We took all the new gear from Sitka’s newly released women’s waterfowl line on a three-day hunt in Kansas. And we’re here to tell you all about it.
Sitka Gear’s new waterfowl line for women marks a continued dedication for a company that refuses to cut corners when it comes to making the top women’s hunting gear on the market.
From bibs to pants to insulating layers and outerwear, the intentional design of the gear is obvious from the get-go. But does it work in the field? We joined Sitka Gear on a hunt in Kansas to find out.
Sitka Gear Women’s Base Layers
First, a note: The base layers and Fanatic Hoody below are the only products in this article available now. The rest come to market in fall 2019. We included all the products because they form a complete system.
Now, on to the base layers! I run cold, and although the weather in Kansas was unseasonably warm during our time there, I layered on the Core Midweight top ($89) and bottom ($89) base layers each day. With early mornings, the air held the bite of winter, and the sweatpants-level comfiness of the microfleece made it much easier to get up at 4:30 a.m.
I also tend to wear the same base layers over time because I hate doing laundry. And after three days of hunting both waterfowl and pheasants in warm weather, the scent lock technology, which fights bacteria to reduce odors, proved impressive. I wore the same base layers on my recent mule deer hunt in eastern Montana. They were just a little too cool. I added a merino layer beneath, and that solved the issue.
The only thing I’d change about the Core Midweight pants is where they hit on the hips. I like my base layers to be the highest-rise possible. Lower-rise base layers tend to shift down over the course of the day in my experience. And the microfleece is really flexible, but it just isn’t as forgiving as thinner merino when it comes to movement.
The microfleece crew itself is pretty perfect. The length of sleeves is right on, I like the thumb strap option, and the warmth worked out just fine.
Here’s where things begin to get a bit more technical and a lot more thoughtful. My personal favorite midlayer of the 2018 season is hands-down the Women’s Fanatic Hoody ($189), and I wore it from Monday to Thursday on this trip.
One of my other favorite pieces in the collection is the Fahrenheit Jacket. With the warmth of the days, it became my go-to piece of outerwear. And it cut the wind and cold just fine. It has DWR technology built in, so it does have some ability to resist water on its own — a helpful component to any waterfowl piece. But my absolute go-to’s in this jacket are the microfleece handwarming pockets. They sit higher on the chest and the pockets go the entire upper length of the jacket toward the neck. This gives hunters the option to keep hands and forearms warm in the blind.
The Dakota Vest would also be considered a midlayer piece. It has the same handwarming pockets and magnetized front pockets for storing shells. It’s really fitted, however, and I found it to be too constricting with my base layers. More on that later.
The outerwear line boasts the Hudson Bibs, the Hudson Jacket, and the Cadence pants. Each of these pieces has been adjusted for a women’s fit and style of hunting. In both the bibs and the jacket, you have the same option as the midlayers for microfleece handwarming pockets that allow for a comfortable position in a layout blind or while sitting.
Bibs can be a point of contention for women, mostly when nature calls and peeing is the last thing on the planet you want to do in cold weather. The zippered rear end gives a new option for women hunters to navigate this situation more quickly and discreetly. And it’s a big winning point for someone who likes to sit in a blind all day. The removable knee pads hit at just the right spot. Personally, I loved having a little extra help when kneeling. The straps could use a bit more flexibility in adjusting length. But they were good overall, and the low-profile latch is nice when shooting.
The Hudson Jacket has some features that I haven’t seen before. The biggest feature is the waterproof Gore Stretch material on the shoulders that stretches with you for more mobility as you’re shooting, setting up decoys, and generally moving around in the field. The warming chest pockets are a great theme throughout this collection. And the generous shell pockets provide ample room for storage. The hood has a nice catch built into it to prevent it from falling down into your line of vision. This is a hazard when you’re holding onto a firearm and shooting, so it’s a nice touch. The call lanyards are a great finishing point on a killer jacket that is warm, waterproof, and durable.
The Cadence Pants were another favorite piece in the collection for me. Their flexibility and form-fitting shape are both flattering and functional. The vents on the front and general ease of mobility make me think of having them do double-time on big-game hunts in warmer weather. And with the built-in DWR, I might be tempted to do just that in inclement weather. With solid colors coming up, I also might want to add them to my normal everyday wear. The fit is awesome, the rise is perfectly high, and it’s going to be hard to not wear these for more than just waterfowl.
A Bit Constricting for Those of Us With … Well … Boobs
The one complaint I have about the women’s outerwear is that I wish I’d sized up. I felt constricted, mostly through my chest, wearing the outerwear. And it wasn’t entirely comfortable on the colder day in the layout blind. I found it difficult to shoulder my gun in that particular position because of this. I do have an ample chest, but I’m consistently a women’s large in outerwear. And after talking it through with our crew, the women with smaller chests didn’t have this problem.
If you do have larger boobs of your own to manage, size up for comfort in the field. I didn’t have this problem with Sitka’s big-game line, interestingly, so the issue surprised me with this one.
The jackets and bibs were fine through the hips, and without layers, each piece generally felt fine if not a bit fitted. But layers are necessary on cold waterfowl hunts, so the extra room is helpful. Just something to take into consideration.
Along with the full line, from base layers to outerwear, Sitka Gear made a swath of accessories in its Waterfowl Marsh camouflage for women.
I personally loved the Dakota Headband. It’s hard to find the balance between too tight, too loose, and ear coverage. And they manage to do just that with this piece. The gloves were really warm and comfortable but, for me, a bit too bulky for shooting. But that’s really almost any glove. I just like feeling the trigger when I’m shooting. The Dakota Beanie is fleecy and comfortable. It also has an optional ponytail holder for those of you who are into that sort of thing. And the women’s waterfowl trucker is nicely low-profile, but maybe a little too flat-brimmed for my liking.
I also got the chance to tromp around in the insulated Lacrosse AlphaBurly‘s in the Waterfowl Marsh camo. They were men’s, so a bit wide for me. But I liked the height, the traction, and the warmth. Plus, I think I could sneak some hand warmers in there on really cold days, so they might turn out to be a favorite down the line.
It’s hard not to get excited about what Sitka Gear is doing for female hunters, especially as someone who pays attention to women’s gear in the hunting industry. The brand builds a generous sizing system for all hunters, and the entire women’s line is designed by women. The brand listens to its customers and adjusts products to feedback. And it continues to push the edges of what the entirety of the brand’s line will hold for women each year.
As a woman in the hunting sphere, this is heartening. To have the opportunity to test this gear on an all-women’s hunt prior to release also shows a commitment to work with women who are a part of the industry. And the Sitka women staffers that hunted with us heard out our feedback and educated the group wholly on the product.
If you’re a lady with waterfowling ambitions, this gear was made for you and with you in mind. It’ll be hitting shelves in the fall of 2019 — just in time for this year’s waterfowl season.