A decade ago, in 2011, a new hunting gear company was founded, KUIU. The founder, Jason Hairston wanted to create a Mountain Hunting Clothing company that offered the highest performance, quality, and lightest available materials to the consumer. Being a gear junky of sorts, and one who is always looking to refine my collection of mountain gear, I stumbled on to this new company KUIU a few months prior to them offering their first products. Let’s just say I was very pleased with my initial purchase. The guide jacket and pants to this day are still being used in the mountains. A little tattered and torn in places from the many days afield but still doing the job they were designed for: keeping me comfortable in places not many venture.
I received the KUIU KENAI Hooded Jacket in September of 2021 and wore it in the mountains of North Idaho from September to late November, both elk and deer hunting. Thankfully for me, my KUIU gear has always fit perfectly for my size. At 5’7″ 160lbs, the large fit as expected giving me enough room for a base layer and a mid-layer if wanted. The KENAI jacket is built to be an active insulating piece for your collection. More info.
Testing the KUIU Kenai Jacket
My first day out using the jacket was elk calling for a friend. As is typical in North Idaho, it was raining. After several hours chasing bugling elk in the very wet brush, it was time for a change of clothes. I grabbed the Kenai to wear as my outer layer over one merino top for the several-hour walk out. With a balmy temperature in the 30’s, the jacket was a nice layer to put on to warm up my old body.
I noticed is how well the jacket material beads up water. I would equate it to a fresh waxing on a vehicle. The outer fabric is K-DWR treated to resist light moisture and rain. Additionally, the outer shell features a quilt-free design, eliminating unnecessary stitch holes. Having ripped and torn many gear items in very heavy brush country over the last 40 years, I am always curious how new gear will hold up. Let’s just say I was pleasantly surprised. After the first day in the brush, the jacket sustained no damage, kept me warm and I stayed relatively dry.
3DeFX+ by TORAY
Drastic stop-and-go activity levels can cause a buildup of sweat, leaving you chilled when you’re stationary. To mitigate this issue, breathable 3DeFX+ active insulation evaporates moisture while you’re active. Its continuous insulating fibers eliminate the ends that poke through the fabric, allowing us to spec a quieter uncoated fabric, giving you the ideal insulating layer for active hunts.
My elk hunt in October and deer hunt in November allowed me to experience a vast array of weather. Several days of solid rain, mixtures of rain and sleet, and bluebird days with temperatures in the teens. I found while moving and in high exertion mode the pit zips along with the jacket’s zipper allow you to dump heat and regulate your body temperature very well. In addition, the Kenai Jacket is body-mapped with heavier insulation at the core and lighter insulation on the sides. This creates added breathability and temperature regulation.
The Stunner Stretch composition fabric is very quiet, has a flat finish, and moves with your body. When you are wearing the jacket it has a feel of being incredibly light, especially for the amount of warmth and comfort it offers. It has a swept-back hood design that does not block your peripheral vision, with a back adjust cinch. The jacket can be stowed in either interior drop pocket. I found it just as easy to compress the jacket amongst other items in the pack, versus into the interior pocket, as it compresses very easily and into a small package. Two ample zip-close hand pockets, a hem cinch, elastic-bound cuffs that help to seal out moisture and retain heat, and a chest pocket round out the features of the jacket.
Kenai Durability and Scent Control
The jacket was worn twenty-plus days in the mountains. Some days simply just as an insulating layer while sitting and glassing. Other days I wore it during heavy exertion in extreme mountain conditions. The only damage sustained to the jacket was snagging it on barbwire wrapped around a tree (a biologist trick used to collect bear hair samples.) Stay away from barbwire and I can say the durability gets an A+:)
My body sweats heavily and on a few sustained climbs, the jacket had the opportunity to collect both sweat and rain/sleet during a fun North Idaho day that offered everything mother nature can throw at you in November. When I got home I did notice a little stink factor in the jacket but after that much use and zero washing, that would be expected. After a good washing, all stink was removed, just something to be mindful of as the jacket is so comfortable you may forget to take it off. Additionally, I did find that a small amount of piling on the sleeves has occurred from use.
The Kenai Hooded Jacket is offered in Valo, Verde, Vias, Ash, Gunmetal, and Olive. If you’re looking for an active insulating layer or a jacket that simply performs in all conditions, will last many years, feels as good on in the mountains as it does walking around town, the Kenai is likely to become one of your favorite go-to jackets for many activities! It is the do-everything jacket and for those that prefer a vest, that option is also available. Order here.
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More KUIU reviews are available here.