Sitka Stratus Jacket and Pants Review using the Optifade Subalpine version.

Sitka Stratus Jacket and Pants Review (Wish I Got the Bibs)

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Are you a bow hunter scouring the internet to find out if the Sitka Stratus Jacket and Pants are truly worth their price? Well, you’ve landed in the right place.

I know how crucial it is to have gear that’s not just durable and quiet but also versatile enough to adapt to the unpredictable weather and terrain of bow hunting. With the Stratus Jacket at $359 and the Pants at $309, the question is: do they deliver value for their cost?

As a seasoned tester of military and hunting gear, I’ve developed a good understanding of what high-quality equipment is and what it isn’t. This season, I put the Sitka Stratus gear through some rough conditions while hunting here in the mountains of central Pennsylvania and I got a really good look at how it performs.

Join me as I dissect the Sitka Stratus Jacket and Pants, from their performance in temperatures ranging from 60 to 25 degrees to how they hold up in different weather conditions. By the end of this review, you’ll have a clear picture of whether these pieces are worth the investment – and I’ll even share why I wish I had opted for the bibs instead of the pants.

Sitka Stratus Jacket and Pants Review

In August, I was asked to test a couple of items from Sitka. I was provided with the Ambient Hoody and the Stratus Jacket and Pants. As always, I only agree to do reviews of products if it’s understood that I don’t do cookie-cutter reviews and I put everything I review through real-world testing.

I treat each review the same regardless of whether I buy the product (or not). My credibility and the trust you put in my reviews are extremely important to me and I think you’ll see that in this review and all the others I’ve written on this site. *See my base criteria for bow-hunting clothing here.

So let’s get to the Sitka Stratus Jacket and Pants review.

Sitka Stratus Jacket

Features

  • Super Quiet: This jacket is really quiet. It’s great for sneaking up on deer and not getting busted when drawing your bow.
  • Tough as Nails: It’s strong and can handle rough brush and branches without getting torn up.
  • Keeps the Wind Out: The special WINDSTOPPER® stuff in the jacket stops the cold wind, so you stay warm.
  • Good for All Season: Whether it’s mid-season or late, this jacket works great. It’s good for all kinds of weather when you’re bow hunting.

The Sitka Stratus Jacket is a highly recommended midseason option and is a quiet, wind-stopping, highly water-resistant jacket that can take you through most of the archery season. The quality and value of the jacket are apparent as soon as you put it on and sets itself apart from the competition, but might be too expensive for those on a tight budget.

Pros

  • Excellent wind stopper
  • Highly water-resistant (w/taped seams)
  • Ultra quiet exterior & zippers
  • Magnetic-connect safety harness port
  • Tough and durable
  • Excellent warmth-to-weight ratio (lighter than expected)

Cons

  • High collar (interferes with anchor point  when drawing a bow)
  • No pit zips (for venting)
  • No scent control features
  • Optifade Subalpine camouflage (print is very bright) – I recommend the Elevated II camo version
  • Price

-Keep scrolling for the full review of the Sitka Stratus Jacket below.

Sitka Stratus Pants

Sitka Stratus Pants review with the Elevated II camo version.

Features

  • Very Quiet: These pants let you move around without making noise. Some of the quietest pants in this category I’ve tested.
  • Tougher than they Look: They’re tough and durable pants that don’t rip or get ruined easily, even in rough places.
  • Blocks the Wind: The pants have this cool WINDSTOPPER® thing that keeps the wind from making you cold.
  • Great for Any Time: No matter if it’s early in the mid-season or later, these pants work. They’re good for all kinds of weather.

The Sitka Stratus Pants are a highly recommended midseason option and are quiet, wind-stopping, highly water-resistant pants that can take you through most of the archery season. The quality and value of the pants are apparent as soon as you put them on and they set themselves apart from the competition but might be too expensive for those on a tight budget.

