By R. Cade Powell
After 31 days in the field last year I hope I can give a fair and accurate opinion of C4E.
Those 31 days consisted of a couple days of chasing rooster pheasants and jump shooting greenheads, archery hunting badlands mule deer, backpacking for elk above timberline and belly crawling prickly pear flats for pronghorn. All my hunting exploits last year were in my home state of Wyoming. All of my big-game hunting was public land DIY.
Temps varied from over 100 degrees to 15 degrees below zero. Elevation varied from 4,000 feet to 10,962 feet. Elements experienced included wind, rain, sleet, snow, hot and bitter cold.
My C4E equipment consists of merino 190 bottoms, merino 190 ¼ zip and zip hoodie tops, Pivot short-sleeve shirt, Pivot long-sleeve shirt, Element pants, Switchback pants, Mid-mountain vest, Element jacket, Torrent rain gear, Stalker beanie, Assault gloves, Talus belt, knee pads, and Elevation Down-Tek jacket.
My August pronghorn hunts utilized the switchback pant and pivot short-sleeve shirt. I also had a pivot long-sleeve shirt in my pack for the cool mornings. My daughters, that had the tags, were wearing switchback pants. Temps reached over 100 degrees on several days. Even with the great cooling effect of Merino, I felt it was too hot to wear my Merino layers. I did wear my knee pads in my switchback pants all day long. I never took them out during this 3 day hunt and could walk for miles and not notice them. I did not utilize my pockets on the rear of my Switchbacks for knee pads on this hunt.
Our C4E gear performed great as my 12 year-old daughter harvested her first big-game animal on her first big-game hunt
My September archery elk hunt utilized Merino base and ¼ zip top, Switchback pants, pivot short-sleeve shirt, pivot long-sleeve shirt, Mid-mountain vest, Element jacket, and Torrent rain gear. I spent a couple days during elk archery season wearing my Torrent rain gear during rain showers and snow squalls. I never wore it during an absolute downpour so I can’t vouch for it in those situations. I spent 7 nights on the mountain living out of my backpack. Temps were between 84 and 22 degrees over the 2 partial weeks I hunted. All elements were experienced from hot, wind, rain, snow, etc. 32 miles hiked and just over 15,000 feet of elevation gained. I loved being able to shed or replace layers as we hiked/hunted toward where our camp would be at timberline. A couple times, as the temps pushed 80+ degrees, I’d end up in just my merino top. It performed well to keep me cool. It also helped keep my scent to a minimum as evidenced by the cow, calf and 320 type 6 point I had at 10 yards on my hike in. His eyes bugged out at 10 yards as he looked at this intruder that was sharing the steep trail with him. He stepped off following his cow as my partner, 30 yards behind me, cringed when he realized I wasn’t going to release an arrow in the hopes of arrowing the bigger bull we had glassed several hours earlier.
C4E could handle everything NW Wyoming high country could throw at it during a September elk hunt.
My September archery mule deer hunt utilized Merino base and ¼ zip top, Switchback pants, pivot short-sleeve shirt, pivot long-sleeve shirt. Mid-mountain vest and Torrent Rain Gear stayed in my pack during this hunt. I spent lots of time on my knees and belly as I crawled up to ledges and set up the Vortex Razor spotting scope on my Outdoorsman’s tripod to scour each and every draw. My kneepads never came out of my Switchback pants, in fact, I never took them out during my September elk hunt as well. I hunted 1 ½ days in early September when temps spiked to the low 90’s during the heat of the day. I wore my Merino layers all day. I then came back for a day on the 20th of September. Temps were in the high 70’s and I still wore the same set-up of Merino bases, switchback pants and pivot shirt.
I was on a big ridge with many finger ridges running off of it when I glassed my buck as he traded beds during the mid-part of the day. I thought he would only move one draw over to bed. Imagine my surprise when he started over the second ridge and dropped out of sight. I literally backed up and out of sight behind the ridge I was on and ran over a mile to make it to the next ridge in front of him. He crossed it and started for the next ridge as I backed up behind the ridge top and jogged with him. I ended up running a little over 1.5 miles before he decided to lay down for the rest the afternoon. It then took almost 2 hours of crawling and glassing before I spotted 2 inches of the top of his tine below me in his secluded bed. After a short crawl, I was 18 yards above his bed. Wind was perfect and when he stood to change locations, my Injexion took out both lungs. I was grateful for the cooling, moisture wicking, and scent absorption properties of Merino as I laid in the sandstone above his bed.
My next major hunt was on hold until the end of October. My daughter, Paige, had drawn the same mule deer tag that I had. We had to finish up with her volleyball season before we could go chase badlands mulies on her first deer hunt. My gear consisted of Merino base and ¼ zip top, Switchback pants, pivot short-sleeve shirt, pivot long-sleeve shirt, Mid-mountain vest, Element jacket, and Torrent rain gear. Temps warmed up into the 70’s during the day but mornings were brisk enough that I’d wear my Element jacket while I was set up and glassing. Paige was in Switchback pants and even stole my Mid-mountain vest during most the hunt. We found her several mulie bucks but nothing she wanted to pull the trigger on right away. I kept telling her that my first deer was a forkie and second was a doe, but she had been up there with me and knew I could find her a 4 point. We had 30 minutes of shooting light left on our last day when I finally got her on a herd with 3 or 4 decent bucks. She picked out the one on the left, away from the rest of the herd and put a 168 Berger through his shoulder. It was just icing on the cake that it was a big forky! Every kid should harvest a forky for their first deer!
