Evolution of a hunting jacket

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What happens when you take a couple 25 year old guys, put them at a remote ranger station, and tell them to kill wild hogs? Well, they do their job and when they are not working, they talk about three things, in no particular order. Hunting hogs, camo, and girls

That is what my dinner conversations revolved around in my mid-twenties. Nowadays, “Girls” have been replaced by “Wives”, but camo and hoghunting are still holding strong.

Here is where I work, 500,000 acres of beautiful wilderness. Average winter lows are in the mid-twenties and highs can be in the 50’s. The wind on the lake makes it one of the coldest places to work in the park. Rain, sleet, and snow, we get it all, and it is a constant layer shuffle throughout the day.

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When you hike for a living, weight starts to be a factor. Every ounce counts and my daypack that can keep me out overnight in 30 degree weather, runs around 13 lbs. I will post my pack contents soon, but tonight it is another camo jacket discussion, right Danno?

Why does all this matter to you? Because your clothing is one of THE most important survival tools you carry. With a good jacket that can keep your body warm and dry, you can make it through a cold night if forced to stay out. If you are injured, build a shelter and fire may not be an option, so your clothing is what will keep you alive. I know guys that balk at me spending $170 on a jacket, but will drop over $100 on a knife or a grand on a rifle. In an email correspondence, a WT rep said they are working on blaze orange as an outer shell option. If you are not a hunter, the WT jackets are available in other colors as well.

My original jacket was the Columbia Gallatin Range wool one, weighing in at 2 lbs. 14 oz. It is heavy, not water repellent, soaks up snow, and had cotton lining in the hood which I cut out. I am a fan of wool, but not as my outer layer anymore. I find it heavy, and even heavier when it gets wet. Wool is great around a campfire, but I have managed not to burn myself up wearing the other jackets.

The Wild Things Gear primaloft sweater was a big improvement, weighing in at 1 lb. 6 oz. Used as a insulating layer, it works great, but as a stand alone outer jacket, it lacks a water repellent coating and is quilted. Quilting can allow moisture to enter and your warm air to exit. Here you can see water soaking in and the quilting.

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My new jacket is the Wild Things Gear multicam Insulight jacket, weighing 1 lb. 11 oz. Like the primaloft sweater, it has 4 ounces of Primaloft One. Unlike the sweater, it’s exterior is not quilted and has a DWR coating, which you can see below. I carry a rain jacket in my pack, but this will get me through a light rain and keep snow from sticking to me. Fleece lined pockets, a great hood, and a mesh interior pocket keep it simple, but effective.

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Why not down? It is light and warm, but down compresses when wet and loses much of it’s insulating properties. I have not tried the DriDown yet. Another downside would come from all the briars ripping at me on a daily basis. I have another WT jacket that got ripped, but the insulation is still in place.

Resources:

Primaloft One: http://www.primaloft.com/en/performance/products/primaloft-one.html

Wild Things Gear: http://www.wildthingsgear.com/

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One thought on “Evolution of a hunting jacket

  1. the flying mammal

    What! you have drifted from wool??? man, I have heard of marriage causing the mind to act strangely but never like this.

    Actually, I hear you on the wool in the south. The temps don’t really support it’s use and when you might be packing it instead of wearing it… then the synthetics are the way to go.

    Up yonder in the MN winter, I find the wool to be the best. lots of snow and lots of cold. This whole “polar vortex” from last week supports it. In temps below zero (sometimes -20 F), the nice and heavy Columbia coat you gave me gets some great use. Actually, I was reminding my ski partner that my coat and pants were both gifts from you back at the ranger station. The pants were heavy french wool, pleated to add some character–in milk-chocolate brown. They are a nice fit with the Colombia coat that’s big enough to cover the multiple layers of synthetics and soft animal hair garments under. I got some looks from the freezing skate skiers as they were wondering what rock I crawled out from under. None the less, my huge Appalachian beard has finally found a useful home.

    The heavy wool outer coat stays cold enough that water absorption isn’t an issue here. Actually, it sort of turns into a shell and at those temps, the moisture seems to get pulled out of everything under it. I can’t imagine ever needing it in the Smokies except for those rare mornings when the lake hasn’t seen the sun yet and the boat needs to brake the thin ice on the way out of the bay.

    Hope the mountains are treating you well. Say hello to my favorite gaps, streams, and ridges…

    Reply

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