Performance hunting clothing – at least among the western crowd – is all the rage these days. This stems, of course, from the wildly varying conditions one can experience at any given moment on the side of a mountain and the physical exertion of chasing big animals at elevation.
The clothing designed for this style of hunting is often athletic-fit, lightweight and expensive. It’s also about 3,000 times better than the duds we used to have access to, even if you have to pay up for it. And aside from the obvious comfort and performance benefits, you’ll also notice that the best clothing also sports camo patterns designed for timberline tasks. That’s not nothing, and it’s worth considering if you plan to outfit yourself for some up-and-down hunting.
Here are the best options.
Badlands Approach FX
Long known for producing top-end backpacks and more recently hunting clothing, Badlands has created one of the best looking patterns out there – Approach FX. If you look at the color palette of Approach FX, you see mostly neutral tones that blend together. This is by design and results in a pattern that adapts not only to the terrain, but also to the lighting conditions. Plus it utilizes multiple layers to cause visual confusion, which is a trick that nature has used for a long, long time to gain an advantage when it comes to eating something – or avoiding being eaten.
Browning A-TACS Arid/Urban
A-TACS stands for Advanced Tactical Concealment System, and Browning is offering two options: FG (Foliage/Green) and AU (Arid/Urban). Either would be an excellent choice for mountain bowhunts, but the AU wins out in my book because it’s ideal if you get above timberline or happen to find yourself pinned down in a meadow. The idea behind A-TACS is to ditch unnatural, square pixels and replace them with organic pixels that allow for patterns within the patterns. In short, this pattern does a heck of a job breaking up the human outline in a variety of terrains.
KUIU Verde 2.0
It used to be that you only saw well-healed sheep hunters wearing KUIU clothing, but that has changed. The quality of their gear has steadily won over a broader range of the hunting market, which means more and more bowhunters are enjoying some of the best duds money can buy. A lot of those pieces of clothing are covered in KUIU’s Verde 2.0 camo, which is a digital-ish pattern that incorporates neutral colors into a blend-at-a-distance look that will help you disappear while slipping through the dark timber or belly crawling through a mountain meadow.
Mossy Oak Mountain Country
Mossy Oak has helped hunters kill countless whitetails and turkeys over the years, and now they’ll give you a hand when it comes to western game thanks to their Mountain Country pattern. They borrowed the gray of alpine trees and the greens of conifers to blend up a pattern that fits well in all of the places elk tread. Mountain Country also incorporates photo-realistic, true-to-nature elements that come right from the landscape to further sell the ruse that there’s nothing dangerous hiding here, nothing at all.
Pnuma Outdoors Terra Pattern
Camo is often designed to a 25x25-inch scale, meaning you’ll see element repetition throughout the clothing. Pnuma took a different route with their Terra pattern, designing it instead on a 42x36-inch scale to reduce the number of repeats on their gear. This results in a pattern that is effective in the deer woods and the alpine territory where you’ll have to spike out for adventure. It also produces a pattern that functions best when viewed from 25 yards on out – you know, the kinds of distances that you’ll try to get to on mountain muleys and such.
Sitka Gear Subalpine
You can’t do a MTN OPS fueled burpee session at a Colorado trailhead without bumping into at least a few hunters decked out in Sitka Gear. Odds are, their clothing will be covered in Subalpine, which is the only digital pattern designed with animal vision in mind. Taking into account how elk and mule deer see, the minds behind Subalpine came up with a pattern that incorporates micro and macro patterns and detailed shading and coloration to provide serious concealment at bowhunting distances. Take this pattern and throw it on some of the best clothing in the business and you’ll understand why it’s worth the price to buy a whole layering system.
Under Armour Barren Camo
If Jackson Polluck had been commissioned to create a pattern for western bowhunters, it’s highly likely he would have come up with something similar to the Barren Camo that Under Armour sells. The neutral-tone look ditches the old mindset of incorporating individual forest elements and instead blends together the colors you’ll see in the wild in a way that confuses the eye. This is the key to hiding the human form, and it works very well at the distances in which approaching bulls will be picking apart their surroundings in the hopes of spotting the mewling cow they would like to date very briefly.