Learn the whitetail system pieces you really need from Sitka to make the perfect Midwest system.
Over the years, I've always purchased lower-quality and cheaper clothing, and while it's more cost-effective up front, gear wasn't as applicable. Last season, still very budget-conscious, I put together a great whitetail system for any hardcore Midwest whitetail buck hunter.
When I was shopping for specific pieces to cobble together the most budget-friendly Sitka system I could, I started with their Optifade pattern. It's lighter than most traditional concealment camouflage to the human eye, but the Gore-Tex carefully created this pattern for whitetail hunting in elevated scenarios.
Now, my system probably isn't something Sitka would suggest verbatim, but from my personal experience and limited budget, this is the way to go.
Let's break down my favorites:
1. Stratus Jacket
This jacket is my piece and should be the pinnacle of most bowhunters' systems. The Stratus Jacket uses built-in GORE® WINDSTOPPER® technology to keep the wind ripping through to your core on a crisp fall day. The jacket is lightweight enough for early season hunting and perfect for layering more garments.
2. Fanatic Vest
The Fanatic Vest coupled with the Stratus Jacket is a duo warm enough to use deep into the late season. The vest has Primaloft insulation and whitetail-specific pockets for grunt tubes and rangefinders. The deep hand pockets are good enough to substitute the hand muff, in my opinion.
The Fanatic jacket is also a great option in lieu of this combo and would do very well in cold-weather scenarios. However, if that would be too warm, they offer the Fanatic Lite jacket, which is geared as a mid-weight piece.
The beauty of the Stratus Jacket and Fanatic Vest is the fact it allows for layering and gives more versatility.
3. Status Bibs
The Stratus Bibs are new for 2018, so I haven't used them in the field yet. They offer all the great aspects of the Stratus Jacket, but in bib form. Unlike most bibs, they have silent buckles and have silent-snap cargo pockets positioned strategically for a whitetail hunter. Last season I used the Fanatic Lite bibs and was very happy with them. Although they didn't have the WINDSTOPPER® membrane, they were almost silent and comfortable.
4. Tool Box
The Tool Box is the best daypack for whitetail hunters when it comes down to key features and price. The design and ease of use are ideal for still hunting. Although the Tool Bucket allows for portable stand integration, I found the Tool Box to still be a workhorse. The packs material is very silent and has strategic pockets for hanging it in the treestand. I never leave this pack at home when it comes to chasing whitetails.
5. Merino Base Layers
Sitka has manufactured great base layers for a long time, but this year, they released new Merino Baselayers. I purchased the Merino Core Lightweight set. I can't say how well they perform, but given the track record of the majority of their products, I have high expectations. This line offers a high heat-to-weight ratio and has natural odor control.
They also offer Permanent Polygiene® Odor Control Technology. It neutralizes odor by stopping the growth of odor-causing bacteria and fungi.
If you're a hunter who spends a lot of time in the stand during the early season, I would suggest exploring the new ESW line. It was specifically designed for warm weather which includes moisture wicking technology and breathable mesh.
The Sitka whitetail line can be a little intimidating, but with this system, you should be covered for most of the year. At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference, and from my experience, these garments make for a fantastic whitetail system.