Northern Michigan deer season. This can mean sunny and 65 or 12 below zero with horizontal blowing snow (and everything in between). I love to hunt, but do not like to be cold. I don’t really know anyone who does, so basically this review applies to everyone in a cold climate who spends time in the woods.
So, let’s start from the bottom up. The bibs.
Wow! An engineering marvel if I ever saw one. A friend tried mine on shortly after I got them and she said, “wow, it’s like a Snuggie!” Spot.On! However, Sitka Snuggie doesn’t have much of a badass ring, so we’ll stick with Fanatic Bibs.
The insulation is fabulously warm, while not as bulky or heavy as expected. All I wear under mine are the Sitka midweight top and heavyweight core long underwear. The seat of the bibs has an insert that serves as a moisture/temp barrier for those cold tree stand sits. There are also ideally situated pockets in the front of the torso. They keep your hands warm and hold your arms at a comfortable height.
Now, on the subject of pockets…. Ladies have you ever complemented another woman on a dress she’s wearing and she gushes back, “thanks! It has pockets!” Right there is the mutual acknowledgment of the quintessential achievement of style and function. Well, Sitka did that with the Fanatic Bibs. The pockets in the legs of the bibs are AMAZING! They are multi directional. There are pockets with top zippers and side zippers. You can access anything from a seated position comfortably. No more standing up to wriggle your phone out of your pocket to check wind, legal light or your Instagram feed.
Shhhhhhhh…. If it’s not quiet, it doesn’t matter how warm you are, your chances of seeing anything are significantly diminished. The Fanatic set is ridiculously silent. Fun fact – as quiet as it, burrs still don’t stick to it. This is shocking based on the soft, thick outer fabric. Great for those dark mornings walking out to the stand and not realizing until too late that you were off the beaten path, so to speak. This may have happened more than once…
Now, onto the Fanatic jacket. I have to start in the middle. The muff.is.amazing!!!! The engineering is brilliant! I tested this jacket out on the firearms opener in Northern Michigan. I was in a box blind for 6 hours with no gloves, no heater and no handwarmers. It was 10 degrees with a 10 mph wind. I snuggled my hands in to the fleecy warm muff and stayed toasty all day.
The muff is enabled by the revolutionary cross-zip design. This has many positives in addition to the muff. One of the big ones is that it facilitates a clean, unfettered gun mount or smooth draw cycle if shooting a bow. The jacket fits true in the shoulders and arms, yet is designed to be worn over the bibs and is cut a bit more generously in the torso.
Back to pockets again…. There are some great pocket options in the Fanatic jacket. You can put your rangefinder within easy reach along with calls and miscellaneous other goodies. None of this interferes with movement, gun mount or draw mechanics.
The pattern is ironically adaptable. I loved it for rifle and late bow season as well as some recent bob cat hunting excursions. Whether you’re in a bare tree or sitting in 3 feet of snow, the pattern blends beautifully.
In totality, the Fanatic bibs and jacket are impeccably designed, engineered and executed. They are a perfect fit for the hunter who pursues game in colder climates and demands the highest level of performance from their gear.