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Sitka...good, bad, and the ugly.

 
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cabinfever
(2449 posts)
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Sep-15-11, 
02:36 PM (MST)
"Sitka...good, bad, and the ugly."

I just returned from 17 days hunting sheep, moose and grizzly in Alaska. It was a hunt of a lifetime, but I will save that for a another post.Ruffing it for that long, really makes a guy think about his gear and particulary the clothes he hunts in every day. In my case it was the Sitka line of clothing. As a disclaimer, I should probably let you know that I'm tough on gear. What I mean is, I don't give second thought to my clothing when I'm putting a stalk on a deer through nasty oak brush, or bush whacking through willows to get a crack at a swamp donkey, or navigating across scree slides and glaciers to kill a sheep.

Sitka...good, bad, and the ugly.

I have owned and used Sitka since their humble beginings. I have worn my sitka in the high places of Colorado wilderness to the snowy peaks of the Alaska Range and many places in between. I feel like I have a very unbiased yet experienced opinion of the product. Here it is in raw form. Exempt from all sugar coating. The way it should be.

First off, I think Sitka is the best hunting clothing to come along since sliced bread. It breathes well, is light weight, and fits the way an expedition style garment should. The first thing you will notice when you try a sitka piece on is the fit. No unecessary material, accessories or bulk. Once you hunt in it you will notice that it breathes very well. Probably more so than any hunting clothing you have ever owned.

Having said that, I'm a little disappointed with Sitkas durability. Some of you may remember my post about shredding a pair of ascent pants while hunting some oak brush country. I replaced the ascent pants with a pair of mountain pants as they seemed a bit more heavy duty. These were new un-used pants before I left for AK. Two days into the trip the pants came unstitched in the crotch area. Let me make it clear. They did not tear, they came unstitched. Thats not a good thing when you have 14 days left on your hunt. I told my guide that I had sitka rain gear and he said bring it if you want but it aint water proof. I called BS on him and brought them anyway. Guess what? I got wet during our first rain storm. Thats not acceptable for a $300 rain jacket. I have no personal vendettas with Sitka and personally I'm not convinced (yet) that their is a better option. However I do believe their are options that are just as good for less money. I think they have some issues to iron out with their cut and sew shops. I believe that is were the problems are occuring. Not sure where to go from here. I may try KUIU. However, there are several sitka pieces that have not failed me and I will likely continue to use those.

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  Table of Contents  

 Subject   Author   Message Date   ID 
 RE: Sitka...go...  littlejoe      Sep-15-11   1 
 RE: Sitka...go...  accumark      Sep-18-11   2 
  RE: Sitka...go...  never_catch      Sep-18-11   3 
   RE: Sitka...go...  cabinfever      Sep-19-11   5 
 RE: Sitka...go...  garywright      Sep-19-11   4 
  RE: Sitka...go...  HardcoreOut...      Sep-20-11   6 
   RE: Sitka...go...  MuleyMinor      Sep-21-11   7 
    RE: Sitka...go...  cabinfever      Sep-21-11   8 
     RE: Sitka...go...  cabinfever      Sep-21-11   9 
 RE: Sitka...go...  hunt4130      Sep-21-11   10 
  RE: Sitka...go...  HardcoreOut...      Sep-22-11   11 
   RE: Sitka...go...  cabinfever      Sep-22-11   12 
    RE: Sitka...go...  HardcoreOut...      Sep-22-11   13 
     RE: Sitka...go...  cabinfever      Sep-22-11   14 
      RE: Sitka...go...  BPKHunter      Oct-07-11   15 
       RE: Sitka...go...  HardcoreOut...      Oct-07-11   16 
        RE: Sitka...go...  wallhanger      Nov-09-11   17 

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littlejoe
(1268 posts)
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Sep-15-11, 
03:13 PM (MST)
1. "RE: Sitka...good, bad, and the ugly."

I want to see and hear about the hunt? Pics?

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accumark
(81 posts)
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Sep-18-11, 
08:53 PM (MST)
2. "RE: Sitka...good, bad, and the ugly."

in my oponion for alaska the only good rain gear is helly hansen. enough said. worked for 3 weeks on kodiak for me. survived all the alders without ripping. sitka costs way too much money. many people have survived many years and hunting trips witout it. the way alot of people talk you cant have a successful hunt without it. my hunting clothing closet and trophy room would say otherwise. sitka? not the answer to the best hunting garments out there.

