Field Test: Thiessens V1 Whitetail Heavyweight Apparel

Cold-weather bowhunts from natural ground blinds and treestands demand warm, quiet clothing. Does Thiessens — a newcomer in outdoor apparel — deliver?

Field Test: Thiessens V1 Whitetail Heavyweight Apparel

Each year I take a week of vacation to pursue rutting whitetails in eastern South Dakota. Sure, I bowhunt a lot more than this during the full archery season, but this string of nine consecutive days (Monday through Friday, with weekends front and back) is prime time. These early November days are precious to me, so you can be sure that when I head into the field, my gear has been carefully vetted. This is no time for equipment failure or surprises. Everything must work. Period.

As an old dog (I’m 54 and have been deer hunting 42 years), I’m hesitant to learn new tricks. That said, I try to keep an open mind because I’m not so stubborn as to think I know everything. My go-to whitetail gear doesn’t vary much from year to year, but I did make a significant change to my system during November 2019. Specifically, I wanted to field test some outer-garments from a new company called Thiessens (pronounced: tea-sins). A trusted hunting friend said he was impressed with the new clothing, and because my current cold-weather parka and bibs were 15 years old, I placed an order.

Thiessens Unboxing

First things first: Thiessens is a direct-to-consumer brand, so I couldn’t go to a store to check it out in person. As I said, I trusted my buddy when he said the gear performed well, but I’d be lying  if I didn’t admit I was a bit nervous when the Thiessens box arrived on my doorstep.

For decades I’ve relied on a simple scratch test to determine whether clothing is suitable for bowhunting: I vigorously scratch the fabric with my fingernails to see if it makes too much noise. No clothing is 100 percent silent — not even fleece or flannel — but cheaply made gear, or garments not designed for bowhunting, will sound loud during my scratch test. Thankfully, the two garments I ordered from Thiessens, a V1 Whitetail Heavyweight 3-N-1 Parka and Bibs, passed my scratch test.

Thiessens V1 Whitetail Heavyweight 3-N-1 Parka and Bibs
Thiessens V1 Whitetail Heavyweight 3-N-1 Parka and Bibs

Of course, just because outdoor apparel is quiet at room temperature doesn’t mean it will remain that way in cold conditions. Some garments, especially those built with a waterproof membrane of some sort, become stiff and loud when exposed to freezing temps. To test this, I placed the new Thiessens gear on my deck overnight in late October. At sunrise, with an air temp of 23 degrees, I dressed in the parka and bibs and then shot my bow into a backyard target. The clothing was still soft and quiet, meaning I’d pack it for my upcoming whitetail vacation. 

In-the-Field Performance

Weather can vary dramatically in the Midwest during early November, so I was prepared for anything as I drove from my home state of Minnesota to South Dakota. Typically, morning hunts can be cold, single-digit temps are common, but afternoons often climb into the high 30s or even 40. That means moisture in the morning falls in the form of snow, but you can get soaked with rain during an afternoon sit. To ensure I’d be properly equipped, I packed three 18-gallon plastic totes filled with hunting apparel.

During my whitetail vacation, I wore Thiessens gear every morning. It was plenty cold — lows of 13, 10 and even 4 degrees. Add in the wind — it ALWAYS blows in South Dakota — and wind-chills were well below zero. Because this was the rut and mature bucks could be on their feet looking for a hot doe during any time of the day, I sat for at least four hours every morning. If the action was good, then I’d remain on the same stand during midday. If it was lacking, then I’d relocate to another portion of the property, stopping at my pickup to grab a quick lunch before the afternoon vigil.

Make no mistake: My 2019 whitetail vacation — long days in the field under challenging conditions — was a stern test to Thiessen’s new gear. In no particular order, I offer below my list of hits and misses for the company’s V1 Whitetail Heavyweight apparel.

Hits

  • Price/value: The 3-N-1 Parka sells for $199.99; bibs, $179.99. No, this isn’t inexpensive, but I own comparable garments (in terms of performance) that cost nearly double. An added bonus to the 3-N-1 Parka design is you can zip out the inner jacket and use it as an outer-garment when conditions are more mild.
  • Warm and waterproof: You can visit the Thiessens website to read about the specific technologies and insulation utilized in these garments to keep you warm and dry. Instead, let me simply say the apparel works. I sat in this gear when it rained (37 degrees) and didn’t get wet. I wore it during sleet and snow storms and didn’t get wet. The clothing blocks the wind, and with proper layering underneath, the parka and bibs are as warm as anything I’ve ever worn in the field.
  • Comfort and cut: Some hunting apparel just doesn’t fit well. You know — some tops and bottoms are cut for marathon runners or nose tackles. That isn’t the case with Thiessens gear. I’m basically Joe Average: 5 feet 10 inches and 175 pounds, size 10 boot. I ordered a size XL parka and size L bibs. Both garments provided plenty of room for layering, and the cut was correct. Note: If I was given an ordering mulligan, I’d go with a size L parka. That said, even though my size XL parka is a bit big for me, it still didn’t interfere with drawing my bow or releasing the string. I shot my 2019 SoDak buck from a butt-on-the-ground ambush, and parka bulk wasn’t a factor. I also appreciated the parka’s removable hood — I like hoods for ice fishing but not for deer hunting.
  • Camo: I’m not a fan of dark and dense camo patterns that make me look like a brownish blob to approaching whitetails, and that’s not a problem with the Realtree EDGE camo used on Thiessen apparel.

Misses

  • Velcro and bibs straps: I understand that Velcro is a brand, and the correct generic term is hook-and-loop closure, but I’ll call it Velcro anyway. In general, I dislike Velcro on hunting clothing because it’s noisy to adjust in the field, it’s noisy when something brushes against it, and over time it stops working. The 3-N-1 Parka uses Velcro at the cuffs, which turned out not to be a problem because I never adjusted it. The bibs, however, use Velcro on the adjustable elastic suspenders, and in my opinion, Thiessens designers should add a bit more adjustability to the straps so they can be tightened further. Of course, I’d prefer buckles on the straps instead of Velcro. The straps feature an H-back design to keep them in place on your shoulders, but I still had them slip off once because I couldn’t adjust the straps short enough.
  • Pocket snaps: I liked the number and position of the parka pockets, but the snaps on the two lower front pockets should be modified. Currently, the two snaps are too close to the pocket sides, which doesn’t do an effective job in keeping the pocket closed. Adding a third snap in the middle of each pocket would do the trick.
During his field test of Thiessens apparel, the author hid in the tall grass and brush of a shelterbelt and arrowed this South Dakota whitetail at 17 yards. He quietly drew his bow as the buck jumped a barbed-wire fence bordering an ag field.
During his field test of Thiessens apparel, the author hid in the tall grass and brush of a shelterbelt and arrowed this South Dakota whitetail at 17 yards. He quietly drew his bow as the buck jumped a barbed-wire fence bordering an ag field.

Final Thoughts

I didn’t realize it when I ordered the Thiessens gear, but the company offers an impressive warranty. As I recall, most hunting apparel comes with a one-year guarantee (maybe less?), and I was surprised when doing research for this article to read this statement on the company’s website: 

Warranty Policy: Thiessens Limited Lifetime Warranty covers any defects in material or workmanship under normal use during the warranty period. Rips, punctures, and burns caused by normal field use do not fall under this policy. This warranty applies to consumer use only and is null and void if the product is used in a manner it is not intended for.

I look forward to many more years of bowhunting in my Thiessens apparel. On a scale of 1 to 5 stars, I’d give it a 4. If the company fixed the minor misses I discussed previously, my score would climb even higher.

For more information on Thiessens apparel, visit www.thiessens.com.

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