I hesitated to write this blog because I wasn’t sure I wanted to venture down a “brand-specific” road. There are brands that I trust and have used for a number of years with success, but that isn’t to say there aren’t other brands that would achieve the same or better results, perhaps with the same or better price, and so I remain open to the evolution of my gear.
My intent isn’t to plug a specific company’s product. My intent is to talk about a system and the benefits it provides. If another system provides the same efficiencies at a better price point, I’m open to it. Kuiu made sense for me, another company’s line may makes sense for your style of hunting. The important part is that your clothing choices are well thought out and give you the functionality you need. Good clothing keeps you in the stand longer and therefore can increase your chances of success.
So here’s why Kuiu:
Good hunting clothing is expensive. Highly efficient insulation as well as water repellent, breathable membranes come at a premium, so it was important for me to maximize the number of clothing combinations I could make from the least number of pieces in order to address early to late season insulation needs from one single system. The ability to do this is one of the main reasons I chose Kuiu over similar hunting clothing systems.
A Simple System-
The idea behind a gear system is pretty simple. First, you have a next-to-skin layer that needs to feature both moisture wicking properties and odor control. Merino wool has natural odor eliminating capabilities and draws moisture off your skin and into the garment where it can evaporate while the base layer still provides warmth and insulation. Synthetic base layers can also do a good job of insulating, and some of them are incredibly fast drying and also feature odor fighting properties that are manufactured into the fabric. It is simply hard to beat the warmth of natural fiber merino wool which is why I selected merino wool base layers of various weights. (Base layers will fit tighter to the skin, so order the same size as you normally wear in T-shirts.)
The second layer of your gear system is your insulation layer. Here again comes the option of natural vs. synthetic. Kuiu has a high loft down system that is incredibly light weight and compact. Packing layers into your stand location becomes easier with this ultra light insulation system and reduces perspiration and therefore body odor. (I purchased XL Superdown layers even though I were a Large in other clothing. The XL fits perfectly and allows for merino layers to fit nicely underneath.)
A midweight thermal hooded sweatshirt can act as both an outer layer during earlier season hunts and an insulation layer in the dead of winter. The best thing about Kuiu’s Pelaton full zip hoodie is its versatility. The knitted fabric stretches to fit comfortably over insulation layers without elastic and fits perfectly over only merino layers as well. (Because I planned to use the Pelaton hoodie over my down layer and I ordered an XL Superdown layer, I also ordered an XL hoodie, which fits perfectly over the insulation layer.)
Outer layers comprised of Toray Primeflex material are treated with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent). The Attack pants can be used as a perfect early season pant or as a shell layer during later season hunts. The natural stretch of the fabric allows them to fit over the merino and Superdown layers. The Attack pants are the most comfortable pair of pants I have ever worn, hunting or otherwise, and allow an unrestricted range of motion for demanding hunting styles or hanging stands on run-and-gun sets. I bought the Guide jacket because I like an outer layer with a hood for added weather protection. Made of the same Primeflex material as the Attack pants, the guide jacket also features micro fleece backing for added warmth and comfort on later season hunts. This was another big reason I chose the guide jacket, as I feel added warmth in your core is important on cold late November/December hunts. Wind and water resistant, light rains will bead off this Primeflex fabric but they remain breathable to keep an active hunter’s body heat regulated. (Order at least one waist size larger than you typically would wear to allow for room for your base layers. I wear a 34 waist in blue jeans, but ordered a 36 in Attack pants and they fit perfectly over the under layers.)
Several rain gear option exist, and this might be an area you can forego if you are looking to save some money. I chose to select the Teton rain system because it was the most economical of the choices and the water permeability of 10,000mm is suitable for any conditions I will find myself in. Mostly, my goal with rain gear is to be able to stay out in a light rain and not have to worry about my guide jacket or attack pants being water logged for the next day’s hunt. You can learn more about waterproof ratings and how they are calculated here.
The layer combinations are nearly endless and this gives you options from early to late season with just a few simply clothing items.
Mobile hunting has its value when pursuing whitetails. Getting into remote areas is hard work and packing a stand and other gear makes it that much more difficult. The ability to improvise and adjust is worth the effort however. Being mobile is easier when you are wearing ultralight gear. Insulation layers that weigh a few ounces and outer layers with the same kind of lightweight efficiency make it easier to carry layers in without adding significant weight to your pack. I can’t tell you how cumbersome packing in heavy, inefficient layers can be. Pack weight is something that shouldn’t be overlooked, whether you are hunting remote public parcels or walking into small pieces of private ground. Weight means work and work means sweat. Sweat increases your human scent and makes it easier for deer to detect you, and long hours in the stand with sweat soaked base layers lead to a cold and miserable sit.
If you look at the price tag on some of the items on Kuiu’s website, you may wonder how price could be a benefit when purchasing Kuiu gear. Certainly, Kuiu is an investment and there is cheaper hunting clothing to found. But when comparing similar quality, (and more importantly, efficiency), in clothing it is hard to match the price point of Kuiu’s gear. Similar clothing manufacturers are based on a retail model which requires significant retail mark-ups. Some of these other gear systems might be available at your local sporting goods store, however, if you are serious about streamlining your gear system, there is a good chance you know more than the floor rep about the product line. When this happens, you are paying for a retail markup that isn’t giving you much value-added when you don’t receive added expertise from the salespersons at the store. You may also find that more items are needed to achieve the same kind of system that Kuiu can provide with fewer items. Some layering systems from other high end manufacturers utilize heavily insulated outer layers which are harder to pack into your hunting location and don’t provide as much versatility. To achieve the same flexibility you may find yourself buying more items, and adding additional high priced items equals way more expensive overall. Kuiu isn’t cheap by any means, but its pricing structure is more palatable than other manufacturers who produce clothing of similar quality.
Kuiu isn’t going to be for everyone. Some people’s hunting styles will lend themselves to traditional hunting that may be acquired for cheaper prices. However, for those looking for an ultralight option to provide mobility, versatility and efficiency, it is hard to match the price/quality ratio of Kuiu.
What does your clothing system look like to get you from early to late season? Leave your comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org