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Product Reviews

Sitka Stratus Jacket and Bibs [PRODUCT REVIEW]

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PROS: Exceptional cut of fabrics for minimal bulk and limited fabric-on-fabric noise, functional with pockets in all the right places, warm liner with GORE Windstopper to prevent wind from taking body heat, integrated hood, GORE Optifade Forest concealment

CONS: I found the Stratus fabric to have a slight velcro noise when I leaned back in my treestand against the bark of a tree and then went to stand up (I spoke with Jeff Simpson, Sitka’s Midwest Manager, about this at the 2011 ATA Show and he showed me the updated Stratus Jacket and Bibs which are now made with a new fabric that eliminates this noise issue)

MSRP
Stratus Jacket $249
Stratus Bibs $229

Well it’s been nearly two months since my trip down to the GORE facilities in Maryland where I learned about the science behind GORE Optifade concealment and did some field testing with a set of Sitka gear that included the Stratus Jacket and Bibs.

The clothing I was given to field test by Sitka was like nothing else I had ever worn previously. I didn’t even know that my old hunting clothes were bulky and not designed with the bowhunter in mind. Sitka takes their gear seriously and there is a reason they make “specialized wear and equipment.” The first time you put a piece of Sitka gear on you’ll instantly understand what all the rave is about.

When I first tried on my Sitka Stratus Jacket in size Large I realized that this clothing was designed and cut with minimal excess fabric. This made for a more fitted garment and I had to exchange my Large for an Xtra-Large (for reference, I’m 6′ 1″ and 215 lbs). The same pattern seems to follow throughout Sitka’s outerwear line so I would suggest going one size up with outer wear. Base layers seem to fit fine in your standards size. Try before you buy to see what fits you best.

The Stratus Jacket is a little longer than your standard jacket and sits in length between a normal jacket and a parka. This is especially nice when you’re wearing pants instead of bibs as it helps cut down on any heat escaping through the back. The GORE Windstopper is worth its weight in gold when it comes to hunting on a windy day. The winds can blow all they want, but they won’t cut through the Stratus Jacket and that keeps you focused on hunting instead of how cold the wind is.

I found the adjustable cuffs on the Stratus Jacket very comfortable, but again they’re fitted so don’t expect to get your hand through them with your release on. You’ll have to put your arm through the jacket first and then put your release on.

I really like the fact that there is a collar and a hood on the Stratus Jacket. This keeps you warm and when the wind pics up or a light rain starts just pull the hood over and you’ll stay warm and dry. There is also a large chest pocket to keep gear close at hand and movement to a minimum.

The Stratus Jacket has a soft and quiet feel to it, but when I pulled away from the tree to stand up I noticed a Velcro like sound as the fibers of the Stratus Jacket stuck to the tree and were ripped off – not something you can get away with when you’re hunting weary whitetails. I raised my concerns about this with Jeff Simpson, Sitka’s Midwest Manager, and he said that the Stratus Jacket and Bibs have been updated for 2011 and are now made with a different fabric that eliminates the problem.

During the course of the season I hunted in my Stratus Jacket from temperatures anywhere from 50 degrees down to 14 degrees. This is a good mid-season jacket for hunting whitetails and I was most comfortable when the temps ranged from the 30s to the low 50s. When the temperatures dropped into the teens I was cold, even when I layered up with my Core Zip-T, Traverse Zip-T and Kelvin Vest.

The Stratus Bibs are the perfect compliment to the Stratus Jacket. Personally, I prefer to hunt in bibs over pants, especially during the late season. I find them more comfortable and warmer.

The Stratus Bibs have the same soft lining as the Stratus Jacket and GORE Windstopper to keep the wind from stealing precious body heat. The shoulder straps are easy to get on and off and have a rubberized grip on the underside of them so the straps don’t slip off your shoulder.

A large chest pocket is perfect for storing your hunting license, a game call, or any other accessories you might have. The Stratus Bibs have lined pockets on each side and a zip fly for when nature calls. You’ll also find two cargo pockets on the Stratus Bibs, but it’s not until your sitting on your treestand and you reach for something in the cargo pocket that you’ll really appreciate the side zipper pockets. When you’re sitting down the zipper is on the top which allows go in and out of the pocket without having to worry about anything falling out of the side and dropping 20 feet below your treestand.

If you wear a big pair of rubber boots like I do then you’ll also find the side zippers on the legs useful. I would have liked to see the zippers go up to the knee, but the zippers go up high enough to allow you to get the bibs around your boots and easily zip them back down.

Overall I was very impressed with the Stratus Jacket and Bibs from Sitka. I was equally impressed by the GORE Optifade Forest, which is designed specifically for deer hunting from a treestand. Time and time again the Optifade Forest has deer looking right through me instead of at me. I’m excited to see what Sitka comes out with in the future and I know I’ll be wearing my Sitka gear for many years to come.

