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Layering for Quackers (and Just About Everything Else) with First Lite's Own Casey Hawkes

Posted by Ford Van Fossan on
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Duck guide and First Lite VP of Sales, Ross Copperman in a marsh in North Dakota.

With the 2015-2016 Idaho hunting season coming to an end in what I can only describe as an “abrupt halt” at the end of this month, I am left with the same directionless feeling every year as to how I am going to utilize my remaining winter weekends. Do I go heave streamers for voracious winter rainbows? Do I finally materialize my “Nerd-ic” skiing aspirations?  Predator management? The options are infinite.

While my post-hunting season activities vary greatly, my First Lite layering kit remains the same.  From early August to the end of January, whether I am chasing wapiti with the stick-n-string or quacker-blasting with my scatter gun, there are 5 pieces of First Lite clothing that are with me year round: The Red Desert Boxer Shorts, Kanab Lightweight Pants, Llano Long Sleeve Crew, Chama Hoody and the Uncompahgre Puffy Jacket. These are the pieces I utilize the most in both the front country and the backcountry.

While this post is intended to be written as a Waterfowl Layering Guide (and will be), I wanted to make note that the foundation of my kit does not stray too far from the 5 aforementioned pieces.  One of question we get most frequently at FLHQ is which items will be the most effective in the widest range of conditions and environments. The five items above are those pieces.

I have been very than fortunate in acquiring a “more-than-modest” assortment of FL product (one of the many perks of being employed by First Lite) and as of such have the capability of utilizing hunt-specific items depending on the climate and style of what/where I am hunting.  While I 100% take advantage of this, my layering foundation is seemingly as predictable as the rising sun.

*Disclaimer* Effective temperature range for a product is subjective to the individual.  Just because I stay warm and comfortable in certain pieces in certain temps does not mean that others will. I run on the warm side of the temperature scale and always seem to be shedding layers to maintain an optimal body temperature.

This guide is specifically oriented around January jaunts in temps ranging from 0-30 degrees F. As life typically starts from the ground up, my mid-late season kit is listed the same way.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA First Lite Dealer Sales Manager, Chase Millemann, looks on as his Labrador, Parley, brings back another green head in North Dakota.

Toes Mountain Athlete Cold Weather Socks – The warmest sock in the line.

Legs Red Desert Boxer Shorts – 170g Merino Wool.  The RD Boxers are the great because they sit just above the knee, don’t stretch out or lose their shape and (in my opinion) act as one of the best seasonally-transitional pieces FL offers.

Allegheny Full Length Bottom – 230g Merino Wool (base layer)

Kanab 2.0 Lightweight Pant – 330g woven, rip-stop Merino wool

North Branch Soft Shell Pants – Cocona/37.5 outer layer pant (~10,000 mm waterproof and breathability rating)

Trunk – Llano Crew – 170g merino wool

Chama Hoody – 230g Merino wool

Cirrus Puffy – 60g synthetic insulaton

Woodbury Jacket – 120g torso/ 60g arms synthetic fill outer jacket

FingersShale Hybrid Gloves – Also added to FL’s line in 2015, the combo of 400g Merino and goat skin leather--your hands not only remain highly functional (and warm) when wet but also add a superior element of durability to your feelers.

Melon (head)Neck Gaiter – 230g Merino wool.  Both face concealment and warmth.  Updated to an overall length of 19’’ for 2016, there is plenty of length to use the NG in a plethora of configurations.

Brimmed Beanie – 230g Merino wool providing warmth while reducing any unwanted sunlight to my eyes.

Tailgate Nap_instagram Solid layering allows you to stay in the marsh longer regardless of conditions; maybe even long enough to fill a tailgate.

You very likely recognized that my kit for January duck hunting did not include the Uncompahgre Puffy Jacket.  This swap is largely because I have been trying out the new Woodbury Jacket (which is awesome).  Lastly, the vast majority of my duck hunting is done over water and waders are an important part of my system.  As I do run warm, I use breathable, boot fit waders. My time duck hunting during the month of January has been spent field hunting ducks (Hence NB pant as outermost leg layer) but my kit is the same when hunting over water, the only difference is adding my waders as my outermost layer for my legs.

I could very easily continue expressing my (biased) opinion of FL product as a whole but the only real way to come to any conclusion is to use the product in the field.  Doing so will allow you to form your own all-encompassing “head to toe” layering kit. I challenge you to use any of the items mentioned above so this post has more value than just words on paper. If I were a betting man, I would bet that if you use any of items I have discussed above, especially in conjunction with one another, your own firsthand accounts will be similar to my own.

Casey Hawkes is the First Lite Pro Sales Coordinator and just might be the deadliest ducker at FLHQ, especially in his native habitat, the small water of central Idaho.

Let it be known that Ross and Chase vehemently disagree with this statement.

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