Optifade, Break-up Infinity, Forest, Hardwoods, Treestand, Mountain Shadow, Scent Control, Primaloft, Windstopper Membrane, Goretex and a myriad of other words are used to describe the hunting clothing of today. It doesn’t matter what type of hunter you are, there is plenty of clothing and camo patterns built exclusively for your purpose and the question you need to answer is…What is the best for my scenario and how much money do I want to spend. We have taken a look at some of the top brands and their systems to help you with making a decision on what pieces of clothing are best for you and your 2011 fall hunting goals.
This company has been around for a half a dozen years and took the hunting industry by storm. They were one of the very first companies to take the technology that has been used in mountaineering gear for years and plugged it into a hunting based product. Our team at Sportsman’s News has been using this product since inception and we highly recommend it for anyone, especially if you are spending 30 plus days a year in the field and your life could depend on your clothing. Whether you are hunting early season archery antelope in 100 degree heat or sub zero temperatures in Alaska, you will find the right pieces in the Sitka system to insure you are safe and comfortable. Base layers are essential to staying warm or cool by getting the moisture away from your skin as you heat up. Sitka has the core pieces as well as the Merino wool base layer and both have scent control technology employed within them. The core is super light weight and extremely breathable and comes in long or short sleeve setups. The sizing is an athletic fit with 4-way stretch fabric and is built for hunters that are on the go and in shape. Mid layers are designed to provide you a warmth layer. These pieces are extremely quiet and provide a great source of insulation during those cool September mornings. The main layer or mobility layer as Sitka refers to it on their website is your pants and jackets for day to day use.
The Ascent series is designed for warmer weather. They have an unbelievable stretch and wear extremely well. A sheep guide told me that one of his clients scooted down the mountain on his back side due to a broken ankle for over a mile without as much as a hole in a pair of Ascent pants. I have been wearing the same pair for over two years with well over 150 days in the field with only one small hole.
The insulation layer of Sitka Gear is a must during extremely cold outings. The Kelvin pants, vest and jacket are insulated with Primoloft® which is extremely light weight and packable. The Kelvin jacket is always in my pack during any high country trip and just might be the difference between life and death if you were to get stuck in the woods. The weather resistant layer consists of the 90% jacket and pants which is a go to piece for all of the later season hunting. This is a soft shell set that is extremely quiet and lined with micro-fleece, making it extremely warm and mixed with a base layer, it will get you through most days in the field. The extreme weather products are just that.
The Coldfront jacket and pants as well as the Stormfront and Stormfront Light sets are built with GORE-TEX® making it some of the most wind and extreme weather resistant clothing I have every had on my body. When I travel to the Yukon, Canada and Alaska where my life could depend on the clothing that I have on my back, I put my trust in Sitka Gear. The one complaint that I do have with the rain gear and extreme type of products is the fact that they are extremely noisy for bowhunting situations and I will remove them when I get inside of a hundred yards. The other complaint about Sitka Gear is the price. It is by far the most expensive line of products tested and if your life ever depends on your gear, you won’t be disappointed in the fact that you spent a small fortune. All the product addressed here is only about half of the line, which is the Open Country camo pattern. The forest pattern has some of the same products but many more which are tailored around the whitetail tree stand hunter.
Russell Outdoors APX G2
In 2009, Russell developed the second generation of advance performance for the extreme clothing, hence the name APX G2. This is a complete layering system that will get you through any type of situation and won’t break the bank along the way. It is extremely well put together and very durable. Members of our Pro-Staff at Sportsman’s News has been wearing this since it was first introduced with great success. The base layer or L1 consists of two different pieces, depending on the need for insulation.
The Alpine is a light weight piece for warmer weather and the Arctic provides a little more insulation for the colder weather. Both pieces are great for wicking moisture away from the body, keeping scent to a minimal with the use of Scent-Stop. Scent-Stop is an anti-microbial treatment which is bonded to the fabric at the molecular level making it much more durable and longer lasting than traditionally carbon impregnated garments. The Tundra top and bottom L2 have a lot of the same characteristics as the L1, but has a little more insulation ability and is an essential part of the overall system.
The feature that is most prominent with the Tundra is the ability to stop the wind while still eliminating odor. This piece also employs the Dri-Power moister wicking technology and Scent-Stop odor control protection. The Zephyr jacket and pant setup or L3 is super light weight and extremely breathable. It is made with a polyester material which is super quiet and doesn’t lend itself to picking up all the pesky burs and seeds that tend to fall during early season.
