Drake was one of the first subscribers to the KUIU...

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.

Testing Conditions

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.

Some days were spent hunting timbered flats which always required sprinting and running for miles at a time to catch up to a quick moving elk herd.

Here is my honest review of the KUIU prototypes broken into three sections:  KUIU Camo, Merino Base Layers, and Toray Soft Shell Outer Layers.

A shot from my helmut cam of the bull I am about to shoot at 14 yards.


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!!!

Merino Base Layers

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!

Toray Soft Shell Outer Layers

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.

Happy campers…

This article has 44 comment(s)

  1. Gordon T. Brooks

    Great story, Great details & a Great Idaho Bull to Boot! I can’t wait to see the KUIU gear first hand.

  2. Scott Parson

    Nice field pics of the camo in action. Impressive!

    • Jason Hairston

      Thank you Scott.

  3. Cory Benge

    Congrats Drake!
    What an awesome diary of your KUIU field testing! This gear, developed by Jason, was designed for hunters like you in mind. Hardcore, dedicated, responsible hunters who want the most advanced gear out there….KUIU fills the niche as does Drake, Jason, Lance K and many others.
    Cory Benge

    • Jason Hairston

      Thank you Corey for taking the time to reply.


  4. Larry Schwartz


    Thanks for a great review.

    Before I continue I want to say that I’m not taking a shot at anything with my comments below, just looking to better understand what you wrote.

    What do you mean by athletic fit? Is that something that is close fitting to the body; i.e. someone (like me) with twenty or more extra pounds would look and feel like a sausage, or are you that the clothing is cut to move with as you move?

    Also, you commented that, “…Great mountain gear cannot be good tree stand gear and vice versa”. Why do you say that? Is it because mountain hunting involves moving most of the time (needing lighter weight clothes that are not bulky) and you sweat more ,while tree stand hunting involves sitting most of the time (and therefore needs more bulky insulation)?

    Do you think that KUIU layering system would be effective sitting in a treestand or ground blind when the weather was in the 30’s or 40’s? Would more insulating layers under the softshell be needed?

    Thanks again for doing a great test for Jason and for the rest of us,


    • Justin


      I have no association with KUIU and have never seen their gear in person but here is my opinion on some of the questions you had.

      Athletic Fit

      Think of someone that has an athletic build, it is made to fit them. Remember, these clothes are targeted at serious mountain hunters who in most cases, are in very good shape. I would imagine they are going to be tight on someone packing some extra weight.

      Mountain Gear vs. Treestand

      I think you answered your own question. A mountain hunter requires different things from their clothing than does a treestand hunter. If I hunted from a treestand I wouldn’t be considering KUIU. Why would you spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on gear not meant for the way you hunt?

      • Larry Schwartz


        Warm, breathable, water repellent, durable, are things that everyone wants in their clothes, and if they will last I don’t mind paying the premium, especially if I can use them for several years.


    • Drake Atwood

      Hey Larry,
      The KUIU gear is form fitting and made of a fabric that allows you to really move without any resistance. Although it is form fitting, I believe it will fit many “forms” because of how stretchy it is. I think if you get the proper size you will be fine. And yes, even though I never tested the gear in 30 to 40 degrees in a treestand, I believe if I were to layer the KUIU system properly I would probably be warm enough to sit, but everyone is different.

      • Pedro Ampuero

        Larry, I am using Kuiu this season for wildboar hunting from a treestand, and it works great. Merinos does the job, and the gear its totally sound free, so works great for close situations at really calm nights. You need just to add the insulation.

        I think every hunting modality can take advantage of good gear. I use it even for small game hunting and works great. Now my luggage is much smaller, since I can use the same gear for everything!

        Good luck in the field!

  5. beau purvis

    I have the same reaction to Merino base layers…did not know its benefits of temp range and most importantley its lack of odor retention.I bought a couple peices after reading about it on this blog. Now, I can’t not wear it. I wear a 150 short sleave top and merino socks every day now! Odor problem solved!! What I have been wearing actually promots odor…stretch poly based UA and Simms.
    I like to use a light weight balacalava..like an opening for mouth for kisser placement and calls,and over the head with eyeopening and then I paint exposed skin.Anyhting like that planned?In merino 150?
    Look forward to the roll out..loved the add in Huntn’ Fool!

