Since the explosion of modern hunting apparel in recent years, many new brands and manufacturers have popped up — some really good and some not so good. A couple of years ago, we were hearing rumblings of a new company called Kryptek. With a tagline of "Battlefield to Backcountry,” they were definitely catching people’s attention. Founded by two special forces military servicemen with a passion for the outdoors, they set out to make their clothing as "bullet-proof ” as possible.
In the early fall of 2012, I had the opportunity to give the Kryptek gear a test on a seven-day backcountry trip in the high country of western Wyoming. Hoping to get some inclement weather on the trip to give the gear a good run-through, I didn’t anticipate the rain that accompanied us on our first two days, and almost ten miles, of the hike into our final camping destination. The rain gear was put on immediately.
It did a great job of keeping me dry and efficiently dried out quickly once the rain subsided. I was wishing that it was a little lighter in weight, however. The Koldo rain layer has more pockets and zippers than I care for in rain gear, which adds to the weight of the garments. However, after sharing this feedback with the founders of Kryptek, they mentioned the changes they were making to this layer and have an ultralightweight layer for 2013 called the Poseidon layer. This was music to my ears since we are forever counting the ounces of our gear and are constantly searching for the lightest, yet durable, gear to pack in to the backcountry.
In 2012, Kryptek added a new pant to their line called the Valhalla. Weighing only 14 oz. in my size (36 W, 36 L), the Valhalla is a minimalist pant that is quick drying and very comfortable. I’ve worn their Alaios pants before and I must say that the Valhalla is my favorite between the two. The pockets of the Valhalla pants seemed to be in the right places and just the right size for storing my mouth calls, compact digital camera, and other items that I need to keep handy.
The main difference that I noticed in the Kryptek line is that each of their layers seems to be a touch warmer than many of the other companies in the same market niche, but temperature-regulating features are built in as well. In the Cadog jacket, for example, the heavier fleece lining, and the pit-zips that are under the arms helped regulate my body temperature in a wide range of temperatures and activity levels. Also, this jacket kept me very warm while sitting and glassing in the cool mornings and evenings and also while making supper in the dark near our camping location.
While going through the Kryptek layers and deciding which ones to take before embarking on this trip, I was somewhat cussing about the fact that they didn’t have a Primaloft vest. However, after taking the Kratos Primaloft jacket with as my insulating layer, I found myself using this more and more on the trip as my go-to upper body layer. It was very comfortable and worked well as an insulating layer or as a stand-alone exterior piece. Like many Primaloft layers available on the market, however, it is noisy. It would definitely need to be removed before putting the final stalk on a mule deer when using archery equipment. For 2013, Kryptek did add a vest in the Kratos layer called the Minus, plus they have a very useful additional layer that is called the Borealis. This new top has Primaloft on the front of the torso and Merino wool everywhere else. The Primaloft front keeps you warm, while the Merino wool back, sides, and arms keep you from overheating when hiking with your pack on.
I found the Kryptek line to be very impressive and very durable. The pricepoint of their products is reasonable as well, making them very appealing to many western hunters. The layers that I used on this trip included the Kratos jacket, Cadog jacket, Koldo jacket and pants, Valhalla pants, and Kiska beanie. They have many other layers to fit into your own personal repertoire as well, allowing you to tailor a layering system to suit your own needs. To see their full line of products, go to www.kryptek.com.