Sitka Gear Ascent Pant & Core Lightweight Hoody Review
By Josh Boyd, Rokslide Prostaff
The early weeks of the 2017 elk season were profusely hot, dry, and smoky with wildfires burning out of control across most of elk country. Most of my backcountry hunts consisted of long hours spent sweating under a loaded backpack. But despite the daytime heat, my predawn trek into the backcountry is usually followed by a rapid cool-down, either while shivering in the predawn darkness to glass a distant ridgeline or waiting motionless in the shadows for a reluctant bull to commit.
During these hunts, I needed to be able to regulate my body temperature at high output times and wick moisture to stay dry and warm during inactive periods. They were the ideal settings to test Sitka’s Ascent Pant and Lightweight Core Hoody in the new Subalpine Pattern, or what I’ve labeled my early season “action suit”.
It’s a versatile clothing system that allows a hunter to hike hard and sweat when necessary then dry quickly to help retain heat when motionless. For early season hunts, I utilize a base layer top as an outer garment for my upper body and lightweight pants for my lower body. The action suit is not complete without a windproof layer, a mid-layer, and an insulating layer such as a puffy jacket and pants for inactive periods. The focus of this review is a base layer top and a lightweight pant.
Completely redesigned in 2017, the Ascent Pant is the lightest big game pant in Sitka’s lineup. The size 34R I wear weighs 11.5 ounces without knee pads. The fabric is a thin four-way stretch Cordura nylon blend that is very quick to dry and incredibly durable considering its thickness. There are pockets for knee pads, but I didn’t use them in these pants. During my many weeks of spring bear, elk, and mule deer hunting, I managed to rip one small hole in the calf area of the pant. It was a substantial jab that surely would’ve torn other fabrics, as the sharp limb punctured my skin too.
With the fabric being constructed of nylon, I expected a slight sheen in bright sunlight, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a very matte finish due to the textured face of the fabric. Out of the box, the noise of the fabric was similar to most other pants with similar fabric, and I noticed it quieted considerably after a little wear and a washing.
The sizing of these pants is spot on and the fit is trim but not overdone, meaning guys with thighs will fit in them. The four-way stretch combined with the articulated knees, gusseted crotch, and flat waist belt add up to unbelievable comfort. The pockets are mesh lined and unobtrusive. The two side cargo pockets are zippered for securing items and are flat, so they don’t grab brush on the way by. Overall I found the Ascent pant to be durable, lightweight, quick drying, extremely comfortable. They make for the perfect early season pant and can work into mid-seasons that are warm. The complete technical specifications can be read here: Sitka Ascent Pant
CORE LIGHTWEIGHT HOODY
The Core Lightweight Hoody is the foundation of my early season action suit. I rely upon it to wick moisture in times of high output, conceal me from the eyes of hyper-alert animals, and provide a little insulation when I am inactive for short stretches. The fabric is a polyester spandex knit with four-way stretch and a thin micro-grid backing which pulls moisture off your skin more effectively. The size medium I wear weighs 7 ounces.
This garment has a low-profile hood with a built-in face mask. The hood is useful in keeping your neck and ears protected in cold or windy weather. The facemask, attached to the hood, is easy to quickly pull over your head when needed. The top zips up the front, which is useful for dumping heat in high exertion activities. The fabric is treated with Polygiene, a functional odor control agent I’ve found to be effective over several days in the backcountry. The Hoody is also durable considering the thickness of the fabric. Over the season I made no snags, tears, or punctures in the top. The Core Lightweight Hoody is fast drying, lightweight, and durable. The fit is trim, but not tight, and sizing is correct. It is a great base layer and a great addition to an early season layering system. The complete technical specifications can be read here: Sitka CORE Lightweight Hoody
These two pieces are extremely functional from a technical standpoint and they are perfect to build upon with other layers to round out a system. They also blend into the early season environments better than anything else on the market thanks to the Subalpine pattern. The rest of my early season system shares the same pattern and if you would like to ask me about the other pieces I carry in the backcountry or discuss this article, hit me up in the forums here.