First Lite Clothing Review
Back in 2016 we got our hands on First Lite clothing and started wearing it on all of our hunts. I’ve worn it in anything from the Colorado highcountry at 13,000ft to the Nevada desert in 110°F and in any weather conditions Mother Nature could throw at us. In this article I’m going to highlight some of the pros and cons of all the items I have personally used. Please note, this is not going to be an in depth review on the specifics of each item. If you would like more details, please visit First Lite’s website or leave a comment below and we’ll try to answer any questions!
Vapor Stormlight Ultralight Rain Jacket
I’ve worn a handful of different rain gear and the Vapor Stormlight Jacket is one of my favorites. It is extremely lightweight and breathable. We’ve worn it in some pretty nasty conditions in the Colorado highcountry and Wyoming backcountry and have yet to have any issues. You can honestly wear it all day and won’t have any issues with it getting too hot. My brother Dustin wore the Vapor jacket and pants in Wyoming for 3 straight days and never got wet (picture below).
The hood also has adjustable draw strings so that you can perfectly shape the hood to your head. It fits better than any other rain jacket I’ve ever worn. Because of how lightweight this jacket is, it rarely leaves my pack. Coming in at only 12 ounces, it is lightweight enough that I don’t even notice that I’m carrying it around. With those early season thunderstorms that seem to come in in a matter of minutes, it’s nice knowing that I’ve got a rain jacket in my pack at all times.
If you’re looking for a more robust rain jacket, check out the SEAK Stormtight Rain Jacket. With 3.5 layers, this jacket is made for places like Alaska, B.C., and the Pacific Northwest.
Chama 230g Merino Hoody
This hoody has been my go-to mid-weight piece for those cooler mornings and days out in the field. First Lite also makes this same top in a quarter zip without the hoody, but I would highly suggest getting the hood. I like having the hoody for those cool mornings when there is a breeze to help keep the wind off my neck. This is a heavy weight merino wool that is designed to be worn over the top of your lightweight merino shirt. The hoody version also comes with a quarter zip which allows you to easily ventilate when hiking.
If you are a skinny guy like me (6’3″ 175lbs) I would suggest getting this in a size smaller than you normally wear as it tends to be a little on the baggy side. I have it in size medium.
Halstead Tech Fleece
This fleece sweater is extremely comfortable and something we love to wear when I’m around town, out fishing, or camping with the family. However, I rarely take it with me on a backcountry hunt. On most of my hunts I take a light and mid-weight merino top, Uncompaghre Puffy, North Branch Jacket, and Vapor Stormlight rain jacket. That setup will keep me warm and dry in just about any situation I’ve been in. If the weather is going to be very cold I will usually throw this in just to add another layer.
The Halstead Tech Fleece has one small pocket on the left arm which is nice for storing small items. I have a size medium and it fits me perfectly.
Minaret Aerowool Crew Top
If you’re wanting an extremely lightweight merino wool top for those early season bowhunts then look no further. First Lite recently came out with the Aerowool line which contains 65% merino wool and 35% 37.5 Technology (material designed to dry faster, cool your body, and reduce smell). Having the mixture of merino wool and synthetic material allows the shirt to be much lighter than if it were pure merino wool. The armpit area is made of a mesh material which drastically increases the amount of airflow. Because the shirt is primarily made of merino wool it is still quiet enough to wear while stalking a buck or bull. This shirt is our go-to for hunts when it’s going to be over 90°F.
North Branch Soft Shell Jacket
This is my go-to do-it-all jacket. With a soft, but durable, outer shell, this jacket will stand up to about anything you can throw at it. I’ve worn it many times while bushwhacking through thick brush and it’s still in great condition. The North Branch Jacket does have tapped seams, but it is not waterproof. It will keep you dry unless you’re in a straight downpour or snowstorm.
This jacket is the perfect piece to wear on those late season hunts when the temperatures don’t rise above 60° or so. If you are looking to get one jacket for everything, this is the one you want.
(Picture below: North Branch jacket with Uncompahgre Puffy underneath. We have found this to be the best layer setup for staying warm)
Uncompaghre Puffy Insulated Jacket
This is hands down my favorite First Lite piece. I take this jacket on every hunt I go on. It is extremely lightweight and stuffs down into its own pocket to about the size of a football. Even on early season hunts and scouting trips where I might not need it, I usually throw it in the bottom of my backpack and forget about it.
The Uncompaghre Puffy isn’t a jacket that you would want to take hiking through thick brush. However, I have done it before and have yet to tear a hole in it.This is the perfect jacket for those long glassing sessions in the morning and evenings. It is easily the warmest jacket that I own.
I have only been wearing the new Obsidian pants for about six months, but they have been amazing so far. They seem to be very durable even though merino wool is known for not being extremely durable. They are very lightweight and are perfect early to mid season pants.
I will have more info on these pants later after I have worn them more…
Corrugate Guide Pants
The Corrugate Guide Pants have been my go-to pants since I started wearing First Lite. I have been wearing them for two hunting seasons now and they are still going strong. No holes or tears in any part. My brother Dustin wears the butts out of pants faster than anyone I’ve ever seen and his pants are still in great condition as well. The Corrugate pants come with a DWR finish so it will keep you dry in most conditions.
On another note, these pants are pretty stretchy. I actually prefer the stretchy-ness and think that the pants fit better. But that is just something to be aware of… As far as size and fit, I am 6’3″ and wear a size medium tall. I have noticed that First Lite sizes are generally a little on the bigger side, so I would recommend getting a size smaller than you normally would.
Note*: The Obsidian pants come with suspenders included. I personally am not a fan of suspenders because they aren’t very comfortable when you put on your pack. But Dustin and Corey both use them and love them.
Traverse Hunting Gaiter
I got these gaiters a few months ago and have been using them all summer scouting. After wearing them for multiple days in the field I can honestly say these are the best gaiters I’ve ever worn. The Traverse Gaiters are very lightweight and are designed to keep debris out of your low to mid height boots/shoes. They are water resistant, but are not waterproof so you’re going to want to wear the Brambler Gaiters if the weather is bad. I love wearing them with my Salomon Speedcross trail running shoes or Crispi Dakota’s when I am going out for a quick hike to check trail cameras. They are stretchy and are designed to fit tightly around you shoes and ankle. If you have a high top boot like the Crispi Idaho’s they probably won’t be necessary.
When the weather turns to crap, these are the gaiters that you are going to want to wear. The Brambler Gaiters are bombproof and will stand up to anything mother nature can throw at them. I’ve worn these for probably 20+ days in the field with horrible weather conditions and my feet have stayed dry and warm.
Softshell Shooting Glove 2.0
These are the only First Lite gloves I have personally worn but they have been great gloves. They are relatively warm and are very durable. Unless it is below 20° or so, these gloves are plenty warm. The palm and fingers are made of goatskin which is very tough.
I personally don’t like wearing gloves when I’m shooting a gun or bow, but the design of the glove allows you to use an archery release while you are wearing the gloves. The next gloves I buy will be the Grizzly Cold Weather Glove because I hate having cold hands in the field.
Talus Fingerless Merino Glove
As you can see from the picture below, Dustin wears these gloves ALL THE TIME (even when field dressing an animal). These merino gloves are perfect for those early season archery hunts. They aren’t going to keep your fingers warm, but they will keep them from freezing. They are a perfect glove to wear while shooting your gun/bow or while you are trying to do technical things with your hands. These are also perfect fly fishing gloves, if you’re into that kind of stuff…
All in all, I am extremely impressed with First Lite line of clothing. They have designed it specifically for a backcountry hunter. If you have any questions, leave a comment below or send us an email!