Gear doesn’t make the hunter, but it can help. A comfortable hunter is more focused on the task at hand and can stay out longer, and hunt harder. I use a lot of gear, too much if you asked my wife! I am constantly tweaking and trying new things, especially with my clothing system. There are a few staples that I always carry and one of those is the Peloton 97 series from Kuiu.
KUIU Peloton Fleece 97 Zip T Review
KUIU’s lightest fleece fabric, the Peloton 97, packs an unbelievable warmth-to-weight ratio. Its odor-resistant, high-loft fleece traps warm air while allowing vapor to quickly evaporate. Built with a mid-layer fit, it’s ideally worn over a base layer and under insulating outer layers.
KUIU Peloton 97 Fleece Zip-T Review
The 97 Zip-T is one of my favorite layers. Kuiu offers the 97 zip-t and fleece zip-t hoodie variants in three camo patterns and several solid colors. The sizing is listed as a mid-layer fit and in my experience is true to size. I am 6ft/205lbs and wear a large. The thumb holes are a really nice feature when the layers start stacking up for keeping the sleeves in line. I prefer the nonhooded version simply because my system already has a few hoods, stacking too many becomes an irritation in my experience. One could just as easily prefer the hooded model, just depends on your other layers. The zipper is great for dumping heat on the hike-in or pack-out when you do not want to stop to strip the layer. It is a deep opening zipper and allows a lot of airflow.
The two areas where this piece really shines are weight to warmth and moisture management. The weight-to-warmth ratio of the Peloton 97 is unmatched. The light fleece comes in at 4.5oz. To give some perspective, most companies’ warm weather/light base layers weigh around 7-8oz. Even at that weight, it is surprisingly warm when you put it on. The thing just disappears in your pack and comes with almost zero weight penalty, there never is a situation you should not have it.
The 97 also moves moisture extremely well. The ability to move moisture and dry time is essential when building a clothing system. You really don’t want to get to your glassing knob soaking wet with sweat or take a spill in the creek and it takes all day to dry out. Depending on other factors, that could leave you extremely uncomfortable or even in a dangerous situation. The 97 dries incredibly fast, so much so I’ve used it to wipe condensation off my tent in the morning and put it on knowing it will be dry by the time I get to my glassing point.
The combination of these two factors leads to a very versatile piece. Kuiu lists it as a mid-layer but I use it as a base, mid, and outer depending on conditions. The 97 is great for those early-season hunts as an outer later layer to knock the chill off before the sun comes up. I’ll even pack and use it in the desert in August for a mule deer or pronghorn hunt. During the core of hunting season and spring hunts, it works great as intended, a mid-layer. Whether under another thicker fleece or a puffy, it still does its job of keeping you warm without a lot of bulk and keeping you dry. When you are getting into the late season with those mid-20s highs and lows down into the negatives, I will use the 97 as a base layer. This past November I was hunting mule deer with lows in the -20s and most days never breaking 0. Every day I wore the 97 as a base layer to add extra warmth to my system and knowing if I got sweaty hiking in through the snow, I would dry out. These are the type of extreme conditions where if you wet yourself out and cannot get dry, you can really get into some trouble. The 97 performed great even though I hiked with a few too many layers several times and got drenched.
What does KUIU have to say about the Peloton Fleece 97 Zip-T
Peloton 97 is an expansion in our Karuishi fleece collection, a Toray innovation that traps warm air inside the fabric with its special brushed fabrication. Weighing in at even less than our Peloton 118 base layers, it is hard to imagine a fleece as light as Peloton 97, and yet the softness and warmth it provides are the real deal.
Like our other Peloton products, the hydrophobic nature of the fabric wicks moisture away from your skin so it can quickly evaporate, keeping you dry. Toray’s medical division Makspec odor control treatment, applied to all Peloton 97 styles, helps block odor-causing bacteria from penetrating the fabric, allowing for extended wear.
