An in depth look at SITKA’s Equinox Turkey Vest.
Trudging through the thick woods of Alabama, snagging my vest on hip-height branches and brambles, my box call chattering away with each step, I thought to myself, “there has to be a better way.” That and: “This is why I am a whitetail deer hunter.” Further, once I got back to camp, I discovered that in the absence of a dead bird, I did bring home another species, ticks. Joy. I needed a drink—and tweezers.
Relatively new to the SITKA line—SITKA’s Equinox Turkey Vest and the Equinox pant, hoodie, and gloves—are the solution. Before I dive into the details, let’s take a look at the material each is made of. If this doesn’t grab your attention and interest, stop reading and keep pulling those bloodsuckers from your skin.
First, getting eaten alive sucks. Pun intended. Second, insects like ticks and mosquitoes can carry infectious diseases, including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. In collaboration with Gore textile specialists, SITKA sought to minimize the potential health risks.
The initial challenge was creating a fabric that was ultra-lightweight, matte finish for concealment, breathable, with plenty of stretch, the ability to be printed on, 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.
Christina Rapa, a textile specialist at Gore, found the answer: 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, she chose to add yet another layer of protection by including Insect Shield® a knock-down tested EPA-registered permethrin treatment that bonds itself with the fibers of the fabric and retains its effective insect repellency throughout the expected life of the garment.
SITKA didn’t stop there.
Nest there was a “blood membrane” lab test that 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. They then followed this lab testing with extensive field testing by SITKA ambassadors, who experienced the same real-life results.
SITKA’s Equinox Turkey Vest is no traditional turkey vest. SITKA took a pack-like approach and developed a comfortable and efficient vest based on the movement and organizational needs of run-and-gun turkey hunting. It has ample yet minimalist storage—including magnetic-closing pockets—to keep box calls, pot calls, strikers and other tools organized and dry. Adjustable straps create a secure fit; a drop-down seat deploys and cinches back up quickly and securely.
We spoke to David Halloran, founder of David Halloran Turkey Calls and SITKA ambassador, who helped in the research and design of the vest. David started making turkey calls at the age of 12 and placed first in the nation in calling turkeys with a pot call in 2011. He’s been creating some of the best calls ever since. So to say he has experience in the field killing gobblers is an understatement.
“The vest is a slimmed-down version of what most are used to that locks calls perfectly into place. It is lightweight for run-and-gun-style hunting and just the right size to store all your calls, yet still allows the hunter to stay agile,” he says.
With the release of the new solid version of the vest he comments: “I’ve never really been too hung up on matching patterns, but this vest gives a hunter the option to wear it with whatever pattern he or she chooses. It actually allows for more breakup in my opinion by adding depth to the hunter. You’re not just one big camo-looking boulder.”
As for the pants, hoodie, and gloves, they are made of SITKA’s Equinox Guard fabric with Insect Shield® as described earlier in this article. Much of the design is what you would expect from SITKA—ultra lightweight, moisture wicking, and more than ample stretch for easy movement. The pants and hoodie also feature well-thought-out pockets, snaps, and zipping vents for added breathability.
Hunting in the springtime in most places is buggy. This season, when you’re hunkered down against a tree waiting on a tom, you may be able to hear the buzz of a mosquito or see a tick crawling but will be far less likely to feel their bite. As for the vest, say so long to your old, oversized clunker, and hello to the sports car of turkey vests.
To learn more, visit sitkagear.com
SITKA’s Equinox Turkey Vest Specs:
- 75-denier brushed-face polyester woven fabric with durable water-repellent finish
- Adjustable pack strap system offers customizable fit in sizes XS-XXL
- Four compression straps reduce bulk and connect to each other to secure a bird
- Removable dual-density foam seat deploys, cinches back up and stays harnessed tight to the pack when on the run
- Water-resistant molded clamshell pocket with magnetic closure keeps two pot calls dry in divided sleeves; stores three diaphragm calls in easy-access slots
- Water-resistant box call storage pocket provides a snug fit to eliminate unwanted noise
- Right- and left-side pockets store four strikers
- Versatile side pocket stores miscellaneous essentials
- Four internal mesh zippered pockets store tags and other small items
- Large zippered back pocket is hydration bladder compatible
- Removable fowl slip noose designed to carry a bird; clips onto shoulder strap
- Zippered shallow top pocket with key clip
- Open top outside pocket stores rain gear
- Two blaze orange flags on back can be deployed for safety
- Total weight: 44.5 oz.