Sitka Gear’s NODAK System is an impressive solution to the flimsy and uncomfortable disposable whites that are typically associated with the spring snow goose season.
The NODAK system features the same GORE-TEX waterproof and wind protection technology included in Sitka’s other waterfowl collections. Although the NODAK system — which includes the NODAK Jacket ($299) and NODAK Bib ($299) — lacks insulation, the fit leaves suitable space for layering.
An incredible level of research, development, and design went into crafting this line. But the real question is whether Sitka’s NODAK system performance matches its price tag.
I would say yes. And that would range from the person who just wants a superior white raincoat to the hunter seeking a high-performance technical piece of waterfowl gear. Unlike the disposable alternative, the NODAK system is repairable. It’s also backed by Sitka’s favorable customer service.
In addition, the ethical conservationist may also be persuaded to reduce the landfill impact of disposable whites and lean toward the durable, long-lasting NODAK System. As best stated by Cory Loeffler, an experienced snow goose hunter, “I don’t view snow geese as disposable, nor the gear I chase them with.”
There is plenty of evidence to support the NODAK System.
The Sitka NODAK System
Unique Color Technology
At first glance, it’s obvious that the NODAK System is white. But the science behind the color is intense. The shade profile of the white utilized was engineered to mimic the UV light spectrum of snow goose feathers. Hence, you can confidently lie in the decoys without giving too much away.
Also, I have yet to notice any fade from the white color scheme on the NODAK System. And that’s even after a season of hunting. I can’t ask the birds that didn’t commit. But I don’t think lying in the decoys in my Sitka whites limited my success.
Durability, Features Built Into the Sitka NODAK System
The NODAK Jacket comes with a Velcro flap designed to prevent mud from jamming up the main zipper, a fully adjustable hood, and wrist rain seals. While the jacket comes equipped with two side pockets, I caught myself fumbling around a few times looking for the familiar Sitka chest pockets. No luck.
While the NODAK Jacket lacks the typical assortment of pockets, it frequently doubled as a nice everyday rain jacket with a flexible, brimmed hood. The Jacket fits similar to Sitka’s other waterfowl coats. So, you can probably go with your usual size.
The NODAK Bib comes with a similar Velcro flap along each leg covering the zipper. But it also has a three-snap cuff to accommodate boots. In the field, all the snaps fit fine around an assortment of boots and waders. However, if the metal snaps get lodged with dirt, sand, or mud, they are a real hassle to clean and adjust.
Although the no-buckle suspenders help keep the Bib together, I have not figured out an easy way to put them on over waders. Finally, the zippers were a bit tricky to move the first few hunts. But as the season progressed, they wore in nicely.
Hunting in the NODAK System
The NODAK System is not insulated. This means it’s crucial to layer properly when the weather dips. On colder days, I ran merino wool, waders, and a gradient hoodie under the Sitka Whites. The fit was a bit snug at that point. I’ll say that this was reasonable given the layering.
The NODAK System is marketed to endure the grime, mud, and rain of the snow goose season. However, I found the whites to be a nice alternative when hunting snowy landscapes, another reason to justify the price.
The ability to hide in the spread with these whites, while avoiding moisture from the ground or above, is great when you don’t have a layout blind. And it’s especially great when those birds decide to work right on top of the decoys.
Cleaning & Maintenance
The NODAK whites come perfectly clean — so I was a bit panicked when my first hunt turned into a muddy downpour. There are cleaning instructions on the Sitka website, but I have found that using a hose can get rid of most of the debris.
Then, I use a toothbrush with some laundry detergent to scrub out the tough stains before washing in cold water and letting the Jacket and Bib air dry. There are a few small spots where I have not completely removed some stains, including ink and red clay. But, for the most part, the Sitka whites look white to this day.
Final Thoughts on the Sitka NODAK System
Overall, I believe that the Sitka NODAK system is an incredibly well-designed set of waterfowl gear. They can be used for hunting multiple species in varying landscapes and beyond.
The waterproof and windproof technology — combined with the UV color scheme, and flexibility for layering with minimal pockets — makes for a definite upgrade over disposable whites.
Plus, the durability of the NODAK System was evident over this first season. And with its ability to be repaired, the price point caters to those looking for longevity from their gear.