When it comes to hunting clothing, most people tend to focus on cold-weather gear like heavy jackets to keep warm. However, the importance of early season and mild weather clothing often gets overlooked. In this gear list, we'll explore my essentials for early-season whitetail and turkey hunting in the big woods, highlighting versatile pieces that serve dual purposes. When hiking in the Appalachian Mountains, moisture management becomes crucial and when I get to some of these backcountry-type places, I want to make sure that I’m staying there for the duration. This kit not only keeps you comfortable in changing weather conditions but also protects against insects and ticks.
I choose to use Sitka's subalpine camo pattern for early-season whitetails. I've used EVII in the past with no issue, but I feel like subalpine blends in a little better and is a great spring turkey pattern, making the gear crossover.
Base Layer: Sitka Equinox Guard Hoody
The foundation of your hunting attire is crucial, and the Sitka Equinox Guard Hoody is an excellent base layer. Made from a super lightweight material, this hoodie features an integrated facemask. What sets it apart is its insect shield technology with permethrin treatment, designed to ward off ticks, mosquitoes, chiggers, and flies. With its breathable yet impenetrable weave, this hoody offers protection without compromising comfort. As someone who’s had Lyme disease in the past, I don’t skimp on wearing permethrin-infused clothing and spraying my other layers with Permethrin products from Sawyer.
Pants: Sitka Equinox Guard Pant
The Equinox Guard Pant is also infused with Insect Shield, and includes an internal gaiter that tucks into your socks, preventing bugs and ticks from accessing your skin. The pants also have a zippered venting system with mesh panels, allowing you to regulate heat while keeping pests out. Designed for both turkey and early-season whitetail hunts, the Equinox Guard Pant is something I wear for a good part of the year scouting and hunting.
Mid-Layer: Sitka Ambient Hoody
The Ambient hoody may be one of the most versatile pieces of gear I’ve used in awhile and might be my favorite piece of SITKA I own. Available in all of the different camo patterns and some solid colors, this hoodie features a half-zip design and a highly breathable interior. Despite its lightweight and quick-drying construction, it provides exceptional insulation. Whether you're on late-season hunts, early-season setups, or hunting anywhere in the world, the Ambient Hoody proves its adaptability. Its water-repellent treatment adds an extra layer of protection against the elements.
I prefer to layer this right over my base layer. When it gets colder out, you can hike in the mountains and not become a sweaty mess. You can bet that anytime I’m in the woods or mountains, the Ambient hoodie is either on me or in my pack.
Outer Layer: Sitka Jetstream Vest
For added core warmth and windproofing, the Jetstream Vest is a great lightweight outer layer option. Designed for those brisk mornings and evenings during early October, this quiet and durable vest features a Windstopper layer that keeps you comfortable when the wind is blowing. It's a versatile addition to your gear lineup, easily stowed in your pack or worn during various hunting scenarios. When the snow starts falling, the Jetstream Vest remains effective when paired with other outerwear pieces.
Accessories: Sitka Equinox Guard Glove and Merino 330 Beanie
I complete my early season kit with the Equinox Guard Glove, a lightweight and breathable option. While its main focus is concealment, it also provides ample dexterity, whether it's a release, your phone, or a shotgun for turkey hunting. The nylon material with mosquito-resistant properties ensures your hands stay protected. The extended cuff lets you comfortably tuck the gloves under your layers for added insulation.
The Merino 330 Beanie is non-itchy Merino beanie that regulates temperature and doesn't stink with Merino's odor-controlling properties. This one is reinforced with ArmorSpun merino wool with nylon which helps tremendously with durability. If you've ever used merino beanies in the past, you'll appreciate that so they don't get torn and/or shrink in the wash.
Rain Gear - Sitka Dewpoint Jacket
I forgot to include this in the video, but rain gear is extremely important to carry with you. The problem I’ve found with rain gear is that it’s usually noisy and doesn’t breathe very well. I own both the Dewpoint and Downpour jacket from SITKA. The Downpour is extremely quiet, but doesn’t pack down as much as the Dewpoint. The Dewpoint is louder than the Downpour, but I carry it for emergencies only and honestly don’t use it in the early season unless it’s going to rain for the duration of the hunt. For light rains, the Ambient hoodie and Jetstream vest shed enough water to keep me out there in the warmer conditions.
In conclusion, this gear list encompasses versatile and practical options for both whitetail and turkey hunts. From the Sitka Equinox Guard Hoodie's insect-repelling technology to the adaptability of the Ambient Hoodie, these pieces offer the necessary balance of protection, comfort, and functionality for me. The Equinox Guard Pant, Jet Stream Vest, and Equinox Guard Glove round out the ensemble, providing a comprehensive system for early season. By investing in a quality layering system, you'll be fully prepared for enjoyable and hopefully successful hunts!
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