I am in zone 6a (Ohio) and this will only be used for static hunts from an elevated stand no blinds or shooting houses.
I am interested in starting the system at the next to skin base layer and building towards the outer shell. The end game will be the fanatic jacket and bibs but I am not ready to give up my ASAT outer shell just yet.
I currently have some UA pieces with polartec mixed in for layering and a few other odds and ends . I have the First Lite Woodbury jacket with the Sanctuary bibs in ASAT. I feel great in these but anything below 40 and I start to get cold. I generally hunt up until Thanksgiving and last year November saw a low of 17. A bunch of prime time dates saw lows in the 20s and 30s. During the first few weeks in November I like to hunt from sun up until about 1:30 then return for the evening hunt but that is tough when you get cold. Not to mention when I work up a sweat in the UA base layers I feel cold and clammy the rest of the hunt.
So my questions are what do you layer with if layering with all Sitka. Maybe give me a range if possible of what you wear below 40 below 30 etc. Thanks in advanced.
I was looking at the Core Lightweight Crew LS with the bottoms as my next to skin layer all season. This is where I start to wonder how these layers work. Can I then go with Merino Heavyweight Half zip followed by the Fantic hoody or would the Fantic vest be a better option? Ultimately as mentioned I need layers leading up to the fantic jacket and bibs. Not sure if I’ll get them this year or not. I went to order them last year and they were out of stock. I am thinking with better base layers maybe the First lite stuff will work until I am ready to upgrade.
Core light is a great base layer all year long.
Fanatic Hoody I wear next no matter what or where I am hunting be it whitetail or mountain goat, my favorite piece. Early season use the ESW rather than the Fanatic hoody. Into October but the Fanatic Lite over, add a Fanatic Vest as it gets colder. Switch out the vest and light as you go colder and longer in November to the Fanatic. You can do the same thing with the Stratus and a puffy as well rather than the Fanatic Light Fanatic.
You can stack light/mid/heavy core in any combo or alone but I find I don’t really need to stack them.
Fanatic Hoody is a great early outer layer or mid layer. I sleep in mine in the mountains, it never comes off.
Fanatic Vest is a very warm and meant to be worn as an outer layer, it’s not a slick vest to be worn under. Fanatic Hoody is more of a heavy base layer; it acts like a big thick UA Hoody but it is thin for layering. It’s a hard piece to describe but it is a must have.
Also, IMO I prefer the FL Sanctuary jacket as it seems to have more room to add a puffy underneath than the Fanatic. If it isn't crazy cold, you're plenty fine ditching the puffy, but when it gets snot freezing cold you're best bet is to add a puffy. UNLESS you want to go battery operated heat. I don't have anything of that nature, but have heard it is getting better.
What's huge as well is your head. Windproof neck warmer, windproof tuque. When it gets real bad my favourite is a Cabelas 4 in 1 hood type deal that is windproof. I'll wear a tuque underneath it but the neck part of it goes down into my jacket. I'll maybe even wear another neckie in or over it. OR my fake fur hat that is windproof. It's insanely warm and the fur part keeps my ears warm while allowing me to hear better. Here is a screenshot of a small video I made after killing my buck last year when it was -4F so you can see the hat type. They make a HUGE difference. A real fur hat could only be better I imagine.
The biggest key IMO to staying warm is covering the cracks and not letting heat escape. What I mean by that is bibs cover the cracks between a jacket and pants, so don't wear pants. long sleeves that have the thumb hole go up into your glove and cover the crack where your sleeve would normally meet a glove. A neckie that goes down into your jacket and up over your head covers the crack where warm air would escape through your jacket collar. Have as much overlap as you can on these "crack" areas and you maximize on the warm air your body has made. You need to keep it in like a ziplock, cause if you've got a lot of airgaps you are dead in the water.
We live in this crap, our Novembers on average are like your January weather. So take that advice for the cold end, and removing layers from that is easy.
On the bottom I wear a wool base layer(s) and pants of a weight so that I do not sweat going to my stand and so that I am cold enough to dress and climb the tree w/o sweating. On cold days that may be a heavy base layer and a pair insulated pants. On warm days it may be just a light pair of pants. On cold days at the stand I may add an over size pair of Sitka Kelvin pants that go right over the insulated pants and can zipper on the outside of my boots so my boots can stay on. Bibs go on tops of that. The new fanatic stuff is cut for every little layering so you may have a problem doing this. This should keep everything from your kidneys down warm in some pretty cold weather.
For the top I usually walk in with just a wool base layer to stay cool but if it is real cold I may wear 2. In my pack may have a kelvin vest, a First lite vest, a fleece top, a wool pull over. The jacket and the bibs are strapped to the pack.
All bottom layers that are in or on the pack are put on at the base of the tree. Jacket is always out on in the tree. Some top layers may stay in the pack if I am too warm when I get to the tree.
For my head I may have a balaclava, a wool beanie, fleece beanie, a brimmed hat plus the hood. The brim is just to keep the hood out of my vision. For real cold weather I add boot blankets. I think that it is important that boots be on a boot dryer over night to remove moisture.
I use a lot of Sitka gear but also a lot of First lite, Ice Breaker, Cabelas etc. Whatever fits and layers best for me. A large, comfortable pack is an important part of my gear. I would not buy any Sitka gear w/o trying it on.
-4 no thanks.
So what I learned so far......
XL is my size in Sitka in all aspects. That size feels the most comfortable to me.
The Fantic hoody feels amazing to wear. It is beyond comfortable and it is something I will wear from bow opener through really cold. 5 minutes after trying it on I bought it. I also liked the way the midweight core Zip-T feels under it so I grabbed that as well.
I also found that the finatic bibs in an XL offer a lot more room than the Sancuary XL bibs. In my current set up those Sanctuary bibs are already kind of snug and I cannot fit a lot of base layers under it so most times after a skin layer I layer over the bibs up top. The Woodbury jacket has plenty of room for layers. They didn’t have the fanatic jacket in XL only XXL. That was way too big. I would have liked to try on a large bibs/jacket but they didn’t have them either. The selection of sizes in the elevated stunk but I did find some sizes in other colors.
I recently ordered the merino heavyweight half zip and bottoms. We will see if it fits under the fanatic hoody or not. I am undecided on the fanatic vest. If it fits under my Woodbury jacket that might be all I need to keep the core warm. Eventually I will add the fanatic coat and bibs just to add another option. I want to put these baselayers to the test this upcoming season.