Being Alaska-based, we're already partial to Sitka Mountain Gear just because of their name. We'll even give them a pass on the fact that they're located in Napa, California, because hey, who doesn't like a glass of the grape now and then? SMG offers their gear in Optifade, a pattern designed to fool animal vision that by all accounts works as advertised. That said it wouldn't be out of place in a snowboard competition, and we were curious to see the latest overlap in big mountain and hunting gear.
SMG makes serious gear for serious outdoor use. Their Coldfront jacket and pant shoot for the stars, but are marred by odd sizing and a few strange design choices. They start off right with GORE-TEX soft shell: quiet, weatherproof, breathable and tough, it's an excellent choice for any mountain application where your exertion ranges from 0 to 60 and back again. Ditto on the lining, a plush low-profile microfleece that provides a measure of lightweight insulation. The taped and welded seams pull it all together. The pants have side zips all the way to the waist band, and both the jacket and pant have plenty of pocket options and adjustments. Inside the hand pockets on the jacket is another zipper that lets you give yourself a reach around, useful for adjusting yourself or warming your hands on your stomach.
The gear is made in China, and while the quality is top-notch the sizing is a little off like you see sometimes with Asian-sourced clothing. Both the jacket and the pant are on the small side, and most Americans will need to move up a size. The pockets on the pant are overlapping, which limits their utility for bulky items: a single pocket or non-overlapping pockets might have been a better choice. The suspenders on the pant are also problematic: they have non-slip rubbery strips their entire length, which do the job a little too well and make adjustments difficult. Once you set them they won't move, however. Your shirt will stay tucked in as well thanks to a military-style non-slip gripper around the waist band on the pant.
On the jacket the hood is not helmet compatible, and when you cinch it down it doesn't move with your head like it should, but rather locks you into a forward view. The reach-across Napoleon style chest pockets could be a bit larger, since these are the only ones easily accessible with a pack waist belt secured around the lower hand pockets. A game pocket on the back would also be useful. Another odd design choice is the raised dot-pattern tape around the zippers. It makes noise when it rubs against other material while moving, compromising the otherwise quiet design of these pieces. The final factor that might convince you to give the Coldfront a pass is the price: sure it's high-quality gear, and there are more than a few companies playing at this price point, but given our experience we'll wait for version 2.0.