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Paul Austin puts the latest smock and trouser combination from Blaser trhough its paces...
Blaser is one of those glamour brands of the shooting world, offering beautiful carbon and leather-clad creations often displayed like works of art on custom plinths, bathed in designer lighting, seemingly aimed squarely at those who couldn't be seen carrying anything less than the best.
It's easy to write Blaser off as a footballer's brand, but the more you look, the more you see them, not simply lounging in the back of the latest Chelsea tractor but in the hands of serious shooters. The eagle-eyed among you may have spotted Mr Dom Holtam wielding his Blaser R8 in this month's stalking special. Dom is no millionaire and certainly no fashion victim - invariably sporting a checked shirt and cords for every occasion, he always looks ready to pull on his boots and head off to the hill at a moment's notice.
I asked him, why a Blaser? The simple answer, they just get under your skin. He obviously had his price-related reservations before investing in an R8, but after countless press days with faultless performance behind an array of Blasers, he eventually decided to part with more cash than he was comfortable with to own one.
Blaser are now applying their no-compromise approach to apparel - in this case, their latest stalking suit. For the first test of the smock and trouser combo, I embarked on a 10-mile charity walk. I did inspire the occasional puzzled expression admittedly; full-on stalking regalia wasn't exactly standard dress. Constant wind and rain the whole way proved their weatherproofing and equally-important breathability. After the long wet and fairly sweaty hike, I was still bone dry, both inside and out.
Several shooting trips throughout the late summer and autumn achieved the same results. Appropriate layering would make them wearable throughout the year, although until this month's trip to Scotland I wasn't quite sure the smock had the weight for extended sub-zero use. The trousers were particularly toastie, and for typical British shooting conditions, both wet and dry, they've both performed flawlessly.
Fit & finish
The vintage shell fabric has a TeflonEcoElite finish featuring all the essentials: waterproof, windproof, breathable and noiseless. Peaked reinforced storm hood, radio pockets, underarm venting with zips and hand-warming pockets beneath a huge kangaroo/binocular pocket all add to the overall excellent functionality.
Other features include laminated waterproof taped seams with a lightweight mesh lining; an additional left arm pocket; waterproof zippers throughout; and excellent lateral two-way zips that make the smock easy to slip on and off, while providing additional venting as required. The story continues with the trousers, with waterproof zips for both pockets and vents, waterproof, windproof etc. As with the smock, serious time and effort has gone into the design and attention to detail, with even a Kevlar-like material on the inner ankle of the trousers to avoid wear from boot scuffs.
There's the odd bit of bling with the Agali logo emblazed across the bino pocket and repeated here and there on both smock and trouser - but they are Blaser products after all. This is high-end hunting attire at its best. As ever, Blaser doesn't cut costs or indeed corners, serious shooting equipment that's not simply a fashion statement. Highly recommended!
Blaser Active Vintage Smock - Price: £399
Blaser Active WP Trouser - Price: £299
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