We ladies have long searched for good hunting gear. Well, this lady has anyway and in earnest since 1993. I have seen companies come and go, from Suzy Smith to Zanika. I’ve seen larger companies make good clothing... for a price and often, not for long. I’ve seen smaller companies make really high-end outdoor gear that I could not afford. I’ve seen fashionable outdoor clothing that didn’t perform. I think the basic problem was, it was not cost effective to mass produce high quality affordable women’s hunting and fishing gear, so no one did. But then the population of women hunters and anglers exploded and the demand was finally there.
About six years ago I needed some high tech rain gear for warm weather hunting. I had damaged my rain suit purchased from a large chain store but it was too far away to drive to. I was to bear hunt and time was short. I went into Gander Mountain and bought their men’s size small TecH2O rain suit and was happily surprised to find it had more features and it cost less than anything I had seen anywhere else. I took note.
That was the starting point. I started to see more women’s camo clothing at Gander, and slowly started buying various pieces. At first, I bought camo pants, shirts and jackets. They were real girl fitting clothes, with high tech features and high quality. The reason I liked the Gander women’s BDU type pants and shirts, besides the high quality and features comparable to men’s clothing, was a lot of little things. The legs were long enough to stay over my boots when I sat hunkered down under an oak tree turkey hunting with a shotgun rested on my knees. The arms of shirts were long enough to dovetail with gloves so there were no gaps for bugs to bite me. The arms were also roomy enough to draw my bow with comfort. Buttons and seams and collars were tough high quality construction and pockets were plentiful. The body of the Gander shirts fit me without being baggy or constrictive. In short, this stuff was not men’s or teenage boy’s camo clothing retro-fitted and a women’s label slapped on it. It was made for women and the fit was excellent.
One of my biggest complaints about most hunting clothing specifically made for women, has been the lack of quality, fit and features. Some of it even looks like it was made by a high school home-ec class. Many years ago, I used to buy men’s Browning Gortex Hydofleece quad jackets and bibs in size small just to get the quality and features I needed. I could get away with that because I am tall. In the past, I put up with things like the shoulders being huge and the crotch being 8 inches too low on pants and bibs but I put up with those problems to get quality. Other women’s clothing just was not made well either, even from other big chain stores. Buttons, snaps, seams and features were poor in quality in my opinion.
Enter Gander Mountain. Gander had started something, and I took notice that their selection of women’s outdoor clothing started to get better. I shopped all over, but always wound up back to Gander Mountain. Two years ago I bought, for half the price as other places, a women’s waterproof insulated jacket and pants the specs of which are noted at the end of this article. I was totally impressed and it immediately became my favorite hunting outfit. This gear kept me warm and dry, the features and quality were great and the price was reasonable… as in, less than half what I had paid before.
Then I started fishing last year and that sport requires a whole different wardrobe of outdoor gear - and Gander had the answers. After shopping all over, I found lots of men’s gear that had what I wanted. But none of it fit me very well. And again I found women’s gear that fell very short of having the features that I needed, it did not fit me right, or was ridiculously expensive so I could not afford it. So I went back to Gander Mountain and, not surprisingly, found the perfect “stuff” for my warm weather and my cold weather fishing needs. Again the specs of those items with photos are noted below.
I have rounded out my outdoors wardrobe with hats, boots, gloves and accessories all available at Gander Mountain. Do the “big box” stores have women’s camo hunting clothing? Some do, many don’t. But my experience overall with self brand name gear from others large chains is that the fit, quality and sizing are inconsistent and lacking, and the features mostly fall short of my demands. There are a few manufacturers of specialty women’s hunting and outdoor gear, and while some (but not all) of these manufacturers do have good merchandise, the prices are much higher than I want to spend. I am not a tightwad, but I want the best value for the best quality for my money. And Gander Mountain brand women’s hunting and outdoor clothing is my top choice for quality and price.
I guess the bottom line is this: I want to be comfortable, stay warm and dry, and have my gear fit me and perform perfectly at the moment of truth… when I am ready to harvest a critter… be it a fish, bear, deer, turkey or whatever. Hunting and fishing are challenging enough. I don’t need to be hindered by my clothing not being right. Gander Mountain women’s outdoor clothing does all that.
As a postscript to this review, I will share that I bought all the items I have reviewed for this article. I was not given any free merchandise to field test. I did not set out to field test Gander Mountain women’s clothing. I just ended up buying most of my gear at Gander because it was the best overall. I also bought the other brand outdoor clothing that I reference in this article in order to be fair.
-Guide Series Women’s Realtree Camo TecH2O waterproof insulated parka and pants
Pant: Adjustable Velcro waist with wide belt loops, YKK side leg zippers with snaps, 2 flap side pocket, 1 flap back pocket, 2 side cargo pockets, soft lining.
Parka: Zip of hood and brim visor, elastic waist cinch front, 6 outside zip pockets, large cargo side pockets, elastic cuff with Velcro, 2 inside zip pockets, 2-way YKK zipper with storm flap, elastic cinch waist.
-Women TecH2O waterproof breathable rain bibs and parka in dark red and black
(suggested retail parka $99.99, bibs $89.99)
-Women TecH2O packable summer weight rain jacket and pants
(suggested retail jacket $39.99)