Elk NetworkGear: Boots, Apparel & Christmas Gift Picks

Gear 101 | October 19, 2023

by Brad Fenson

KUIU Super Down LT Collection

The first time I tried KUIU clothing, I knew I’d found gear that would allow me to stay in the field longer. The fabrics and design are comfortable and feel like they are a part of you, moving, stretching and helping regulate temperature.

KUIU products just keep getting better, and the new Super Down LT with its Quixdown insulation is no exception. Hunting rugged country requires special clothing and the collection is a significant upgrade from previous designs. It is lighter and quieter but manages to be 50 percent more durable thanks to a matte-faced, tear-resistant fabric available in camouflage or solid colors to help keep you concealed. You can use it as a mid-layer under rain gear or as a standalone garment. And unlike most down, it won’t deflate as soon as it gets a little damp thanks to a DWR water-resistant treatment and shell fabric that beads water away.

Thanks to a zipper with pulls on either side, the Super Down self-stows in its right-hand pocket, with enough room to also fit the Super Down LT Pant. A secondary cinch that can squeeze it to half the stowed size makes it even more packable, and it can even double as a camp pillow. Learn more at KUIU


Kenetrek Slide Rock Hiker  

Elk country has a way of revealing any weaknesses in your footwear. Frayed laces, torn sidewalls, leaking seams—or a complete failure like the sole falling off—create the wrong kind of memories while hunting. Trial and error with different boots teaches a hunter to look for quality. Durable support and comfort are key; finding boots you can count on trip after trip stands out above all else.

Based out of Bozeman, Montana, Kenetrek Boots chose remote 10,500-foot Slide Rock Peak in the Snowcrest Range as the namesake for a boot made for the trail less traveled. The mountain is not for the faint of heart, and the Kenetrek Slide Rock Hiker has certainly earned its reputation in the eyes of elk hunters who need only the best footwear when accessing the backcountry.

Kenetrek worked to create a boot that is as tough as a mountain trail yet lightweight. The Slide Rock Hiker weighs in at only 3.6 pounds, fostering greater agility, balance and endurance without compromising durability or support. The boots are waterproof, breathable and sturdy.

Slide Rock boots are seven inches tall with all-leather lace-to-toe lightweight uppers. Kenetrek uses a 5-mm full-length nylon midsole for support and comfort. Reinforced rubber toe and heel guards add abrasion protection, and a Windtex waterproof- breathable and flexible membrane helps keep you dry. For traction, Grapon outsoles provide solid grip across any terrain. Learn more at kenetrek.com.


LaCrosse Ursa MS

I used LaCrosse Ursa MS boots on an African safari and they proved worth their weight in biltong. The boots were comfortable, durable and breathable, providing the traction needed in various habitats and conditions. They took me through rocky terrain, red mud, sandy riverbeds and across dense thornbush veldts. The quick-drying, breathable quarter panels worked superbly on hot days and performed equally well on cold mornings. The boots stood up to the rocks and kept nasty thorns at bay. After two weeks of hard use, they showed no wear.

With a Vibram outsole, EVA midsole and double-stitched upper backed by a Gore-Tex liner, these boots are ready to scale alpine basins in early and mid-season elk hunts. The boots are seven inches tall, weigh 3.1 pounds and are available in gunmetal/orange and brown/gold in both standard and wide. Go to lacrossefootwear.com to learn more.


Browning Kanawha Rain Jacket and Pants

The dank and musky smell of a rutting bull overwhelmed my olfactory senses. I was unsure if the wet and cold conditions triggered the rutting activity or if the elk simply didn’t care. But with the new Browning Kanawha rain gear, I felt prepared and focused despite the challenging weather.

Kanawha isn’t the rain gear your grandpa used. Whether hiking hard or sitting in the rain, Browning designed the line to be quieter than conventional rain gear and to withstand the rigors of elk country. Hunters will also appreciate its lightweight and compact design for easy packing. The key component in this line is the unfailing waterproof/breathable membrane that helps hunters regulate heat and moisture as well as fully taped seams to prevent leaks. The Kanawha rain jacket features water-resistant zippers on the front and hand pockets. The three-piece hood is adjustable to maintain your field of view, and the pants incorporate water-resistant side-leg zippers that reach from ankle to waist, making them easy to slip on over regular hunting clothing when rain threatens. The pants have a front-button closure, water-resistant zipper fly and two-point articulation in the knees to prevent them from binding or pulling when hiking and kneeling. Available in Ovix camouflage. Learn more at browning.com.


SITKA Mountain Evo Jacket

Finding big bulls often means going steep and deep into the backcountry followed by periods of sitting on windblown slopes glassing for antlers. Finding the right clothing can mean the difference between staying out or heading home during the worst of conditions. With that in mind, SITKA designed their Mountain Evo Jacket for hardcore, hard-hiking hunters.

Knowing that high exertion can leave you soaked in sweat, the Evo combines Gore Windstopper fabric with four-way stretch polyester panels strategically placed to maximize breathability where you need it most. Add to that a contoured hood that won’t block your peripheral vision and well-placed hand and chest pockets, and you’ve got what might be your go-to shell for hardcore elk hunting.

