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How to Become a Sitka Athlete
Author: Jonathan Hart
Groups: Athletes | Darkroom
Categories: Sitka Athlete
Nov 14, 2013
In 2005, we were just a few guys building gear designed for hunting, worthy of mountaineering. Our small team was working around the clock trying to run a business and get product out the door, and we just weren't hunting enough to do the kind of field testing that results in game-changing innovation. So we recruited a couple elite hunters to help us beat the hell out of gear in the most demanding weather and terrain imaginable, and to tell us what to change. The Sitka Athlete program was born.

This idea wasn't new to the outdoor gear world, but it was revolutionary within the hunting industry. People joked. They asked how athletic a guy had to be to drink beer, shoot stuff, and talk to the camera.
But the Athletes have earned the badge. They have prepared, scouted, and executed with intense focus. They are not celebrities, and none of them have TV shows. They are remarkable hunters, passionate and authentic sages. Guys anyone would be lucky to learn from. They understand our mission of Turning Clothing Into Gear, of inventing tools that help them achieve their goals. And with that understanding, they give us bare-knuckle, laser-focused feedback that continues to push the boundaries of what we think is possible. They are the pinnacle of field testers, the subjects of some of our favorite stories.

With their help, our gear has progressed to the point that mountaineering companies we always looked up to now use some of our innovations.
So that's what an Athlete is. But before you learn how to become one, you should know that no Athlete is paid to wear or endorse Sitka. In fact, each of them independently came to the same conclusion that I did, and began assembling and testing their own Sitka Systems long before we asked them to join the team.

OK, now to the question: how do you become a Sitka Athlete?
We seek you out. We've heard your name from hunters we respect. We've heard your stories and seen your photos – maybe in magazines, but more likely in forwarded emails or faded photo albums or the annals of social media. You inspire those around you to hunt with more integrity and grit. For you, good enough is never good enough.

When we meet you, we'll see that you're more walk than talk. And when you talk about hunting, your words will drip with passion and authenticity, with respect for the animals and the land. You probably won't pitch us out of the blue to become a Sitka Athlete. Those who've come before you were on our radar, and they made sure we knew they had Sitka in their DNA before we ever began the Athlete conversation.

So that's what it takes. These guys inspire us -- push us -- to be more remarkable. We hope they do the same for you.



The hunt to me is a great deal more then killing an animal. The hunt is story telling from generation before you, a family tradition, born from respect for the outdoors and its wilderness. The hunt is drinking a coffee from a tin cup and watching the birds graze over your head as they remind you that nothing's too important back home or worth emailing back in a timely manner.

