Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Gear for the Marginal Lands: Pants on the Margin

© 2010 Joshua Stark

I've gone through many different styles of pants, and many different materials, and I always come back to the same thing: I like jeans.

Maybe it's because they were invented in California for California conditions, or maybe it's because I've worn them all my life and my leg-hairs are rubbed off where they should be, but either way, I find jeans the most comfortable, longest-lasting pants for my kind of outside stuff.

Of course, there are specialty pants for particular conditions - waders, in particular, are the only way to go when you are hunting flooded marshes in Winter. But for the vast majority of my outdoors activities, jeans fit the bill.

So I was happy to find a jeans manufacturer in the U.S. who makes hunting pants. Pointer Brand jeans offers a few options, one of which are brush chaps in woodland camo, so I bought a pair to see how they work.

I've always been partial to Wrangler jeans, but unfortunately, they moved their manufacturing to Mexico. Levi's moved recently, too, from San Francisco to China, I believe (though I could be wrong on that). Pointer Brand is made in Bristol, Tennessee, and has been since 1913.

Their jeans fit well, and they have ample pocket space (one of my weird jeans criteria). The zipper is good, but the button on top was not sewn on perfectly well, and had to be touched up. The jeans material is already broken-in feeling, and the cordura chaps provide ample protection from everything up to star thistles. My only problem with cordura during hunting is the constant zip! zip! sound as they rub together.

I do wish Wrangler had stayed in the U.S., because they are very comfortable. But, I can't in good conscience support on this blog a company who will move just a few hundred miles south because it knows the labor is treated worse there and cannot legally move to better conditions. Free trade isn't free if labor cannot freely move, and if governments are not freely elected.

However, there are a number of manufacturers who still make jeans in the U.S. If you are interested, check out this website for a good listing:


Interestingly, many U.S. manufacturers offer prices competitive with the big, imported name brands.

What pants do you swear by?


Bpaul said...

For the Pacific N.W. inevitable wetness (except high summer) I use army surplus worsted wool pants. Bulletproof in the washer/dryer, yet still wool so shed water well and stay warm when they do pick up some moisture.

I don't like pants I have to baby in the wash so these work out really great. Picked up the tip from a Blacktail deer hunting book, I can't remember which one.

I avoid jeans because of their moisture retention. I tend towards carharts when conditions permit, not only because they have more pockets and extra patches on the front of the legs, but because I've been wearing them at work for around 20 years and I have a lot of habitual motions associated with them that just work out in the field.

I got a tip I haven't followed up on -- Duluth Trading Co. has carhart-style pants, but apparently they're even better. They're made out of more flexible, yet tougher material (I think fire hose material?), and they're gusseted, which is something I find almost essential if I'm not going to blow out field pants.

But I haven't tried them yet personally, so who knows.

Josh said...

I like your worsted wool pants idea, and will pursue it, myself.

Keep us posted on the Duluth pants, too.

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