Gray’s Best 2019

Summer Camp, by Chet Reneson


[by Russ Lumpkin]

Dubarry Mayfly Gilet

Few garments make the transition from the field to social gathering more handsomely than something in waxed cotton. That’s especially true for the Mayfly Gilet ($239) from Dubarry of Ireland.

Genuine leather trim, tastefully placed around the garment, and brass buttons accentuate the vest’s rugged good looks. On the inside, the vest is packed with a bit of PrimaLoft for added warmth, and even the lining is handsome. It’s also capable of more than just providing warmth on a cool day—it withstands the clinging vines and brushes with limbs that are inevitable in the woods. Some abrasion against cured oak splits also helps bring out the goodness in the Mayfly.

Further, this vest wasn’t just thrown together with materials that look good—the outer seams are double-stitched for durability. The waxed-cotton outer shell is enhanced with a water repellent finish. In short, the Mayfly is constructed to be rugged, used in the woods, and worn in upland coverts every chance you get. That it appears as if it were made simply to impress friends at holiday gatherings is a bonus. The Mayfly Gilet is available in olive and cigar colors.

Le Chameau Chameau-Lite LCX

The Chameau Lites hit the market standing on the shoulders of giants—Le Chameau’s Chasseur leather-lined rubber boots have a reputation that ranks among the highest of any product in the hunting industry. So straight from the box, minus any breaking-in period, I wore the Chameau-Lite LCX boots ($469) for two days in the grouse coverts of Minnesota. I walked through wet grass and over muddy ground, and crossed running and standing water. I covered 23 miles, and my feet remained not only dry but also blister-free.

Since that day in the Land of Lakes, I’ve worn the Lites on hard hikes and long stalks, including 15 miles in the Scottish Highlands. The conditions these boots have endured prove the quality of their fabrication, right down to the Michelin rubber used to construct the sole. The upper is a combination of nubuck and leather that looks better with wear. On the inside, LCX, Le Chameau’s five-layer waterproof and breathable membrane, lines the boot and keeps your feet comfortable.

As much as I enjoy wearing the boot, I really enjoy putting them on. They invite your feet in and demand to be laced up and worn—and worn hard. Given such durability and comfort, you might be surprised to learn that the pair of 10-inch boots weighs only 3 1/3 pounds. They might be “lite,” but these boots are heavyweights.

Avedon and Colby Signature Field Shirt

Recently, while wading a bonefish flat, I realized that I had forgotten to wear a Buff to cover the back of my neck. Fortunately, I was wearing the Avedon and Colby Signature Field Shirt ($198). Now, this shirt has a lot of features—a mesh lining in the back to help expedite moisture wicking, high-quality buttons that are designed with a raised rim to prevent nicking the material, and I could go on—but I employed the extended, flip-up collar, which protected my neck from the sun and played a big role in my comfort that day. Similar to the corrosion-resistant brass zippers employed in a hidden pocket, the collar is a great example of the thinking that has gone into the engineering of this garment.

Despite its name, the Field Shirt is marketed as the “ultimate bonefishing shirt,” and the long-staple linen is very breathable and helps the piece live up to that billing. I’ve found it’s also quite comfortable for early-season dove shoots. The Field Shirt is not so quick-drying as today’s high-tech synthetics, but I find some of those shirts to be uncomfortable if you wore them anywhere other than the flats. And sometimes, there’s just something really satisfying about wearing a garment made of traditional fabric that has been fulfilling a specific purpose for centuries.

First Lite Men’s Kiln Quarter Zip

The market offers an array of base-layer options, many of them first rate and manufactured by companies known the world over. So it’s nice when a small American company, run by hunters, produces a line of apparel that is among the very best.

My favorite aspect of First Lite’s Kiln Quarter Zip pullover ($110) is the fit. The seams across the shoulders, arms, and sides are a little offset compared to traditional cuts and give the feel of a seamless garment that fits perfectly and not too snug. Further, with 95 percent merino wool, the pullover rests against the skin without irritation and naturally wicks away the perspiration that can make enduring cold-weather situations miserable or worse. The other 5 percent of the garment is spandex, so the whole piece moves with you like an additional layer of skin. It’s a good insulating base layer on cold mornings and perfect by itself when there’s only a slight chill.

The Kiln line includes matching long johns, which can keep you warm on a deer stand or beneath waders during a cold day on the water. Other offerings in the line include a crew shirt and a hoodie. Kiln garments are offered in two varieties of camo—First Lite’s Cipher and Fusion patterns—or three different hunter-friendly colors. There’s also a Kiln line for women.