by Jon LaCorte, Co-Founder TRACT Optics
I am admittedly a gear junkie. While I enjoy being in the outdoors as much as the next guy and the harvest of a game animal is icing on the cake, the preparation of the hunt is one of the things I look forward to most. Everything from the type of clothing, boots, weapon of choice, etc. and the selection of these items is just as much a part of the enjoyment of the hunt as the hunt itself. Since I like to hunt all day, my choice of clothing probably gets some of the most scrutiny of all my gear. While most of my hunting these days is in the Northeast, I have been fortunate enough to hunt around the U.S., several Canadian provinces as well as a couple of other International destinations. Being prepared for each hunt and its conditions is important to me and I spend a great deal of time making sure the gear I take is what will increase my odds. While bow hunting is my passion, I never give up an opportunity to grab a rifle, shotgun or muzzleloader to add to the length of the time I get to spend in the field.
Weather in the Northeast can be unpredictable. For example, on opening day of the New York rifle season it was a balmy 60 degrees F. The next morning we woke up to 6 inches of snow and below freezing temps. Basically, the temperatures I hunt in from opening day through the end of gun season ranges from single digits to the 60s.
Layering up: Last season I decided to give the IconX base layer shirt and pant a try. This was my initial purchase from Pnuma and the unique stitching regions for thermal regulation, wicking, and muscle support are what intrigued me. My hike to various stand locations is up a pretty steep mountain and I tend to perspire more than the average guy. I really need a base layer that provided moisture wicking as well as support. The first thing I noticed when I got these base layers was that the material felt different than the other base layers. Better than I expected them to feel, and when I put them on it only got better. It’s hard to explain, but they just felt good against my skin. I have used most of the base layers on the market, some were good and some not so good, but I was impressed with these and was anxious to see how they performed in the field. The first time I wore them was early October during bow season. The temperature was warm and the IconX worked great in the wicking category. I was comfortable all morning and never had that “wet shirt” feeling.
Outer Layer: I was impressed with the base layer, so I decided to give the Selkirk system a try. I wanted an all-weather system that would keep my dry in rainy or snowy weather but what really grabbed me was the claim they were making about breathability. I almost always strap my jacket to my pack walking in and out of the stand location as I normally get way too overheated wearing a jacket, regardless of how cold it may be. I was very surprised when I wore the jacket that I did not seem to be sweating or getting as overheated as I did with some of the other jackets I own, which run the gamut from wool to fleece to synthetics. I am not sure how to gauge it, but the breathability of the Selkirk jacket kept me very comfortable in a variety of conditions.
If I didn’t hunt in wet, snowy conditions my choice would have been the Waypoint All-Season Jacket and Pant. Friends have that suit and love it.
I also added to Merino wool visor beanie when the temps dipped a little bit and a ball cap was no longer cutting it. I always like the beanie style, but the shape of my head does no lend itself to many of the beanie designs, but what I liked about it was the small visor. Long enough to shade your eyes, but not too long as to get in the way of the bowstring.
When Pnuma sent around an email introducing the Rogue shirts I ordered a short sleeve version and again, there was just a different feel to this garment and I really liked the way it fit. (I should have ordered a long sleeve version at the same time)
The latest piece I added was the Shenandoah fleece pullover. This has to be one of the finest fleece garments I have ever owned. The feel and stretch of the material is unlike any other that I have owned. Again, I like the fact that they offer these mid layers in solid colors for casual wear.
What I’ll be adding this season: I am looking to add The Insulator Jacket to my kit this year. Since I used the IconX base layers and the All-Weather Selkirk system, I am anxious to see how the Pnuma mid layers compliment the system. The Insulator will be a great addition when temperatures really drop. I like the fact the jacket comes in a solid color as well as Pnuma’s custom Terra camo. It becomes a dual-purpose garment that I can wear casually as well. I’ve been hearing rumblings that Pnuma will be coming out with an IconX heated core shirt in late September or October. Run by a rechargeable battery it’s supposed to have fabric heating elements on the chest, neck and kidneys. A small battery will give more than 8 hours of heat when set on Medium. When that comes out? I’m placing an order the day they’re available.
Jon’s Gear Recommendation for Northeast Whitetail Hunters:
IconX Base Layer Top and Bottom
Selkirk All-Weather Jacket and Pant
The Insulator Jacket
Rogue Long Sleeve Performance Shirt
Merino Wool Visor Beanie
New Product: IconX heated core shirt (Coming Soon)