Harkila Pro Hunter Jacket Review
John Barton takes a closer look at the Harkila Pro Hunter Jacket.
In my role as a deer manager I have spent a pretty penny in recent years on rifles, scopes, bipod, binoculars, boots, hats, gloves and even some bespoke stalking sticks, but one bit of kit I have always struggled with is a jacket. Too warm and you're perspiring within minutes. Too cold and misery soon sets in - when you're stalking you can't pick up the pace to warm up!
Previously I adopted the layering approach; trying to make one jacket work for all occasions with the addition of under layers when really cold. After the considerable outlay on the 'fun' equipment, I begrudged spending more money on what I considered an over-priced jacket when a more modest item could be made to work in all weathers. How wrong I was.
The problem was, this solution never really worked. I get hot easily, as many of us outdoorsy types do. The low cost jacket was waterproof, but only due to a crude, non-permeable liner and thus it did not breathe. The evening I worked up a sweat on my way to a high seat only to have it condense on my back, which was then subjected to three hours of frigid air, was the evening I decided to seek an alternative.
After much searching and trying-on (not showrooming* I hasten to add!), I decided to take the plunge and invest in a Harkila Pro Hunter, retailing at a recommended RRP of around £400. 'Invest' is the key word here, but I'll come back to this later.
So, how did the 'expensive' jacket perform and was it worth the outlay? I have worn my Harkila Pro Hunter deer stalking, park culling and on long, wet walks with my dog and frankly, I don't have a bad word to say about it.
(left The Pro Hunter Jacket from Harkila)
It's quiet; the heavy weave of the fabric looks at first glance as if it will rustle, but it's incredibly supple and quiet, perfect for stalking deer.
It's warm, although it's not so warm that it's only suitable for really cold weather. The jacket is lined with a soft 'woodland' inner and Goretex™ membrane. Pockets are also micro-fleece lined. An additional liner can be affixed if extra warmth is required. So far however, I have not felt out of my personal Goldilocks zone. To help regulate temperature and ventilation there are zippered vents under the arms.
It's robust. The heavy cordura has so far resisted the ravages of thorns, fences and barbed wire. The quality of stitching is also reassuring. During heavy rain the coat outer did eventually absorb water but there was no hint of it soaking through and I remained warm and dry.
It's comfortable. The cut allows for easy movement and the elastic toggle-lock drawstring assists for comfort. The cuffs can be adjusted with velcro to fit over gloves. The front zip has a wind panel that fastens with crisply snapping poppers and the removable hood is attached with a zip. The collar is a high fit and zips up to below the chin.
It has some nice features. There are fleece lined hand pockets in the chest area which feel very comfortable in use. The front lower box pockets (stud closing) have elastic rifle round loops in a separate compartment. A two-way radio pocket sits high up on the chest and a fully lined game pocket is accessed by a zip to the right rear. There are 2 generous inner pockets and a chest pocket between the zip and the wind flap that can be accessed when the jacket is zipped up. Fluorescent orange, reflective bands are hidden in zippered recesses at the top of the sleeves until needed - handy for continental trips.
Overall the garment just screams 'quality'.
A Sound Investment
As I alluded earlier, I now consider the cost of this jacket a wise investment. "Buy once, buy well" is my new mantra. I'm confident this jacket will perform throughout Harkila's 5 year warranty period and far beyond. Now to invest in some trousers…
*Showrooming is the practice of visiting your local store to try goods out and then sourcing them online at a lower price.