Winchester Huntsville and Kiowa Hunting Jacket & Trousers
- 0 Comments
- Last updated: 25/08/2022
Winchester rifles and shotguns have been around since 1866, and for over 150 years they have been synonymous with the opening up of the American wilderness. For 2022, the company has chosen to blaze a fresh trail by launching a new range of clothing, comprising hunting apparel and leisure wear. The items on test here, the Huntsville jacket and Kiowa pants, belong to the former category, and as we shall see, they exemplify the comfort, ruggedness and distinctive character of Winchester’s no-nonsense approach to dressing for the outdoors.
Despite their different names, the Huntsville jacket and Kiowa trousers are designed to complement each other and can be worn as a complete hunting suit. The primary exterior material has a brushed finish and Winchester describes this as ‘silent’, but in practice that applies more to sound produced by objects brushing against the outside of the fabric, than to the breathable membrane behind it. Whether the sound this produces matters to you will depend on how close you like to stalk, but I don’t see it being any kind of problem at normal ranges.
More noteworthy are the lightweight, breathable and windproof properties of these garments. And when I say the garments are lightweight, that doesn’t mean they aren’t tough, since the samples on test resisted wear very well, and all the stitching was impressively neat and tight throughout. At the same time, their lack of weight and bulk is a real boon when you’re packing for a hunt.
As for breathability, the performance of the inner membrane on the Huntsville jacket is enhanced in the sides of the torso and under the arms by panels of a more-permeable outer fabric. Naturally, these areas are unlined internally (as are the trousers). By contrast, the front and back panels of the jacket feature a mesh layer that also provides the lining to the four front pockets. The mesh cleverly offsets the less-permeable nature of the brushed fabric, providing space for perspiration to evaporate from whatever base or mid-layer you’re using, and enabling you to open or close the pocket zips to rapidly increase or decrease airflow into the bargain.
Conversely, when you want to protect yourself from the elements, you’ll appreciate the tab adjusters at the wrists, the full-length front storm flap (both of which use hook and loop fasteners), and the high collar that (for me at least) was Goldilocks perfect - neither too roomy nor too tight, but just right!
As for the front zip, I would prefer a stouter double-ended item to the smallish single-ended one chosen by Winchester, but appreciate the smart decision to have the upper pocket zips open upwards, so as to keep the sliders out of the gun-mounting area when closed. The same attention to detail is evident in the Kiowa trousers, where the upwards closure of the hippocket zips keeps the sliders out of the way and easy to find, just below the belt line, while fabric tabs facilitate their location and operation.
Extra storage is provided on the Huntsville jacket via an additional pair of zips at the back, which give access to a good-sized, double-ended game pocket with a wipeclean nylon lining. On the Kiowa trousers, meanwhile, there’s a zippered cargo pocket on the right thigh that combines ample capacity with a low profile and characteristic ease of access.
At the Kiowas’ waist, the combination of a riveted steel hook and eye and a stud-fastening tab means you’ll never bust them open when bending over! Moreover, Winchester’s supplementing of the four spacious-butslim belt loops at the front and sides with a superbroad channel at the rear excludes rucking-induced drafts. Other unwelcome incursions are prevented at the ankles by shock-cord closures that also helpfully enable you to match the drop of the legs to suit your footwear. As a final touch, you get tough black stretch panels in the instep and at the knees for maximum freedom of movement.
As regards cut, I think Winchester has struck a good balance between fit and roominess. I’m probably shorter/stouter than the pattern for the Kiowas, but the good belt support, stretch knees and blousable ankles made them genuinely comfortable to wear. I liked the downwards-curving rear of the Huntsville jacket, too, and although the overall cut there seemed a bit square at first, the shape quickly softened, and the jacket was nice to be inside of from the start.
Both items are available in a choice of ‘Khaki’(a.k.a. forest green) and Winchester’s own ‘Digi Camo’, the latter showing an arid palette that works equally well on stubbles and among the reeds. The Huntsville also comes in ‘Brown’, although inexplicably, there are as yet no matching Kiowas.
Taken together, the Huntsville and Kiowa combination shows impressive attention to detail on the part of Winchester’s design team. Especially when it came to selecting performance fabrics, applying them to the greatest effect, marrying them together with strength and efficiency, and giving the resulting garments real character with discreet but distinctive scarlet stitching, taping and badging. The end result is a hunting suit that incurs no unnecessary costs, yet gives nothing away in practicality or durability, whilst achieving a distinctive style with a modern edge. In short, it’s an impressive début!