Kuiu and First Lite are some of the most well-known and respected names in the hunting industry. They both provide hunters with an array of high-performance clothing for extreme weather.
But who comes out on top in the battle between Kuiu vs First Lite?
Kuiu designed their gear to suit all types of hunting, which we can divide into two main categories: active and stationary. There are down products for the early morning turkey hunt or hours spent on a tree stand and the 3DeFX+ fiber gear for the high altitude mountain trek after Dall sheep or the 5-day elk hunt. Their clothing is lightweight, with a lot of stretch and improved fit.
First Lite offers versatile clothing with all hunters in mind. Together with 37.5 by Cocona, they created hunting gear providing exceptional weather protection, be it cold wind and rain during stand hunting or sweltering heat during early whitetail season.
Both First Lite and Kuiu are lightweight and perfectly designed for layering for extended hunting expeditions.
The material used by First Lite is primarily merino wool. For hot weather, First Lite improved the merino products with a new blend and created Aerowool. All the outer layers are covered with DWR for protection against wind and water.
The material of Kuiu gear is a piece of advanced technology invented to make the best out of the hunter’s experience. Kuiu gear comes in a mix of materials, like merino blend, Nuyarn, Karuishi and microfleece, and Primeflex polyester.
Kuiu and First Lite make sure to use only the best quality materials for their gear. Both companies strive to provide comfort and durability with their products.
Merino wool seems to be a material that may get snagged in thick brush, but in products like Kanab pants, First Lite incorporated strategically placed nylon panels to add durability. The merino wool in outer layers is 90% rip-stop, and on top of that, First Lite provides tenacious tape repair patches for when you tear your gear in rough terrain.
Thanks to the never-ending improvements made at Kuiu, they are able to offer very durable products that can withstand the thickest bush and the sharpest rocks. The use of stretch nylon 6/6, TPU coating, and Kuiu DWR treatment help provide durability without the extra weight or use of spandex.
Thanks to more advanced materials, Kuiu seems to be a little bit more durable than First Lite.
The layering system of First Lite gear provides comfort without feeling trapped in your own clothes. The famous merino wool material is extra comfortable and quiet, helping you focus on the hunt.
Kuiu products made with Nuyarn don’t feel pricky and are more comfortable due to fibers laying along with the same orientation without a twist. By eliminating the spun yarn, the merino wool is more stretchy and durable.
Both Kuiu and First Lite are comfortable to wear for extended periods.
First Lite is true to size. All their layers carry the same sizes, and they fit well together. The snug-fitting base layers are skin-tight, and the top layers have enough space to accommodate them. Pants don’t have many waist-size options.
First Lite Shooter’s Cut design provides an unrestrained range of movement to guarantee the hunter can aim a rifle or draw a bow without restraint.
Kuiu gear tends to run a bit small on bigger hunters, and often the size would vary between the layers, different garments, and consecutive editions. The company doesn’t offer a lot of gear for female hunters, and the small and medium sizes are not designed to fit women’s bodies.
First Lite gear seems to fit better than Kuiu. The added bonus of female clothing from the First Lite assortment proves to give them an upper hand in the fitting department.
First Lite clothes are very light. Most of the garments don’t weigh more than 25 oz, except their gear for stand hunting, like the Sanctuary 2.0 Insulated Jacket that weighs 58 oz.
Kuiu has the ultralight gear. In their dawn clothing, Kuiu uses the finest Polish goose down covered with DWR for waterproofing. The Super Down Ultra Hooded Jacket weighs only 7.9 oz.
In the weight department, Kuiu is a definitive leader. Their ultralight dawn clothing is first class and, like the name suggests – very light.
To solve the problem of restrictive clothing, Kuiu uses Primeflex fabrics by utilizing a patented spiral yarn. It allows the fabric to stretch and recover without combining it with water-absorbing spandex.
First Lite offers clothing made from 2-way or 4-way stretch material, allowing you freedom of movement while pulling the bow or aiming through the rifle scope, even layered up.
Both companies got the flexibility right. The gear provides freedom of movement when climbing a tree stand, pulling a bow, or crouching behind a tree.
First Lite gear is known for its warmth in cold weather, but not so much for keeping you from the cold wind. The most effective clothing for wind protection would be the rain gear made from the Rain Shell.
