Before diving into the top-of-the-line features of this raingear, I must first digress a bit. While testing this layer from the original technical clothing innovators, that is Sitka, I had one of those “ah-ha” moments. What a true pleasure it is to be a mountain hunter in this era we live in! The thought of the quality of this raingear from Sitka was really amazing, especially in light of the not so distant past and the equipment that was available when we were younger.
Reminiscing back 20 years ago into my youth wasn’t enough, my thoughts shifted to how much our gear has changed even more than what Mike and Gordon used in the early days. You’ll notice in the historic photos we have here that their raingear looks anything but comfortable. Not breathable, noisy, very little technical features, not performance fitted, not camouflage, not lightweight, and the list goes on and on.
Fast-forward 40 years from these pictures of Mike and Gordon and we arrive in the age we live in…the hunting gear technological revolution! Sitka has pulled out all the stops with their updates to the popular Stormfront layer they have offered in the past. The fit and comfort of this three-layer raingear system is remarkable. While wearing it in wet conditions, it feels as comfortable as many of the soft-shell jackets that are on the market.
While hiking in a downpour in western Montana, this layer kept me bone dry, even the items in the exterior pockets. One feature that has been moderately annoying in raingear offered from other companies is the fact that the pockets on the raingear aren’t waterproof, which makes pockets on raingear totally worthless in my opinion. This is one of the first things I intentionally tested on the Stormfront, because after having my smartphone (which I use as my GPS with the Backcountry Navigator app) get soaked in the chest pocket of a different company’s raingear in the high country of Wyoming, I was anxious to see how Sitka’s Stormfront layer handled this part of the task of keeping things dry. After hiking in this rainstorm, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the pockets were as dry as when the jacket was first taken out of the box.
Sitka’s rubberized cuffs with Velcro closures were a very pleasant surprise addition to the Stormfront jacket as well. With the Velcro closures tightened up around your wrist securing the rubberized cuffs, it would be very difficult for moisture to enter the inside of the jacket from the bottom of the cuffs if your arms didn’t happen to be hanging down. The extended tail of the jacket, along with the included suspenders on the pants ensures that moisture won’t end up on the inside of your pants.
The pants also come with a quick hooking belt, cinch straps on the pant leg cuffs, and full-length zippers on the legs. All of this ensures a fit that feels more like custom apparel rather than cumbersome raingear.
One additional key feature of this Stormfront series is its breathability. Most raingear creates a highly humid environment inside of the garments because in order to keep water from coming in through the fabric it is often made to be impenetrable from the inside as well. However, with Sitka’s three-layer Gore-Tex fabric interwoven with a polyester face fabric, moisture control inside of the garments is just as impressive as outside. The amount of sweat that is trapped inside the garments while exerting yourself is greatly reduced because of this, keeping you more comfortable on both long and short excursions.
Both the Stormfront jacket and pants have multiple waterproof pockets, in fact more pockets than you’ll probably know what to do with. This is not minimalist raingear…it is fully featured for multi-day use in unforgiving environments where your waterproof layer is your go-to piece of gear to ensure your comfort and, most important, your safety. Having leaky raingear and getting soaked when in the backcountry can spell disaster and transform your trip from one of big game pursuits to one of hypothermia and tragedy.
The jacket weighs in at 24.0 oz. and the pants weigh in at 23.2 oz. The only real downfall of this layer is the sticker shock you may have when you see the price tag. The jacket retails for $599 and the pants retail for $549. However, if you need a protective layer to spend many days in and not worry about tearing a hole in it if you scrape against rough brush, this is just what the doctor ordered…an articulated, technical, weatherproof layer that will save your hunt and possibly your life.
Head over to sitkagear.com to see this and many other layers in the Sitka line, complete with product videos and additional info.