Peloton 97 Zip-T Fleece Features
- YKK Zippers
- Layered Thumbholes
- High warmth-to-weight ratio
- Flatlock seams
- Spandex-free all direction stretch
- Moisture wicking and quick drying
- Highly breathable
- Easy care
- Great for everyday wear
KUIU Peloton Fleece 97 Zip -Off Bottoms Review
This synthetic fleece is the perfect ultralight base layer for cool-to-cold weather hunts. Full-length side zippers allow quick and easy on and off without removing your pants and boots.
KUIU Peloton 97 Fleece Zip-Off Bottoms Review
The counterpart of the 97 zip t is the zip-off bottoms. They are offered in only one solid color, listed as a true base layer, and fit true to size in my experience. They have an above-the-boot design which keeps the bottoms from bunching up or needing to be shoved into your boot creating hot spots. They come in at the same 4.5oz as the zip t top.
The 97 full zip bottoms have the same advantages as the top, being extremely warm for the weight and moving moisture extremely effectively. The added feature on the bottoms is the zip-off construction. I’ll admit, I was a late adopter of the zip of base layers. I believed it was not a big deal to stop, take your boots off, and strip your lower layer. What happened more often than not though was not wanting to do that, keeping them on and just sweating hoping they would dry. I was also concerned that the zippers could be a failure point and that the extra material on the waistband would be a hot spot. My eyes were opened 3 years ago when I ordered these. I was wrong about all of it. The ability to strip and put back on your lower layer in just a few seconds was a game-changer. I have used my pair hard for 3 years with no durability concerns and the top of the zipper with velcro section is not noticeable, even with a heavy pack belt cinched down and belt with the holster on.
I will use these throughout all seasons and temperature ranges. Early season, they are great to have in your pack to zip on under your Tiburon or Katana pants anytime it gets a little chilly in the morning or evening. Mid-season, they get worn almost all the time, only zipping off on hikes and pack-outs. They are comfortable under a pair of attack pants down into the 30s, lower if particularly active. During the late season, they can be layered under another base layer. I will typically use them as my only base layer, just add thicker pants like the Axis or Guide and then puffy pants as needed. If it is really cold and you don’t want the blast of cold to strip them on a big hike, they dry out just as well as the top!
What does KUIU have to say about the Peloton 97 Zip-Off Bottoms
Warm for its weight, this 4.5 oz. fully removable base layer offers an incredibly light, thermal insulating, moisture wicking, and fast drying base layer for early to mid-season hunts. The spandex-free synthetic Peloton 97 zip off bottom is constructed from Toray’s Karuishi Thermal Fleece. Air is trapped between your body and the fabric creating the perfect insulating base layer. Above the boot design, this ultralight base layer can be fully unzipped on both sides to easily put on and remove without having to take off your pants and boots.
Features: Peloton 97 Fleece Zip-Off Bottoms
- Moisture wicking and quick drying
- Hook and loop tab closures at waist
- 26 inch (66 cm) inseam
- Above the boot design
- Gusseted crotch
- Flatlock seams
- YKK zippers
- FUJIX RESILON stretch thread
The only limitation I could think of with the Peloton 97 is its potential durability. Since the piece is so light and fleece, if you wear it as an outer layer, vegetation can take a toll on it. In particularly thorny areas such as AZ and NM, it is something to keep in mind. That being said, mine is going on 3 years with minor pulls and no holes and I am not the easiest on my gear.
Something else to keep in mind is the 97s wind resistance or lack of it. When creating a quick drying material that’s also breathable, you lose the windproofing ability, but Kuiu offers other pieces of gear for windproofing, such as their popular soft shell jackets. If you plan to be on a particularly windy point or area, you will want a hardshell or wind shirt over it.
There may be some concern about “funk” since it is not a Merino wool base. Kuiu treats the clothing with their TORAY Makspec Odor Control and I can get about 5-6 days living in it before any smell becomes noticeable, thanks to the garment’s ability to block odor-causing bacteria. Even then, I’ve pushed it to 10 without too much suffering involved.
