Welcome to my guide on the best early-season bow hunting clothing systems for 2024. If you’re gearing up for the early deer hunting season (or even turkey season) and looking for the right stuff, you’ve come to the right place.
Early-season hunting brings unique challenges: fluctuating temperatures, potential insect annoyances, and the need for stealth and comfort in various terrains. Finding the right clothing that addresses these issues is crucial for a successful hunt.
With my years of experience in early-season hunting, I’ve explored a range of clothing options, assessing their suitability for the specific conditions of early-season hunts. For this review, I tested four unique early season options through both the spring turkey season and extensively through this past archery season and into the new year in Pennsylvania. I have put them all through extensive testing.
Join me as I break each one of these down and show you how each faired through my testing. I’ll cover a variety of options, including those with specialized features, to help you find the perfect fit for your early-season deer hunts.
2024 Early Season Systems: How They Ranked
I ranked these early-season bow-hunting clothing systems across multiple categories and used my base review criteria for all of them. Here’s how they ranked:
- Best Overall: Sitka Gear Equinox Guard Pants and Hoody
- Best Durability: Asio Gear Lightweight Pants and Hoodie
- Best for Scouting: FORLOH Insect Shield® SolAir Lightweight Pants and Hoodie
- Best Value: Huntworth Gadsden Pullover and Durham Lightweight Pants
Best Overall: Sitka Equinox Guard Hoody & Pants
The Sitka Equinox System excels as a top-tier choice for early-season bow hunting, offering unmatched quality and functionality. Its Insect Shield Technology is a standout feature, providing essential protection in bug-heavy environments. The system’s durability, effective Optifade Elevated II camouflage, and comfort-focused design make it ideal for serious hunters. While the price is on the higher end, the investment is justified by its superior performance, versatility in various temperatures, and overall enhancement of the hunting experience.
- Insect Shield Technology: Effectively repels bugs.
- Durability: Both the hoody and pants are made with durable materials, suitable for early-season use.
- Comfort and Fit: The gear is designed for comfort, with a fit that allows for ease of movement.
- Camouflage Effectiveness: The Optifade Elevated II camo pattern is highly effective for tree stand hunting.
- Versatility: Suitable for a range of temperatures, making it a versatile choice for different hunting conditions.
- Hip Zip Vents (Pants): Allows you to dump heat during times of high activity and movement.
- Price: The higher price point may be a consideration for some hunters, as Sitka gear is generally positioned in the premium segment.
- Limited Color Options: The specific camouflage pattern, while effective, doesn’t offer variety for hunters who might prefer different camo options.
- Weight: For some hunters, the pants might feel slightly heavier than other lightweight options.
The Sitka Equinox system stands out as an exceptional choice for early-season bow hunting, earning its place as my top recommendation in this category. Its standout feature is the Insect Shield Technology, a game-changer for hunters who venture into bug-heavy environments.
The durability of both the hoody and pants is noteworthy; they’re built to withstand the rugged demands of outdoor hunting, ensuring longevity and reliability. The Optifade Elevated II camo pattern is another key advantage, offering effective concealment in tree stand settings.
However, the premium quality of the Sitka Equinox system comes with a higher price tag, which might be an issue for some hunters. While the investment is significant, the value it offers in terms of quality, functionality, and the overall hunting experience is top-notch.
The combination of advanced features like insect protection, superior camouflage, and durable construction makes it a worthwhile investment for those who seek the best in early-season hunting apparel. In summary, the Sitka Equinox system is best for hunters who value quality and effectiveness in their gear and are looking for a comprehensive solution to early-season hunting challenges.
Best Durability: Asio Lightweight Hoodie & Pants
ASIO Gear emerges as an excellent choice for early-season bow hunting, rivaling the quality of Sitka at a more accessible price point. Its attention to detail, durability, and comfort in warm conditions make it particularly suitable for early-season hunts. While it offers great value, its focus on early-season warmth means it’s best used in warmer hunting conditions, with potential layering needed for cooler periods. This gear is a strong option for hunters prioritizing quality and effectiveness in their early-season bow hunting attire.
