We give Sitka Traverse Cold Weather Hoody top marks as a versatile hunting jacket that does some things other jackets don’t.
- Facemask is built in
- Stretch hood moves with you
- Highest quality construction
- Versatile, comfortable, water-resistant polyester fleece
What Makes the Sitka Traverse Hoody Different
It’s the hood. Oh, there’s high-quality construction and hydrophobic fabrics and all that, but it’s the hood that makes the most noticeable difference. At first glance this medium-weight polyester fleece jacket looks like a dozen others on the market, but once you put it on and pull up that hood… Here are all the details I discovered that make me love this jacket:
Permanently Attached: The hood is sewn right to the heavy-duty collar. So forget about zippers and buttons that come undone. Forget about losing the hood. And don’t worry about it getting in the way either…
Light Roll Up: Fleece lined for warmth, the hood is thin and light enough to fold or roll down to hug the collar and stay out of your way without the need to pack or zip it into a pocket. Even if you just let it hang, you hardly notice it’s there — until you need it.
Stretchy: The tight-knit polyester surface or face of the Sitka Traverse is a polyester Spandex blend. The Spandex give it a bit of stretch. This makes it easy to pull on and off, yet helps it hug your neck and head for even more benefits…
Fits Like a Balaclava: Because of that Spandex and the way in which this hood is cut, it hugs your contours and moves with you. You know how so many hoods block peripheral vision and cover your eyes when you look up? Not this one. Turn hard left, right, up, or down and the hood turns with you. Your vision is never compromised.
Built in Face Mask: Clever clever! Sitka has sewn a light, stretchy, polyester face mask into the hood. You can ignore it back there, use it as a neck gaiter to block the wind, or lift it to cover your face up to your chin, nose or eyes. Never misplace or lose your face mask again. Have I yet mentioned the Sitka Traverse Cold Weather Hoody is versatile?
No Clog Zippers: Reverse coil zippers. The clothing industry calls these Invisible Identical Zippers. They have fine teeth that don’t make a lot of loud, zipper-ripper noise when operated. More importantly, they slide smoothly and easily without snagging any jacket material or jamming. There’s even a little fleece-covered parking garage for the pull tab at the neck so it doesn’t flap in the breeze or touch your delicate little neck. I prefer a zippered hoody because they are easier to don and doff than a pull-over. Easier to vent for cooling, too. Just open that IIZ.
Berber Fleece Liner: This is that thick-pile fleece that looks warm and keeps you warm because it retains its loft to provide lots of dead air pockets. Dead air = insulation = warmth.
Precision Construction: So-so sewing is not an issue with the Sitka Traverse Cold Weather Hoody. The lines, seams, and threads are straight, tight, consistent, and precise. I don’t see any of the crooked seams and loose ends so common on garments these days.
Big Pockets: And not too many of them, either. In my experience too many outdoor jacket makers are overbuilding with pockets upon pockets. The Traverse has a pair of hand warmer pockets cut generously enough that you can store gloves and balaclava in them with room left over for your hands. And the zippered openings are large enough to get those hands in and out. The left-side chest pocket could be a bit more generous for my tastes. I’d like one on the right side as well as left, but I can live with it. An internal pocket or two would be handy for wallet, license, protein bar, etc. Maybe Sitka will read this and add them on their next edition.
Test Driving the Sitka Traverse
In the field I found the light (27 ounces,) slightly stretchy Sitka Traverse quite comfortable during active hiking, climbing, glassing, and shooting. The bit of stretch in the material prevented the pulling and binding you get with some form-fitting jackets. With its tightly knitted exterior (it’s hard for me to see this as a knitted fabric, but that’s what Sitka calls it on their website — High Gauge Knit Face,) the jacket proved fairly water resistant in light rain and snow, thanks in part to its DWR — durable water repellent finish. The cut is athletic but not so snug that it feels cramped. Just right for bowhunters. Minimal chance for sleeve slap. I’m 170-pounds, 5’10” and not what anyone would called bulked up, so I had plenty of room inside. Even over a fleece base layer, the jacket in size Large did not pinch or bind, yet it’s not so oversized that it flaps or hangs. There is a bit of extra belly room for folks who like their beer and gravy. Give it the Goldilocks award — Just Right.
Over my favorite, old, insulated nylon jacket the Traverse glides smoothly, making for an effective outer layer. Under a heavier coat or rain jacket it becomes an effective insulation layer. Like I said, versatile.
Wind is always a challenge for fleece. The tight shell of the Traverse surprised me, blocking most of a 10- to 15 mph wind. Any stronger than that, however, and I’d want a blocking layer over it. Heck, I like a wind blocker at any speed, but this tight knit exterior will suffice. Even the thinner hood kept the cold breeze at bay. That surprised me. The hood contributed in a big way to my feeling of cozy warmth.
The back of this jacket is cut long for good coverage of the vital kidney area. The tail stayed halfway down my butt even with arms raised in full stretch. The sleeves themselves continued to cover my wrists at full stretch. In short, I’m quite impressed with the fit of this jacket.
As for warmth, that, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder — or feel of the shiverer, if you will. I find this the perfect jacket for early season mountain hiking and hunting. Sitting still, I’m guessing it would suffice into the high-30s with light winds. Even then I’d probably want an insulating layer like a vest under it. But other folks might find it cozy into the 20s. Humans are quite variable in their cold tolerance. Fortunately, with the option of layering both under and over, the Sitka Traverse Cold Weather Hoody should run with the bulls from early bugle season well into October. I can see it keeping me warm on early season duck hunts, whitetail bow hunts, December Dakota pheasant hunts, early spring turkey hunts…
Over the years Ron Spomer has shivered afield in everything from cotton to wool, nylon to plastic. He’s tested outdoor clothing from the Arctic to the snowy peaks of Asia and New Zealand and lived to write about it in numerous magazines.