Keren Zucker on a September archery elk hunt.
One thing I have learned over the years of hunting and guiding is that comfort (or lack of) can make or break a trip. It doesn’t matter if you are hunting antelope in 90 degree weather or elk in -20; if your gear doesn’t keep you comfortable, you are bound to have a miserable time and risk cutting your hunting time short.Sitka Blizzard GTX Mitten - Open Country (XL)
For years, I searched for the right gear, which is not an easy thing to find considering that gear for women was and still is fairly limited. It wasn’t until Sitka came along with their women’s line that I finally found what I was looking for. A complete system of clothing that actually fits, offers enough variety to match the different seasons, types of hunting and also allows me to stay comfortable no matter what the elements throw at me.
While archery season is still roughly six months away, I wanted to share my favorite items for chasing elk in the fall well ahead of time, so you can plan out your clothing in advance!
The search for functional and comfortable hunting pants is over with this one!
The Timberline pants are one of my favorite Sitka items. Enough pockets to keep all your essentials — and I'm not talking about the small and inadequate pockets that are usually found on women’s pants. I'm talking big, deep pockets that you can actually fit things in. The zippers and buttons are quiet to use and there are six pockets in total!
The fabric on these has a lot of stretch, which makes them comfortable to hike in, sit in for long hours, ride a horse into the mountains — whatever it may be. The fabric is also fairly thick, which means you can wear them by themselves on warmer days or throw any of the base layers underneath for the cooler ones.
My favorite feature is the reinforced seat, which is waterproof — handy if you find yourself sitting on wet ground or if you need to do some butt sliding in mud or snow. They also feature reinforced knees, which are also waterproof, with optional knee pads that are great for some insulation and padding off the hard ground.
The Heavyweight Hoody is a great piece for those cold September mornings. It is a great one to wear with the Lightweight Core — or if you get extra cold — it layers great under other Sitka pieces and over any of the base layer pieces.
The low profile hood and handy built in facemask, which initially I thought was pretty silly, I've now used more times than I can count. A handy chest pocket allows you to keep any important items close by for easy access and the stretch thumb loops allow you to add or take off layers easily without having your sleeves bunch up.
The Kelvin Active Jacket is quiet and cozy, I throw this piece on after the hike in when it’s time to sit and wait for the action to start and on the hike out on cooler evenings.
Fun fact: you can layer this jacket under a windproof shell layer to add extra insulation and warmth.
Weather during archery season in Montana can be unpredictable, but you can usually count on chilly mornings and evenings and warm days. I always have a Core Lightweight as my base layer since it adds a little extra warmth when needed and, when things warm up and you need to shed a layer, the thin airy fabric is perfect in keeping you cool in the heat of the day.
Thick, durable and can withstand any rain. I carry the Cloudburst Jacket and Pant system with me on those days when you got to stick it out no matter how soggy it is out there. These pieces are not as lightweight as I would like, but due to their durability, I am willing to carry a little extra weight.
Favorite feature: the pant legs zip all the way up the side so in about 20 seconds after it starts pouring you can slip them over your pants and boots and stay dry!
The jury was out on the Mountain Jacket for a while as I was trying to decide whether this piece provided any added value to my system, but I find that I use it more and enjoy it more every year. It is lightweight enough that I don’t mind throwing it in the pack. It is also great layered over the Kelvin Active jacket as it acts as a windstopper, trapping the heat in. It will also withstand light precipitation so you can hold off on whipping out your rain jacket.
The Blizzard Mittens are my favorite Sitka item and although they may seem like overkill to some for archery season I don’t go anywhere without them. My hands get cold quickly and when they do they stop functioning, which is totally unacceptable. If I have to remedy that by means of wearing mittens in September so be it! I usually ditch the shell and just wear the liner, but if you know it’s going to be a wet one, it’s nice to have the option of the waterproof Gore-Tex shell.
If the mittens are overkill for you, the Traverse Gloves are a great runner-up glove. They fit snugly, which allows for good dexterity and the soft lining provides just the right amount of warmth for most September days.
Shooting your bow with gloves on may not be ideal (you may accidentally fire your release due to poor feel through the fabric) so I like to cut the fabric off the index finger and thumb to allow for better feel and movement in case you find yourself wearing them and having to draw your bow.