Sitka Gear Fanatic System Review by Edward Gramza IV
Sitka Gear is known throughout the hunting community as the marker of the most technical and toughest gear on the market. They prefer to have their camo clothing known as gear because of the technology that is incorporated in every piece they sell. Everything is designed with a specific function in mind and is tested extensively before sold to consumers.
The way the product designers think about making gear is designing a system. They look at how certain pieces perform together to keep you comfortable while in the field. As a consumer, whatever your system is might be best for you but not for the next person. That is the beauty of how all of the gear works together. There really is no right or wrong answer when designing the system you will use.
As an avid Wisconsin bow hunter, my go to “system” is the Fanatic. Everything about each piece is thought out about how it will benefit a bow hunter sitting in a treestand for hours on end. They tested and retested every aspect of the gear to make sure it will function flawlessly when you need is most. As a member of the Sitka Whitetail Ambassador Team, our input is used to help incorporate new features into the gear or even to eliminate something that just isn’t needed.
The Fanatic System consists of a few key pieces in the whitetail line. When Sitka came out with their Elevated II pattern in 2015, they completely redesigned every single piece of gear in the whitetail lineup. They came out with brand new items and changed old favorites by using new textiles to help make them quieter, warmer, and more functional. One of their new pieces and arguably one of their most popular right now is the Fanatic Hoody.
The Fanatic Hoody is the most technical hooded sweatshirt you will ever see. The hoody features body mapped fleece insulation to act as an insulating layer when the temperature starts to drop. The athletic cut helps to keep it form fitting and free from obstructing your shot at the moment of truth. It features Polygiene which is an odor eliminating system built into the fabric. Also featured are an integrated face mask for maximum concealment and flip over hand mitts to keep your hands warm if you prefer to not wear gloves. Unless it is extremely warm outside, this is a piece of gear that I always have on or in my pack.
Next up in the line are the Fanatic Bibs. As with every other piece of Sitka Gear, this has a lot of thought out features that will help to keep you in the tree longer which in turn gives you more opportunity to punch a tag. These bibs feature Primaloft Silver insulation to keep you warm and GORE Windstopper to help keep the chill out. The face is a thick and extremely quiet Berber fleece. The legs feature full length zippers making is easier to get the bibs on and off in the field without having to take your boots off. The knees are articulated so that they bibs are more comfortable and don’t bunch up while in a seated position. With low-bulk seams in the legs, rubber boots will easily fit over the bibs. These bibs are extremely warm and should be worn when the mercury starts to dip.
Arguably the shining star of the Fanatic line is the jacket. Like the bibs, the Fanatic Jacket features the same Berber fleece outer layer along with body mapped Primaloft Silver insulation. The jacket also sports the GORE Windstopper membrane which keeps the wind out and heat in. All of these features aren’t what sets this jacket apart from the competition. The Fanatic Jacket has an innovative diagonal zipper that allows Sitka to pack this jacket with the features that bow hunters want. These features include a grunt tube pocket and a range finder pocket on the chest of the jacket. This allows the hunter to easily access both items with minimal movement. On the back of the jacket is a pass-through for a safety harness strap. This is a feature on all whitetail outer layers. However, the feature that is the favorite of most hunters is the built in insulated hand muff. This is only achieved because of the diagonal zipper. Every part of your upper body can stay warm with this one jacket.
In 2016, Sitka released the Fanatic Vest. All of the same features as the jacket, minus the grunt tube pocket, but in a vest form. One of the biggest complaints Sitka hears about the Fanatic line is the amount of burrs and other things the garments collect while in the woods. Yes, the Berber fleece does like to collect anything and everything that touches it. However, these outer layers are not something that I would recommend wearing into the stand. The fact that they are so warm, you will want to have them in your pack and put them on once you get to the stand. Depending on your hike in, you might overheat and sweat which will cause you to get cold quicker.
One other complaint that is often thrown out is the price of the gear. The bibs and jacket will run you just shy of $800. Yes that is a lot of money for two pieces of gear. But ask yourself this question. How many pants and jackets have you gone through over the years? If you are like most hunters the answer is probably, many. This stuff is built to last a long time and will do just that. Also consider this, how much is your comfort worth when you are in the field doing what you love? If you aren’t in the stand because you are cold you might miss out on the chance to harvest that mature buck you have been waiting on all season.
Sitka takes building gear very seriously. The gear is tested in every condition you can possibly think of before it shows up on a retailors rack. You can rest assured that you are buying the toughest gear on the planet. If you are a serious bow hunter and spend every minute in the woods that you can, you owe it to yourself to give Sitka Gear a try. And if you are like me and hunt in the upper Midwest where the best tine to hunt is when the temps start to drop, the Fanatic series gear is a must.