Columbia Sportswear's NEW
Upland Ptarmigan X-Shell

By Randy Wakeman

Columbia Sportswear Ptarmigan X-Shell
Randy Wakeman wearing a Columbia Sportswear Ptarmigan X-Shell.

As a lot of folks have discovered, the cheaper orange vests can be a bit lacking for active hunters. Ever have "rip-start" nylon game bags on the back of cheap vest? They might be suitable for the dove field but pheasants falling out of chintzy vests is just no fun. They might get you through a season, but they might not. I have acquired a pile of disposable vests over the last forty years of pheasant hunting, with cheap insta-break zippers and snaps that pull though equally weak nylon.

There are better alternatives, and I've found the new Columbia Upland Ptarmigan X-Shell to be a great one. As a "shell," you can layer it with any of Columbia's inner jacket linings as you prefer. As is, it doesn't pick up many burrs, the pockets are generous and deep, it kills the wind, and does a good job stopping moisture in light rain. With the Ptarmigan, carrying a couple of fresh Illinois pheasants in the back feels like you are carrying nothing at all. For mild temperatures it works great as is over an insulated shirt. Below freezing, add a vest and you are good to go down to around zero degrees F.

It looks great, fits me well, and so far appears very durable. It is a giant step up from seasonal chain-store chicom vests that are all too prevalent. Check them out; you'll see. Even the dog seems to like it. Highly recommended.

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Copyright 2006 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.