I landed on the Sitka Fanatic Wind Stopper Beanie when I was looking for the warmest piece of hunting headwear on the market. I wanted something warm, windproof, waterproof, quiet, and with one other prized feature I’ll mention later. At the time, this was Sitka’s highest-level beanie, and no other company I could find produced something in the same class. It is unique in that it is a very quiet GORE-TEX beanie. Those qualities do not typically go together. However, it is not as water resistant as most GORE-TEXT hats, so there is a tradeoff.
I bought this beanie with my own money a few seasons ago. My main intention for the beanie was whitetail deer hunting, but I have probably worn it waterfowl hunting even more. This is a very nice hunting hat, about as nice as they come. Sitka now makes a few other equally rated beanies for various pursuits, but nothing has replaced the Fanatic WS Beanie for deer hunting. I wanted to give you more than just my opinions as well, so I did an experimental test using this beanie and others and included the data in this review.
This is a real review after hunting with this beanie for a few seasons. These are not just my topline thoughts after unboxing it, doing a video and returning it without ever taking it into the field like so many reviewers do. I am going to give you the nitty gritty, the good and the bad. Some might think I am splitting hairs, but those thinking about spending $90 on a beanie should split every hair they can. That is a lot of money for a hat.
Is the Sitka Fanatic Wind Stopper Beanie perfect? No, it certainly is not. Is it the best hunting beanie out there? For some hunters it will be, for others it is worth having in their toolbox, and for some they will want to explore other options. When doing my own research, I found a lot of reviews that basically just said this beanie is warm and windproof. This thing better be warm and windproof, that is in the name of the product after all. I wanted more information than that and you should to, so here you go.
I couldn’t bring myself to just copy and paste all of the features from the product description, the marketing is just over the top. So here is a more realistic features list. Obviously, this review is not sponsored. I like the hat, but I’m not going to hype it up.
- The beanie has a high loft Berber polyester fleece face and fleece lining which makes it soft and quiet inside and outside.
- It has GORE-TEX Infinium Wind stopper fabric which they say is 100% windproof to keep the wind out and your body heat in. (And it is windproof, so long as the hat isn’t too large to create gaps)
- There is a DWR Finish (Durable Water Repellant) that resists light precipitation and prevents the face fabric from wetting out. More on this later.
- There is a 4-way stretch ear band that fits the shape of your head with ear ports, so your hearing isn’t compromised (much).
- Primaloft Silver Insulation adds the warmth of down but also keeps you warm even if it gets wet. If you are unsure about what makes Primaloft desirable, I did a whole podcast episode talking about this and other insulations titled: Making Sense Of Insulation For Hunting Gear.
- It has Sitka’s Optifade Elevated II camo pattern which is designed for close range whitetail deer archery hunting from a tree stand in the late season. It works good for other things too though. More on that later as well.
- Full size design the completely covers your ears and top part of your neck.
My #1 Favorite Feature
Now on to my absolute favorite feature that sealed the deal for me with Sitka Fanatic Beanie. It comes in medium/large or large/XL and the bigger of the two sizes gives me plenty of room to wear something UNDER it. Why would you want to wear something under such a warm beanie? Because at -10 degrees Fahrenheit no beanie is enough and even in milder temperatures, I want to wear a facemask. I most often turn to my First Lite Tundra Balaclava, which is the single best piece of head warming gear I have ever found, I did a full YouTube review on it as well. Or you might opt for something a little lighter like the First Lite Furnace 350 merino wool beanie which is essentially a base layer for your head.
Adding some merino wool under the Fanatic Beanie is a great thing to do. In any event, I want something that covers my face and neck when it’s really cold. So, if it is cold enough to wear the Sitka Fanatic Beanie, I am going to wear something under it almost every time. The biggest issue I’ve found with the other super cold beanies on the market is they just are not big enough to comfortably fit something sizable underneath them. Which to me defeats the purpose.
You should expect any company’s coldest weather beanie to have enough room under it to wear it with a facemask. Sitka got it right. This is huge and it makes this beanie compatible with huge variety of other options to enable you to hunt just about any conditions you could imagine.
Pros & Cons
You are going to see something here you do not often see, more cons listed than pros. I already said before that I am splitting hairs here. They need split and this is the place to do it. The pros outweigh the cons by a wide margin. But I want to mention all of the cons, small as they may be, because people need to know so they can make informed decisions. I am in favor of this hat, the pros are obvious, but for some reason many reviews pretend there are no cons, so I’ve given them more space here.