The Evo is also simply bombproof, with ultrasonic welded seams that help minimize weight and bulk. It weighs only 13.6 ounces, making it the perfect addition to any elk hunter’s pack. Go to sitkagear.com to learn more.


Schnee Beartooth 0g

With a host of features designed for comfort and support, the Schnee Beartooth 0g is an uninsulated, lightweight mountain boot built for tackling rugged country. Hand-made in Italy, the Beartooth is functional and provides value, durability, ergonomics and quality.

The Schnee’s sole is flexible enough to maneuver through the roughest terrain without impeding comfort. Hunters will value the breathable, waterproof membrane that keeps feet dry and snug even under extreme activity. Full-length 5-mm nylon insoles provide ample flex without compromising overall support. The boots are eight inches tall with premium 2.6-mm leather uppers. The height and premium leather support the ankle and shield against rock. Thoughtfully designed with hunters in mind, the Beartooths are also available in a 200-gram insulated model. Visit schnees.com to learn more.


Meindl Vakuum Hunter

I have used Meindl boots for over a decade hunting elk, sheep and mountain goats. I appreciate the consistent comfort and long-lasting durability of the company’s designs.

The Vakuum Hunter epitomizes the perfect blend of stiff uppers that provide maximum ankle support and inner memory-foam panels that deliver comfort and stability. Made in Germany, this uninsulated boot uses Air-Active foam/fleece footbeds to contour to your feet and nubuck leather uppers for a balance of flexibility and toughness. A multi-grip rubber outsole ensures traction when your life depends on it. Available in standard and wide widths. Learn more at meindlusa.com.


Leupold DeSoto Sunglasses

Leupold & Stevens, Inc., has unveiled a new frame style for its Performance Eyewear line: the DeSoto. These glasses were inspired by hardcore adventure seekers that demand quality. The entire Performance Eyewear line comes with multiple lens and frame combinations and features lightweight, ballistic-rated materials and scratch-resistant, shatterproof lenses built with an advanced manufacturing process that fuses the polarization film between inner lays for unbeatable protection against harsh glare and impacts. At the same time, its no-slip bridge keeps them on your face. Be it hunting or fishing, when your adventures take you outdoors, the DeSoto will be your trusted eyewear ready to play hard. Go to leupold.com to learn more.


Under Armour Men’s Ridge Reaper Infil Kit

Under Armour’s cold- and hot-weather hunting kits ensure you stay comfortable in the extremes of elk country. The Ridge Reaper line offers an athletic hunt kit for durability and fast, unrestricted movement. The clothing excels in western and big game hunting, where hunters must cover ground to find success. The jacket, pants and vest repel water and wind but remain breathable with Gore-Tex Windstopper. The brushed microfleece inner is soft, stretchy and warm. And Under Armour uses silent fabrics for hunting close distances. Men’s ColdGear Infrared Camo Leggings and Mock Long Sleeve round out the kit for hunting comfortably and undetected. To learn more go to underarmour.com.



First Lite Uncompahgre Foundry Jacket

Ever try brush-busting with a delicate puffy jacket? You’d better bring a good patch kit. But the Uncompahgre Foundry Jacket from First Lite is built to provide the warmth of a puffy, the weatherproofness of a rain jacket, but with a tough outer shell that can stand up to abuse.

I used the Uncompahgre Foundry Jacket on a spring black bear hunt and found it provided comfort and protection from rain, wind, cold and long boat rides. The jacket is designed for the hunter who wants to keep clothing simple and multi-functional and is intended for season after season of rough use. Available for both men and women, this burly jacket will quickly become the go-to insulator for late-season elk hunters. Visit firstlite.com to learn more.



Stone Glacier Cirque LITE Jacket

Occasionally, I find a piece of clothing and love its versatility, and that’s the word that came to mind when I used the Cirque LITE jacket on a recent fly-in hunting and fishing trip. The jacket weighs less than a pound and is constructed using fabrics that are mapped for the body. PrimaLoft Gold synthetic insulation makes it incredibly warm, and the weather-resistant Pertex face fabric sheds water and cuts the wind. The breathable side panels are treated with Polygiene for odor control, which is ideal for long and active adventures. The adjustable hood, elastic waist, stretch wrist cuffs, internal and external pockets, and extended tail for wearing with a pack make this jacket perfect for quick comfort. It packs small for easy transport. To learn more, go to stoneglacier.com.


LOWA Boots R-8S GTX Patrol

Boots that will keep you warm in bitter cold won’t serve you well when daytime temps climb into the 70s. Lowa designed the 8S GTX Patrol boots for early season scouting and hunting elk, upland game and other big game with mobility and comfort. This rugged boot is eight inches tall for optimal ankle support and protection from the underbrush. A new LOWA Patrol outsole features 5-mm deep lugs for superior traction in any terrain. The unique frame delivers superb lateral stability and long-lasting underfoot support. A locking lace-loop system allows for different tensions between the ankle and foot. These German-made boots are durable, waterproof and breathable. Learn more at lowaboots.com.



