I’ve hunted with different turkey vests over the years, and all of them typically share the same flaws across the board. If the seat easily stows away on a vest, it’s usually too thin and deflates after sitting for a while. Or if a vest has a thick, comfortable cushion, it’s bulky and terrible for moving undetected. Some vests have loud zippers, Velcro, or buttons, and accessing calls or other gear while you’re trying to remain silent can be just as nerve racking as waiting for that gobbler to step into your shooting lane. Recently, I had the opportunity to test the SITKA Equinox Turkey Vest. While this vest is built for mobile hunting, it’s comfortable enough to wait out the most stubborn gobblers. Like SITKA’s other products, the quality of this vest is designed to last for years of tough hunting.
SITKA Equinox Turkey Vest Specs and Features
- Complete adjustability from S to XXL
- Hydration bladder compatible
- Two blaze orange flags
- Magnetic pocket closures
- Dual-density foam seat
- Removeable turkey tote
- Available in Subalpine and Timber patterns
SITKA specifically designed the Equinox as a streamlined run-n-gun turkey vest, but some of those same features that make it great for mobile hunting are also useful when you need to hang tight and wait a gobbler out. This vest is fully adjustable, but unlike competitors, it maintains a snug, athletic fit even if you need to adjust it all the way out. And the shoulder straps have a convenient adjustment that ranges from S to XXL, which you quickly change by flipping the tab on each strap and sliding them in or out depending on your size. Not only is this feature convenient, but you don’t have to worry about it slipping or loosening when you’re in the field. Once you lock the tabs the straps don’t move. I found that the vest also maintains a snug fit when you sit down and doesn’t bunch up like other vests. And if you’re sitting for the long haul, don’t worry because the seat doesn’t deflate like most other vests. The seat alone won me over for this vest, and I found the location and magnetic openings of the call pockets intuitive and easy to access whether I was standing or sitting with my gun propped on my knee.
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Testing the SITKA Equinox Turkey Vest in the Field
“Minimalist” accurately describes the SITKA Equinox, but that doesn’t mean that this turkey vest sacrifices storage space. Most turkey vests either have a shortage of pockets or too many. But SITKA maximizes every aspect of this vest and there’s not an inch of wasted space.
On the right portion of the vest there are three water-resistant storage compartments with magnetic closures that open and fasten silently if you don’t carelessly let go of the top. The middle comportment is designed for box calls and has a snug fit, so your box doesn’t move around or make unwanted noise. I fit a Lynch’s Fool Proof box call, which is a medium sized box, in this compartment, and the snug fit kept it silent even when I ran in the vest. On the left and right side of the box pouch, two pockets can store up to four strikers (two in each), though it’s a tight squeeze.
The smaller pocket on the right side of the box pouch holds miscellaneous gear. It’s water-resistant, so I keep box chalk and a few sheets of sandpaper in there for when my box or slate calls need a tune-up. The other mid-size pouch also works great for strikers but will hold a small box, wingbone, or an old school scratch box if you’re into those.
The magnetic clamshell pouch on the left side is another feature that shines on the SITKA Equinox. It’s designed to hold two slate or glass calls and has three slots for mouth calls. I fit two slate calls in there with no problem, and they didn’t bounce loose or clang against one another even while running. I also tested the magnets to see how they held up while crawling, which turkey hunting often requires. These magnets are strong enough that the pouch won’t come undone with multiple glass calls stored in there. Unlike other vests that have very specific slate/glass call pockets, the clamshell pouch on the SITKA Equinox isn’t so specific that you can’t use it for other gear if you want. Even with my gun balanced on my knee I was able to access my mouth call from the pocket with one hand.
SITKA also ditched the traditional game bag with the Equinox turkey vest and opted for a backpack. I’m a huge fan of the game bag on my old vest, so I was a little skeptical of this feature at first. But I’ve since had a change of heart. I always use my gamebag for stowing dead birds, which I thought I might have to give up with the Equinox. But I didn’t. The vest includes a clip-on turkey tote that neatly hangs on the left shoulder strap, and you can also strap your bird to the backpack, thanks to adjustable compression straps.
This backpack also has a slot to store your hydration bladder for those all day run-n-gun sessions, and there’s still plenty of room to stash your gear even with the bladder. I was able to fit an extra set of layers in the pack and still have plenty of room. If you like to carry a few foam decoys, you’ll have no problem fitting them in there. And the padded straps and pack are super comfortable.
Even though the SITKA Equinox wears comfortably, the breathability could be better. I do most of my turkey hunting in Mississippi where late season temps and humidity percentages hang out in the 80s, so the pack feels a little warm at times. Still, it’s not enough to deter me from using this pack even on the steamiest days.
What the SITKA Equinox Turkey Vest Does Worst
The SITKA Equinox addresses many of the faults I have with other turkey vests I’ve used in the past, but that doesn’t mean it’s flawless. One thing the SITKA Equinox could use is a sternum strap to make the snug fit even better. And while I’m a huge fan of the seat’s durability, it’s not the quickest if you need to adjust it while you’re sitting, and requires both hands to do so, unlike other vests. While I had the privilege of testing a free sample, some might hesitate because of the premium $250 price tag—and I get it, I mean it’s ultimately a glorified daypack with a seat, and there are turkey guns that run cheaper than this vest—but compared to other vests in this price range, the SITKA Equinox just feels like it’s in a league of its own.
What the SITKA Equinox Turkey Vest Does Best
Whether you’re a run-n-gunner or patient hunter, the SITKA Equinox suits both styles, and you can tell that a lot of time and research went into designing this vest. Streamlined shoulder straps and call pockets provide maximum comfort and excellent storage space without added bulk. While wearing this vest and loading it down with gear, I noticed that the athletic fit feels like you’re wearing a day pack rather than an actual vest, especially with the seat in the stowed position. You barely notice there’s a seat attached to the vest. It doesn’t get in the way like large bulky seats, and because you can quickly tuck it between the vest and your back when you need to get mobile, you don’t have to worry about it coming undone or dangling behind you.
Final Thoughts on the SITKA Equinox Turkey Vest
The SITKA Equinox does everything you wish your old vest did better. Like SITKA’s other clothes and layering systems, the SITKA Equinox is built for years of hard hunting. And the intuitive designs from the call pockets to the streamlined seat and backpack stand alone when compared to competitors. It might not kill a turkey for you, but the SITKA Equinox will make that process more efficient.