I’ve been bowhunting for 40 years and I’ve tried just about every clothing combination ever designed. The system below is (hands down) the best combination I have ever used. It will work on those warm afternoon hunts in early October, and it will work on those chilly, late November mornings. I’m going to describe the entire system - from base layers to outer layers including head and hands. While this clothing system is not cheap, you only have to buy it once.
Note: This entire system is made up of Sitka gear. And works inside a wide temperature range from 28 degrees to 68 degrees (average is 48). Anything beyond that range may require different components.
Starting at base layers, my system includes Sitka’s new Merino Wool bottoms. Merino is excellent for moisture wicking, warmth, and minimizing human odor. Sitka’s new Merino base layer line comes in 3 weight classes: 120 for warm days, 220 for mid temp days, and 330 for cold days. My personal system uses the 220’s for the bottoms to give me a good blend for both warm and cold days on my legs. Color doesn't matter.
The next component to the base layer is the Merino Wool Top with the hood. for this item I use the 330 heavy weight class and I will typically go with the subalpine color. Let me explain; the hooded 330 base layer top can be used standalone when the weather really heats up. Lots of days in October can hit 70+ degrees so this 330 becomes my only outer layer. I’m also typically hunting early season in trees with autumn leaves still holding on - so the subalpine color is a better match.
By far, the most comfortable, quiet and well-designed item for deer hunting is Sitka’s Stratus system. New for 2023 Sitka now offers stratus in the Subalpine pattern as well as their popular Optifade Elevated II pattern.
There’s two options for the bottoms: pants and bibs. I own the bibs and love them, but only when it’s getting below 28. The Stratus pants are more versatile since they work for both warm and cold days. The camo pattern is entirely your choice based on hunting conditions. The Stratus jacket rounds out the outer layer and is designed for bowhunters with a tether port in back, well designed pockets, an ultra quiet brushed fleece finish, and a removable hood.
Gloves and head wear
For my head I’m wearing a ball cap 90% of the time over the hood from my 330-base layer top. Some guys prefer the beanie so you can substitute that. For gloves, I always use the Equinox Guard Glove - even during the late season. It gives me far better control over my release and when it’s cold, I’ll just slip my hands into my Stratus jacket or if it's really cold I'll use a hand muff.
For this system you can expect to pay around a thousand dollars.
Why I think this is the best combination
Last year I used this system from October 1st, until February 5th in Northeast Ohio. The only thing I added was a Stratus Vest, and I used stratus bibs (instead of pants) for days below 25 degrees. Your temperature tolerance may be different, but I believe this core system will be ideal for 90% of bowhunters, even in far south and far northern states.
Some suggestions for tweaking this system are to add a Stratus Vest, and Stratus Bibs for those cold days. For warmer days you can add an Ambient jacket, and change the weight class on the Merino tops and bottoms. If you hunt in Canada for the far north, the Sitka Fanatic is a great investment.
Sitka gear not only makes a great product, a lot of thought goes into the entire system with a lot of options and components. You can find this entire system for sale at your Sikta Dealer or their website at www.sitkagear.com