Technical Jacket and Vest Comparison – KUIU vs Sitka Gear
The pieces I plan on comparing and giving my opinions on in this review are the following. (Please note the Sitka 90% Jacket and Celsius Vest are the older Mountain Mimicry (MM) 2.0 pattern and not the newest Optifade models.)
Guide Jacket (22.2 oz for Med)
Sprindrift Jacket (12.6 oz for Med)
Guide Vest (13.2 oz for Large)
Jetstream Jacket (25.4 oz for Large)
90% Jacket (MM2.0) (22.2 oz for Large)
Celsius Vest (MM2.0) (16.9 oz for Large)
(All above weights are from my personal scale)
Guide vs Jetstream:
The most direct comparison this is review / comparison is the KUIU Guide jacket compared to the Sitka Jetstream Jacket. Both jackets are intended for pretty much the same purpose. In following suit, the Sitka Jetstream offers more features than the KUIU Guide jacket, mainly in the form of pockets. The Jetstream jacket has 2 handwarmer pockets, 3 chest pockets (2 pockets on the left side of the chest), and a fore arm sleeve pocket on lower left sleeve. The KUIU Guide Jacket has 3 pockets total, 2 hand warmer pockets and an inside chest pocket on the left side. Both jackets have pit zips to help ventilate the jacket and non-detachable hoods. Both jackets have cinch cords for the hoods and waists. The Sitka Jetstream cinch cords are routed into the pockets so no cords are exposed to whip in the wind or snag on brush.
The KUIU Guide Jacket is made from Toray’s Primeflex 274g/m2 4-Way Stretch Soft Shell fabric. The Jetstream is Gore’s Windstopper Soft Shell fabric. From my testing and experiences, the Jetstream is more windproof than the Guide Jacket, but not as breathable as the Guide Jacket. The weights are extremely close between the two jackets. Both jackets are very water resistant, only leaking at the seams, and only under a strong downpour in my experience. Both fabrics are stretchable and haven’t let me down yet.
I purchased the Large Jetstream and Medium Guide Jacket based off of measurements, feedback from others, and availability. The Guide jacket has a more ‘fitted’ fit, and while it fits well, I would possibly get a Large if buying again as I like my jackets a little big for layering. That is more of an individual preference as my measurements put me in the Medium Guide Jacket. I do like the fitted sleeve of the Guide Jacket for less chance of snagging my bowstring. The spindrift jacket fits under my Guide Jacket (and Jetstream jacket) with just a little bit of binding under the armpits of my Guide Jacket. (Jason Hairston has told me the 2012 model guide jacket has more room under the armpits.) In summary of these jackets, I’d go to my Guide Jacket earlier in the season when archery hunting, or when more active later in the season due to its increased breathability. The Jetstream jacket tends to get used when the weather is more blustery and I’m doing more glassing and not as active. The Jetstream jacket has more ‘swoosh’ to it, and is a little louder when the fabric rubs against itself. However, both jackets perform extremely well and I like the attached hoods on them both.
I will touch briefly on the Sitka 90% jacket, but mine is the older MM 2.0 pattern. This jacket is extremely breathable, but is more of a 50% jacket in my opinion. It doesn’t block moisture well at all and I’ve taken to using it only in early season as it doesn’t cut the wind that well either. It is breathable enough (partly in thanks to pit zips) that I tend to carry it over a vest in early season. Between having the Guide Jacket and Jetstream Jacket, it will be interesting to see how much use this jacket gets in the future and may end up getting sold.
Insulating Jacket – KUIU Spindrift
The KUIU Spindrift jacket quickly became a favorite jacket. It weighs next to nothing for the big benefits it provides. The insulation is 80 grams of Primaloft One insulation. It packs extremely small and provides lots of warmth for the weight. The outer shell is 40 denier polyester fabric, which is loud, but this jacket isn’t designed as an outer shell, but more of an insulated layer to throw on while glassing or hanging out in camp. The Primaloft One insulation will still insulate when wet, unlike down.
The Sitka equivalent to the Sprindrift would be the Kelvin Jacket or the new 2012 Kelvin Lite jacket to be released this summer. I do not own nor have I used this jacket, so I can’t give a solid review, only give my thoughts based off of my thoughts from seeing it and playing with it in stores. The Sitka Kelvin is insulated with Primaloft Sport which is 170g/m^2 insulation. This jacket weighs 23.41 oz, so is about twice that of the Sprindrift. It appears to be warmer, but I’ve never used it, so can’t say for sure given the difference between the Primaloft One and Primaloft Sport insulations. Sitka also has the Kelvin vest, which is very appealing to me, and if KUIU doesn’t come out with a Spindrift vest I may look at closer.
KUIU Guide Vest vs Sitka Celcius (MM2.0) Vest
The KUIU Guide Vest is one of the first KUIU pieces I ever purchased. A lot of my friends aren’t big vest users, but I like wearing a lightweight vest when still hunting or on those chilly mornings of chasing bugles in case I get pinned down for a while I won’t freeze. The KUIU Guide vest works very well for this application because it breathes so well, but does a good job of resisting the wind. It isn’t as thick as the Celsius vest, and because of this breathes better and is more suited to wearing when active. If I had to choose between the Sitka Celcius vest and Sitka Kelvin Vest, I think I’d go with the Kelvin vest to throw on for more insulation as it is lighter and probably warmer. I find a vest as a very versatile piece of clothing and one can usually be found with me.
The KUIU Guide vest is made out of the same material as the KUIU Guide Jacket. It is very water and wind resistant. If just comparing the KUIU Guide Jacket to the Sitka Jetstream Jacket, I’d utilize the Guide Jacket for more early season use, but it can definitely hold its own in the late season, especially when paired with other KUIU gear in the KUIU System. The same can be said for Sitka Jetstream, although the Jetstream doesn’t breathe as well for very active hunting. It should be apparent that the common theme is that Sitka Gear items have extra features such as more pockets and non-exposed draw cords, but tend to weigh slightly more. All those ounces tend to add up when building a clothing system.