SITKA GEAR OPTIFADE WATERFOWL GEAR
Editor’s Cory and Riley McLaughlin
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Video Review: Coming Soon!!!
Just the Facts:
Fit & Function
The best waterfowl hunting can take place in the worst weather. An uncompromised water barrier, consistent warmth, and maximum mobility, are requirements’ for your system. Our Waterfowl system provides breathable protection from the elements, will keep your core warm, and will do it all without the standard bulkiness of “traditional” waterfowl gear. We only choose the most advanced fabrics for final production of our products, and that’s why we employ GORE-TEX®, WINDSTOPPER® and PrimaLoft®. These high-tech materials enable hunters to stand up to all weather and connect with their environments in optimal comfort.
GORE ™ OPTIFADE™ Marsh
Waterfowl hunting is done in a high contrast environment. Skylight from the horizon or light reflected from the water surface will shine through gaps in rushes, creating concentrated light spots. GORE™ OPTIFADE™ Concealment Waterfowl Marsh pattern is high in contrast to be consistent with the environment and includes elements that are light in color and elements that are darker in color.
GORE™ OPTIFADE™ Concealment Waterfowl Marsh pattern is designed for layout and blind hunting in the marsh, standing crops, or cut stubble fields. While most patterns are designed as though the bird is on the ground looking at the hunter, the GORE™ OPTIFADE™ Waterfowl Marsh pattern takes into account with a swirling effect that the birds are usually above the hunter in flight, and are in constant motion. The optimal engagement distance is between 35 yards and 45 degrees and steeper angles.
Core Lightweight Hoody
With long sleeves and a form-fitting hood, the CORE Lightweight Hoody wicks away moisture and keeps you concealed when you’re closing in. Featuring a deep, center chest zipper for superior ventilation and a built in face mask for those quick set ups, this piece is perfect for stalking, tree stands or ground blinds.
Delta Wading Jacket
The Delta Wading Jacket is our most versatile waterfowl jacket. The reinforced GORE-TEX® Pro Fabric is more breathable, durable, and quicker drying, while the streamlined pocket layout helps you keep it together in the field.
A perfect compliment to the jacket and a stronghold barrier to the elements, the Pantanal Bibs will keep the frosty burn off your legs. Constructed with a GORE-TEX® laminate, micro check backer, and reinforced knees and seat, this is an ideal solution whether you are in a layout or in a boat.
Sitka. This name is synonyms with one of the most beautiful parts of our great country. It brings to mind torrential rain and lush green forests and in its name caries rich history filled with stories. Sitka rolls off the tongue lightly and where once it was thought only as a place that few lucky people had been a clothing company has turned it into a feeling. It is a feeling of being wrapped in some of the most technical backcountry clothing in the world. It is a feeling of warmth on the coldest of winter days or the light cool feeling of a summer breeze. Sitka is in fact a beautiful place but what is more important is the beautiful places it will take you!
Sitka Gear makes a bold statement of “Turning clothing into gear!” and to be honest this was what caught my eye. I have long thought that the clothing I chose to use on my adventures was every bit as important as what was in my pack. Sitka was always on my radar but to be honest the sticker price was like a missile that just blew it right off the screen. I wanted to test it but my pocketbook had other plans. Had I known then what I knew now I would have run with a fist full of cash to the nearest Sitka Gear dealer.
It was not until this year that was able to work out the particulars of a review. My past history in the waterfowling world has given me a vast knowledge of the importance of great gear and when Sitka came out with at waterfowl line I knew it was something that I was going to one day own. I was very lucky to make the connection at the Summer OR show and set up some product to test and review. My brother and co-editor Riley worked with me on this review. Riley and I have had the privilege of hunting and filming waterfowl across several different states. We have been in every type of winter weather you can imagine and we know too well the absolutely inarguable fact that good gear is a must.
Sitka Gear makes technical clothing for active outdoor enthusiasts. What this means is that they make their clothing with an athletic cut. For many this is a bit of an issue when it comes to fit. Us waterfowlers are so accustomed to huge bulky coats and bibs that we have a hard time swallowing that this tighter fit is going to translate into warmth in the field. Well lucky for us the folks at Sitka Gear know a thing or two about science and how the body holds heat. Sure, we all know about layering and how important it is but the real trick is to layer with the proper material to actually trap the heat but also allow breathability. Sitka Gear has that formula down pat and because of this the more athletic fit not only allows for the same degree of warmth but more mobility.
