For the 2013 hunting season I wanted to try Sitka Gear’s Elevated Forest pattern. I heard a lot of good things about Sitka Gear and was ready to see if they really were “turning clothing into gear”, as their slogan states. Every piece was purchased from Camofire.com or off the classifieds section of ArcheryTalk.com. I spent most of the Summer piecing together the layering system that Sitka designed for whitetail hunters. By waiting for deals, I was able to buy everything for 40% off when it was all said and done.
Below is a listing and some quick thoughts of all the gear I used last fall while bow hunting in Michigan and New York.
Core Crew LS – Pretty basic moisture wicking long sleeve shirt.
Pro:It has a small pocket on the left arm that I used for memory cards and keys when I would check my trail cameras in the summer and early fall
Traverse Zip-T – Nice athletic fitting mid layer top.
Pro: I really like the warmth this top provided. This, paired with the Core Crew, was perfect for early season hunts down to 55 degrees F.
Con: There are thumb holes at the end of each sleeve which I didn’t prefer and never used. However, the sleeves stayed tight near my wrist even without using the thumb holes.
Kelvin Vest – This vest has Primaloft insulation throughout.
Pro: It’s a great layering piece. It is packable and is a great piece to add on some of those chillier October hunts.
Con: It has a nylon type finish to it so I never wanted to wear it while walking through brush to my stand in fear of tearing a hole. Also, it is not the quietest piece, but because it’s only a vest I never had any issues.
90% Jacket – This jacket is made of a durable and silent polyester finish.
Pro: I really liked this jacket for October hunts. When layered with the Core Crew, Traverse, and Kelvin I could easily stay warm in temps down into the mid 40s. Very form fitting and no bulk at all.
Con: Sitka no longer makes this jacket in the Elevated Forest pattern.
Fanatic Jacket – Outer layer for cold weather hunts from late October on.
Pro: Great jacket. My favorite piece by far. I have never had a better fitting jacket with minimal bulk that was this warm. I made a commitment to never be cold in the tree stand last year and this piece ensured my warmth. This jacket has a pocket for a range finder, slot for a grunt tube, and zippered pocket for a cell phone or similar device. The built-in muff, made achievable by the diagonal zipper, keeps your hands very warm. This is a great feature for me as I always used to wear an external muff to keep my hands warm. The jacket is made with a wind stopping laminate that works extremely well and still keeps noise levels to an absolute minimum.
Con: No pit zips for easy cooling so I had to pack this in on every hunt because it is way too warm to wear on the way to the stand. Also don’t like how easily burrs stick to it. The finish is more of a soft brushed fleece, and while very quiet, it picks up everything.
Ascent Pant – Basic moisture wicking pants.
Pro: Good for those warm hunts when the temperature is in the mid 60s or warmer. Note: Sitka has replaced the Ascent Pant with the Early Season Whitetail Pant.
90% Pant – Great athletic fitting mid layer pant.
Pro: Great fitting pants that are very durable. They have the same durable, silent polyester finish as the 90% jacket. Minimal bulk and I think most hunters would need a belt with these. These pants, paired with the Ascents, would keep me warm down into the low 40s.
Con: Sitka no longer makes this pant in the Elevated Forest pattern.
Fanatic Bibs –
Pro: Much like the Fanatic Jacket, the Fanatic Bibs are extremely warm. The key feature for not over-heating on the way to your stand is the full side zips that go all the way up to your waistline. This allows quick and easy cooling if you have a long hike to your stand. The torso area of the bibs is thinner so when you use the bibs with the fanatic jacket there is no extra bulk in the stomach area.
Con: I have the same issues with the bibs as I do with the fanatic jacket when it comes to the soft brushed fleece picking up burrs to and from the stand.
Sitka Cap – Basic hat for early season.
Con: Velcro adjustment but I wish they made a fitted version.
Travers Balaclava – Full face mask.
Pro: Great concealment and comfortable to wear. Very low impact on hearing.
Con: I wish there was some sort of venting incorporated around the mouth to avoid the excess moisture build up when the face piece is above your mouth.
Stratus Beanie – Warm hat for cold weather hunts.
Pro: I loved wearing this when the temps started to drop. It is extremely warm and has a nice large fit. I would wear it over the top of the balaclava on the extremely cold hunts in the 30s or colder. The band around the ears is thinner than the area around the top, which helps with better hearing.
Pro: This is great gear designed specifically with the hunter in mind. Everything is well thought out and the athletic fit is perfect for bow hunters. No matter what brand of camouflage you use, layering is the only way you will stay warm in the colder temperatures. I like how Sitka built a layering system and laid it out for the bow hunter to choose from. I don’t think I will find a jacket with better function, fit, and warmth-to-weight ratio than the Fanatic set.
Con: The price is the most common problem I have heard from hunters. I agree that Sitka Gear is one of the most expensive brands out there, but you get what you pay for. Sitka Gear is definitely built to last. I highly recommend watching Camofire.com and browsing ArcheryTalk.com’s or even Rokslide.com’s classified section. You can buy a lot of gear that is new with tags for a fairly discounted price.
Also, I still am not sure if I am sold on the pattern. For early season hunts I think the pattern is perfect, but I am not sure I like color scheme for later in Fall when everything has died and browned up. I had several encounters with deer and was never busted due to sight, but I still wonder if I would blend in better if the pattern had more natural colors in it.