Intro and editorial by: Josh Shaffer
Coming to you with this post this week with some good field tested gear review info from my good buddy Alex who frequents the high country of Colorado. He was kind enough to put a short gear review together for some newly acquired items in his kit. He gives his thoughts on some First Lite and KUIU items below for anyone out there that is shopping for some new hunting gear. So without further delay enter Alex.....
By: Alex Kostra
Opening weekend of Colorado archery season is in the books. I was finally able to test a lot of my new gear and re-test a lot of my older gear. High temps were in the 60’s while the lowest temp I observed was 39 degrees. Weather was mostly mild however I experienced several rain showers throughout my 3-day backpack hunt. I will continue to test all of my equipment as the season rolls along however I figured I would share some initial thoughts on some notable gear items. Please note, these are only initial thoughts and I cannot speak to the longevity of these items or their performance in more challenging weather conditions.
First Lite Dobson Aerowool Boxer: These boxers were a very nice surprise. I wore the same pair for 3 days and had absolutely nothing to complain about. The combination of merino wool and 37.5 managed vapor very well and kept me comfortable. As far as I can tell, there is no difference between Aerowool and 100% merino in regards to odor control. First Lite advertises these boxers as being designed for warm temperatures, however,these do retain a bit of warmth. Despite the warmth, they effectively manage vapor. Personally, I like these more than the First Lite Red Desert Boxer for any temperature due to moisture management. The Dobson Boxers also have an improved fit and there is no tag inside the waistband. These were a great pairing with my KUIU Attack pants (more on this below). And no, the fabric did not itch whatsoever. Overall, I give the Dobson Aerowool Boxer an A+.
Western hunting? Yes! Eastern hunting? Yes!
KUIU Attack Pants: This pant is KUIU’s best-selling pant for good reason. The fit is great and there is no excess material. They have an athletic fit but do not fall into the category of “skinny pants.” The fit and 4-way stretch fabric allow for uninhibited movement. Unlike some other comparable pants, the face fabric is extremely quiet. The DWR treatment kept them bone dry during wet morning dew. When fully submerged, the fabric does not absorb much water and it is quick to dry. My favorite feature of these pants is the hip vents! In combination with the Dobson Boxers, the hip vents allowed me to dump excess heat/vapor during warm temps and big efforts. When temperatures dipped, I closed the vents which had a nice warming effect. As such, I didn’t even think about grabbing my merino bottoms while glassing or at camp. These pants have a very broad temperature range for comfort! I did notice a few snags in the face fabric but it’s nothing that will affect the performance of the pants. The pockets are great, however, the pockets of the First Lite Corrugate Guide pants are more user-friendly. We’ll see how the Attack pants hold up over several years of use. When combined, the Attack pants and First Lite Dobson Aerowool Boxers are a great system. Overall, I give the Attack pants an A+ but would like to see some slight modifications to the pockets (bigger openings, deeper hip pockets).
Western hunting? Yes! Eastern hunting? Yes, but watch for thorns.
KUIU Peloton 240 Full Zip shirt: This year I added the Peloton 240 shirt to my clothing arsenal. I opted for the model without the hood for easier layering. This shirt was one of the nicest surprises of my hunt. When trying the 240 shirt at home, I was mildly impressed. It seemed to cut the wind but had very little warmth. Mind you, cutting the wind can sometimes be the most important factor when trying to stay warm. I’d say the warmth of this shirt is equivalent to a light sweatshirt but with wind cutting capabilities. Unlike other wind-stopping fabrics, the 240 shirt breathes (ie. passes moisture) extremely well. The fit is quite streamlined yet I can comfortably fit a lightweight puffy underneath (I wear size L for all shirts and jackets). The 240 shirt does not have DWR treatment therefore it will quickly absorb water during a rain shower; which is something to consider when checking the weather forecast. During my early season hunt, I wore the 240 shirt much more than expected and it performed better than it did at home. Perhaps this was due to my 145 merino base layer shirt. Nevertheless, I was pleased. My hike to camp was during the night with temps in the low to mid 40’s. I wore the 240 shirt the whole way to camp. It was slightly warm when climbing however it was great during flatter sections of the trail. I feel the 240 shirt is a great outer layer during mild temps when you need a little more than just your base layer shirt; and when any type of jacket or puffy is not warranted. It also makes a decent mid-layer during colder temps. Make no mistake, this is a shirt and it is not a jacket(perhaps I will compare the 240 shirt and Guide jacket at a later date). I did get a little cold and added my Guide jacket during a cold rain shower. The hand pockets are quite functional but cause no discomfort with my pack (hip belt) on. I really like the full length zipper, though I wish there was a small chest pocket for stashing my mouth call. The 240 shirt does not have pit zips but I don’t think pit zips would be sensible for a garment of this weight/warmth. At an advertised weight of 12.4oz, it is lightweight and does not take up much volume in my pack. I would not wear this alone when sitting in cold temps however it does excel in the right situations (mild temps, active hunting). This is an item that is somewhat versatile for a handful of scenarios and I think it will have a permanent home in my kit. I may not take it on every hunt but I will likely take it on many hunts. It is an item that will function well with a variety of clothing systems.Overall, I give the Peloton 240 Full Zip shirt an A.
Western hunting? Yes! Eastern hunting? Yes!
Feel free to leave any questions or comments in the Comments box below. And of course, I’d love to give a special shout-out to the Gritty Bowmen at http://www.grittybowmen.com/ and Rokslide at http://www.rokslide.com/. These are great sources of information for many things and I encourage everyone to check them out. I’m a huge fan of their work.