To help you get the most from your performance hunting gear, our friends at Grand View Outdoors and Bowhunting World magazine, who did an amazing job accumulating information and turning that information into unique insights found in this series, enlisted David Strandberg, Pnuma’s vice president, and Keith Edberg, head of operations and “go to” guy for answer to questions about hunting outer layer systems mid and base layer systems and technologies, performance, and product features found in modern hunting gear. We wanted to explore the trend toward high-tech performance apparel. Is marketing hype, or legit innovation?
Grand View Outdoors (GVO): On occasion — not often — I’ve heard guys claim that hunting manufacturers are splitting hairs with so much technology built into the apparel. Maybe it’s just a naysayer attitude, but some hunters truly aren’t aware of what features are real difference-makers and which ones just aren’t necessary. Can you shed some light here?
David: It doesn’t surprise me how many Pnuma customers and potential customers the entire Pnuma team comes in contact with on a daily basis who know a great deal about the latest designs, high-performance fabrics, and componentry in the industry. We’re in constant contact with fabric consultants who keep us informed about the latest innovations, what their purposes are, and how each performs. Then we figure out the best way to either use those fabrics in garments that have a purpose and exceeds the expectations of our customers. And we are fortunate to be able to help hunters who are not aware of new technological advances. We work with them to ensure they understand what the latest technology is and how it can help them be successful in their hunts. Selecting apparel for hunting has become more involved because hunting gear has evolved from providing basic cover and protection against the elements and emerged into a critical part of a bow hunter’s arsenal that can literally change the game.
Keith: If a hunter chooses the right layering system and fabrics for the right hunting situation, he can positively impact comfort, performance and the success of his hunt in the same way other gear — like the type of broadhead, sight, optics or range finder he’s using — can do. We know this with the help of third-party data and research. Here’s an example. Look at the investment the military has made to study and understand the benefits of smart apparel choices coupled with performance technology (check here, here and here). There’s also research that breaks down exactly how extreme weather causes declines in cardiorespiratory and muscular endurance. And when you unpack exactly what this means — like how it can hinder finding your anchor point due to weaker grip strength or how it wreaks havoc on your conditioning — your hunt, and the impact that thoughtfully designed, high performance apparel can have on your hunt, quickly comes into focus.
GVO: In the simplest terms, what’s the job of each layer in a layering system?
Keith: The inner layer, or base layer, is responsible for providing insulation and wicking moisture from the skin. Depending on climate, this either promotes heat loss by evaporation or it helps the body stay warm by keeping it dry. Outer layers provide additional insulation and, to do this, these layers must be able to resist wind and rain by leveraging special fabrics and membranes. This is critical. If apparel becomes saturated with water or sweat, then it’s compromised and it’ll quickly lose its insulating properties. Once that happens in cold climates, a hunter will experience a domino effect where the body begins to lose extra heat, the core body temperature begins to drop, causing the skin temperature of the extremities to plummet. That’s when hunting performance can hit a low, causing loss of grip strength and fluidity of motion, both detrimental to hunters, particularly bowhunters. Our Selkirk jacket and pant features a low nap PnumaGrid fleece for warmth and the system allows for use of base and mid-layers for added warmth to increase body and muscle performance. The same warm fleece inner lining is also available in our Waypoint jacket and pant – a tremendous all-season suit. There is an exception though when it comes to a fabric’s ability to be both wet and insulating at the same time. It’s featherless down insulate from 3M, one of many valued partners of ours, which insulates even when wet – unlike down. Pnuma offers this fabric technology in our Insulator Hunting Jacket, Pant, Vest and Cap.
GVO: What are other facts about fabrics that might aid a hunter in selecting the right apparel for late season hunts?