C4E performed great on a late October Wyoming badlands mule deer hunt
First week of November found me back in NW Wyoming looking for a bull elk with my rifle. I was asked to help a friend of a friend and it turned into a nightmare. I’ll spare you the details other than he harvested his first ever elk – a 310 bull. I saw 20+ 6 points but nothing I was going to hang a tag on. My gear consisted of Merino base and ¼ zip top, Element pants, pivot long-sleeve shirt, Mid-mountain vest, Element jacket, Stalker Beanie and Torrent rain gear. Temps were in the single digits in the morning and warming up to the upper teens during the day. Wind was always blowing but we avoided snow, although there was 4 inches up to 2 feet already on the ground in most places we hunted. It was crunchy so we’d glass bulls at first light and watch them go to the dark timber to bed up for the day. We’d hike around, sometimes up to 3 -4 miles, and sit on the hillside above the timber they were bedding in. The last evening is the only time we had an elk feed out the same way he went in. I wore gaiters and all my gear was great at repelling water, snow, ice. A couple of the big hikes we were really pushing it to try and catch the elk before the entered the timber for the day. I had to take my Element jacket off during one hike, but all my gear wicked moisture and didn’t allow it to accumulate inside my gear making you cold and wet even when perspiring from the exertion. My Element pants with Merino bases were warm enough to sit on the hillside for several hours with little movement. They also performed great during my fast hikes through the snow. My Merino bases, Pivot long-sleeve shirt, Mid Mountain vest and Element Jacket performed equally as well. One afternoon when the wind was howling and we were stationary for several hours, I pulled my Torrent Rain Jacket on to help block the wind. I didn’t own my Down-Tek Elevation Jacket yet but it would have been the PERFECT solution for extra warmth up on that wind-blown ridge.
My last hunt of the year was my cow elk tag in SE Wyoming during the last two week so of November. My gear consisted of Merino base and ¼ zip top, Element pants, pivot long-sleeve shirt, Mid-mountain vest, Element jacket, Stalker Beanie, Torrent rain gear and my new favorite Down-Tek Elevation Jacket. Temps ranged from 15 degrees below zero to 25 degrees. Elements were wind, snow, cold, wind, wind, and more wind. This hunt consisted of driving as close as I could to big vantage points where I’d park and then hike up and glass. My Elevation Jacket is too warm to hike very far in or during periods of extreme exertion. It is wonderful for putting on after you reach your vantage point to begin a glassing session. It packs up about the size of a softball so it should never be left out of your pack!
One day the temps were in the single digits and it was snowing hard. The wind chill made it well below zero but I was very comfortable as I still hunted through the timber looking for bedded elk. When I came out to big vantage points where I wanted to let my Vortex Kaibab 15×56’s do the walking, I’d pull on my Elevation jacket and could sit for hours while glassing. We packed 3 cows out of a decent sized canyon and my gear performed just as I’d come to expect after wearing it for a full season.
Like most of you, I didn’t get to hunt near enough this fall. I also didn’t get near enough time in the backcountry living out of my backpack, but it was worth sacrificing some of my high country hunts to be able to take 2 of my daughters as many days as I could. I’m already more excited to think about what tags they’ll draw this fall than I am my own tags. I do feel like I was able to test my C4E gear in as tough of terrain and weather as most of us will get to see in the lower 48, if you exclude the thorn infested region of the Desert SW. The only mishap I had with any of my gear was with one of my Pivot shirts. I unzipped it too hard and the bottom of the zipper came apart. It took about 30 seconds to get it put back together and luckily I was at home, so a quick job with needle and thread fixed the problem. I had no tears or holes. No leaks from rain, snow or water crossings. I’m 6’4” and 225 pounds and the cut and fit are athletic enough to bend and stretch where I needed to bend and stretch. I drew my bow on 2 different mulie bucks and twice on one bull elk without any concerns from my clothing interfering. I drew hundreds of times during off-season practice so I knew it wouldn’t be a concern on the mountain. Merino wicked moisture and controlled scent for days living out of my backpack. My gear breathed better than any gear I’d worn before. My Elevation jacket didn’t breathe very well when I wore it on a big hike out of a steep canyon. I was hotter than a pig in the ground with an apple in its mouth by the time I got to my glassing knob. I learned to put it in my pack until I got to my knob and needed the extra heat. It was unbelievable for those situations and even became my coat of choice all winter as I wore it to work every day. It does make a ‘crinkling’ sound when the temps reached 15-30 below zero but it wouldn’t bother me during a hunting situation if my Element jacket were over the top of it.
All in all, I was impressed with the performance, functionality, fit, and cost of my C4E gear. I can’t wait to try a couple of their new pieces that came out late last fall with Gaitors, Highline Pant and Selway Zip being at the top of my ‘wishlist’.