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Camo for Women: Your Options for Serious Hunting

Browning

Website: Browning

Browning Women Rain Jacket

Browning’s XPO For Her line includes a jacket and a pair of bibs. The Pre-Vent fabric is breathable, waterproof and windproof. The garments utilize Thermore, which Browning calls a “high-tech thermal insulation designed to keep the body at its natural warmth without adding bulk.”

XPO For Her Big-Game Bibs

I ordered the bibs in a size medium, and they fit just a teensy bit snug when I bent over, but not snug enough that I would want to step up to a large. The straps on these were very easy to adjust, which was a welcome find, and the knit side gussets make the bibs pretty flexible. If you’re a shotgunner, be aware of the possibility that the strap’s buckles could get in the way of your gun mount if they fall in the wrong spot. There’s a zipper from top to naval and a side zipper on each leg that made getting boots on and off a piece of cake. They’re a bit bulky, but no more so than any other bibs I’ve ever worn, and the good fit and warmth made the bulkiness well worth it. As with just about all bibs, I would have loved to see an “escape hatch” or zipper up the inside of the legs or something to make those inevitable in-the-woods bathroom breaks a lot easier. MSRP: $130

XPO For Her Jacket

The jacket is generously sized; I’m at the upper edge of the “medium” range and this size medium (which Browning identifies as size 8-10) had plenty of space for layers underneath. The Lycra adjustable cuffs are handy for getting gloves tucked securely into the sleeves. It’s a bit on the heavy side, but very warm. The zipper is covered by a waterproof flap that makes it a bit awkward to close, but you’d sure be grateful for it in the rain. The pockets are waterproof with sort of a backwards flap closure, which is handy. MSRP: $172

Cabela’s

Cabelas Microtex Shirt and PantsWebsite: Cabelas

Cabela’s has an impressive selection of women’s options — everything from shooting shirts and upland vests to bibs and wading jackets, and a variety in between. And the prices are hard to beat. I tried on the Microtex Series shirt and uninsulated pants. The Microtex material is fleece-like in its softness and quietness, and Cabela’s says it is “tough as denim,” although I didn’t take it through a briar patch to find out. It’s breathable and dries quickly.

Microtex Shirt

This is an early-season shirt when worn alone, or a good layering piece for a cold day. It’s generously cut, so if you’re between sizes, I’d order down unless you just like really loose shirts. The shirt has an extra-long tail to keep it tucked in, which you’ll appreciate if you do a lot of bending, sitting or kneeling. The shirt is very comfortable, but if you’ll be doing some stalking or sitting in warmer weather, I’d advise wearing a thin shirt underneath, as the lining material seems like it would make you sweat if it was up against your skin. MSRP: $49.95

Microtex Uninsulated Pants

Again, this is mild-weather wear, perfect for turkey hunting or fall archery season. The double-layer knees are durable and there are plenty of pockets — a five-pocket configuration like a lot of blue jeans have, plus two side thigh pockets that seem a bit tough to access because of the button closure. They’re very soft inside and out, and the fit is much like that of high-waisted jeans — the waistband fell just barely above my naval. On me, they’re a bit roomier in the legs than they are in the waist and butt, which is helpful for easy movement. The pants come in sizes 8-20, and Cabela’s (online) will hem them for you up to 32 inches. MSRP: $59.99

L.L. Bean

LL Bean Wool Pants and JacketWebsite: L.L. Bean

L.L. Bean carries a number of cool-looking hunting garments made specifically in women’s sizes, including some vests, shooting shirts and parkas — even a “union suit.” The prices are reasonable and the quality of the L.L. Bean name speaks for itself.

Maine Guide Wool Parka

Ok ok, it’s not camo, but many a deer has fallen to a hunter clad in the iconic “Pennsylvania tuxedo.” Does it get more classic than this? More importantly, does it get any warmer than this? Wool is hard to beat, and combined with Thinsulate insulation, it’s a real winner. There’s a drawstring at the waist if you want to cinch it in, and I’m crazy about the internal knit cuffs that keep my wrists sealed off deep inside the parka sleeves. There’s also a zippered game pocket on the back, if you plan to wear this small-game hunting. The fit is pretty generous (a medium covers size 10-12) and I found the neck a bit tight when zipped all the way up — I’d recommend a mock turtleneck underneath so you can leave the parka unzipped an inch or two for freedom of movement. MSRP: $159

