What does it take to make me wear fleece in a hot California September?
New gear to review!
Two weeks ago I discovered a new women's hunting clothing company called Trailfeathers. Friday, I got my package in the mail, and now I'm just waiting for next weekend's deer hunt to give my new duds a test drive.
I got a pair of pants and a jacket, but the pants are the big deal. It's not because they're camo fleece (plenty of that on the market), and it's not because they're cut for a woman's body (mercifully, we now have a few good options out there). It's because they've got the way-cool "double fly."
What does that mean? Well, they have the regular fly in the normal spot, which allows us to pull pants up over our voluptuous female hips, and then a second fly that allows us to - ahem! - relieve ourselves without pulling our pants down, just like guys have been doing for eons. Click on the photo above to see what that looks like in detail.
This feature is particularly important if you hunt in a cold place, like Trailfeathers founder Wendy Butler, who lives in Vermont. But quite honestly, I found myself wishing for just such a feature when I was hunting in California's blazing-hot Central Coast area back in June. Why? If it's easier to pee, then you're more likely to drink enough water to stay properly hydrated.
All I've done with these pants since Friday is try them on and photograph them, so I haven't done any field testing yet. But here's what I can tell you so far:
1. They're very comfortable and soft. When I pull them on, I want to sit in front of the fireplace with a mug of hot chocolate, a blanket and a good book. Of course, I worry about how that soft fleece is going to perform where I hunt next weekend, because there are lots of clingy foxtails and other prickly seeds in the fields of barley and native grass where I'll be searching for deer. But that's probably just a personal problem - these pants pants appear to be designed for forest/treestand hunting, which is what most of you do out there.
2. The second fly is a little hard to get used to because you unzip from front to back - you have to get used to a motion that is a little more challenging than the up-to-down direction in a standard fly. I still haven't figured out whether to unzip all the way from the front, all the way reaching in from the back, or starting from the front and finishing from the back. I'll drink lots of water next weekend and get back to you on that. (To see how far up the back they unzip, click on the picture above, which shows the pants inside-out so you can see exactly where the zipper ends.)
3. These pants appear to be very well built. I haven't given them the Mom Test that my last round of hunting pants were subjected to, but I know what she'd look for - finished seams that prevent fraying, reinforcement stitching in key spots, straight lines, no threads hanging all over the place. Mom would also be tickled pink to see the "Made in USA" tag.
4. That tag adds to the cost, for sure - the pants go for $198, and the jacket for $260. If all you can afford is clothing made in China, then these clothes may not be for you. But if you can afford to spring for the best, then I say go for it - our economy is worth maybe skipping a spa treatment or two.
5. I suspect Butler will need to expand her sizing options, which top out at extra large. All the other women's hunting clothing companies I've written about expanded their size offerings this year precisely because they quickly learned that XL wasn't enough.
6. I love the woman's touch. Butler's clothes come with a packing tag that discusses the inspiration she found in her mother, and notes that some of her profits go to ovarian cancer research (ovarian cancer is what claimed her mother's life). The card is signed, "Love, Wendy," which is a very female and personal way to do business.
All in all, I'm really excited about trying out these clothes, and I'm praying for a cold front next weekend so I don't bake. But this is probably my last big game hunt of the year, so I'm wearing this outfit no matter what.
© Holly A. Heyser 2008
Girl-fly products: Trailfeathers isn't the only company marketing a product with a girl-fly - Cabela's makes a union suit that does the same thing, and my friend Dana swears by it. Santa didn't give me one of these last year, but I hope to buy one this year to wear while duck hunting. Click here to see what it looks like.
Disclosures: To see my gear review policy and disclosures, click here.