  6. Doc


    Did you take any of Drake’s advice as far as length?
    I am a lot like Drake and it seems like a lot of my gear my fit right when it comes to width around the shirts, but is always short with the length of the sleeves and overall length of the shirts. I can’t stand it when the sleeves sit high on my wrist and the bottom of the shirts looks like a belly shirt everytime I raise my arms. I don’t have a six pack so there is no reason for me to be showing of that part of my skin. hahaha

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Doc,

      Yes, I did. The sleeves and length were increased, I agree with you on short arms or length.


  7. Matt

    Very good review. I have enjoyed reading the development of the gear as well has the real life, real hunting type situations the gear has been put through. It has been a real education for me and I have learned a ton about what goes into quality gear.

    Jason’s first product, Sitka, has been unbelievable for me. Minus the odor that synthetic seems to collect. I’m also happy to hear the durability of the gear is elevated. I understand the dead fall hop that Drake speaks of, and my Ascent Pants have not held up to the challenge. Seem to average one tear per two days in the timber.

    Thank you to Jason and all the hunters who have contributed to the building of KUIU. It has been fun watching the gear grow and also learning about what the gear is made of and why.

    • Drake Atwood

      Hey Matt,
      I just wanted to add to your comment. I also used to wear Sitka Ascent pants. I loved how light weight and stretchy they were. But I also had problems with them ripping. My concerns with the Ascents were the obvious durability, how noisy they were, and also every time I wore them in brush or belly-crawled my legs took a beating. Just to put into perspective: I weighed my Ascent pants at 17.1 ounces and my KUIU pants at 17.0 ounces. Pretty much identical weight. However, the KUIU pants were way more durable, quieter, and protected my legs much better.

      • Jason Hairston

        Thanks Drake for your input here. Great points. For clarity, the KUIU pant uses a 225g/m2 fabric, one of the huge advantages to Toray’s Primeflex Spiral Yarn Patented technology is the overall weight of their fabrics. They weigh less because they do not have elastic in the fabric which is heavy, wears out, becomes stretched overtime (saggy) and attracts and holds water. If you compare the KUIU Pant to other pants using a 225g/m2 fabric they will weigh close to 30oz. I cannot comment on the weight of the Ascent pant, however it is much thinner than KUIU’s. I have not had anyone test this pant without saying it is the best hunting pant they have ever worn in fit, fabric and DWR.


      • jeff short

        Another note on the durability of the KUIU pant. I tested them this fall and made a point to wear the same pant every day on August, September and October hunts in Wyoming. I did extensive belly crawling for antelope. I also drew an elk tag in the desert where vegetation over a couple feet tall is hard to find. Hence, the hunt turned out to be mostly on my knees and elbows. Typically I wear Blackhawk kneepads for this type of stalking but I left them at home to test the pants out. I probably put a few miles on the knees of the pants and to my amazement I did not wear the knees out. Can’t hardly believe it but they really don’t show that much wear. Best pant I have tried.

  8. Nate C

    Hey Jason,

    Any way we can get some bigger pics? They are quite small when you click on them.


    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Nate,

      Yes, I do not know why these came out so small. Drake just emailed me larger format photos and I will up load them tonight.


    • Jason Hairston

      Nate the larger photos are up if you have not seen them yet.


  9. Matt

    Good stuff. I’d like to hear a bit more about the rain gear though. : )

  10. Dave

    Jason this is some great looking camo! I have been following this blog and cannot wait to see the final product.

    I am wondering if you will launching your insulated layers for treestand hunting this spring also. I am ready for some new clothes and your product looks like the ticket!

    Thanks in advance,

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Dave,

      We will have a packable Micro Primaloft One jacket available this spring. I is not specifically designed for stand hunting, but could certainly be used for inactive hunting. Over the next two months I will highlight each of the preproduction samples here on the blog, stay tuned we have some amazing products coming out. Thank for the kind words and I look forward to earning your business.


  11. Joe

    Good write up. I do have to express my opinion that anyone that gets to test gear has some bias. I have read that you hope to have your gear for sale about the end of March. Do you think you will have material samples that people can request (we can pay shipping, or not) before then? I know release dates are often delayed and some of us may be ready to buy gear now but would wait if we knew what we were waiting for. Adding to that, many would also appreciate more detail on the gear seeing as you appear to have the details worked out and production pending. More details about your rain gear or other layers (windproof?) would be great. I would suggest actually launching your store where people can get details before the gear is for sale. Set us up.