Maine Guide Wool Pants

These are straight-up traditional heavyweight wool pants, which means they’re warm without being too bulky, and they’re also itchy. Wear long underwear or a wicking undergarment under them and save yourself some discomfort. They’ve got the typical side pockets and back pockets and the fit is pretty traditional, with a high waist and roomy legs. I found the sizing pretty standard, but the legs were rather short — and I’m a short woman to begin with. L.L. Bean lists the inseam as 30 inches, so if you’re on the tall side, these probably aren’t your best option. MSRP: $79

Rocky

Website: Rocky Boots

Rocky Cargo Pants JacketRocky’s SilentHunter line is now available in made-just-for-women sizes. The fabric is soft micro-suede with Scent IQ technology to control human odor — a relatively rare feature in women’s garments and one that deer hunters in particular will appreciate. This line is so new it won’t be available in stores until mid-August or September, and should be on Rocky’s Web site in September as well.

I have to tell you, this stuff rocks. All of the Rocky garments were perfectly cut and fit a real woman’s body better than just about anything I’ve ever worn, which is remarkable coming from a company whose bread and butter comes from boots and men’s clothing. I hope we see more options in this line in the future.

Cargo Pants

These are very thin and so flexible and comfortable that I’d wear them to yoga class. There’s extra “give” in the knees and a surprising amount of hidden elastic in the waistband, which makes kneeling and bending very comfortable. Rocky says they’re waterproof, and a drawstring ankle seems to lend credence to that claim. This is definitely early-season wear, or use it as a layering option for stalking or stand hunting. There are plenty of pockets and the fit is pretty standard, with the waistband falling just barely below my naval. MSRP: $70

Quarter-Zip Long-Sleeve Shirt

Just like the cargo pants, this shirt is thin and very flexible, with one small zippered pocket on the left bicep. And the cut is brilliantly comfortable — I know vanity has little place in the woods, but this shirt made me look slimmer than I am. Now how many hunting garments can you say THAT about? MSRP: $45

SportHill

Website: SportHill Hunting

Sporhill Womens ClothingSportHill makes high-tech athletic apparel and targets their products to runners, but they’ve also got a hunting line that’s just starting to get some recognition, and it includes a woman’s jacket and pants. The first thing I noticed about the garments straight out of the box was the lack of a big-name camo pattern, and that’s just fine with me. The second thing I noticed was that this stuff is stretchy. Really stretchy. I’m talking, you can hold a pant leg in your hands and stretch it out a foot or more like a rubber band, and it snaps back into place. I’ve never seen anything like it!

Turns out the fabric is called 3SP, which is 15 percent Spandex and made of “the most hydrophobic (water-hating) yarn in the world.” 3SP has been used by the Canadian National and Olympic cross-country ski teams for 15 years, and is even worn by Iditarod competitors. The company claims 3SP is windproof to 35 mph, water resistant, quiet, durable and snag-resistant. While it’s not as quiet as, say, fleece, it certainly seems to live up to all of those claims.

SportHill also claims 3SP has “more insulating power, ounce for ounce, than any other fabric” and that it dries up to eight times faster than wool. There’s no way this giant camo rubber band can be comfortable, I thought, but I was mistaken.

Expedition DeepWoods Camo Jacket

The stretch in the fabric (don’t mistake that to mean tight; it’s not) makes this fit great. It’s got a lower-back pocket and a sleeve pocket with audio wire port, if you need it. I wouldn’t have minded a slicker lining to help it slide over an undershirt more easily, but that’s a minor beef. The jacket is quite thin, but amazingly insulating due to its wind-blocking ability. In fact, SportHill’s J.P. Berg recommends only a light compression wicking garment (not cotton) underneath for stalking in temperatures down to 20 degrees, and a “little heavier layer” for tree stand hunting. If this amazing claim holds up, I’ve found the solution to my Pillsbury Doughgirl problem and it’ll make me feel better about the price. Guess I’ll find out this winter! MSRP: $250

Expedition Pants

Made from the same material as the jacket, these pants are very comfortable against the skin in mild weather, or can be worn as an outer layer over a wicking undergarment in colder temperatures. I wouldn’t wear anything too bulky underneath these, and honestly, you wouldn’t need to anyway. They have a flat front and an elastic waist with no button or zipper. The pull-on convenience is nice and the pants are deceptively warm, with pockets galore. Impressively, the pants come in five sizes (XS to XL) and six length options for a perfect fit — you can’t beat that! MSRP: $210

Bottom line: This is a really cool fabric, and the SportHill garments strike me as extremely versatile (which also helps to justify the price). I could see wearing this from the early season through to the snowiest days in January. I hope the company pours more effort into marketing their hunting line, because both men and women hunters will really want to know about this stuff.

