Saturday, August 22, 2015
I wished I had kept my first upland vest. It was a hand-me-down vest, from Holiday, a gas station chain based in Minnesota, when they sold a lot of their own sporting goods. The vests were often brown duck material, with very little blaze orange on them. Simple, lightweight vests that served a purpose: hold a couple of grouse and woodcock in the rear game pouch, maybe a few shells in the front pockets. My dad would always warn me not to use the stretched-out, elastic shell holders on the front, as they inevitably would fail while crawling through the woodcock alders. "I am not going to lend you any shells, if you lose all of yours, " he would scold. Point taken.
Now vests have evolved into more of a functional pack and less of a fashionable accessory. I have a number of strap vests on hand (minimal carrying capacity) and a few pack vests too, but I decided to purchase a new one as my go-to bird/shell/water/food carrier has more rips in it than I can trust. The old pack vest, made by defunct supplier, Mother, held up well and was lightweight. I have a similar vest made by Cabela's, but it also seems to be losing its durability. So, I went shopping for the 2nd most important item of clothing I can think of, second only to hunting boots.which I also seem to have a collection of.....
I did a lot of research and settled on the LL Bean Technical Pack Vest. While the WingWorks came in a close second, it was nearly double the cost and was built so solidly that it was fairly heavy, even when empty. The Quilomene has been around a while, but hangs down lower than I like. Both are bulky, something that isn't always good when hunting in the thicker ruffed grouse or blue grouse coverts. Tenzing, Pella, and Badlands also have some contenders in the category, but the LL Bean had a size that fit my frame the best.
I might break out the Filson strap vest this fall in MN, but out west, whether chasing sharptail in Montana or chukars along the Idaho/Oregon border, a larger option is necessary. When you find yourself three miles from the truck at 1PM, it is essential to have your lunch and plenty of water for the dogs on your person. And, being able to carry a few birds back home with you is also plus.