The First Lite Foundry Collection incorporates new materials and designs to address expanding consumer demands.
Three First Lite pants add materials and features for avid Western big game hunters. The brand’s Obsidian, Corrugate, and Catalyst pants aim for greater durability and versatility in the new Foundry versions.
We talked with some folks at First Lite to get the scoop on what’s new with the Foundry collection, and how they fit into the brand’s existing line of pants.
The Obsidian and Corrugate Guide pants have been on the market for roughly 7 years. Over time, First Lite scanned and sorted through comments on its orders and social media feeds to find some common requests for certain features. And now that the hunting brand sells directly to customers, such responses have made it into end products more quickly.
The first such response came when customers asked for zip-off versions of the brand’s long johns. That design change was relatively simple — adding zippers along the sides of its core layers. Conversely, the Foundry Collection incorporated a lot more feedback and had a longer design process.
Ben Flandro, Vice President of Product & Design, explained the approach to the new pants. “The design team felt the three styles chosen to be given the Foundry touch were the perfect combination to cover all conditions across the hunting season,” he said.
“The goal was to ramp up durability and features across each pant, adding things like thigh zips for dumping heat during pack outs, knee pads for glassing, and reinforced panels to protect against wet ground and rough terrain.”
Foundry Updates: The Bells & Whistles
In the Foundry versions, three popular pant styles got new materials for targeted durability or versatility. The design team factored in seasonal needs as well as the strengths and limitations of the materials involved.
The Obsidian Foundry stays close to the original, with more nylon added to high-wear areas. If hunters want to wear them in colder conditions, they can wear those new zip-off long johns.
The Corrugate and Catalyst pants, typically worn later in the season, also get reinforcements in the knee and seat. And since those are for colder conditions, the new designs have thigh zips for dumping heat midday or during a pack out.
In addition, First Lite moved to a two-point suspender system, alleviating the pain point in the small of your back from the original three-point suspender system.
Other changes include new closed-crown zippers and paracord toggles. Those can be seen on the double pockets positioned on the front of the thighs.
The easy-access pocket loads from a top flap while a zippered pocket on the outside can hold smaller items more securely. One smaller detail we noticed in the Obsidian Foundry and Corrugate Foundry pants was the pocket gusset for carrying a knife.
Read on for the Foundry pants’ full features.
First Lite Foundry Collection
Here’s an overview of the revamped pants that make up First Lite’s Foundry Collection. And some of the thinking that went into their design comes from Matt Desrosiers, Senior Product Line Manager of Western Big Game at First Lite.
The original Obsidian pant has always been, and continues to be, a top seller for First Lite. However, some hunters wanted extreme durability for trekking through hardscrabble terrain. The Obsidian Foundry builds off the ripstop merino wool of the original, adding scuff-resistant stretch nylon to the gusseted crotch, seat, and below the knee.
These are the brand’s early-season pants that can go much later into the year when worn with a baselayer.
“If you’re a purist and you want that absolute, silent, shine-free, scent-free attribute of a merino pant, that’s still available,” Desrosiers said. “But for the guys who needed a little bit extra, especially those in a saddle, packing in, these are for you.”
Think of Corrugate Foundry as the middle-ground pant, not just in comparison to the other Foundry pants, but also for those October and early November days that get unseasonably warm. These have targeted stretch-nylon zones, removable knee pads, and side thigh zips running from below the hip to just above the knee.
Customer feedback said the Corrugate Guide could get hot in the middle of the day or on a pack out. Desrosiers noted that adding reinforcements for durability obviously won’t ventilate the same way merino wool might, and it made sense to add a thigh zip there.
Their DWR treatment should also shed incidental moisture while the knee and seat have a two-layer waterproof membrane, for contact with the ground or obstacles in wet conditions.
These fleece-lined softshell pants get waterproof reinforcements in the knee and seat. There are also removable knee pads if you don’t plan on crouching for long bouts of time. The softshell build provides some wind resistance, and the DWR treatment should repel light rain or dew during early starts in the late season.
That nylon can build up heat, especially on the move, so there are zippers from hip to hem. Those will let you dump heat or access and remove a baselayer beneath them.
“The side zips made the most sense to vent out the Catalyst,” Desrosiers said. “When you head out, temps may start in the 20s but by noon, it’ll be in the 60s and maybe you’re packing something out.”
Tailor Your Hunt
Have these designs in mind when choosing your next pair of hunting pants. Just because they exist doesn’t mean the Foundry version fits into your hunting style.
However, if you’ve been looking for added durability or a greater temperature range during a certain season, one of these three styles could fit the bill.
As Matt Desrosiers, Senior Product Line Manager of Western Big Game, put it, “We’re getting more case-specific in the product. You have the best of both worlds — the originals and the Foundry versions let you tailor your kit to your pursuit and your terrain.”