The Rok Blog is the place to check out how gear is actually performing in the field.  We go beyond the ads and put it all to the test in real-world conditions.  

Although I’m not a hard-core shed hunter (unless I’ve found a great buck on the winter range,) I do hit the hills for the spring ritual.  It’s a great time to camp, get the horses in shape, tune-up my game eyes, and test new gear.

For 2013, First Lite, is bringing out their outer layer system.  It will be available by June.  So far, I’ve tested two out of the three pieces:

1) The Uncompahgre “puffy” jacket


2) The North Branch softshell pant


I wanted to see if these garments were really better than my traditional wool/Gore-tex parka and fleece/Gore-Tex Pants I’ve worn for over a decade. Here is a video review of what I’ve learned so far (and yes, I know, my zipper is undone!):


For you ounce and gram counters, I compared my old outer layer system mentioned above with the new First Lite stuff.  

My old parka/pant = 75 ounces

First Lite Puffy and Pant = 55 ounces

so I saved a pound and a quarter.  Not too shabby even by this redneck.

You also heard me mention the base layer Merino wool items- the Allegheny long underwear, Red Desert Boxer, Llano top, and Labrador Sweater.  I did a weight comparison against my old polypropylene long underwear, briefs, and top, and army wool button-up shirt. 

My old system = 45 ounces

First Lite’s = 46 ounces

The smell that was coming out of my old stuff isn’t worth the one ounce savings!

If you want more info straight from First Lite, check out the videos I did at the 2013 SHOT show with First Lite owner, Kenton Carruth, here: SHOT 2013 First Lite, post #1 and #10

I’ll be testing that outer layer jacket on my next few trips, so watch for that blog post coming up.

Finally, the First Lite Neck Gaiter

If you have any questions, be sure to comment below.

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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


  1. Great review Robby. Being from southern Idaho I’m sure you’ve used and worn a “wild rag” in the past on hunts and in cold weather. Do you think the Neck Gaiter will replace or be better than a wild rag?

  2. Mike, I’m not a real cowboy but have ridden with a few. Their wild rags were either silk or cotton and weren’t form fitting with stretch like the FL gaiter. I’d bet my saddle this Merino gaiter is better as it will close the air gaps as you move your head and you don’t have to mess with a knot.

  3. Robby,

    Merino wool neck gaiters are certainly becoming more and more popular, as evidenced by the fact that most mfgrs are carrying them. Another similar option is a merino wool buff, which is a long tube made of merino wool that is much longer than a neck gaiter and as a result it can be used in a few more ways than the neck gaiter.

  4. Larry, I haven’t seen or heard of the buff. What else can you use it for and who’s carrying it? This First Lite Gaiter is plenty long enough to pull up over the face.

  5. Robby, this is Larry Schwartz (can’t see how to log into the blog),

    A buff is like a long tube of fabric. It can be worn like a neck gaiter, around the neck or all the way up over the head like a balaclava or anywhere in between. But, since it is longer and looser than a neck gaiter it can also be worn as a hat or headband or around the wrist. If you ever watch the TV show, Survivor, the tribe colors they get are buffs. It is a pretty versatile piece of kit, that like many pieces of clothing or gear that were initially unique to some obscure segment of human activity they have found their way into the worlds of the outdoor enthusiasts and hunters.

    Here are some links where you can see examples of buffs, specifically merino wool buffs, although they are made from fleece and other fabrics as well…



    And this shows you different ways a buff can be worn: http://www.buffusa.com/wear/ways_to_wear_a_buff


  6. Larry, I think you just go back to the blog and hit the comments button at the bottom to post. Thanks for the links. Looks very versatile. We’ll see if First Lite has plans for these. thanks

  7. Robby, given a couple of years of use with the first lite how do you like them? I currently hunt with army surplus wool pants and long johns. My wife gets embarressed every time i wear them. I was looking at first lite to try some clothing. Just curious what you thought.


  8. Mathew,
    good questions. Yes, I still have all that first lite gear- the Llano top, still holding up great and probably has 60 days on it. Same with the Allegheny bottoms. Uncompahgre, besides a tear in the arm from a barbwire fence, working great (wore it yesterday) and holding it’s loft very well. The Kanab pants lasted about 40 days before I’d ripped them on so many barbed wire fences that they needed replaced. Buy pieces as you can afford them and watch Rokslide classified for good deals. My favorite piece is still my Uncompahgre

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