My 2019 Hunting Season New Gear Review


Senior Member
Jun 4, 2017
I have read posts like this here in the past, and found them very informative, so I figured I would post up my experiences with my new gear from this season and to hopefully help a fellow member out in the same manner this site has helped me. I did not get to hunt last season due to an emergency surgery leaving me temporarily paralyzed, so I did a lot of reading and slowly upgraded gear to pass my time in hunting season. I narrowed my choices down by reading reviews here and other places and also going to some of the big box stores to try clothing on and made a list of items I wanted and sizes that worked for me. I waited to find good deals, and purchased when the time was right. Going into this season, I had a good amount of new items to try and here is my experience with them in no particular order:

Darn Tough Socks:
I have been trying to find the perfect sock and boot combination for years and just could not get the perfect balance between being warm, and not sweating. I should add that I am an active hunter, normally walking over 5 miles a day and sometimes up to and exceeding 12. I tried several brands of wool and synthetic with and without sock liners. I have been slowly improving year after year until finally buying some Darn Tough socks. These are by far the best sock I have used. I found them on a good sale and bought 3 different pairs to try. One pair of cushioned hikers, and two different pairs of hunting socks. My feet have never been more comfortable. I did not get to pair these with new boots yet, so this year they were worn under my old Meindl 400 gram boots in temps from 6F to 45F. I used them all on different days and they all performed great. Highly recommended.

Black Ovis Merino Base Layers:
I have drawers full of base layers from work and hunting over the years that I was originally happy with, but then felt the need to upgrade. After reading review after review on here I decided I must have been doing it wrong all along and needed to try Merino as my base layer. I purchased the Black Ovis when it came available in my size in various sizes and weights and put it through the wringer this season. Once again, I have never been so comfortable. My favorite base layer up to now has been Cabelas ECWACS. When using the Black Ovis Merino under this stuff, it was greatly improved. The moisture wicking of the merino keeps your skin dry, and the well placed zippers on the heavy weight worked excellent when the need arose to dump some heat. I was not sure I would like the hood on the heavyweight, but I could barely tell it was there until I needed it. It is a great addition. I also used the mid weight set and it performed flawlessly as well. Other Black Ovis merino I tried this year were: Beanie, Glove Liners, and Lightweight Tee Shirts. The glove liners were the only gloves I used this season and I wear the Lightweight Tee's around the house all the time. The Beanie worked great under a ball cap when needed. Highly recommended.

Kifaru Lite Frame and Reckoning Bag:
I bought this set up figuring I would need it in the future for elk hunting trips. I went on my first elk hunt in 2017 and bought an Eberlestock bag which felt very good to me being it was my first hunting backpack. I never really used a backpack on my hunts since I move a lot and try to limit what I carry with me to what I really need. A fanny pack is the most I ever used. After reading so much about the high end packs on here, I figured I would buy this year and get it over with. I helped justify it by telling myself that I can load it up with weight for hikes to help me strengthen my legs for hunting season once I was able to walk again. That I did. I was able to load it to around 65 pounds prior to hunting season and hike 3.5 miles up and down hills this fall. I wore it on every walk I went on once I received it. Once adjusted correctly, I could not even tell the weight was strapped to my back. The only muscles that would get fatigued were my legs. I figured I would carry it on my whitetail hunts just in case I would get one in a place where I would be unable to drag it out (yes, in PA we still drag deer). Since I had it on my back, I was able to put my coat and vest in it for the hike in and not get all sweated up. I did not get to pack a deer out with it (killed one close to the truck), but did end up using it for most of the season and now I see where all the hype is when discussing high end packs. They are high priced for a reason. They are worth it. I can't wait to one day put some elk meat on this setup (hopefully).

Cascade Mountain Carbon Trekking Poles:
I bought these poles while learning to walk again to help me get into the woods quicker. They did just that. For the $40 price tag I got them for, they were already worth it. I took them with me to deer camp figuring they weighed next to nothing and the fit nicely in my pack. I need to get more used to having them, as I realized I can also deploy them fairly quick for use as a shooting stick, but all in all, they were a great addition. I am still having issues with my balance and vision and these poles helped me tremendously. I am certain I will continue to use them even when I get back to 100%.

