I don't often do this out loud. I am, however, gonna start now.
King of the Mountain wool stuff. I retired a little over 8 years ago, believe it or not. As I was approaching that day I started spending overtime and extra cash on " stuff", to get me thru. One of those was a set of KOM omnitherm pants and shirt. I don't recall what they call the shirt, I think it is the trapper but, whatever. Two breast pockets, an extra layer over the shoulders, no lower pockets. Pants are the heavy version. Both in the lighter color camo.
A couple days ago I actually wore it outside, on a hunt. It was 29 degrees, blowing pretty hard and I went for the afternoon. Since I was still hunting I did not wear everything I own. In fact, up top I wore a minus33 merino wool long John top ( not the heavy weight version), a Filson wool vest, and the KOM shirt. That's all. On the bottom I had the matching long john lowers and the KOM pants. Yeah, boots and socks too.
I spent about 3.5 hours, not all day, and at least some was walking, but I did a lot of tree leaning too. I am very impressed with how warm I stayed, even with the wind. Oh, and I forgot my muff for my string hand, and there were no lower pockets on the KOM shirt, so I stuck it inside my nearly empty Asbell possibles bag. It worked! I always thought KOM was a prize, a status symbol, but....I was impressed.
I have a bunch of " other" wool stuff I wear and like, so there was never a real need to get this stuff out. Heck, I had to cut the tag off the pants. Gonna take it out again in a few days.
I have wore KOM since the late 90’s. Last year I replaced my bushman shirt for the first time and got another pair of bunlite pants. I replaced the shirt do to shirking, or maybe me filling out slightly over the years. I do have to replace those pants every 5 or 6 years do to abuse. KOM wool is a lot more then a status symbol its been a trusted hunting partner for years.
A more recent aha moment was with the use of modern hunting clothing designed primarily for mountain hunters. Wool is great but has some serious drawbacks like weight, water repellency, and wind blocking ability. Those things may not affect everybody depending on the style of hunting, length of hunt, and environment you hunt in. Sitka and First lite are my two favorite choices for this type of gear. I have been amazed at how much weight I can cut from my pack on multiple day backpack hunts and level of performance I get. Yes it’s expensive but there is a lot more to it then a camo pattern. I will always love my wool but there is a time and place for synthetics to keep you more comfortable in rapidly changing conditions for longer periods of time. 20 years ago I never thought I would say that. I know many of you died in the wool guys will disagree with me, and that’s fine. I use to be one of you until I gave something new a chance.
I bought an Asbell vest some years ago. I liked the size of it and the deep pockets, but the wind went right through it and that was disappointing. Then I bought my mom a new sewing machine ( to replace her crapped out '60's machine) and she sewed a quilted liner into the vest as her first project on the new machine.
Now that vest goes on every hunting trip when the temps fall below 60. A t-shirt underneath, or a bunch of layers, its all good. And you literally can't buy a vest like that anywhere at any price.
Please excuse the pea-shooter in the picture, I came up dry with the bow this season and switched gears on the last day. A man has to eat right?
I can’t comment on real cold weather clothing as it doesn’t get that cold here in zonyland. But, I do have a couple items, both from Ducks Unlimited, that are great for those few below freezing days. One is a vest the other a jacket. I tried wearing both, started to sweat, not a good thing.
A piece of gear that I added a couple of years ago is a merino wool balaclava. Amazing piece of clothing. Keeps drafts off the neck and chest. Protects as much of the face as you want it to.
Anybody else have any "aha" moments with gear ?
I really like flannel lined field pants. Not a fan of bib tops. Plenty of different well made brands out there. Carhartt for one. Hated 'em as a kid cause they weren't "cool fer skool". Shoveling snow all day today and I was warm as toast. Great in the field with plenty of extra leg pocket room.
My "heavy" lined wool vest has insulation and wind stop sewn in. It was made by a lady now living in WI, who builds wool and other outdoor clothing under the name Rush Creek. My favorite. But I wasn't wearing that. Didn't need it that day. Also... to all, a light weight golfing windshirt, worn under the outer wool layer changes the game very often, if breezy.
I've been wearing KOM for at least 25 years. Still holding together well. It's good stuff. Like all wool, however, it does not block the wind. It slows it down, but doesn't block it unless some kind of liner is sewn into it. With moderate movement though, I can be out in the coldest weather and it keeps me warm. The picture I posted on Rick Green's coffee mug givesway thread shows the KOM in use on a 4 degree below zero fahrenheit morning several years ago.
KOM isn't the only wool I own, of course. I'm sort of a wool junkie. In outwrwear, I also have Woolrich, Bean, Pendleton, Melton, Autumnwood, Gray Wolf, Filson and a few others. I really like merino wool as a first (and second) layer. First Lite and minus 33 are two brands that i think offer very good merino wool layers.
When the wind is really howling though, I do switch to synthetic outerwear.
I was at a big shoot and a KOM vender was there had samples of stuff and material
I pulled one of the samle pieces and it ripped apart easily -felt thin also
my old pendelton and woolrich stuff I pulled when I got home and never phased it
I wrote that stuff off after that experience
I did aquire a heavy fleece lined vest in that stuff
that is too warm to wear most times
Chuck, well written. I too thought of KOM as a 'status'; but over the years I've come to truly appreciate KOM wool both in performance and camo pattern. I believe the 'Trapper' to be my favorite piece of clothing 'all time'. Heavy, yes, but efficient, for sure.