There are generally three giants in the hunting clothes industry, Sitka, First Lite, and Kuiu, who remain at the top of the board for producing high-quality hunting gear.
In this article, we will compare Sitka vs. First Lite.
First lite is preferred by hunters who hike a lot for their hunts, whereas Sitka is preferred by hunters who stay still for longer periods, like in stands.
First lite began their product line by looking at works in other industries like skiing, biking, and climbing. They took a huge interest in the wool used as it allowed for them to stay warm when needed, cool down when needed, and stay odor-free.
Sitka has been around for quite a while; nobody will last this long unless they offer quality products that can withstand the harsh elements that hunters face.
First Lite: As we briefly mentioned, First Lite began their foray into the hunting clothes industry by looking at wool, particularly merino wool.
Today merino is still at the heart of their operation; while they have many products that don’t feature merino, they are most famed for their use of merino in hunting clothes.
Merino offers many benefits to hunters; it keeps you warm on cold mornings; however, after hiking many miles, you will begin to heat up, merino will keep you cool, and best of all, it is odor-free.
Sitka: Sitka mainly uses a combination of nylon and gore-tex for their products. Their outerwear gear is loved by hunters who brave the harsh elements. Most of Sitka gear is to some degree waterproof and windproof due to the gore-tex.
How I hunt, there is absolutely no use for equipment that you need to be careful with. Durability is a huge consideration when I’m purchasing my hunting gear, especially with the high price tags some of these products come with.
It’s fair to say that both of these companies provide durable products. However, I would say that maybe Sitka is just a little bit ahead when it comes to durability.
The use of gore texas well as the other materials used gives them an advantage. I’ve just put in a hard season with the Sitka jetstream as my main jacket, and it withstood the elements very well. I do think the seams could be a little better in a heavy downpour, they did falter ever so slightly, but for overall durability, Sitka takes the win.
That’s not to say that First Lite products are not durable they absolutely are. Merino is an extremely durable product, it is six times stronger than cotton, with each fiber being able to bend back onto itself over 20,000 times. However, it’s not able to beat gore-tex in durability.
Comfort is a huge consideration when out hunting, especially if you are on a seven-day elk or moose hunt. There is nothing more annoying than being 3 days deep into the backcountry to find out that your new pants are chaffing you or your jacket is designed after a square and just doesn’t sit right.
I had a hard time choosing which is more comfortable as I found that both Sitka and first lite nailed it with comfort.
Far too often, I see hunters swanning about with ill-fitting clothes, and they are usually wearing clothes that are much too big, flapping in the wind are spooking everything within a 3-mile radius.
I find that the fit of my hunting clothes is one of the most important things to consider when purchasing.
When it comes down to it, I would argue that Sitka has better fitting clothes, at least in my opinion.
Both companies use anatomical shaping for fitting, which articulates the elbow, knee areas.
Both Sitka and First Lite perform admirably in the weight department. However, I think Sitka edges out First Lite due to the choice of materials.
Considering First Lite built most of their collection around the use of merino wool, it tends to leave a lot of their products a little on the heavier side.
However, not all of First Lites gear is made from merino wool, and if we compare the most popular jackets from both companies, we can see they are closer than expected in terms of weight.
First Lite catalyst softshell jacket weighs 19oz and is made of 2-Layer softshell.
Sitka Jetstream weighs 25.43 oz and is made from GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ with WINDSTOPPER™Technology, Polyester Knit Softshell Face, Micro-Grid Polyester Fleece Knit Interior.
First Lites wick short sleeve crew weighs 6oz and is made from their aero wool
Sitka’s core lightweight weighs 5.1 ounces and is made from polyester.
As we see, the material is the main deciding factor in the weight of the product, and overall, Sitka uses more lighter-weight materials than First Lite.
Flexibility is another big consideration in both the comfort and effectiveness of your outfit. You don’t want to be going full draw only to have your sleeves riding up your arm.
First Lite uses a 4 way stretch and shooters cut to ensure your jacket fits snugly and moves with you.
Sitka uses form fit technology and Gore-Tex stretch technology on their products, which I am really impressed with. The sleeves on the jack fit perfectly and never ride up my arms.
Both brands perform well in this area and it’s not possible to pick one clear winner.
Hunting clothes wouldn’t be useful if they weren’t able to face the extreme weather that hunters constantly face, weather that driving rain on the marsh, scorching heat chasing pronghorns, or cold mornings in the stand waiting on whitetails.
Both brands are more than capable of these weather extremes, although they both tend to lean towards different extremes.
I find that First Lite is better at warm-weather and cold weather hunting, and Sitka is better at wet weather and windy hunting.
Sitka really nailed this category with their Windstopper technology. Their use of advanced Gore-Tex products makes them difficult to outcompete in weather extremes.
