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Hunting With Sitka Optifade

Post By: Jake
12/18/09

On the weekend of Nov. 14/15 I went up and did a little hunting at my in-laws hunting camp. I went up more focused on testing out my new Sitka Optifade 90% pants then to actually try and kill something, and that was probably a pretty good mindset as we hardly saw 2 deer the whole weekend. The Science of Nothing—W.L. Gore OPTIFADE. I had an excellent opportunity to test out the brand new camo pattern on these pants. Standing in the wide open, hiding behind nothing, 2 deer walked to within 20 yards of me without the slightest knowledge of my presence. A light breeze was to my face, so they couldn’t smell me, I was being dead silent so they couldn’t hear me, and when they looked my way, they didn’t even bat an eye, they just kept grazing and eventually made their way past me. Pretty incredible experience as white tail does are generally considered some of the most flighty deer out there. I can’t contribute the concealment 100% to the Optifade as I was also wearing a mossy oak camo top. But it was a pretty cool experience none the less. The 90% pants I have are simply the best hunting pants I’ve ever seen or used. Although the articulated knees, suspenders, side-zipper ankle cuffs, and sticky silicon waste band (to help hold them in place) all add tremendously to the overall design and function of the pants, the greatest benefit I found was the fabric the pants are made out of. Not only is it highly wind resistant, and coated with DWR for water resistance, It is also one of the quietest fabrics I’ve ever used. The overall noise volume is similar to rubbing fleece pants against a stick, almost perfectly quiet. However, unlike a pair of fleece pants, they are very water resistant (even when sitting on snow!) AND they don’t pick up sticker seed plants. If you’ve ever hiked around the dry Rockies in the fall after all the plants are dead and dry, you probably know about the little sticker bushes that usually leave pants literally covered with 1,000’s of tiny stickers. My brother in law had literally thousands covering his pants and when he looked at mine in disgust, he said, “you’re special pants probably don’t even pick up stickers either”, as he threw a handful of the stickers at me. They hit my legs and fell right to the ground! Although it sounds funny, that’s probably my favorite feature of the pants. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to pick those stickers off back at camp. The fit is more like a fine pair of ArcTeryx climbing pants rather than the “portly hunter” fit as is typical with hunting clothing. The other stuff isn’t bad to sit in a tree stand with I guess, but it’s not for hiking all over the mountains. I’m a 34” waist with a 30” inseam and I got the Large. (sized up) so they could comfortably go over a pair of cappeline long underwear, and some fleece pants if necessary.

The fit was excellent, just barely not too long, and overall perfect going over a layer or two. They also would fit very well without underlayers as the removable suspenders help hold them in place, and the articulated knees and 4-way stretch fabric lets them move freely. Around the waist band, and on the inside of the suspenders these pants have a unique feature I’ve never seen before. They have a thin bead of what appears to be Silicone. It makes those areas really tacky and more or less “stick” into place. Very nice! My chief complaint about the pants is the suspenders. They have a quick release buckle in the front, but not in the back, the back release points are a little more complicated to remove. This is only an issue when nature calls. The only thing I can think about to make these pants any better would be a quick release buckle in the back of the suspenders as well (or instead of) the front quick release buckles. The couple times I needed this feature, it felt like I nearly had to completely undress as I had put the suspenders on over my mid layer top instead of over my outer layer top as is typical I would think? In +5 degree weather, being without some layers can be quite uncomfortable. And while hunting, the last thing I want to do is waste a lot of time taking layers off and then re-layering after the job is done.

Pros: VERY good construction/fit. All the “extra” features are all VERY useful and easily justify their extra weight (ie. Suspenders, extra calf pockets, tight and reinforced pocket zippers, ankle side zippers). Very quite. Water and Wind resistant. Sticker plant resistant!

Cons: Suspenders need a little attention for quick bathroom breaks. After only a few hours of use I already have 1 seam coming un-stitched a little bit. Not very budget friendly, but still worth every penny.

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