Pros

  • Excellent wind stopper
  • Highly water-resistant (w/taped seams)
  • Ultra quiet exterior
  • Quiet zippers
  • Super quiet pocket snaps
  • Tough and durable
  • Excellent warmth-to-weight ratio (lighter than expected)

Cons

  • No hip zip vents
  • No back pockets (if that matters to you)
  • No scent control features
  • Optifade Subalpine camouflage (print is very white and bright) – recommend Elevated II camo version
  • Price

-Keep scrolling for the full review of the Sitka Stratus Pants.

The Field Test

The Stratus system is built for mid-season deer hunting (bow hunting). While it’s not an extreme cold weather system, it is advertised to be flexible enough to be used by itself or with layering as it gets colder. Here are the criteria I looked at based on Sitka’s advertised list of features for these items and what I looked for performance-wise during my test.

  • Are they windproof?
  • Are they water resistant?
  • Are they warm?
  • Are they quiet?
  • Are they configured optimally for a bow hunter? (Pockets, safety strap port, etc.)
  • Are the zippers quiet?
  • Are they maneuverable and comfortable? (How do they perform during the hunt)
  • Are they durable? (How do they hold up in thick brush)

Testing all of these criteria was very important to me. I wanted to make sure I did a thorough review using this as the benchmark for success.

In mid-October, temperatures ranged from the 40’s during the mornings and early evening to the 60’s and sometimes warmer. I wore the Stratus Jacket and Pants for multiple hunts through late October into November where I encountered temperatures ranging from the mid-20’s to the 50’s).

I hunted mostly from my Cruzr XC tree saddle, but also in my Novix Helo hang and hunt stand. I climbed trees most of the time with my Tethrd Skeletor Climbing Sticks and occasionally with my Novix single-step sticks. I busted a lot of brush and worked my way through a lot of green briar and mountain laurel. I hunted in light to medium-steady rain, but I didn’t have the opportunity to hunt in snow.

I did a lot of long hikes into my hunting locations. I routinely walked from 1-2 miles through both easy and tough terrain with my pack on my back.

I tested and compared the Stratus to a few other systems I was testing too. This comparison made me focus on a lot of its features due to how it performed and made me notice things from the others I tested because of it.

Sitka Stratus Jacket Review as a part of the combined Sitka Stratus Jacket and Pants Review.

Sitka Stratus Jacket Review

Fit and Breathability

My first impression of the Stratus Jacket when I took it out of the package was that it was way thinner than I had expected. It is a very lightweight jacket. When I tried it on I noticed how the fit was exceptional and set itself apart from the other comparable hunting clothes I tested this season.

I am 5’8″ tall and 185 lbs. I normally wear a size large and the jacket fits me perfectly. The tapered fit leaves room for layers yet has almost zero bulk. The way the forearm area is tapered to allow you to draw your bow easily stood out to me right away, It is very nice.

I did feel like the collar could have been better with a tapered cut to keep it out of the way when drawing your bow and attempting to set your anchor. It got in the way a little for me but wasn’t a deal breaker.

When wearing it initially, I found that I had to pack it into my stand because of overheating. The first time I wore it, I was halfway to my stand and had to stop and put it in my pack. The windstopper works exceptionally well and while they advertise that it breathes well, it can retain a lot of heat when hiking.

I don’t know if I ever really assessed its breathability, but I was happier with the warmth it provided. I wish Sitka had incorporated pit zips in the jacket as this would have allowed me to air out on colder days when hiking to my stand.

Windstopper and Warmth

When it comes to stopping the wind, this is where the Stratus jacket shines. The jacket cut the wind exceptionally well and kept me warm on the windiest of days in my saddle.

While I say that it was warm, it is still just a mid-season jacket. You can wear it down into the 20-degree range easily, but you will have to layer up to do it. That’s why I say it has a range of the mid to upper 20s to 60 degrees.

You can wear the jacket without any layers at all in the early part of the mid-season and be comfortable or layer up significantly as you push into the late season and take advantage of its wind-stopping ability and other features. This gives it a lot of flexibility through the long archery season and the many weather changes that come with it.

I did hunts where I was in the low 40s and realized that I should have layered up better.

Me wearing the Sitka Stratus Jacket during my review
You can see how the jacket fits on me. I am only wearing a T-shirt under it in this picture.