I'm an old NoDak duck hunter with generations of tails before me. I'm heavy into waterfowl and upland. I'm a whitetail deer hunter by bow for about 8 weeks per year.
Posted by Charlie Hieb on Dec 1, 2015 8:40 PM
I have worn the gear a few times. I am new to the industry but have been hunting for years. I come from the transition zone of the Colorado plateau region. We have it all mesa's, plateaus, mountains, valleys, deserts, aspens, ponderosa pine, pinyon pine, oak, juniper, grass land, sage, dozens of lakes and tons of tanks. I am proud to test the gear here and write reviews on my pages and on the Sitka site. I hunt small game and big game mainly Elk, deer, mountain lion and coyote from 190-240 days out of the year.
Posted by Trevor Chapman on Sep 15, 2015 9:51 PM
This article is amazing. This is what I strive for. This really hit home.
Posted by Marc Udelhofen on Aug 24, 2015 8:32 PM
Hey Kelly,
As of right now, not yet. We recommend contacting Rainy Pass Repair to customize a pair for you.
Posted by Sitka Gear on Sep 22, 2014 2:05 PM
I am curious if there will ever be an option for the Optifade pants in a longer length than 34"? I am 6'5 and those pants are not long enough. I love the gear but I need a longer pant length.
Posted by Kelly on Sep 18, 2014 9:36 AM
I have been using your gear for two years now. I absolutely love sitka gear. There isn't any gear that is better in my opinion. I have looked at other companies that are trying to compete with sitka. I didn't like the patterns or fit as much as I like my sitka gear. I have bought many items from sitka over these past couple years. I love every piece of gear I have from my rain gear to all of the different pants, base layers, jackets, packs etc. My gear never slows me down or tires me I am able to stay out in the field a lot longer now. I will never change gear for as long as I'm able to be in the great outdoors. Whether I'm chasing giant mule deer, elk, bear, lion, turkey etc. I have a a sitka gear system to go and out perform me anytime. My gear as never failed me or disappointed me and no it never will. Keep up the good work and new designs you've already changed the game and I know you will continue too. Thanks.
Posted by Brayden Blackburn on May 14, 2014 10:32 PM
From the first piece of Sitka I put on 2 years ago I haven't looked back, confidence in my gear has no price. I use gear that I believe in. Hunting Oregon blacktail In the cold and wet fall is my passion and with my Sitka I now hunt longer, and harder than before.
Posted by Chris pascua on Mar 27, 2014 12:06 AM
I can count on one hand the number of guys I know who literally plan their life around hunting. I'm one of those guys. Hunting is not what I do, it's who I am! Since I first started using Sitka gear five years ago most of the other brands I own now sit idle in my closet. During a Kansas bow hunt this year in Kansas the Incinerator system kept me in the tree all day when the temperature did not rise above single digits with a 10 mph wind. I simply would not have been able to endure those conditions had I not been wearing Sitka gear! Keep up the great work!
Posted by Tony W. Cleveland on Dec 10, 2013 7:24 AM
From the first line of gear I purchased over 5 years ago I immediately saw a difference in the quality of Sitka Gear. I absolutely am a believer in the science that Gore has brought into the business. I love my Sitka Gear and it gives me a definite advantage in the field.
Posted by Greg Mancilla on Dec 9, 2013 10:20 PM
I have been a Sitka gear owner for several years. Adding to my stock every year. I have found that for comfort and actual field use, its the best I own. The Ascent Pants are the lightest and best early season pants. The 90% line is my go to mid season into the late season. I started to learn to use the layering system to avoid bulky oversized jackets and cut down on the sweat factor. If I could offer any suggestions, first, if your about to purchase gear, note that sizing for some of use taller athletes can run a bit on the smaller side. Second, get into layering, it is far more field practical and while it may cost more up front, it will provide you a greater result while in use.
The bomber belt is one of the latest upgrades I have made.
Congratulations on continuing to support actual field use, standing behind every product you make and while you cant please every outdoors-person, you can stay true to your belief in your own mission.
Lastly, you should be creating a ladies line as well as a product line for the serious fisherman, while many of use are hunters, we also spend time chasing down that elusive secluded spot to fly fish!!
So far my Sitka gear has been to; North Woods Maine, Great North Woods New Hampshire (both archery moose hunt), Piney River Colorado (archery Elk) and Easter Pennsylvania (Whitetail)
Posted by Jeff Neamand on Dec 2, 2013 3:09 PM
I am on a Search & Rescue team in western Colorado and have blown through a bunch of the other guys pants in just few missions,I have had a pair of Ascent pants for 5 years now. Just blew the seat out this week after all kinds of abuse, hanging off cliff edges, carrying subjects through brush that would make our dads cry !I wear them a lot and not just in hunting season. Built to take more then normal wear and tear. Thanks for making such great gear.
Posted by Todd Holmes on Dec 1, 2013 9:51 AM
