I ran into Dan’s Briarproof stuff about five years ago when I was asked to go down to Ft. Gordon for a site visit. Being the maniac I am I chose to drive I-95 out of the DC area rather than flying and my boss agreed knowing that I’d find all the good food options along the way. Somewhere deep into the houndsman territory of the south I stopped at a local gun store off the highway that had been advertised for something like 150 miles on billboards.
(For the record it was Springhill Outfitters, if you’re in the Selma, NC area check them out!)
I’d been using my dad’s hand-me-down small game coat for years and it was beginning to show it’s age. So when I saw the Upland Game Coat and tried it on it was surprisingly familiar. It had the same cut as my old coat, but with exterior pockets with intact elastic and a lined game pouch. Further it had D rings that I could loop the lanyard of my GPS handset onto and let it land in my game pouch side pocket.
Needless to say I walked away from the store making a purchase. I’ve since had this coat and the Upland Briar Coat both for going on four years and I’ve taken them both through extreme territory. I’ve more or less breast stroked through multiflora rose or blackberry brambles, sometimes unwillingly and nary a thread has been dislodged from the stitching. I can’t say the same for some of my other gear.
Are you a big dude? I like beer, and I like ice cream. That can be problematic for sizing sometimes but I generally fall in the L or XL category for all but the more “boutique” hunting gear. The stuff from Dans Briarproof comes in size Small all the way up to 5XL. There is, of course, a surcharge for each X past XL, but the gear exists and is of the same quality as the original.
The jacket itself is a brown cotton duck fabric with a padded soft cotton shoulder on both sides accommodating righty or lefty shooters. I always found jackets or shooting shirts with only one padded shoulder to be formal but not altogether useful for my southpaw shooting. The blaze accents including the piping are a ripstop nylon that is extremely heavy duty and stands up to the toughest of grouse cover.
The pocket layout is good for holding all your gear with a zippered pocket for electronics on the chest, two snap pockets at the waist with shell loops, two handwarmer pockets behind those, and two zippered diagonal pockets also in the same area. Unfortunately that means you can’t pack a lot of bulk there, but you can layer your gear and dog accessories.
Room for Improvement
I will say that there’s some room for improvement with the cut on the jacket. I don’t know if I have too much belly, or the pheasants are skinnier in Ohio but the game pouch desperately needs a baffle for pheasants or other birds in any real number. The same two quick release zippers on the side of the game pouch that allow you to deconstruct and clean the bloodproof liner unduly restrict the capacity of the game bag. If you could get a tailor to add a baffle on the bottom of the game pouch the jacket would be absolutely perfect for chillier fall days and into winter.
Overall I’d give this a solid buy ranking even despite the game pouch not expanding. If you’re pheasant hunting it might be a little irritating but on quail or grouse I think you’d be just fine. This would make a great addition to any hunter’s gear, especially if you hunt in colder weather. The liner can and does get a little sweaty so make sure that you’re layering and adjusting your zipper appropriately.
I’d have been enamored had this been my first hunting coat. With many popular US hunting brands being made off-shore now this is a hold out, and the quality shows.