We sent one lifelong hunter on his mountain goat hunt in some of America’s toughest terrain to put a FORLOH kit through the paces.
Calling Pat Van Eimeren an experienced outdoorsman would be like saying the Green Bay Packers are a pretty successful franchise. With 32 years of field experience as a wildlife biologist for the US Forest Service from New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness to Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness — and nearly as many years hunting — Van Eimeren is the consummate mountain man.
“I shot my first elk in 1992, and I’ve gotten one every year since except for 2017,” he says. “That year, I got a moose. I had so much meat that there was no need to hunt for elk.”
The year Van Eimeren began working in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, in 1992, he put in his first application for a mountain goat tag there. With only a single tag awarded for the 200-square-mile unit each year, he knew his chances were almost nonexistent. Yet even after he missed out, he continued to apply year after year. In 2020, his number finally came up. “It seemed fitting that I started applying the year I began my career, and I drew the tag the year I retired,” he says. “It felt like an amazing retirement present.” His newfound freedom from work afforded him the weeks it would take to scout for and hopefully succeed at the difficult hunt.
Designated roadless by the 1964 Wilderness Act, the “Bob,” as it’s colloquially known, is one of the country’s wildest tracts of land. It has healthy populations of elk, moose, bighorn sheep, and mountain goat among others, though it also boasts the highest density of grizzlies in the lower 48 to keep hunters on their toes. Ranging from dense timber in the low elevations up to glaciated granite peaks and razor-sharp scree fields above 9,000 feet, it’s extremely rugged country that’s harsh and demanding of hunters.
In other words, it’s the perfect testing grounds for hunting equipment, which is why FORLOH sent Van Eimeren out on his goat tag kitted in a full spectrum of its apparel. In exchange for the gear, Van Eimeren agreed to provide critical feedback to help inform design. In addition to several weeks of scouting and hunting the Bob, he was also still using the FORLOH gear on his annual elk tag in eastern Montana. Here are his unfiltered impressions so far:
“This just seems like a simple base layer with not much to it — until you wear it. First of all, the fabric is really soft and stretchy and just feels good. Like the rest of the kit, it fits close to the body but has really nice stretch so you don’t notice it when you’re moving. I did a lot of hard efforts going uphill, and when I’d get to the top and stop, I was always impressed that I wasn’t wet or clammy. But what’s even more impressive is it doesn’t smell. I know FORLOH talks a lot about the antimicrobial properties, but it’s hard to believe it till you try it firsthand. I wore this piece for three straight days on the elk hunt, and every day I kept thinking I should change to a new base layer, but it simply wasn’t taking on any odor. I never had to change to something else, whereas with other gear the smell would have forced me to put on a new layer each day.
“The other thing, not just about this piece but all of them, this camo really works. The Exposed pattern basically disappeared in the big, open, boulder-covered subalpine terrain. I got in to 300 yards on my goat, and he didn’t know it. Then he went around a rock knob and came out at 50 yards away, and he still didn’t see me. I think this pattern is going to be really great for open-country antelope hunts, too.”
“I put on these pants for the first time at our basecamp in the Bob, and my initial thought was, ‘Wow, these things are a bit tight, am I in the right size?’ But the fabric is so supple and has such a nice stretch to it that it wasn’t an issue at all. That’s especially impressive for goat hunting, where all the vertical travel really puts the stretch to the test. I also really appreciated the built-in knee pads, which are a lot less bulky and obtrusive than other pants with removable pads. You don’t even notice these until you have to jump down on your knees quickly, at which point you really appreciate the cushion. That’s going to be great for antelope hunting. I also got a lot of blood on them, but that fabric cleaned up really nicely. My only knock on these pants is that the front hand pockets are pretty small and not deep enough.”
“The first time I wore it, I knew this vest would become one of my favorite pieces of gear I’ve ever used. The construction process and fabrics make it so light and packable that it felt like there was zero space or weight penalty to carrying it. Yet it’s also extremely warm. The fabric has a nice elasticity, so the fit is trim but not at all constricting. The pockets are well designed, too, with two large exterior ones for quick warming your hands and two internal ones for stashing gear like calls. It wasn’t cold enough for me to use it hiking, but it was the perfect piece for glassing: I’d put it on after gaining a high point and stay plenty warm sitting for long periods looking for animals. The only improvement I could see is to add a hood—even a removable one — which would increase the versatility for colder and windier hunts.”
In general, Van Eimeren said he found FORLOH apparel a step above other gear he’s used before. The exceptional camouflage of Crypsis combined with extremely durable and hard-wearing fabrics were FORLOH’s biggest appeals. “Goat hunting in the Bob Marshall is seriously tough on gear. This stuff performed great there, so I expect it will hold its own everywhere,” he says. “FORLOH is definitely my new go-to.”