The jacket is cut to provide a full range of motion for the archery hunter and employs a tailored sleeve to insure that bulky clothing doesn’t interfere with your archery equipment. The jacket is cut with a rounded and longer back. This feature is great when sneaking through thick brush. The Cyclone rain gear is absolutely some of the best in the business for being quiet as well as waterproof. The Gale jacket and pants or L4 are designed for those times when the weather starts to get a lot colder and the whistling winds of winter start to blow through the trees. Zippers along the legs that go all the way to the knee allow for easy on and off without having to remove the heaviest of boots is a very notable asset to this product.
The L5 Whiteout jacket and pants tops off the complete layering system. These two pieces are for the extreme cold weather and long sitting sessions on tree stands or lookout points. They have a lot of loft and insulation capabilities. Combined, this whole system will keep you comfortable in any situation and will cost about half as much as a set of Sitka Gear. It comes in a vast array of camouflage patterns, but the newest is King’s Mountain Shadow which will be a huge success for the western hunters and is now available at Sportsman’s Warehouse.
This has been a name that most people have known for many years. The U/A cold gear has been the long underwear of choice for many outdoorsmen and women for many years, but they have now expanded their line of products to outerwear for hunters and a great camo line. The Heat Gear series is designed for those super hot days during the early season hunt. They are extremely lightweight and come in long and short sleeves and both have ArmourBlock™ which is an anti-microbial that will keep your scent to a minimum. They come in a loose fit which we felt was one of the most comfortable warm season garments tested. The Ridge Reaper jacket and pants is an extremely quiet set of clothing with good fit, especially for the bow hunter. The jacket is an extremely good athletic fit with full range of motion in the shoulders and snug fitting sleeves. Seams are fully taped on pants and jacket making them water resistant to a point. A full downpour will definitely get you wet. This is a great product when the weather drops down into the 50’s and lower, but definitely too warm for those August hunts.
The jacket is built with vent pockets on the sides, but I would like to see some additional vent pockets in the chest area to release some heat when you are on the go. It is built with the U/A Capture which absorbs human odor. The Capture Fleece series is one of my favorites that we tested. Fleece is always quiet, but has a tendency to gather burs and other stickers, but this product did a great job of repelling these unwanted items. Both pants and jacket are athletic fit, but not as much as some of the other products. So, if you don’t have an Adonis body, but need a good quiet garment, this might be the set for you. Generous front pockets on both the left and right side of the jacket are a great place for quick access to your rangefinder or calls. The pants have a very unique, built-in stirrup that goes around your foot and into your boot which will hold your trousers down, yet doesn’t interfere with full range of motion or binding in the knee area when climbing. The pants also have huge side cargo pockets which I always find very handy. The cargo pockets on the pants as well as the cuffs on the jacket sleeves secure with Velcro, making them a little noisy and more of a personal preference than anything else. Both pieces also have the U/A Capture technology for scent control. This is an awesome piece of equipment for any hunter. U/A is also rolling out their hunting boots for this season and we have been testing the Speed Freaks which have now made it to the top of the list for my new favorite early season boot. It is a sneaker feel with boot support.
The Hells Canyon and the Hells Canyon Full Throttle are two good products put out by Browning for the fall season. The Full Throttle is a lighter weight piece and designed for the early season. The built in cuffs on the jacket hold the jacket very close to the arm and has abundant range of motion making it ideal for a bow hunter. Both jacket and pants do a good job of repelling the early morning dew, keeping you dry. The jacket has two huge front pockets for storage that also second as a vent to release unwanted heat.
They are built with Odorsmart technology which eliminates the waste caused by bacteria creating the stink that gives us away. The only complaint on this product is that it tends to be a little noisy. The Hells Canyon is more of a cold and extreme weather piece. It has a nice fleece lining and a water resistant fabric outer yet still quiet. This is a 3-piece layering system which has an internal waterproofing, making this a great piece for all occasions. It is much quieter than the Full Throttle.
This setup cuts wind like a knife. The knee length zippers on the pants make them very easy to slide on and off over heavy hunting boots. This is also built with the Odorsmart technology as well. This is a great product at a great price, with a great name behind it. Sportsman’s News has done a full video product review on both of these products and can be seen on our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/sportsmansnews.
