Review by Jared Bloomgren
Photos by Jared Bloomgren Janna Waller, Jim Kinsey, Ryan Clairmont
Kryptek's Vellus collection re-invented the wheel, establishing a new expectation for what fleece can be.
Fleece seemed to have phased out many years ago, and for a time, became harder and harder to find. Even though it's quiet and comfortable, fleece offered little protection form the elements, almost making it a material of the past in the hunting arena. I was a bit apprehensive when I first heard Kryptek was introducing a fleece option. The non-Kryptek fleece I had in the past wasn’t very durable, warm, windproof or waterproof. It piled up and began to wear very fast without much abuse and didn’t withstand my style of hunting. With the Vellus line however, Kryptek offers fleece gear that goes beyond all the downfalls of past trials.
The Vellus collection includes a jacket, pants and gloves, all of which offer many benefits only fleece can. The Vellus line up also includes the Anorak jacket which I do not test in this review.
The Vellus collection is made with an outer layer of fleece and an inner layer of Thinsulate Platinum XTS insulation, far different from the fleece of the past. The added benefits of the stretch in the material has made this kit very comfortable and versatile. For those worried about scent control, Kryptek has taken an extra step to keep your stench inside the garment by incorporating X-Static silver fibers permanently embedded into the insulation. This means while you are hunting, the material is killing bacteria before it has a chance to turn into odor. Pretty cool huh?! The Vellus collection is also offered in the Wraith pattern, great for late season predator hunting.
Pulling my new Vellus gear out of the package, I could tell right away it was going to be comfortable; just the feel of the fabric meant next level comfort. I wasn’t disappointed when I tried it on either. The fit was perfect like almost all Kryptek gear and I was excited to try it out. Pockets were in the right spots and the cut was great. The Jacket’s cut was good and cinched in the right places. I am not crazy about hoods, but Kryptek did a good job on this one. They even answered many a wish and made this hood removable.
The first time I used the Vellus kit, I paired it with merino base layers on a late South Dakota muzzleloader hunt. My wife had a coveted late season deer tag in her pocket and Mother Nature threw everything at us on the trip. With temperatures at -20 degrees and winds pushing it much lower than that, the hunt was a good test bed for the Vellus kit! My wife was going to be wearing the Cadog kit with the same base layers and the hunt would provide a perfect side-by-side comparison of the gear.
When we stepped away from the pickup and ventured away from the warmth and shelter it offered, we both looked at each other with the same look and could read each other’s minds, “Why are we out in these conditions?!” As hunters, we all understand the drive to do what we do, and the weather certainly wasn’t going to stop us! Many years prior without this type of clothing, it most certainly would have!
I was instantly amazed at the wind stopping capabilities of the Vellus fleece. As mentioned previously, I have had fleece in the past that didn’t stop much wind, so this was a great luxury to have it finally beat away the bone chilling bite the winds of the SD plains have. Knowing the gloves, jacket and pants are also waterproof proved highly beneficial once I began to really get into deep snow. As the snow melted on the fabric, it never once penetrated the layers of the garments. The only downfall was the fact that snow liked to stick to the outer fleece fabric. When kneeling down in the snow, each time I got up I was left with a double hockey puck size of snow and ice stuck to my knees. The same became true while sitting in the snow, leaving my entire bottom covered with a frozen chunk of ice/snow each time I would get up. Pulling this off was a pain but didn’t necessarily have to happen, it just became annoying. This really was the only annoying thing that bugged me about the fleece.
Fleece can be a pain if you are hunting in areas that have a lot of snags or gnarly plants and vegetation. Things like to stick to the fleece and of course, fleece isn’t as durable as other material on the market. So you need to take that into consideration as well. I wouldn’t consider the Vellus kit the better kit to wear on the mountain as compared to the Cadog kit in cold conditions, but it still remains a great option when the bottom of the thermometer falls out! If you can pack Vellus gear to the top of the mountain to use during glassing, you won’t regret it!
Vellus vs. Cadog
When stopping to glass distant areas that would hold deer, it was very nice having clothing that cut out 100% of the wind. Glassing time increased and the effectiveness of finding the critters increased just the same due to the properties this kit has built into it. The same cannot be said about my wife and the Cadog kit. Although the Cadog is a great kit and has its place for great application, it didn’t hold up to these conditions like the Vellus kit did. The Cadog didn’t allow us to sit still for as long but when on the move the Cadog kit did well. Like all other kinds of clothing, each kit has its benefits and downfalls. The Cadog did well but didn’t stand up to the level the Vellus did in these harsh conditions. It didn’t cut out 100% of the wind.
I prefer to use the Vellus kit when temps get below 20 degrees, especially when on the move on an active hunt. It does a great job in keeping me warm but also breathes very well to help me keep from sweating up. Just this year, I opted to use it in my tree stand after whitetail due to the extremely still and silent conditions. Even the littlest noise can make a mature whitetail buck come unglued! Even if I was to stalk in the tall grass, the fleece would prove quiet there as well. The scent control properties also make it a great option for tree stand style hunting. On that stand hunt, the temps were in the mid 30’s and I kept plenty warm while on stand and perhaps a bit too warm during any sort of movement. I also noticed that the seam on the inside of one of my pants pockets has started to come undone. No fret though as Kryptek will cover this with their warranty. A definite place has been saved in my arsenal for this fleece clothing!
The Vellus kit has earned a home in my hunting arsenal and it has its place in the late season especially when temps really dip, and I am hunting the plains or sitting in a treestand or ground blind. For those who miss their fleece, now is a great time to buy this kit!