Hunting apparel has come a long way from Grandpa's red-and-black wool parka and cotton longjohns. Though many hunters still wear those tried and true classic garments, technological leaps and bounds in fabrics and construction now offer comfort and flexibility beyond what Grandpa could have imagined. On the technological forefront of this apparel revolution is Sitka Gear and its system approach to layering. We sat down with the creator of Sitka, Jonathan Hart, to ask a few questions about how layering can help hunters stay warm, and how Sitka's system works.
How is Sitka's layering system unique? In other words, what is the advantage of wearing a complete Sitka system rather than piecing together undergarments, insulating pieces and outerwear from a variety of brands?
It's cliche, but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The design process takes into account every layer and how they interact with each other. How they fit when worn together. How the design and function of each piece supports and integrates with every other layer. When layered, are the lengths complimentary and do the fabrics easily slide against one another efficiently. Could you piece different pieces together and build a functional system? Absolutely. Will it be optimized for the end use? Not necessarily.
Is there a synergistic effect — will a Sitka outer coat be less beneficial to a hunter if he or she doesn't wear the insulating layer or the undergarment layer, for example?
It all starts next to your skin and the process of moisture management. You need to stay dry. It keeps you cool when you’re hot and warm when it's cold. But you need to keep that process of moisture transport to continue through every layer. Breathability is key here. If you wear a non-wicking base layer, or a non-breathable insulation piece underneath one of our jackets, you'll still appreciate the protection from the elements that is inherent, but you're heavily negating the comfort component that our technology is driving.
There's no doubt that Sitka gear is high quality, and that comes at a price point that some hunters have a hard time swallowing. For the hunter on a budget, can you explain how a Sitka system is worth the price in the long run?
Like the mantra of a quality craftsman, "measure twice, cut once." Why invest in multiple jackets over the years, when you could just buy one? Great apparel is an investment in long-term durability, performance, and ultimately, comfort. Go further, stay longer, get closer.
If a hunter wants to slowly build his Sitka system over time (maybe for financial reasons), what do you recommend starting with? A good outerwear jacket? An insulating pant?
That's probably the hardest question there is. The answer is: It depends. What do you already own? Then we can build off of that. For waterfowl, I'd start with one of our GORE-TEX jackets. Big game…Mountain Pant. Whitetail…the Fanatic Jacket.
Specific to the waterfowl line: Any plans for waders?
What is your own personal favorite single piece of Sitka gear, your tried-and-true go-to garment?
Across all categories? The Dewpoint Jacket. I love that piece. You will always find it in my bag.