KUIU Gear – First Impressions

I received my order of KUIU gear last Friday.  For those of you not familiar with this new equipment and clothing company, here is a link to a prior post announcing their sales launch: KUIU – Ultralight Hunting Gear.

Since I’ve read on a couple of different hunting forums that people are looking for unbiased feedback of this gear, I figured I’d do a quick post with my initial thoughts.  I was able to make it out for a quick hike on my way home from a family event in Payson on Saturday afternoon where I was able to test out some of my KUIU gear.  (More on that later.)

My first thought regarding KUIU gear as I was taking it out of the box was how light everything was.  While I was expecting lightweight gear, the actual weight did impress me. 
This is my first experience with Merino wool base layers.  I ordered the 185 weight top and bottoms, and a 250 weight top.  I was surprised at how thin and soft the 185 weight was, and expected the 250 to be a little heavier than it was.  The Merino beanie and neck gaiter are also made out of the 185 weight Merino and quickly became a favorite of my son.  He wore them ‘ninja’ style for a couple of hours until I traded him for an older camouflage facemask I have. 

Just for fit reference, I am 5’9” and weigh 165 right now.  When preparing for my order and comparing my measurements to the KUIU sizing chart, it looked like my measurements matched closer with the mediums in most cases.  However, due to past experiences with most mediums, I chose to go with large Merino wool tops and bottom, a large Guide Vest, and 34” Attack Pants.  I have a few medium hunting shirts that tend to bind and/or chafe under my armpits.  That, and KUIU’s return policy should I be unhappy helped me decide on going with the large sizes. 

I already hit on the Merino base layers some, but I’ll finish up quickly with them since I haven’t had a chance to try them out in the field yet.  The fit of the 185 almost seems a little bigger than the 250, especially around the neck.  Not sure if it is because it is a lighter material and doesn’t conform to my neck as much, or what.  The large tops are slightly baggy on me, mainly in the armpits, and I may try a medium in the future if I ever decide to order more KUIU and decide I want a more form fitting shirt.  I personally like the way it fits and even though there is some sag under the armpits, there is not enough loose material anywhere to affect my bow draw or shot.  The sleeve length is good for me; they did not ride up my arms when I lifted them above my head.   As well, the shirt tail length is adequate, and there is enough to tuck into pants.  Both the 185 and 250 tops have nice, deep venting zippers.  The large bottoms fit very nicely for me.  The color of the Vias camouflage on the 185 Merino top is slightly darker than the Attack Pants and the Guide Vest.  I think I like the color of the Merino 185 best if comparing the two. 
185 Weight Merino Zip T top
250 Weight Merino Zip T top

The Guide Vest looks to be a very functional item.  The hand warmer pockets are slightly elevated, and are still functional with a pack on.  There are 3 pockets on the vest, the two zippered hand warmer pockets, and a small internal chest pocket on the left side.  The Toray soft shell material is very similar to Gore Windstopper in function and appearance, but from the short field test I did it seems much more breathable.  The Guide vest material is backed to a micro fleece.  Just for comparison, it appears that the Guide vest (and Jacket) will be slightly warmer than the Sitka 90% jacket, but will most likely breathe better than Gore Windstopper (based off my previous experiences with Windstopper materials).  As for water resistance, from the playing around that I did with this vest and the Guide beanie, if the Guide series (vest, jacket, and beanie) allow water to penetrate, it will only be at the seams, very similar to Gore Windstopper fabric. 