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never_catch
(4696 posts)
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Sep-18-11, 
10:27 PM (MST)
3. "RE: Sitka...good, bad, and the ugly."

My Sitka rainpants are by far my favorite piece of camo I own, they are absolutely waterproof!! I don't have the raincoat or any other Sitka clothing but I've worn the rainpants 100+ times the past 2 years and have yet to have a single complaint about them. Have you contacted the store you purchased from to see about a refund or replacement?? I highly doubt that's a normal problem with all their camo...

~Z~

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cabinfever
(2449 posts)
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Sep-19-11, 
03:49 PM (MST)
5. "RE: Sitka...good, bad, and the ugly."

nevercatch

I never had a problem with my sitka rain paints either. Just the rain coat. The first time I had an issue with Sitka, I figured it was not normal. Between me and my personal friends and family who have worn it we have had multiple issues


accumark

I too have heard nothing but good about helley hansen and they are a fraction of the price.

I have tried all sorts of rain gear over the years and have made at least two conclusions. 1) If your rain gear is advertised as breathable it aint waterproof. 2) Rain gear was never meant to be worn for long distance hiking.

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garywright
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Sep-19-11, 
02:04 PM (MST)
4. "RE: Sitka...good, bad, and the ugly."

Afternoon,
I agree about the fit of the garments, they fit very nice but I sure did not like the way they preformed in the wind. I have two pair of pants, one light, one medium and a pair of the bibs. Two years ago I tried the bibs for the first time on the openner in Northwest Wyoming, was chilly but not cold,with the wind blowing got out of truck and knew right away they where not going to handle the wind, came right through them. Glad I had my other stuff.
Gary

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HardcoreOutdoor
(1317 posts)
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Sep-20-11, 
03:48 PM (MST)
6. "RE: Sitka...good, bad, and the ugly."

I would like to hear more about how you got wet? Did the jacket leak and if so from where?

Re fit. It depends on the piece. My Storm Front Lite fits properly meaning it will accomodate a wide range of insulation layers without compressing the dead air space out of them. My Storm Front Jacket is not sized the same way and I require a full size larger.

Wade
www.HardcoreOutdoor.com

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MuleyMinor
(293 posts)
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Sep-21-11, 
02:07 PM (MST)
7. "RE: Sitka...good, bad, and the ugly."

My sitka stormfront gear is awesome!! I think its truly rain gear. I have had other supposed rain gear that you got totally wet in but not the stormfront gear. Just my two cents.

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cabinfever
(2449 posts)
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Sep-21-11, 
05:34 PM (MST)
8. "RE: Sitka...good, bad, and the ugly."

LAST EDITED ON Sep-21-11 AT 05:37 PM (MST)

It was the earlier version of their rain gear. I believe it was the downpour jacket. I know I paid a pretty penny for it. Thats encouraging to hear their storm fromt series may be an improvement. I sure love the way sitka rain gear fits me.

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cabinfever
(2449 posts)
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Sep-21-11, 
05:45 PM (MST)
9. "RE: Sitka...good, bad, and the ugly."

Wade

It was pouring down rain and I was in the middle of a dall sheep hunt and didn't think to take the time to examine where the leaks came from. I wish I would have. Maybe I'll preform the shower test one of these days and see if I can pinpoint the source of the leak(s).

What kind of tests and or conditions have you preformed on the stormfront series? I'm in the hunt for some reliable rain gear.

Mike

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hunt4130
(1531 posts)
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Sep-21-11, 
06:47 PM (MST)
10. "RE: Sitka...good, bad, and the ugly."

to much $$$$$$$$$$$$ good stuff though.

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HardcoreOutdoor
(1317 posts)
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Sep-22-11, 
00:43 AM (MST)
11. "RE: Sitka...good, bad, and the ugly."

Mike,

I have had this conversation many times and it always boils down to a few things. There is a lot of technical science involved but I will try to explain it here as I learned it, from some of the top people in the business, which is as a laymen with a great deal of real life experience. There is very little argument that Gore-Tex is waterproof under practical field conditions as long as the laminate has not been damaged meaning that it keeps water out or will not let it pass from the outside to the inside of the shell. There is however still some controversy over the efficacy of it's vapor permeability or breathability in the common venacular but that is another discussion. Personally, I think it works although not as well as the marketing schmucks would have you believe.

