Kryptek chest pockets

Kryptek chest pockets

Kryptek Dalibor II Early Season Soft Shell Jacket

By Robby Denning, Rokslide Co-owner

I’m an early-season bowhunter, chasing muleys from the desert mountain ranges to the high country of the West. These seasons typically run about mid-August through late September. Daytime temps can run into the 90s in the desert to the twenties in the high country. This 70-degree swing requires a lot from a clothing system.

Even though Kryptek has been a Rokslide sponsor since our first year, I had yet to try any of their clothing. I’d heard plenty of good things from Rokslide members and staff on the performance and absolute diversity offered in the Kryptek lineup.  I was planning an early season bowhunt for mule deer, so I contacted co-owner Butch Whiting at Kryptek to see what clothing I could try. Within a few days, I had in hand the Dalibor II Soft Shell Jacket in my favorite pattern, Highlander (that just so happens to match my Athens Convixtion Bow and my trusty old Rokslide ball cap.)

 

The Dalibor II is a full synthetic soft shell jacket designed to be used in a layering system. It’s known as an early season jacket but can be pressed to perform in colder temps later in the fall. It’s made of 87% polyester/13% Spandex with a brushed fleece lining. This combination gives the jacket plenty of stretch for comfort and function and is very comfortable against the skin.  The Dalibor II is light enough at 26 ounces and is very thin. To my delight, I also found it quiet. Many of the high performing fabrics today are a little too noisy for close-in encounters common to bowhunting.

It featured 13-inch zippers in the armpits- pit zips- which really open the jacket up to airflow. The outer fabric is Durable Water Repellant coated. The hood is designed to improve peripheral vision according to their website.

kryptekpitzips

13-inch pit zips open the Dalibor to airflow when needed

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At 5’9″ & 180 lbs, the size large fit me well and left room to spare for several more layers.

I promptly donned the Dallibor II and stepped outside to my archery range behind the house.  I always shoot my bow several times and in multiple positions in any new garment as this can reveal clearance and restriction problems. The fabric stretch combined with the Dalibor’s thinness proved great with no binding or string interference.

Butch also sent me their Hyperion warm weather shirt. It is a pure polyester shirt designed to transport moisture and heat efficiently. I paired the Hyperion with a lightweight merino top and a rain jacket for my upcoming 10-day hunt.

Hyperion

Hyperion Short Sleeve

The Hunt

I started my season on foot in a desert mountain range on the 29th of August. With highs in the 90s and lows in the 40s, I only needed the Dalibor II jacket while I was glassing before about 8:00 AM. If I was hiking or it was later than that, I was glad for the pack-ability of the Dalibor as it was either in my pack or strapped to it. The Hyperion paired only with the Dalibor was all I needed for these conditions. I spent four rainless warm days chasing a nice-sized non-typical buck before I finally spooked him from the area. I only accumulated about ten hours in the jacket during that four days. The jacket was more than enough for those conditions, and had performance in the bank if the morning temps had fallen even more.

Back at home, I packed the horses and headed for some Idaho high country. I arrived at my camp at 9,000 feet just as a cold snap brought the first freezing temps of the season. I stayed in a backpack tent and wore my Dalibor over the Hyperion over a merino top (next to skin) to bed each night and well into the morning when the temps would finally climb into the low 50s.

Dallibor II at camp

Although I was using horses to access camp, I was still putting a few miles on foot each day and the jacket was about perfect for these temps. If it was a steady hike, I’d open the front and pit zips, but if it got really steep, I just strapped it to my pack. The lack of bulk was nice.

The weather moderated a bit over the six days, but the nip of fall was definitely in the air and I wore the jacket most of the day, save the warmest hours of the afternoon. Only on a few early morning glassing sessions when the temps were in the 30’s did I feel underdressed.  That hunt ended with no buck.  Here’s a video excerpt from that hunt that shows the Dalibor II: Day 7

Once home and caught up with work, I did half-day hunts throughout the rest of the season in areas close to home. We never had any wet or really bad weather on the days I could hunt. By the time I was preparing my favorite tag soup recipe on the last day of the season, I’d accumulated over 20 days on the Dalibor.

tempatcamp

With freezing nights and daytime highs around 50, the Dalibor IIalong with the Hyperion and a lightweight merino topwas about right for the conditions

Some Final Thoughts

I liked the Dalibor II. It still looks new so should last many seasons.  The pit zips are nice and do work. They usually take two hands to operate, but once open, they really improve ventilation when hiking. This is much easier than taking the jacket off when under exertion.

The jacket features two chest pockets that are well placed and super handy for items like your release, optics cloth, Kleenex, beanie, and other small items.  Of course there are roomy side pockets that serve well as handwarmers. I don’t like to keep items in side pockets as I tend to inadvertently drag them out and drop them when removing my hands. That is why the chest pockets are so nice. There are also upper arm pockets on each arm big enough to carry a phone or a GPS, but I personally didn’t use them.  All pockets have a zipper hood at the top to prevent leakage but I didn’t get to test them in any more than a brief shower.  Zipper pulls also have handy cord extensions for gloved operation.

Zippers

The Dalibor’s weakness is in cold winds. I’d say the jacket is wind-resistant but not wind-proof. This adds to its breathabilty but if you’re going to be hunting when wind chills in the 40s might be a problem, you’ll need to pack a windproof layer like I did with my raingear. For what the Dalibor II lacks in the wind-proof department, it makes up for in breathability and is why it’s a good match for an active hunter.

While I managed to put 20 days on the jacket without much rain, I did test the hood. It fit my good-sized noggin well (I wear a size 7.5 hat.) The full peripheral vision design actually worked, preventing the feeling of peering out of a cave so common with some jackets. The hood was warm and very welcome when the breeze picked up. While it’s an early season jacket, layering the hood with a light beanie should get you to freezing, especially on active hunts.

The large size fit me well and I could have worn a heavy merino top in addition to the light merino with no problem. However, Krypetk designs their clothing in systems, so you can likely make a better match by contacting Kryptek directly if the budget allows more than just the jacket.

Although I never got to test the DWR beyond a brief shower, it should perform well. However, on any trip forecasted with rain or planned beyond a few days, I’m packing rain gear anyway.

I’d recommend the Dalibor II Soft Shell Jacket for early season western hunts in temps from the mid twenties (with layering) to even the warmest days, as it’s easy to pack down. As mentioned, if wind chill is a problem, be sure and layer accordingly.  You can find the Dalibor II in the Kryptek store here

You can ask Robby questions or discuss this article here

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Robby Denning
Robby Denning started hunting mule deer in the late 1970’s, only missing one season in 35 years. At 25, he gave up the pursuit of all other big-game to focus on taking the best bucks possible. He began hunting the West on a DIY budget hunting an average of 30 days a year for mule deer. Robby loves the hunt as much as the kill and the entire process from research to scouting to hunting. He’s killed four bucks over 200 inches in the last 15 seasons, mostly on easily-obtained tags. He owns a public-land scouting service and runs a private-land outfitting business helping other hunters in their pursuit of deer and elk. Robby has scouted and hunted literally thousands of square miles of mule deer country and brings a wealth of knowledge about these experiences with him. To him, the weapon of choice is just a means-to-an-end and will hunt with bow, rifle, or muzzleloader – whatever it takes to create an opportunity to take a great mule deer. He is also the author of "Hunting Big Mule Deer" available on Amazon. Robby believes all of creation is from God for man to manage, respect, and through which to know its Creator