Our Everyday Adventures

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Colorado Elk Hunting Trip with Sitka OPTIFADE Gear

Post by:  Guest-John S.

About a month ago a friend of mine was passing through town on his way to an elk hunt in South Central Colorado.  I loaned him my Sitka OPTIFADE camo and asked him to take some photos and write up a guest post after the hunt.  Not only did he get some amazing photos, he managed to bag a nice Colorado bull elk while he was here.  Below is his review of the Sitka OPTIFADE gear.

>>Guest Post<<  This past October I had a chance to put a set of Sitka gear to the test on an 11 day Elk hunt out in Colorado.  I was planning on purchasing new camo, and was really interested in Sitka gear, for both the Gore OPTIFADE pattern and the high-performance aspect of their clothing.  I got in touch with Jake and it turned out that he had recently moved to Colorado and had a full set of Sitka gear in my size, and he offered to let me borrow it for the hunt.  Keep in mind that we’d never met in person, so the offer was pretty amazing.  I ended up driving through Leadville and picking up the gear on the promise of either bringing it back or mailing it after the hunt.

When I finally unpacked the bag, I was pretty excited with what I saw.  This is some serious clothing, high speed/low drag as I like to say.  So all in all I had the Jet Stream jacket with Gore WINDSTOPPER, the 90% pants, a Core Zip shirt, Traverse beanie, and Jet Stream gloves all in the Open Country camo pattern.  My first impression of the gear was as if Arc Teryx made hunting clothes.  Super good quality and construction, or so it looked.  I was pretty excited to get in the stuff and see how it worked.  For me, this is exactly the type of clothing I would idealize for backcountry hunting, very high performance.  It seemed to be designed as very rugged and very functional.  (Can you tell already that I loved the gear?)  This isn’t your typical hunting gear, at least as I think of it, it’s not bulky and cumbersome, it has a nice fit and is well suited to movement.

On this trip I spent 11 straight days in this clothing and saw pretty much every weather condition.  For starters, the camo pattern is great.  In my research of the Gore OPTIFADE pattern, I was really impressed.  I wanted Sitka gear solely based on that pattern, the science behind it, and all the impressive demos.  When I put it on for the first time, I stepped out of the tent, walked about 20 yards and sat down in front of a cluster of sage brush in plain sight of the tent.   My uncle came out looked in my direction and scanned back and forth four times before he saw me and started laughing.

The first few days of the trip were warm, so I layered in both the jacket and shirt.  This was warm enough for the cold mornings and by mid afternoon I was in the shirt, zipper open and sleeves up.  What impressed me was that I stayed pretty comfortable with the big temperature swing.  I never got too cold or too warm.  Only when it got up around 60 and we were climbing did I feel the need to shed the jacket.  Of course once I did I found it was warmer than I expected as I wasn’t that hot in the jacket but plenty comfortable without it.  The next few days it got colder and snowed.  I sat at the base of a tree one morning in a snow storm and stayed comfortable.  There was definitely some wet-out going on, and that made things cooler, but it wasn’t a showstopper.  The next couple of days in the snow were just fine, and then it got muddy.  Most days were windy, and up high atop mountains it was even windier, which never posed a problem.  The clothing was definitely super breathable, but kept the unwanted wind out also.

I did end up getting an elk, which was awesome.  What goes with dealing with an elk is a lot of blood during gutting.  I did my best to keep the clothing clean, after all it was a loaner set, but getting bloody is inevitable.  I was a bit concerned that I wouldn’t be able to get all that blood off, so I figured I’d deal with it later and hope for the best.  I literally lived in these clothes, up in the back country, dusty, dirty, muddy, and just loved it.  The clothes were bloodied up on Thursday, and on Sunday I took a handful of snow and started scrubbing on a bloody spot.  To my amazement, it was actually coming pretty clean with just snow.  There was hope!

So to summarize some of the highlights of this stuff here are some brief points:

  • Very rugged and abrasion resistant.  Dragging on rocks, busting through timber, sliding around, never seemed to phase the softshell material
  • Extremely wide comfort range.  Looking at it, you’d think it wouldn’t’ keep you that warm.  I couldn’t believe that I stayed warm when it was cold out and cool when it was warm.  Very impressed by that.
  • Designed to move.  Never felt restricted, not baggy either.
  • Very quiet material.  This is pretty key for still hunting and stalking anything.  We snuck up on a group of 4 elk, so I know it works.
  • Looks awesome.
  • Plenty of pockets
  • Very breathable, but also very wind resistant
  • Cleans up easy
  • Doesn’t take on smell.  I wore this for 11 days straight amongst blood, sweat, and dirt, but it really never got to smelling bad.  Even after I had showered up back in civilization, when I threw the clothes in the wash they didn’t even really smell.
  • They don’t pick up burrs.

Possible improvements:

  • More water resistance.  Yes I know it’s a softshell, but I would love it to be drier.
  • Suspenders were slightly annoying.  As the day went on they would get loose.  Required too much attention to keep them where I wanted.
  • Snaps at bottom of pant leg were nearly impossible to open.  Could be a good thing if that’s what you want, but I thought they were going to rip out of the fabric.  I even bent the flange on the male side of the snap trying to undo them.

All in all I was really impressed.  I’d love to have a set of Sitka gear and honestly after spending that much time in it, I’d be ok with buying it at full price.  What’s nice for me is that this is gear that doesn’t have to be hunting specific, meaning I could take it out mountaineering, climbing, hiking, or whatever.  It’s that kind of clothing, only it would come with a killer camouflage pattern.

I’d give this a solid 5 out of 5 stars.  The only bias I have in this is that I tried it and loved it.  Thanks to my new friend Jake for turning me on to some great product!


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Posted in Adventure Sports and Reviews.


2 Replies

  1. Awesome report John! As an unbiased first time user, I’d say you got a pretty good idea of how well Sitka Gear works. It is those types of reports and opportunities that can only help to make the not so good parts better and continue to make the great things stay great and find any way to improve if at all possible. Congrats on a great hunt, great bull and pics….! Guess we don’t have to wonder what gear you’ll be investing in for next fall!!

  2. ….and Jake, that is awesome of you to lend your gear out to someone that you have never even met…Ethical Hunters and Outdoorsman are the salt of the earth!

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