There is no question that First Lite’s Source and Origin lines of insulated hunting clothing are aimed squarely at the whitetail hunter with features like a pass-through for a tree stand safety harness and ultra-quiet soft exterior fabrics.  However, I think western hunters can find the list of features pretty appealing for the wide open spaces of mule deer and elk country as well.  With this in mind, I took a look at the newly released Source Vest and Origin Pant from a Western hunting perspective.

First Lite Source Vest

I have always appreciated insulated vests for western hunting.  In the early season, they provide just enough extra protection to ward off the camp chill in the morning.  Where they really shine for me, though, is the mid and late seasons when they function as a torso-warming mid-layer.

For 2023, First Lite has introduced a vest version of their popular whitetail hunting insulated jacket, the Source Jacket.  The Source Vest is pretty much a sleeveless version of the Source Jacket.  The vest borrows features and technology from the jacket. Available here.

Let’s take a look at the specs:
  • Tested size:  Medium
  • Length:  29.5 inches (collar to hem)
  • Weight (measured): 12.71 ounces
  • Insulation: Primaloft Gold Stretch Synthetic Insulation.
  • Price:  $160.00

The Source Vest has a super soft and quiet microfiber-like interior lining and a soft, supple, and quiet DWR-treated outer fabric printed in First Lite’s own Specter camouflage pattern.  First Lite says Specter uses a “nature-based algorithm” specifically designed for tree stand hunting of whitetail deer.  I think it looks pretty retro and uses common earth tones that are pretty versatile. While the camo may be intended for Eastern woods, I do think it looks right at home in the West as well.  The vest also has a blaze orange FirstLite logo on the chest and “First Lite” spelled out in blaze orange on the upper back.

Further features include two zippered handwarmer pockets that are easy to access under a bino harness, and one large chest pocket, that requires you to reach behind your harness to access.  The full zip goes right up to the chin, and the cut of the garment essentially turns the collar into a neck gator when fully zipped.  The fabric stretches and moves with the hunter, which works well when sized for a close fit.

Source Vest in the Field

I wore the vest on early morning scouting trips in temps ranging from the upper 30s to the lower 60s.  There were a few things of note:

  1. The warmth-to-weight ratio seems very high. I see this piece as a warm addition to a late-season elk layering system.
  2. The Source Vest is quiet, and that is just as welcome in the elk woods as the whitetail tree stand. The noise produced through movement through brush is just remarkably quieter than traditional insulated western hunting clothing like my First Lite Uncompahgre puffy.
  3. The layering ability of the Source Vest is as good as any insulated vest I’ve tried. It slides over baselayers and under shells without issue.
  4. The neck collar design is well implemented and seals in torso heat.
  5. The soft fabrics used don’t provide the wind resistance of other vest options.

Most western hunters won’t use the safety harness pass-through, but it is there if needed and doesn’t detract from the overall performance.  I really like the Source vest as a reasonably lightweight, warm, and quiet layering vest. The vest seemed to breathe well, and I didn’t get too swamped out as temps rose in the day.

First Lite Origin Pant

Another new whitetail-oriented tool with crossover Western capabilities is the Origin Pant. Here are the specs:

  • Tested size:  Medium
  • Length:  39 inches (belt to cuff – excluding stirrup)
  • Weight (measured): 15.97 ounces
  • Insulation: Poly fleece lining.
  • Price:  $125.00

The Origin Pant shares a lot with the Source Vest and more than just the Specter camo.  The exterior DWR-treated fabric has the same super quiet, soft feel. Just like the Source Vest, the Origin Pant is really stretchy.  My first impression of putting on the pant was like slipping into a pajama.

Origin Pant in the Field

First Lite bills the Origin pant as an early season outer layer and later season mid layer.  I found it is likely a workable outer layer and really a great mid-layer.  Some impressions:

  1. The integrated, internal stretch belt certainly would get out of the way of a treestand harness, but Western hunters will find it also gets out of the way of their backpack hip belt. Unfortunately, like many stretch belts, it tended to loosen up on its own when on the move.  I would have preferred a belt with less stretch and more security.
  2. The pant has two front pockets (with an additional internal separate pocket on each side for organization), a zippered (and hidden) rear pocket, and a zippered phone pocket on the right thigh.
  3. While whitetail hunters will find the “deployable” heel stirrups and trim and tapered fit are great for getting into mud boots, I found it just as convenient for layering in a western hunting system. Pretty easy to slide into a soft-shell or hard-shell pant without riding up.
  4. When using the pants as an outer layer, the slim fit and stirrups work against getting the pants over the boot, although it works ok once you get them situated.
  5. These pants give up some wind resistance to be so soft and quiet.
  6. The soft fabric tended to catch on the brush occasionally.

For my uses, I really see the Origin pant as a warm mid-layer under a hard shell for those really cold horseback elk hunts where I spend a lot of time glassing in cold and snowy conditions.  They really seem to provide quite a bit of warmth but still breath well.  Another application would be as a mule deer archery stalking pant for closing the distance on a bedded buck.  These pants are nearly silent, even when brushing against rocks and sticks.

Together, both the Source Vest and Origin Pants share some pros and cons from a Western hunting perspective:

  1. Extremely quiet
  2. Great warmth for the weight
  3. Ideal mid layers
  4. Great workmanship/sewing
  1. Not windproof
  2. Softer exterior fabric catches brush.
  3. Durability concerns if used as an outer layer.

It was an interesting exercise looking at these whitetail-centric clothing from a Western hunting perspective.  These new pieces fit in with hunting in the West in a number of ways.  There are certainly avid tree stand hunters out west, and these will fit right into their kit.  Eastern hunters that hunt from treestands will find these as tools for their primary hunting needs at home but also serve double duty for their trips out west.  Western hunters looking for a quiet solution for some hunting scenarios or warm mid-layers without too much bulk should give the Source Vest and Origin Pants a close look, too.  Don’t overlook these pieces as good insulation under waders, either.  I look forward to bringing these whitetail hunting clothes on my hunts in mule deer and elk country this season.

Comment or ask Matt questions here.



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Matt Cashell
Matt Cashell is a Montana hunter. Matt has traveled to all corners of his home state chasing whatever game he can. Matt has been lucky to take great trophies in Montana’s classic game species: Rocky Mountain Elk, Mule Deer, and Pronghorn. When he isn’t out chasing big game, he might be pointing a shotgun at flushing roosters, casting flies for Montana’s monster trout, or working on shooting precision long range rifles. Matt has spent more time outdoors than in through his formative years, and has deep roots in family hunting traditions garnered from years of following his father and uncle in Montana’s wild places. Family is important to Matt as he works to pass on those traditions to his five kids in the Bitterroot Valley of Western Montana, with the help of his loving wife, Heather.A self-proclaimed gear geek, Matt continues to pursue the ragged edge of hunting technology, and any small advantage or comfort that can increase his chances of backcountry success. Particularly an optics addict, Matt is always trying to see better, and find those wiley critters before they find him. It doesn’t matter what weapon is used, the hunt and wild places draw him to the woods, time after time. Going in deeper, and hunting harder is always the goal with Matt, and the pursuit of that goal never ends.