If you were working in a steady rain and your base and or insualtion layers got wet while you were wearing a Sitka Gear Stormfront Jacket one or a combination of three things occurred. 1. The seam tape failed or was compromised somehow creating a path for water to seep in which is why I asked you where the wetness was because a leak at the seams is pretty obvious and easy to track down. 2. The Gore-Tex laminate was damaged somehow creating a point for water to seep through which is again pretty obvious to spot visually. 3. You wetted out meaning your perspiration did not pass from the inside of the garment to the outside in the form of water vapor either at all or not enough and it collected in your base and insualtion layers making you feel wet. This happens for a number of reasons but it is easy to recognize because it is not limited to a seam or one spot as described above, it is an all over thing like all across your back and shoulders. There is a fourth way which is showing up more often and that is through these so called waterproof zippers.

Wetting out happens for a couple of reasons. The durable water resistant treatment on the exterior of the shell has worn off and precipitation is not beading up and running off the exterior so it stays on the exterior surface and soaks through to the outside surface of the laminate. However, this still doesn't mean that the water passes from the outside of the laminate to the inside because it can't if the laminate is intact. Water in its liquid form is to big to get through the Gore-Tex membrane (but water vapor or water in gas form driven by body heat is smaller and passes through the pores). The water in this situation has the effect of sealing the exterior so that water vapor/perspiration from the inside cannot get out and that is the wetness that the wearer feels. The other way you wet out is when your physical activity simply produces more perspiration and water vapor than the Gore-Tex can efficiently vent so the excess perspiration collects on the inside of the shell eventually saturating the inner layers making the wearer feel wet. This is why active ventilation techniques are critical to staying dry and warm (in that order) for someone on the move in foul weather.

During high physical exertion in situations where you have to keep your shell on (like when it is cold, blowing and raining but you have to keep climbing) you have to use active ventilation techniques to help vent off the perspiration. Active ventilation is taking off your hat and gloves, opening pit zips, zipping down zip t-neck base layer tops, loosening the sleeve cuffs all the way so they slide down over your hands and act as a chimney or bellows moving air in and out as you walk, unzipping your double main zipper from the bottom and most importantly controling your physical exertion level so you don't sweat too much. If the weather is bad and you have no way of getting under cover to dry out, controling perspiration and its effect on the efficiency of your insulation and base layers can be a matter of life or death.

Here is the bottom line. If the Gore-Tex laminate is undamaged, it is waterproof for all intents and purposes, period. Wetting out and the control of perspiration is very complicated and takes constant attention and adjustment but is extremely important. No laminate breathes well if at all when the exterior of the shell is saturated with water. There is no magic bullet, the human body is a steam machine and that water vapor we give off constantly has to be dealt with. The harder you work, the more perspiration you produce making the task of managing that water more difficult.

So, do the shower test and see if you can locate a leak, if not then the only other answer is that you wetted out. Oh, by the way, Helly Hansen wets out too.

I have all of the Sitka Gear rain jackets including both the Stormfront and Stormfront Lite Jackets and have used them extensively in the field. None of them has ever leaked but they have wetted out which was my fault not the shells.

Wade
www.HardcoreOutdoor.com

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cabinfever
(2449 posts)
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Sep-22-11, 
11:09 AM (MST)
12. "RE: Sitka...good, bad, and the ugly."

Wade

That is good information and gives me plenty to digest. Overall I think you make some very valid points. I will test the jacket for leakage, otherwise it sounds like I may have wetted out.

Since were on the subject, how do you think the stormfront compares to arcterex and helley hansen rain gear.

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HardcoreOutdoor
(1317 posts)
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Sep-22-11, 
12:33 PM (MST)
13. "RE: Sitka...good, bad, and the ugly."

Mike,

That was at the end of a long day and I was a little punchy so it may not have been the best, most concise post but the basic points are sound. I am interested to hear what you find out.

Look, under ideal conditions, waterproof vapor permeable membranes like Gore-Tex and eVent will "breathe" and help you stay drier from the inside by venting water vapor but ultimately I buy high quality shells to be windproof and waterproof. Breathability is a bonus but it is by no means a perfect solution to the problem of dealing with perspiration under the shell generated by human body that is working hard in adverse conditions.

