By Josh Kirchner

Sitka gear on BlackOvis

If you are not utilizing a layering system for western hunting, you are severely missing out on a way more efficient way of doing things. For the 2024 hunting season, I’ve put together a solid layering system from Sitka Gear that is going to get me through I’d say 95% of the year. I say that because there might be some specialty items I bring in here and there as the weather changes. Things like puffy pants, base layer bottoms, or switching out my insulation layer for a thicker insulation layer.

The foundation of what I’m going to lay out you can take with you anywhere and build upon it or take things away given each specific situation. So, let’s get into it.


Intercept pant by Sitka

Equinox Guard Pants

The biggest thing on my mind during spring hunting season besides black bears are ticks. Sitka made the Equinox Guard pant with those little buggers in mind and infused a permethrin treatment to last the life of the product. With that, there are also built-in gaiters to be worn underneath your socks. This essentially creates a shield so nothing can crawl up your pant legs whether you’re glassing for bears or waiting on that tom to strut into your setup. Then there are the heat dumps. They are netted, so you can shed heat when hiking, all the while keeping the creepy crawlies out of your downstairs.

Intercept Pants

If it’s not springtime, I’m wearing the Intercept pants. This pant hits on all fronts for me as far as spot and stalk bowhunting is concerned. From the non-intrusive knee pads for crawling into archery range to the quiet material and built-in heat dumps. They’re also durable. I’ve drug these right through the rugged Arizona desert for an entire season with no holes. Sitka nailed it with this piece and I daresay it may be my favorite hunting pants I’ve worn.

Base Layers

Sitka core merino

Equinox Guard Hoody

The Equinox Guard Hoody is a great companion to the Equinox Guard Pants. Just like the pants Sitka infuses a lifetime permethrin treatment. This is a quarter-zip synthetic piece. It’s going to dry extremely fast and will be durable. Under the hood, you’ll find a built-in mesh facemask to help with concealment or keeping the mosquitoes at bay. You’ll also find thumbholes in the sleeves to help with the same. I find these handy to prevent my hands from getting sunburnt while glassing.

Core Merino 120

Aside from springtime, the Core Merino 120 will be on me throughout the entire season. Merino is a phenomenal antimicrobial material that is not only comfortable but will also keep the stench down as the days progress. With the core Merino, you get a built-in face mask, hood, and thumb holes. This piece has been surprisingly durable for me given how soft and fine the material feels. Mine has zero holes in it post-desert hunts.


Sitka jackets on BlackOvis

Ambient 100 Hooded Jacket

No matter the time of year, the Ambient 100 Hooded Jacket is something I will have either on me or in my backpack. The Ambient Jacket is a full zip piece with a hood and pockets for your hands on both sides. On the outer shell is a DWR-treated nylon, which has proved very durable for me. Beneath that is where the magic happens with 100g of Primaloft Evolve active insulation. The goal for Sitka here was to create something that would breathe for covering ground, but would then retain warmth when you slowed down. I can personally attest to this as I purposefully left this on while intensely closing the gap on multiple bucks last season. The Ambient 100 Hooded Jacket is not just a mid-layer. It’s a MUST layer.

Wind Stopper

Evo jacket by Sitka

Mountain Evo Jacket

Out of all of the pieces from Sitka that I’ll cover here, the Mountain Evo Jacket is the one that surprised me the most. The Mountain Evo Jacket is a lightweight durable layer dedicated to shielding you from the wind in the areas it matters most. Your chest, core, and hood. This means that whatever warmth your insulation is holding isn’t going to be compromised from the gusts ahead. The full zip design allows you to take the jacket on and off with ease and the back panel along with under the arms is a 4-way stretch material that aids in mobility and dumping heat. Usually, I’d put this on in the morning and honestly forget it was there the entire day. Set it and forget it, just like a crock pot. Well, you know what I mean.


Kelvin Aerolite Jacket

The very first time I picked up the Kelvin Aerolite Jacket I will be honest, I was skeptical of its capabilities. It is not your big poof ball of a down puffy jacket. It’s quite small in terms of thickness. Which is great for packability, but has never proved great for insulation. This jacket proves that wrong tenfold. Under the DWR-coated polyester surface, there is Primaloft Gold insulation with Cross Core Technology. It’s a lightweight insulation infused with silica aerogel, an almost weightless material composed of 95% air. The skinny on that is you get the lightweight insulation and compressibility of down with the warm when wet performance of synthetic. With the system laid out here, I’ve had this jacket out into the 20’s and been fine. It’s pretty magical for such little weight and space.

Rain Gear

Sitka Dew Point jacket rain gear

Dew Point Jacket and Pant

Rain gear is one of those things that is almost an annoyance to carry around. That is until you need it. So, in my opinion, the more lightweight and compressible, the better. Without giving up too much durability of course. The Sitka Dew Point system is good on all fronts. I love that the jacket has heat dumps in the armpits. A great feature for when you need to cover country through wet conditions but want to minimize how soaked your dry clothes get from both vegetation and sweat. The pants are scary lightweight but still feel like they’re not going to rip from any little branch I come across. They’ve also got a built-in belt as well as full-side leg zippers. This makes taking off and putting on the pants much much easier. I’ve had to grab this rain gear a few times and it’s always done well for me. You don’t need it until you need it and when you do, it’s really nice to have.

Closing Thoughts

Sitka layering guide by Josh Kirchner

When I first heard of layering systems, I’m going to be honest, I thought it was just a gimmick. A way to get people to spend more money on hunting clothing. Fast forward to a more present day and my feelings on the matter have done a complete 180. A layering system is truly that. It’s a calculated collection of clothing items that all work together in order to keep you warm when it’s cold, dry when it’s wet, and cool when it’s hot. Clothing is 100% gear and a quality layering system like Sitka has is a 100% no-brainer for western hunting.