In 2021, First Lite made some major additions to their pant line. Before the release you would have seen three major western hunting pants in their line; the Obsidian merino wool pant, the ultra-durable Corrugate Guide nylon stretch pant, and the late-season fleece-lined Catalyst pant. They decided not to replace the originals but instead wanted to redesign them, adding new features and toughening them up to bring you the Foundry series.

A Major Sizing Change

The original line uses the broad sizing of small, medium, and large with a tall inseam option for each. The Foundry series, however, adopts a more accurate way of sizing with waist and inseam options. I’m about 5’10” with a fairly long inseam and roughly 165 lbs. I wear a size 32×35 in the Foundry line which runs about even with regular jean sizing.

The Obsidian Foundry

The Obsidian is a merino wool pant, known for its unique temperature regulation properties, natural odor-fighting, and very quiet material. The Foundry renditions of these pants, in my opinion, should fully replace the original because of the nylon material additions in key wear areas. The seat is now a stretch nylon that extends into the crotch area. You’ll also find the durable nylon on the knees down to the pant cuff, adding abrasion resistance to the lower leg. Every complaint I hear about the original Obsidian comes down to durability in the seat area, so I think this new addition will be welcomed by many.

Lots of folks love these pants for all seasons but for me, the Obsidian Foundry is my go-to for early-season archery deer, antelope, and elk when being quiet matters most. Available here.

The Corrugate Foundry

I’m fortunate to be able to work closely with First Lite and actually had a pre-production run of the Corrugate Foundry pants to use in 2020. I used them from August through December from the high country of Wyoming to mountain goat country on Kodiak Island. If there is such a thing as a do-it-all pant for all seasons and all terrain, this is it.

The pants start with a nylon stretch fabric that is well known for being very durable. Then they added a two-layer waterproof membrane on the seat and knees, which I felt made a difference when constantly sitting and kneeling in wet environments. Speaking of kneeling, they also added a low-profile removable knee pad. The sleeve for the knee pad uses a claspless closure so you won’t have velcro or a zipper rubbing on your leg. I’ve used a lot of knee pads from similar companies and typically they’ve been bulky and uncomfortable. I can honestly say these new knee pads have been non-obtrusive and plain impressive. Available here.

Lastly, I was thrilled to see hip vents make it into the pants. This feature alone makes the pants far more versatile and truly an all-season option. As you are hiking the vents can be unzipped for maximum heat loss to avoid sweating, then quickly zipped closed when you reach your destination to trap the heat. The zipper is burly and runs down near the knee and does not feature a mesh backer. At first, I was unsure about not having a mesh option but after using the pants I prefer the nonbacked design. The addition of the hip zipper forced the cargo pockets to be shifted forwards. I’m indifferent to the change and found the new placement to be easy to access and non-obtrusive.

The Catalyst Foundry

The Catalyst pant is what I turn to when the temperatures drop in mid-November through my guiding season in December. It is a two-layer softshell pant that has a thin fleece inner using 37.5 lining. The technology of 37.5 is using synthetic fibers mixed with carbon particles and together they actively pull moisture from your skin. The fleece liner is comfortable and allows the pants to perform well in plummeting temperatures. The Catalyst is a lot like its brother, featuring the reinforced waterproof seat, but goes a step further with the knees and continues the membrane to the pant cuff. This protects the entire lower leg from soaking up moisture, very similar to a leg gaiter.

They went a step further with the hip vents, adding a double zipper and extending them all the way to the pant cuff, similar to what you see on a pair of bibs. With the double zipper, you can unzip from the top down, acting as a hip vent for dumping heat quickly. As mentioned earlier the waterproofing below the knee acts as a gaiter and works well. However, in wet snow I’ve found the zipper on the pant cuff can get iced up and is tough to function. So if you’re in wet snow and freezing conditions I would recommend using a regular pair of leg gaiters. Available here.

Foundry Wrap Up

In my opinion, First Lite nailed these additions. If you’re looking for an all-season versatile and durable pant, I would strongly recommend ordering the Corrugate Foundry Pants. In the warm months, the hip vents will assist ventilation, and by adding a merino base layer, such as the Wick or Furnace, you can push the pants into lower temperatures comfortably. If you do a lot of archery hunting and need a material that is dead quiet, the Obsidian Foundry is a great addition. You will be very happy adding the Catalyst Foundry to your closet if you hunt a lot during the late season in brutal conditions.

Ask Jordan questions or listen to her Rokcast episode on First Lite.

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Jordan Budd was born and raised on her family's cattle ranch near Rushville, Nebraska. Growing up on the ranch provided numerous opportunities for antelope, mule deer, whitetail, turkeys, and predators. Having always rifle hunted, during high school she bought a bow and taught herself archery and every since has been hooked. Videography and photography has also been a passion of hers since high school, and in 2014 she was brought onto the show Best of the West TV as a field producer and editor, filming hunts during spring and fall throughout the West and other regions including Alaska, Canada, and New Zealand. She now lives in Cody, Wyoming and works full time for the show. She thoroughly enjoys the backpacking life while testing out gear, scouting the high country, taking photos and just enjoying the time around wildlife and being in the outdoors. She loves writing articles and making videos to pass on what she has learned to benefit fellow hunters heading into the field.