While my Idaho archery elk trip this September was far from a rousing success, it gave me the chance to seriously test out much of my gear. Check out Part 1 below where I talk about what I wore from top to toe. Keep an eye out for Part 2 where I'll run through some of the electronics and other gear I carried in the field.
Anyone that's talked with me about boots knows that I'm a huge fan of Crispi. I trust the company's history and experience, I like the people that run it and I, without reservation, love and trust their boots. Now, I say all this with the caveat that boot fit is a very personal thing and each person will have different preferences and experiences. Now, that being said... My Crispi Hunter GTX Boots performed admirably though some tough conditions. After 20+ miles of hard hiking over the course of three days, my feet were the sole part of my body that weren't miserably sore. I didn't experience a single pinch, hot-spot, blister... nada.
Slogging through 2-3 feet of snow and slush over the thickest deadfall I've ever seen put me in some rather awkward situations and positions. The Crispi Hunters kept my ankles supported and safe through some situations that would've likely sprained or broken my ankle in a less supportive pair of hunting boots. I can't tell you how many times I'd step on to a pile of fallen logs just to have one crumble underneath me and drop my foot down at a crazy angle... or step over on to what I thought was solid ground, only to find my foot wedged down sideways between two logs and all 250 lbs or so of me+pack continuing forward with rather significant momentum. It was also very nice to be able to lean forward, bend the knees a bit and really lock in to the boots when I needed to rest my legs for a moment without having to sit down.
I did have some issues with the boots getting pretty soaked through over the course of several days. It was fantastic having the extra height on the Hunters as I wasn't wearing gaiters... especially as I often didn't know whether my next step would sink down two inches or two feet. But, once again, when hiking through 2-3 feet of snow and slush, one can only expect so much from a pair of boots... particularly, when you forget to re-up your additional layer of waterproofing prior to your trip.
The First Lite Mountain Athlete Compression Socks were comfortable and had no seams to cause additional rubbing or discomfort. They're merino wool, so they manage to go quite a while without starting to get funky. Additionally, the compression aspect was great to help reduce fatigue, soreness and swelling in my feet. I could've definitely used a thicker/warmer sock for the weather I was in. However, because they weren't overly thick, they managed to dry out a lot more quickly.
The SKRE Hardscrabble Vest is rugged, quiet and the fleece liner kept my core super warm without the bulkiness of a full jacket. Not a single complaint to be had. However, had I known that the temps were going to drop so drastically and the weather was going to turn so severe, I would've likely opted instead for the Ptarmigan Ultra Down Jacket.
I wore my SKRE Alpine SL Shirt my entire time on the mountain. It was quiet, comfortable and dried out quickly after getting wet. Same as the vest above, if I'd known the weather was going to change so drastically, I would've swapped this out for the Kaibab Merino Top or, at minimum, the Wasatch Crew Top.
I used and abused my SKRE Hardscrabble Pants pretty severely on my trip and they held up fantastic. I had a small issue with the vent zippers seeming to open on their own after a while hiking, but it wasn't too much of an issue. My only complaint about them was that, especially for a synthetic pant, they seemed to take an excessive amount of time to dry.
Having, at most, a total of ten to twelve hours of sunshine over the course of my entire trip resulted in a lot of use of my Nebo SL Rain Gear. Even during those few in-between moments when the sky wasn't dumping rain or snow, the rain gear stayed on as every tree branch I brushed resulted in piles of snow dumping down on top of me.
The Nebo SL Rain Jacket did a fantastic job of keeping my top half dry. It cinches or seals up at all the key points and I didn't have any real issues with it. If I'm being picky, my only gripe would be that, with the hood up, the rustling makes it incredibly difficult to hear anything. However, there's only so much you can do to silence rain gear.
The Nebo SL Rain Pants were, unfortunately, a bit disappointing. If you're putting these on, make sure you're ready to commit to having zero easy access to any pockets (or, really, anything whatsoever) on your layers below. With how the zippers and adjustments work on the rain pants, it's not really feasible for a quick unzip to access anything. This could be pretty well solved with an additional sealed zipper "pocket" that allows you to reach your lower layers. Additionally, I have some concerns about the durability of the pants. I don't particularly remember them catching on anything, but I managed to end up with some tears at the seams around the ankles. I'm hoping this is just a defect in this particular pair, but I'll wait to pass full judgment until I'm able to put a new set to the test. Fortunately, because of SKRE's Lifetime Warranty, I was able to get a brand new replacement pair and send back the defective ones.
Really? Reviewing boxers?! Heck yes... 'cause I friggin' love these boxers and wear them on a rather regular basis. They're incredibly comfortable andI don't have a single issue with pinching or bunching. Additionally, as with other bits of merino wool gear, they do an incredibly job of keeping the funk under control when you've been sweating your balls off in the backcountry. What's even better is that they're super reasonably priced... particularly when they occasionally appear on CamoFire.