Bass Pro Shops RedHead

Bass Pro Comfort Quest Jacket PantWebsite: Bass Pro Shops

Bass Pro online sells women’s hunting clothing from Prois and She Outdoor Apparel, but they also have a few solid and affordable offerings in their own RedHead line. The BONE-DRY technology found on the jacket and pants I tried boasts that it’s 100 percent waterproof, windproof and breathable.

Comfort Quest Insulated Jacket

Like the Browning jacket, this is fairly heavy, but warm. That’s due in part to 150 grams of Thinsulate in the torso and 100 grams in the sleeves —handy for keeping your core warm while giving you a little less bulk in the arms to allow for movement. If you plan to wear any undershirts with a collar, don’t expect to be putting the zipper all the way up — the high jacket collar would be almost impossibly tight with anything underneath it, especially with long or thick hair tucked into it. The jacket has stretchy interior cuffs and Velcro adjustability on the sleeves (just make sure you get that adjusted before you hit the woods, because Velcro is loud). The hood is detachable and the waist can be adjusted via a drawstring that’s found inside the pockets. MSRP: $99

Comfort Quest Insulated Pants

Again, a bit bulky, but very warm. The slick lining only goes from the knee down, which I don’t understand, but the ankle zippers are very handy for fitting over boots. The adjustable waist (more Velcro) lets you get the fit you want. The waistband hits me right at the naval and there’s Velcro that helps keep the button at the waist closed. The pockets are on the front instead of at the side (as on most pants), which takes some getting used to, and the back pockets have wicked-cool invisible magnetic closures with storm flaps. MSRP: $99

Silent Hide Insulated CoverallsSilent-Hide Insulated Coveralls

If money is tight and you can only afford one purchase to keep you warm on stand this winter, these coveralls are hands-down your best option — head-to-toe coverage for only $70. The fabric is quiet and very durable, and they’re fully lined — an absolute must when you’re pulling an outergarment on over other clothing. The Polyfill insulation is warm without much bulk or weight. There’s a zipper that runs from ankle to hip, which allows you to slip them on easily over boots or to walk into your stand without getting overheated, thanks to the ventilation. The coveralls have a sewn-in elastic waist and the overall fit is pretty true to size for a woman of average height, although if you’re very petite or taller than 5’9” or so, a once-piece garment is likely to give you fit problems. MSRP: $70

SHE Outdoor Apparel

SHE Safari C4 VestWebsite: SHE Safari

SHE is one of two companies covered in this review that exists only to make women-specific hunting clothing. (Prois is the other.) Because it’s made by women for women, my expectations were high when this stuff came in the mail. SHE’s got a bigger selection of apparel than just about any other company I’ve seen, including dozens of camo options and just as many upland and safari-style garments. Their newest camo product is the C4 system, which is their warmest line to date. It’s a “lighter, more precise insulated layering system,” created by using body-mapping technology combined with ARC ArcticShield and 3M Thinsulate. The vest and pants can be worn separately, or can be zipped together to form “bibs” that are easily separated.

I haven’t tried this stuff in a deer stand yet, but I shared a duck blind with a fellow huntress who had. Here’s what she had to say: “For long sits in the stand I don’t like to bulk up on layering, but still want to stay warm. I hate climbing up a tree when it’s dark as fat as the Michelin Man! The C4 suit eliminates the need for layering in the stand. I wore it when it was snowing and blowing 7 degrees. I was very comfortable, as it is windproof and waterproof.”