I have been wearing your gear for a few years and I spend 15+ hr's in the stand a week in Ohio. I got tired of buying and wearing clothing that either made me feel like the stay puff marshmallow man or just did meet my expectations. The athletic fit that your clothing is very nice as is the wind proof fabric. Recently I made a trip to Eastern Ohio and while in the stand I found that the brushed fabric on the Stratus jacket/bib's is like Velcro on certain trees. It is designed for tree stand hunting but when I put my arm on the tree a Velcro type sound was quit loud in the silence of the of the calm morning. I just figured I would send you an honest opinion. To many time most of what you hear is either how great everything is or how someone tore there pants as they crossed some barbed wire or something lame like that.. All in all I really like your line of clothing but I would like it a lot more if you would focus on the quietness of the clothing especially when the clothing is designed for treestand hunting. A soft fleece is what I prefer for an outer layer. Ps. I did have several deer look though me while I was in the tree.
Posted by Bill Moss on Nov 26, 2013 6:54 PM
I like. Will be using next season.
Posted by Jeramy on Nov 22, 2013 11:31 AM
While I love the fit and feel of your gear, I can blow through a set of almost anything in 2 seasons, which is only about a YEAR. Scouting, 2 states, 2 animals, early season, and late season, your gear is on me, but it doesn't last for someone who hunts on their own two feet. Tree stand shooters, this may work, but Elk hunting and deer hunting in the coastal and cascade mountains of WA and OR, it just doesn't hold up. For the cost to replace, this sucks! Outdoor research in Seattle has an infinite guarantee on arguably the best mountaineering gear around. They stand behind their gear and build it to last. I would like to see Sitka take that approach. If you want athletes, don't give the gear to the pro hunters who would kill an elk in a shirt and tie, give it to the guys who year after year, inspire to be like those guys, and die trying along with their gear. I could tell you that the 90% material does not hold up to salmon berry and blackberry bushes, or that the materials used on the opti-fade gore-tex downpour jacket and pant is too loud for any piece of hunting clothes. Or that you price yourselves out of the ability for a dad to get his kid gear that will make his hunting experience a memorable one for the right reasons. It doesn't take a pro to tell you this. I really do like your gear, but it is built to be replaced every few years, which I understand from a business perspective.
Posted by Cory on Nov 21, 2013 5:35 PM
I spend most of my free time hunting,fishing,shedhunting, and i have bought a lot of gear. My wife bought me sitka gear this year. It is worth every penny spent. It is the only gear i will buy. It has been the only gear to hold upto my hunting passion. I love it. I reccomend that if you cant afford it save your money. It will hold up a lot longer than anything else you buy.
Posted by bryan adkisson on Nov 21, 2013 4:06 PM
I have never wore sitka gear nor even seen any in person. From the stories and pictures i have seen it is the real deal, nothing better. I have never hunted outside of Arkansas but i live in the heart of the Ozark Mountains and they are rugged and steep. I know it's nothing compared to the Rocky Mountains, in which most of Sitka Gear is tested but my heart has always been in the the Rockies. My inlaws own a large farm covered in deer that would be easy pickings. I always find myself in pursuit of game in the mountains deep in public land. The challenge is what i am after! Some people think i am not smart because sometimes i have deer in my yard from time to time. For the most part i would rather wake up a couple hours early and hike two miles into the woods to a secret hidy hole before the sun peeks over the horizon, than to drive down the road and set over a pile of corn or food plot!! I will pack my heavy jacket and layers in my pack along with my bow and climber, Sitka Gear would reduce weight and provide extra comfort for a long hike in and those all day sits!!
Posted by Nathan Knapp on Nov 20, 2013 8:33 AM
I'm very impressed with Sitka Gear. It is no-nonsense clothing built for serious hunters. I love the way it is cut for bowhunters, too. Allows me to sit comfortably long hours in treestands and is rugged enough for stalking and still-hunting.
Posted by Daniel E. Schmidt on Nov 20, 2013 6:53 AM
To date Sitka Gear has been the best I've used. I'm one of those guys that tends to get bloody more than a few times a year between my tags, my family's, & my friends my gear gets abused but never seems to look it, I'm impressed. As far as being an "official" Sitka Athlete well I guess I'm just to goofy and no good with a camera. Now Luke Johnson can jab me about what kind bloody I tend to get but just remember Luke, chicks dig scars!
Posted by Dale McWapiti Pearson on Nov 19, 2013 11:54 PM
Name is Brendon I'm 17 years I have grown up in the outdoors my grandpa raised me he has had an outfitting business for 30 years I have been taking private land hunters since I was 11 . Over the years I have had the chance to take some nice elk mule deer lions bears and whitetail deer . I think that is important to get the youth more involved beacuse what we do is a dying breed it is hard to find good ethical hunters not every one had the opportunity that I had or some of your athletes had so I just want to be a good role modle and leader for those youth . This year I took a 327 with a bow and did it using Sitka gear really like the Sitka flash 20 pack good ideas and time putting that pack together had to pack him out and used that look on you tube and you can see a lot of my stuff at BCR Film Productions
Thanks for reading and really look up to mark seacat
Posted by Brendon Rosales on Nov 19, 2013 7:47 PM
