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The Continental Look

The Continental Look

The Continental Look

This month Jules Whicker brings us a left-field view of some innovative outdoor clothing from the UK, Europe and further afield

Alpenheat

Last year while in Germany I picked up a Fire Fleece electronically-heated gilet, and some rubber over-shoe icegrips from heating-and-drying specialists Alpenheat, and both proved to be welcome acquisitions – particularly the gilet, which I wore throughout last winter since its close fit makes it an effective secondary layer even with the electrics turned off, and an even better one when the temperature drops and you can simply turn up the heat by blipping the thermostat buttons on the battery pack tucked into the R/H hand-warmer pocket. My gilet is an agreeably-versatile black, but this year Alpenheat are also making it available in forest green. As well as gilets, Alpenheat do a wide range of heated clothing, including soft-shell jackets, gloves, and even underpants! You can also get a heated cushion (perfect for high-seats), and a lovely heated dog bed, and now, a heated ski-boot bag (#AJ 8). This features an ingenious “venturi system” that works like a carburettor, drawing in cooler air through the bottom, heating it up and pushing it to the top. Designed to warm ski boots, gloves and helmets before use and to dry them out afterwards, it will of course do the same for your hunting kit. This is easily organised thanks to separate main and ancillary pockets inside, and an outside pocket for other accessories, whilst a broad strap with a shoulder pad makes it easy to carry. The bag measures 40 x 40 x 30 cm and can be run off a household power socket or a car adaptor and offers 3 heat settings. (www.alpenheat. com; UK: www.tranam. co.uk; Tel: 01425 620580)

Coxwear Socks

For a more traditional way of keeping your feet happy, you could do a lot worse than invest in a few pairs of shooting socks from Coxwear’s Pennine range, a stylish range of bespoke, hand-finished hosiery, produced using traditional methods to obtain a seamless finish. The range includes colours and designs to suit all tastes and occasions, and even socks with patriotic Union Flag and St George Cross motifs woven into the tops. Established in Nottingham in 1925, parent company Coxmoore is a hosiery and knitwear specialist with a long tradition of quality based on craftsmanship and the careful selection of only the best natural materials. (www.coxmoore. co.uk; Tel: 0115 916 0030)

5etta Gloves

Some of the most popular brands of shooting clothing come from Scandinavia, and now there’s a new name to look out for - 5etta - whose products are being distributed by Laksen. Pronounced “femetta”, which means “on target” in Swedish, 5etta offer four lines of performance hunting gloves: High Line (HL), Basic Line (BL), Classic and Special. The first two lines each offer Unlined, Autumn and Winter models in deluxe and economy versions, respectively, whilst the Classic line offers buckskin gloves in three versions: American, Ladies’, and Winter, the first being unlined and the latter lined with thick l=ile and Thinsulate, respectively. Finally, the Special line comprises 6 products: a black liner glove made of antibacterial nylon that wicks away moisture and camoufl ages your hand when you take off the outer glove; a white winter glove; a Dog Handler’s Glove in a choice of orange or green; shooting gloves in leather or Clarino; and a pair of elasticated wrist straps for use with any gloves. Prices range from £25.95 for the BL Unlined glove, to £64.95 for the HL Autumn glove. The men behind 5etta, Johan Börjesson and Anders Åkerberg are both experienced hunters, and it shows in their products. (http://5etta. nu; UK: www.sportingtargets. co.uk; Tel: 01234 708893)

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Laksen

Staying in Scandinavia, Laksen’s new collection shows that men’s formal shooting attire doesn’t need to be drab to be in tune with the colours of nature, and that you can be stylish without being brash. The range is designed to make it easy to put together a variety of shooting outfits, which are helpfully illustrated in their catalogue. It’s a winning approach that Laksen have made their own. Individual items stand out too, such as their lace-up brogue ankle boots whose fl eece-lining makes them just the thing to tuck your feet into before heading to the pub for a convivial meal after a day in the field. (www. laksen.dk; Tel: 07917 360 855)

