When I heard that Sitka had once again improved the Fanatic series, my first question was: how is that possible? The prior design was fantastic! It was warm, functional, and quiet, but when I received my Fanatic jacket and bibs, it was obvious Sitka's design team has taken the Fanatic system to a whole new level - starting with silence.
Two years ago, I killed a 187-inch buck in Saskatchewan. It was dead quiet and if I wasn't wearing my Fanatic gear I would have been busted. The only thing that buck heard was the last 5 inches of my arrow drawing across my rest - but by then - it was too late. Sitka understands why designing clothing for silence is so critical. So, they took an already quiet design and set out to make it even quieter.
I decided to put this claim to the test. While hunting in Iowa this past season I had a buck feeding under my stand. I deliberately brushed my Sitka Fanatic jacket. I wanted to know the buck could hear it? He never did. I don't think I would have tried this with a 180 buck but for this buck I figured - what the hell.
So how did Sitka make it quieter? According to Sitka, they did this by enhancing the Berber fleece - both in the fleece itself - and the distribution of the fleece. They measured the quietness and claim to have cut the audible engagement distance in half.
I just returned from the Midwest where we had a massive cold front and temps down to -2. Not only was it cold, it was windy!Â My hands and feet were cold - but my core was comfortable and that allowed me to hunt all day.
Sitka took a fresh look at insulation. They realized there are areas of your body that rarely get cold, and there are areas that need to be kept warm. Unlike most cold weather coats and bibs, Sitka 'mapped' their Primaloft insulation to the body. That means there's more where you need it, and less where you don't. This nets out to a quiet system that is 20% warmer than before.
Insulation is just one part of the warmth equation, stopping wind from penetrating the insulation is also critical. New this year is the addition of Gore-Tex Infinium™ with Windstopper® Technology. This is also Right and Left Fit body mapped. This is an ultra-quiet wind barrier that allows moisture to freely dissipate and dramatically increases warmth.
New Features (Jacket)
Sitka didn't just stop at making the system quiet and warmer. They added or enhanced features. My favorite change is the safety harness port. The port was introduced in the previous design, but it had one small problem; you had to disconnect to put the jacket on or off. Sitka updated the design and now you can take your jacket on or off without a disconnect.
Another new feature is that the textile and fleece are now mapped. For example, the textile fabric is mapped down the left arm to reduce contact with the bow string. I should add that the Fanatic jacket can now be ordered in right hand, or left hand. This means that for lefties, the textile will be mapped to the inside of your right arm.
The biggest complaint to the previous version was the fleece would pick up every burr, and sticker in your path. Sitka carefully listened to this feedback and incorporated a burr resistant textile by mapping it to the hem and seat of the jacket.
Some additional design updates are; ultra-quiet zippers including the main diagonal zipper, a Low-Profile Rangefinder pocket with integrated grunt tube holder, and an Insulated hand muff pocket-design with YKK zippers. They also sowed in a hand-warmer holder into the hand muff.
New Features (Bibs)
Like the jacket, the bibs are now 20% warmer, and even quieter than the previous version. They feature the same mapped insulation -where it's most needed - and also include the ultra-quiet zippers.
They feature Low-profile, adjustable, no-buckle suspenders, adjustable waist bands, and now have Gore-Tex incorporated into the lower leg fabric. This is a great new features since the bottoms would always get wet.
The bibs can be zipped 75% up the sides for venting and removal, and each leg includes two - ultra-quiet zippers that can be zipped from both the top and the bottom. Each leg now has a convenient, and open outside pocket that's perfect for a cell phone along with Large, multi-chamber cargo pockets with silent snaps. And like the jacket, the bibs have been body mapped for burr and sticker resistance on both the leg, and the gusset.
I think you'll agree that a tremendous amount of design and innovation went into the new fanatic series. Sitka welcomes feedback and is always striving to improve their products. You can tell that the Fanatic system was designed by hard-core bowhunters, for hard core bowhunters.
One final point; ultra-quality hunting clothing like Sitka's Fanatic series is not cheap. You are not going to buy this system for $300. This is high-performance, cutting edge gear with impeccable quality and should last you dozens of seasons. This is top quality stuff, and in my opinion, is the most important gear I own. Without comfort, and the ability to move quietly - the rest of my gear is pointless.
2019 is my 42nd year of bowhunting. The hard-core guys remember the old days when our clothing sucked. It was cold, wet and noisy. Nowhere has technology transformed hunting more than outdoor clothing, and Sitka products continue to lead that transformation.
Pat's 30 Degree System
For a 30 degree day I am going to be using a core lightweight bottoms (camo does not matter) and a core lightweight hoody in Elevated 2. The hoody is important since I also use the hood and integrated facemask - which I absolutely love.
If it's windy I will add a Celsius midi jacket and if it's calm I add just a fanatic vest.
The final layer is the fanatic bibs and fanatic jacket itself.
Starting at the bottom. For footwear I start with a lightweight wool/synthetic blend sock followed by a mid-weight boot in the 800-1500 gram range. I really like the Alphaburly Pro by LaCrosse which also comes in Optifade Elevated II.
Since my hands are going to spend 90% of the day in my fanatic hand-warmer pouch, I typically go light with a simple Fanatic Glove. This glove gives me just enough insulation while leaving my thumb and index fingers free for phone use.
Topping off my system is either a simple Sitka Cap or beanie.