while pants are much more convenient and almost always cheaper, there are some advantages to bibs that nobody can argue against. Let’s take a look at those now!
- One of the biggest advantages of bibs is that they protect you better against anything around you. That includes cold weather, moisture, and most importantly – bugs. With a hunting bib, you can sit or lie on the ground without having to worry about something crawling up your back.
- As I mentioned, warmth is very prevalent with bibs. They insulate very well and work well with hunting base layers. That being said, there are some bib models that are meant for warmer weather and are usually thin and breathable.
- Bibs are often packed full of pockets. And while there are pants that have plenty of those too, nothing beats having a chest pocket for easy access to your most important items.
- Having no waist strap gives bibs a huge advantage in the flexibility department. The freedom of movement you get while wearing these is only matched by coveralls.
- Just like most coveralls, almost all bibs are waterproof or at least wetproof to a degree.
Now, let’s go through some of the major flaws and drawbacks that you should be aware of…
- Hunting bibs aren’t as easy to get out when nature calls. And while there are pockets or zippers to help with that, pants are definitely superior in this area.
- Bibs are harder to wash than pants.
- On average, they weigh more.
- A very notable downside is that bibs and coveralls are almost always more expensive than a good pair of pants.
- Having a bib and a day pack will mean that your lower back will sweat a lot on hotter days.
Another thing that is really important about bibs and coveralls is that they have straps and, therefore, won’t fall down no matter what. That makes them perfect for wearing a hunting day pack since it won’t push down your pants all the time.
Hunting Pants Advantages & Disadvantages
Hunting pants are often times extremely similar to regular pants with a few important improvements. For starters, they are almost always waterproof. Additionally, they have more pockets making them far more convenient when you’re out hunting. Last but not least, these types of pants are made specifically for hunting and are, therefore, much more durable. They can resist tears and ripping, and generally last much longer. That being said, there are still certain disadvantages to them when put side by side with hunting bibs. Let’s take a look at some of the most important pros and cons now!
- Hunting pants are arguably more comfortable to wear on warmer days. However, that is often subjective. Some people prefer having a waistband while others do not.
- They are closer to the traditional pants with belts that most hunters are used to.
- Pants perform better in warmer weather as opposed to bibs.
- Hunting pants offer better breathability for your lower back.
- They are usually cheaper than bibs.
- Pants are less prone to tears and rips.
- They are generally easier to wash and dry.
- Last but not least, they are much easier to take off when nature calls.
It’s not all good, though. There are quite a few disadvantages to hunting pants that make them a less desirable alternative to bibs and coveralls. Here are some of the most important ones:
- They cannot keep you as warm as bibs or overall can.
- Pants aren’t normally insulated as good as hunting bibs.
- Your lower back isn’t as well protected as it is with bibs or coveralls.
- They provide less protection against ticks.
- Pants can fall down much easier than bibs, especially if you’re not wearing a belt.
- Heavier day packs will push against them.
One other advantage that isn’t often mentioned is that pants are almost always easier to maintain and clean. You wash most hunting pants exactly like you’d wash your hunting base layers. They can be machine-washed and machine-dried in most cases and are much easier to maintain clean as opposed to the larger bibs.
With all that being said, let’s sum things up and see which hunting gear is actually better for most hunters…
Head to Head
When put side to side, bibs and pants share a lot of similarities. However, the areas in which they differ the most are overall body coverage, comfort, and insulation. With a bib, you will be better protected against the elements. However, pants are much easier to manage all around. They’re cheaper, easy to put on and take off, and some people find them more comfortable. A healthy middle ground is having a pair of hunting pants combined with removable (and adjustable) suspenders. That’s what most people go for unless you’re planning on hunting in a cold or damp environment. In that case, bibs are king.
As I already mentioned, the price is also a huge factor, especially when you’re spending a ton of money on your first-time hunting gear. Pants are much more budget-friendly, although nowadays the border between pants and bibs is kind of blurred. What I mean is that there are expensive pairs of hunting pants as well as cheap bibs that overlap on the price ladder.
What About Coveralls or Waders?
There are plenty of arguments to be made for having coveralls or waders over bibs and pants. The reason for that is because coveralls, well… they cover it all! Specifically for waterfowl hunters, there is no better alternative than coveralls simply because the water will have no way of entering unless you’re chest-deep in that pond.
Naturally, these two inherit most of the bibs’ disadvantages against pants. However, they do offer even better water protection and insulation than both pants and bibs. That is actually the single feature most hunters go for either a waterproof coverall or a duck-hunting wader. Waders are almost always fully waterproof, making them ideal for hunting in shallow waters or walking in muddy fields. Coveralls aren’t always waterproof but insulate you extremely well and are ideal in colder weather.
However, compared to pants, waders and coveralls are much harder to put on and take off. Also, they are much more expensive than an average pair of hunting pants, making them a harder pick for people on a budget.
If you’re interested in some of my best tips on how to hunt in the snow, make sure you check out my detailed article on that topic!
The topic of hunting bibs vs pants has been at the center of tons of debates. To sum things up, each has its own set of pros and cons. Hunting pants are cheaper, easier to put on and take off, and are generally more durable. However, bibs provide much better coverage, have better insulation against the elements, and are generally better for cold-weather hunting. So, if you’re on a tighter budget, I suggest opting for a good set of hunting pants. Hunting bibs and overalls are going to set you back slightly more but will offer better protection and will feel more comfortable, especially on those cold and wet days.