- Superior Quality and Attention to Detail: Rivals and sometimes exceeds Sitka with excellent craftsmanship, including durable zippers and taped seams.
- Optimal Comfort in Warm Weather: Specifically designed for early-season hunting, offering exceptional comfort in warmer conditions.
- Effective Camouflage: The gear’s camouflage effectively blends into various hunting environments, aiding in stealth.
- Value Compared to Sitka: Offers significant value, especially when compared to the higher-priced Sitka gear, making it a cost-effective choice for quality seekers.
- Higher Price Point: While it offers value compared to Sitka, the pricing may still be a consideration for budget-conscious hunters.
- Brand Recognition: May not be as widely recognized as Sitka, which could affect some hunters’ purchasing decisions.
- Specialized for Early Season: Excelling in warm weather, it may require additional layers for cooler early season mornings or evenings.
ASIO Gear firmly positions itself as a top contender for the best early season bow hunting clothing system, closely rivaling Sitka in quality and craftsmanship. Its standout features include superior durability, comfort, and effectiveness in warm weather conditions, making it ideal for early-season hunts.
The gear’s well-designed camouflage enhances a hunter’s stealth in the field. While its price point is a consideration, ASIO Gear offers considerable value, especially when compared to more expensive options. Its specialization in early-season use means it’s perfectly suited for warmer hunting conditions, though it can be used as temperatures get colder as well.
The brand’s lesser recognition compared to more prominent companies doesn’t detract from its high-quality offerings, making it a worthy choice for hunters seeking top-notch early-season gear.
Best for Scouting: FORLOH Insect Shield SolAir Lightweight Pants & Hoodie
The FORLOH Solair Lightweight Pants and Hoodie is a strong choice for scouting and spring turkey hunting, thanks to its outstanding insect protection (with Insect Shield) and lightweight, comfortable design. However, its long-term durability, the excessively baggy fit of the hoody even in smaller sizes, and the limited pocket space on the pants are notable drawbacks. Despite these issues, its strengths in providing comfort and protection against insects make it a viable option for hunters prioritizing these features in their early-season attire.
- Insect Protection: Excellent insect shield technology, ideal for environments with high bug activity.
- Wicking and Comfort: Superior moisture-wicking properties and lightweight comfort, suitable for warm weather scouting and active hunting.
- Lightweight Design: Extremely light, enhancing mobility for long hunting or scouting sessions.
- Durability Concerns: Potential questions about its long-term durability in demanding hunting conditions.
- Hoody Fit and Sizing Issues: Even after sizing down, the hoody remains excessively baggy, potentially affecting functionality.
- Limited Pockets on Pants: The pants’ lack of sufficient pockets might be inconvenient for hunters needing to carry various items.
- Inside Color of Hoody: The inside color choice (white) may not be ideal for hunting scenarios.
- No Venting: There is no venting option for the pants and no zipper option for the hoodie.
The FORLOH Solair Lightweight Pants and Hoodie positions itself as a noteworthy contender in the realm of hunting attire, particularly for activities like scouting and spring turkey hunting. Its standout feature, the insect shield technology, offers a significant advantage in bug-prone environments, making it a go-to choice for hunters facing the challenges of early-season pests.
The gear’s lightweight design and superior moisture-wicking properties further enhance its appeal, providing comfort and ease during active hunts in warmer weather. However, the gear’s durability raises some concerns, particularly for hunters who frequently tackle rugged terrain and require gear that can endure the rigors of intense hunting.
Despite its many strengths, the FORLOH Solair collection faces some challenges in terms of practicality and design. The most notable issue is the sizing of the hoody; even after downsizing from a large to a medium, the fit remained excessively baggy, especially in the hoodie itself. Additionally, the choice of the hoodie’s inside color (white) may not be optimal for blending into natural environments.
The pants, while comfortable and lightweight, lack sufficient pocket space, a drawback for hunters who need to carry various small items. These factors, combined with the concerns about durability, suggest that while the FORLOH Solair gear excels in comfort and insect protection, it may require careful consideration by hunters who prioritize fit, durability, and utility in their early-season gear.