Kuiu gear can easily protect the hunter against 40 – 50 mph wind. Equipped with Wind Resistant Fleece Technology, the Kuiu gear takes a new approach to block the wind.
To make their apparel more lightweight and eliminate the windproof membrane Kuiu designed a unique binding technique connecting the face fabric and fleece backer.
Kuiu is more prepared for cold, windy weather with their gear and offers more choice in that department as well.
Thanks to the Toray DWR coating, Kuiu gear is waterproof and can easily withstand freezing rain and snow. The Dermizax® NX membrane is fully waterproof.
First Lite, even though mostly made out of merino wool, has some Aces in their sleeves if it comes to waterproof clothes. Their Cascade Stormlight Jacket has one of the highest waterproof ratings on the market. It is an impressive 30 000 mm.
Kuiu and First Lite offer impressive waterproof gear, although Kuiu seems to have more of choice.
Due to the smooth texture and lightweight configuration, Kuiu gear made of Dermizax® NX is four times more breathable than other waterproof fabrics. The design also allows lots of ventilation zippers, and breathable 3DeFX+ creates active insulation that helps evaporate moisture while the hunter is on the move.
First Lite merino is very breathable and wicks moisture. All their outerwear is made with 37.5 Technology for improved breathability. During third-party testing, First Lite came first on breathability, with almost 37 thousand grams of moisture transferred through one square meter during 24h.
Created from merino wool gear from Kuiu and First Lite offers first-class breathability and wicking.
Kuiu Tiburon series made out of Dot Air® fabric features UPF 40+ sun protection and Makpsec® technology that helps reduce odor.
First Lite is made mostly ou of merino wool, and it doesn’t reflect the UV but absorbs it. It doesn’t produce any shine, which is essential when staying invisible during the hunt.
Most First Lite materials have a 4-way stretch, which prevents constriction of the movements. On top of their signature lightweight to heavyweight merino wool apparel, the new Aerowool blend combines merino wool with 37.5 technology. It creates the quietest, ultralight, odor-less fabric available on the market.
The advanced technology behind Kuiu gear is astounding, from waterproof-breathable hard shells made with Dermizax® NX membrane, light and flexible softshells coated with Toray DWR, and sweat-wicking merino wool base layers.
Kuiu gear patterns were designed to break up the human silhouette, just like natural predators. The three available camo patterns are Valo, Verde, and Vias. The gear is also available in solid colors, and many wear them for farm country whitetail hunting and as work/casual apparel.
First Lite comes in 15 different patterns, from patented camo designs to solids, like grey, brown, or orange.
Kuiu seems to be more technologically advanced, prepared for every type of weather but offers fewer gear patterns than First Lite.
Is First Lite Worth The Money?
First Lite is definitely worth the extra buck. You can put First Lite hunting gear through a lot during hunting season and come out not worse for the wear. The merino wool clothing is very durable. The unique blend helps to keep your body at a comfortable temperature, whether it’s scorching hot or cold. There are multiple patterns available for many types of hunts.
Is Kuiu worth the money?
Kuiu gear is also worth the money. The clothes are warm, comfortable and keep you dry during winter hunts, just like the company says. Thanks to advanced technology involved in creating the materials, the clothes are water- and windproof and really stretchy.
Kuiu warranty lasts for the lifetime of the product, but it applies only if the product is used within its intended purpose. If the clothing got damaged, Kuiu advises their clients to contact a third-party company, Rainy Pass Repair, to evaluate the damage, options of repair, and warranty cover.
If the item is defective in workmanship, under warranty, Kuiu can replace the item with the same product. If not available, they offer the product of similar value and composition. If neither option is possible, they will return the full price of the new item at their discretion.
The warranty from First Lite also covers the lifespan of the product. They offer a repair to every product with a defect. The warranty doesn’t cover the damage made by wear or improper use and handling.
Both Kuiu and First Lite are worth spending additional dollars on their gear, offering quality products that last. And just in case of a factory mistake, they both offer a lifetime warranty on their clothes.
Both brands offer stellar quality clothes for hunters and it would be hard to choose which is better. In the hunting field, I tend to see Kuiu more around the mountains on goat or sheep hunts.
First Lite seems to be growing in popularity and for good reason. However, I feel like, in the First Lite vs Kuiu battle, Kuiu is the winner for the active mountain hunter, whereas First Lite is the winner for the whitetail hunter.