W.L. Gore & Associates is best known for its revolutionary Gore-Tex fabric, which is pretty much the gold standard when it comes to breathable, waterproof clothing. But the company really turned heads last year by jumping into the highly competitive camouflage market with Optifade, the first pattern based on the science of animal vision. Unlike traditional patterns, which are designed to make hunters look like part of the environment, Optifade is designed to make hunters completely undetectable.
Hence, Gore has marketed Optifade as "the science of nothing." Optifade's digitized look combines a micro-pattern based on how ungulates (hooved animals) perceive color with a macro-pattern that breaks up the symmetry of the human body. The original Optifade pattern, Big Game — Open Country, is optimized for concealment in open environments.
New for 2010 is Optifade Big Game — Forest, designed specifically for forest terrain. In addition to a green color scheme, Optifade Big Game — Forest has been modified for optimal performance in a vertical forest environment at close ranges and elevated treestand angles. Optifade is available exclusively on garments from Sitka Gear, which recently sent several prototypes of its 2010 Big Game — Forest lineup.
Field testing showed the pattern blended quite well in both hardwood and evergreen settings, and while wearing the pattern, I had plenty of whitetails at point-blank archery range below my stand. I was particularly impressed with the durability of Sitka's new Downpour rain gear, which features Gore-Tex waterproof fabric, fully taped and welded seams and watertight pockets.
On one particularly rainy hunt, I spent about an hour crawling through extremely thick cover and emerged both dry and with the rain suit completely in tact. MSRP: $249.99 for Downpour jacket and $199.99 for Downpour pants; available mid-2010.
Contact: W.L. Gore & Associates, 888-914-4673; www.optifade.com; Sitka Gear, 707-253-1122; www.sitkagear.com