In the second century BC, Roman invaders of present-day France made great fun of their enemy’s attire—they considered the Gauls’ long trousers intolerably effeminate, compared to their cool and manly tunics. Nowadays, of course, the roles are reversed, with skirts worn by the fairer sex, and pants more closely associated with men. One era’s fashion faux pas is another’s status quo.
So it is with spandex. Formerly worn as an undergarment, courteously concealing one’s private parts from public view, spandex has now become mainstream outerwear among sporty American males who put their bulging packages on proud display. It’s no surprise, then, that the stretchy, skin-tight fabric has recently been embraced by hook-and-bullet sportsmen as well.
And why not? Spandex is quiet and streamlined, making it easy to move through brush and foliage without snagging up or making noise. “It makes me feel like an animal,” says Michael George, a Belgrade native who hunted for 20 years in traditional clothing. “I’m sleek, I’m light, I’m fast... I feel like I could sneak up on a cougar! I’m never going back to baggy pants.”
And like the bikini, which freed women from antiquated and repressive Victorian notions of decency, hunting in spandex seems to have a cathartic effect. “I feel so liberated,” says Lee Barochie, who hunted extensively in California before moving to Bozeman a decade ago. “Everybody was wearing conventional camo, and it just sort of seemed like the thing to do. I’ve come out of a slump I didn’t even know I was in.”