Sitka uses Gore-Tex Infinium with Windstopper for hunting clothes that will face extreme windy conditions. This technology adds a membrane to the product to reduce the wind chill effect.
Again Sitka performs better than most here with their Gore-Tex products. Gore-Tex is famed for its waterproofing ability, and I find this is certainly true across all of Sitka’s waterproof range.
Sitka has put its products through extreme testing to create their products. They use weather extremes like 90 percent humidity, blistering cold conditions, prolonged rainstorms, and extremely windy conditions to ensure the product can stand up to any hunting conditions.
First Lite has many waterproof products in their lineup but none with the reputation of Gore-Tex material. Some of their products use 3.5-Layer Rain Shell, which performs exceptionally well but needs more testing to get the same recognition as Gore-Tex.
While Sitka does excellent in wind and rain, First Lite fair better in breathability. The use of merino and their 37.5 technology allows the hunter to stay warm when needed and cool when needed. This is due to the excellent breathability created with this technology.
Sitka’s Gore-Tex products are designed to be highly breathable. I don’t think they are as breathable as First Lite products, but many of their products, like the Jetstream Jacket, incorporate the clever use of pit zippers to help regulate body temperature.
Another win for First Lite in this area. Merino wool is well known for its warming properties. Along with other materials and the thermoregulation with the 37.5 technology, First Lite products excel at keeping you warm.
Sitka uses Gore-Tex pro for their most extreme and rugged clothing products. This performs extremely well, but I still prefer merino wool for warmth.
Technology is an interesting part of hunting outfits and one the is often overlooked.
However, creating this technology comes at a price and is generally what drives up the cost of the products.
I am happy to pay this price if it increases my chances of success in the field.
Patterns and camo may or may not matter depending on what you are hunting and where you are hunting. If you are sitting in a treestand or on a saddle, patterns may not mean much to you, but if you are out chasing gobblers or buried in the marsh calling ducks, you better believe technology is important.
Both companies do a good job with their patterns, but they focus too much on big game hunting.
That’s not to say they didn’t do a great job with their patterns; they absolutely did, and you would be hard-pressed to pick out a hunter in the field wearing either of these brands.
Sitka uses Gore Optifade with a lot of focus on macro and micro patterns. This is based on the animal’s point of view and not humans.
First Lite uses Fusion and Cipher to disrupt shapes, texture, and color.
Both companies use similar technology and science to create the patterns.
Sitka does cater more to small game hunters with their patterns than First Lite.
Similar to patterns, sound may or may not matter to you depending on your style of hunting, it will matter in a stand, or a spot and stalk hunt but it won’t matter so much on a duck hunt.
For most big game hunters sound is going to be extremely important and any outfit that makes a rubbing noise is going to greatly hinder your hunt.
Sitka understood the importance of sound for big game hunters, so they brought engineers to the Gore Comfort Lab to analyze 20 different combinations and scientifically record them with computer noise analyzers.
They tested the products in many different ways, even using silent rooms with extreme weather changing ability. The final result was the Sitka Fanatic which is one of the quietest products in the field.
First Lite has their own low noise products such as the Uncompahgre but it lacks the research and science of Sikas Fanatic.
The value of the product can be looked at in different ways. We are not looking at the outright cost of the product here but more looking at what you get for the price paid.
With both companies, you get years of R&D, durable products that are sure to last many seasons, and a solid warranty.
Is First Lite Worth The Money?
First Lite is a growing company and is trying to do right by both their customers and the environment.
Considering the effort and quality they put into their products, they are definitely worth the money.
First Lite strives to use innovative ways to benefit the hunter with a lot of R&D going into creating optimal products. They are also trying to use materials that are good for the environment and even have their own conservation program.
Is Sitka Worth The Money?
Sitka has been around for a while and sometimes they are known as the expensive brand. However, as you may have noticed, they are still in business and thriving more than ever.
This tells you that Sitka is worth the money. Sitka has been engineering products for hunters for almost two decades; you don’t get to be that long in the hunting industry without being worth the money.
They have high-quality products at what I consider to be a fair price.
Both companies offer warranties to repair any products that sustain damage in the normal use of the product.
However, Sitka’s warranty seems to be a little more favorable to the customer with less scrutinizing qualifications and even a pre-paid FedEx label within 1-2 business days.
It’s always hard to pick a winner when directly comparing two fairly equal products. The battle between Sitka and First Lite is not one-sided, and it is not easy to pick which is better.
With that being said, after trialing and examining both brands, I lean more towards Sitka.
There are a few reasons for this; I like Gore-Tex for the type of activity that I do, I like their patterns better (I do a lot of duck hunting), I think their warranty looks better on paper; however, I did not have to use the warranty from either company.
You can’t go wrong with either brand; both are in the higher end of hunting clothes and perform exceptionally well when you need them to.