I’d be remiss if I didn’t begin this review with a caveat: my family, for four generations now, has rifle and bow hunted the Northern Maine woods. No, to preempt the questions from most of you “Flatlanders” and “People from ‘Away,’” I’m not talking about the woods outside of Portland. I mean real Northern Maine, specifically the northeast side of Moosehead Lake, about four hours north of the border. (I know that my fellow Mainers from even further north will chide me here, but I hope they’ll understand nonetheless.)

My brother and I have grown up breaking through endless acres of dense pine forest, climbing over boulders scattering the Appalachian foothills, and wading (and cursing) our ways through the eerie and silent labyrinths of cedar bogs in this territory.

There are few hunters, and even fewer deer to be seen in this neck of the country, and I promise I’m getting to the point here soon: hunting, for my family, is only partially about bagging a trophy buck. It’s just as much, for us, about walking silently through the woods, about enjoying the thrill of tracking and becoming one with nature, about channeling the heritage of our ancestors who hunted alone over hill and dale in the driving snow and wind and rain.

We are track hunters, jump hunters occasionally, and we rarely find ourselves thirty feet up in a tree for the better part of a morning or an afternoon—with so few deer to so many square miles of wilderness, one’s best bet in these woods is to go where the deer are, rather than hope that they return the favor.

…Whiiiiiiich is why I felt like such an IDIOT when I first tried on the Mossy Oak Drystalker 2 Scent-Stop Parka Treestand and Raintamer 2 Pant Treestand as our hunting party assembled the gear for the coming day’s rifle hunt. My first thought as I pulled the surprisingly lightweight and insanely comfortable pants was “wait a second, where are the pockets?” My second thought, embarrassingly, was “wait, no belt loops? There’s no way this drawstring alone will hold up until noon…” Now, the joke is on me: had I done any advanced reading I would’ve known that the Raintamer 2 Pant, though being “100% waterproof, breathable, and windproof,” is uninsulated, and possesses only one zippered back pocket.

Another initially disappointing feature was the sizing of the pant: at 5’8” I’m not the tallest drink of water, certainly, but the ostensibly “large (L)” size of the pants (which fit perfectly at the waist, mind you) had these things a good six inches too long for my legs.

 

 

Knowing the cold, rugged, wet, and unforgiving terrain that lay ahead of us that day, I couldn’t help but picture these baggy pantlegs soaked with bog-water and caked with snow and mud and moss, dragging noisily behind me on my walk out of the woods.

The Drystalker 2 Scent-Stop Parka felt more robust (it is, after all, “made from soft/quiet microfleece & insulated with 4oz polyfiberfill”), and I was plenty pleased with the proliferation of pockets (six total). It felt reassuringly more size-appropriate, and I totally dug the hood; it was also very quiet as I wound my arms and brushed them against my chest. Still, the “adjustable closures” left a lot to be desired (let’s just call a Velcro spade a spade, alright?).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out we went: 20mph winds, 5°F in the overcast 4AM November morning… I could see myself bee-lining it to the truck by mid-morning, frozen to the bone.

…and yet, this is where the otherwise predictably critical train leaves its tracks.

The pants did prove to be somewhat noisier than my traditional green woolies, making a silent approach difficult with rustling branches swooshing along the sides and the legs rubbing against each other. With thermals underneath, however, they stayed warm enough, considering the mix of walking and stand-taking I incorporated into my morning hunt. The legs were indeed too long and baggy, but were more bothersome rather than technically impeding.

The jacket held my walkie, my clip, my knife, and my obligatory bag of Halloween candy; it also stayed PLENTY warm with only one long thermal undershirt and was extremely versatile and comfortable. Both garments stood up to some serious snags on undergrowth and low broken pine boughs with only minor scratches and fiber pulls.

I realize that until now I’ve made no mention of the visual aspects of these garments, an error I’ll immediately correct. Mossy Oak doesn’t disappoint with its camo patterns (see below). As soon as I’d bemoaned this northern winter for its lack of snow, I bit my tongue realizing that this pant/jacket combo was about as camouflaged as I’d ever been, or would be. Perfect, absolutely perfect, though admittedly better suited for the earlier stages of the hunt (bow season) rather than after the snow falls.

Again, no big surprise here, since the garments are meant to be worn by the treestand hunter, thus most likely one gripping a compound bow. They are nonetheless visually striking and well-broken up, with lifelike real-tree patterning and shades that perfectly match the northern woods in fall. (Reviewer’s note: in the photo, check out the Mossy Oak hat I’ve been rocking for the past three years as well… huge fan of their hunting products, and proudly embrace their continuing influence in the hunting community.)

 

 

And thus, beginning with a caveat, I’ll end with one too: I didn’t give this product a truly fair shake, taking it out for track-hunting rather than stand-hunting in the freezing November woods of my home state. But you know what? This stuff still held up, still outperformed my expectations, and I can only imagine that if I had pulled these babies out for a couple late fall days up in our treestand, they would have blown my socks off (if I could see them beneath the extra-long pants, that is).

That says a lot, to me, about a company’s product: versatility, durability, and quality. Welcome to my future hunting wardrobe, Mossy Oak Drystalker 2 Scent-Stop Parka Treestand and Raintamer 2 Pant Treestand.

Quality ()

It’s immediately obvious that these are well-made garments, and the jacket is particularly comfortable, flexible, and warm. Zippers, clasps, and closures are all well made, and the outer materials are durable enough to last at least two to three seasons, probably more. I can’t help wishing that the pants (though both they and the jacket are ostensibly 100% waterproof) had a bit more insulation, and a more robust waistline than a simple drawstring (Please, Mossy Oak, just add beltloops and take these pants straight into the ‘badass’ category…).

Beware of the lack of pants pockets, those of you hunters that carry more equipment with you than Robinson Crusoe had on his entire island. Also, the rather generic sizing can leave much fitting to be desired for shorter or longer bodytypes. All that said, these certainly constitute high-quality hunting apparel.

Reliability ()

I’d turn to these first given the right weather and hunting conditions. It’s hard to imagine other jacket/pant tandems beating the combination of camo pattern, comfort, durability, and performance for stand hunting.

Price/Value ()

I mentioned above that I’d bet my rifle these pants/jacket would last at least two to three seasons… at only $80 for the jacket and $80 for the pants, that’s a hell of a deal.

Referability ()

Jealous of the new duds I’d worn out that hunting day, and cognizant of a greater need for such apparel given his much greater expertise and enthusiasm for treestand bow-hunting, I didn’t only refer these to our good friend Tim (ex-army, currently a Sherriff’s deputy and longtime hunting/shooting enthusiast), I gave them to him.

He also had glowing reviews of the performance and comfort that these babies offered, and has raved about them to his buddies at the station, as I have to my friends and family in and out of our hunting party. Home run, Mossy Oak! 🙂

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