Technical Hunting Apparel- Is it Really Worth It?
Most people I know would not associate clothing with "gear", but brands like Sitka and First Lite are working to change that. They offer premium clothing built for mobility, breath-ability and warmth. Their clothing is made with premium materials and designed with perfection in mind, not price. The lengths these companies go to in order to create the best hunting clothes on the planet shows in the quality of their products, and their prices.
-By A. Maxwell
Let me start out by saying that obviously you don't need premium clothing to kill deer, just like you don't really need the most expensive arrows or the most expensive bullets. The price tags on technical hunting apparel can really scare people away, and for good reason, $180 for a pair of pants sounds pretty far fetched when you've always hunted in pants that might cost 1/4 of that.
Although the prices on these items may seem unbearable, they do have a lengthy list of advantages to counter the high price tags. Many of these companies have their own unique camo patters that they argue blend in better than the traditional Mossy Oak or Realtree we are used to. Most of the clothing they offer is very thin and lightweight, yet incredibly warm. They offer superior comfort and range of mobility. These are all great things, but how do you know if they are right for you?
It all boils down to a few things, how much time you spend in the field, what kind of conditions you hunt in and how you like to spend your hard earned cash. The reason I was drawn to the two brands I have purchased clothing from, Sitka and First Lite, is because I kept having my cheaper gear fail. Camo pants fading after just one season, being freezing cold even with all of my layers on, having my mobility severely altered by too many layers or clothing that just didn't stretch where it needed to, the list goes on and on.
I spend more than 30 days afield every season, and after dealing with all the problems listed above with my normal gear I decided it was time to save up a little more money to get the best clothing I could find.
After buying pieces like the First Lite Kanab 2.0 pants and the Sitka Fanatic Hoodie I became convinced they were worth every penny after just a few trips to the field. The versatility of the merino wool pants from First Lite blew my mind. They kept me cool on those muggy August days spent scouting, and they kept me warm until the temperature dipped into the low 40s. Even when the temperatures dropped to freezing levels I found that I didn't have to layer as much as I did before, and I even stayed warmer than I did before.
The Fanatic Hoodie was a major game changer for me. Being that I primarily hunt Wildlife Management Areas, I bow hunt from October to February here in Alabama. As my fellow bow hunters know, too many layers can make drawing and shooting a real challenge, and it had cost me shot opportunities in the past. The Fanatic Hoodie is very light, very thin, and shockingly warm. When it gets to 30 degrees and I'm bow hunting, only having to wear a base layer, the hoodie and a jacket makes a huge difference.
If you like to spend your money on quality items, you will not be disappointed with Sitka, First Lite, Kuiu and other premium brands. The difference between those brands and cheaper brands can be explained using this comparison: Think of climbing stands, lets take a Field and Stream brand climber and a Summit Climber for example. Both of them will get you up in a tree, both are sturdy and you can kill a deer using ether one. The difference is a nice Summit stand weighs in around 21lbs. compared to the F&S brands 30+lbs. Summits are also commonly regarded as more comfortable than the F&S brand, and easier to get on and off of the tree.
So how do you know if technical hunting clothes are worth it for you? If you don't have a problem with spending more money on something that is nicer and more durable, it may be right for you. If you hunt in harsh conditions, whether is a sub freezing sit in a tree stand or a very active hunt with many miles walked, it may be right for you. If you are unsure about paying so much money and your afraid you wont like it as much as you thought there is good news!
Premium brand hunting apparel holds its value surprisingly well with light use. There are lots of Facebook groups dedicated to selling and trading the brands mentioned above. It is not uncommon for people to get most of their money back on these items, as long as it is still in a new or lightly used condition. These are also good places to go if your looking to snag a deal on a piece of clothing you've had your eye on.
So is it worth the price? That is all in the eye of the beholder. Personally I'd say yes, and I know if my Dad were alive today he would think I'm nuts for thinking that! The bottom line is you need to use the gear you feel most confident with. If you think that premium hunting apparel will make you more comfortable, and ultimately keep you in the field longer, then go for it. You wont regret it!