First Lite Women’s Baselayer Review
By Becca Moffat, Rokslide Prostaff
When First Lite announced they were releasing a women’s line of hunting clothing, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it! My husband, Luke, has been using their men’s clothing for several years now. We have always been impressed by the quality and attention to detail they offer in their products.
There is a serious lack of high performance women’s clothing intended for hunting. I’m happy to see First Lite step up and offer clothing designed specifically for the female backcountry hunter. The initial offerings in the First Lite Women’s line are a full system of merino wool base layers. I understand that First Lite hopes to expand the women’s line to include pants and outerwear in the near future.
The First Lite Women’s Baselayer System includes four pieces designed to work together or separately to accommodate a wide range of temperatures
All the pieces are made from ultra-fine 100% merino wool; the Lupine Crew and Syringa Shorts are 17.5 micron weight wool, while the Artemis Hoody and Larkspur Bottoms are slightly heavier at 18.5 micron weight wool.
First Lite offers the line in three solids and four camo prints, so there is a style for every outdoor and hunting use. I was impressed right away with how soft the merino felt against my skin. Also, the flat lock seam design means there is no bunching or rubbing where the fabric is sewn together.
Both the Artemis and Lupine feature thumbholes, which I love for keeping my wrists covered while wearing gloves. When not using the thumb holes, the wrists on both tops offer enough give to easily push the sleeves up my forearms to the elbow, which is handy when I get hot hiking, or want to keep my sleeves clean while butchering an animal.
I used the Lupine Crew or Artemis Hoody as my long-sleeved piece for most of my summer backpack trips. I also used them layered together for moose, caribou, and Sitka blacktail deer hunts where I encountered colder temps. I personally prefer the Artemis over the Lupine simply because of the 1/4 zip and hood. I was amazed by how easy it was to get warm in colder temps or when the wind was blowing, simply by donning the hood over a ball cap or lightweight beanie. If I got hot while hiking, it was easy to cool down some by unzipping the 1/4 zip to increase airflow. I have no complaints about the Lupine Crew, but if I had to choose only one of the two tops it would be the Artemis hands down due to its versatility and the addition of the hood.
I also used the Syringa Shorts alone under hiking pants, as well as in conjunction with the Larkspur bottoms. Both bottom pieces feature a 3″ wide waistband, much like those found in yoga pants. Besides being flattering, this design allowed great freedom of movement when worn under other layers like hiking pants and rain pants. I also noticed that the wide waistband had a tendency to stay put underneath the waist belt of my backpack when I hauled heavy loads. This kind of attention to detail really impressed me, as it was obvious First Lite was truly designing this line to accommodate the specific needs of the female hunter instead of just shrinking down the men’s version and putting a pink logo on it (as is often the case when manufacturers try to create a “women’s hunting” line of clothing).
The one thing I dislike about the Syringa shorts is they seemed to fit looser than most other styles of women’s underwear to which I am more accustomed. I often felt like I wasn’t wearing underwear at all, which was kind of an odd sensation for me, but is attributed more to the difference in cut than to any fault of the shorts themselves.
Merino is often prone to durability issues, but after roughly 50 days of field use with the Artemis, (plus 15 to 20 days with all four pieces used together) I have not yet encountered any holes, pilling or other evidence of fabric breakdown. I machine washed and dried all the pieces between trips, and they have no odor that I can detect when they are clean. In the field, all pieces performed just as I would expect quality merino to behave: minimal stink despite days of sweating, and the fabric felt warm to my skin even when it was wet from rain or sweat.
The four pieces of the First Lite Women’s line performed well on their own, and when used as a system. First Lite was scrupulous in designing these items to perform well for a female hunter’s specific needs, and it truly shows. I would love to see the addition of a short sleeved tee shirt to their offerings, as well as a more traditional style of women’s brief. These two additional pieces would round out what is already a great system for hunting in a variety of temperatures. Overall, First Lite knocked it out of the park with the first four pieces in their Women’s line, and I can’t wait to see what they will offer next.
For more information, visit First Lite’s website here
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