Decisions, decisions. If you’re looking to spend a pretty penny on hunting clothes, you’ve likely narrowed your search between two heavyweights in the market: KUIU vs SITKA.
As you know, there’s a lot to consider when making your pick, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. You might wonder, “Which brand is better for how I hunt?” Or, “What are these fancy fabrics all about?” Or perhaps, “Which camo patterns does each brand offer?” comes to mind.
If you’re in that boat, we’re glad you’re here. We examined the basics of each company, the materials used, and the camo patterns employed before showing you where you can actually buy the stuff.
But for many of you, let’s just get straight to the point.
Better is a relative term. Both companies create hunting gear made to perform in just about any scenario you can imagine from high alpine mountain goat hunting excursions to lowland duck hunts.
Ultimately, each brand caters to different demographics. You can see it in their product catalogs. Now, while it would be foolish to exclude any group of hunters from a clothing line, you’ll discover each brand does some things better than the other.
Let’s see what KUIU is all about.
Mountain hunting is the name of the game with KUIU. As a company, their mission is to create gear that can handle the toughest Western big game hunts, including high alpine mountain goat hunting, which is considered by some the most challenging hunt of all.
Founded in 2011 by former NFL linebacker Jason Hairston, who also founded SITKA GEAR, you’ll see a company built in his likeness.
As a highly competitive and athletic man, Mr. Hairston’s goal was to create gear for hunters who revel in going places other hunters simply can’t or won’t.
To get to these spots, you need high-tech materials. Your clothing must feature durable, breathable, and warm fabrics that stand up to mother nature’s fury.
Thankfully, KUIU sources its materials from some of the best manufacturers on the planet, and those products will help keep you alive when it matters most.
In short, if you’re an active hunter who likes the challenge of pushing your limits and traveling deep into the wilderness, KUIU clothing is purpose-built for you. That’s not to say they don’t make excellent clothing for Eastern hunters, but their soul is out West.
You’re not going to find commonplace materials manufacturers here. KUIU uses fabrics from innovative companies that span the globe. But, for the sake of simplicity, let’s key in on two manufacturers, with the emphasis resting on Toray Industries, Inc.
- Toray: based in Japan, Toray is one of the premier synthetic fiber materials manufacturers on the planet. They make:
- Primeflex: durable water-resistant material stretches well without spandex, which holds water when wet
- 3DEFX+: highly breathable insulation that evaporates moisture from your body while you’re hiking to prevent a chill when stopped
- Quix Down: ultra water repellant down feather stays warm even when wet
- Dermizax: waterproof membrane keeps water out even during heavy precipitation, yet breathes incredibly well to keep your sweat from chilling you to the bone
- Dot Air: made to keep cool in the hottest climates. It features UPF 40+ sun protection to keep you from burning up, and Makspec odor-reducing properties help you remain undetected
- Karuishi Fleece: highly durable and warm fleece made from recycled materials that resist pilling and environmental shedding
- Stunner Stretch: highly stretchable and water-resistant material mimics the feel of cotton
- Entrant: waterproof fabric that still enables sweat to leave your body via a microporous structure
- Nuyarn: based in New Zealand, Nuyarn (company name and material) utilizes a proprietary spinning technique to enhance wool’s natural moisture-wicking, drying and thermal-retention qualities. You’ll find it in KUIU’s line of base layers and tee-shirts
No matter the type of material you choose, KUIU covers it in some of the best camo patterns you can find, which we’ll detail right now.
KUIU uses three distinct camo patterns to help break up your outline from whatever animal you’re hunting. Plus, they offer a range of solid color options for hunters who might want to wear their clothing on the town or want to mix up solid patterned and camo pieces in the field.
Their camouflage options include the following:
- Verde: made to blend into vegetation, grasslands, deciduous forest, and evergreen timber.
- Vias: a great choice if you hunt above timberline where scree, talus, and boulders create high-contrast scenes
- Valo: the best option for open terrain devoid of cover, including areas that feature tundra, sage, underbrush, and grass
While KUIU doesn’t offer the wide-ranging camo options of many other brands, their options look unique in the hunting world. That’s because KUIU studied how the high-contrast coats of apex predators like tigers conceal their bodies.
KUIU’s research can go a long way to helping you take down that elk, deer, or mountain goat you’re after. If you want to check out their clothes, we’ll show you where to find them below.
KUIU utilizes a direct-to-consumer business model. So, if you want to rock their finest threads, shop directly on KUIU.com.
Many hunters perceive the battle of SITKA vs KUIU as a clash of hunting styles. KUIU, as we discussed previously, strives to provide gear for the active hunter who covers a lot of ground while searching out their next kill.
That isn’t to say SITKA doesn’t design gear for those long-range journeys. In their stable of products, you’ll find extremely lightweight, warm, and quiet garments made to go the distance — like KUIU’s offerings.
It makes sense when you consider that Jason Hairston founded SITKA in 2005. After his departure and sale of the company to W.L. Gore & Associates (makers of GORE-TEX), you’ll see SITKA began looking at more Eastern and Midwest hunting styles.
Arguably, what SITKA does best now is engineer clothing that keeps you toasty no matter how cold it gets in the stand or blind. Because of their exclusive use of GORE-TEX, SITKA’s apparel holds up to brutal wind and frigid cold.
So, if you’re a whitetail deer hunter who endures subzero sits up in the tree, you’ll find SITKA’s line of clothing intriguing. Their materials are whisper-quiet, and you’ll stay comfortable on the coldest days.
Plus, if you’re a waterfowl hunter, you won’t find a better wader on the market than the Delta Zip. And after looking at both product catalogs, you’ll notice that SITKA pays much more attention to waterfowl hunters than KUIU does.
