Browning Hydro-Fleece Review: A Perfectly Quiet and Waterproof Hunting Jacket and Bibs

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Most waterproof hunting gear is noisy. Think about alder willows slapping against your rain pants or the Gore-Tex sleeve of your rain jacket scratching loudly as you go to full draw. On the flipside, most of the quiet gear items made from wool or fleece-like material soak up moisture like a sponge. That’s not the case with Browning’s Hydro-Fleece jacket and bibs which are both quiet and surprisingly waterproof. I wore this suit on a snowy Colorado elk hunt and on deer hunts in the Midwest and it’s become my go-to option for damp and chilly hunts where stealth is a priority. 

Browning Hydro-Fleece Specs & Key Features

See It

3-layer waterproof taped-seam construction

Soft, brushed fabric exterior

Water-resistant front zipper with internal storm flap and chin guard

3 exterior pockets, 2 interior pockets

Solid olive green, Mossy Oak, and Realtree patterns available

Made in China

Price: $145 jacket, $145 bib

Testing Browning’s Hydro-Fleece

Riding up into the high country. Tess Rousey

I first wore this Hydro-Fleece suit during a rifle elk hunt in Colorado. On the first couple days of the trip the weather couldn’t decide if it wanted to snow or rain, so it did a little bit of both. Each morning we would ride horses and hike deep into a national forest area and then spend most of the day waiting for bulls to appear from the timber. 

These were about perfect conditions for freezing one’s ass off. It was easy to get sweaty on the hike in, which was all uphill. And it was equally easy to get chilled during several hours of sitting in the mixed snow and rain waiting on elk.

However the Browning jacket kept me totally dry and mostly warm throughout the hunt. I was truly impressed by how the melted snow and rain would run right off the jacket, never penetrating the outer layer of fleece. I would not choose Hydro-Fleece during a torrential downpour on some backcountry hunt where my life depended on staying dry. But I found Hydro-Fleece to be perfect for light rain, snow, and a mixture of both.

As you can see in the video below, it can survive a few seconds under a garden hose with the interior remaining bone dry (even though the exterior is soaked).

It’s not an ultra-light garment, but it’s not a heavy parka either so it is a good choice for covering ground in chilly weather. I did find the bibs to be a bit heavy for long hikes so I opted for rain pants in inclement weather and then lighter hunting pants when the clouds finally broke. 

I think what I liked most about the jacket was how comfortable it was. I’ve spent full days (day after day) in stiff rain gear, and have never enjoyed the experience. But the Browning Hydro-Fleece jacket fit me nicely and was comfortable all day long. So even when the weather improved during the second half of the hunt, I stuck with the Hydro-Fleece and eventually killed a bull on the last day. That of course made me like the jacket just a little bit more.

What Browning Hydro-Fleece Does Best

This is the perfect combination of comfort, waterproofness, and quietness. It’s an ideal suit for mid-season bowhunters and mountain hunters during all nasty weather short of a downpour. I think the perfect temperature range for the Hydro-Fleece would be between 50 to 25 degrees with proper layering underneath.

Where Browning Hydro-Fleece Could Improve

I have no major dings against either the jacket or bibs, just some small quibbles. I wish the cuffs on the jacket had a mechanism for cinching down tightly to keep water out.  And prickers and stickers get stuck on the fleece very easily, but this is the case with all fleece and wool. 

Final Thoughts on Browning Hydro-Fleece

The author with a 5×5 bull taken on a hunt in Colorado. Tess Rousey

In today’s market of technical hunting gear, a quality jacket that is quiet, comfortable, waterproof, and costs $150 is a hell of a deal. In the few years since my elk hunt I’ve worn the Hydro-Fleece jacket and bibs on several mid-season whitetail bow hunts and have always stayed dry and warm. I’ve yet to kill a big whitetail while wearing the suit, but I know that when I do, I’ll like it even a little bit more. 

The post Browning Hydro-Fleece Review: A Perfectly Quiet and Waterproof Hunting Jacket and Bibs appeared first on Outdoor Life.

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