If you spend any amount of time on a hunting forum, you probably are aware of the buzz with the release of the all new 2015 Sitka Gear pattern, OptiFade™ Concealment Elevated II. Along with introducing an all new camouflage pattern, Sitka Gear has released several new innovative items as well as making some updates to several of the old tried and true pieces in their lineup.
I just received my first order of the new 2015 Sitka Gear in the mail this week, and in the box was the newly updated Stratus Pant. The Stratus Pant has always been one of my go-to pieces for mid-season whitetail hunting. I’ve found it to be a very versatile piece of my whitetail arsenal. Depending on how you layer, the Stratus “suit” can be worn in temps ranging from the upper 50’s down to the lower 30’s (Fahrenheit). I wanted to take a couple of minutes to show you some of the differences and similarities between the new 2015 Elevated II version and the older version of the Stratus Pant with the now obsoleted Optifade™ Concealment Forest pattern.
Before we touch on the differences between the two versions, lets touch on what hasn’t changed. For starters, the Stratus Pants are still a 100% windproof pant with the familiar GORE WINDSTOPPER® laminate sandwiched between an outer shell and a micro-grid fleece backer interior. However, the outer shell of the Stratus series has changed this year. I’ll go into more detail on that later on. The WINDSTOPPER® laminate is great at keeping bone-chilling wind from penetrating your outer layer, yet allows moisture vapor to easily escape which keeps the wearer more comfortable in a wider range of temperatures. The pants feature the familiar thigh cargo pockets with quiet snap closures for storing gloves, cell phones, GPS, etc. when on the hunt. Along with the grippy inner waist material to help keep shirts from untucking, the built-in belt also remains in the newer version of the Stratus Pant to provide the wearer with a custom fit around the waist.
Now let’s see what has been updated/changed this year besides the obvious change in camo pattern. Once you get your hands on the new pant, the first and probably most noticeable difference is the overall weight of the pants. The newer version comes in at a slender 28 ounces which is quite a bit lighter than the older version. To achieve the weight savings, Sitka Gear changed the outer layer of the garment from its durable water-repellent (DWR) polyester shell to a lighter wet-printed micro-fleece polyester shell. Not only has this helped reduce the weight of the pant, but it has also helped quiet the pants considerably. Drawing your bow on a world-class whitetail, stalking on unsuspecting prey, or brushing up against the tree you are sitting in is now much stealthier than it was before.
In addition to the change in outer shell material, Sitka removed the grunt tube pocket from the exterior of the thigh cargo pocket on the right leg, as well as both boot gaskets to help trim away even more weight. In removing the boot gaskets (used to keep debris out of your boot if you tucked your pant legs into them), the small pocket on the inside of the left leg, which was designed to hold the tip of a longbow or recurve, is also gone. A bit of fabric holding the built-in belt on the back of the waist was also removed, although I really don’t think this helps much in terms of reducing the overall weight of the pant.
The last change was made to the entire Whitetail lineup. The new OptiFade™ Elevated II pattern. In my opinion, one of the downfalls of the previous whitetail pattern, OptiFade™ Elevated Forest, was the dark green/black color palette. Here in Ohio, early whitetail archery season begins in mid-September with the woods being filled with lush green vegetation. The all green foliage changes to bright oranges, browns, reds through Fall and by the time late season rolls around, many hardwoods have little to no leaves left. Many whitetail hunters yearned for a pattern with a more neutral color palette to help conceal them throughout the entire season. The Elevated II pattern also “helps to extend the range of engagement” as Sitka explains by opening up the pattern to help you better blend into the more open skies of late season.
My honest opinion on the updated 2015 version of the Stratus Pant? If you already have the pre-2015 version of the Stratus Pant, I’d highly recommend you look at “upgrading” your old pair to the newer version. While you may lose a few of the small features of the older version (grunt tube pocket, boot gaskets, etc.), the newer/updated version has so much more to offer the serious whitetail hunter (lighter weight, much quieter outer shell, more versatile all season camo pattern). If you don’t already own a pair of the Stratus Pants, what are you waiting for?
The Stratus Pant retails for $299 and is available in size Small and up to size 3XL with tall sizes available from size Medium thru XL. Get yours today at http://www.sitkagear.com/products/whitetail/pants-bibs/stratus-pant.
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