Wunderbird produce a range of specialist birding clothes and equipment. I was given two articles of clothing to check out. This is my review.
When I started bird watching – it wasn’t called bird then – the closest you got to specialist clothing were wax cotton jackets, long green Hunter Wellies and ex-army jackets and jumpers. Winter hats were woollen, and if it ever got hot you wore a tour tee shirt. That was about it.
Jump forward to today, and the world has changed. When I was contacted by Wunderbird, to see if I would write a review of their specialist bird watching clothing, I was, to say the least, sceptical. But, never look a gift horse in the mouth.
A week or so later a package arrived from the UK containing two garments – a hooded jacket, known as a Gyrfalcon and a long sleeved tee shirt known as a Peregrine. First impressions were very favourable. The jacket was robust looking, and neatly stitched. The tee shirt was similar in quality, although it looked to be made from a lighter grade of fabric. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, or wearing in this case.
The Gyrfalcon looks a lot like a hoddie, and is designed to be worn as an outer layer. The body and sleeves of the Gyrfalcon have a fleece like inner surface, and a dense rather shiny outer, which is wind proof rather then waterproof. There are three main pockets on the front of the jacket, a zipped pocket at the top – which is designed to hold binoculars and take the weight off your neck – and two larger pouch pockets at the bottom. The shoulders are thinly padded.
The Peregrine is basically a long sleeved tee shirt, with lightly padded shoulder (they seem to have the same amount of padding as the Gyrfalcon). The body of the shirt is made from a light fabric, similar to that used in sports shirts. There are two zipped pockets on the front, again designed to support binoculars. The side panels of the Peregrine are made from a lighter mesh material for extra ventilation.
So much for the details – how do they wear? As it’s winter here right now I have use the Gyrfalcon far more than the Peregrine, and found it to be very good. As a jacket it is surprisingly warm, especially if you flip up the hood. I wore a light thermal under the Gyrfalcon while sitting on a windy cliff looking for whales (proving that its not all bird watching) and was comfortably warm. I did not really embrace the pockets for holding my binoculars, maybe more from habit than anything else. But I found the lower pouch pockets well placed and comfortable.
Initially I did find the cut of the Gyrfalcon (and the Peregrine from that matter) a little strange. The shoulders seemed narrow and the sleeves a little long. But that opinion changed quite quickly when I used the jacket. The firm fit allowed me to wear a waterproof jacket over the top of the Gyrfalcon without the shoulders wrinkling up. While sitting down (I use my car a mobile hide) I found that the longer sleeves did not ride up when I lifted my arms to use binoculars. So, my initial reaction was wrong – and I now like the cut. I suspect that this garment will get a lot of use in the Australian winter.
The padded shoulders worked really well – and seem to be the right balance between padding and bulk. I carry a camera and long lens on a monopod most of the time I am birding, and the shoulder pads made a real difference.
Because it is winter, I have not used the Peregrine as much as the Gyrfalcon. However, in my brief usage I found it to be as practical as the hoddie. The long sleeves will provide the kind of sun-protection that I need in Australia, and the mesh panels will provide good ventilation.
So, what’s my conclusion?
I really like these products – and think they will make a days birding just a bit more comfortable. In the end I don’t think you can ask clothes to do much more.
You can find these products (and a number more) at this web-site: wunderbirdworld.com . If you happen to purchase anything after clicking on this link, I will get a commission. I suppose I have entered the 21st Century! SM