Featured image Copyright FirstLite
This year I knew I had to change my game a little bit starting from the bottom layer out. I usually take a chunk of time off work where I hunt a broad swath of game and we don’t have a washer and dryer available to use for several weeks. Sure, I could use the Allegheny River to wash my clothes and line dry them, but they often wind up feeling like stiff cardboard and reeking of largemouth bass as they drip dry on our screened in back porch, praying that a cocktail of Scent Blocker and the mountain air will make sure they don’t stink like fish food somewhere high on the mountain.
Normally I look like I run into the woods sponsored by UnderArmour, I have several changes of both uppers and lowers for all temperature differentials I’ll be facing over the course of a Pennsylvania season. The trouble is, with all the synthetics in the fabric on my UA items I end up smelling like a locker room after a double practice by the time I walk off the mountain most days. I’ve tried everything, layering down, pacing myself by getting up earlier and forcing my entrance walk to be much slower — to no avail. After wearing the same layers, the most I can get was two hunts out of a pair of the bottoms and one hunt out of a top. That’s unacceptable, particularly if I’m beginning to look into western hunts where I have to wear all of my clothes on my back or in my pack for the entirety of the trip.
Enter FirstLite. I bought one of their hoodies last year after seeing it pop up on Steven Rinella’s MeatEater and doing a little research on the brand. They tout the use of Merino Wool as an odor buster, and it’s a somewhat growing trend in hunting gear. I’ve used a merino blend sock from Columbia for years and they’re probably the best thing going for long hikes in the woods. I knew that there was probably something there, and dropped some coin on the hoody — loved it, and posted my review on it here on the blog. Now it was time to see if the quality extended into their underlayers as well.
I picked up the Benmore Boxer Brief knowing I needed something that would wear well underneath either an UnderArmour or another brand of long underwear. I don’t have tiny chicken legs — you probably won’t see me on the elk hills without some serious working out on my cardio, and it looks like these were the ticket. They fit my quads/glutes just fine, but I made sure to carefully eyeball the size chart, picking XL for my size 38-40 waist depending on how close to Thanksgiving and how much rowing I’ve been doing. There’s an inspection/branding tag on the outside of the boxer which will invariably lead to some early morning pre-coffee confusion on my part but don’t fret the actual tag is painted on the inside so as not to chafe. The fabric is a little thin, but these aren’t meant to be an insulating layer — they’re meant to wick moisture away from the skin and eat a little of the body odor you’re sure to generate as you drag your buck out of the woods.
So how do they fit? Honestly they fit pretty well. I’ve been monitoring them as I hunt throughout the season and they are holding up nicely. I bought two pair to rotate through a large chunk of my hunting season. Admittedly I’m not going to be just using two pair throughout my four weeks in the woods this season. That will be another test for another day. Perhaps I’ll subject my office mates to a stink test. That’s appropriate for an IT guy right?
I wore them in the field for the better part of a week, the same pair. There was no chafing to speak of, and the waistband didn’t roll despite a little belly from a lot of beer and hummus this summer overseas. The seams appear to be in the right location as to not irritate you while you walk long distances, and they have slightly different fabric in the crotch region, owing to their temperature mapped Merino wool. The temperature outside wasn’t cold, so I can’t speak to warmth, but they did wick moisture well and didn’t stink even at the end of the week. I was with my wife, she would have told me.
Now, would I have purchased them at full price at nearly $50 for a pair of boxers? I’m not sure. I’d almost certainly have one or two around for long range backpacking trips at that price given that they are comfortable and they cut down on odor by a large factor. However, I’m not going out to change all of my boxers over at that price. For what they are — an outdoor odor eating boxer brief in a merino wool blend, I’d definitely recommend a pair for your next hunting adventure.