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Quiet, Durable, and Water Resistant

The Stratus Jacket is one of the quietest hunting jackets I’ve ever used. Both the interior and exterior materials are very quiet and the zippers are also very high quality and super quiet. I was very impressed with this. As a bow hunter, being able to draw on a deer at five (5) yards without making noise is a huge plus.

The quiet nature of the material stood out when busting through thick brush too. While I didn’t do it much with the jacket and as opposed to the pants, the jacket held up very well considering I didn’t have any real expectation of high durability. You tend to sacrifice this a little when you buy bow-hunting gear that is focused on helping you be quiet.

The Durable Water Resistant (DWR) protection held up very well. I was in both light rain and steady rain (no downpours) with the jacket and it did better than expected. The soft exterior material would get soaked, but I always stayed dry on the inside of the jacket, which kept me warm.

I assume that the windstopper membrane helps with this too. The hood over my hat helped a lot during those periods of rain and I’m glad I kept it on the jacket (it’s removable). Plus, the taped seams with the quiet YKK zippers are really nice.

The low bulk nature of the Stratus allowed for ease of movement and climbing trees and getting set up in my saddle was never an issue. The magnetically connected safety harness port is a nice touch and is very quiet. I only used it a few times when I did hang and hunts, but it is a nice feature.

Is It Worth It?

After using the Stratus Jacket through many hunts in different conditions throughout the season, the thing that stood out to me the most was the overall quality of it. When compared to a few other items I was testing, the tapered, low profile wear of the jacket and the attention to detail that was put into it stood out to me.

This is not a cheap jacket. But you are getting a higher quality level with a lifetime guarantee from Sitka that only becomes apparent after putting it through its paces. It is one of those things that is hard to articulate, but if you have the money to spend and want a mid-season jacket that will last and hold up to the rigors of bow hunting, then this might be for you.

I highly recommend it.

Sitka Stratus Pants review of the new optifade subalpine camo version

Sitka Stratus Pants Review

Fit and Breathability

If you remember, I initially said I wished I had gotten the Sitka Stratus Bibs instead of the pants. There are a few reasons for this.

First off, the pants fit very well. Like the jacket, a lot of attention to detail was put into the pants to ensure they were functional and not bulky. They are very comfortable and I was impressed with the fit right away. I am 5’8″ tall and have a 34-inch waist, and the medium size fits me perfectly.

The reason I think the bibs are a better buy is that the pants have a critical element missing. Much like the jacket, the wind stopper really blocks the wind, but the pants don’t breathe exceptionally well. I really overheated a few times walking to my stand even when it was nearly 30 degrees.

If you don’t go far, this might not be a problem for you, but I tend to hike long distances to my stand locations. If the pants had zip vents like the bibs, this probably wouldn’t have been an issue.

Being able to vent out when doing long hikes would be a huge bonus. The bibs have zippers the entire length of the pants on both legs. My brother has the bibs and after trying them on and seeing the differences, I wish I had gotten the Stratus bibs instead. They are designed very well and I like them a lot more than the pants.

Windstopper and Warmth

Just like the jacket, the pant’s ability to stop the wind is excellent. The Gore-Tex Windstopper is a great feature and can really help keep you warm.

I found the pants to be warmer than the jacket, but I also don’t normally get very cold in my legs fast. This is why I say the temperature where the pants work best starts at 50 degrees as opposed to 60 degrees and can take you down into the mid-20s easily. They are just too warm for 60-degree weather in my opinion. But, they can definitely take you into the late season easily (with appropriate layering).

Me holding the Sitka Stratus Pants during my review

Quiet, Durable, and Water Resistant

The pants are very quiet and have features that allow the cargo pockets on the pants to be utilized without making a lot of sound. The snaps on the cargo pockets are the quietest I have ever used. This is a very cool feature and a touch of quality you don’t see often. The zippered leg pocket allows you to access items even when sitting and has the same high-quality, quiet YKK zippers the jacket uses (with taped seams for water resistance).

The ability of the pants to stay quiet even when busting through thick brush stood out to me. This coupled with the pants’ unforeseen durability in those tough terrain situations was something I am still surprised about.

