By Jason Reid
The bull stared right at me. From 200 yards away he moved his cows into the safety of the small strip of timber, but stopped to look directly into my binoculars. My bugle had spooked the small herd and moved them into an approachable position. The final three hours of my 2016 elk hunt proved to be interesting. Dropping into a small creek I found every bit of inner strength to manage the spike in adrenaline and gain elevation to get the wind in my favor. One open stretch of sage brush and grasses separated me from the small strip of timber where the elk were bedded. Shedding my backpack I assessed the situation and pressed my body as low to the ground as possible. Contorting my body to hug what cover that was available was the only way to get within bow range.
The action-specific clothing revolution is here, and Sitka Gear has been leading the charge since the mid-2000s. Sitka Gear Mountain Pants are a great option for the mobile hunter looking to find a reliable pair of pants. I was wearing a set of Mountain Pants when I killed my first bull elk in 2015, and I have faithfully worn them both in the mountains and the whitetail woods.
Sitka’s Mountain Pants are a step above the Ascent Pants and for a long time where the in-between option for those not wanting to spend more money on the 90% line. The Mountain Pants are loaded with features for living in during those treks in the mountains and are available in the Open Country Optifade or the Sub-Alpine Optifade patterns.
The Mountain Pants are built with 4-way stretch woven polyester. The first time I ever hunted for elk was in a pair of $20 camouflage pants from Walmart. Hiking in the mountains is full of twists and turns. You are constantly bending and pulling yourself over objects. Those $20 pair of pants constantly were binding against my legs causing a certain level of discomfort. What I appreciate about the Mountain Pant design is the way the 4-way stretch fabric that will not bind around your leg. The polyester is extremely comfortable and feels much like wearing your favorite pajamas. Hiking in steep terrain is a comfortable experience since the Mountain Pant materials are built for athletic motion. When hiking it is not uncommon to have to raise your legs to a 90-degree position in order to power your way up a hill. No more feeling like you are choking your legs because Sitka created a contoured fit in the seat of the pant and legs which allow for these movements. When you are living in clothing for ten days you’ll be thankful to have the Mountain Pant as a part of your backcountry wardrobe.
The waist band is another point of interest. Hiking in the mountains means carrying heavy packs. Bulky waist bands under heavy pack belts can create irritated pressure points on your hips. The Sitka Mountain pants have a low profile waist band to eliminate potential pressure points on your hips. Even with my day pack, I can attest to the comfort in hiking while wearing the Mountain Pants. Even the metal button is a fantastic small feature that won’t tear out after a few hard hunts. Sitka also features large cargo pockets for storing accessories. I found the size of these pockets incredibly useful when closing in on game during a stalk. I can keep my range finder and calls within easy reach of my hands without making extra noise or movement.
Durability in a pair of pants for hunting is always scrutinized. Since I wear leg gaiters, I don’t worry about anything below the knee. However, I have found the Mountain Pants to be more than adequate for holding up to brush that cuts across the thighs. I have been able to wear my Mountain Pants for at least three seasons before noticing any real wear in the knees.
Sneaking to within bow range of the bedded herd of elk forced me to cover about 60 yards of open country. At some points I found myself in awkward positions trying to stay low, yet not once did I need to worry about if my clothing would be an impediment to the stalk. However, even after successfully reaching the edge of the timber, I was greeted with oak brush well over my head. For ten minutes I could hear the elk just below my position and could do nothing about it but pray the wind wouldn’t shift. Eventually, the wind shifted and sent the animals peeling out of the brush immediately.
Confidence in the mountains is directly equal to the confidence in your gear. Your legs are the power machines which help you conquer the mountains. Don’t chain your legs to bad pant materials. Let your legs be free to power your adventures.