Deerhunter

Meanwhile, Deerhunter remain focussed on the game trail rather than the cat-walk, and this year introduced a clothing range called Recon that features a brand new pixellated camoufl age pattern called Equipt. This is based on a complex palette of grey, brown and green shades. Unlike more conventional patterns that adopt a photorealistic approach, Equipt doesn’t contain any identifiable images, just a fuzzy pattern of pixels designed to blend in with the middle distance. The Recon range of clothing is designed as a layer system, with elements suitable for all forms of hunting. Items include: a Deer-Tex jacket (£250) and trousers (£180) with reinforced shoulders, knees and ankle cuffs; a down-lined Deer-Tex jacket (£275) and salopettes (£215); a lightweight Stormliner rainproof jacket (£130), gilet (£100) and trousers (£86) with Cordurareinforced ankle cuffs; a fl eece jacket (£50); a quilted liner jacket (£120), gilet (£90) and trousers (£90) with a hollowfibre fill; Stormliner winter gloves (£40); a facemask (£25) and a baseball cap (£15). The effect looks rather like a slightly darker version of the German military fl ecktarn pattern, but is not – to my eyes - quite as effective (is anything?). (www.deerhunter.dk)

Optifade

Perhaps the first company to move away from photorealistic camo patterns was W. L. Gore & Associates, who in 2008 developed Optifade, basing its design on how prey sees its predators. The original Open Country pattern, and the subsequent Forest pattern were both based on the vision of deer - but the same team have now applied their talents, and their scientific understanding of how waterfowl perceive the world, to produce a version for wildfowlers, called Optifade Marsh. Elements in the pattern respond to the fact that birds are looking down on the hunter from above and approaching or passing at speed, while the colour balance is tuned to the fact that birds see a wider spectrum of colours than humans, and to the highcontrast nature of marshland environments. Or at least that’s what Gore’s promo material says. In any event, the result is a fascinating array of pixels, swirls and honey-combing, that is bound to appeal to hunters and has already been taken on by such prestige names as Sitka and Beretta. (www.gore. com; www.optifade.com)

Helikon

If you want tough outdoor clothing but aren’t too worried about camo, you may well find what you’re looking for in Helikon-Tex’s Urban Tactical Line, which includes Urban Tactical Pants (UTPs), and Alpha and Delta jackets. Despite their “urban” tag, the trousers (£58) are just as suited to country pursuits such as shooting, hiking, and climbing, thanks to the use of spandex and a gusseted crotch, which gives them elasticity and aids mobility, with tailored “darts” that help keep the trouser legs from fl apping about. There are also lots of pockets: two front and two rear side pockets, the latter featuring a small opentopped internal knife/tool pocket; plus two convenientlyangled, bellowed, zip-up cargo pockets, each with a knife/ tool pocket with a Velcro fl ap closure alongside them. There are also two looped tabs under the front belt loops for D-rings. The UTPs are available in a wide range of colours (moss, coyote, sand, olive and foliage, etc.) and three different material mixes: Regular; Regular Ripstop and Non-Elasticated Ripstop. As for the jackets, the Delta (£53) is a warm, lightweight and breathable tactical jacket with an outer made from a special 4-way elastic polyester soft shell material (known as Shark Skin), laminated with Dupont Tefl on, a super-fine fl eece inner that wicks away moisture, and promotes evaporation and ventilation, and cuffs and a high collar lined with soft mesh. The jacket has 6 pockets: one chest pocket, three internal mesh pockets with zippers, and two lower zip pockets. Closures include a strong, windproof, YKK full-length front zipper, adjustable Velcro cuffs and two drawstrings located in the lower pockets so the waistband can be easily regulated without taking your hands out of your pockets. Complementing the Delta is the Alpha jacket (£42), which is made from a non-pilling fl eece material with a grid pattern on the outside and a heat-refl ecting inner surface. Features include: under-arm reinforcements, a curved back extension, elasticated cuffs, a full-length single-ended front zip, two zip-up hand-warmer pockets and a phone/ document pocket on the left breast. Both jackets are available in a choice of jungle green, olive, foliage, coyote or black. (www.helikon-tex.com).

For Larger Wallets…

Finally, if money is no object, and you like the Continental look, how about a leather shooting jacket from Heinz Bauer? Their deluxe Nature Guard jacket costs over £1,700; is available in buffalo leather or buckskin and black, dark brown, tan and navy. It features side adjustment straps plus adjustable sleeve and jacket length, for a perfect fit, a shoulder pad made of special digitized leather for grip, a wind-defl ecting zip cover, two hand-warmer pockets, two practical bellows pockets large enough to hold a box of 12g cartridges, and a small cartridge pocket on the left arm for quick reloading. A matching pair of trousers is available and will set you back £1,240! (www.heinzbauer.com).

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