The first thing that needs to be said about the Natural Gear is the camo pattern. The pattern might not look the most appealing to us as humans, but during our testing periods this pattern worked extremely well in the open terrain of southern Utah as well as the high alpine areas of Colorado. Picking out a hunter that sat motionless was nearly impossible if you didn’t know where they were. The 901 and 904 vented shirt and zip off pants are an early season hunters dream. Those dog days of summer cry for this lightweight gear. Both are made of extremely lightweight polyester. The shirt vents in the back with roll up sleeve attachments and the pants have zip off legs. The 101 bush shirt and 104 fatigue pants are 100% brushed cotton twill. They are standard BDU type design with 6-pocket pants and ample cut for any body type. All of the other products tested from the Natural Gear line were fleece in either 300 or 400 gram anti-pilling Winter Ceptor Micro Fleece which means extremely quiet.
There is absolutely nothing quieter that we tested. The 161 fleece hoodie is a great addition on that cool morning. It is one of the pieces made with the 300 gram fleece, making it just a little lighter. It has a kangaroo pouch pocket in the front which is ideal for keeping your hands warm. The 164 Winter Ceptor vest is a great addition as well. It is windproof and water resistant due to the laminated membrane placed between the two layers of fleece. The 163 full zip jacket provides great warmth without the added bulk. It has elastic cuffs on the sleeves, but if you are a bow hunter, you will need to use an arm guard to keep the jacket tight and out of the way of your bowstring. I would like to see some sort of modification to the sleeves to make them more bowhunter friendly, but at a price of under $60.00, I will gladly apply an armguard. This jacket has the breathable membrane like the vest, making it windproof and water resistant.
The 206 Hybrid Fleece jacket similar to the 163, but with a couple of added features. It has an additional waterproofing on the top half of the jacket which is more designed with the waterfowler in mind. This poly tricot portion of the jacket will be what sticks out of the blind, making you more susceptible to moisture and cold. Once the snow starts to fall, you will appreciate the cover up parka and pants with the snow gear camo pattern. The Natural Gear line is a no frills, great camo pattern that absolutely works everywhere and it won’t break the bank.
Women’s Fall Clothing
Serious, hard-core women hunters have had very little to cheer about from a clothing standpoint for most of their hunting career, but with women being the fastest growing part of our sport, there had to be someone willing to step up to the task and Prois has done just that. They realize that women are built different than men and they have developed a clothing line specific to the athletic, hard-core woman hunter. The Ultra Series is a light weight product that wicks moisture away from the body, keeping you cool in the summer and used as a base layer during winter to keep you warm. The lumbar pockets in the rear of the shirt are a great place to keep hand warmers on those super cold days for added warmth.
The Pro Edition pullover jacket and Ultra fitted pant is the second part of the layering system and ideal for those early season hunts. The six pocket pant provides a snug fit around the waist, but provides plenty of room for your hips and there is ample room for motion in the knees and thighs even when climbing super steep terrain. One of the very unique things that needs to be noted about the jacket is the scapula pocket. This pocket is designed to hold a heat pack which will sit between your shoulder blades. Women have a tendency to get colder quicker and since this clothing was designed by an extreme woman huntress, she has thought of everything to make her and your trips to the field more comfortable. One of the most notable products in the line is the Eliminator rain gear. It is made with a waterproof, breathable laminate with fully taped seams and waterproof zippers.
The jacket has what Prois refers to as a snap-up duck tail. This is a great added feature when you might be stalking through the willows after a rain storm or any time you want to keep the rain from going down your back side. The pants have an elastic draw string waistband and medium length zippers to get the pants on over heavy boots. Unless you have super small feet, you are going to wish that the zipper on the legs was just a little bit longer, but that was our only complaint about the entire setup. All of the Prois gear is extremely well made and super quiet. If you spend more than a few days a year in the field, this line is well worth the extra money to have quality gear that will last you for many years.
Habit Hunting Apparel
We received the Habit Bullseye Jacket and Bullseye 6 pocket BDU pants too late for inclusion in the magazine, but they are both very comfortable, have nice features such as magnetic pockets, generous pinch point, Scent Factor lining, and low price at $79.99 each. The pants feature an adjustable wait with a wide waist band. The jacket has 4 pockets, a cinch waist to keep out the cold, and adjustable wrist straps.
- Waterproof, Windproof and Breathable
- Scent Factor™ Silver Scent Inhibiting Liner
- Active Stretch Paneling
- Vertical Zippered Chest Pocket
- Waterproof, Windproof and Breathable
- Scent Factor™ Silver Scent Inhibiting Liner
- Dual Cargo Pockets and Rear Pockets with Magnetic Pocket Flaps and Zippered Closures
- Interlocking Waist Snaps
- No Slip Waist