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Blaser is famous for its beautifully engineered and quality guns, but how will its clothing measure up? Dom Holtam tests the new Hybrid suit
PROS: Good looking outfit; Light weight; Ease of movement; Loads of useful pockets; Practical zip-out mid layer
CONS: You are paying a premium price for a premium product
VERDICT: A very impressive high-quality hunting outfit that is packed with practical features. Light and flexible fabrics look smart and so far have impressed with their performance. Not cheap but not the most expensive on the market either.
RRPs: Jacket: £515; Trousers: £240
Blaser has its sights set on becoming a genuine ‘one-stop’ brand – not just about the gun, but also the ammunition and, more recently, the scope and binoculars too.
The final piece of the puzzle for the UK market is underlined by the recent push from the Blaser Outfits division. Although Blaser has supplied clothing for some years on the Continent, it is only in the past 12 months that the brand has really targeted UK customers with a revamped, rethought and cohesive array of garments. From base layers and t-shirts to fleeces and waterproofs, the new range is designed to have something for everybody, whether you are a clay shooter, game shooter or stalker.
I have recently been trialling the Hybrid suit. It is marketed as a 2-in-1 as it includes a zipped-in but removable mid layer and represents a truly versatile all-round shooting outfit. It incorporates Blaser’s three-layer laminated construction, designed, they say, for active hunting. This holy trinity consists of an outer fabric, an inner lining, and a high-performance membrane sandwiched between that is both waterproof and windproof but also highly breathable. The construction is designed to guide moisture away from the body to keep you warm and dry at all times.
First up, the jacket looks smart. The branding is subtle and the design not so overtly shooting-orientated that you couldn’t wear it out walking the dog, to the pub or to watch the kids playing football.
The colour is a decent all-round option, not too dark, and the fabric has a subtle herringbone pattern. From the moment you put the jacket on, it impresses with a surprisingly light weight and a cut that allows ease of movement.
There are tonnes of neat touches that show the level of thought for details and understanding which you’d expect from the Blaser brands. There is a neat radio pocket and a waterproof phone or wallet pocket, as well as generous cartridge pockets with popper covers and zippered handwarmer pockets. All the zips are top quality YKK items.
There’s a well-designed placket to stop the zip from chafing when all the way up, as well as a traditional ‘poacher’s pouch’ with zips either side across the rear of the jacket. Plus, generous vents under the arms offer cool relief when exertion levels really rise.
The inner jacket is easily removed with zips and poppers, transforming the Hybrid into a genuine all-season option. The inner is insulated with PrimaLoft, but is very low bulk, especially on the arms, making it a brilliant extra layer under any garment but with handwarmer pockets, it is useable as a standalone, too.
I have historically found it hard to find hunting trousers capable of offering the strength, durability and protection you want, but that are light and supple enough to give you the range of movement required, especially when climbing. Some garments feel like they are fighting you up every slope. Not so these: they are very well articulated around the knee and the fabric is very supple. The liner wicks away sweat efficiently so they always feel comfortable and if the heat rises further there are two good-sized ventilation slits, one on each side.
Again, there are some really nifty touches, such as the double belt loops that allow you to wear a thick or thin belt with equal comfort, or the integrated snowguards with fixing hook to allow you to attach the inner cuff to your boot and keep the fit perfect whatever the conditions.
The knees and backside are reinforced with a Teflon-treated Ripstop fabric, so if you are crawling, sitting or sliding around, the trousers should be able to deal with plenty of punishment.
I wore the suit for three days straight in the Highlands last December. I had my usual hunting gear in the car as back-up, but that is where it stayed, so impressive was the Hybrid.
The weather was pretty kind for the first couple of days, but the situations were still a challenge for any garment – strong winds, sea spray and long periods of inactivity combined with fast, hard climbing, long belly crawls and prolonged drags during carcass removal.
The only thing missing had been torrential rain and that came on day three with a ferocity that drove the deer into cover, if not the intrepid stalkers!
The only sign of water ingress came through knees and elbows after a prolonged wait on saturated ground and I am yet to find clothing that doesn’t suffer from this to some extent – the scientific downside of breathables!
I wore the fitted hood for the hunting trip and it worked well. It didn’t impede movement, and when ‘up’ it did its job well and was shaped cleverly to allow decent peripheral vision when glassing.
However, I am not a hood person and would generally prefer to wear a cap. The hood is easy to remove and the zipway is then hidden away under a clever flap.
Since my Scotland trip, the gear has been used for photo shoots and stalking trips and is currently fighting off the coldest weather of the winter so far, with aplomb. Overall, I have been impressed by this clothing range. The garments look smart, are technically advanced and a great deal of detail has been incorporated so that they are fit for purpose.
By the time you have added a cap and gloves you’ll be looking at the thick end of £1,000 all in, so it is competing at the pointy end against the likes of Härkila, Nomad and Schöffel. On this evidence, it is very capable of fighting its corner.
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