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High-tech clothes keep hunt comfy.

Byline: Gary Lewis For The Register-Guard

Your financial professional has your retirement planned. Your mechanic keeps you from wearing out your walking shoes. And your dentist keeps the pearly-whites working like new.

What is your clothier doing for you? If your fishing shirt does nothing more than carry tackle and your camo just keeps the critters confused, your duds are so last year.

Today's high-tech textiles can operate as an individual heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. They can stamp out odors that are a dead giveaway to game. Some weaves even keep mosquitoes and ticks from getting personal.

Last season, I sampled a few of the latest materials. Here's a look at some cutting-edge threads that make hunting and fishing more comfortable.

Nanotechnology has allowed manufacturers to accomplish some amazing things with fabric. In the past, clothing companies treated the textiles after they were woven. Today, they can introduce treatment elements much earlier in the process. Some companies are using silver to fight odor.

Using silver as an anti-bacterial agent is not new. Settlers in Australia and the American West used to suspend silver table utensils and silver dollars in their water tanks and milk jugs to retard spoilage. Silver leaf was used during World War I to fight infections in battle wounds.

What is new is the ability to embed the element at the primary level. VisaEndurance infuses a silver ceramic polymer in their base layer fabric which binds to the bacteria in perspiration. With this fabric close to the skin, backcountry hunters can limit the odors they exude even after long, sweaty hikes.

Scent-controlling outerwear has been around for a few years, but the technology is improving fast and new fabrics are more breathable and flexible than activated carbon-containing gear. VisaEndurance is producing a line of outerwear that bonds a dandelion-shaped odor-adsorbing polymer to the fabric surface. Odor molecules bond to the fabric instead of wandering around to spook deer and elk.

The latest threads from Eugene-based SportHill offer what the manufacturer calls a single-layer solution. I've been wearing their Deep Woods camo 3SP jacket and pants on most of my hunts since September.

If I'm sitting on stand, I put more layers under the 3SP. If I'm on the move, it keeps me warm without much insulation down to 30 degrees, and cool when the weather hits the high 70s. In snow and rain, I need another layer on top, but I noticed on my last cold weather coyote hunt that I was packing around a lot less bulk.

Woolrich is touting a breathable fabric they call 3XDRY to repel water from the outside while dispersing body moisture. They're employing the fabric in a line of fishing shirts. The all-cotton blend uses a subtle ribbing to keep the fabric riding light on the skin and it comes with an advertised UPF 30 rating to protect against sunburn. I tried it before the weather turned cold and caught a bunch of fish. Works for me.

There are new advances in fleece, as well, that make it more wind-resistant and water repellent, while retaining breathability.

Layering without bulk is where the new fabrics shine. Stay comfortable and you'll stay focused, whether you're fishing or hunting. Start with a scent-control layer or wicking layer. In extremely cold weather, follow up with polypropylene and fleece, topped off with a windbreaker layer.

There's even high-tech layering for your firearms. Developed for the U.S. Military to protect guns and topside equipment in tropical marine conditions, Envelop protective covers work as good on an over-and-under shotgun as they do on a deck-mounted howitzer. And they look good too.

The five-layer fabric repels moisture from the outside and expels it from the inside. The outer shell is permeable only to water vapor, which allows moisture to evaporate. The next layer is shock protection that helps the soft case keep its shape. The third layer inhibits corrosion. The fourth layer is composed of super-absorbent gel crystals that store water and release it back to the environment through the outer shell.

The innermost layer contacts the gun's surface and wicks water away from the metal.

Smart fabrics that repel bugs, kill odor and create individual climate control in harsh conditions - is hunting and fishing supposed to be comfortable?

I can think of almost four decades worth of good days when it wasn't - shivering steelhead mornings, drizzly duck hunts and frigid elk expeditions. There's more research to do. I'll report back later.

Gary Lewis is the author of several hunting and fishing books.
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Title Annotation:Outdoors Columnist; These duds will keep the hunter cool and dry, and keep the critters from catching your scent
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Feb 12, 2008
Previous Article:Weak chinook run prompts unprecedented fishing restrictions.

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