In January I was able to attend the archery and bowhunting mecca that is the ATA Show. After the show I had numerous people ask me what new products I was most excited about – there were several, of course, but at the top of my list was the new outerwear from First Lite. [More First Lite reviews/videos: ATA Show 2013 Video: New Outerwear From First Lite, Hunting Gear Review – Merino Wool & Outerwear Clothing from First Lite.]
In March I was able to begin testing an advanced, late-stage prototype of First Lite’s new outerwear pant, the “North Branch”. For the past couple of months I have been able to test these pants, while hiking and hunting through some unseasonably cool temperatures, and they have performed great.
The North Branch is a softshell pant with a micro-fleece liner. In addition to being warm, the North Branch pants will keep you dry from the outside, as well as the inside, thanks to a new active particle technology from Cocona.
What is Cocona?
The Cocona website states that their technology improves…
- Evaporative Cooling – Cocona® Fabrics spread moisture over a vast surface area created by the active particles accelerating evaporation, reducing dry times and keeping users dry and comfortable in both hot and cold environments.
- Odor Management – Odors are adsorbed into the active particles and then released with normal laundering thereby refreshing the garment.
- UV Protection – Active particles adsorb UV and shields wearer from harmful sun rays
- Natural Technology – Cocona® technology uses activated carbon derived from recycled coconut shells and naturally occurring minerals.
Dry Inside, Dry Outside
Claims are great, and a lot of things make sense on paper, but we all know that theoretical benefits aren’t always experienced in the field. Well, in this situation I am happy to report that the claims of Cocona technology can be felt and experienced. I wore the North Branch pants in conditions that were much warmer than they are intended for, and I could definitely tell that the Cocona fabric was releasing my body moisture out through the pant. I wasn’t stuffy or sweaty at all.
The North Branch pants also kept me dry from the outside, thanks to their DWR finish, sealed zippers, and integrated gaiters. I wore these pants through several rain-soaked hunts, and crossed many wet, thigh-high fields, and they never let a bit of moisture in.
So Far, So Good
I’m looking forward to testing the North Branch pants in the conditions that they were truly built for – late fall and winter hunting – but so far I have been extremely impressed with their build quality, features, and performance in chilly, damp conditions.
For more information on the North Branch, as well as the rest of First Lite’s apparel lineup for 2013, check out the First Lite website.