Thursday, November 13, 2014

Hunting Jacket Search 2014

My wife would tell you I have more hunting gear than I could ever possibly need.  From boots, clothes, guns, knives, ropes, hooks, hangers and binos, I seem to acquire quite a bit.  One thing I have been trying to dial in has been my clothing.

I started years ago with a bulky Gore-tex orange jacket and bibs from Fleet Farm.  I am sure I spent $150-200 on the pair and thought I was breaking the bank.  When I began bow hunting I invested in an early season camo shirt and pants, and a soft shell jacket and bibs from Gander Mountain.  For the late season I have been wearing many layers under the camo or switching to my orange jacket when it got to cold.  This year I am ready to step up and invest in a nice camo jacket that I can wear from Nov-Dec 31st.  

This has been quite an adventure in deciding which jacket to purchase.  It really has to be a hybrid of sorts in that I need quiet, warm, and yet still be able to draw my bow.  Instead of just running out and purchasing something I decided to research this purchase out a bit.  My choices are based off of personal observation, recommendations, and popular choices.  These are far from all that is offered, however some things are just a bit to hard to find info on to consider.  Here are some of my choices:

First Lite is most known for bringing camo Merino wool to hunting clothes.  They introduced some outerwear in the last couple of years and have gotten great reviews.  The jacket looks to have everything I am looking for and more.  Unfortunately First Lite does not have a great distribution network in place.  I have emailed three different places who claim to be dealers and none have any stock or do not have store fronts.  This means I have to shell out the $350 for a jacket I have not seen, nor tried on.  I am having a hard time doing that.  Price:  $330

Cabelas introduced its latest line of branded gear, Instinct, this summer.  It includes clothes, boots, arrows, and more.  This is the cold weather parka in that line.  I did get a chance to try on this jacket and I liked it.  My only question is in the arms.  The Cabelas website says the jacket has 100 grams of insulation in the upper arms and 150 in the body, there is no insulation in the lower arms.  I am a bit worried when we are talking frigid cold temps, this could be a problem.  Being a new product reviews are limited at best from users in the field.   Price:  $330  

Most of my clothing and gear up to now has come from Gander Mountain.  I drive past the Forest Lake store on my way into work at Coates RV every day.  It is the easiest place for me to shop and make exchanges if needed.  I have been happy with things I have purchased there and feel like I get good value for my money when they are on sale.  I also feel like I am not getting high end product.  For most things the mid level is fine, but in this jacket I really am looking to buy once and be done for quite a few years.  The Tech20 jacket I have looked at for 2 years now and cant get myself to pull the trigger.   I feel like it would do but is not as nice as I would like.  It does get great reviews for the most part.  Price:  $129

This was a tough one for me to add to this list.  I want to like Under Armour's gear but it always seems like it is made for warmer weather.  The Gunpowder is another new jacket to hit the market so the reviews are minimal.  Gander Mountain has started carrying the UA line so I have personally checked this jacket out.  If I knew this jacket would hold up in the cold weather I would probably own it right now.  Price:  $279

At this point my decision is probably between the First Lite and Under Armour jackets.  I feel the need to try on the First Lite jacket before making my decision.  I also would like to talk to someone who has worn the UA jacket in the field to test it.  

Anyone else have any recommendations for cold weather jackets to consider?

After getting feedback from this post I have decided to toss up another option in the discussion.  Many people have said I should consider something along the lines of a Heater Body Suit.  Personally I do not like the idea of wearing a sleeping bag in my deer stand.  However I found the IWOM version to be interesting:

Basically this is a jacket with a leg and boot cover attached to it.  The system can be rolled up and packed in as a fanny pack or worn as a parka with the bottom part rolled up.  It has a built in face protector and hood, hand warmer pockets and breast pockets.  I feel like this would be a great really cold weather solution, however for those slightly cold days I still feel like a heavier jacket would be plenty.  Price:  $399

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