The clothing you wear outside shouldn’t be just a barrier to weather and terrain, says Sitka Gear. Your clothing is gear, just as much as your bow or a buck lure. Your hunting garments should work for you; should make your job as a hunter easier and more enjoyable. If it doesn’t do that, it isn’t doing its job.
Sitka’s mission is straight-forward: “By utilizing only the most advanced fabrics and construction technologies, Sitka will always design gear that is engineered to work together as complete systems, excelling in performance, function, and protection. Our customers will be able to hunt comfortably in the most diverse and challenging range of hunting conditions.”
Those who think Sitka is a camo company are wrong, says David Brinker, who laughs when you ask his title. Then he suggests “Marketing Lead” because Sitka doesn’t operate with the traditional bureaucratic line-and-box structure. Sitka does use the Gore Optifade Concealment patterns exclusively, however. Gore calls them “The Science of Nothing.” A catchy twist of ideas.
“The traditional approach to hunting,” Brinker says, “was to smell, sound, or look like something familiar by using cover scents, game calls, and stick-and-leaf camo. But this kind of mimicry camo is based on what we humans think. Sitka’s patterns are based on what the animal sees.”
Gore’s Optifade is the first concealment system designed around animal vision instead of human vision. Optifade prevents prey from recognizing you as a predator, even if it sees you, and this makes you nothing in their eyes.
“It’s what we call the Science of Nothing and that’s how we changed the game for hunters,” Brinker says. “Still, Optifade makes some hunters uncomfortable, but that’s how you know you’re changing the paradigm. Our strategy is based on identifying the unmet need and then using fact and science to meet it.”
The new and different camo patterns were not the only difficulty Sitka has wrestled in making its product widely available. “We’re selling pants and jackets, yes, but we’re really developing a ‘system’ approach to the outdoors,” says Brinker. “Archery shops and independent sporting goods stores are accustomed to selling hard goods, like the bow itself. They’re good at tuning and matching and maintaining hard goods components, but their customers might only get one or two good shots in an entire season, but their clothing is with them every day they go out. If they want to be more successful, they have to treat the garments as part of their gear.
“We knew that bringing expensive gear—a $500 jacket, for instance, into an industry that only knew $200 jackets—would be challenging. But we wanted people to begin thinking of their hunting clothes as part of their success plan. In a way, we’re selling success.”
Here are two examples of the Sitka approach.
“Many of the biggest bucks are killed in the early season,” Brinker says. “Warm temperatures, lots of brush and stickers, and hard to see. That’s why we developed Early Season Whitetail Pants in Gore OptiFade Concealment Forest camo.” These pants are built with an exceptionally durable fabric, Brinker notes, to protect against the most rugged brush and terrain. Plus, they’re comfortable in a treestand or blind. With 4-Way stretch fabric the pants swivel with the body’s movements so a hunter will not feel constrained. The pants have boot gaskets and side cargo pockets. They come in sizes 30-44 and 34-38 Tall ($169).
Brinker also discussed Sitka’s new garment system called Stormfront. In a sense, it’s a “clothing culture” and reinforces the essential Sitka message—that hunters should think of their clothing the same way they think of hard gear.
“If we can build a garment system that is good for the worst weather,” Brinker says, “it ought to be fine for all the rest of the time as well.” For extreme wet weather the Stormfront Jacket ($599) and Pants ($549) in Gore Optifade Concealment Open Country are a good example. Stormfront garments feature durable material for the harshest backcountry trip. The Stormfront Jacket has large chest pockets and the Pants have multiple types of pockets for different storage and carry needs. The Stormfront system in M-XXL features small but important touches such as a longer length collar and tail, water sealing cuffs, larger chest pockets, fold away hood and enhanced articulation.
Brinker describes Sitka’s core distribution as independent dealers, “many of them archery shops. We have a higher-end product and it may initially be challenging for independents to bring us in, but we also offer higher margins and our brand is growing and exciting.
“Sitka Gear sells best when presented as a system, not just an item like a jacket or a pair of pants. Retailers who do best with Sitka sell the system, not just one or two items.”
Sitka is developing a national network of independent sales reps, but Brinker says interested stores should contact National Sales Manager Andy Wunsch at (877) SIT-KAGR. Sitka also has a booth at the 2013 ATA and SHOT Shows and at 10 large consumer shows.
“Our program emphasis is to develop high-quality products for niches and extremes,” says Brinker, “but we have three categories of gear: western, whitetail, and waterfowl. If there is one thing I would like dealers who read this to remember about Sitka, it is that we offer Outcome Based Solutions or that we’re all about Turning Clothing into Gear. Okay, that’s two but those points really define Sitka Gear.”
Sitka is located at 1285 N. Rouse, Suite 2A in Bozeman, MT 59715. Their toll free number is (877) 748-5247 and their web site is www.sitkagear.com. Read more about Gore Optifade Concealment (Open Country, Forest or Waterfowl) at www.optifade.com.