The outside facing fabric on the Guide vest has a smooth finish, and while it makes minimal noise, isn’t as loud as the fabric on my Sitka Jetstream Jacket, and isn’t any worse than some of my other fleece soft shell garments.  The bottom of the vest can be cinched down via two drawcords using one handed pulls.  The Guide vest seems to fit very similar to the Sitka Celsius vest.  The large Guide vest is a little loose on me, but allows me to wear over binoculars and not be too tight. 
Guide Vest with 250 weight Merino top underneath
I wore the vest on my hike on Saturday afternoon.  Just for reference, I was at about 3800 feet, and it was 40 degrees with high humidity (due to an earlier storm that blew through).  It was still cloudy and I was misted on several times during my short hike.  For my top layers I wore an UA heatgear tshirt, a cotton TKO long sleeve shirt, and the KUIU Guide Vest.  I wore my Eberlestock X2 pack (with vented back panel) with about 20 lbs in it for the first 0.5 miles, and then added the additional weight of my 40 lb son the last 0.7 miles.  I wore the vest the entire hike, and when I finished I had minimal sweating on my back.  I zipped or unzipped my vest depending on wind and weather conditions throughout the hike.  I hiked up a ridge and then back down again, so I wasn’t exerting as much effort on the way down while carrying my son.  (I was mainly carrying him to make better time as the rest of the family was waiting for me in the truck.)  It was pretty windy, and from what I could tell, I wasn’t getting any wind penetrating the guide vest. 

I also purchased the Guide beanie.  I’m glad I did, as this beanie looks to be my go to beanie.  I have a couple of different Sitka beanies, and I don’t like how they leave the bottoms of my ears exposed unless I keep tugging them down.  The Guide beanie covered my ears, and it wasn’t pulled all the way down.  I used this for a bit on my hike when my ears started getting cold due to the wind, and didn’t feel any wind penetrating the beanie either. 
Guide Beanie, 185 weight Merino Shirt, Attack Pants
 The last item I’d like to discuss was the most anticipated for me, the Attack Pants.  As I stated before, I purchased mine in a 34” waist.  (That is what all my jeans are right now, as well as my original Sitka Mountain Pants, and the newer 2010 model Sitka Mountain Pants.)  The KUIU Attack pants fit great.  The fabric is a nice light to medium weight fabric.  I was very comfortable while wearing them on my hike, and I could tell the pants were wicking moisture off of my legs.  The grass and vegetation I was hiking through was pretty wet, and the water just beaded up and rolled off the Attack pants.  I didn’t notice the wind coming through the pants at all. 

The pants are 4-way stretch and great hiking uphill.  Absolutely no binding and the light weight of the pants was definitely noticeable as my legs didn’t have to deal with any binding or pulling against the fabric.  The pants come in a 35” standard inseam.  With the Zamberlan boots I was wearing, there won’t be any need for me to hem them up.  (I normally buy jeans with a 32” inseam.)  They don’t bunch up at the bottom, but also don’t drag on the ground.  I think if I was wearing a pair of running shoes or less bulky of boots, they may drag on the ground some in back. 
Attack Pants with Zamberlan Boots
Attack Pants with running shoes
There are 6 pockets on the pants, 2 front, 2 rear zippered, and 2 zippered cargo pockets.  The zippered fly is a double zipper, meaning it unzips from the top or bottom, handy for when wearing a pack so you don’t need to dig under the hip belt looking for the zipper pull.  The inside of the Attack pant is has a brushed face, very smooth against the skin, and doesn’t bind or snag against the Merino bottoms.  There are 6 belt loops total on the pants.  The ridge I chose to hike had its share of cat claw, or ‘wait a minute’ bushes.  Anyone who has hiked through that stuff before knows about the only thing that does well is either double faced pants or waxed canvas chaps.  The Attack pants snagged some (I found some minor thread pull in places upon post hike inspection), but they seemed like they would hold up well and not tear.  These pants really remind me of an upgrade to my original Sitka Mountain pant.  I did not notice them being overly loud as they rubbed against bushes.  There is a slight swishing noise as my legs brushed together.  It should be noted I had not washed the pants or the Guide vest before my hike.  It will be interesting to see what happens after the pants are washed a couple of times.  The pants made hiking easy and I look forward to wearing them out in the field more!