KUIU Peloton 97 Fleece Review Summary
Kuiu really knocked it out of the park with the Peloton line, especially the Peloton 97 series. They are constantly tweaking and bettering their designs, so it says something that this series has stayed true for a while. The best hunting clothing combines to form a layering system that will wick moisture, breathe, and allow for additional protection when adding layers for wind resistance and/or a rain jacket to keep you dry. The KUIU Peloton 97 Fleece Zip-Tt and Peloton 97 Fleece Zip-Off Bottoms have a combined weight of only 9 ounces and cost around $180, they are a bargain, and no reason they shouldn’t be in everyone’s pack this season.
Thanks to Austin Alred for submitting this review. Hunting Gear Deals is funded by affiliate commissions. We may receive a small commission when you buy from our partners using the links provided. There is no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting us by using our links when making your purchases.
Frequently Asked Questions about KUIU
- What is KUIU and what does the brand specialize in?
- KUIU is a hunting apparel brand that over-engineers its products to outperform expectations, even in the harshest environments. KUIU is popular for western hunters and is the go-to brand for extreme condition hunts like sheep.
- What sets KUIU apart from other outdoor gear brands?
- Materials. KUIU invests in the best materials that are purposely crafted to enhance the hunting experience.
- Are KUIU products specifically designed for certain outdoor activities or can they be used for multiple purposes?
- KUIU offers multi-purpose clothing options, as well as clothing options for specific hunting scenarios. For instance, they’ve got clothing to keep you cool on a 90-degree desert mule deer hunt, as well as a sub-zero muskox hunt. In between, you’ll multi-purpose clothing that can be utilized to during hunts for elk, turkey, deer, antelope, bear, and much more.
- What materials are used in KUIU products and what are their advantages?
- Each product is designed for a purpose, so there’s not just one material for all situations and that’s what makes KUIU great!
- Are KUIU products suitable for different weather conditions and climates?
- Absolutely! Just make sure you’re using the right clothing for that weather condition.
- How durable are KUIU products? Can they withstand rugged outdoor environments?
- KUIU products are over-engineered for most hunting conditions and if you take care of them, they’ll last you for years. If not, KUIU offers a great warranty as well.
- Does KUIU offer a wide range of sizing options to accommodate different body types?
- Sizing options vary and it’s best to try KUIU clothing on before you make an order. If you happen to order the wrong size, KUIU will typically exchange them without issue.
- Are KUIU products lightweight and packable for backpacking and other weight-sensitive activities?
- KUIU products are ideal for hiking into the backcountry. They’re some of the best options on the market for lightweight hunting and backpacking apparel.
- What kind of technology or innovations does KUIU incorporate into its products?
- Too many to mention here. They are the industry standard.
- How can I determine the right size and fit for KUIU clothing and gear?
- See the size chart that KUIU offers on its website. It’s best to find a nearby trade show to try on multiple options before you make a large investment.
- Are there any specific care instructions for maintaining and cleaning KUIU products?
- See the tag for each garment for more details.
- Can KUIU gear be customized or personalized?
- You’ll have to talk with a KUIU sales rep for that information.
- Does KUIU offer a return or exchange policy?
- Yes, contact their customer service department for more information.
- Where can I find KUIU products and do they have physical retail locations?
- The best place to try on KUIU clothing is at local trade shows. KUIU is a direct-to-consumer company, so you won’t find them in your local sporting goods store.
- How does the KUIU Warranty work?
- KUIU stands behind its products with a lifetime warranty! This warranty covers any manufacturer workmanship defects in your KUIU gear but applies for consumer use only and is null and void if the product is used in a manner it is not intended for. This warranty is for the original consumer purchaser only. It is not transferable. Proof of purchase must be verified.
Austin grew up in the hardwood river bottoms of West Tennessee chasing deer, turkeys, and ducks. He traded the river bottoms for the mountains and spent the last 10 years chasing big game in the Rocky Mountain West and Southwest. He is lucky enough to spend a third of his year with a backpack on hunting and exploring. In addition to hunting, he enjoys archery, spearfishing, traveling, and camping.