• Dalton Smith

    I found ur blog about a month ago. Just wanted to drop a line and say thanks for your reviews and insight. I am 32 and have been bow hunting deer for a long time but western style hunting for elk is new to me and of course is a learning process. Your reviews and truth about the hunting trips really helps me prepare and make decisions on what I am in for. Thanks again. Keep up the good work..

    • SoleAdventure

      I really appreciate that, Dalton! You’ve missed some good stuff if you just found this site a month ago. ;-) I’m no expert, but I’m definitely willing to share what I have learned, and am learning, so let me know if you have any questions.

  • Kyle A

    Definitely answered some questions about stand hunting whitetails. Which is where the apparel will spend most of it’s time. What do you think of the ASAT pattern for Midwest timber?

    • SoleAdventure

      ASAT stands for “All Season, All Terrain”, and the more I use it, the more I believe it. I didn’t have any issues using on the ground in Midwest timber while turkey hunting. And this fall I’ve been on the ground (no blind) and have had deer come within 3 yards of me while wearing all ASAT. It works great from a treestand, too – the high contrast of the pattern blends in well with the natural high contrast of branches over sky.

  • Shane

    I bought a full set of first lite gear prior to this bow season as well…. my opinions and experiences were very similar to yours. Llano, chama, springer vest and puffy jacket were awesome. Knab pants were super comfortable for the day they lasted. If the durability of the pants can be fixed this set would be #1 hands down… for now I would say avoid deadfall in the pants.

    • SoleAdventure

      That’s a bummer, Kyle. You must have had a bad break to have an issue with them on day one. I have dozens of hard hunts on mine, and they’re holding up. But, as I mention, I realize not everyone has been so lucky. You’re right though – that issue aside, they are amazing in terms of comfort and function.

    • Daniel

      Hey Shane,
      I had the exact same issue. I was so excited to get these pants. They are the most comfortable pant I have ever hunted in but after my first day out hunting I looked down and I noticed that there were two small holes near the foot of the pant. I’m really bummed because I can’t imagine hunting in any other pant after wearing these, but it’s hard to stomach the price tag if the durability doesn’t hold up.

  • Dusty Alexander

    Mark, I love your site man! I am a fellow gear head and tend to go into over-geek when researching. Its an affliction, I’m working on it, but in the meantime I have a gear question or you.
    Kanabs. You said you wore them through your entire CO elk hunt right? Did you ever put on a rain shell over them? If not, how wet did you get? I’m weighing the options for the next piece of FL kit that I want to invest in and the North Branch Pants are on the shortlist but they are a hefty pill to swallow.
    Thanks again for the info on the site, I enjoy all of your posts. I have shared your site with a couple of buddies and we are possibly cooking up a (first for 2 of 3 of us) diy backcountry elk trip for next year. Thanks for the inspiration to actively pursue this bucket list item and not just wait for the possibility of an opportunity. :)

    • SoleAdventure

      Hey Dusty, thanks for the kind words. I’m glad you’re enjoying the site! I didn’t have rain pants on my CO trip. The Kanabs are merino, so they’re obviously not waterproof, but they did manage moisture quite well. I could have used one rain pants on one occasion, but more than that – I wish I would have brought gaiters. We were constantly climbing through, over, or under brush and logs that were covered in snow, or soaked with water – so the bottoms of my pants were constantly wet. I didn’t feel it at the time, but it was so cold at night that instead of drying, my Kanabs would just freeze.

  • mike mellon

    Thanks for another great gear review. I’m sold on the first lite merino base layers but am somewhat up in the air for the outerwear. I went back and read your reviews of the badlands gear most notably the inferno jacket and convection bibs. My question is, do you still go back to these pieces for stand hunting during the cold late season? And.if not are you wearing 100% first lite fore your late season hunting

    • SoleAdventure

      Great questions, Mike. The Badlands gear was good to me, but I haven’t touched since I’ve had the opportunity to use the First Lite system. The Inferno jacket worked pretty well, but First Lite’s puffy is better in every single category (fit, cut, weight, bulk, warmth, etc.). The North Branch pants have been warm enough for me (was just out in 20-degree and sleet with them), so I haven’t used the bibs. That’s not a ding on the bibs though…they’re a great option if the majority of your cold-weather hunting will be stationary/treestand hunting. The North Branch would be better in terms of water-resistance, active movement, and breathability. But if you’re just sitting still in cold (but fair) weather, the bibs are great.

  • Chad Lincoln

    Great review. I am mainly a still hunter but typically have long hikes to reach my stand. Last season I began purchasing some of the First Lite products to see how they would perform in my situation. It was a bit of an unknown since the vast majority of the reviews come from those who have more of an active hunting style. What I found was the merino did a great job of preventing me from overhearing on the way to the stand and was awesome at wicking the moisture that did occur. Once I reached my stand I would then put on the final layer which would typically be the Puffy jacket and North Branch pants. I found that this worked wonderfully. As soon as the new products for 2014 I plan on completing my wardrobe. Part of this change was also updating my camo to ASAT.

