Review: Sitka Gear Thunderhead & Flash Rain Gear
By Tony Trietch, Rokslide Staff
Everyone has their own preference on what type of rain gear they want to use on their hunts. Some use non-breathable rubber suits that would suffice for a commercial fisherman, while others don’t carry rain gear at all. Luckily for us, there are many choices between the two extremes and more options available today than ever before.
For me, I have different needs depending on what area of the country I am hunting. This past fall I spent a little over two months hunting across the western states. I chose to use two different wet weather systems from Sitka Gear.
Ultralight Flash Pullover
The first couple hunts I had were in mountain ranges that get sporadic weather systems that bring quick showers, usually in the afternoon. Typically, there are no real storms or prolonged wet weather so for these hunts I choose the Sitka Gear Flash Pullover. The Flash Pullover is an ultra-lightweight breathable shell that features Gore Windstopper and a DWR exterior. It is sized to fit over your bino harness and has a zippered chest pocket. The fitted hood functioned very well and I could see to either side without obstruction. It has an adjustable pull at the rear of the head to customize the fit.
The Flash Pullover compresses down and fits in its own pocket for storage and packing. It proved to be perfect for my Utah and Colorado early archery deer hunts. When the weather would turn sour, I would pull it out and quickly be protected until the small rain/hail cell passed. Then, with just a few shakes, it was dry and back in the pack.
I found the Flash Pullover had an unexpected bonus as well. The Gore Windstopper worked so well that I found myself wearing it to glass even when it was dry out. The Flash is very breathable and I did not see any condensation on the inside when used. It proved more durable than expected and held up very well, never letting water in. At only 7.8 ounces, the Flash is a great option when you don’t expect rain but want the protection just in case.
Thunderhead Rain System
When the weather took a turn for the worse, I relied on Sitka Gear’s Thunderhead Rain Jacket and Pants. The Thunderhead is a Gore-Tex 3 Layer laminate with a soft quiet outer layer of brushed polyester with its own DWR. It has a fit I would call athletic, providing plenty room to draw a bow in. My favorite thing about the Thunderhead (besides it keeping me dry in some nasty storms) is how quiet it is. It’s not silent but it’s pretty close and for a full three-layer Gore-Tex product, that’s great!
The Thunderhead Jacket has zippered pockets and fitted hood with a drawstring. The cuffs have a secure closure at the wrist. The Thunderhead pants have full-length side zips that allow easy on/off. They have an inner concealed snap closure at the bottom of the leg to keep it tight to your boot and /or gaiter. The Thunderhead GTX gaiter is made of the same quiet brushed material and GORE-TEX laminate. The Jacket weighs in at 25.5 ounces, the pants at 22.45 ounces and the Gaiter at 11 ounces.
The Thunderhead worked at keeping me dry all fall without fail. The brushed outer material actually became more and more quiet as the season went along. The DWR exterior still shed moisture after six weeks of being hauled around in a backpack and pulled out whenever rain or snow hit.
My Idaho moose hunt had snow or rain almost every day. The Thunderhead never let me down. The system was quiet, comfortable, breathable, and kept me dry. I found it also worked well as my outer layer for relatively cold weather when layered with Sitka’s Core Heavyweight Hoody and Mountain Vest.
There were not many negative things I found regarding either system. The Flash Pullover is not quiet enough to be worn in close quarters, but I don’t think it was designed to be. The brushed outer layer of the Thunderhead picks up briars like any soft fleece would. In certain areas, that could be a pain to deal with. The elastic pull cord at the top of the gaiter would only get so tight, causing the gaiter to not stay up on my calf when hiking long periods of time. I have been told that this issue with the gaiter will be addressed in 2018.
I hunted through everything Mother Nature threw at me this fall and never felt like I needed anything more to protect me and keep me dry. Between the Flash Pullover and the Thunder Head System, you have a pretty versatile wet weather system that I’d take in almost any mountain range besides the Pacific North West, Alaska or other perpetually wet areas. I can say without hesitation that both work as intended and from the looks of mine after the miles they have seen; they’ll surely give you more than one year’s use.
You can comment on this review or ask Tony questions here.