Drake was one of the first subscribers to the KUIU blog and has given some great opinions and ideas regarding this product line. He spent a lot of days in the prototype gear and kept a very detailed journal of how the gear performed. I am glad I am not bull elk living in SE Idaho where Drake hunts. I hope this gives you some insight to the KUIU product line in September in the mountains.
Almost a year ago I was invited to field-test the line of KUIU prototypes that Jason was working on for the fall. And having used most of Jason’s earlier work, September could not come fast enough! 2 weeks before the gear came I tagged this lope in Eastern Montana on the last day of my hunt.
When the gear arrived in September, I opened the box and immediately had mixed emotions… I thought to myself, “It’s purple and cream colored!” Then, as I lifted everything out of the box I couldn’t help but notice how incredibly lightweight everything was. I couldn’t wait to try it out.
I felt that I owed it to KUIU and to future KUIU customers to be straight forward and brutally honest in my field-testing of the gear. So for 30 days I kept a daily journal to accurately record which KUIU pieces I wore, the weather conditions, types of terrain I hunted in, and all the thoughts I had, both good and bad, about the performance of each of the prototypes.
I spent nearly all of September near where I live in SE Idaho hunting elk with my family on public land in the high country along the Idaho/Montana line. My good friend, Tony Mudd, who was also testing the prototypes, joined me for a week and we discussed the gear daily as we chased bugling bulls.
Having spent most of the fall season hunting in KUIU gear, I can confidently say I tested it in a wide variety of weather conditions: from 15 degree chilling mornings to 89 degree hot afternoon hunts, high winds, dust storms, blizzards, and downpours. The average day consisted of 6 to 12 mile hikes including steep inclines and declines, extremely thick deadfall, thick brush, lava rock, and boulder fields.
The first thing I noticed was how the KUIU camo disappeared in the field, even with the shading of the prototype camo being so discolored. I believe this is due to its large contrasting pattern. It breaks up any profile, blends well, and does not “blob” at all. On three separate occasions I got busted by a cow elk while moving through an opening in the timber attempting to sneak into the herd bull. The cow stared a hole through me at 20 yards but couldn’t make out what it was that she had seen moving and eventually went back to feeding. Even with my purple and cream camouflage! This happened to me on three different hunts. Needless to say, I am a huge fan of the KUIU camo. I have nothing negative to say about it. I cannot wait to get the final version!!!
Before KUIU, I had never used merino wool. I quickly realized the value of merino. Whether it was hot out or cold, the merino regulated my body temperature very well. Sweat wicked away as quick as it perspired. There was no more sweating my butt off and then freezing to death! One of the amazing attributes of merino is its odor management. I wore my merino top for a week at a time and at the end of each week it had no odor to it whatsoever. The merino tops are athletically fit with longer sleeves and shirt tails and are extremely comfortable. The merino bottoms also fit great. Being extremely picky on how things fit, my only suggestion to Jason was to lengthen the sleeves and shirt tails slightly more. I can’t say enough about how much I love merino! From now on, you will not catch me in a base layer that is not high quality merino wool!
With as much running and log jumping as I do every September, having clothing that is athletic and comfortable is extremely important to me. The KUIU outer layers are by far the most athletic hunting clothing that I have ever experienced. There is absolutely no movement restriction at all because everything is stretchy and athletically fit. The pants are my favorite. Whatever fabric was used for the pants is amazing! In my opinion, there isn’t a pair of pants out there that can compare to the KUIU pants. All of the outer layers proved to be durable as I snagged both the pants and jacket several times while hopping logs. The soft shell fabric is also very water resistant as it took a lot for water to penetrate it, and once it did, it dried very quickly, usually within 20 or 30 minutes of hiking. All of the outer layers, including the rain gear, were extremely lightweight and packable. It all layered very nicely with no bulk whatsoever. It also did not pick up burrs as bad.
As a traditional archer, quiet gear is paramount to my ability to sneak into range and, fortunately, the outer layers were pretty darn quiet. They were not completely silent like fleece or merino is, but I was never detected for noise while sneaking to within stick bow range. My only critiques were little things such as increasing lengths slightly, deepening pockets slightly and pocket configurations.
Overall, I was very impressed with all of the KUIU gear. The final versions should be even more impressive. I believe it’s important for hunting clothing companies to differentiate their clothing as either mountain gear or tree stand gear. Great mountain gear cannot be good tree stand gear and vice versa (although KUIU camo would look great in a tree!). It was my experience that KUIU has gone back to the roots of what great mountain hunting gear should be: lightweight, quiet, durable, breathable, comfortable, and able to layer without bulk, all while being able to protect and stand up to the elements.