    • SoleAdventure

      Hey, Chad. What you described echoes my experience using the First Lite system for whitetail hunting in my home state of MO. Merino layers are so versatile!

      • adirondak5

        Great reviews on the First Lite Mark , this has been a big help , I’m a long time east coast hunter just starting to plan my first elk hunt to Idaho in 2015 and your reviews have been fantastic . I am going to be trying some of the First Lite products out in the deer woods of NY this fall and see for myself .

        • SoleAdventure

          Very cool. Let me know if you have any questions… and good luck!

  • Mike K

    Excellent reviews,much appreciated. Quick question on the Nortth Branch pants. Is the cut such that you could pull them on over the Kanabs as a bib, or are they better suited to keeping just a base layer under them such as the Allegheny. Also, how was the noise factor on brush and such. Thanks again for the great info!

    • SoleAdventure

      Mike, you could fit Kanabs under the North Branch, but layering with the Allegheny would be a better option for sure. There is some noise with these pants, but it’s relative to the conditions/activity. I had never worried that they were going to “give me away” when I was hunting in them – they were plenty quiet for my hunting.

  • Kirk G.

    I love the article and all the detail. I just invested in all new First Lite gear for this seasons whitetail hunt in Kansas. I have hunted in West Centeal Illinois for the last 12 years and my biggest concern is the wind factor especially if the temps are below 20-25 degrees. I didn’t see you mention the Sanctuary Jacket here. That’s the piece I baught instead of the Puffy jacket. Also, I chose this over Sitka because of the pattern. I have other light weight gear in Scent-lok & Under Armour for early season that is Realtree Xtra. I have several of the Llano crew shirts, 2 Chama QZ, 1 Halstead Top, 1 Labrador sweater, 1 springer vest, 1 Kanab pant, 1 North Branch Pant and the Sanctuary Jacket. Just hoping I made the right decision. Thanks

    • SoleAdventure

      That’s quite the kit, Kirk! You’re set. I didn’t cover the Sanctuary in this post because it wasn’t out at the time I wrote it (Nov ’13). I have handled that jacket since, and it is an amazing piece for the treestand hunter. Best of luck this season!

  • Jim from IL

    Hey Mark,
    First off like others on the site thanks for the great reviews on the gear. I recently returned from a CO elk archery hunt. This was the first trip that I did packing in to the back country. I started using your site for food preparation. Which by the way was perfect -followed your menu and was highly satisfied and was energized the entire trip. Now to the meat and potatoes of this reply. I have to say after your reviews of the clothing I decided to purchase all the items listed for your early CO hunt line up. I couldn’t have been happier with the entire outfit. The under shirt was amazing. How I hunted ten days (only washing once in the creek) with no smell of BO was a miracle. The kanab pants were so comfortable and after caught in the rain still kept me extremely warm. Thanks so much for the extra effort on the reviews. After ten days in the CO back country with the correct food preps and comfortable-minimal clothing I was able to bring home my first DIY bull elk. I have since recommended the site to others for some great info.

    • SoleAdventure

      Thanks for the message, Jim. First, and most importantly, congrats on your successful elk hunt!

      I’m glad to hear that the food and clothing strategy worked well for you. I’m still amazed how well well First Lite gear continues to perform. I hope that there are many more successful elk hunts in your future! Us flatlanders have to represent. ;-)

  • Donnie


    Did you find the EXP baselayers to be too “heavy” for September hunting especially late in the day? Did you keep them on all day long? I’ve been wearing UA polypropylene baselayers for years and they’ve been great at wicking moisture but they do get a little “funky” after a couple hunts. That’s one reason I’m thinking about going to Merino.

    One other thing. Would you feel confident stalking an elk (bow range) with the FL puffy? Just a little concerned about the noise factor.


    • SoleAdventure

      Hey Donnie. I didn’t touch my EXP bottoms this year, but I’m still glad that I packed them. I did use them last year, when the nighttime temps were much cooler (about 20*). They do get pretty warm once you start hiking around. I would still rather have the EXP + Kanabs over the lighterweight pants + Kanabs.

      Regarding the puffy… If it were DEAD silent (absolutely no breeze or other ambient noise whatsoever) – which, from my experience, is a RARE thing in the mountains – I would pay attention to my movement to minimize noise of the puffy. But in general, I never think about it. That also probably has to do with the fact that I’ve never worn the puffy in a stalking situation. Once I start moving/hunting, my merino layers are more than enough warmth. The puffy has been a great companion for stationary glassing and for cold nights around camp, but I’ve never used it while actively hunting.

      • Donnie

        Exactly what I wanted to hear! I found a great deal on a ASAT FL puffy for a little over 30% off the $225 price tag. So it’s on the way. I’m trying to stick to a budget so I may go another route with the rest of my clothing needs. We’ll see though. As much as the gear for my first elk hunt is going to cost, I’ll have to go every year for my investment to pay off. :)