All right whitetail hunters, it is go time in the Midwest. I have had this review of the Sitka Fanatic Hoody on the mind for some time now, but just haven’t had the chance to get it written and posted. Since it is our favorite time of the year with the rut fast approaching, what better time than now to drop a review on a piece of gear that I have used and abused.
Let me start with, I am not a Sitka fan boy by any stretch. I think they make some good pieces of kit, but it is pricey. I had no intention of wearing the Sitka Fanatic Hoody last year, and purchased it on last second at Cabelas before heading off to chase elk.
Grunt, Snort-Wheeze, and Rattle this to your buddies!
Let’s start with the bones of this mid-layer. It is constructed of a soft grid fleece, that is quiet and does a great job of heat retention. That is the point of a mid-layer after all. I have worn this now on two western hunting trips and on full whitetail season as an insulation layer. It is durable, I am hard on equipment and this piece has stood up to my abuse admirably.
There are a few things that I look for in a mid-layer that I consider must haves. Especially when I use this both for hunting whitetails out of a tree stand and chasing elk on the mountainside. The top three features in my mind, are a hood, a half zip, and thumbholes. These should be fairly straight forward, the hood keeps the wind off my head. The half zip lets me cool down while hiking or climbing a trees tand. Last, the thumbholes keep this layer in place as I am adding layers during long cold whitetail sits. The Sitka Fanatic Hoody has all three.
The Sitka Fanatic Hoody also has additional features that set it apart from some it’s competition. It has a hand warmer pocket that is similar to your favorite hoody. The sleeves are cut long, long enough that you can roll them down over your hands to block the wind and retain heat. I found both features functional on the mountain side and on whitetail hunts. The sleeve length is especially nice when using a climbing tree stand on a cold morning as it keeps my bare hands from touching the ice-cold metal.
Now lets move on to the one feature I was not fond of, the facemask. I find this feature a little on the goofy side and the first thing I did when I got home was break out the scissors and cut it out. This may be all mental on my side, but I couldn’t see wearing a facemask.
After two seasons out west, and one full whitetail season under its belt the Sitka Fanatic Hoody has proven to be a durable option. As I am writing this, I am picking my hoody apart with a fine-tooth comb. There are no tears, the seams and zippers are all like new. The Sitka Fanatic Hoody is starting to show some signs wear. The wear signs that I see are piling of the fleece. The hand warmers at the end of the sleeves are by far the worst example (see picture). There is slight piling of the fleece under the arms, but outside of those two spots, it is like new.
Overall the industry seems to be moving towards more form fitting or athletic cut hunting clothes. This piece is a break from that, as it fits more traditional, much like your favorite hoody. Minus the elastic in the bottom.
Outside of a pair of Sitka gloves I scored in the Cabela’s bargain cave, this is the first piece of Sitka gear I used. I am very impressed with the build quality and thought that went in to laying this piece of kit out. I am going to evaluate some of the other Sitka whitetail options as my budget allows and it just so happens their catalog was delivered today.
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I added a pair of Stone Glacier – De Havilland Pants to my kit early this spring. If you want some background on hunting pants I have used, read my technical hunting pant review and comparison here. In that article, I gave my initial impressions of the De Havilland pants. I had not worn them on a hunt at that point, only training hikes. I was not a raving fan but someone who was intrigued and willing to give them a shot. My original thought heading into this elk season is I would bring these Stone Glacier Pants along. Wearing them for a couple of days and then update my review.
Rolling into the trailhead the first night I was pumped and ready to bomb off into the mountainside looking for elk. After setting up my camp for the night, I started to get my gear ready for the next morning. As I was pulling my hunting clothes out of the tote and getting everything set, I came to the realization that I forgot my belt. I know right, it is always something. No matter how much gear we pack, we always forget something.
As thoughts of a paracord belt ran through my head it hit me. The Stone Glacier – De Havilland pants have a built in belt. My problem was solved for the time being. In retrospect, it works out in favor of this article as that was the only pair of pants I could wear for the week.
Bugle, Bark, and Chuckle this to your buddies!
