If you had asked me at the beginning of the year what would be my favorite piece of hunting gear for 2021, I would not have thought it would be a rain jacket.
It’s a rain jacket. More specifically, it’s the Pnuma Outdoors 3L Element Rain Proof Jacket. No matter the environment, whether fishing or hunting, this is a perfect piece of kit.
Even though Pnuma Outdoors is located practically in my back yard, I’d never heard of it. Pnuma focuses heavily in the bow hunting market, something I’ve been out of for a couple decades. I was aware of their parent company, Los Cazadores of San Antonio. Los Cazadores is a legendary South Texas hunting company, and they bought Pnuma in 2019 after it was founded in 2016 by Scott Schultz from ScentBlocker.
That means Pnuma is a company founded by hunters, run by hunters, making products for hunters.
The Caza camo pattern works well. I was surprised that it worked well in both South Africa and South Texas. Caza (of course) comes from Los Cazadores. Pnuma had a group of hunters testing this pattern all over Texas, South Africa, New Zealand, British Columbia, and Mexico. That field testing certainly shows both in the camouflage materials as well as the design.
My biggest complaint about most rain jackets is that they tend to tear quickly or be very loud. For instance, I sure liked my North Face rain jacket for keeping the rain and snow out, right until I had to try and move onto a bear in heavy brush. The telltale “zip” of briars and branches rubbing against the ripstop style fabric was a dead giveaway. There’s no sound like that in nature, and it seems to travel for miles.
That’s why I bristled against the $250 price tag of the Pnuma jacket, right until I cozied up to the sound of the material. Or more appropriately, the lack thereof. Even though it’s proven extremely durable and completely rain proof, it sounds like a t-shirt when a twig drags against it. For me, that was the selling point of this jacket.
Durability, concealability, rain proof, and whisper quiet. I haven’t found that combination in anything else on the market.
Pnuma advertises the 3L Element Rain Proof Jacket as having a waterproof rating of 20,000mm and an MVP breathability rating of 15,000 g/m2/24h. Whatever. I know I can stand in my shower with it on and not get wet. I know I can hike up mountains with it and not get sweaty. Standards are good, but that’s the proof I can count on.
Although the 3L Element jacket is breathable, it includes a wind-stopping layer sandwiched between an inner liner and the jacket’s waterproof outer shell. That wind proofing, and the light amount of insulation provided by the jacket, made it perfect for the cool mornings of South Africa.
The forecast called for rain on several mornings, which never appeared. But a breezy 50 degrees is a little chilly if you’re standing still glassing when you’re otherwise dressed for long walks and stalks up and down mountains in the heat of the afternoon. The Pnuma jacket wasn’t what I thought I’d need to fill that role of a light outer layer, but it worked perfectly.
It performed all the roles in a Spring bear hunt in Idaho. I got rained on, snowed on, and somehow also got sweltering hot…all on the same day. That was my eighth season in a row hunting black bears near Ashton and up through Kilgore, and flexibility is the name of the game there. The Pnuma 3L Element jacket kept me warm, dry, but not sweating and uncomfortable when I changed elevations.
I saw no bears, but at one point I took a nap under some trees. I woke up to find a young bull moose meandering all of 20 yards from me, completely oblivious that I was there. Good thing, too. They are not small and tend to react with vigor.
The fit is loose but close-fitting. It doesn’t snag brush, something I’ve now proven on three continents. The fit hangs down past my waist, but not past my butt. It doesn’t expose my waist when my hands rise up, but I’m also not sitting on it when I sit down. I’m tall and gawky, and wear a size large/tall. I didn’t need the tall version of this jacket. Pay attention to the sizing guide on their website, as it’s true to fit.
There are a lot of small details Pnuma got right in the 3L Element jacket.
One of those is the hood. The 3L Element features a three-piece visor-style hood. For your lounge-around-the-camp hoodie, nobody cares if the hood fits weird. If the rain is blowing sideways and you’re up in a tree stand deciding if it’s safer to stay or go, it matters a lot. Ask me how I know.
Pnuma’s hood means you can still wear a cap underneath. But the big deal is that it doesn’t expose big parts of your neck and chin when it’s on, or pull down on your noggin.
When you pull the drawstrings tight, they don’t just cinch round your neck, further opening your face up. Instead, the drawstrings collapse the hood around your face, keeping you dry. The plastic drawstring keepers mean that once you tighten it, the hoodie stays shut until you loosen it back up, and down work themselves off with the wind.
The sleeves are held in place at your wrists with hook and loop/Velcro style closures. They are low profile and hold very well, even in the rain. Like all hook and loop style closures, they are not quiet.
The two external pockets near the waist, as well as the long axillary vents and the front are all sealed and waterproof with very quiet zippers. These work perfectly. I held a garden hose right on each zipper for a while and absolutely zero moisture got through.
There’s also a series of reinforced hexagonal webbing panels on each shoulder. I didn’t get the point of these until I slung a rifle and carried it for a few days while wearing the jacket. Not only does it protect the fabric from the brush, but it keeps that sling, and more importantly the metal attachments on the sling, from tearing through the material. That was smart.
Pnuma put a lot of thought into the 3L Element jacket. Now knowing who’s behind the company and how seriously they take their hunting, the quality doesn’t surprise me, although the performance did.
I’ll be heading back to South Africa here pretty soon, spending a couple of weeks in the KwaZulu Natal. This is one piece of gear I am not going without.
SPECIFICATIONS: Pnuma Outdoors 3L Element Rain Proof Jacket
High performance waterproof/breathable membrane
DWR Treated3 piece visor hood
Item weight: 20.8 oz (based on size Large)
Rating (out of five stars):
Overall * * * * *
An outstanding garment. It’s well thought out, with all the features in a sleek, minimalist feel. The whisper-quiet fabric puts this jacket in a whole different category.