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Duck hunting is synonymous with wet and cold conditions. Typically, the colder, snowier, and windier the weather, the better the hunting. To be successful on the most brutal migration days, you need serious outerwear like the Sitka Hudson Jacket. I used it while breaking ice, setting decoys, and sitting in a blind for hours in high winds and freezing temps during a late-season hunt in Utah. Here’s how the Hudson Jacket stood up to the conditions.
Sitka Hudson Jacket Specs and Features
- Weight: 42 ounces
- GORE OPTIFADE concealment waterfowl marsh camo
- 3-layer GORE-TEX stretch technology
- PrimaLoft insulation
- Bellowed shell pockets and zippered tuck-away pockets
- Water-sealing gasket cuffs
- Drawcord hem
There are panels of GORE-TEX stretch material behind the shoulders of the Hudson to allow for a speedy shotgun mount and a free range of motion while retaining extreme water and wind protection. The panels don’t allow cold, wind, or water in although they vary drastically from the rest of the hard shell. The material feels more like a treated and stretchable waffle knit than your typical thick and smooth GORE-TEX. Being able to efficiently pull yourself back into the boat, reach for decoys, and mount your shotgun smoothly is a huge benefit of this jacket. I was impressed that these panels did not result in a cold spot and instead retained the integrity typical GORE-TEX performance.
The water-sealing cuffs adjust to prevent water from getting up your sleeve, even when submerged. You can seal the cuffs underneath your gloves to prevent water from seeping in. This way you won’t have to deal with damp sleeves for the rest of the day if your gloves fail or you have to reach underwater.
The Hudson features two open pockets on the chest to warm up your hands, two bellowed shell pockets that fit a full box of shells but lay flat when empty, and two zippered tuck-away call pockets on the exterior. There is also an interior zipper pocket over the left chest. The call pockets will keep your reeds from freezing and removable straps on the front of the coat allow you to secure calls for easy access. I would have appreciated two additional open pockets behind the bellowed shell pockets at the waist for an additional place to keep my hands warm, but all in all there is plenty of storage in this jacket.
Testing the Sitka Hudson Jacket In the Field
I took the Hudson duck hunting in freezing temperatures to test just how water and wind resistant it really is. The bay I was hunting was frozen over with about an inch of ice. Realistically, our prospects for killing ducks were not very good with the bay iced up, but it did make for ideal conditions to test my jacket. After the only other boat out there turned around with a busted prop, we hopped into the water to break up the ice for the boat. I trudged through mud and used my body weight to break the ice, so I was working up a sweat while splashing plenty of water against my coat. This shell operated beautifully, keeping the cold out without causing me to overheat. It was plenty breathable while I was in motion, but sealed against wind and ice.
After clearing a half-dome of ice out from the boat blind, we began setting decoys. No splashes or breeze penetrated the Hudson and I was still comfortable waist deep in freezing water. Next, the real test of sitting still for hours with wet waders on.
While the Hudson features PrimaLoft insulation, it performs like a shell, not a puffy. The heavy GORE-TEX was certainly a helpful layer when trying to keep warm, but without insulating mid layers, you won’t last the day in frigid temps. The padding inside the jacket is slim and body mapped to allow the back and underarms more breathability yet the design keeps your core and arms more insulated.
This jacket isn’t extremely warm by itself. It also fits snugly, which I thought kept me less warm because it compressed my mid-layers. However, after a few hours of little action, I was just as warm as when I first started the sit. I would recommend sizing up to accommodate thicker layers underneath.
What the Sitka Hudson Jacket Does Best
This is a performance piece of outerwear that is well-designed for its intended purpose. It blocks the elements while giving the wearer mobility and breathability when necessary. The extreme water resistance and wind resistance are the best parts about this jacket, which are also the most important factors when shopping for a duck hunting jacket. The technologically advanced GORE-TEX stretch panels, plentitude of pockets, and gasket cuffs make this coat worth the investment for serious duck hunters.
What the Sitka Hudson Jacket Does Worst
This jacket could benefit from a looser fit to accommodate more layers. It’s snug for a medium, my typical size. At times it felt like it was compressing my layers, not allowing them to trap enough warm air to really keep me toasty. A shell shouldn’t fit so snugly, but the stretch technology helps mitigate this issue so you are still flexible even if it is a trim cut.
The closure features dual zippers to make sitting more comfortable, but it takes some convincing to secure the zipper lead. When it’s frozen and you have gloves on, it can be finicky. Though, the tabs on the zippers give gloves enough purchase to operate.
Sitka’s Hudson jacket is a reliable outer layer with some creative solutions to the challenges associated with hunting in the worst weather. Staying warm and dry is crucial to crushing a duck hunt where action can happen quickly or after hours and hours of sitting in the cold. The mobility in this hard-core shell is something you’ll notice and appreciate on every hunt you wear it.