With competition between hunting-based garment brands being at an all-time high, the pursuit of functionality and consumer confidence is at the forefront of all businesses’ minds. Basic economics are about supply and demand. Hence, if you present a respectable product that people want to purchase, you’ll be in business.
Over the years, I’ve seen hunting brands produce some phenomenal gear through trial and error. Accepting failure is always going to be a part of the process to achieving success, and listening to ‘boots on the ground’ feedback has seen many brands trend in an upwards linear trajectory.
Huntech is no different, always prioritising innovation and pursuing excellence via consumer feedback, research and utilisation of modern materials. From 1988 to 2012, Huntech focused on the Australasian market. Then, in 2012, it was sold to Global Velocity Group (New Zealand-owned company) to further facilitate the brand’s growth and development. Huntech states, “We will never ‘source’ or auction off our manufacturing to the lowest price like others do,” which suggests they’re still about quality over quantity.
For this review, I’ll look at just that – are their garments still producing the goods or have they succumbed to the quantity over quality conundrum? The two garments in question are Huntech’s new TOPO Camo Kakariki Forest Men’s Bush Coat G2 and Roar Pants. Through the rigors of backpack hunting, I’ve tested Huntech’s mission statement: “Continue to be the market leader when it comes to developing the most technically advanced and effective hunting gear in the world.” So read on to see if Huntech have proven themselves worthy of this mission statement.
TOPO Camo Kakariki Forest Overview
‘Innovate or liquidate’ is a saying that holds true to most consumer products because people are always looking for the latest and greatest to spend their hard-earned money on. Huntech, being the always-evolving company they are, recently launched a new camouflage pattern called TOPO Camo Kakariki (Māori translation: green) Forest. “Wearing the Land” is the slogan behind the new camo. Huntech states, “TOPO camouflage pattern is built on the contours of some of the harshest, most unforgiving hunting terrain in the world – the Southern Alps of New Zealand.”
The goal with any camouflage is to break up the human shape, and the Kakariki Forest’s 9-layered pattern creates a hybrid between digital and disruptive with 3D attributes. Huntech based this visual construct on the weaknesses seen in deer’s vision which works predominately on movement over colour identification. All on all, it’s an interesting pattern configuration – I’ll discuss the practical application of this camo later in the review.
Features and Technology
In this segment, I’ll quickly overview the consumer ‘golden nuggets’ that come along with purchasing the Roar Pants and Bush Coat G2. Both garments have varying levels of technology integrated throughout that aim to enhance field performance, seasonal adaptability and durability. Below is a breakdown of each one and their relevant functions.
Silvadur Scent Control – present in both garments.
This antimicrobial polymer (type of fabric) contains silver technology that releases a low concentration of silver ions to neutralise odour-causing bacteria. The great thing is, these ions continually release to kill microbes, hopefully resulting in less scent drifting downrange.
DOR Waterproofing Treatment – present in Roar Pants only.
Known as Huntech’s EverSheild technology, Durable Omni Repellent (DOR) is a water-repelling and durability tool. Advantages seen with DOR are a higher water-repelling ability when compared to DWR (Durable Water Repellent) and increased ability to shield oils, food products, mud, concrete, ice and other aqueous solutions from embedding themselves into the garment. By encasing each fibre of material in a polymer coating, durability is taken up a few levels, resulting in a product that should handle the rigours of backcountry hunting.
Microlite Bonded Fabric – present in Roar Pants only.
Microlite is a sequence of bonded fabrics that promote durability and waterproof rating. Three tightly woven polyester layers are used to create an extremely high abrasion resistance. The inner and outer layers use a tricot gauze (type of fabric) treated with Silvadur. Plus, the middle layer uses a hydrotech membrane which results in a solid breathability rating of 20,500gm/24h (amount of moisture by weight that can pass through a square metre of fabric over the course of 24 hours) and waterproof rating of 23,500mm. Lastly, the seams are sealed and tested to withstand 3500psi – now that’s certainly robust!
Reinforced Oxford Knee, Shoulders, Waist and Inner Wrist – present in both garments.
Oxford fabric is a highly durable, lightweight and waterproof material that provides excellent abrasion resistance, in forth, reducing long-term wear and tear. Huntech have placed the Oxford fabric (500D coated) in tactically suitable positions where friction and direct contact are likely to occur (pack straps and ground contact).
DWR Waterproofing Treatment – present in Bush Coat only.
Durable Water Repellent (DWR) is another form of waterproofing that’s designed to make garments hydrophobic. Essentially, DWR aims to increase the water run-off during periods of precipitation. To note, this technology is more effective when the contact angle between moisture and fabric increases in an upwards linear fashion (the greater the angle, the more effective).
330 GSM Dual-Grid Polar Fleece – present in Bush Coat only.
The Bush Coat G2 uses a two-layer boned fleece – the outer layer with DWR (enhanced water run-off), and the internal layer treated with Silvadur scent control. Additionally, the bonded fleece has an internal grid construction that aims to trap warm air within the grooves while still maintaining breathability and windproofing performance.
Zip Locking – present in Roar Pants only.
Found in three locations (left and right waist pocket and rear right waist pocket). When the zip latch is facing downstream (pointing down the direction of the zip), it locks, preventing any wanted openings. To open the zip, simply pull the latch up and slide the zip in the opposite direction. This is an excellent feature of the Roar Pants!
Internal Waist Adjustment System – present in Roar Pants only.
A combination of elastic and Velcro have been utilised to create a waist-adjustment system that allows the consumer to optimise the perfect fit. This addition could come in handy if you go through a period of weight loss while either away hunting or during a week of backcountry exploration.
