It was the first shotgun I ever owned. Though mom and dad tried their best to hide it, the long rectangular box under the Christmas tree told a story. It was beautiful — a crisp pump-action with bottom ejection loading, satin-finish walnut stock and blued metal components.
That was my first experience with Browning, and it quickly turned into a lifelong love affair with the world-class gun maker. Many ducks, geese and pheasants fell to that original BPS pump-action, and I’ve since purchased a number of other Browning shotguns and rifles. After all, guns are what Browning is known for, right?
What if I told you that the fine folks at Browning haven’t lost a single bit of focus when it comes to building firearms, and they’re putting that same attention to detail — that same great product design focus and function — into a new Browning-branded line of clothing. You’d likely want to give it a look. So did I.
I just returned from a week-long trip in the New Mexico mountains testing Browning’s new Hell’s Canyon Speed clothing line. Rugged, durable and unmistakably Browning, the new line is a backcountry bowhunter’s dream come true. Available in two exclusive-to-Browning patterns — A-TACS AU (Arid Urban) and A-TACS FG (Forest Green) — the lineup includes every single garment you could possibly need.
From the get-go, I was impressed with the AU pattern. An organic pixel digital pattern, AU is a far cry from a stick-and-leaf pattern. The pattern boasts a perfect (at least in this writer’s opinion) blend of browns with small samplings of green. Its not-too-dark nature makes it ideal for western landscapes, and I was pleasantly surprised how well it blended into a forest setting. I can’t wait to get it out on the plains of Colorado in the coming months.
Branded with Browning’s signature deer logo, the Speed line was built with movement in mind. The clothing isn’t heavy or bulky. It feels amazing against the skin and travels unbelievably well. And while the Speed line isn’t too baggy, it doesn’t hug like a pair of cowboy-cut Wranglers. The entire lineup was built around the idea of comfortable maneuverability in the backcountry. Plus, it’s extremely quiet. The fabric seemed to resist moisture on its outer shell, preventing dirt buildup around the ankle/lower-leg area. When there is zero dirt buildup, there is zero noise when the cuffs of the pants and lower-leg area brush together.
“This clothing lineup was designed for the backcountry guy,” said Browning Marketing Manager Rafe Nielsen. “It’s rugged and durable, and it’s the perfect layering-type system. The cut and fit was engineered for those hunters on the go — those who venture far off the beaten path in search of bowhunting success. These garments are lightweight and breathable, not to mention they are whisper-quiet and can be rolled up to nothing and stuffed in a pack. We know room in a pack is limited on any backcountry hunt, and we wanted to develop a line that would pack extremely well.”
Well, I was mobile on this particular bowhunt. Elk were few and far between, and I regularly covered between 6-12 miles per day. This ultra-comfortable system is also a layering dream. Typical morning temperatures hovered in the high to mid-30s, and a brisk ATV ride up the mountain followed breakfast. My layering system included the Speed MHS Bottom, a warm base layer constructed from itch-free Merino wool and trimmed with A-TACS camo fleece, and the MHS ¼ Zip Top. I covered these items was the Speed Hellfire Pant, Backcountry Vest, Trailhead Hoodie and Backcountry Jacket. I know, this sounds like a lot, and the word “bulk” likely comes to mind. Erase that word, and replace it with “athletic.” Not only did I never feel a hint of “bulk,” but due to the extreme focus Browning has placed on articulation in areas like the knees, elbows, armpits and groin, I felt like I was layered up and ready for a backcountry ultra-marathon. During the day when the thermals shifted up and the heat index rose, I simply removed the jacket and hoodie and hunted the rest of the day in my ¼ zip top and vest. Best of all, the removed garments took up no room in my pack. These things weigh virtually nothing and can be stuffed and shoved in pretty much any pack pocket.
About halfway through the hunt, especially after Nielsen showed me his Hell’s Canyon Primaloft Jacket, I began to think that this stuff would be great for whitetails. Nielsen confirmed my brainstorm.
“We’ve branded this lineup with a western backcountry theme, but the AU pattern will be very effective in the leafless trees of the whitetail woods, and for those guys hunting early-season bucks when the foliage is still on, the FG pattern is ideal,” Nielsen said. “We have an article of clothing for every season. When we developed the line we thought of every item a hunter might want.”
For more information about Browning’s Hell’s Canyon Speed line, visit www.browning.com. Just be sure to block out about an hour of your schedule. The lineup, like that of the 1927 Murderer’s Row Yankees, is quite impressive and can’t be skimmed over.