This story originally appeared in the Journal of Mountain Hunting. It is published here with permission. The video was produced by Talus Creative, and is also posted here with permission.
As mountain hunters, we are conditioned to brave the elements. This is precisely why our apparel systems receive so much attention. If we put aside the endless debates and divisions that surround membranes, materials and camo patterns, we are left with one—and only one—consideration that matters above all else: performance.
Depending on where and when you hunt, performance, can mean a lot of different things. In most cases, performance can be equated to comfort. How our system impacts our ability to stay warm when glassing, handles the moisture and temperature fluctuations encountered during a high-exertion ascent, or keeps us dry when Mother Nature decides to surprise us with a flash rain or snow storm are commonly debated and discussed scenarios we all have experience with. But what happens when shit hits the fan? When you’re faced with a life or death situation or at minimum an event that could mean the difference between staying in the hunt or going home?
Do you know how your system performs in a worst-case scenario? If you listened to Episode 25 of the Beyond the Kill podcast with Sitka’s John Barklow, you should be familiar with the concept of “exercising your system”. In that podcast, John outlined what he calls the Re-Warming Drill, his now infamous test of an apparel system’s ability to keep us alive when things take a turn for the worst. And there is no question that for the average mountain hunter, the most serious scenario we’ll have to contend with is exposure.
Whether we get caught out in a storm in the alpine or on an exposed ridge that soaks us to the bone, fall in a cold river or creek on a dicey crossing, or bail out of a raft or canoe on a float trip, at some point we’re going to be faced with a situation when we’re cold, wet and questioning our ability to keep hunting. A truly adaptable, high-performing system should keep us in the hunt.
If we run into any one of these scenarios when we’re miles from the truck, basecamp, spike camp or only a couple of days into a ten-day hunt we need to know that our systems will perform. You may have recently seen John walk people through what he calls a Passive Re-Warming Drill, but what happens when you don’t have the luxury of stopping to set-up camp?
A few weeks ago, we went down to Montana to tackle exactly this question. In the video below you will see John walk us through a Dynamic Re-Warming Drill, the method he used to train soldiers to stay on mission when shit hits the fan. Is your system up to the test?
Kelvin Lite Down Jacket
In a sea of outdoor specialization, having versatile gear as well is a strength. This lightweight, compressible jacket maximizes warmth while minimizing bulk. Use it for everything from backcountry hunts and off-season scouting trips to everyday life; it slips comfortably under a shell whenever you need an extra shot of warmth. Synthetic PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation with Cross Core™ technology replicates the aesthetics and performance of down insulation, but with warm-when-wet performance.
- Weight: 16 oz.
- Synthetic PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation with Cross Core™ technology replicates the warmth and compressibility of down, but with the benefit of warm-when-wet performance
- Lightweight insulation (35% recycled) is infused with silica aerogel, a nearly weightless material that’s composed of more than 95% air and acts as additional thermal insulation
- 20-denier polyester face with durable water repellent finish, 20-denier polyester backer
- DWR finish resists precipitation and prevents face fabric from wetting out
- Gusseted stretch cuffs allow for smooth, easy layering and unrestricted shooting
- Fitted hood provides low-profile warmth and concealment; doesn’t obstruct peripheral vision
- Deep, zippered chest pocket safely stores your valuables