There's all sorts of YouTube videos, blog reviews and every other sort of opinion out there on upland vests. So, because.. ya know.. we make one..we thought toss our hat in the ring and share our thoughts on what really does make a good upland vest.
As long as I can remember, strap vests have always been my preferred gear. Sure, I grew up wearing the traditional 'vest' that everyone owns at some point, but as my experience in the uplands evolved, so too did my gear. Why? Because I began to understand the value of good gear.
Let's take a crack as sharing a few of the key features we believe are important in what we'd qualify as 'good gear'..
The first and one of the most important aspects of a good bird hunting vest, as simple as it may sound, is being comfortable. The majority of the bird hunting we do out west is spent following our pointing dogs up the nasty desert mountains in pursuit of the almighty Chukar.
A normal day, for a chukar hunt, starts before the sun comes up and ends when you've either shot your limit, ran out of shells or the dogs can't bear to take another step on the sharp lava rock.
To accommodate a full day afield, a solid haul of things are needed.. but it comes with a price. Weight.
Between a box of shells, 64oz of water (more if you're running multiple dogs in the early season) a first aid kit and whatever other essentials you deem necessary for your hunting style, it all adds up and you'd be surprised how heavy it can be. On average, I personally carry the following on me, in the field:
- Box of Shotgun Shells
- First Aid Kit (mixed for myself and the dog)
- Short lead (Heaven knows quill pigs and skunks happen..)
- 2 x 32oz Water Bottles
- 2L Water Bladder
- Lunch and some snacks (I'm a sucker for sour-patch kids)
- Final Rise Field Gloves
- Shotgun of choice
- Sony A7III & Tamron 28-200 lens
The list reads short but what it lacks in diversity, it makes up for in weight. With all the mentioned gear above, my vest usually comes in around 15-20lbs.. depending on how much water I actually brought (bladder is not needed once snow is on the ground) and if I brought an extra camera lens for kicks and giggles.Needless to say, for a vest to check the 'good gear' box, it better have an amazing waist belt to distribute the weight and keep pressure off my shoulders and a non-padded and minimal shoulder harness to keep my shoulder pockets open for gun mounting and chest exposed to improve ventilation.
You'll find both an incredibly comfortable waist-belt and non-padded, streamlined shoulder harness on all Final Rise vest models. It's that big of a deal to us.
A gentleman once told me a joke over the phone after we'd chatted, answered questions and helped get his order in motion.. "Matt, do you know how to spot a chukar hunter in a crowd?" "No...", I replied. "He'll have big legs and a tiny head". I laughed and then joked back that he made me self conscious about my head.
All joking aside, let's be real.. no two bodies, let alone hunting styles or gear preferences, are the same. Plain and simple. So how on earth would a vest without multiple sizing components (waist belt, shoulder harness, etc.) and no adjustable features be considered 'good'?
While numbers aren't my thing, I'd throw out that less than 10% of 'one size fits all' gear actually fits the way folks need it to. This simple understanding, and years of experience in the outdoor space with premium backpacks, technical gear, etc., gave us a competitive edge when we designed the Final Rise vests.
Utilizing the modular and ever-so-popular MOLLE platform, we created a system that provides 3 belt sizes and 2 shoulder harness lengths, with endless adjustable features to allow the end user to dial in the fit. Combine our tailor-made fit with the ability to plug and play with different accessories, pockets and add-on's and you'll smilingly check the 'good gear' box once again.
Materials, Components & Durability
Having worked my entire professional adult career in the outdoor/hunting space, more specifically in the big game hunting space, I was always amazed at how quickly the pinnacle companies and brand advanced their gear. Now I know there's gimmicks at times with 'hey, look, a new zipper', but truthfully, the garment and textile space was evolving like a wild fire. Fabrics became lighter, strong, abrasive resistant.. mold injected plastics became more durable and less brittle, the list goes on.
I'd then look to the upland space and there it sat. Stagnant. A handful of established businesses had carved out their piece in the niche market and it seemed everyone was content. As a result, the upland market and it's gear just kind of him-hawed along.
Fast forward to our product testing and development phase and I was like a kid in a candy shop. Mil-Spec fabrics, heavy duty buckles and narrow goods. It was like building a race car. While the process to land on our materials and begin sourcing wasn't overly drawn out, we took a simple approach. Use the best of everything. Cost aside, we swung for the fences and built the most bulletproof, durable and lightweight upland strap vests available today.. and I'd be lying If I didn't say we're damn proud of it.
While there are lots of respectable companies out there, I both applaud and support any business in the upland space that sources and manufactures their equipment here on American soil. Sure, it may be a little more expensive but you're supporting people who didn't push the easy button to have something whipped up in a factory overseas. These are the dreamers, builders and supporters of the great nation we live in. Even if our vest isn't for you, I'd highly encourage and value you supporting any true American Business.
All said and done, there's some wonderful companies out there making some really nice gear. Our Final Rise vests simply showcase a lifetime of experience in the mountains, uplands and are built to support the same burning passion for the uplands you and I both share.
If you have any questions on our vest or want to find out if it's right for you, give me a call on my cell at 801.358.5199 or shoot us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We're always happy to help the vest best we can.
Until next time..