Ultimately, we think that hunters seeking out the most sturdy, tactical, and waterproof apparel will love with SITKA has to offer — especially if they spend much of their time stationary.
As mentioned previously, Gore bought SITKA. So, you’ll find GORE-TEX materials on the outer surfaces of their hunting garments, especially those in jackets and pants made for extreme conditions.
In terms of additional technologies, SITKA uses Primaloft and Polygiene. Primaloft is based in Latham, New York, while Polygiene makes its home in Sweden.
Let’s take a look at four prominent technologies.
- GORE-TEX: this is the range of materials that put Gore on the map. It’s a waterproof membrane designed to keep larger water droplets out, like rain and snow, while allowing water vapor like sweat to exit. It’s 100% windproof
- GORE-TEX INFINIUM: unlike waterproof GORE-TEX, INFINIUM isn’t waterproof. Instead, it’s water resistant. The pores are bigger than the GORE-TEX counterparts, which enables better breathability for sweatier days. Like GORE-TEX it’s also 100% windproof
- Primaloft: Primaloft insulation is made of synthetic polyester fibers that trap heat between the gaps that form between each fiber. It’s exceptional at maintaining warmth when wet
- Polygiene: Hunters know their smell will give them away before an animal sees them. That’s why SITKA treats much of its gear with Polygiene, a silver salt that prohibits odor-causing bacteria from growing
Ultimately, GORE-TEX is the real takeaway from SITKA products. It enables their gear to stand tall even in the most frigid and unforgiving circumstances. And because of their ample use of the material, you can stay dry and warm in hunting situations, from driving snow to mucky ponds.
Unlike KUIU, SITKA uses the more common polyester for its lighter-duty applications. It’s not as stretchy as something like Primeflex, which is why I tend to reach for KUIU if I’m putting in hard miles while searching for elk.
Like KUIU, SITKA offers solid colors in addition to their camouflage. But because we’re talking about hunting, let’s dig into the camo.
One thing that might surprise you is that SITKA doesn’t call their patterns camo. Instead, Gore branded them as OPTIFADE Concealment. SITKA designed their patterns with one thing in mind: confusing a specific animal’s vision.
That’s why you won’t see the typical twigs, branches, and leaves on SITKA GEAR. No, each of their patterns is designed to fool an animal’s eyesight and break up your outline so that you go undetected. It’s like playing hide and go seek wearing an invisible cloak.
SITKA offers the following five concealment patterns:
- ELEVATED II: Perhaps SITKA’s most widely used print, this pattern was designed specifically to hunt whitetail deer from the air. It’s best used at 80 yards or less, and hunters remain unseen at 15 feet high in the tree stand
- OPEN COUNTRY: Made for hunting in areas with long engagement ranges like mountain ranges above the tree line
- SUBALPINE: SITKA created this concealment pattern for hunters who engage with deer and elk on the ground level amongst the trees and vegetated terrain
- WATERFOWL MARSH: The first of SITKA’s two waterfowl-specific patterns, this was created specifically for blind hunting in the marsh, standing crops, and stubble fields. It features a swirling pattern that disrupts birds who circle over the top of hunters
- WATERFOWL TIMBER: Like the marsh pattern, this one features a swirling pattern, but it’s made to work in darker habitats
Using science and technology, SITKA revolutionized hunting camo. Instead of creating products that worked well when considering how humans see, they instead focused on the prey creature’s eyesight.
This shift in how camouflage is thought of can make the difference between going home empty-handed or bagging that buck.
Just because you might like one brand over another, or your hunting style might be better suited to a KUIU product over a SITKA garment, doesn’t mean you can’t mix and match clothing.
Most hunters don’t wear matched gear.
For longer, most strenuous hikes, I’d consider choosing the KUIU Attack Pant over just about anything light-duty pant that SITKA offers. And because KUIU offers it in myriad solid colors, you won’t look silly with two clashing camo patterns.
But, if you need an ultra-warm yet silent jacket for hunting whitetail from the stand, you won’t find anything like SITKA’s Fanatic Jacket. With a Berber fleece face material, it won’t make a sound as you nock your arrow from above.
It just comes down to picking the best clothing for your hunting style(s). And if that means you’re using a First Lite baselayer underneath different pieces of KUIU and SITKA outer layers, then so be it.
We hope our breakdown of KUIU vs SITKA gave you a good idea of what to expect when shopping for your next bit of camo. Of course, there is a lot to ponder here.
Keep this in mind: Just because you can’t purchase a whole set of matched camo doesn’t mean you can’t upgrade your closet one piece at a time. Ultimately, it’s about maximizing your comfort in an inherently uncomfortable place: the wilderness.
If you’ve got comfortable hunting apparel that you don’t even think about while you hunt, you’re going to have a lot more fun than you would by using clothes that don’t perform. So, don’t feel like you’ve got to pick one or the other.
Go check out different clothes at retailers, scour websites (especially forums), and don’t be afraid to return something that doesn’t feel right.
For more, check out all our hunting clothes articles to find the best gear for you.
- KUIU ULTRA Merino 120 LT LS Crew-T Base Layer Review
- Hunting Pants for Men & Women [KUIU, Sitka, Etc]
- Hunting Backpacks for Deer, Elk & Big Game
- Elk Hunting Gear [51 Must-Haves + DIY Checklist]
- Hunting Shirts for Men & Women [Duck, Funny & More]
- Best Binocular Harnesses [Chest Cases for Binos]
- Hunting Jackets [Duck, Deer, Bear, Elk & More]
Last Updated on July 24, 2023
Ryan Squires lives in Colorado, where elk roam free from the plains to the Rocky Mountains. When he’s not thinking about elk, he can usually be found with an ice-cold brew.