The next big thing that Sitka Gear has done is completely revolutionize the camo pattern. Far too long have we western waterfowl hunters had to choose camo primarily designed for the flooded timber hunters. We needed something that matched the light grasses of the western marsh or riverbanks and Sitka had the answer. The Optifade Marsh pattern is simply fantastic and matches the needs of nearly all western waterfowlers. Not to have anyone feel left out they also had an answer for those timber guys as well and the Optifade Timber pattern is next level as well. The point is that they took the idea of camo and made it just as important as the material itself. They made what we as hunters have been screaming for.
We tested out the Sitka Gear’s Waterfowl line during the 2017/18 season and while this one was not the coldest or wettest we have ever experienced it was certainly full of great testing opportunity. We hit the fields and rivers for weeks on end and chased the migrating ducks and geese for as long as the law would allow. When that was over we took the gear out for a somewhat similar use as we went coyote hunting from the boat I.E. using the boat to get access to areas that we could not otherwise have hunted. I got all my Sitka gear on and we hit the water. When you spend that much time out in the elements you absolutely require quality gear and we believe we have found that in Sitka Gear. I even talked my buddy (pictured with me below) to purchase Sitka after this hunt. He was hesitant but he took the plunge and he loves his new gear.
Any outdoors man knows the importance of layering your clothing to make sure you stay warm, dry, and mobile. The first item that we tested from Sitka was the Core Heavyweight Hoody. This is a very comfortable and warm layering piece that looks as awesome as it feels. It has all the right features for a great layering piece and was with us from the first day of the season until the end. It is a trooper but does have some limits. This is not a great outer piece as the soft fabric will catch brush and can fray. Use it as a layering piece under a soft or hard-shell jacket and you will be just fine.
The Delta Wading Jacket is a force to be reckoned with when the gales and rain start trying to blow you off the river or out of the corn fields. This is a wading jacket but also functioned just fine as a field jacket for layout blind hunting. It is made with Gore-Tex and is as windproof and it is waterproof. When used with the proper layering technique this jacket will also keep you nice and warm. We loved the functionality of this coat right away. We did find that the integrated lanyard was a bit awkward and quickly got rid of it choosing instead to use our trusty band laded lanyards of old. The pockets of this coat were a bit tough to get used to as I found myself reaching down in the usual area that pockets are found only to remember that they are in fact located at breast level. This jacket is intended for wading in water so this makes sense. Overall this is a great coat! It will also work wonders in a freak snowstorm during any type of outing such as this shot from an archery tournament this past March 2018.
The Pantanal Bib’s are simply fantastic! Do not let their thin fabric deceive you. These bibs are warm and comfortable. We get a lot of use out of our bibs when jumping in and out of layouts all season long. If we can make it through a season without holes and tears we count ourselves among the blessed. The Pantanal Bib’s are very tough and certainly worthy of our hunting crew. They held up wonderfully and are expected to do just as well in seasons to come. The configuration of pockets and zippers are very well thought out making this the single most comfortable bib we have ever used.
Whether it is the Hudson GTX Hat or the Gradient Glove Sitka also has a wide variety of accessories and other products that will take you from season to season and across any terrain and climate that birds and beasts wander. Quality gear is the first line of defense against a catastrophic failure of adventure. Make sure you set yourself up to succeed.
The last note that I want to address is the cost. I know too well the sticker shock that is felt when you look at the likes of Sitka Gear. Is a pair of pants or a shirt really worth that much? The short answer is yes. When you take into account the technological aspect of high end synthetic fabric, scientifically proven camouflaging patterns, and a cut/fit unlike anything else on the market you start to see where it adds up. The real proof is in the fact that because of all the things I just mentioned you can get away with less clothing and still enjoy the same amount of comfort. This means that one outfit can get you through an entire backcountry hunt. With Sitka less is more and while your pocketbook doesn’t see it that way your body certainly will.
Find it here: https://www.sitkagear.com/
What can be done better?
It’s hard to say as the bibs are no longer being manufactured as the Pantanal but if the Hudson bib is anything like these I would not have much to say other than I wish the zipper went a bit lower. When you are all layered up it makes taking care of business a bit rough when the zipper does not go below your normal pant line. The jacket is pretty much perfect and the only thing I would like to see with the hoodie is a front pocket. Overall this is the quality gear that you would expect from one of the best camouflage clothing companies out there!