Rocky’s Venator camouflage blends in well in a Midwest swamp.
(Photo: Kristin Alberts)
It seems like every year, new camo patterns come and go, but very few stay. After much research and development, footwear powerhouse Rocky debuted a new-for-2016 camo pattern called Venator, not only available on the boot company’s footwear, but also in a full line of camouflage hunting apparel.
What is Venator Camo?
Rocky took inspiration from a wide variety of terrains and vegetation in creating Venator camo as well as several years of research and field testing. They studied barren landscapes, rocky scrubland, treelines, heavily forests, snow-touched peaks, and everything in between. The result is a camo they vouch can be worn across the United States. While we’d really like to see some Made in the USA tags, these Rocky options, like most of the camo gear we’ve tested the last few years, is Made in China.
Setting up in Rocky Venator gear in a marsh. Camo seems adaptable to most US landscapes. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)
Though at first the name Venator seems unusual, it is in fact the Latin word for “hunter” which was also a term for a Roman Gladiator. While the name invokes ancient history, the pattern itself is neither a remake of another pattern nor really anything entirely describable. The best I can do is to call it a random design of splotches, lines, honeycombs, and digital blocks.
The muted drab olives, lighter tans, browns and lighter sage tones work equally well in the Midwest late-summer and fall woods where we do the majority of our hunting and in the more barren western landscapes where we stalk antelope and muleys occasionally. Though the original Venator is a do-all pattern, there is also a forthcoming line of Snow Venator camo for harsher-whiteout conditions.
Blending of Rocky Venator camo 2-layer jacket in woodsy environment. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)
The garments themselves are not overly heavy, instead intended for lighter layering systems built for stretch and breathability. The solid color green/brown color block pockets, knees, and shoulders are perhaps more fashion than practical, but the gear served us well afield. One thing is certain, the garments are super-comfortable, silent, and true-to-size with room to layer. No need to order up a size. Though they also offer beanies, hats, gloves, and complete baselayers, here’s what we focused on from the introductory offering:
Rocky Venator 2-Layer jacket
Reinforced pocket ideal for knives. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)
Both the 2-Layer Jacket and Pants feature Rocky’s Scent IQ Atomic which promises to obliterate human scent at the microbial level. Only currently available in mens sizes, the jacket is, as the name suggests, two layers — a full polyester shell with a grid fleece backing for warmth and comfort. The garments are moisture-wicking from the inside and the outer fabric is treated with durable water repellent coating. There are plenty of quiet zip pockets in all the right places for gear, cell phones, warmers, and the like. The only thing we would also like to see is wrist/cuff adjustments for those with shorter arms. This jack has an MSRP of $99.99.
Rocky Venator 2-Layer pants
Left thigh pocket detail. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)
The pants are built with the same material construction as the jacket including scent control. Though the exterior, like the jacket, is 100% polyester, it is a quiet walking material with no “shwooshies.” Just keep in mind that though these have the grid fleece lining, they are lightweight pants and will require layering for mid-late season warmth. But even at your everyday pants size, there’s ample room to layer. There are vertical zip cargo pockets on each leg, a horizontal zip on the left leg and side slash pockets. Double layer articulated knees are especially nice for hardcore hunters. Again on this one, the only thing we’d add would be cinches at the ankle cuffs. Like the jacket, the Venator 2-Layer pants have an MSRP of $99.99.
Rocky Venator long sleeve thermal tee
Rocky Venator long sleeve thermal tee is warm and tasteful. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)
The long sleeve thermal tee, like the matching pants, is soft black with Venator trim. This is a warm, yet thin, poly wool fleece blend that is at once comfortable, soft, and warmer than most under-layers. Though they could even get too warm, the Venator panels are breathable in the highest-heat body zones. Rocky lists the thermals with Dri-Release, FreshGuard, and Scent IQ Atomic materials. The bottom line: it’s moisture wicking with scent blocking ability. The shirt is even comfortable enough and attractive enough to wear on its own, and given its muted tones, works well by itself in early season ground blinds. MSRP $59.99
Rocky Stratum Waterproof Venator boot
Rocky Stratum boots with Venator camo panel. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)
The Stratum boot in our review is unlined, full-grain leather with an intense tread and waterproof guarantee. At a seven-inch height, it’s very maneuverable, lightweight, and comfortable for trekking and climbing. The Venator camo rear panel is abrasion resistant nylon and allows an extra degree of flexibility. The fit is true-to-size, and the Stratum Venatory boots weigh in just over three pounds for a size 10. Though we tested the unlined leather Stratum boot, Rocky also makes a mean-looking, synthetic Venator Broadhead Waterproof Insulated boot. MSRP is $139.99.
Ultra aggressive soles on the Stratum Venator boots. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)
Only time will tell whether the new Venator camo pattern will prove to be a flash in the pan or an embraced and well-worn favorite pattern. What is certain is that the garments are well made, the pattern does blend in with a multitude of environments, and the price is very fair for the quality of the gear. While we hope to see additions to the apparel lineup, like specific Venator-women’s line and perhaps heavier/insulated/rainwear options, this is still a very viable hunting clothing line to check out if you’re in the market.
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