  12. David Sisamis

    Great insight looking forward to the final product. Congrats on the elk as well.

  13. Joe

    Great write up…I am almost counting the days when the site is open for sales!

    • Tyler Abert

      Will the merino base layers be manufactured with the Kuiu camo? Having the bottoms in camo isn’t nearly as important as the top.

      Also Jason, will you be going with synthetic insulation for a packable insulating layer? Do you know how much it will weigh?

      Thank you,

      • Jason Hairston

        Hi Tyler,

        Yes both the Zip-Tees will be available in the KUIU camo and two non-camo colors. A medium tone brown we call Brindle and another sage/green color called Silver Sage. These base layers are 17.5 Micron merino supplied from The merino Company an amazing product. I look forward to you trying them out.


      • Jason Hairston


        Yes we have developed with Primaloft an 80 gram packable insulation jacket for 2011. I am a big fan of this piece, one I never leave at camp.


  14. Darin Farnham

    Inquiring about the true ‘fit-to-size’ on the gear. You may have dealt with this question previously-I apologize-but
    for this Idaho boy I fall into the “off” size category. Small/Med pants, Large XL Tops. Thanks for your input.
    Cannot wait to get my hands on this gear.

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Darin,

      We will offer our main hunting pant, made from Toray stretch woven fabric in even waist sizes 32-40 to help with having a correct fit. We will also have a very detailed sizing chart to make it as easy as possible to get the right size the 1st time.


  15. Tom Ryle

    Nice work, Drake and congrats to you on your bull. Great field report and insights. I also appreciate the additional comments and dialogue from everyone. Can’t wait to get my hands on a set of this stuff!

  16. Pedro Ampuero

    Drake, unbelievable!! When are you going to show us the elk footage??

    Congratulations on some great hunts.

    Nice review, thanks for sharing.

    Good luck in the field!

  17. alex einspruch

    I am eager to see the insulated pieces, bibs, and the like…don’t forget that being in the gym or on my Ellsworth bike 7 days a week as a workout usually means freezing in a tree or a bush come January in South TX. I just have had a really tough time staying warm in the Sitka stuff and I bought almost everything save Incinerator. I have added midweight merino now as well. I want to wear this stuff but I also want to stay warm. As a traditional archer I have to be able to move too, and HATE bulk. This camo looks very effective and it will be interesting to see how close the whitetails come next October……

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Alex,

      I look forward to getting you into this gear and having you as a customer. I do need to warn you this product line is specifically designed for hard mountain hunting and may not be warm enough in a tree stand unless you layer correctly. We have a light weight packable Primaloft insulated jacket that will add the warmth to this system, however it is designed for climbing mountains and I do not want you cold when you expect to be warm. I am here to answer specific questions for you and am eager to have you part of the KUIU family.


  18. Matt Schuyler

    will there be tall sizes in the pants? Thanks in advance.

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Matt, what is your inseam?


  19. Jay Woods

    I have the same question as Matt. I havent had any luck finding camo that fits me. Being tall and thin, all shirts are too short in the sleeves and even pants advertised as “tall” only have 34 inch inseams. Im looking for an inseam of at least 36 if not 38. Would something like this be available?

    Stuff looks great though! Do you have anything that shows all the items related to the pricing structure?


    Jay Woods

  20. Bart Hill

    Great comments and review. I too am really forward to the sizing chart to see what sizes to order for that perfect fit. I haven’t found that perfect mountain pant and I am hoping that this one is it.

  21. Wade Miller

    My uncle is a traditional bow hunter and he turned me on to this line because I want to get into Merino baselayers. I’ve been wearing merino socks, year round, every day, for almost 10 yrs. But, $20 socks is a little easier investment than $200 underwear. I’m sold on merino wool and am ready to make an investment in a few pieces, a couple shirts, a couple pants.

    Here’s the situation. I live in North Central Montana, 30 mi. from Canada and I need this stuff to be versatile, year round, baselayer. Wade-fishing and road biking in the Spring, maybe some turkey/bear hunt. Backpack, camp, fish and kayak in Northern Rockies all Summer. Road biking, wade-fishing fall browns in creeks and big rivers (Missouri, Madison, Breaverhead, Blackfoot, Clarkfork…you should get the picture), antelope, dear, elk, upland birds, and waterfowl hunting all fall and into winter. Winter brings alpine tour skiing, river fishing (see above rivers) and cattle calving.

