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An Interview with First Lite's Steven Rinella, The Meat Eater

Posted by Ross Copperman on


By Tracy Breen

When hunting in the backcountry, you need top notch gear like First Lite wool. What is it you like about wool clothing?

First off, there's a big difference between the coarse, scratchy wool used in traditional hunting garments and the merino wool used in First Lite apparel. First Lite stuff can be worn directly against the skin, so it eliminates the need for synthetic or cotton baselayers that end up smelling like a dead wet dog after a couple days in the woods. First Lite merino is also incredibly light, quiet, and durable, and extremely warm. You can wash it in a washing machine and dry it in a dryer, so it's easy to take care of. Honestly, I live in that stuff when I'm in the woods. I'll go an entire week in one set of base layers and come out feeling great and smelling normal.

Do you like wearing layers? What is the benefit of wearing several layers verses one extremely warm outer garment?

I do a lot of spot-and-stalk hunt, which means you're constantly alternating between periods of sitting and periods of fast movement. Layers allow you to make minor adjustments for temperature changes throughout the day, whether the temperature change comes from activity of  atmospheric conditions.  I might wear a big puffy garment around camp at night, but I never leave on a hunt with one. They are too restrictive and not nearly adaptive enough.

You spend a lot of time in Alaska. Which animal do you enjoy hunting the most up there?

Dall sheep are my favorite animal to hunt. They live in the toughest country imaginable, and it's a challenge just to be in their vicinity.

Do you exercise or do anything to prepare yourself physically for backcountry hunting?

I hunt year round, so I generally keep in good hunting condition just by doing what I love to do. But if I'm home for ten days or so without hunting, I'll start doing exercises in the evenings. Lots of stretches, pull-ups, push-ups, yoga positions. Lately I've been working out with a TRX system.

What is your favorite First Lite garment?

It's a three-way toss-up between the Brimmed Beanie, the Allegheny bottoms, and the Chama QZ shirt. I'm usually wearing all three of these things. Honestly, I never pack for a trip without throwing these in.


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