December 16, 2010
Regardless of conditions, this latest generation of bowhunting apparel has got you covered.
By Bob Humphrey
EACH YEAR BOWHUNTER GIVES you a run-down of the latest, greatest new products. This year, we queried all the major bowhunting apparel manufacturers and asked them to send us a sample of what they considered their best new products. What follows, in alphabetical order, is a review of some of the best new hunting togs for 2010.
This company has expanded its Hell's Canyon outerwear line -- designed for high performance in the toughest conditions -- with the new Hell's Canyon Full Throttle Jacket and Pants ($107-$118 each). Both are lighter in weight than the standard line due to a new fabric technology that bonds a water/wind-resistant woven outer shell to a moisture-wicking OdorSmart featherweight fleece lining. The absence of a lamination layer increases breathability, and OdorSmart antimicrobial technology inhibits the growth of bacteria.
Alone, they're more than adequate for average-to-cool temperatures and light precipitation. When rain hits, you could pull out the new packable Zero Gravity Paclite Jacket ($227-$248) and Pants ($167-$186), which feature Gore-Tex Paclite Shell technology that is guaranteed waterproof/breathable. The combined weight of both garments is under a pound, which is important when legging it out in elk country. Among several nice features on the pants are articulated knees for mobility and a high back for added protection when you're sitting.
CONTACT: Browning, (801) 876-2711; www.browning.com
The Bowhunter Extreme Ghil-Leaf Fleece series combines outline-obscuring, patent-pending Ghil-Leaf 3D technology with the quiet comfort of fleece and the odor adsorption of Scent-Lok in a feature-packed jacket and pants. On the jacket ($180), a full-length compression sleeve and front-drop collar guarantee unobstructed drawing and anchoring. The pants ($170) have a full elastic back with belt loops for a comfortable fit that still allows room when layering is necessary. Camouflage is Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity, sizes range M-2XL.
CONTACT: Cabela's, 1-800-237-4444; www.cabelas.com
H.S. has long been associated with the science of scent control, so it's no surprise that when H.S. got into apparel it would start at the base level. The new Scent-A-Way TEK 4 base layer line uses nylon threads, permanently encapsulated in pure silver and woven into the garment for odor control, that will last for the life of the garment. Materials and design also provide permanent perspiration management, thermal properties, comfort, and durability.
The line includes headnet ($15-$20), gloves ($15-$25), socks ($15-$20), boxer briefs ($20), baseball and fleece caps ($13-$20), and base layer pants ($45-$70) and tops ($45-$70) in both light and heavy weights. In field-testing, I found the garments not only comfortable but also effective at moisture and temperature management. Regarding odor control, I can say that after I'd worn the garments several times under conditions that made me sweat, both the user and the garments bore no odor, at least detectable by the human nose.
CONTACT: Hunter's Specialties, 1-800-728-0321; www.hunterspec.com
According to Marketing Director David Vogrin, Medalist's new logo is part of a larger effort to "more effectively communicate the advantages of our premium brand." The foundation of that brand is SilverMax technology. With a 360-degree layer of pure silver woven into the fabric, garments are more effective at antimicrobial odor elimination and temperature regulation. The silver also reduces static and garment noise and helps synthetic fibers wick moisture.
While integrating SilverMax into its entire apparel line, Medalist also has color-coded the layering system for various temperature ranges. The three base layers use a novel approach by varying not only weight but also the materials for different temperature levels: lightweight polyester blend, midweight Microskin polyester, and heavyweight microfleece (the latter doubles as an outer layer in mild conditions). The midlayer Cheyenne Ultralight Shirt ($100) and Pants ($100) have moisture, temperature, and odor-regulating micropolyester linings and soft, quiet, brushed microfiber shells. A lightweight Windshirt ($110) will keep you comfortable in warmer weather, and a waterproof/windproof Fleece Vest ($140) adds warmth in cooler weather.
The outer layer is even more diverse. Max Packable Water/Wind Proof Jacket ($150) and Pants ($140) provide a lightweight option for warmer conditions. Fleece Water/Wind Proof Jacket ($180) and Pants ($170) will serve you well in moderate conditions. And the
Anchorage Insulated Jacket ($170), Pants ($160), and Bibs ($170) will keep you hunting in bitter weather.
ested the Fleece Water/Wind Proof Jacket and Pants and, with lightweight base and midlayers, found them adequate for temperatures down to the low 30s. As a bowhunter, I appreciated the zipper that has been moved from the center to the side, where it is out of the way.
CONTACT: Medalist, 1-800-543-8952; www.medalist.com
PrÃ³is hunting apparel is designed specifically to fit the fastest growing segment of the bowhunting community -- women. In lieu of personally trying the clothing, I talked with PrÃ³is owner Kirstie Pike, who singled out the PrÃ³is Ultra Hoodie ($70) as a top choice for bowhunting women among a slew of new items for 2010. Its 100-percent polyester fabric actively wicks moisture away from the skin, and the custom-tailored, athletic design ensures ease of movement at every angle.