Waterproof breathable membranes work best in my experience when used in cold, windy, dry situations while moving and generating heat and sweat or water vapor. When the rain begins to fall hard and steady all of the top shells become glorified rain coats. They might still move some water vapor from inside to out but not much regardless of how good the exterior DWR is at beading and sluffing the water. However, given the choice between a vapor permeable and a non-vapor permeable shell, I will take the vapor permeable every time because they do work in certain situations which gives me an advantage and they are very good rain coats. I just make sure that the shells I choose to use also have a design and feature set that allows me to combine that breathability however effective with active ventiation techniques to manage and mitigate perspiration. Neither vapor permeability nor active ventialtion are enough on their own, best results are acheived when the two are used concurrently. Also, I want the very best so cost is not a consideration in my evaluations and subsequent choices.

I would prefer to hold off on answering your questions about comparisons of different jackets because I am working on that very thing right now. I am just not ready to talk about the results and my conclusions but keep an eye on my site, I should be done with that article in a few days. I can tell you that Arcteryx (Theta AR Gore-Tex Proshell) is state of the art in design and performance but colors for trigger pullers vary from one model year to another and it is relatively loud.

It is also important to acknowlwedge that we were hunting and climbing hard in cold, wet weather long before Gore-Tex was invented and we survived so it can of course be done without all the fancy chemistry. However, this new tecnology, if used properly and with reasonable expectations, does a better job and is much lighter than what we used to use.

Gore-Tex and the other laminate companies have done a poor job in my opinion of presenting the value proposition of their products to consumers which has created misinformation, misperceptions and unachievable expectations. Like I said they are good products maybe even great products when used correctly but they can't perform miracles...yet. We are all steaming sacks of meat so creating a garment that both protects us from adverse environmental elements while accomodating our biological physiological processes in a form factor that is lightweight, stealthy and affordable is a very, very tall order. We continue to make progress though.

Nice talking with you and I look forward to hearing from you again.

Regards,

Wade
www.HardcoreOutdoor.com

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cabinfever
(2449 posts)
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Sep-22-11, 
02:50 PM (MST)
14. "RE: Sitka...good, bad, and the ugly."

Wade

Your last two posts about rain gear provide more in depth information than any source I have ever found. You ought to cut and paste that information to your web site. It really puts things into perspective.

I also agree that companies spare no expense in developing the most advanced materials on the planet, and than do very little to explain the benifits and functionality.

You really have me looking serious at the stormfront jacket. I will anxiously await your conclusions on rain gear.

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BPKHunter
(1567 posts)
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Oct-07-11, 
10:10 AM (MST)
15. "RE: Sitka...good, bad, and the ugly."

This is not a timely response, but for me this was a timely read. I am washing my Gore Tex Rain gear for a hunt tomorrow. What is your opinion's on the NikWax products to help with surface water?

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HardcoreOutdoor
(1317 posts)
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Oct-07-11, 
10:41 AM (MST)
16. "RE: Sitka...good, bad, and the ugly."

BPK,

The Durable Water Resisistant (DWR) is critical to the optimal performance of these shells. And it must be properly maintained on a regular basis, at least once a year. I cannot speak directly to the Nikwax products because it has been sometime since I used them but I can say that Nikwax is a reputable company that has been around for a long time.

I use and recommend the ONE STEP WASH & WATERPROOFER from Grangers. I get it at REI and it seems to work very well.

http://hardcoreoutdoor.com/2011/02/09/great-gear-recommendation-clean-and-revitalize-waterproof-shell-gear.aspx

Hope that helps.


Wade
www.HardcoreOutdoor.com

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wallhanger
(831 posts)
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Nov-09-11, 
08:55 AM (MST)
17. "RE: Sitka...good, bad, and the ugly."

Another thing to add- though not completely on point for this post...

Sitka Gear is LOUD! My buddy brought a pair to colorado with us this year and I really wished he'd chosen to hunt in another basin- though I'm sure I would've heard him moving around in there, too. He sounded like he was wearing a plastic tarp when he had his Sitka stuff on. It wasn't even remotely quiet. I will say that it was brand new, so maybe it quiets down after some use, but if it doesn't, it is worthless for any application requiring any kind of stealth. I guess you could wear it while you're glassing from way off, but once the stalk begins, you'd have to take it off.

That's my .02.

BTW- Wade, thank you for the insights on how to properly use rain gear. It helps to read how much you have to sort of help it perform.

WH

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