Best Value: Huntworth Early Season Gear: Gadsden & Durham
Huntworth’s Gadsden & Durham Early Season Gear shines as the ‘Best Value’ option, blending affordability with key hunting features. Lightweight, breathable, and equipped with effective camouflage, it’s perfectly suited for early-season warmth and stealth. While there are some concerns about long-term durability, its affordability makes it an excellent choice for budget-conscious hunters or those new to the sport, offering a practical blend of comfort, functionality, and cost-effectiveness.
- Affordability: The gear is priced reasonably, making it accessible for a wide range of hunters.
- Lightweight and Breathable: Ideal for early-season hunting, ensuring comfort during warmer temperatures.
- Effective Camouflage: The patterns used are optimized for deer vision.
- Flexibility and Mobility: The design allows for ease of movement, which is crucial for hunting activities.
- Quiet Fabric: Essential for stealth, the material minimizes noise, an important aspect for hunters.
- Durability Concerns: Some questions about the long-term durability of the gear, especially under rigorous use.
- Sizing Issues: Potential inconsistencies in sizing, which might require careful selection or adjustments.
- Limited Scent Control Features: While the gear is suitable for the early season, it may lack advanced scent control technologies found in higher-end products.
Huntworth’s Gadsden & Durham Early Season Gear emerges as the ‘Best Value’ option among the early season hunting attire I’ve tested, striking an impressive balance between affordability and performance. The standout feature of this gear is its affordability, making it an accessible choice for a wide range of hunters without compromising on essential qualities.
The lightweight and breathable fabric is perfectly suited for the warmer temperatures of the early season, ensuring comfort during long hours in the field. The effective camouflage patterns used in this gear are adept at blending into various terrains, enhancing the hunter’s stealth. Additionally, the design of the gear prioritizes flexibility and mobility, crucial for the dynamic movements involved in hunting, while the quiet fabric construction aids in maintaining stealth.
However, it’s important to note some limitations, such as concerns about the long-term durability under rigorous use and potential sizing inconsistencies, which might require hunters to be more cautious in their selection. Despite these points, the Huntworth Gadsden & Durham gear stands out for its overall value.
It’s an ideal choice for hunters who are looking for functional, comfortable, and effective early-season gear without the hefty price tag often associated with premium hunting apparel. The gear’s combination of essential features at an affordable price point makes it particularly suitable for new hunters or those who are budget-conscious but still seek quality in their hunting attire. In essence, Huntworth’s gear offers a practical and economical solution for early-season hunting, delivering on key aspects without breaking the bank.
Ranking Early Season Clothing Options
Now, let’s take a look at how they ranked in different categories:
Breathability and Moisture-Wicking
When hunting in hot or warm weather it is critical to have hunting clothing that can breathe and will wick moisture away due to excessive sweating. All four systems offer excellent breathability and moisture-wicking capabilities, but the Asio Gear Lightweight Pants and Hoodie stand out for their superior moisture management, followed closely by Forloh’s SolAir with multiple technologies that provide wicking and cooling effects.
Insect protection can be extremely critical in different areas of the USA. In the early season, the heat and your sweat bring on the bugs and it can be terrible You can treat your clothes with Permethrin, but there are other great options for doing this. Both FORLOH’s SolAir Lightweight Pants and Hoodie and Sitka’s Equinox Guard take the lead with their built-in Permethrin Insect Shield® technology. With this treatment, these clothes can keep you insect-free for up to 70 washes.
- Best: Forloh and Sitka (both did excellent)
- 3rd: Asio (no treatment)
- 4th: Huntworth (no treatment)
I prefer hunting clothes that use a dual-action scent control methodology, but not all hunting clothing companies use this on their apparel. All four systems here offer some level of scent control. The Sitka’s Equinox Guard, FORLOH’s SolAir Lightweight Pants, and Hoodie, and Asio Gear with their moisture-wicking properties and anti-microbial technologies, provide excellent scent control.
