One thing that you will hear most women hunters complain about is the available options for hunting clothing. I realize that as women we are a small subset of the hunting community and that while it is coming, often spending a good deal of money on clothing that doesn’t fit is frustrating. The quest for hunting clothing that fits is like a roller coaster, excitement for the prospect of new companies and disappointment when it doesn’t fit. Most companies think that small means short, so for someone who wears a small with a 32-inch inseam and 31-inch sleeve length, I am often disappointed. I had been hearing great things about the Sitka women’s clothing line, so I was very excited to win a Pro Deal discount at the Alpha Bowhunting Challenge. This deal is 40% off anything in the Sitka line in my size. The first thing I planned to buy was rain gear. Sitka describes their Cloudburst rain system as a GORE-TEX membrane having the following features:
- Microtaped and laser cut seams
- 100% waterproof and breathable
- Welded watertight zippers
- Pit zips meshed with hand pocket zippers
- Zippered chest pockets
I wanted new rain gear for many reasons, but it really comes down to this, when hunting it nearly always rains or snows or blows. I have put the Sitka Cloudburst rain system through the ringer and have not found it lacking. I have worn it in the rain, wind, mud, snow, marsh, mountain, and plain. In Sitka gear, I wear an XS, but knowing that I typically layer, I went with the S so that I would have room. It is a little large for me, but I can put it on over almost any of my other layers if I get caught out in some precipitation or wind. The sleeve and pant lengths are both a great fit.
The first time I wore the Cloudburst system, I was camping with some friends up in the mountains. It was about 40 degrees at night and I slept in my hammock. With a little wind and rain, I was impressed with how comfortable I was sleeping out in the elements.
I wore my Sitka Cloudburst jacket nearly every morning during the fall mule deer archery season to insulate my base layers. The last weekend of Colorado mule deer hunting was windy and rainy, so I was finally able to put my rain gear to the test. I stayed comfortable in my rain gear as I walked through wet waist high sage brush and might have taken a slide down the hill. I might have been muddy and frustrated, but I was lucky to be warm and dry, unlike many of the other people I ran into out hunting that weekend. The GORE-TEX membrane and welded seams also worked well to block the wind as I sat atop a hill glassing bucks.
The zippers and material are both exceptionally quiet, I was caught during a stalk on a mule deer buck as I tried to find his distance, I was able to slowly unzip my pocket and put my range finder inside as we played hide and seek at 60 yards in an aspen forest. The Optifade Subalpine pattern blended right in as he decided I was part of the landscape until I tried to move closer several times ending with him walking away leaving me with no shot opportunity, but the ability to stalk him another day.
I was also happy to see how well this camouflage pattern blended with the swamp when I went to hunt Sika deer in the swamps of the Chesapeake Bay. Such a versatile pattern is what hunters like me want as we don’t have to purchase a new system for every location we go. I also recently used the rain gear as a wind blocking layer under my heavy weight cold gear on a mountain lion hunt and then took it off to go check out a potential lion kill spot on the top of a windswept mountain. At 20 degrees with a 20-mph gust, I only felt the wind on my face.
The Sitka Cloudburst rain system has become one of my go to hunting pieces, it is always in my backpack or the back of my car. At just under 2 pounds total weight for both pieces, this system is perfect for a backpack hunter or day tripper. Whether lying at the top of a hill, sitting in a treestand or trudging through a variety of landscapes the pattern and the material lend to successful hunting and outdoor experiences. You can find the Cloudburst Rain System at Cabelas.com or purchase directly from SitkaGear.com. The jacket is $329 and the pants are $269.