C4 Vest

The size large is listed on SHE’s size chart as a 10/12. As I’m an 8/10, I took a guess and ordered up, which was a mistake. Order down if you’re between sizes, because when the vest and pants are zipped together, “a little bit big” becomes a problem (especially if you’re on the short side). The vest has thick neoprene side panels that make it stretchy and flexible, and the shoulder straps are adjustable with Velcro. MSRP: $130

C4 Pants

Again, order down if you’re between sizes. I can’t tell if the pants are on the high-waisted side or if it just seems that way because mine were a bit big. The model in this photo is 5’10” and the length was about right for her. These did seem a little SHE Safari C4 jacket Pantsbulkier than some of the other pants I’ve worn, but they’re designed to be warm enough so that you don’t need additional layers. In that case, the bulk-to-warmth ratio is perfect. They’re fully lined (thank goodness), so wear a wicking undergarment to keep the nylon off your skin. I love that the waistband has two snap options, so you can let it out an inch or so if you had too much venison stew the night before. There are knee darts for flexibility and waterproof calf-length zippers, and underneath the zipper, there’s an ankle drawstring so you can tighten the pants while still having a long cuff come down over your boots. Genius. Plenty of pocket space, too. MSRP: $180

C4 Jacket

Put this on top of the C4 vest and I can’t imagine how you’d possibly get very cold. It’s a bit bulky but less so than you’d expect when worn over the vest — perfect for cold sits on stand (even in the snow or freezing rain). Like the pants, the jacket is fully lined. Although mine was a little big, I found the hood to be a little too small to stay up over my ponytail. Then again, that seemed to be true of just about every hood on every jacket I tried. There’s a neoprene band around the neck and the wrists, with Velcro adjustment on the cuffs. There’s also a drawstring waistband and a number of hidden interior pockets. But my favorite feature has got to be the harness slit in the back of the jacket, near the neck — so you can wear a tree-stand safety harness under the jacket and not have to run the strap up and out of your collar (which would be a real nightmare with the hood up) or out at the waist. MSRP: $225

Bottom line: At $510 for the three-piece system — which doesn’t include the $40 C4 gloves and $20 beanie — the SHE system is a real splurge, no doubt. It’s awesome, though, with every bell and whistle you can imagine and some you never even knew you needed. The sizes run from XS to XXL and I have to say, this suit would be my go-to first choice to wear on a freezing-cold deer stand. If you’re more of a spot-and-stalk hunter, check out SHE Outdoor Apparel’s midweight lines.

Prois

Prois Ultra Long Sleeve TWebsite: Prois Hunting

The same tester who commented on the warmth of the SHE C4 suit prefers C4 for stand hunting and Prois (PRO-iss; it’s Gaelic for “pride” or “prowess”) for stalking, calling it “Sitka Gear for women.” Prois’ stuff is thinner than SHE’s C4 line, offering smart layering options without bulk. It’s high-tech stuff, with features that’ll make you wonder “why doesn’t everyone do that?” I wore the jacket and pants tearing around the woods on a four-wheeler for hours in temps around 50 degrees, and I wouldn’t want to wear them alone in anything cooler than that if I was sitting still. I am notoriously cold-natured, though, so take that with a grain of salt.

The line is still growing; currently Prois offers five jackets, four pairs of pants, two vests, two camo shirts and a few accessories. The emphasis is on athletic cuts and high-performance fabrics, and the clothes do not disappoint. The fit of everything I tried is very feminine and stylish, but still very functional. Everything is offered in five sizes: XS through XL.

Ultra Long-Sleeve T

This is my favorite camo shirt I own, and I’ll tell you why: it’s very thin, practically mesh, and it wicks moisture like a champ. And it features Prois’ signature thumbholes at the wrist cuffs, an absolutely brilliant idea. Just slide your thumb through the hole and boom, your sleeves stay in place when you’re pulling on outerwear or gloves or when you’re drawing your bow. The mock turtleneck isn’t too high and the overall fit is a bit slim, as it’s meant to be worn pretty close to the body for optimum wicking. Wear it as a winter layering piece or by itself in turkey season or on a warm-weather stalk. Prois also offers this in a short-sleeve, crew-neck version. MSRP: $45

