First Lite made a name for themselves by being the first company to bring high-end merino baselayers to the hunting world in 2007. We quickly recognized the performance attributes of merino and have been huge fans of Firstlite ever since. In 2013 Firstlite introduced their first outerwear pieces – the Uncompahgre Puffy, the Boundary Stormtight Jacket, and the Northbranch Pants. For 2014 Firstlite added to their outerwear line-up with the Northbranch Jacket, Boundary Stormtight Pants, Sanctuary Treestand Jacket, and an awesome new insulating layer the Halstead Tech Fleece.
The mate to North branch pant, this jacket is a great lightweight, waterproof soft-shell jacket, perfect for hunts from August to December. The soft-shell material is soft, durable and completely waterproof thanks to fully taped seams and waterproof zippers. Unlike most waterproof jackets the North Branch is extremely breathable with a rating of 10k breathe-ability which allows you to get the most out of your moisture-wicking merino base layers. The high collar does a great job of blocking the wind and is fleece lined so its soft against your neck.
It is hoodless and doesn’t have the option to add one which is okay by me because I always have my chama hoody with me if I need a hood. Pit-zips would have been a nice feature to have, but with the impressive breathability of the jacket I think Firstlite was just trying to save weight and manufacturing costs by not having pit-zips.
The companion to the wildly successful Stormtight Jacket released in 2013 these pants are sure to be hit. Full length zippers down each leg make the really easy to get in and out of and provide extra venting when hiking. Two-way mechanical stretch gives you great range of motion and impressive durability.
These aren’t cheap pack-able rain pants that you’ll rip on your first trip out. Adding to the durability Firstlite beefed up the seat, knees and cuffs with extra backing material where you need it most. With a 30k moisture vapor transmission rate these are some of the most breathable rain pants on the market today. I wish they were a little bit lighter weight. But cutting weight often means sacrificing durability or using a noisy material. So these pants represent a good mix of relatively lightweight and rugged durability.
Merino wool is amazing for moisture wicking and temperature control, but lacks the loft to offer a lot of insulation. Something that fleece does really well while remaining relatively lightweight. Which is why Firstlite came out with the Halstead Tech fleece in 2014, giving you the warmth of a heavier wool piece without the weight. Designed to be that perfect extra layering piece to go between the llano or chama hoody and a shell jacket like the Uncompahgre Puffy or North Branch Jacket. Since it lacks the odor control properties of merino wool, Firstlite treated it with a Xeolite coating to reduced bacteria and odor on multi-day hunts. This fleece will definitely be in my pack in late September and early October hunts when temps drop down in the high country.
A jacket designed more for the eastern treestand guys, this is not a jacket that we’d recommend for any active backcountry hunts. However it might be perfect for a late season mule deer hunt out of a ground blind or for calling in wolves in January. It’s extremely warm with 200g fill in the body and 160g in the sleeves and hood. The fabric is waterproof and windproof yet completely silent for drawing you bow in a treestand. Gaskets in the front pockets keep cold air out and trap heat in to keep your hands warm. It also has built in pockets inside for chemical hand warmers if you need them. If you’re a treestand guy, duck blind guy, predator guy or anyone who needs a low activity cold weather jacket you may want to check it out.
If you’re in the market for some new camo this year, be sure to check out Firstlite’s new outerwear and their amazing base layers. If you have any questions or comments feel free to comment below.
– Jason Wright