By Pete Rogers
When the alarm went off, the chill in the air was penetrating to my bones, at least to those parts of my body that crept outside my sleeping bag. The wood stove in our wall tent had gone out during the night, and none of us braved the cold to stoke it back into existence.
Opening day of the Colorado elk first rifle season was here, and the mercury plunged into the single digits. Camping at 9,600 feet elevation aided the cold to settle. As I piled on my layers to stave off the cold, I knew I would have to pack my jacket into the high country to keep from sweating during the walk. Experience has taught me that it really does not matter how good your base layer is when extreme exertion is needed. “Hike cold and rest warm” is my slogan when hunting the high country. Carry outer layers in your pack so as not to overheat when getting into position. Once you are in position, pull on your layers to retain your core body temperature.
My headlight exposed snow-covered logs and rocks in the darkness as I followed my GPS into the unknown of a Colorado morning. At 10,800 feet, an opening appeared and I settled down to watch the meadow for signs of life. Removing my Sitka Gear Jetstream Jacket from my pack, I slid it over my chilled shoulders, threw up the hood, and nestled into the base of a large pine tree.
As the morning wore on, the wind increased. Starting at a mere twelve miles per hour at dawn, by nine o’clock it was blowing over thirty and increasing. Gusts reached sixty-five miles per hour. By eleven o’clock, I was done at this location and rose to head back down the mountain.
Sitka Gear Jetstream Jacket
As I stood to begin my descent down the mountain, a gust of wind hit me, and I stumbled across the terrain, catching myself against a large boulder. Pulling the hood of my Jetstream jacket tight and leaning into the wind, I made my way to the tree cover to block some of the torrential winds. I have never been so glad I opted for the “wind-stopper” version on my Sitka Gear Jetstream jacket as I was that morning. I remember vividly looking down and seeing that red tag on my jacket and thought: “If there was ever a good test for the wind-stopper, this is it!” Through that day, and the rest of the hunt, the Jetstream jacket was there with me and never failed. In spite of mornings of single digits and winds that would blow you over the jacket kept me warm, dry and comfortable.
The Jetstream Jacket is the mountain hunter’s workhorse, keeping you comfortable and focused in cool temperatures, high winds, light rain, and everything in between. The GORE® WINDSTOPPER® Softshell fabric is 100% windproof to minimize the effects of wind-chill. Even during my strenuous hikes, the Jetstream helped to expel perspiration, forming a microclimate around my body that was both warm and dry.
The Jetstream is a great topper. When combined with good proper layering, it will take you from the first cold snap to the end of the season. Lightly insulated with moisture-wicking Micro Grid fleece, the Jetstream Jacket is athletically cut to fit your form and eliminate bulk. And with full zippered vents in the upper trunk, known as “pit-zips,” allow heat to escape during exertion. This jacket is designed for active hunters. The drop-away hood acts as a good neck insulator and protector during the extreme weather that often arises on mountain hunts. Two zippered hand pockets, two zippered chest pockets and a single breast pocket provide a cache for necessities like your rangefinder and GPS unit.
The Jetstream jacket I chose was in the new Subalpine pattern. Designed for fifty yards and in, the Subalpine is one of Sitka’s best patterns for dark timber. While it is primarily designed and marketed for early season elk and mule deer hunters, as a southern hunter, the combination of colors and patterns have proven to be invaluable in the southern pine woods we call home.
Never really being a fan of the digital camouflage patterns, the Optifade from Sitka Gear is on a different level. Their combination of colors, patterns, and transitions confuses the eyes causing the hunter to virtually disappear to the eye of our prey. With the tan background of the Subalpine and greens and blacks and browns, it is a great option for timber, pine stands, and here in the south most of our terrain.
The Jetstream jacket is a great mid-weight jacket that offers plenty of room for layering and comfort. Anyone planning a western (or southern) hunt near timber should consider the Sitka Gear Jetstream jacket. Designed mostly for the early seasons, the subalpine version of the Jetstream is ideal for those cool mornings and warm afternoons. The Jetstream packs down very well and takes little room in your pack when not needed. The soft, shell is quiet, soft and not alarming to game. If there was ever one jacket option for hunting, the Jetstream is one to consider.