August 15, 2022
I had all but given in to the fact that if wanted to hunt, I was going to have to deal with men’s oversized clothing. For the last 26 years, I had gone from my brother’s hand-me downs to my significant other’s spare clothing. I was always cold, not to mentioned bruised from mis-seating the shotgun due to mis-fitting clothes. Luckily, I am tall with wide shoulders, a true Nebraska corn-fed build, so I could at least deal with men’s larger-fit clothing, unlike other women who also wanted to be warm and comfortable out in the field.
I have tried several clothing options, often looking outside of the hunting industry to hiking, skiing and even athletic companies. For years, the Cabela’s OutfitHer women’s clothing sufficed. But when that line was discontinued, I was back to square one looking for clothes for more rugged hunts. Men’s clothing options grew exponentially as the hunting apparel industry turned to science and technology, making lighter, fitted clothing with specific needs that looked sleek. Yes, sleek, a term usually used for evening attire and not sunrise pursuits. Long gone are the days when you feel like the kid brother in A Christmas Story when going hunting. At least that was the case for men.
When KUIU hit the market in 2011 and I got my hands on one of their jackets, I was more than intrigued. I wanted one of my own until got wind of the now well-known statement Jason Hairston, founder, made in a 2016 Men’s Journal article stating that he would not make clothes for women, eluding that doing so would muck the brand. Not wanting to support a brand that didn’t want to support me, a female, standing on the same mountain, hunting the same animal as a man, I moved on to brands that wanted to stand on that mountain with me.
Fast forward through the sudden death of Hairston and a lackluster women’s line launch that didn’t meet the needs of a serious female hunter in 2018. A 2022 look at KUIU.com shows an inclusive selection, touting a wide range of clothing sizes and an impressive first launch of a women’s clothing line, designed for anyone who is serious about the outdoors, all while keeping up to par with the technology of the men’s line.
KUIU may be headed in new direction, but still honors it’s past under the shadow of Hairston and continues to play by their own rules. As the only soft goods line in the hunting industry that has always been direct-to-consumer, KUIU can closely monitor their market’s wants and needs and adjust accordingly. Providing small sizes in the men’s line, the company could see the trend of women purchasing men’s clothing for their own needs and realized a gap in women’s technical clothing, not just in the hunting industry, but throughout all outdoor sports.
KUIU selected the top selling pieces within the men’s line and moved them over to the women’s line with a women’s cut for their first launch. Working with a handful of true hunting athletes from around the world for more than a year, KUIU honed the fit and details for a well-rounded line that covers a comprehensive selection of layering components.
Touting nine styles at first launch from rainwear, outerwear, to mid-and baselayers weaved with their high-end New Zealand-sourced ultra-merino, all launched in KUIU’s exclusive camo patterns: Valo, Verde and Vias. This line is ready for the most challenging of conditions. And I personally will be among the first to buy as the product line expands in styles and into solid colors.
WOMEN'S ULTRA MERINO 145 ZIP-OFF BOTTOM
MSRP: $109 | kuiu.com
Women just tend to run colder than our male counterparts. A cold day in the field, especially for a new hunter, could be the breaking point. Albeit most modesty goes out the window for women when our morning coffee hits, these base layers at least help with the constant shuffle and adjustment of clothing, removing with minimalist ease. We can have confidence knowing these itch-free, moisture wicking and odor resistant bottoms will keep us warm, using the performance blend of New Zealand Merino with a nylon core, while glassing those brisk mornings. Then we can keep that confidence knowing we will not hold up the hunting party, or be fully exposed to the elements when we shed this layer as we can keep our boots and outer layer pant on by using the full-length leg zippers. This piece will make it into the suitcase beyond any hunting adventure.
WOMEN'S GILA LS HOODIE
MSRP: $79 | kuiu.com
The most versatile top KUIU offers. Believe me, this piece will not disappoint. In fact, it will surprise you the amount of use you’ll get from this breathable, cooling piece. From early season antelope on the plains, to scouting, to the range, in the kayak, and even to the sideline as you question why you signed up the kid for soccer in the first place. This piece has it all covered. With a UPF 50 + rating, this top curves in the right places, sporting a longer torso and extended cuff that fully covers the arm. As someone who normally sizes up to fit my awkwardly long arms, I was able to wear my regular size and found the sleeve had even more length to give. Touted as a warm0weather piece, I found it to be great for layering over the Women’s Ultra Merino 145 LS Crew on cooler mornings. I am anxiously waiting for this top to come out in solids, as it’ll be my go-to top for all summer activities.
WOMEN'S KENAI HOODED JACKET
MSRP: $259 | kuiu.com
The holy grail of jackets. The Kenai Hooded Jacket is the jacket to end all ho-humming and decision making. We have enough decisions to make throughout the day, and we don’t want to have regrets making the wrong one. Or if you’re like old me, don’t make a decision and pack all options. That indecisiveness doesn’t work when packing for the high country where every ounce counts. Created as a variable-level layer, this piece can count as your outer layer as it’s durable and wind and water resistant. In extreme late-season or high-country hunts, this jacket is compact enough to fit under a rain layer or even more thermal outer layers. It features a quilt-free design for added durability and strength as your outer layer. KUIU uses a temperature-regulating body-mapping insulation technology to keep your core warm, but the sides are breathable. Using 3DeFX+ active insulation, this jacket is meant to help circulate air and prevent overheating on even the extreme death march but allows wicking of sweat to keep you warm when the chase requires patience and stealth.