I'm not about to wear it, but it's growing on me.
For a few years now we've been seeing various camouflage patterns enriched with pink. It's not just clothing. Pink covers everything from boots and bows to knives and gun slings. Even rifle stocks feature laminated hardwood with alternating layers stained pink and gray.
What up with all this pink stuff?
For starters, it's a reflection of the huge growth in women getting involved in hunting and other outdoor sports.
Sometimes pink shouts-out for a good cause. Alpen Optics offers two binoculars in pink and when people buy them Alpen makes a donation to fight breast cancer. That makes good sense because Alpen has a high profile in the competitive 3D archery circuit, where many professional archers are women. Several of them serve on Alpen's pro staff.
Pink also makes a statement. It says women are not afraid of the outdoor lifestyle. They're proud of pink. It's photogenic. They may not all be hunters, but the ranks of women hunters are growing and pink sets them apart from the men in traditional camo garb.
When The Everyday Hunter isn't hunting, he's thinking about hunting, talking about hunting, dreaming about hunting, writing about hunting, or wishing he were hunting. If you want to tell him exactly where your favorite hunting spot is, contact him at EverydayHunter@gmail.com. This column and others can be accessed online at www.EverydayHunter.com.
Vickie Gardner, Vice President at Alpen, actually warns women about not wearing pink. "Once a man I was hunting with didn't notice I was part of the group and..."
Think about it and you'll get the picture. Pink camo will give men with female hunting companions an instant reminder to be a little more careful around women. Of course, she's not advocating all-pink camo. Subtle pink piping and pink accents on traditional camo should be enough.
Hoosier hunter Vikki Trout is a freelance outdoor writer who at least partly agrees. "Pink gives a feminine touch and helps distinguish us from the guys."
But she's personally more traditional. "Pink is a bigger hit with the younger generation." When I asked her if she thought pink had any appeal to men, she said it does "because it keeps the ladies looking more feminine."
Her words reminded me that plenty of times I've seen guys at sport shows stop and stare when a pink product grabs their eyes. Maybe they're expecting to see a pretty girl. It happens often enough to make that expectation reliable.
That also says pink-themed merchandise is sometimes nothing more than a marketing ploy. Some companies paint a product pink in a cynical attempt to appeal to women, based on the assumption that they're so shallow they'll respond to a product just because it's pink.
Other companies don't slip into that condescending attitude. For them, pink sets products apart once they've redesigned them for smaller hands and better efficiency.
Some women avoid pink. It doesn't fulfill the hunting dreams of Laura Lee Dovey, Executive Director of the Professional Outdoor Media Association. Although she does like pink camo for T-shirts, hats and non-hunting accessories, "Pink camo for hunting is not for me. I don't want to wear it to hunt because it messes with my psyche and feelings about blending into the habitat."
Kirstie Pike, CEO of Pr-is Hunting and Field Apparel, agrees. Pr-is specializes in serious camo clothing for women. "Pink just does not at all correspond with the vision of our company."
And that brings me to two bottom lines. First, pink camo and pink gear attracts all kinds of attention and it's going to keep coming from specialty companies and mass marketers alike.
More important is this - our society is realizing women aren't all cut from the same pink cloth. Everyday women give each other lots of latitude in what to wear and what to think. They're less and less being locked into one way being feminine, even one way of being a feminist. Some like pink camo and gear, and some don't. But they're all defining for themselves what "pink" means and where it's appropriate.
As for me, I wouldn't be at all embarrassed about carrying a pink-handled knife. I use an orange-handled knife now, and I'd be just as willing to have one with a pink handle for the same practical reason - when I drop it in the leaves it's easy to find again. And it would remind me that we men are being joined in the woods by women who are just as good as we are.