If you’ve been in the camo buying business lately, you know there is no shortage of options. Are you going to select a hunting solid, natural pattern, digital pattern or the kind of pattern that looks like some suit that’s never set foot on red dirt designed it? I set my eyes on purchasing a few new garments for the 20-21 hunting season. First, I need to understand what fit I wanted. In years past, hunting clothing was designed to be bulky and ill-fitting. Today’s hunter can anticipate a tighter, more tailored fit.
I wanted camo that was lightweight, comfortable and also had the ability to reduce bulk even if I had to layer for cold weather. After looking at several of my options, I came across SKRE gear, which piqued my interest. This little-known company had tons to offer seasoned and beginning hunters.
Looking at the website a little further, and I noticed things were similar to other companies that were on my radar like: less bulk and mobility in the tops and bottoms as well as zippered vents to cool down the hot spots. But what caught me off guard was price point. This gear is running, in some instances, 30-percent lower than seemingly identical camo. It didn’t matter if you wanted a single piece or one of their bundles for whatever suits your needs.
Bundles. That was something new to me. Not many companies out there give the hunter an option to purchase everything needed to hunt in one bundle. All you need to do is click on a bundle and click through sizing options and you are all set with everything that is recommended.
Since the company was new, I wanted to see what they were about. I purchased a few items to get an idea of fit and finish. They have an Elite Starter bundle, which includes the Hardscrabble Jacket, Hardscrabble Pant as well as a Kaibab 150 Merino Top. Being in Oklahoma, it rarely gets extremely cold but the chance is always there, the bundle seemed to be middle of the road and a good starting point.
Next was choosing the camo pattern. They’ve got a couple great options for Western hunters and the Timber hunters, but the one I really like was the Summit. It’s a broken pattern of tans, black, gray, brown, and green, I figured would be optimal for the terrain I hunt as well as versatile to fit my style of hunting, which is typically on the ground or spot and stalk.
Before I completed my order, I went ahead and tossed a belt along with a hooded, sweatshirt because who doesn't like a hoodie? The sizing instructions on the website are simple. It asks for a few measurements and if you’re not quite sure the customer service probably wouldn't mind answering any questions. At the time of purchase, I tipped the scales at 218 lbs. with a muscular build standing at 5 feet, 10 inches. The pant size I went with was the 36-inch waist, in the Kaibab Merino top and hooded sweatshirt were in XL. I went with a larger Hardscrabble Jacket for a little more layering room. The selection and navigation of their website was a breeze.
The order was placed and on my doorstep in about a week’s time. While unboxing, SKRE included a return shipping label with an exchange sheet to fill out just in case the fit was wrong. If you happen to be unhappy with the fit or you need to exchange the pattern, you can send it back free of charge.
The first time I took my SKRE gear to the field was mid- October, it was sunny with a daytime high in the 70s on a youth hunt. I sported the Hardscrabble Pant and the Kaibab top and was pretty comfortable. The pants felt really nice, weren't tight or baggy in the crotch and stretched well with movement. I even utilized the heat exhaust zippers to let some warm Oklahoma air provide some much-needed cooling.
The next morning temperature were a bit cooler, so I added the hooded sweatshirt. I was completely comfortable and maintained complete mobility. A few weeks later a cold front blew through one morning that caught me off guard. I went to the stand with the Hardscrabble Pant, thermal bottoms, Kaibab Merino Top, hooded sweatshirt and tossed on the Hardscrabble Jacket. I was comfortable until the north wind dropped the temps to 34 degrees mixed with a light drizzle. It was at that point, when I started to get a chill. I think we all know that once a chill rears its ugly head you aren’t getting rid of it.
While sitting there, freezing cold, I thought to myself I should have ordered the colder weather gear as well. I believe if I had the Kodiak Late Season Pant, maybe even the Kaibab 300 top and bottoms I would have been much more comfortable with the temperatures in the 30s. Just adding those pieces would have rounded out all my seasons in Oklahoma. The do offer a Late-Season Whitetail Bundle, which might be a great idea if you already possess some early season gear.
Rolling around to Oklahoma rifle season, I utilized all the pieces I purchased with temperatures ranging anywhere from mid to upper 30s in the mornings and around 50 degrees. Comfort was never a real issue. The temperatures kept foliage on the trees long enough to utilize the Summit pattern to its fullest potential.
After purchasing and using SKRE camouflage, I enjoyed the lightweight aspect of it. I could walk further distances and not feel weighed down by thick bulky clothing. Without the extra weight and bulk I found it helped out with my scent control. When you are a spot n’ stalk hunter the big danger in warmer weather is sweat management. Trimming weight off the bulk of clothing helps maintain your body temperature for better days in the field.
While walking through the brush the fabric from the Hardscrabble Pants cut down on some of the noise, not completely silent which Is almost impossible to obtain in my opinion but it did make a bit of difference. The multiple pockets on the pant are large enough to hold a few necessities with two zippered cargo pockets. The Hardscrabble Jacket had plenty of room even layering with the hooded sweatshirt underneath. The jacket provided some wind blocking abilities along with some water resistance during a light rain. The Kaibab 150 Merino Wool top was very comfortable against the skin. I really wasn't sure how the 3/4 zipper on the Kaibab would feel on the skin of my chest, but to be honest, I couldn't even tell it was there. I’m one of those guys that sweats a lot so I appreciated the moisture wicking abilities of the merino wool. It kept my skin dry, and after several days of wearing without washing the shirt didn't stink like other next to skin layers I tried in the past.
Overall, all I'm really impressed with the SKRE gear from the quality of the fabric to the rugged zippers and can't wait to add more to the collection for the 2021-2022 season. The fit and feel was just what I was looking for in a quality set of hunting clothing. ~ Jeff
Jeff grew up chasing Oklahoma ducks, turkey and deer at a very young age. Throughout his years in the outdoors, Jeff has gained a greater knowledge of conservation efforts in the areas he hunts. Whether its archery, black powder or shotguns, Jeff has decades of experience across multiple platforms.