The Stone Glacier De Havilland pants held up well during my week of chasing elk. Check out the video below for my thoughts on this while I was in the hunt. I did notice that the stitching on the butt started to come undone. The seams were closed with adhesive as well as stitched, so they never came fully undone.
After the hunt I reached out to Stone Glacier Customer Service. After sending pictures, I received an email asking me to call in. I called in, had a great conversation with the team at Stone Glacier. Before the day was up, they had a new pair in the mail. Their only request was that I wash the old ones before sending them back!
Outside of the seam on the butt coming undone, they showed relatively little wear. I plowed through tons of brush getting off the beaten trail. The unit I started in was packed, so I was bushwacking more than I would have liked trying to get away from other hunters.
The leg zips are still my favorite feature. It was absolutely hot a couple of days and these leg vents were a lifesaver. For the majority of the trip, I kept them unzipped as far as I could. I am hot blooded to begin with, add in hot weather, a pack and hiking. You can only imagine. These leg zips help keep you cool with added air flow.
In my conversation with Stone Glacier Customer Service, I asked the question of netting on the pants leg zips. They clearly get this question often, but the reason there is no netting is so you can utilize the entire Stone Glacier pants system as a kit together. The pieces work together, and if these pants had a net you would not be able to access the layers under these pants.
This was one of the features I was a little unsure of when I received the pants. It seemed like a good idea, but you never know how something like this will work in the field. I found myself moving the velcro fly as the week went along. I was clearly sweating out pounds, and this feature integrated with the built in belt perfectly to keep my pants up without a belt. This is key, I had a pack on the entire week hiking. My pants stayed snug around my waist with no hot spots.
My new Stone Glacier De Havilland pants have been delivered, so I am pumped that they stood behind their product. Based on this experience, I will be buying more Stone Glacier products in the future. If you are looking for pant weights or how these stack up to other options, read my overview and comparison here.
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Gear stuff sacks, doesn’t sound like a very interesting subject, right? I love hunting, fishing and in general being outside but do you want to know what I hate? Reaching in my pack and not being able to find what I am looking for. Do you want to know what I hate worse than that, hearing a bugle over the ridge and in my haste to pack up leaving a stuff sack on the ground? Don’t ask me if that has happened to me, because it has. Why does every kit sack out there have to be camo or black or flat dark earth? It makes no sense to me. I want a blaze orange stuff sack!
I expressed this general commentary to Western Binds, a small business in the great state of Texas. I am not compensated in any way for this, so you can rest assured this is an honest assessment of the kit sacks forthcoming.
Christian, the owner came through for me with an awesome stuff sack. I own plenty of Kifaru and KUIU and off brand Wal-Mart stuff sacks, but none compare to the Western Binds version. You might be asking yourself, what makes this stuff sack different? Well, let me tell you.
Before I start getting hate mail from the Kifaru and KUIU fans, I own plenty of each company’s stuff and will continue to use it because I consider it the best option. In this case, I prefer the Western Binds kit sack over the competition. Plain and simple.
The material is the first difference. The Western Binds stuff sack is made of a 4 way stretch material that is noticeable different from other makes and models. See the pics, but you can stuff considerably more in this sack than you can the competition. I was able to fit my entire kill kit in a sack that is noticeably smaller in size.
Similar to Kifaru, but not KUIU. All Western Binds sacks are Berry Compliant, meaning they are made in the USA from raw materials produced in the USA. This may not be important to everyone, but it supports US based jobs at the end of the day, so it is important to me. With that being said, I own a number of western hunting companies stuff that isn’t US made, but when possible I want to support my fellow Americans.
This picture is my exact kill kit that is stuffed in the picture of the orange stuff sack / kit sack.
Read my full blog post on kill kit essentials here.
Here is what it boils down to in my mind. Will this product do everything I want (hold my gear in an organized way) and do it in less space. The answer is yes. I am a big fan of this kit sacks and will be ordering more in the future.
I have never personally met Christian at Western Binds, but my interactions with him have all been positive. Give him a follow and check out his stuff sacks, trad slings and other gear at the Western Binds homepage.
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