Sitka Gear:

Cloudburst Rain Gear:
I was in need of some new rain gear and found this coat for a good price. I figured I would give it a try and while I was at it, buy the matching pants. They fit great, have the zippers in all the right places, and kept me dry. I had to wear this set on three rain days this season, and actually fell crossing a creek and should of been soaked, but was not. Another purchase I am extremely happy with.

Timberline Pants:
These had been on my radar for quite some time due to the waterproof back side and knees. I knew I wanted them but have a hard time with the retail price of Sitka Gear. On Black Friday, I found that most retailers were offering 20% off of most Sitka Gear, so these pants were ordered. I received them prior to my trip so just threw the package in the truck while leaving not knowing if I would get to try them or not. I did use them, and am very happy I bought them. They are very comfortable, and again, all the zippers are in the right places. When you get warm, open some pockets to let the heat out and keep on going. It was like turning on the air conditioning in your house in the summer.

Jet Stream Jacket:
Basically the same review as the Timberline Pants. I purchased this on the same sale, and paired it with the pants. Another well thought out piece of gear with all the pockets and zippers in the right places.

Heavyweight Zip Tee:
I found this on Camofire for 40% off I believe. Very similar to the ECWACS shirt I already owned, but much better. I wore this on the coldest days over my Black Ovis Merino and was very comfortable. The first days I wore it were in the low 30F range with a considerable wind. I had my coat in my pack and for 2 days, never put it on. I was warm. Again, the zipper is great being able to unzip to mid chest and dump heat. It did start to get a little funky after about 5 days hunting in it, but I expected that with synthetic material.

Overall Impression of Sitka Gear:
For me, it is worth the price. My outerwear that I wore the most is over 15 years old and got a lot of use. At the time, I paid good money for it all. The Sitka gear is much more versatile once you obtain the different layers. I still have a hard time with the retail price of it knowing that if I am patient, and can get it for at least 20% off. Thanks Field and Stream for having a nice selection of it for me to try on and buy somewhere else for a much better price. There are a few more pieces on my wish list and I will be watching for more sales.

Nosler 120 grain Ballistic Tip Bullets:
I handload all of my ammunition and have been reading great reviews on these bullets for deer sized game. I figured I would load some up to try in my 7mm08 this year to change it up. I paired them with a pretty stout load of Varget, and got really good results on paper. I shot my buck this year standing broadside at approximately 80 yards down a very steep mountain side. I placed the bullet right where I wanted and was surprised to see the deer trot away. I was in a thick patch of Hemlocks and could not see very far beyond where he was standing, only about 10 yards. I knew I could not of missed him. I waited about 20 minutes and started down to look for blood. I only took a few steps and seen him piled up. He went down right were I lost sight of him. By looking at the hide, the entry was as expected, but the exit was rather small. I was surprised but knew the bullet did its job since the buck only went 15 yards. Upon field dressing, I found a hole approximately 1.5 inches in the lungs, and the only part of the heart that was in there was the bottom third. The bullet entered and exited right behind both shoulders doing extensive internal damage. The only complaint I have is while butchering, I found a small piece of bullet in the off side rear quarter. I expect Ballistic tips to come apart but that piece took a heck of a turn to end up there. Overall, the deer went down quickly, and the meat damage was much less that the 140 grain bullets I have used in the past. I think I will stick with these bullets with this gun as I shoot 140 grain Accubonds out of my .280.

This concludes my review for all my new gear. I hope it helps someone on here that is on the fence about trying some of this stuff. A lot of it is expensive, but with all the downtime I had with my health issues in 2019 I was able to save some money, do my research, and wait for sales. I am very happy with all of my purchases and am looking forward to many more years of using it. Good Luck and Merry Christmas!


Senior Member
Jun 4, 2017
Also, used this season:

Thermarest Z Seat:
I only deployed this once, but for the ease of packing, light weight, and small price tag, it was well worth it.

Grangers Waterproofing Wax:
I have tried several products over the years to keep my leather boots waterproof. This outperformed all the others by far.


Senior Member
Apr 17, 2016
After reading alot of the favorable reviews, I tried the 120 NBTs in my 7-08 last season. I shot 3 bucks with them and was very impressed with them.