Pro-Edition Jacket

The fabric is quiet and water resistant and snag resistant, and it’s fully lined so it slips on easily over anything. I wish every company lined their jackets like this! The jacket has a huge zippered lumbar compartment and deep hand pockets, and again, the killer thumbholes. The hood is removable, and I don’t usually wear it up because hoods in general interfere with my peripheral vision so much, but it lies flat and doesn’t bunch around my neck when not in use, so I don’t usually bother removing it. Another genius feature of this jacket: Two interior drop pockets designed to hold chemical heating packs, one between your shoulder blades and one that sits right over your heart when the jacket is zipped up. Come to think of it, you could drop some heat packs in the lumbar pocket, too. That allows you to keep your core warm without bulking up with layer after layer — a really, really smart feature. MSRP: $162

Prois Hunting JacketPro-Edition Pants

Prois says these are “fitted at the waist for a higher rise,” but they sat a little lower on my waist than most of the other pants I tried on in this review (not low-rise by any means, though). They’re soft and comfortable, even when kneeling and sitting, thanks to pleats in the knees and extra room in the thighs and hips. I’d even go so far as to call them stylish. The waist has elastic on the sides as well as some adjustable, buckled straps in case you need to cinch them a bit tighter. You can tighten the pant legs around your ankles with the drawstring/cordlock if needed, and like most pants, they’ve got zippers up the calf for easy on/off over boots. The magnetic snap closures on the cargo pockets are very handy, albeit not quite as cool as the “invisible” ones on the RedHead pants. These pants are comfy but I wouldn’t call them very warm — much more suited to stalking than to sitting still for hours. Order up; I’m a 10 and the medium pants (listed as size 8-10) fit me like a snug pair of jeans, which is a little tighter than I like my hunting pants. The model in this photo is a size 4-6 and had to cinch the waist in a bit, but fit into the mediums with not a whole lot of extra room. MSRP: $130

Eliminator Rain Jacket

This is new in the Prois line, and promises to be both waterproof and breathable. Having worn it around a campfire on a rainy night just a couple months ago, I can attest to that. The waterproof zippered pockets are surprisingly deep and a “ducktail” snaps down in the back almost to the back of your knees, keeping your posterior dry should you need to sit on a wet log or bend over in a monsoon. The sleeves on the jacket are quite long, and have Velcro cuff adjusters instead of thumbholes. In fact, the overall fit of this is much more generous than the fit of the Pro-Edition jacket, presumably because you’d be wearing this rain jacket over all your other clothing. I ordered a large and with just a T-shirt underneath (that’s me in the picture), I was absolutely swimming in it.

One really unique feature of this rain jacket is the hood — it’s got an exterior elastic drawstring that you pull right at the back of your head. I thought it looked goofy as heck, but when I tightened the cord and the hood shrunk to fit my head but still kept my face wide open with full peripheral vision, I was totally sold. I’ve never had a hood do that; it’s fantastic. MSRP: $170

Bottom line: The Prois stuff is cut beautifully and is extremely functional, with women-specific features that you’ll really appreciate. They’ve got some fleece layering options in their lineup as well as a new Xtreme jacket and pant, which are more insulated than the Pro-Edition stuff. I’d be anxious to try these and see how they hold up in a cold, still tree stand.

Medalist

Website: Medalist

Medalist SilvermaxIf scent protection is on your priority list (and really, it better be), you’ll want to take a look at Medalist’s base layers with SilverMax technology. Medalist uses a lot of fancy phrases like “undetected scent-free protection” and “thermodynamic body temperature regulation” that really just mean you won’t stink and you can wear this stuff as a base layer in warm OR cold weather. SilverMax doesn’t mask or hide odor-causing bacteria; it actually doesn’t allow it to even start. Medalist says the material keeps you warm in cold weather and cool in warm weather by reacting to your body. The material is called “Stay-dry Skinetics MTS,” and wicks away moisture easily. If you’re used to wearing carbon-activated scent-adsorbing clothing, you’ll appreciate that SilverMax doesn’t need activation in a dryer, and the performance holds up over time and repeated washings.

Silvermax 2-Layer Crew and Pants

Our model said this outfit felt like “lounge wear” and she wanted to take it home to wear around the house — that’s how comfortable it is. The shirt and pants both have a relaxed fit but should still be worn pretty snug to the body. As far as outerwear goes, Medalist also makes two pairs of pants, a shirt and a jacket in women’s sizes, all of which are pretty light weight and would serve you best in warm temperatures. MSRP for the SilverMax Crew and Pants: $50 a piece.

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