Feature Image Credit: Steven Drake
As mountain hunters, we are conditioned to brave the elements. This is precisely why our apparel systems receive so much attention. If we put aside the endless debates and divisions that surround membranes, materials and camo patterns, we are left with one—and only one—consideration that matters above all else: performance.
Depending on where and when you hunt, performance, can mean a lot of different things. In most cases, performance can be equated to comfort. How our system impacts our ability to stay warm when glassing, handles the moisture and temperature fluctuations encountered during a high-exertion ascent, or keeps us dry when Mother Nature decides to surprise us with a flash rain or snow storm are commonly debated and discussed scenarios we all have experience with. But what happens when shit hits the fan? When you’re faced with a life or death situation or at minimum an event that could mean the difference between staying in the hunt or going home?
Do you know how your system performs in a worst-case scenario? If you listened to Episode 25 of the Beyond the Kill podcast with Sitka’s John Barklow, you should be familiar with the concept of “exercising your system”. In that podcast, John outlined what he calls the Re-Warming Drill, his now infamous test of an apparel system’s ability to keep us alive when things take a turn for the worst. And there is no question that for the average mountain hunter, the most serious scenario we’ll have to contend with is exposure.
Whether we get caught out in a storm in the alpine or on an exposed ridge that soaks us to the bone, fall in a cold river or creek on a dicey crossing, or bail out of a raft or canoe on a float trip, at some point we’re going to be faced with a situation when we’re cold, wet and questioning our ability to keep hunting. A truly adaptable, high-performing system should keep us in the hunt.
If we run into any one of these scenarios when we’re miles from the truck, basecamp, spike camp or only a couple of days into a ten-day hunt we need to know that our systems will perform. You may have recently seen John walk people through what he calls a Passive Re-Warming Drill, but what happens when you don’t have the luxury of stopping to set-up camp?
A few weeks ago, we went down to Montana to tackle exactly this question. In the video below you will see John walk us through a Dynamic Re-Warming Drill, the method he used to train soldiers to stay on mission when shit hits the fan. Is your system up to the test?
PRO INSIGHT IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE JOURNAL OF MOUNTAIN HUNTING BI-ANNUAL PRINT EDITION – SUMMER 2017