I love sitka! I love what it stands for! I love what the sitka athletes stand for. I love the way they hunt. 100% fair chase! When they hunt elk they are NOT sitting in a tree stand or a blind waiting for the elk to come to them. They are out there working their butt's off. Every picture I have ever seen is with a huge buck or bull or any species for that matter. That shows something big, it shows that they love to hunt. By conserving the populations of animals and only taking mature animals, they are preserving that heritage. My mom my teachers my two sisters have asked why do you wanna go out in 0 degree weather and beat the heck out of yourself. I have no answer for them all i say is that you will not know until you experience it for yourself. I may only be 12 but i know what i was put on this earth to due....... Hunt. I know what your thinking he's only 12 he doesn't know how to hunt. Or he hasn't had enough experience to know what hunting is. Well I assure you i love hunting more than anything in the world.
Posted by Luke Gerig on Nov 19, 2013 7:29 PM
I love the Sitka line, I love the Sitka Athletes and what they stand for. I love reading the stories and all this pushes me to be a better hunter and capture the moments with awesome pictures as they come to me. Thanks Sitka!
Posted by Chad Annon on Nov 17, 2013 10:22 AM
I have been an avid passionate waterfowler since I turned double digits. Hanging with my dad and older brother. Being a woman and finding gear as tough as what the guys had has always been my quest to aid in my success. I can with unrivaled confidence and commitment that Sitka Gear has become my holy grail for waterfowl success. Bombproof and amazingly functionally designed clothing. Thank you for adding to my comfort, warmth and success. Got any plans for breathable chest high waders and a waterfowl strap game vest? You ARE the best!
Posted by Terry Scoville on Nov 16, 2013 11:51 AM
The difference between me and a Sitka Athlete is I do everything and More your "Sitka Athletes" Do withouth the expensive Gear just because we cant afford the gear dose not mean were not worthy of the reputation. Im not saying if I was sponsored by them I wouldn't were it because I look at it every time im in a store that sells it I just cant bring myself to buy it
Posted by Andrew Wright on Nov 15, 2013 7:55 PM
Yes I would say anybody could be an athlete but then again you have hunters who never rough it and won't hunt the face welteting wind burn sideways driving sleet. And if you are not hunting areas where u have to depend on your clothing for 2 weeks cause going back to the trail head isnt even an option is what they are looking for. And I would bet 85 % of people that will read this are those type. ( sorry but its true, im not trying to be a prick)That's why they seek you out. Not you asking them.Hunting isn't just a yearly trip for a week for the athletes they are pushing themselves and gear to the limits for several months out of the year.If I had a hunting gear company I would want the guys who hunt and don't bitch about weather and being to tired to hike up the same canyon you have done for the last 7 days. Even tho your morals aren't to high you still push it cause you still have faith in yourself and the gear you wear. I think the guys at sitka are going about this the right way. Bow hunting is a mystical adventure and to add the country our game inhabits is amazing in itself. But to know you are wearing the best gear and not have to worry about it makes it the biggest adreniline amped adventure anybody could ever experience.
Posted by Tyler Ellenson on Nov 15, 2013 1:59 PM
I began wearing Sitka four years ago. I have to say that it is amazing on how well their products last. When I spend six days in the same set guiding for elk between washes and my gear still looks and feels good, that's impressive. There have been times that I thought for sure I had ripped my pants and have yet to. Thank you Sitka for such and amazing product. I do have a few ideas on some things if you ever are interested.
Posted by Chris Horton on Nov 15, 2013 1:24 PM
It's the drive to do unreasonable things to fuel the beating beast inside of us. It's the mind that can push your body beyond what was thought impossible. It is the uncompromising drive for success that separates us from the pack. Enduring hardships, loneliness, pain, and failure. Is what makes us tick and climb over one more ridge.
Posted by Hunter on Nov 15, 2013 12:32 PM
I've been fortunate enough to use your gear for around 3 years now. I can honestly say, I will never go back to anything else. I'm in Indiana so from Sept 15th through the first of January I am chasing Whitetails as hard as anyone.. So it definitely helps to be comfortable in all 4 months of changing climate can throw at you. I love the gear! Already investing in a line for my soon to be 1 year old son. You guys do an awesome job! #SitkaGear
Posted by Phillip Baker on Nov 15, 2013 11:57 AM
Without question, from intense stare downs with whitetails to my mountain lion hunt, Sitka gear is flawless.
The pattern does its job, and the " mix and matched" offering of clothing is unparalleled.
Confidence in gear equals confidence on the hunt.
Posted by Rich Wright on Nov 15, 2013 11:12 AM
I think any member of the tribe is an athlete to be honest. If you wear Sitka, you have the knowledge that it works and are willing to beat the hell out of it. However, your athletes such as Seacat and the Foss Family have inspired many to push the limits and test themselves. They have most certainly inspired me and have changed the way I hunt and how I view it and along with my Sitka system, have allowed me to have a better experience and made my wife wonder why i'm willing to go out and beat the hell out of myself. My silent answer to her is "the experience". Thank you and you team for everything Mr. Hart. I will be sure to make the 2 hour drive someday just to shake some hands. I hope that one day ill be able to inspire others the way the Sitka team has inspired me and many others.
Posted by Chris on Nov 15, 2013 10:50 AM
Wearing this clothes on every days hunt gives me the feeling to be already a sitka team member because this unique gear inspires me and makes me to be at one with my surrounding. This hunting gear is animated with hundreds of hunting experiences and thats awesome!
Thanks for the possibility wearing the gear!

