I’ve seen hunters put an unrealistic emphasis on their gear, from blaming their gear when they screw up to claiming that it’s the very reason they found any success at all. However, it’s not fair to overlook the other factors – the physical preparation before you ever set foot in the field, the scouting and research, and arguably the most important, the space between your ears. All that being said, I believe gear can make an experience more comfortable, more enjoyable, and give you a different level of confidence. As cheesy as it sounds, I feel like a bad ass when I put my KUIU gear on. They’ve created an energy around their brand that many companies try to reach. I didn’t understand the hype for many years, but I get it now. I’ve put the new women’s line to the test over the past six months, from horseback riding in Wyoming and mountain goat hunting in Alaska to hunting and guiding down in New Mexico this fall. I had other lines with me, and while it may ruffle some feathers to admit, I simply couldn’t get away from what the KUIU line had to offer.
After growing up wearing hand-me-down men’s camo, it’s exciting to see the fit of a women’s line evolve over the years. The fit is as dialed as it can get with the athletic cut that I prefer, but if I had to suggest one thing, it’s that they would offer a tall in their pants for the ladies that need longer than a 32" inseam. I’ve shared camp with women of all sizes wearing this line, and they wear it well, but the one consistent question is whether or not they’ll have length options in the future. I hope KUIU will provide this in time the way they do for the men’s line. One thing I love is that the base, mid, and outer layers gradually get larger with each layer, so they comfortably fit together. Once you know your measured size and where each garment within the system is worn, it will help take the guesswork out of building your kit.
I run very cold, so the layering system of any line is a huge priority, starting with the base layer touching your skin. I’m a huge fan of KUIU’s ULTRA Merino products featuring Nuyarn® Technology, a patented twist-free yarn spinning technique that maximizes the wool fiber’s natural performance of managing moisture and odor resistance. I wore the Gila LS Hoodie in New Mexico and the ULTRA Merino 145 Long Sleeve Crew in Alaska. Both were 5+ day hunts without washing, and I couldn’t believe the performance. I have no problem admitting the stench that I’ve experienced wearing other lines that use different materials. It matters when you’re logging dozens of mountain miles, especially on hot days! Speaking of hot days, you can’t imagine the level of satisfaction that occurs when opening the hip zips on the Attack pants when you’re getting overheated. It’s one of my favorite features across their entire line! They’ve also included pit zips on some of their pieces that I appreciate when I’m needing some ventilation but not wanting to completely remove a top layer.
Other than my puffy layers that I managed to tumble in while sidehilling across a scree slope in Alaska, I’ve put this entire line through some rough country without any complaints. The truth is that the Super Down ULTRA top and bottom are meant to keep you warm while sitting still, so the holes I’ve acquired in those pieces are my own fault. I know better, and I wasn’t planning to go far, but distance doesn’t matter when you’re clumsy.
I cannot say enough good things about the Attack pants, which is a piece I’ve consistently heard about from fellow male hunters over the years. They’re thin enough to not overheat but still hold up well while moving through brush. I’m very impressed! The Kenai jacket is another example of a lightweight, functional layer that can take more of a beating even though it’s not meant to be worn while going through a lot of brush. It’s my go-to mid or outer layer depending on the hunt and will continue to be a staple piece on my adventures. Arguably the most impressive to me is the Chugach TR hunting rain jacket and pant that I wore every day on my mountain goat hunt. For the weight and stretch, I’m shocked that it kept me dry and managed to hold up when durability was crucial.
I believe in the saying that beauty is pain, and I’m certain that most women will put up with a lot to feel good, but you don’t have to this time around. I can appreciate KUIU going the extra mile in making a line that’s not just flattering for our very diverse body types or functional in the field, but also comfortable. There are a couple of great competing women’s lines out there, some that have exceptional pieces, but even then, you tend to sacrifice some comfort to have the added durability or functionality. I don’t feel that way about the KUIU women’s line, though. In fact, I’m hoping that by the time this article is published, they will have all the solid colors in stock so I can make them my everyday pieces here at work. I’ve watched our Hunt Advisors wear them for three years with envy, and while I’m thankful to work for a company that accepts camo attire in the office, I look forward to adding some solids to my closet to use both in and out of the field.
While layering systems are fully customizable, each piece within the system has a purpose and can be layered in or out to adapt to your situations. I’ve included some examples in this article of early and late season layering options.
Check out episode #169 of the Built to Hunt podcast to learn more about KUIU’s women’s line from Kevin Wilkerson and Tana Grenda.
HOT TO MILD WEATHER LAYERING SYSTEM