The Huntworth system also offers good scent control, but only with the Gadsden pullover. The Huntworth Durham pants do not have any scent control treatments. Forloh was the only brand to have a complete dual-action antimicrobial and odor-adsorbing (Polygiene Odor Crunch) scent control system.
- Best: Forloh (dual action scent control comparable to Scentlok)
- Runner-Up: Asio and Sitka have comparable technologies
- 4th: Huntworth
When it comes to camouflage, I prefer systems that use a disruption style versus a mimicry style of camo. If you understand how deer vision works, then you know that mimicry camo that has pictures of leaves and twigs on it cannot be seen by deer. They cannot discern that level of detail.
This is why disruption-style camouflage that incorporates both micro and macro dispersion is far superior with its ability to confuse deer and allow you to blend into the environment you are hunting more effectively. All four systems offer effective disruption-style camouflage patterns, but the Sitka’s Equinox Guard and FORLOH’s SolAir Lightweight Pants and Hoodie stand out for their unique patterns designed to confuse deer vision.
- Best: Sitka (one of the innovators in this type of camo)
- Runner-Up: Forloh (advanced deer vision-centric camo)
- 3rd: Huntworth (very close to both Sitka and Forloh)
- 4th: Asio (unique Raptor camo built for tree stand hunting)
While all four systems are designed with stealth in mind, Huntworth’s Gadsden pullover stands out for its quiet fabric, but the Asio system was the quietest complete system overall.
Value for Money
Considering the features and performance of each system relative to its cost, the Huntworth Early Season Gear offers the best value for money for those on a budget, while the Asio Gear provides a high-end option with a lot of value. See below.
Comparing Prices and Value
|Equinox Guard Pants and Hoody
|Gadsden and Durham
|$159.98 (Most Budget Friendly Option)
|Lightweight Pants and Hoodie
|SolAir Lightweight Pants and Hoodie
Best and Worst Features
Each system has its strengths and weaknesses. Rating the best early-season bow-hunting clothing systems can be tough. Here are the best and worst features of each:
Sitka’s Equinox Guard: Hoody & Pants
Best: Excellent camouflage pattern, Insect Shield® protection, hip zip vents on the pants, and overall comfort. Plus, the hoody is the best of the bunch. Worst: High price point and the pants are a little heavy and might work better as an early-season transition into mid-season pants. The pants are some of the highest quality hunting pants I have worn though (I really like them, I just don’t like the price).
Huntworth Early Season Gear: Gadsden & Durham
Best: Excellent moisture management and value for money. The Gadsden pullover is extremely comfortable. Worst: Knee and backside protection in the pants can be noisy when walking through thick brush. The fit in the crotch is a little off.
Asio Gear: Lightweight Pants & Hoodie
Best: 100% Made in America, superior moisture management, hip zip vents, unique camouflage pattern, and Durable Water Repellent (DWR) protection, and the hoodie comes in a close second place to the Sitka hoody. Worst: Does not offer specific insect control and the double thigh pockets, while highly waterproofed, were not my favorite feature.
FORLOH Insect Shield® SolAir Lightweight Pants and Hoodie
Best: Both Polygiene Dual-Action Scent Control and Insect Shield® technologies and a highly effective camouflage pattern. Worst: The hood on the hoodie fits poorly and has a white backing that is visible when wearing. I usually wear a large and had to size down to medium and the hood still has a loose fit.
The Best Early-Season Bow Hunting Clothing Systems
In my opinion, based on my extensive testing over the past year, Sitka’s Equinox Guard stands out as the best overall system, despite its high price point. It offers a comprehensive set of features including excellent comfort, Insect Shield® protection, and a highly effective camouflage pattern.
The Asio Gear Lightweight system takes a very close second to the Sitka and has the best overall quality-to-value ratio. I really like both a lot. However, it’s important to remember that the best gear for you will depend on your individual needs, hunting conditions, and budget.
Remember, the right gear can make all the difference in your hunting experience. So take the time to consider all the factors and choose the best early-season bow-hunting clothing system that best fits your needs. I highly recommend following the links above to each individual review for more details about each brand and product.