As I sit here on the cusp of winter I thought it would be good to get a review out on some items that may just make your late season hunt bearable. On top of their outstanding clothing lines Sitka offers a couple other items that I really wanted to try out and see if they could be difference makers. So I procured a Ballistic Beanie, Incinerator Muff, and Neck Gaiter for my late season whitetail hunts here in the Midwest.
First off, as I noted, I wanted to test these items for use during the later seasons. With that being said, after utilizing them, before I jump into the individual reviews, these are not for cool weather. They are are for COLD weather hunts. Which is what I wanted, but feel I needed to be clear as they proved to be extremely warm. Too warm if it was much above freezing which, I find to be fantastic because I hate being cold.
Incinerator Muff (Optifade Elevated)
I have struggled with cold hands throughout most of my hunting life. I have no idea what it is, but there wasn’t a pair of gloves or mittens that could do the trick. Hand warmers helped but until I got my first muff nothing worked. The old muff I had was OK and kept me on stand longer than I would have been able to stay without many a time, but honestly, my hands till got cold. One day while perusing Sitka’s website I noticed they offered the Incinerator Muff and my interest was piqued.
Further investigation showed that the muff was fabricated from Gore-Tex Infinium with Windstopper. If this sounds familiar, its the same material used in the Fanatic Series which I’ve had nothing but great experiences with. To top it off the muff is stuffed with Primaloft insulation which will continue to offer warmth even if wet. Weighing in at less than a pound (15.2 oz) I didn’t even notice it in my pack on my way to the stand.
Two other notable features the Incinerator Muff offers is an external zipper compartment for storing and small items you would want immediate access too and internal hand warmer pockets. The internal hand warmer pockets are nice to keep them in place. That way when you pull your hands out at that key moment or contort into get the shot angle, they won’t fall out. One thing I will note about my trial is that I never had to use hand warmers. It was 19 degrees when I took the pic below. I’m not sure what the wind chill was but even without using chemical warmers my hands stayed quite comfortable and warm.
Ballistic Beanie (Blaze Orange)
During a bow hunt in late October this year with a run of the mill beanie, as I patiently waited for daylight, I realized my head was getting cold. As the morning progressed it kept getting colder so I pulled my hood over my head. While this helped retain some body heat, my peripheral vision was hindered and I couldn’t hear anything. When I saw the Berber lined, PrimaLoft insulated Ballistic Beanie I had to give it shot.
As previously mentioned the Ballistic Beanie is fleece lined and quite comfortable. The warmth provided was exceptional. I can say with certainty, it’s the coziest hat I’ve ever worn. On top of the comfort and warmth the crew at Sitka went ahead and gave it a water repellent finish to help ward off any falling moisture. The other thing that stood out to me, and I give Sitka some serious credit for all the small things they do with their designs, is the material the back panel of the hat is made of. Basically, they took the portion of the hat that would be in contact with the collar or hood of your outer layer and used a softer, quieter material than the water repellant finish on the more exposed portions of the hat. Since your head is usually on a constant swivel, changing this small section of material helped to keep my noise level down.
For reference, I wear a 7 1/8 fitted hat. The Ballistic fit me fine but certainly had some additional room left for those who may have a larger noggin.
Neck Gaiter (Optifade Elevated)
The last piece of frigid weather gear I’ll highlight is Sitka’s neck gaiter. One of the quickest ways for a chill to set in is letting the wind blow across your neck and down your back. Once that chill is upon you, good luck getting rid of it. I started using a basic fleece gator years ago but again, after seeing the double thick, high pile fleece used in Sitka’s gaiter I had to know if it really was a game changer when the temps become icy and raw. In short, it is. I not only used the gaiter on my trip to Michigan but continued to use it upon returning back to Indiana.
If you haven’t ever tried a gator when the temperatures plummet you’re missing out. Furthermore, if you’re using one that you grabbed off the shelf at the local Wal-Mart you’re doing yourself a disservice by not upgrading to Sitka’s that I was able to trial in Mid to Late November and into a Midwestern December. The fit was not tight but snug enough to seal out the wind. It also tucked into the collar of my coat and remained there for the duration of my sits.
In summary, if you’re hunts will involve temps below the freezing mark and you dislike being chilled, then any or all of these three pieces are for you. Sure, you’ve got your old standbys that have gotten you by for years, but dang it felt good not to be cold this year!
Disclaimer: I received all three pieces at no cost in return for a fair and honest review. I have held up my end of the bargain to the best of my abilities. As you can see from the pics I indeed used them on my hunts and quite frankly, as my post would lead one to believe, I was extremely happy with all the pieces and would gladly spend my own money on them.