Brakenwear launched into the world bowhunting scene with the logo “our goal is to put you in hunting clothes that optimise your performance”, with a range of camouflage clothing built for the active hunter. Designed by Aussies for conditions in Australia and abroad, they have quickly amassed a following for their products which are designed to suit the diversity of conditions that the avid hunter will encounter, and it was with great pleasure that Arrowhead Mag received a number of garments from Brakenwear to review.
The Brakenwear pattern itself is distinctive and is based on the visually disruptive markings of one of the world’s most successful predators – the tiger. Darker narrow stripes overlapped with lighter shades over a neutral background provide effective camouflage and boundary disruption. The colours selected are commonly found in the natural environment all over the world and provided exceptional camouflage across the diversity of physical terrains field testing was conducted in.
Field testing was conducted on four products from the Brakenwear range – the Peak Season trousers, the Peak Season jacket, the Scorcher top, and the hood.
Peak Season Trousers
The Peak Season trousers were conceived for the active hunter seeking a balance between insulation and breathability in cool to cold climates – not what one would expect to find in the Northern Territory, but with the cold dry season mornings dropping to below 10 degrees the warmth offered by the trousers was welcomed by an acclimatised tropical creature such as myself.
The trousers feature a light weight, durable outer shell material bonded to a micro fleece lining. Unlike some other garments featuring similar construction methods, the Peak Season trousers do not feel bulky or cumbersome, nor do they restrict the movements of the wearer, even climbing and scrambling up steep slopes or over fallen timber. The trousers are secured by a sturdy button at the front and feature 5 belt loops around the waist. YKK ‘silentslide’ zippers ensure that everything that opens and closes does so quietly, and without snags or breakages.
A large zipper running down the outside of each leg (mid thigh to mid calf) opens a large mesh vent panel in the leg, allowing the wearer to quickly and easily regulate their temperature according to conditions and individual preference – keep it zipped up to stay toasty warm for those times of inactivity such as glassing or around camp, open it part way to regulate temperature under moderate load, or open it completely to dump excess heat from the trousers and cool down during periods of high activity. The Peak Season trousers have ‘Dry Seat’ technology built in to the backside – this durable membrane prevents moisture wicking through the seat of the pants and giving the wearer a wet bum. The trousers have two hip pockets, two backside pockets, and two generous thigh pockets to carry give ample storage solutions for those items you need to access quickly.
The Peak Season trousers also incorporate an articulated neoprene knee pad to provide additional protection for the wearer. Testing of the trousers in real life conditions found the kneepad to offer great protection and made crawling and kneeling much more comfortable, allowing the wearer to concentrate more on the stalk, swinging the odds of success in their favour and the loose fit of the bottom of the trousers allowed the legs to sit well over the wearers boots, keeping the inevitable scourge of grass seeds in socks at bay and offering additional protection from bitey things like ants, ticks and spiders.
Peak Season jacket
The Peak Season jacket is complimentary to the Peak Season trousers and is made from the same laminated material and performs with similar characteristics as the trousers, and was designed for active hunters in cool to cold climates.
Large pockets situated on the front of the chest allow for convenient carriage of smaller items, while fleece lined hand pockets in the usual position provide a warm haven for cold fingers to recover. YKK ‘silentslide’ zips feature throughout, ensuring reliability and ease of use without the usual noise associated with the movement of a zipper. The front zip runs the full length of the jacket allowing for easier regulation of body temperature, and a high collar affords the wearer great protection from the cold.
Located in the armpits of the jacket are long zips running from mid chest to elbow under the arms. These allow for fantastic airflow and excellent thermal regulation – open them right up to cool down, or close them to keep the warmth inside.
The Peak Season jacket features flat lock stitching for greater comfort and the cut of the jacket is such that it promotes freedom of movement while walking, climbing and other activities requiring unrestricted movement of the upper body. The elbows of the jacket are articulated for greater comfort, and in no way hinder movement or restrict the draw/ shoot cycle that is so critical to hunting archers.
The Scorcher top has been designed by the team at Brakenwear for warm to hot climates and is made from polyester materials featuring Airflux technology – micro perforations in the material that allow moisture to escape and air to flow across the wearer’s body. The result is a garment that weighs little and dries quickly which aids performance by wicking moisture away and cooling the wearer.
The garment features flat lock stitching, a YKK ‘silentslide’ ½ front zip and 4-way stretch material for increased comfort and performance, as well as thumb loops to keep the full length sleeves in place. The cut of the garment is designed for active hunters and provides comfort and protection from the environment whilst allowing freedom of movement for the draw/ shoot cycle and negotiating broken terrain in the name of the hunt.
The Brakenwear face mask is made from the same polyester airflux material as the Scorcher top and provides full face coverage with an elasticised hole for the eyes of the wearer – imagine a camouflage ninja, if you will!
The face mask breathes well and features flat lock stitching and a generous length to provide excellent protection from the sun. The wearer suffers only a slight reduction in hearing but no impairment of vision at all.
Field testing of the Brakenwear gear was conducted in the Northern Territory with temperatures varying between 5 degrees overnight well inland, to mid 30’s during the day and across mixed terrains of savannah woodlands, dry floodplains, woody scrub and paperbark swamp, the testing would push the technical abilities of the garments in thermal control, in addition to providing a good representative environment which Aussie hunters will encounter.
Rolling out of the swag and into the Brakenwear gear, you’re immediately toasty warm and well protected from the biting cold of a Territory dry season morning. It wasn’t long before we were on the hoof and following the winding creek beds in search of hogs. Scrambling up and down the steep embankments of the creeks, and climbing over deadfall timber soon showed how the cut of the garments moved with the hunter, rather than against them.
With the increased activity, opening the vents under the armpits of the jacket and down the sides of the trousers allowed cool air to flow in and keep the temperature down, as well as rapidly moving moisture heavy air away to improve comfort, endurance and performance.
The Brakenwear pattern provided excellent boundary disruption, especially in mottled shade and shadow – the stripes of the pattern blended well with the surroundings. On numerous occasions we had ever-alert wallabies rise from their beds to inspect the sounds of movement, but rather than flee they were unable to visually identify us and simply returned to their rest even with their exceptional vision.
As temperatures rose, the Peak Season jacket came off and the cooling effects of the Scorcher top provided welcome relief from the heat of the day. Airflow through the garment was excellent, allowing us to push that little bit harder. Moving up a small creek system a wallowing hog was spotted half in the water, resting but still alert. A deliberate decision was made to test the Brakenwear pattern by taking the shot at close range with little cover.
Crawling in to just under ten metres, the knee pads in the trousers proved their worth by increasing comfort on the hard ground, allowing me concentrate on the stalk. I rose slowly with an arrow on the string in plain view of the resting hog, and despite looking directly at me twice in the space of 30 seconds, the pig remained none the wiser to my presence – the pattern works well.
Overall, we found the Brakenwear range of garments tested to be comfortable, practical and great for the active hunter – clever design features and practicality make for a versatile and durable product that should last many seasons.
At the time of writing, warm weather trousers to compliment the Scorcher top should be due for Summer 2017, but the Peak Season trousers and jacket would be ideally suited to those hunters in the southern states or New Zealand looking to push themselves and their gear in the pursuit of their quarry.
The Peak Season Jacket retails in Australia for $189.00, the Peak Season Pant retails for $228.50, The Scorcher Top retails for $98.50 and the face mask retails for $19.95. For more information, check out Brakenwear on Facebook or Instagram, hit their website at www.brakenwear.com, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
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