Browning XPO Clothing
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- Last updated: 25/01/2017
Browning produces shooting apparel for all seasons, but my favourites are the mid-weight items, as they cover all the necessary bases for everything but the very coldest or hottest (chance would be a fine thing!) parts of the year. Fitting this bill perfectly are the XPO Light Jacket and matching Trousers. These are available in two colourways: Realtree Blaze Orange camo and olive green, or Realtree Xtra Green camo and olive green: the latter having more UK appeal.
In each case, the camo material is used for the main body of the garment, and the green material for panels in the sides, underarms, and forearms of the jacket, and the lower-legs and upper-thighs of the trousers. Both materials are tough, flexible and silent, so the two-tone look seems to be principally about creating a distinctive style, although it also works along with the camo itself to break up the wearer’s outline.
As usual with Browning, the jacket is amply equipped with capacious pockets that are well-placed, easy to access and readily secured. There are two Napoleon-type breast pockets, each with a shrouded pass-through for a radio antenna/headset, four lower front pockets arranged in superposed pairs, a fullwidth game pocket at the rear, and a zippable internal document pocket on the inside right.
The Napoleon pockets, outer lowerfront pockets and game pocket all have rubber-reinforced storm flaps for extra durability and to prevent water pooling in the edge of the flap, and all the pockets are secured by waterproof zips, except for the outer lower-front pockets, which have large storm flaps with magnetic closures.
The trousers have a big cargo pocket on each thigh, each with a large storm flap secured by two stud fasteners. There’s a pair of angled side pockets too, but there are no rear pockets – a good thing because it prevents things becoming inaccessible, squashed or uncomfortable because you are sitting on them!
I’m less sure about the absence of zips or other means of opening out the lower leg to make it easier to get boots on or off, but these would undoubtedly compromise that rather athletic styling of the trousers. Indeed, the cut would be best suited for someone a bit taller/slimmer than myself, which is typical of Browning.
The jacket, meanwhile, has neoprene-like cuffs with hook-and-loop-fastening adjusting tabs to keep out the elements, and a high collar containing a proper, adjustable hood in the same camouflage material as the rest of the garment. In the past, I have found Browning’s collars a bit tight and a bit high in front when fully closed and the XPO Light was no different -it would help if I had a longer, slimmer neck of course!
Adverse weather is also managed by Browning’s Pre-Vent waterproof, windproof and breathable membrane, whilst a mesh lining to the back of the jacket improves internal airflow. Across the shoulders, a full-yoke, single-panel Raglan design means there are no upward-facing seams to let in water and gives greater comfort under pack straps, which polymer friction-strips on each shoulder help keep in place.
Unlike the trousers, the jacket has quite a spacious fit, with plenty of room for layering. A good place to start is Browning’s own reversible, Zip-In Polar Powerfleece. This is available in the same colour combinations as the XPO jacket, and again I had the Xtra Green/Green version. With the camo side out, it shows black taped seams, and green panels at the lower back, across the lower front, up the sides and under the arms. With the green side out the look is much more conventional.
The fleece has black knitted cuffs, two zip-able front pockets, conventional Raglan sleeves, a high collar and a lower hem at the back to minimise drafts, and (as with the XPO jacket) there’s also an elasticated draw-cord with toggle adjusters around the bottom. The Zip-In system, meanwhile, lets you zip each side of the fleece’s main zip to inner zips on the XPO jacket, whilst loop-and-tab connectors at the collar and cuffs keep the layers together there. There’s no doubt that the Zip-In system brings the jacket and fleece neatly together. It does leave the fleece with a single-ended front zip when a doubleended one would be preferable when the fleece is worn on its own, though.
Out in the field the XPO/Powerfleece combination was very nice to be in. Light, flexible and stealthy, it still did an excellent job of keeping out the rain and wind, whilst its very good range of pockets let me keep essential equipment handy and its thoughtful shoulder design kept straps and slings from slipping. The relatively light weight of the Powerfleece probably means you’d need some extra layering in cold weather, but both the jacket and the fleece are cut to accommodate this.
Browning also do an XPO Light cap, whose waterproof Xtra Green camo material is a perfect match for the jacket and which features a folding peak that makes it extra-easy to stow in a pocket. The XPO/Powerfleece combination represents a practical and stylish option for the active hunter, from a leading brand with a well-deserved reputation for quality, and at a price that won’t break the bank. In short, just what you’d expect from Browning, and well worth a look, especially if tweeds really aren’t your thing!
Prices: XPO Light Jacket: £219; XPO Light Trousers: £119; XPO Light Cap: £25; Polar Powerfleece Reversible jacket: £99.