Browning Hells Canyon Clothing
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- Last updated: 25/01/2017
I’ve been trying out Browning’s latest range of Hell’s Canyon Hunting clothing over the last couple of months, and will say from the start that I really like it. It’s lightweight, comfortable, flexible, quiet, keeps out the wind and rain, has plenty of distinctive features, and both the fabric and the build quality seem made to last.
The range’s rather dramatic name arises from a hunting area in Utah that is both famed for the quality of its trophies and notorious for the challenging nature of its climate and terrain – the message is obvious: comfortable hunters are successful hunters.
In the context of Browning’s clothing range, specifically, the name refers to a hi-tech, soft-shell material. This is a composite fabric made up of three bonded layers: a soft, silent outer- layer that’s treated to repel water; a warm fleece lining; and in a waterproof, windproof and breathable membrane in the middle. The resulting material is both lightweight and slightly elastic, making it very comfortable to wear.
All of the garments in the Hell’s Canyon range – with the exception of the black “Masters” jacket - also boast a feature Browning call Odorsmart, whose purpose is to minimise the hunter’s scent and so reduce the chance of spooking game. Unlike traditional scent-blockers that typically use activated carbon to absorb odours, Odorsmart is designed to prevent them being generated in the first place.
Personally, I’m always sceptical about scent-blocking treatments as I’m convinced that the outer surfaces of garments and footwear – not to mention guns and other gear - give off at least as rich a cocktail of smells as the hunter’s body, but there’s no downside to the Odorsmart feature, and just a chance it will give you a reduced signature.
Incidentally, Browning also offer a 3-in-1 cleaning solution which contains no UV brighteners; helps restore the effectiveness of breathable waterproof membranes; and is both odourless and odour- absorbent. This is complemented by a spray-on water repellent that is also odourless and UV-free.
How Practical Is It?
Browning kindly sent me a full set of items: a matching jacket and trousers, a balaclava, and apair of gloves.
The jacket is a good length creating more pocket space above the hem, helps eliminate drafts, and lets water run off onto your thighs rather than into your lap. A quick-adjustable shock- cord at the waist also provides further control over air circulation.
Five external pockets are provided: one on the left breast with a horizontal zip closure; one on the right breast with a vertical zip; two below the draw-cord, with angled zips; and a phone pocket on the left sleeve with a vertical zip. All zips are metal, have braided nylon pulls that are quiet and easy to grip with gloves on, and – with the exception of the radio pocket - all have zipper “garages” that help keep them closed, exclude water and minimise metallic noise. The 4 main pocket openings go right though the HC material too, the actual pockets being formed from a tough nylon lining inside the front panels of the jacket.
The main zip has no external storm flap, but a broad internal YKK AquaGuard flap under the double-ended zip fulfils the same function. All the seams are taped too.
The elements are kept out at the wrists by neoprene cuffs with adjustable hook- and-loop closures while a high collar with an extra fleece lining keeps you snug right up to the chin in inclement weather.
The trousers made an equally good impression. They have five pockets: two side pockets with angled openings; a cargo pocket on the left leg with a zip closure; another on the right leg with a silent magnetic closure; and behind this a deep knife pocket with a stud-fastening strap. All pockets are as big as they can be whilst maintaining the smooth, snag-free lines of the suit, and the lack of back pockets ensures that you’re not sitting on anything uncomfortable while waiting for game.
The waistband is slightly elasticated, fitted with external belt loops, and has a rubberised internal “gripper strip” to keep the trousers from slipping down, and also features a high back, to counter drafts in this critical area. The fit of the whole suit was just right: roomy enough for easy of movement, but snug enough to keep drafts out and warmth in.
For additional protection, you can add a pair of matching gloves and even a balaclava: both of which live up to the quality of the rest of the HC range, having the same properties of stealth, ruggedness, comfort, and odour control, as well as being both water and wind resistant.
Indeed, I’ve yet to try a better cold-weather hunting glove. True, they’re not designed for extreme cold, but for normal UK winter temperatures they’re about perfect.
Last, but by no means least, is the Balaclava, which is also the best I’ve tried. It is well made, with good material and a practical adjustable design. In fact, if I only bought one thing from the HC range, it would be the balaclava.
All four items are available in Loden green, MOBU Infinity camo, or Blaze orange camo. Prices are good, and everything is offered in a range of sizes too: S, M. L, XL, XXL, and XXXL for the jacket and trousers; S, M, L, XL for the gloves; and S-M, L-XL for the balaclava.
All in all, I think this is a range you should really take a look at. My only caveat would be that, if like me you tend to treat a hunting jacket as a high-capacity carrying system, you should consider investing in a day-sack or waist-pack too, as the Hell’s Canyon suit is aimed at keeping the hunter light and mobile as well as snug and stealthy, and this limits the amount you can carry in its pockets: not actually a bad thing!