David: The right fabric, with the right technologies designed in, result in hunting base layer systems designed to perform in both warm and cold weather. Pnuma offers a base layer called IconX and the system performs in warm climates due to its thermal regulation and wicking capabilities. It’s design also provides muscle support without compression. But for late season hunts, IconX switches gears and keeps your muscles warm to help you grab your bow smoothly, go to full draw under full control, and release your arrow with confidence. All this is made possible because of our fabrics. And these aren’t just “off the shelf” fabrics available to hunting apparel companies. These fabrics are brought to us through our relationships with leading consultants, textile designers and makers throughout the world. When we look at them we decide the innovation is great as-is, isn’t good enough and we decide to make our own, or we say thanks but no thanks. We provided a great deal of input into the unique fabric found in IconX. The fabric can be knitted by only two machines in the world. And it’s knitted with a hollow, porous, hydroscopic fiber. It’s the hollowness of the fibers that dramatically improve moister wicking and cooling when it’s warm and warmth when it’s cool or flat-out cold. In cool and cold temperatures, the hollow fabric cores fill with air heated by your body to keep you warm. On the other hand, there are wonderful, natural fabrics available to hunters like our 100% Australian Merino Wool Hunting Base Layer, which is also great in both warm and cold climates. 100% Austrialian Merino has this fantastic fine-gauge, long staple length. It also has high strength-to-weight ratios and elasticity. And it’s naturally effective at controlling odor and moisture. Pnuma’s Merino Wool Hunting Base Layer expands on this natural odor-control by adding SilverStrike technology, an anti-microbial that allows our Merino Wool base layer to double down on controlling odor. One of my favorite cold weather pieces is our Merino Wool Cap. I wear it all the time. Even when it’s warm. And for some unknown reason, the Merino Wool Cap works even better at keeping your warm in cold and cool in warmth when you wear the visor backwards. An unexplained phenomena, observation based on personal experience, and a unique condition called Visor Directional Preference. And the world is taking notice.
GVO: If you don’t get the base layer right, then if seems you’ve done serious damage to the other layers’ ability to insulate and do their jobs – especially in cold weather. So what goes into choosing the right base layer?
David: By choosing a base layer that isn’t optimal for cold weather conditions you haven’t set the stage for the rest of your high performance apparel to do their best jobs. Here’s an example. If you wear a base layer that doesn’t wick well in cold temperatures, the moisture held in that base layer could be inside you, next to your skin, for the duration of that day’s hunt. And hunters sweat in cold weather. Whether you’re hoofing it across a mountain or taking a quiet walk for a half-mile or more to your tree stand, with boots on, a mid-layer, your jacket and pant, carrying your pack and bow, you’re going to sweat to some degree. With IconX and our Austrialian Merino Wool base layers that sweat is wicked away from your skin so you remain comfortable and warm. Because hunting apparel technology is so good and layering systems so advanced, today’s hunter has access to base layers that cross hunting seasons. IconX or Merino can be with on every hunt – from the warmth of opening day to the last day of the season. And keep hunting after the season for predators. You’ll get a lot of use of whichever base you choose.
Keith: But, without a doubt the warmest next-to-skin layer we offer for late season and mid-season hunts out in the mountains out west has no sleeves and is less than ¼” thick. It’s the rechargeable battery powered IconX Heated Core Vest. Three heating areas with three temperature settings controlled by the push of a button at the base of the collar. There’s a good example of how we combine innovative technologies – the design, fabric, and fit of IconX with carbon heating fibers and a temperature control. Now, when it comes to keeping your core warm, increasing muscle temperature, providing greater freedom of movement to make that smooth draw in cold weather, find your anchor point more easily, hold as long as necessary while being still, stay on target, and release at the right moment – hunters have a new, amazing piece that has a true reason for being in our lineup because it makes our customer’s hunts not just warmer, but it gives them a greater chance of success.
We look at Pnuma’s five hunting systems and preview the brand’s newly released, lightweight, Selkirk Endurance waterproof/breathable hunting jacket and pant that debuted earlier this fall. And even though it’s lightweight, with the right layering systems it can keep warm right into late season.