During the start of the big game late hunt in Nevada I had to carry a lot of stuff on my back. You eventually run out of room in your pack and the accumulated weight of your gear can be surprising. One of the ways I made sure I had the things I needed for the varied conditions and terrain was utilize gear that could serve multiple purposes. The 5.11 Tactical Aggressor Parka was a stand out during my time in the mountains. When packing for a hunt you are always conflicted on what to bring and what to leave behind. You want to choose wisely because excessive weight or bulk is a huge burden.
When we arrived in Ruby Valley Thursday night the weather was cold but temperate. The cool light breeze felt good and allowed us to dress lightly. During our trip up the mountain I attached my 5.11 Tactical Aggressor Parka to the exterior of my pack because I knew I would need it later. Once I made it to our camping spot and got rested I was going to get cold fast. Dressed in my 5.11 Tactical Assault shirt, Taclite PRO pants and Range Master boots I was ready to go.
Our hike started at 7,095 ft. ASL which is already high for a low land dweller like me (Vegas is roughly 2,200 ft. ASL) and ended at 8,330 ft. ASL, where we set up camp. Carrying my rifle, food/water, camping and hunting gear I noticed the added burden right away. The steep terrain is very formidable and early into the trip Bill, Dane and I wished we had rented pack animals! We decided to hike in at night which presents its own particular difficulties, but for us the advantage was conserving our water. My TMT L2x flashlight was on its second trip into the Rubies and again it proved to be invaluable. We eventually arrived at our destination after many resting periods. The first thing I did was take off my pack and started setting up my tent. The temperature was dropping and the breeze was turning into a cold wind. By the time I had my tent set up my heart rate had slowed and I was getting cold. I was ready crawl into my sleeping bag and go to bed.
Friday morning the wind was constant and the temperature continued to drop. I spent all day in the parka and decided to put on some long underwear beneath my Taclite PRO pants. When the sun crested over the eastern mountains I was already on glass scanning the draw below me for movement. Bill spotted a few does above us, one of which was particularly curious and watched us for about 40 minutes. As the day went on the wind continually got stronger and was constantly moving our tents around. Much of the day was spent sitting on different vantage points glassing our surroundings. Most of the time I was exposed to the wind, but I was not uncomfortable because I stayed warm. We did manage to spot a buck or two but nothing that presented a shot. Dane and I hiked down into the draw intending to kick something out but we were unsuccessful. We built a fire that evening and Bill was the only one to get a decent night sleep. Dane and I could tell from the snoring emitting from his tent.
One of the things I really like about the Aggressor parka is that you can utilize the shell and liner separately. The liner is made from fleece and has its own pockets and vents. During dry cold nights it is perfect for hanging around a camp fire and it’s easy on the eyes allowing it to be worn casually. The shell of the parka is water proof, lightly insulated and vented. Multiple pockets are incorporated into its design so you have several places to stow small items. It does a great job combating the wind and keeps you dry in the snow and rain. When the temperature drops and the weather turns nasty, both of them combined keep you comfortable in harsh environments. The large collar and removable hood seal in body heat and provides cover. By adding more layers under the parka you can stay exposed to the cold for longer periods of time. The vents incorporated into the liner and shell play an important role. When moving around you want to avoid sweating, that way when you get to your destination you can sit still and see what is going on around you without getting cold. Moving around with the vents open kept me comfortable and when I reached my destination I was able to close them and sit in the wind and weather. The exterior of the shell is flexible and strong without being excessively noisy. I hiked through my fair share of small aspen growths and dead grease wood following deer trails without a tear or rip! When pulling yourself through thick growth it is nice to have something to protect you from scrapes and scratches.
When we got up early Saturday morning to get on glass the impending snow started falling and visibility was poor. The only advantage was we could see which direction the wind was blowing. During prolonged exposure to the wind and snow, poorly made products will quickly give in to the environment. As the morning continued I found the front, lower zipper pockets were great for keeping my binoculars handy and storing my glove liners when I was not using them. Despite the strong wind, freezing cold and snow I was having a great time with my friends. This had a lot to do with the fact that my gear was performing properly and I was staying warm and dry. We kept the fire going through the snow storm while Bill hiked down into the meadow to our north. Bill spent a long period of time exposed to serious weather before returning to camp.
We knew we had to leave by Sunday afternoon, and by Saturday evening the weather was only getting worse. We were not worried about the snow or the temperature but the wind had us concerned. We were experiencing gusts that were approaching 40 mph +, with long periods of sustained winds blowing at 15-20 mph. Our main concern was our tents, if one of them failed it would mean for a long nasty night. We huddled around our camp fire for awhile considering our options. After checking the weather we saw no signs of the wind dying down. We decided to pack out and eat a steak in Ely, Nevada before continuing home to Las Vegas. Despite all of our disappointment in the lack of meat, we had and great time and could not ask for better friends. Every time we get together I thoroughly enjoy myself and realize, the worse the conditions, the fonder the memories. The 5.11 Aggressor Parka will be my go to cold and wet weather jacket from this point on. I was very impressed with how well it performed in seriously harsh conditions. I am looking forward to heading back into the mountains with it!
To be continued…