They aren’t meant for busting through brush as the quiet material isn’t exactly meant for that, but they do very well with it. I didn’t have any signs of rips or tears in my pants here at the end of the bow season.

The pants are very maneuverable and stretch well. I had zero problems hiking or climbing trees in them.

When caught in the rain I described above, the DWR protection held up very well. I got soaked on one occasion and the pants, like the jacket, were wet on the outside, but the inside remained bone dry.

Is It Worth It?

The Sitka Stratus Pants are exceptional and do everything they claim to do. The lack of zip vents isn’t a deal breaker but I wish they had them. The ability of the pants to retain heat due to the Windstopper technology is a huge plus but it comes with its issues as I already discussed. It is a balancing act for sure and why I said I wish I had gotten the Sitka Stratus Bibs to test instead. Being able to vent out the heat would help a lot.

I love the pants and just wish they had some of the same advantages the bibs provide. Either way, you can’t go wrong. The attention to detail in the design and the high quality you get in these pants sets them apart from other brands. They are comfortable and an item I will be using moving forward.

I highly recommend them.

Best camo for deer hunting: what the science says
Comparing Sitka Elevated II (top) and Optifade Subalpine (bottom), to Huntworth’s Disruption camo (middle).

Camouflage

Sitka is a pioneer in the world of deer hunting camo. In 2009, Sitka set out to create camouflage patterns that were optimized for deer vision. This scientific approach (seen here) that uses both micro and macro dispersion to confuse a deer when they are looking at you is now being mimicked by countless other hunting clothing companies.

The Stratus collection was originally only produced using Sitka’s Optifade Elevated II camo. This camouflage is made specifically for bow hunting from an elevated position in trees. But, for this Sitka Stratus Jacket and Pants review, I opted to test the new Optifade Subalpine version that was just released this year.

I was looking forward to using it because I felt like it would be an excellent choice for later in the fall when everything is brown or tan in the mountains of central Pennsylvania. I have several other Sitka pieces that use this camo and was looking forward to using it in a colder weather scenario.

Oddly enough, I was disappointed in how the camo print came out on the Stratus system. It appears to be very bright and while mostly tan, seems almost white at times (and some reviewers have commented on this on Sitka’s website as well). When comparing it to the other pieces I have, there is a significant difference. The Core Lightweight Hoody, for instance, is much darker in comparison.

This is why I recommend only buying the Stratus Jacket and Pants in the Elevated II camouflage.

*If you hunt in an environment where this camo fits well, even when very light, then, by all means, buy it. This is a personal preference for me. I felt like I stood out a lot when walking through the woods.

Comparing the Sitka Stratus Optifade Subalpine camo to the same camo on the Core Lightweight Hoody.
It is hard to see in this picture (in my basement), but the difference between the Optifade Subalpine print on the Stratus pants vs. the Core Lightweight Hoody stood out.

Scent Control

One of the criteria I use when selecting the bow hunting clothing I use is that they incorporate scent control technologies into the garments. I prefer a dual-action approach that utilizes both an antimicrobial and odor-adsorbing approach to scent control, but not all hunting clothing has this.

While the Stratus Jacket and Pants do not have any type of scent control incorporated into them, I have the opinion that if you use a good scent routine you can use almost any type of clothing. That being said, for the money you are paying for this system, at a minimum some kind of antimicrobial/antibacterial treatment should have been included.

Conclusion

In this Sitka Stratus Jacket and Pants review, I covered every aspect of the product’s claims and what I thought about how they performed in real-world bow hunting conditions this past archery season in Pennsylvania.

The Stratus system is a high-quality set of bow hunter-optimized clothing that has a high level of attention to detail of what a bow hunter wants and needs to be quiet, warm, dry, and successful during hunts in the mid to late season. The quality is what sets this Sitka gear apart from other comparable products.

I highly recommend the Stratus system to any bow hunter who wants high-quality bow hunting gear that will last and comes with a warranty you can feel confident in. It is a long-term investment that you really can’t lose on, but if you are on a tight budget, there might be other, more budget-friendly options that you may want to consider.

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