This season I have been hitting the woods sporting some brand new Sitka clothing, in an effort to see if Sitka is really the right gear for whitetail hunters. And with a month of hard hunting under my belt, I’m ready to make my first assessment. After about 30 sits in the first month, countless hours on stand and one bloody arrow, I feel confident in saying that Sitka Gear has produced an absolutely stellar clothing system for whitetail hunters. So lets quickly take a look at the Sitka layers I have been wearing, what I like and don’t, and also touch on the Forest Optifade camo pattern!
The Sitka System is composed of multiple layers and this is obviously one of the keys to it’s success for hunters in the field. For my base layer, I have been wearing a Core zip tee and then Traverse shirt and pants. I’ve been really happy with all three pieces. The core zip tee was perfect to wear by itself on those hot early season days and then on high 50 or low 60 degree days, the Traverse worked perfect. One unique thing I like about the Traverse shirt is that the sleeves have thumb loops, which helps keep the sleeves from being pushed up when you put on additional layers.
On top of my base layers I have thrown on Ascent pants and a Kelvin vest. The ascent pants are another great, light, comfortable piece that I wore by itself during the summer and early season. Now it works as a nice mid layer and on top the Kelvin vest is super warm, quiet and comfortable. One of my favorite things about the Kelvin vest is how small it can pack down, which made it perfect for throwing in my backpack during long walks to my stands.
My most outer layers and possibly most important were my Stratus Jacket and bibs. Both pieces are well cut and articulated so that they aren’t bulky, but still fit comfortably. And one of the features I like the most are the pockets. I haven’t had hunting clothing with such well thought out pockets before and surprisingly the difference is really noticeable. My favorite pockets are the long fleece lined pockets on the bibs, that are perfect for warming my hands in and the chest and stomach zip pockets that are great for storying a cell phone, tag, memory card, etc. With the Gore Windstopper material I never felt a breeze come through my jacket and I never got wet sitting through drizzles and light rains. Additionally I was able to move freely in the clothing and was able to do so very quietly because of the lightly brushed face. Overall my Stratus jacket, bibs and all of my other Sitka layers were incredibly comfortable, and stood up to all the elements, blood stains, tree bark and prickers I could throw at them.
All that being said, I have encountered one issue with my current system and that is insulation. As great as the Stratus Jacket and bibs are, they don’t provide a lot of insulation. The Kelvin vest is a good insulating piece, but I have found that it just isn’t enough for those freezing cold mornings. Given that, I’ve had to wear an old down jacket and fleece jacket underneath my Stratus to help me get through those 30ish degree mornings. I can’t blame Sitka here, because they do in fact produce some great insulating jackets, like the full Kelvin jacket, but I just don’t own one. So if you’re looking into buying some Sitka and hunt in cold weather areas, I would highly recommend investing in a full insulated set of a Kelvin jacket and pants or any other good down jacket/pant. I believe that with this additional layer, I would be well suited for any and all weather conditions that I might encounter from October through December.
Now as comfortable and effective as I have found my Sitka clothing to be, I have been even more impressed with how the camoflage pattern on them has worked! My Sitka clothing is in the Forest Optifade pattern, which was designed specifically for treestand hunters, and I have news for you. It really works. Really. In a months hunting I have not been spotted by a single deer. Not a single one. I’ve had deer walk underneath me 5 yards away as I was standing on my tree steps half way down a tree and they never even noticed me. In addition to my experiences, I have two friends/camera men that have been wearing the Sitka w/Optifade and neither one of them has been spotted yet either! I have not been more convinced of a new product before in my life, this Optifade seriously fools deer’s eyes and I’m pretty sure that it will help me get an arrow in a wiley old buck soon.
On a closing note, I think it’s safe to say that I would recommend Sitka gear for any whitetail hunter out there from Montana to Pennsylvania. My system has been incredibly versatile, comfortable and nearly invisible. And with an additional insulating layer, I know my Sitka would keep me comfortable and on stand longer than I could with any other clothing I’ve worn. There are still two more long months of hunting to go and a lot more tests for me to run my Sitka through, so stay tuned and we’ll let you know how it fairs. In the mean time, get out in the woods, hunt hard and shoot straight.
To learn more about Sitka Gear visit their website here.