Wild Things Tactical wind gear

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I’m not convinced that actual camo is necessary for hunting ungulates. I shot my first deer ~10 years ago wearing a red and black plaid shirt, after all. I was convinced that for an autumn wear I intended to take hunting seriously, I needed performance shells in colors other than the nuclear red and orange of my current windshirts. The selection of good, light, non-cotton hunting clothes is remarkably small, and most of what is available is wildly expensive by any standard. The Wild Things Tactical wind shirt and pants quickly made the selection as being light, versatile, relatively affordable (especially at bargin NOS ebay prices), and made from an interesting fabric (70D Epic nylon).

Both pants and anorak are currently available in coyote brown, which I find boring, and multicam. Multicam was designed to work in as wide a variety of environments as possible. I find it interesting on aesthetic and functional levels. That multicam variants of both pieces were available NOS for 50%+ off on ebay sealed the deal.

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When outside in wind and precip you’re always trying to use the lowest level of protection which is safe and comfortable. In spite of many R&D and marketing dollars, there is still a fairly direct inverse correlation between the level of weather protection and the breathability of a fabric. Goretex is invaluable (and that brand is still my preference when available in appropriate garments, due to superior longevity), but I try to wear it only when absolutely necessary. Wind resistant garments with a good DWR are preferred.

In the realm of windshirts, Epic is an interesting option. Most windshirts get their water-repellency from one of several treatments, which chemically increase surface tension and cause water to bead up and not soak in. This works to a point; either until the force of the moisture overwhelms the coating, or until the coating is too dirty to be fully functional. Though they can be brought back to full force by laundering, eventually factory DWR treatments will fail, and in spite of advances in the last five years wash-in and spray-on retreatments never seem to be as good as the original. Epic is a silicon treatment applied to raw fabric, which effectively imbues a structural DWR. The ability to shed precip is built into the fabric itself; its effectiveness can be blunted by dirt and oil, but it can always be restored by simple laundering.

The fabric, and its balance of weatherproofing and breathability, is the highlight of the Wild Things tactical wind gear.  Quite simply, it is fantastic.  It beads water with an immediacy I’ve not seen on anything other than Epic, and keeps doing it impressively well for impressively long.  As mentioned, dirt will cause it to fail.  For instance, get mud on the bottom ~8 inches of the pants and even after the dirt is rinsed off in a creek the dividing line of DWR effectiveness is quite drastic.  As with any DWR, sustained water pressure will cause it to fail, at which point you’ll start getting wet with a non-waterproof fabric like this.  3-4 hours of sustained light rain is all you can expect, far less with heavy rain.  Interestingly, vigorous splashes roll right off so long as they’re intermittent.  I’ve worn the anorak packrafting on a number of occasions, and even with frequent face shots it keeps me dry except where my elbows brush against the tubes.  Presumably because of the Epic treatment, these garments absorb impressively little water, and dry freakishly fast, even by the exacting standards of modern technical fabrics.  Most interestingly, it seems just as breathable as other windshirts (like a Patagonia Houdini or Rab Cirrus), while having better weather shedding properties.  In sustained rain, especially sustained cold rain, Epic isn’t going to get the job done, but so long as you’re ok with getting a bit damp in the shoulders during longer rains the Wild Things wind gear might get the job done everywhere else.  Thanks to the warm weather we’ve been having, and the safety margin that provides, I haven’t brought anything but the Wild Things stuff on any trip since the Bob Open.

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Construction quality is good, but not spectacular.  Stitching is strong, and no time or weight is wasted on things like interior binding which have only aesthetic value.  Fit tends toward the baggy side, with a few oddities which knock the grade down a bit.  The hood on the anorak rolls into the collar, lacks any sort of adjustment, and as can be seen above is on the small side.  It’s functional, but far from ideal.  Wild Things did manage to design a roll-away hood without adding layers of excess fabric, resulting in the first such hood I’ve used which once stowed is not noticeable.  I hardly use it.

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The anorak zipper is 15 inches deep, which is fantastic.  It has inner and outer flaps, a nice touch.  The single chest pocket is large, but not ponderously so, and made of one layer of sturdy, non-absorbent mesh.  The placement is a bit peculiar, and when closed the zipper is just shy of being under the wide shoulder strap on my Gorilla or HPG Tarahumara.  It works and it’s light, so no complaints.  The zippers are quality metal YKK and run smoothly.  The arms of the jacket are adequately long and well contoured, with elastic cuffs.  There is enough stretch to slide the cuffs up above your elbows, where it stays put.  The torso is exceptionally long, with a modest drop tail and a full hem drawcord.  Full marks there.

The pants are again on the roomy side, but not ponderously so.  They’re a simple four panel design, but have a crotch gusset built into the panels such that freedom of movement is exceptional.  They have two jeans style pockets on the seams, and an open back pocket.  These pockets are rather small and honestly pretty useless.  I’ll likely get rid of all three when I get around to it.  The plain elastic waist is simple and functional.  The ankle zips extend 17 inches up to knee level, making them dead easy to put on and take off over shoes.  In spite of the pocket fail, I’m at least as big a fan of the pants as I am the anorak.

The anorak weighs 8.5 oz, pants 6 oz; both in medium.

Finally, besides the aforementioned great blend of weather resistance and breathability, the fabric feels great.  It’s silky smooth against the skin, quiet, and yet the face is slick and slides through brush and rock easily and well.  Everything about the fabric screams high-quality, and it’s rather nice to have garments which dispense with gimmicks almost entirely and let the fabric and simple, largely sound design do the talking.  Add a better hood and functional (or no) pants pockets and I’d have nothing to complain about.

These garments might well work for you.  Whether you want to wear camo out backpacking is another matter entirely.  Even in Montana it puts off a different vibe which is a bit hostile to the REI crowd.  The contrarian in me likes this, but then again I don’t see many people on my routes anyway.  As of this writing, the pants are still available on ebay at a price which beats anything remotely equivalent, so it might be a good time to add some controversy to your wardrobe.

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2 thoughts on “Wild Things Tactical wind gear

  1. Thanks, Dave. Just ordered the pants. Hope they breathe well enough in the heat as full time pants in the mountains. Figuring the camo colour is better than the black of other wind pants in the sun. We’ll see…

    • Hope they work well for you. They’ll be a bit warmer than standard hiking pants of comparable weight, but for me anything under 70F and they’re good to go.

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