The mountain goats were bedded at a distance most competent riflemen would consider a chip shot. The two hunters with me who’d climbed all morning through the rocks and rain to get there fell into that group and were capable marksmen; unfortunately, the billies had bedded on the edge of their feeding bench, leaving them within a jump or two of the cliffs below. Mountain goats are very hardy creatures with a thirst for life that would make most other game animals jealous, soaking up bullet energy with their heavy skeletal and muscular structure. Given the facts facing us the prudent thing to do was hunker down and let the goats get up and feed in the evening, hopefully moving away from the cliffs and further onto the bench allowing a more comfortable shot opportunity. It was late morning when we reached the goats, leaving us a several hour wait to see what would transpire. The rain and wind battered us as we lay on the only small bench below the billies line of sight.
The opening story is from a hunt I was on this last year in Alaska but could be related to by all or most mountain hunters. Whether pinned down and waiting until evening for another opportunity or taking shelter in a winter squall, most hunters who get their kicks from type two fun aren’t going to let a little weather get in their way from the intended goal and with the right gear can stay in the game longer to achieve it.
Enter Sitka’s recently released Kelvin Lite Down Jacket and Pant; from their website:
Mountain hunting is a pursuit that requires ruthless scrutiny at every turn. If ounces mean pounds, warmth means life and the terrain demands high aerobic output, what insulation layer can rise to that very specific challenge? We set out to build a jacket that is exceptionally warm, highly compressible in a pack, and as light as possible. This led us to partner with Primaloft to create an entirely new hybrid down and synthetic insulation package not available anywhere else on the market. The Kelvin Lite Down is the answer to the mountain’s questions.
The result of the Sitka/Primaloft project is a packable, lightweight jacket and pant set that weigh-in comparably to other down or down-like products. Sitka achieves some of their weight savings by a unique “body-mapping system”. Their propriety Primaloft blend of down and synthetic insulation works together essentially getting the best of both worlds- a lightweight down that doesn’t lose its loft over time- and is placed in different areas of the clothing to aid in thermoregulation and weight savings.
The jacket has two standard hand pockets with a mesh interior, allowing a person to use the pockets as an additional heat venting outlet when warm (this was a notable feature while wearing a large pack if you needed an extra draft while hiking simply adjust the hip belt over the jacket, open zippers, and enjoy a bit of cool air without having to stop and drop a heavy load). When not in use the jacket can be stuffed into one of its own pockets for storage or comes in handy as a pillow when the sun warms things up and a midday nap is in order. It’s apparent people have been impressed with this piece of gear as it’s recently been given an Outside Magazine’s 2021 Winters Buyers’ Guide Award, not an easy feat with all of the quality products being released these days for people who enjoy the outdoors. The jacket weighs in at 17 ounces (size large) and has an MSRP of $349.00.
I’ll admit, when I tried on the pants I didn’t know what to think, the three-quarter look called to mind my wife’s capris but after several hunts last fall, I was a believer. The pants are designed to be used with gaiters, the logic being that any down tucked into the boot/gaiter would be compressed and of minimal warmth. Sitka streamlined their pants with that in mind and added a side zipper that allows the pants to be taken on and off without removing a hunter’s boots. I found this feature useful while laying on a sidehill in Montana waiting for a herd of elk to come out of their bedding area to feed. The wind was biting and there wasn’t any cover to be had. I slid into the pants with no fuss and laid there for three hours. When the herd fed out of the timber and I had to make a several hundred-yard adjustment, I slid out of the pants, stowed them in an exterior pack pocket, and shortly after was packing elk. I’ve found the pants useful in camp as well, taking advantage of their comfort while the rest of my day to day gear dries at the woodstove. The pants weigh in at 14 ounces (size large) with an MSRP of $299.00.
Buyers can purchase their Sitka gear with confidence as it’s all covered by their warranty program; from the website:
We stand behind every product we make. If you are unhappy with any of our products at the time you receive them, please send them back. Damage due to wear and tear will be repaired at a reasonable cost.
Thanks to the Kelvin Lite pants and jackets (as well as good rain gear layered over it) we retained enough heat on the Alaska mountainside to tough out the afternoon and watch the billies feed out onto their pasture like we wrote the script. After utilizing this gear on several hunts in Alaska, Montana, and even Arizona last fall, it’s evident the amount of thought and work Sitka has put into their Kelvin Lite Down system. The set is available in their popular Optifade Subalpine and Open Country camo patterns; the jacket is available in several solid colors as well. If you’ve got some type two fun in your future check them out at Sitka Gear.