Hubert (Europe, Germany)
Posted by hubert on Nov 15, 2013 4:19 AM
I would venture to say that all of these guys "speak softly and carry a big stick", most definitely. Keep up the good work J-Hart and to the Sitka Athletes, keep inspiring!
Posted by Luke Johnson on Nov 14, 2013 6:17 PM
I am sure I will never be a Sitka Athlete, but I will forever have a passion for the chase and enjoy stories of pursuit from others! Love ya'lls gear, and keep bringing stories. Thanks!
Posted by Brinck Bowers on Nov 14, 2013 5:42 PM
I wear Sitka gear for all of my hunting from elk, deer and turkey. I think you should offer the timberline pant in forest green because they are a awesome pant for turkey hunting with the water proof seat and knee pads. I also feel like the hoodies should have a dark color inter lining instead of white. The white seems to stand out when the hood is down. I am not a professional hunter by any means but this is some input that I have. I do think your gear is awesome. Thanks
Posted by Greg burton on Nov 14, 2013 4:39 PM
Hi my name is Zachary Cunningham. I am nineteen years old. I live in Northern California. Shingletown is home for me. I work in the Frank Church Wilderness as a guide. I have had Sitka gear or been using Sitka gear for about two years now. My passion is chasing big blacktail bucks and mule deer bucks. I love archery elk hunting as well. And go up to Grangville Idaho every year to hunt whitetail spot and stalk. Although I have not killed anything of scoring significance yet I still love and respect every animal that I have ever taken. I also work for an outfitter where I live call Just for Hunting Outfitter's. Guiding pig, deer, turkeys and ducks. I like the Sitka product because it allows you to move and blend in perfect. Ill keep spreading the word bout Sitka gear and trying find ideas that could make this product the ultimate hunting gear!
Posted by Zack Cunningham on Nov 14, 2013 4:34 PM
I consider myself a Sitka athlete. Not on par with those guys, but put my time in for sure. Only two companies I am loyal to, Sitka and Patagonia(for fishing and hiking clothing). Your gear is absolutely amazing. Keep up the good work.
Posted by Jeff Krantz on Nov 14, 2013 3:58 PM
I already am a Sitka Athlete rather you give me the badge or recognition or not I feel. I do enough of my own promoting on how well the gear works for me, especially in the brushy wet Northwest where rain gear pretty much is a every day garment, and a must to keep you hunting. Some of the stuff works, while other pieces just won't, but I built the right system for me.
Posted by Ty Keele on Nov 14, 2013 3:52 PM
I live and hunt in central fl. Ocala wma and lochloosa. I would love to test your gear down here it's different than mountains gear it would have to be light weight for bow season and heavier for later in gun it's blistering hot in bow with a lot of mosquitoes
Posted by Derek Warnock on Nov 14, 2013 3:49 PM
I have been wearing your gear for a few years now and absolutely love it! The layering system works great!! It's comfortable warm/cool depending on they layers and hides me will in the trees! Thanks for all your products and I look forward to using more and buying more gear in the near future! Thanks Scott Meeks
Posted by Scott Meeks on Nov 14, 2013 3:33 PM
Well said Johnathan. Nice write up.
Posted by Greig mcalpin on Nov 14, 2013 3:29 PM

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