SITKA Team | 3.7.2022

Behind the Design: Equinox Guard

  • Pursuit: Turkey

Getting eaten alive by bugs can turn an otherwise great hunt into a miserable experience. But even more importantly, insects like ticks and mosquitoes can carry a variety of infectious diseases, including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. In collaboration with Gore textile specialists, we sought new solutions to minimize the potential health risks.

We knew that fabrics used in these products would have to thread a needle in balancing a whole lot of priorities: ultra-lightweight, matte finish for concealment, breathability, plenty of stretch, the ability to be printed in GORE OPTIFADE concealment patterns and, finally, a tight-enough construction to block would-be bites from a wide variety of bugs. A big challenge with knit fabrics capable of stretching is that as they stretch, the loops of the fabric open up creating potential entry points. This search wouldn’t be easy.

Christina Rapa, a textile specialist at Gore, searched the world over for fabric construction methods capable of meeting all these needs.

“Could we find knitting machines with fine enough gauge and not compromise on the durability of the fabric?” she says. “To top it off, printing on extremely lightweight and stretchy fabrics can be challenging in itself.”

The answer came when we found a type of particularly unique knitting machines able to create precisely-knit, high-gauge fabrics.

“We were able to develop a unique textile that passed all the testing without compromising on quality or color clarity,” Rapa says.

After consulting with the Natick Soldier Systems Center of the U.S. Army, we chose to add yet another layer of protection by including Insect Shield®, a knock-down tested EPA-registered permethrin treatment that so thoroughly bonds itself with the fibers of the fabric that it retains its effective insect repellency throughout the expected life of the product. The final result is a highly unique and effective engineered fabric and chemically treated solution.

A final “blood membrane” lab test involved thousands of half-starved mosquitoes let loose at a swatch of fabric, behind which was their main food source, blood. Through other fabric types, the mosquitoes could easily feed, but through Equinox Guard fabric they had a drastically harder time piercing through. We followed this lab testing with extensive field testing during warm weather hunts by SITKA ambassadors, who even in steamy, mosquito-infested conditions in the South, simply were less susceptible to getting bit yet avoided the stifling heat caused by thick and stuffy fabrics.

We’re proud to introduce the Equinox Guard Collection, a first-of-its-kind solution that protects you from head to toe in warm and buggy environments. It greatly reduces ticks, mosquitos, chiggers and no-see-ums in a lightweight, breathable, stretchy and quiet package. Most importantly, these products may help reduce the transmission of infectious diseases carried by these insects, not to mention the simple annoyance and distraction of insect bites. Next time you’re hunkered down in muggy, bug-infested territory, you’ll be able to hear the buzz but will be far less likely to feel the bite.