Article Submitted by Landon Faulkner
When it comes to regulating your temperature in the outdoors, the base layer is THE most important thing in my opinion. Previously I had always believed Polyester blends were what I should get because basically that’s just what was out there. But after a half day out of wearing my poly I would notice I smelled so bad that I didn’t even want to stand close to another person out of embarrassment. Imagine what the animals thought of it.
I did some research and I came across some articles about Merino wool base layers that a lot of backpackers/adventurers were using that was apparently very comfortable and could go days without stinking to boot. After some research I found a brand called First Lite, a hunting apparel company out of Idaho who are all hunters and specialize in merino wool. After trying several pieces of their gear, I can tell you from now on merino wool is the only base layer I will be wearing whether I’m hunting in the early season 90 degree sun, late season rut with temps in the teens, or even just snowboarding, camping, whatever.
First of all, this is NOT the thick itchy wool your father and grandfather wore. Merino wool is a super fine, small diameter fiber, from New Zealand and Australia mainly, that feels good against the skin. It causes no itchiness or rashes. It insulates well, it holds its insulating properties when wet, and it dries out fast. It is also flame-retardant and does not melt when exposed to fire (which is a big selling point for Military operators who are exposed to explosions). This means you can get closer to the camp fire without having to worry about melting your clothes to your skin.
First Lite has designed their stuff to be very durable to last you a long time. With a nice form fitting cut and triple stitching in places where it counts, expect to use these garments for days on end for many years before needing to replace. This value for your dollar is important, since Merino wool gear is a little on the pricier side.
All of us hunters know how extremely important odor control is. Most of the game we stalk use scent as their number one defense. I promise you if you use polypro as a base layer, you WILL stink worse than normal after a single day. I am a fairly skinny guy and I don’t normally stink, but that stuff makes me reek. I am also not a big user of so called “scent control” carbon lined clothing because they literally lose their odor blocking properties with every wash, and it doesn’t take many.
Merino wool can be worn for numerous days without getting stinky. It is an anti-microbial fabric that does not hold bacteria like synthetic fiber, it wicks away moisture and disperses it better with a process called “glass transition”, and I have personally worn their Red Desert underwear for a whole 3 day trip and still smelled good enough to be comfortable stopping at a restaurant on the way home for a good meal without feeling like the stinky guy in the room. Coupled with some scent spray, it’s as good as it gets.
First Lite offers many different options for weight and style of garment. Something for any hunt, any time of year. I wear their Llano long sleeve tee and Red Desert boxers for hot weather and it feels super light and dries fast when I sweat, and I add the Chama mid layer and Allegheny long underwear when its gets cold, and I hope to soon try out their Labrador full zip sweater as well for some even colder stuff. This year they have also introduced some very high-tech outerwear with the latest materials that I hope to try for late deer season if I can get my hands on some. It would also be really nice to see them make a women’s line or sizes in the near future. My girlfriend has been really jealous and wants some for her 🙂
Almost all of their gear is offered in the best licensed camo patterns available today, including ASAT camo, Realtree Max1, Realtree Xtra, Mossy Oak Infinity, and everything still comes in standard black or Dry Earth as well.
Try some out and you will up your game in the woods.