Monday, July 9, 2018

Review: WUNDERBIRD Birdwatching Clothing

Recently, the company Wunderbird approached us about their new line of clothing geared for birders. They offered to give us a couple of items in exchange for an unbiased review. We were intrigued and obliged to see if these items could really be useful for birders. We checked out their website and saw they have three basic items: a short sleeved shirt, a long-sleeved shirt, and a pullover hoodie sweatshirt. They have them for both men and women. And they have cool names: Kestrel, Peregrine, and Gyrfalcon (respectively).

Nick is actually in the market for a new sweatshirt, so we were excited about that prospect for him. We reviewed their size chart and found that the men’s sweatshirt sizes would not quite work for this long-armed guy. However, the sweatshirt dimensions worked great for me, so I (Maureen) ordered the women’s navy blue sweatshirt (Gyrfalcon), and Nick ordered the long-sleeved shirt (Peregrine) in blue/gray. The picture online looked like a light and dark blue combination, but it is really a light blue with gray sides.

Maureen’s Point of view: The hoodie is a really nice, sturdy fabric. It’s thick and soft and would definitely keep you warm. I tested it out on a cool morning for only a little while as it was not quite cold enough to really wear it around for long. The hoodie, like the other items, has two sets of zipper pockets – one across the chest and one lower in the belly area. But it also has the additional pouch to put your hands in (like a muff). 

The lower zipper could hold your binoculars in case of rain, even if you’re wearing a harness, or at least for me since I wear my bins pretty low on my harness to be able to hold my camera the way I want. I’m not very… ahem… well-endowed, so the top zipper pocket didn’t really bother me, but I could see that if you had more up top, this may render the pocket useless. I did have a bit of fun using it to hold my coffee mug. Otherwise, I do love having pockets since women’s clothing are notorious for not having any/enough/deep enough pockets. You could store small gadgets or snacks.

There is extra padding in the shoulders to give a bit of extra comfort for carrying heavy gear, like a tripod with a scope, or in my case, a heavier camera with a telephoto lens. I’m sure this could provide some relief, but since I did not wear the hoodie very long, I couldn’t tell you if there was a significant difference. Another feature is an adjustable cord in the back of the hood part to modify the hood to whatever level you like. This feature is common in good raincoats (living in the Pacific Northwest, I know what that is now), and I like it as it is helpful when you don’t want to really block your whole view with the hood, but still want to keep the hood on.

Nick’s Point of View: My preference would have been for getting a hooded sweatshirt, but I ran into a problem once we consulted the sizing chart. While I’m rather slender, I have long arms. Oddly (and this makes no sense) the sleeve length for the “XLL” hoodie is shorterthan on the “S” long-sleeved tee. On top of that, the sleeve lengths for the Men’s hoodies are even shorter than on the Women’s hoodies! So I ended up getting a long-sleeved tee instead purely because the measurements worked out. 

It was comfortable enough when I tried it on, but the main problem is that the padded shoulders don’t conform to one’s contours. In my case, it caused the neck to ride high and wonky. The material is fairly light, but the pockets make it look stiff as it hangs, as if I were draped in Kevlar. Maureen said it looks like a Star Trek uniform. She’s not wrong.

Who wore it best?

I haven’t used the pockets yet, and I’m still trying to figure out how best to. The stated purpose is for “Quick Draw binocular support”. But if quickly drawing your binoculars is important, then don’t put them in a pocket. Personally, I think they’d get more use storing our water bottle. Sometimes when we’re getting ready to hike we end up bringing a backpack with us, if only to hold water. If the water can fit comfortably in a pocket that would simplify things for us by reducing the total number of straps criscrossing our torsos.

Binoculars in their "Quick Draw" pouch

The padded shoulders are meant to help keep your tripod from grating against your bones while lugging your scope around. While they do provide more protection than an ordinary long-sleeved tee, the padding is less substantial than I expected – maybe about as much padding as you’d get from the average hoodie? When I switched from tripod to camera strap, it tugged the shirt to the side, making me acutely aware of the seam near the armpits, and chafed as I walked. Other features, such as the ventillating side panels will be great to wear once the temperature peaks, and it’s advertised as being mosquito repellant.

Thank you to Wunderbird for letting us sample their line of clothes. Quibbles aside, it’s great to know that manufacturers are paying attention to the unique problems faced by birders. We hope to see their product line expand in the future to accommodate birders of different proportions and styles. But kudos to Wunderbird for seeing an opportunity to help birders do what they do more comfortably.


1 comment:

  1. Good to know about functional outdoor clothing options! Thanks for the review.