CONTACT: PrÃ³is, (970) 641-3355; www.proishunting.com
The EnduraSuede Jacket and Pants ($80 each) feature a three-layer, four-way stretch fabric that bonds soft, quiet, durable synthetic suede to a waterproof membrane and an antimicrobial microfleece lining. Finished off with a DWR (Durable Water Repellency) treatment, the garments give you a combination of performance features ideal for bowhunting in a broad range of conditions. In warm weather, opt for Stalker Lite II clothing (prices vary), made of ultralight, four-way stretch, moisture-wicking polyester that will keep you cool when the sun comes up, wick moisture away from your skin, and ensure your silence.
CONTACT: Bass Pro (RedHead), 1-800-227-7776; www.basspro.com
Last year this company introduced its APXg2 line, the second generation of innovative APX (Advanced Performance for Extremes) clothing, which features advanced moisture and odor-control properties, plus improved insulation with less weight. Specifically, Dri-POWER moisture-wicking technology, inherent in the fabric (meaning it will never wash out), employs advanced fabrications to wick moisture from the body, while Scent-Stop controls odor with its Aegis Microbe Shield, an antimicrobial treatment molecularly bonded to the material.
For this year's most impressive additions to the line, the Chill Blocker Jacket and Pants ($399.99), Russell chose PrimaLoft INFINITY, a high-loft continuous-filament insulation with 20 percent more compressibility than other similar insulations. It's also so lightweight that you might be skeptical as to whether the garment is even insulated. Novel ZEROLOFT panels, strategically placed in critical core areas (front, back, and kidneys) and high compression zones (shoulders, elbows, knees, and rear) ensure good insulation as you move about.
At the 2010 SHOT Show, Russell demonstrated ZEROLOFT's effectiveness by inviting people to put on Chill Blocker Jacket and Pants and sit in a chair of solid ice. After five minutes you could begin to feel the cold seeping through unpadded areas, while areas protected by ZEROLOFT remained warm. I later spent several hours seated on a metal ladder stand seat with similar results. The full APXg2 system consists of five levels ranging from various weights of moisture-wicking, antimicrobial base layers; fleece insulating layers; and soft-shell, wind and waterproof outer layers.
CONTACT: Russell Outdoors, 1-800-331-5624; www.russelloutdoorsgear.com
Scent-Lok's Dual Fleece Jacket and Pants ($180 each) advance Scent-Lok's Vertigo camouflage design by featuring more dramatic contrast in both color and fabric combinations. A higher loft fleece in large dark regions is highly contrasted with smooth, brushed polyester in the light regions to maximize Vertigo's silhouette-destroying effect. Both wind-resistant fabrics are fleece lined.
The new Full Season Convertible Parka ($170) can handle a wide range of weather. Worn alone, the fleece-lined, moisture-repelling camo shell is light enough for warmer days. It has large dual-snap pockets for secure storage, plus a storm flap to keep the chill out and human odor in. For colder days, a quilted inner liner with 150-gram Thinsulate Insulation will give you needed warmth.
CONTACT: Scent-Lok, 1-800-315-5799; www.scentlok.com
She Outdoor Apparel
For obvious reasons, I did not field-test any SHE products, but I did get the inside scoop. The C2 Flex-Fit Jacket ($160) and Pants ($85), a lighter version of SHE Outdoor Apparel's C4 System, are designed for more active hunting situations. Both feature an athletic cut and form fit specifically designed for female hunters. The abrasion and water-resistant outer shell is backed with a 390-gram microfleece lining. Pockets, zippers, and snap closures are strategically positioned around both garments to enhance utility, comfort, and freedom of movement.
CONTACT: SHE Outdoor Apparel, (281) 448-4860; www.shesafari.com
Known primarily for its great clothing camouflaged with GORE's original OPTIFADE Big Game/Open Country pattern and designed for active Western hunting, Sitka has moved East, so to speak, with its new Forest Line. Made to address the specific challenges of sedentary hunting under adverse conditions, the Forest Line features a new Big Game/Forest OPTIFADE pattern, optimized for treestand hunting in wooded environments.
Headlining the Forest Line are the Stratus Jacket ($249) and Bibs ($229) with a WINDSTOPPER soft shell for quiet protection from the elements in freezing and above temperatures. Fully articulated arms afford full range of motion in the Jacket. The Bibs feature a clean pocket system -- pockets only where you need them -- and lower-leg zips that make extending the pants legs over boots easy.
One knock on packable rainwear is noise. To negate the noise, Sitka's Downpour Jacket ($249) and Pants ($199) feature a waterproof/breathable Gore-Tex Paclite shell with a quiet, lightly brushed face. For really cold, inclement weather, the Incinerator Jacket ($599) and Bibs ($469) combine the waterproof/breathable protection of a Gore-Tex shell with the warmth of 700-fill down. Articulation through the arms, seat, and legs always ensures full range of motion.
CONTACT: Sitka Gear, 1-877-SITKA MG; www.sitkagear.com
Designed for bowhunting in remote wilderness, Under Armour's Ridge Reaper collection is durable, quiet, lightweight, and compact. The Ridge Reaper Soft Shell Jacket ($199.99) and Pants ($179.99) feature Under Armour's latest signature soft shell -- a breakthrough in fabric technology combining warmth without weight and outstanding weather resistance -- as well as Capture Scent Technology lining. The jacket has rotational arms for added mobility and zippered cuffs for sleek arm fit and easy access. The Pants have four external pockets and zippered legs for easy on and off.
CONTACT: Under Armour, 1-888-427-6687; www.underarmour.com