When I first laid eyes on the original Sitka 90% Jacket nearly 7 years ago, it was love at first sight. Like many other hunters, I knew that this was a game changer and more importantly that I needed to get one. Putting on my 90% Jacket for my first archery elk hunt felt like I was putting on something as solid as armour, as stealth as ninja and it felt like my hunting clothing had indeed been transformed to gear. What was then a very young Sitka brand had not only raised the bar but had set it high, so much so that it left other clothing companies scrambling to play catch up.
The cool thing is Sitka hasn’t stopped in developing new and innovative pieces of hunting clothing as they’ve gone from one end of the spectrum to the other bringing out gear intended to make the hunt your focus, not your clothing’s performance or the lack thereof becoming your focus as Mother Nature changes her attitude while you’re in the mountains. This spectrum goes from highly insulated and waterproof items like the Incinerator Jacket to lightweight warm weather hunting pieces like the Ascent Pants or the Shooter Gloves. I’ve used a large number of Sitka Gear items over the past 6 years and will continue to do so going forward.
Which brings me to the 2014 lineup, full of changes and new additions. While I’m saying goodbye to pieces like the Bandit (why oh why did they stop making this! Watch for my future rant on this topic) and the Contrail Windshirt, I’m ready to say hello to the updated 90% Jacket and 90% Pant as well as items like the Early Season Whitetail Jacket and the Grinder Pant.
Here’s a quick rundown of a few of the new and updated pieces in the 2014 Sitka lineup that are worth mentioning:
- Updated 90% Jacket – The new Sitka 90% Jacket has better wind cutting capabilities (up to 1/3 more wind resistance) while reducing the insulation by incorporating a body-mapped checkered fleece backing. The material feels very different from the previous version of the 90% Jacket and is overall lighter by the ounces, but still as strong as ever. It’s also got a bit more stretch to it making it more pliable, durable and even quieter. The fit is consistent with the previous years’ model – athletic and certainly not generous, but accurate and comfortable.
- Updated 90% Pant – While you would think the updated Sitka 90% Pant would be a spitting image of the jacket, but I think that Sitka nailed it – we don’t need the same insulation and thickness in pants as we do in jackets. I’m sure they (and you) have known this for years, but year after year the jacket and pants have the same insulation, all the way through. This year’s 90% Pant is the same highly wind resistant and soft face fabric as the jacket, but it’s not got the fleece backing throughout. At first feel I was a little shocked, but then I thought about all times I’ve worn a vest, or a down jacket but never a down pant and it dawned on me that I really didn’t need all that insulation on the legs. So don’t be shocked when you see the new 90% Pant along side the 90% Jacket. They’re like a set of paternal twins – of the same make up, but slightly different.
- Early Season Whitetail Jacket – I remember my first whitetail hunt in Alberta and although it was cooler than normal, hunting in late September for whitetail meant warmer than winter temperatures. With the Optifade Forest camo specifically created for an elevated hunt (ie – treestand) the ESW Jacket has long been asked for. Last year Sitka took the popular Ascent Jacket and threw Optifade Forest on it, but I think the feedback was that treestand whitetail hunters wanted a specifically built jacket for the movements and features (read – special articulation and pocket alignments) of hunting from a stand. That’s one thing which sets Sitka apart is that they build gear to fit very specific needs. I’m stoked to give the ESW Jacket a try this season, even if it means hunting elk from a treestand here in Utah this September.
Other Sitka items that are new this year which you should look for are:
- Updated Coldfront Jacket and Pant
- Blizzard Jacket and Bib – Ideal for super cold weather western hunting (and snowmobiling!)
- Blizzard Beanie
- Kelvin Lite Vest in Optifade Waterfowl
- Grinder Pant – perfect for under the waders when waterfowl hunting or fishing