I have the C4E element and switchback pants and am pretty happy with them. I've never owned Kuiu clothing, but I have owned the 2011 Kryptek Alois pants as well as the rain jacket and rain pants. The 2011 kryptek pants and raingear were junk and I took them back to Cabelas after hunting in them for less than a week. The Kryptek softshell jacket, however has been very good. I think the C4E stuff is very good quality for the price.
i think they are very good for their price point, and something to be considered for sure if you have a budget and most of us do. i don't own enough pieces to fully comment on your question, and the pieces i do have, i do not have enough field time with. I used the merino boxers and have no issues with them, i love their extremely light weight tek ball cap and used it last season--bought another one just to hang onto for when that one needs to be retired, and by appearance only as i havent used them, am very impressed with the torrent rain gear.
id like to eventually try some more pieces but cant justify replacing some of the first lite/kuiu/sitka pieces i have right now.....maybe a pair of switchback pants in the future for utah's early august hunts.
i am curious to know how their merino stacks up in comparison to first lite if anyone knows.
I have never used the other great clothing manufacturers clothing, but I have wore the guts out of my C4E and never had a problem with it, it still looks new after a year of hard use. I have a review on my blog of some of the pieces that I have if you are interested. For the price I don't think you can go wrong with Core4. I have friends that have Sitka and they are going to sell all of it to buy Core4.
I have used both C4E and first lite base layers. I think the first lite is better quality and warmer. The first lite merino material seems to be better wool. The one benefit, it is less expensive to buy C4E than many other brands especially through camofire. Just my 2cents.
I've been happy with my Core 4 stuff for the most part. The Element jacket is pretty nice and durable, although not very warm. It's great with a number of layers underneath though. The Switchback pants are really only good for one season if you hunt hard- mine were about shot after a Blacktail season and a Mule Deer hunt. The camo wore off the front of the legs and the material from the knees down turned into a fleece-like substance that liked to collect a lot of burrs and stickers. I've got one of their mid weight non-merino shirts, which id decent but the threads like to come undone down by the wrist. I don't have personal experience with the merino but my hunting partner wore one every day on our 7 day Nevada hunt last season and it really stayed fresh almost the whole time. He really liked it. All of my stuff is from 2011 and from what I have heard, their quality has come up since then- which I assume has translated to higher durability. I have since picked up a few pieces of Kryptek and so far I like the Kryptek better; except it would be hard to completely abandon that Element jacket.
I have wore the Tek ball cap, merino beanie, talus belt, and element vest a lot. All are solid. I have wore the merino shirts and boxers a lot also. I had a few small holes form in several pieces. Since I bought mine, I believe they went away from 100% merino in the boxers to make them more durable. I have an element jacket and pants, construction looks very good, but I haven't wore them enough to comment.
I picked up most of the Core4 line on Camofire and have been pretty happy with it for the money. The element jacket and pants are nice pieces and have some nice convenience features (love the leg vents and they are not on the outside of your leg to catch anything). They lack a little of the refinement and durability of my Sitka gear (mainly pre-Gore) that has been my go to gear for the last 5-6 years. I already have a bunch of piling or threads showing on the Core4 from multiflora rose and such that i do not have on my Sitka. Overall though I still think the Core4 are fine products.
On the merino wool i prefer the FL to Core4. I feel the FL is more durable, softer, and fits true. The Core4 does fine but i just feel the FL is much more refined and I trust it as my only base on a 7 hunt where i don't know that i would the Core4.
The Swtchback pants are outstanding for early season on their own and with a base layer you can take them into Oct/Nov. Another nice feature for those August /Sept hunts is the ability to roll up the legs and with a built in snap to make shorts out of them for that long hike out. These paired with the Pivot shirt make a great combination. I have worn mine for two seasons now and they are still in great shape which is amazing for all of the Wasatch front scrub oak I have to plow through! Camofire.com is yoru best bet to get some! kth
I have had really good luck with the 1/4 zip mountain mimicry merino shirts from Core4Element. They seem to be just as good/comfortable as my First Lite crew neck shirts. I have a Core4Element crew neck solid colored merino shirt or two that don't seem to be of the same quality as the 1/4 zip Mountain Mimicry shirts, but it may have just been that run?? I also have the Core4 rain wear, and so far it's been good...but I have not used it a lot yet like I have the merino shirts.