“Making clothing into gear”
If you are a serious hunter, you likely know the name Sitka Gear. Sitka Gear is the pinnacle of high quality, innovative performance outerwear for serious outdoorsman. The gear they make is intended to keep hunters dry and comfortable in austere environments and extreme ranges of conditions. Think high-elevation mountainous big-game hunting. Therefore the materials they use in their products has to be breathable, wind blocking, waterproof and insulating, as well as allow full range of motion. Thats a lot of properties to fit into one piece of gear, which is why their products are very high quality, high tech and priced accordingly.
Spotter Up had the opportunity to review some Sitka Gear this Spring, and i was lucky enough to receive a new product called the Vapor SD Jacket. SD stands for “Shake Dry”, and this jacket is intended to be a super-packable and breathable top layer that you can throw on over your other gear to keep you dry in a pinch, whether you are perched on a mountaintop or running on a trail. When the rain clears up the jacket lives up to its namesake and you can give it a good shake to throw all the water off the surface and repack it. You can see me test out this out in the video below.
Sitka Gears website states:
“The Vapor SD Jacket is a featherweight, ultra-packable waterproof jacket for training in unpredictable conditions. The cutting-edge GORE-TEX® SHAKEDRY™ technology creates a permanent beading surface and removes the face fabric of the garment, resulting in an incredibly lightweight and 100% waterproof jacket. The Vapor easily fits in a pocket to provide peace of mind on long runs and exposed ridge traverses”
GORE-TEX® SHAKEDRY™ TECHNOLOGY WITH PERMANENT BEADING SURFACE
The lightest, most breathable, windproof, waterproof, packable GORE-TEX® product eliminates the need for a face fabric, so there’s nothing to absorb water and nothing to weigh you down.
ZIP-SECURE HAND POCKETS
Keep small essentials close and safe even when moving fast and light.
3-PANEL ADJUSTABLE HOOD
The three panel adjustable hood fits close without sacrificing mobility or peripheral vision.
LYCRA®-BOUND CUFFS AND HOOD
Additional stretch at the cuffs and hood to seal out drafts and protect core heat
The Gore-Tex technology is explained in detail here, along with the other high tech material properties used in Sitka Gear products, and i suggest clicking the link and checking it out, its worth a look. SCIENCE!
The review – believe the hype!
When i first pulled the Sitka Gear Vapor SD Jacket out of the box i was completely shocked at how ultra-lightweight it was. It felt like it was lighter than air and was going to float away. I balled up the jacket (easily) until it was the size of a softball and weighed it: 6.0oz total.
I am 5’8″ and 185 lbs and the size L jacket fit me perfectly; not too loose but plenty of room to fit over several layers, and not too long but falling just below my pants pockets. The stretchiness of the material and cut of the panels make the jacket very comfortable, i felt no limits on my range of motion whatsoever and would be comfortable climbing a rock-face or drawing a bow. The three-panel hood has an easy to use lockable cinch-tab and when cinched down tight will freely move with your head so your vision and range of motion is not impaired.
If you see the GORE-TEX logo then you understand that you are getting a quality waterproofing product. To meet the requirements of using the GORE-TEX logo a product has to meet certain standards, and if it says that its waterproof, then its water-PROOF. There is a big difference between being water-resistant and being water-proof. The main zipper and pocket zippers work smoothly and are sealed to keep them waterproof. The seams are sealed as well and their are no ways for water to leak through the membrane at any point. The cuffs and hood have elastic around the edges so that the jacket can keep the elements out and allow the use of hats or gloves. I noticed while wearing this jacket on windy days that it does cut down the wind nicely, however it is only wind-resistant, not fully wind-proof. Yes thats a thing that is available with other Sitka Gear products.
I was frankly amazed at the ability of this jacket to feel like i was wearing nothing at all. On cooler days it broke the wind and retained my body heat, and on warmer days it allowed me to stay active and not get soaked with sweat. The breathability of this jacket is impressive, but even more so when you take into consideration the water beading and 100% waterproof properties; the jacket is basically magic. Charmed Coat of GORE-TEX SHAKEDRY: +10 to dryness, +5 warmth, +5 to Mobility, +15 to Style.
The material is inherently stretchy and ultra thin, and you might assume that its prone to tearing or punctures, but this is not the case at all. The single layer of material is strong enough to resist snags and scratches, and can take a good amount of force and stretching before it begins to show signs of abuse. The material feels amazingly soft as well, and conforms to your body in way that almost makes it seem tailored. The subtle shine of the material adds to the appearance of quality in a way that i can’t really articulate, but when you lay eyes on it you can just tell its a quality jacket.
Because of the nature of the GORE-TEX SHAKEDRY material, the logos may peel off with use. This shouldn’t matter to anyone buying this jacket for its real purpose, but if that is important to you its something to note.
To be clear, this is one of the most high-tech and impressive pieces of clothing I’ve ever owned. The extreme lightweight and packability of this jacket means it will always be with me on every trip i take going forward. There is no reason not to stuff this into a bag or pocket, since its useful in almost any climate (except perhaps the Atacama Desert).
I was hoping to take the jacket out into the wild for this review, but alas, i live in an urban area and spend most of my weekends on the range, so the concrete jungle will have to suffice. I did manage to take some rainy day trips around the area to T&E several products at the same time, and to shoot a couple matches with this jacket on, which is what i based my experiences on for this review.
Overall, this jacket will get a rating of 5/5 for me on all accounts. I know people will scoff at the $299 price tag for such a lightweight item, but if you spend much time outdoors for work, or for recreation, or are an avid hunter/backpacker, then you will understand what a difference high quality gear makes when the elements are out to get you. In certain environments the difference is a matter of life and death; for instance at high elevations where the weather changes rapidly, the oxygen is lower and your own perspiration can kill you. The company has to pay more for the materials, and it costs more to make the final product. The old saying is true in this case at least, you get what you pay for. The amount of scientific development that clearly went into this jacket is enough to make me a huge fan of Sitka Gear, and i very much look forward to acquiring more of their gear in the future. This stuff is downright futuristic.
Comfort (if applicable): 5
Overall Rating: 5/5
The scale is defined as:
Poor/unacceptable (1): Worse than expected, or desirable; of a low or inferior standard or quality.
Fair (2): In conformity with reasonable expectations, but in comparison to competitors is may be deficient
Average (3): Common item; item neither lacks from or is superior than a competitors item.
Good (4): The item is desirable and has qualities that excel in comparison to a competitors item
Excellent (5): Outstanding, possesses superior quality; remarkably good
I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer via Spotter Up so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.
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