Monday, 7 November 2011

Cammo... and the FULL MONTY!

The Jahti-Jakt Membrane Suit in Hardwood - blending in with autumn nicely
I've written about the latest camouflage clothing I've been testing this year in the December 2011 'Xmas Special' issue of Airgun Shooter magazine (virtual copies available here) - so I'm not going to go into too much detail in this Blog post. This is more an update on what I've written in the mag and, of course, there's the promised pic of me in ma undies...

The suit is by Jahti-Jakt, pronounced yark-tee-yart, and is distributed in the UK by Arctic Outdoor. It's a combination of Finnish and Swedish words for 'hunter' and the camouflage has been designed by the accomplished Finnish artist, Kimmo Takarautio, to match the patterns seen in European habitats. J-J call their pattern Hardwood (not to be confused with Realtree's Hardwoods - plural - which is a different pattern altogether).

I'm wearing the suit - jacket and trousers - on just about every hunting trip, and many other field outings to boot. Recent rains have made the ground particularly sodden and, therefore, muddy, but the Membrane Suit (as Arctic  Outdoor call it) has remained extremely water tight. I've sat and knelt in the water-laden long grass, and crawled over terrain that's so soft your elbow dig into the mud underneath, but I've emerged dry and clean... even if the outside of my suit hasn't.

From a practical perspective, both the jacket and trousers have got everything a fieldsman needs - see the printed review I referred to earlier for a more detailed lookaround - but now that a few weeks have passed since press day, I'd like to add how well the clothing is coping as colder spells arrive in the UK. We haven't yet had the 'Siberian winter' that's been forecast - and have had a lot more sunny days than we'd normally expect at this time of year - but I've been kept nice and warm on my outings so far, without getting either too cold or too hot. Mind you, I have been making full use of the underarm vents that easily unzip for extra ventilation.

What I'm particularly enjoying is that I can hunt so freely in the J-J Membrane Suit - its lightweight Air-Tex2 material is terrific at insulating you from the outside while letting the inside 'breathe' that you really don't need to 'bulk up' when you go out and about. Typically, I'm wearing a T-shirt and/or the J-J fleece (which comes as part of a special package deal when you buy the suit right now) - and when the thermometer really dips, or I'm out later in the day, I don the MicroDry underwear (that's also included in that deal).

I'll come clean and say that the underwear - which I can't for the life of me fathom out why is camouflaged, because you'd never go hunting in the nuddy! - is being worn on many occasions: going to the football, when I'm out walking with the kids/camera/wife and, more recently, on bonfire night. It's brilliant. It keeps me warm, dry and by transferring the humidity caused by perspiration to the outer side, smell-free - and its long cuffs and polo-style neck keep they heat in where you're most susceptible to the cold. It's worth every penny of the no-money-whatsoever it costs when you buy the Membrane Suit!
The full monty! Caught with his pants down and Hardwood (oo-er missus!)

And because this inner 'skin' is so lightweight and thin, I've been afforded a degree of mobility that doesn't hinder me at all when I'm out in the field. So clambering over stiles, gates and through narrow gaps in hedges really isn't a problem - and you can't often say that when you go out in your normal thermals and 10 layers of clothing.

As to the camouflage itself, I'm getting great results - even better now we're in to the autumn colours. Static hunting - a common tactic among airgunners - with the in-collar hood up (and a face net and gloves) works brilliantly, especially as the outfit keeps out the cold while you're waiting around for the action to begin.

If I'm totally honest, I'm not convinced that the ScenTech feature - which is supposed to mask the human scent - actually works (nor how it might work), but the cammo has proven itself on many an occasion. While I know many quarry species don't see colours in the same way as we humans do, there's something about J-J's Hardwood that's working - I guess when you look at it mono-chromatically, you can see that it breaks up the human outline extremely effectively. (Doesn't my FWB's barrel stick out like the proverbial sore thumb, though?) 
Looking at it mono-chromatically - perhaps through quarry eyes

I've also snagged the jacket and trousers on brambles and barbed wire a fair bit, but my outfit is still hanging up in my wardrobe devoid of any rips and tears. And, actually, there isn't even a pulled thread to be found - not that I should be surprised mind you. I got the Jahti-Jakt because I know the brand's become a firm favourite among many outdoor professionals - and there's one thing you can be assured of: professionals whose livelihoods depend on them being able to carry out their duties in the worst the weather can throw at them always choose stuff that works.

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