Just for reference, here is what the items I purchase weighed out at on my digital scale.
185 weight Merino Zip-T: 7.8 oz
250 weight Merino Zip-T: 10.1 oz
185 weight Merino Bottoms: 6.8 oz
Merino Beanie: 0.7 oz
Merino Neck Gaiter: 0.8 oz
Guide Beanie: 1.3 oz
Guide Vest: 13.1 oz
Attack Pant (34” waist): 1 lb 1.7 oz (17.7 oz)

Oh yeah, almost forgot about the hat.  The KUIU cigar colored cotton hat seemed to fit pretty good!  I’d really like to see a baseball style hat in the same fabric as the Attack Pant.  To my knowledge, all the KUIU ball caps are cotton.

While I don’t expect anyone to make a decision on high quality gear based off of a 1.2 mile hike, this little KUIU test hike showed me that this clothing has great potential for being great technical hunting clothing.  Hopefully if you are contemplating whether to spend your hard earned money on some of this gear, this brief review will help give some additional insight.  I haven’t had a chance to take a lot of pictures, and I forgot to bring along a camera on my short hike, but if anyone would like to request some pictures of a specific item or angle, please leave a comment and I’ll see what I can do.  I will definitely be doing a follow up review after I’ve had more time to put this gear through its paces. 


  1. Hi there, now that you have had your gear for a while... how does it stack up against sitka? Im looking at buying my first QUALITY set of hunting gear and would like to get the best... IN sitka i was looking at the jetstream jacket with timberline pants.... Any opinions are highly appreciated.

  2. Both Sitka and KUIU are top quality. The Merino wool is new to me in regards to the KUIU base layers, but I'm excited to give it more of a test this fall. I really liked it the times I wore it this spring. I'm hoping to get the Sitka Merino base layer as well before this fall, but to be honest the prices is somewhat holding me back. In saying that, I've been very pleased with the Sitka synthetic core and traverse layers. The Core layers breathe very well and dry very quickly.

    I honestly don't think you can go wrong with either Sitka or KUIU. KUIU is going to be a bit lighter than Sitka, but Sitka has some additional features (mainly pockets) that KUIU doesn't have.

    In regards to your choices of the Jetstream Jacket and Timberline pants, I think they are both quality pieces of gear.

    I haven't put my hands on the Timberline pants yet, but they look great. I think the Timberline pants would be overkill for me during the early season (Aug-Oct), but would probably be awesome in November-January here in AZ. The waterproof seat would be very nice to have, but as I said above, might be a little warm here in AZ in the early season. I currently have the mountain pants and wore them from Aug-January on different hunts here in AZ last year and they were awesome. When wearing them in Aug and Sept with the knee pads in my knees would get a little warm, but nothing horrible. I thought it was worth it for comfort when kneeling on rocks and hard ground. I wore my Mountain pants on my Jay's November archery elk hunt here in AZ and we got several inches of snow for a couple of days. I was in whiteout conditions while wearing them and my legs never got wet. The pants shed water very well. The next day when it was clearer, but with 6 inches of snow on the ground we hiked around and they did great. With the knee pads in they kept my knees dry when kneeling in the snow. I think the Timberline Pants would be a better pant for chilly, wet hunts, or when extra abrasion resistance would be needed. I think they'd be an awesome sheep pant for Alaska. Honestly, if I had to choose between either my Mountain pants or the KUIU pants, I'd probably choose the 2010/11 Sitka Mountain pants, but not by much. Mainly just for the kneepads. If weight matters more to you, then the KUIU pants would be the way to go. Only problem is, many sizes of the KUIU attack pants are out of stock and it won't be until November that KUIU has them back in stock.

    In regards to the Jetstream vs the KUIU Guide Jacket, you are losing a few pockets on the Guide Jacket, but I believe it is slightly lighter. My Jetstream Jacket is my new favorite jacket for cool/cold active hunts. My Jetstream is waterproof everywhere except the seams (same as the Guide jacket). I don't have the Guide Jacket, but I have the vest and have tried on a buddy's Guide Jacket. I think the Guide material breathes better than windstopper, but isn't windproof like windstopper is. It is a trade off and depends what you are looking for.

    Good luck in your decisions and good luck this season!


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