    I do a lot of stuff. I am a 34 yr old registered nurse and have 4 days a week to play and $ to spend on the right gear. I am athletic, but probably pretty average build 5’10” 160-170#. Temp ranges for my activity when I could potentially wear this stuff are 0-60 F, give or take 10. I have a good mid-layer and shell, or could go for new, but i’m over patagucci capiline as a base.

    I don’t buy the answer that this is hard active mountain gear that may not keep you warm in a treestand, and I really don’t care about that since bowhunt is in the future for me (rifles for now, please). I want some real-life info. Am I going to freeze when I’m standing in 40 degree water in my breathable waders? How about bare pavement, 4″ snowbank lined, 50-60 degree bikerides in the mountains in spring and fall? What about skinning up the mountain on my skis in 0-45 degrees, sitting on top of the mountain I just climbed for lunch and a photo of me and the dog, locking the heels in and making my turns back to the truck, then riding the lift up the mountain on the weekends? How warm am I when I am making rounds in -40 nights during calving season and we have to drive a struggling cow 1000 + yards to the 0 degree barn to pull a calf?

    So, do I wait for this stuff, or do I buy smartwool, Ibex, Icebreaker, Patagucci…? Do I buy some Kuiu and some of the other and compare (of what benefit is that really to me since the winner is going to sell more and I’m stuck with the inferior sets)? Will one set work or do I need different weights for different situations/conditions? Do you make different weights?

    I think I may be interested in some shell pants too. I am trying to find some pants that I can hunt in all fall, then ski in all winter. So far, all the ski pants I have checked out would be great for riding the lift on the weekend or skinning up the mountain during the week, not both. I could make camo work ( I live in Montana, so it wouldn’t be too redneck to ride the resort in camo), but I’m probably not going to pick up any women in the bar when the lift shuts down. A sacrifice probably worth making for the right pants.

    I hope this isn’t too overwhelming, but I have lots of questions. The quantity of info on Kuiu is dismal. Are you interested in customers like me? Or, are you looking for the hunt or die niche?

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Wade,

      Thank you so much for the detailed comment and interest in KUIU. If you are considering Merino Wool, which I know once you wear you will not go back to synthetics, all of KUIU’s merino is supplied by The Merino Company. http://kuiu.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/four-pounds-3-the-merino-company-2/ If you read my post you will find more information on TMC. They supply the finest merino available. By selling KUIU direct to the consumer you can buy Merino from KUIU at wholesale prices, saving 40% to 50% off of retail and getting the best product available.

      As far as your shell pants. You will want to look at our Chugach Rain Shell Pant. It uses Toray’s amazing 3-layer waterproof/breathable fabric that has 4-way stretch and is very abrasion resistant and durable.

      We do not launch our product line until the end of March and this is the reason we do not have all the information live on the site. It is coming, I appreciate your understanding. If you are at all interested, please sign up to the newsletter and blog to purchase during the pre-sale for subscribers only. We will sell out of this first shipment very quickly. Let me know if you have any other questions or comments.


  22. Patrick Nugent

    Very excited about this new line…sounds fantastic.

    Question…will the jackets and pants be offered in solid colors or just camo…?
    I noticed on one of the hunts there seemed to be some brown pants…they looked great.

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Patrick,

      Yes they will be available in solid colors. The Attack Pant is available in a charcoal grey and the Guide Jacket is available in a neutral brown and medium grey.


  23. Mike

    Here is my take on the clothing. I am 260 lbs. and have hunted high mt. Sheep/goats/elk as well as lower elv. whitetail and mulie. I love this gear and when layered properly can withstand the cold mornings of early Nov. and late season Iowa, Illinios, and NY. The attack pants are awesome. I use the down spindrift coat as my outer layer because they “kuiu” haven’t come out with a xxl jacket. If I’m paying this kind of money foe quality gear which I don’t have a problem doing I am going to work the #%#% out of it. I want one set of gear and use it and do not want or need gear that just hang in my closet. No one type of gear will work for every type of hunt I will go on but at least I can add layers or take off to fit my hunt to a degree. Great product vias is awesome in tree stand and open mtn. Just please make a 2xl jacket already