Cabela’s Outdoorsmen Leg Gaiters

Gaiters are an often-overlooked piece of gear to keep your boots, socks and feet dry and protected. Cabela’s Outdoorsmen Leg Gaiters are made from durable nylon shells coated with a proprietary waterproof and breathable membrane, which combined with hook-and-loop storm flaps over the front zips, hold weather at bay. Rear drawcord channels and adjustable top spandex strips ensure a snug fit. The boot-hooks and a removable instep strap keep these 18-inches gaiters in place over almost any size of leg or boot. Go to cabelas.com to learn more.



Muck Boot Pathfinder

Muck Boot designed the Pathfinder to keep the cold and moisture out even in the most taxing conditions. The waterproof boots feature a 5-mm neoprene bootie for comfort, performance and all-day wear. Its stretch-fit topline binding fits snugly against your calf to keep out snow and rain, while the odor-resistant air-mesh lining improves breathability. The Pathfinder’s reinforced toe tip and heel counter ensure durability, while the rubber bob sole delivers solid grip while also shedding sticky snow and mud. Available in Men’s sizes 7–15 in Olive or Mossy Oak Country DNA print with a roll-down blaze orange. Learn more at muckbootcompany.com.



DryShod Evalusion Hunt

I used a pair of Evalusion Hunt boots on spring bear hunts, deep-sea fishing and northern angling adventures. I found them extremely comfortable and slip resistant. Versatile and waterproof, the boots feature 5-mm Densoprene, and a Dureva outsole material that makes them exceptionally warm, tough and light. Hunters will like the snug fit, easy walking and a tread that helps you stay stealthy by quietly flexing and bending over objects. The tops roll down for warmer conditions. Check out dryshodusa.com to learn more.




EDITOR’S PICK: Sitka Women’s Kelvin Lite Down jacket

by Heather Fraley, senior editor

There’s nothing I like better than a good down jacket, and the Sitka Women’s Kelvin Lite Down jacket is exceptional. As soon as I put it on, it fit like a glove, and I could feel my body heat captured and held by the lightweight, compressible 900-fill-power Primaloft Gold insulation.

This jacket is perfect for mid-season where you need warmth in a very light, compact package. The two spacious hand pockets hold my rangefinder and smartphone when I need them easily accessible. The chest pocket is a good place to store a diaphragm call, extra ammo or other essentials for quick access. Zippers are smooth and the fabric resists wind without being too loud when coming to full draw or lifting a rifle. The attached hood fits snuggly and traps warmth. It’s as functional as a Swiss army knife, while still looking darn good. MSRP $379. Go to sitkagear.com to learn more.




KUIU Women’s Attack Pant

by Heather Fraley, senior editor

The RMEF volunteer fence pull project I attended this past August was no match for the KUIU Women’s Attack Pant, and they’ll be a welcome companion for the long trekking I do during fall archery season. Through alternating rain-and-shine conditions, these pants performed perfectly. They resisted water, barely getting wet over two days of work, and though barbed wire abounded and old splintering fence posts stood everywhere, the pants never suffered a snag or rip. They also didn’t rub or chafe as I hiked and worked.

It’s clear the company pays close attention to the details of fit and function on this garment. The women’s Attack Pant is now available in two solid colors and three camo patterns. MSRP $149. To learn more, visit kuiu.com.


SearPro Multi-use Torch Lighter

Ever been frustrated when wet conditions prevent you from starting a fire on your camping trip? Put that angst at the back of your mind and avoid a “To Build a Fire” moment with the SearPro Multi-use Torch Lighter. This propane-powered, portable torch will get you a roaring fire with ease. It reaches temperatures of 1,800 degrees and puts out an impressive flame, but it’s controlled enough to sear meat whether you’re in the kitchen or at the campsite. Like a fiery multi-tool with an MSRP of $89.99, the possibilities with this torch are truly endless. Learn more at searpro.org.


Full Range Hanging System

After you’ve made the shot, punched your tag and filled the freezer, the next big challenge is waiting for your mount to finally come home from the taxidermist. When that big day comes, we hunters can be as giddy as a kid at Christmas. But one hurdle still remains: how best to display your hard-earned trophy. Full Range Hanging Systems is ready to help with sturdy, steel wall-mounts for both shoulder and European mounts of whitetails, mule deer, pronghorns and sheep. A built-in swivel allows 180 degrees of rotation to find just the right angle. Full Range also builds mounts for corners, pedestals and a double mount for dual-trophy displays. To learn more visit fullrangesystems.com.



Haybaler Long Sleeve Shirt from AG Gear

The Haybaler Long Sleeve shirt from AG Gear is the perfect warmer weather work shirt. Stylish enough to wear to town and functional too, it has optimum ventilation, so you don’t overheat while you’re getting ranch chores done. It’s durable and has UPF30 sun protection and stain resistance to keep you protected and improve ease of cleaning. If you’re looking for your next all-around farm/ranch shirt, look no further! Visit aggearstore.com to learn more.