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Product Reviews

Glider Gloves for Bowhunting Deer [PRODUCT REVIEW]

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PROS: touch screen smartphones (tested on iPhone) function with high degree of accuracy, comfortable lightweight material, long cuffs, 10 finger touch screen capability

CONS: fit was slightly off, fingers were a bit short on my pair, not durable enough for use as an active hunting glove, grip material on glove palm creates torque on the bow hand

MSRP: $24.99

Last season I was contacted by Glider Gloves to field test a pair of their Urban Style Touchscreen Gloves. I had previously reviewed a pair of similar gloves by a company called A glove so I welcomed the chance to review these.

Compared to the Agloves, these gloves were higher quality and had a much longer cuff which is something I always look for in a hunting glove. As social media becomes a larger part of hunting and a growing part of NYBowhunter.com I welcomed the chance to be able to easily send updated to my Facebook fans from the tree stand. The Glider Gloves made it easy to text and check email while keeping my hands warm and concealed from the eyes of any nearby whitetail deer.

One thing bowhunters should note is the gloves have a grip on the palm. Some bowhunters, including myself, prefer not to have any grip on their gloves as it helps create torque which lead to less accurate shooting.

These gloves are great at what they were designed to do – be a comfortable touchscreen glove. However, for hunting purposes, you have to remember what these gloves were designed to do. If you plan on wearing these in the field and climbing up to your tree stand day in and day out you’ll rip through these knit gloves in about a month. If you want these gloves to last as a hunting glove you’re better off waiting until you’re settled in the stand before putting them on so there’s less wear and tear on the gloves.

Overall, I’d recommend these gloves if you’re looking for a true touch screen glove. They’re way nicer to use than similar hunting gloves with a silver pad on the pointer finger and thumb. Just remember, they’re not made for hunting, so don’t expect them to last you for several seasons if you’re rough with them.

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Product Reviews

Fuse Mossy Oak Rugged iPhone Case [PRODUCT REVIEW]

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Last spring I was contacted by Paul at Fuse to try out a new case they had for the iPhone called the Mossy Oak Rugged Orange iPhone 4/4S Shell Case. It combined my two favorite colors – hunter orange and camo – so I gave the case a try.

The case is made up of an inner soft rubber case that acts as a shock absorber and a rigid polycarbonate frame on the out side for added protection.

What I really liked about this case was the fact that it wasn’t covered in a sticky rubber like some of my other iPhone cases so it didn’t pull my pocket out of my pants every time I reached for my phone. Another nice feature is the size of the case, it’s not oversized so you still feel like you have a slim smartphone.

My only complaint about the case was that it didn’t come with a screen protector. It wasn’t hard to find a stick on screen protector online, but it would have been nice if the case included one for 360 degree protection.

This iPhone case travelled with me on scouting missions, spring turkey hunts and fall deer hunts. I really liked the phone case and never had any issues with it coming apart on me, in fact I was really impressed on how well it stayed together. One of my previous cases from another manufacturer used to come apart all the time, but the Fuse case just stayed together.

So how did the case hold up? My phone survived a few drops off of the counter top in my kitchen, it slipped out of my hand and dropped on the floor outside several times and I dropped it in the woods more times than I care to remember, but the case took the brunt of all of the hits and the phone didn’t get a scratch. Had I dropped the phone out of the tree stand it would have been a different story, I think only a fully enclosed phone case would really protect in the event of a 20 foot fall (which I’ve done with a previous case and my phone survived).

Overall this is a quality case for the iPhone. Add a clear antiglare screen protector and you’re set. If you’re looking for a stylish phone case give the Fuse Mossy Oak Rugged iPhone Case a try.

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Product Reviews

Bowtech Releases its First Carbon Riser Bow the Carbon Knight

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Bowtech Archery has released it’s first carbon riser bow – the Carbon Knight. Following the lead of Hoyt with the Carbon Matrix back in 2010, the new Carbon Knight from Bowtech weighs in at just 3.2 pounds (compared to 3.6 pounds for Hoyt’s Carbon Element G3).

Most manufacturers launch their new bows in the early fall (Bowtech usually launches their new bows at the ATA Show), but this one was “just too good to hold any longer,” says Samuel Coalson, Director of Marketing for Bowtech.

The Carbon Knight is said to have a smooth draw and plenty of speed at 330 feet per second. The Carbon Knight features Bowtech’s binary cam design, the Knight Riser constructed from durable carbon, a 7-inch brace height for forgiveness and a 32-inch axle-to-axle length. Draw lengths range from 26.5″ to 30.5″ and draw weights from 50 to 70 pounds in ten pound increments.

The bow is available in Black Ops and retails for $849 (Hoyt’s carbon bows are in the $1,200 range).

The new Carbon Knight definitely looks like an interesting bow and it’s a bow I’d like to try out and compare to some of the other carbon bows currently on the market. If you get a chance to shoot one leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

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