As you can see, Huntech put a lot of emphasis on durability and longevity. Both garments feel strong and robust which, in forth, produced some solid field performance outcomes. The integrated Oxford fabric, especially on the knees and shoulders, gave the garments superb abrasion resistance when walking long distances, leopard crawling, lying in a prone position, kneeling, and scrambling up or along rocky terrain. No signs of wear were seen in areas that had Oxford fabric, and long-term, I wouldn’t expect to see much degradation. Another benefit of Oxford fabric is its ability to repel moisture ingress. For example, it really helped to prevent precipitation saturating the upper portion of the Bush Coat G2 (shoulders generally lack water run-off ability due to poor contact angle). I particularly liked the addition of Oxford fabric on the inner wrists – awesome for rock climbing, grabbing vegetation and wedging your hand in crevices.
In regard to climate control, both garments had several things in common – warmth and windproofing. Polyester and fleece always produce good thermal properties, which is great for hunting the cooler months but not ideal when covering miles during the summer months. On warm spring days, punching out miles along the tops and having the microlite technology integrated into the Roar Pants did elevate sweat rates above normal. On the other side of the coin, they were amazing on cold, wet and windy days. Using the Roar Pants in summer would only be recommended if you know the weather forecast is going be southerly all week long or if you’re looking for maximum UV protection (thicker fabric provides solid performance against UV rays).
The story is similar with the Bush Coat with its great ability to trap warm air and reduce wind-chill factor. However, you need to be tactical with its usage. For any energy-intensive periods of movement, I wouldn’t advise wearing the Bush Coat due to its inability to release the continued build-up of heat (metabolic heat production + muscle contractions). Hence, usage of the Bush Coat G2 is best in static moments, colder months, moderate to strong winds, walking along the flats and descending off the tops. Additionally, despite heat production and sweating rates getting to less-than-ideal levels at times, the Silvadur Scent Control technology was outstanding, achieving exactly what it set out to do.
Security of belongings was top notch in some areas and in others not so much. The zip-locking technology was simple to use and operates relatively like normal zips. The main thing you need to remember is to make sure the zip latch is facing downstream, otherwise expect the zip to continually slide in any direction. The openings on the left and right hip pockets need to be slightly bigger – stowing away certain items like 10×25 binoculars had an element of friction associated with it. A simple 2-3cm extension would add significant functionality.
Both mid-thigh pockets on the Roar Pants utilised a button-locking mechanism which provides fast accessibility but loses functionality points because of how easy those pockets open while you’re moving, especially when raising your knee above parallel. It’d be a good idea to not put anything valuable in the mid-thigh pockets due to their low security rating. Another simple adjustment Huntech could make is to replace the button-locking mechanism with the zip-locking technology, giving maximum security and peace of mind. Lastly, the button-locking mechanism on the Bush Coat was much sturdier and required more force to open; plus, not being in a place that moves during periods of locomotion created a better end-user experience.
Adjustability on the Roar Pants was enhanced by the integration of an internal waist-adjustment system. As I mentioned previously, this adjustment system could come in handy at different times, but if you buy the right-sized pants, there should be less reliance on this system. The waist strap and buckle were okay, but I found the strap twisted every time you took the pants off, which became annoying. To fix this, I’d recommend making the waist strap loopholes slightly smaller and increasing the number of loopholes around the waist. Distance between loops was one of the main reasons for a twisting waist strap, and hence, once you released the strap’s tension, there was too much room for movement.
One real positive on both garments was their noise-control properties. These garments are extremely comfortable to wear and soft to touch due to their tricot gauze/polyester (Roar Pants) and bonded fleece (Bush Coat) fabrics. The best application of these noise-reducing fabrics would be during bush-stalking or in situations where noise must be reduced for an optimal stalking outcome.
Another comfort and functionality feature that adds real value is the spandex crutch, which enables maximum manoeuvrability of lower extremities. Further functional features were the Bush Coat’s Velcro wrist straps that optimised thermal seals, a pocket pouch on the left side of the chest, a connected hoody with pull taps for adjustability, and two well-sized, zip-operated, fleece-lined waist pockets.
The final, and arguably most important, feature of the Bush Coat G2 and Roar Pants is their new TOPO Kakariki Forest camouflage. At first, I thought the pattern configuration was obscure, with squiggly lines on top of various shapes, utilising all shades of green. In all honesty, I was pleasantly surprised at how well this camouflage pattern works in the field. Whether it be in the beech forest or West Coast bush, tussock tops, grassy flats or barren rock country, the Kakariki Forest pattern broke up the human shape well and offered good defence against the scanning eyes of any local game animals. The versatility of this camouflage is the real selling point; no matter the landscape, you can be reassured you’ll stay relatively hidden, especially when held up in a static position.
From wearing both these garments in the Southern Alps for the past two months, I’ve found they certainly have some real strengths, those being, camouflage performance, thermal properties, windproofing ability, comfort and durability. If some adjustments could be made to certain pockets, the waist-strap system and locking mechanisms, Huntech could further increase the functionality and value for money achieved with both garments.
So, did Huntech live up to their mission statement on the Roar Pants and Bush Coat G2? In my opinion, they’ve provided two garments that align well with their mission statement: “Continue to be the market leader when it comes to developing the most technically advanced and effective hunting gear in the world.” As is the case when pursuing effectiveness and advancements, you’re going to get some things right and others not so right, which is all part of the process.
In conclusion, these garments are good value for money, all-round performers and possess some valuable pieces of functional technology. Solid effort, Huntech!
Roar Pants $109.99
Bush Coat G2 $119.99