- This beanie is very warm. The fleece itself is warm and the Primaloft Insulation takes it up a notch higher still. This is part of what sets this beanie apart from the rest of its competitors.
- This thing is windproof, which for me is a nonnegotiable for late season hunts. It doesn’t matter what it is made of, if the wind blows right through it.
- It does a good job keeping you dry both from precipitation and perspiration. I have worn it in pouring rain and done just fine.
- The camo pattern is good, though I don’t think it can live up to the marketing hype.
- I wish it had a brim, you do not realize how much that helps keep the sun out of your eyes, even on cloudy days. Though you could wear a ball cap underneath to give you a brim, if you are into that.
- The cost is high, more than almost every other beanie made by every other company. You do get more features than any other beanie though, but you pay for them.
- The beanie is so large and thick that depending on how you wear it, it can cut into the edges of your field of view. It’s part of the price you pay for a super thick cold weather hat.
- It is water resistant, but it is not entirely waterproof. Yes, it has a GORE-TEX layer that will keep rain from reaching your head, but it has a fleece exterior which eventually will become waterlogged, heavy, and no longer help to insulate you. This has not yet caused me a significant problem, but I assume their thought process is that this is for days colder than 32 degrees when you have snow instead of rain. It works perfect then. But I also wear it hunting in the rain and it does the job but that isn’t exactly what it was built for.
- I just have to call it like it is, this thing looks goofy on your head. It is just not the most stylish piece of hunting headwear. And that is ok. It is a big bulky hat that is bent on performance at all costs.
After I got this beanie, I decided I really wanted to know if the price I paid was worth it. So, I decided to do some real testing and see if I could generate some data. So, I ran an experiment and pit this beanie against everything else I could get my hands on. For the test, I filled several disposable coffee cups with boiling water and then put the beanies over top of them outside on a freezing day. Every 10 minutes I came back to measure the temperatures to see which beanie kept the water the warmest. I then graphed the trend lines to see how the beanies compared over time and which was the winner.
I will put the video below so you can see the whole experiment, but let’s just say if the Sitka Fanatic Beanie did not perform well, I wouldn’t be writing this review, nor would I still be using the beanie.
The Sitka Fanatic Beanie was designed for winter deer hunting, especially from a tree stand at close range. The camouflage, the features, everything was designed for that particular purpose. It helps you blend into barren trees and skyline. However, it works great for many more types of hunting as well. And if you are going to spend this much on a beanie, you will likely want to get more use out of it. Obviously, anything you would hunt from a tree stand in the late season is going to be a perfect fit. But you can wear this beanie on the ground too.
I have found it works great for duck and goose hunting. As I mentioned, it is better in the snow than the rain, but it does the job. When it’s really cold in the late season this thing blends into the frozen vegetation just great.
This hat is perfect for hunting predators in the winter, especially at night when its fridged and the wind is brutal. It gives you just about everything you could want for those scenarios.
It is likely more than you need for active hunting like pheasants, grouse, small game, etc. You probably want something lighter and cooler if you are walking all day, so your hat doesn’t get soaked in sweat. Yes, this beanie is breathable and will dry, but it can only dry so fast and if you just keep sweating you will always be wet.
The Cheapest Place To Buy
So what is the cheapest place to buy the Sitka Fanatic Wind Stopper Beanie? Well, I have done a bunch of research on this, and my conclusion is that it is not about where you buy but when you buy. Everyone pretty much has the same price all the time. But every so often this beanie goes on sale. I have seen it listed for as much as 20% off.
A couple times per year Sitka runs or allows sales, and those sales are usually across many or most retailers. So, when it’s on sale, it is on sale pretty much everywhere. I recommend trying the beanie on in a store to get the size and fit you like, and then wait until it’s on sale and then order it from the retailer that gives you the best shipping, points, and return policy. For me that is usually Amazon, unless I could catch it on sale in person in a store. But you do you.
Summary & Recommendations
So, what is the final analysis? I think this a great beanie. The Sitka Fanatic Beanie does almost everything I want it to do, more than any other beanie I know of right now. It might or might not be the best artic level hunting beanie for you, but hopefully I gave you enough information so you can tell if it’s a good option for your hunting style and needs.
If you want to pair this beanie with some other good options, I have done similar reviews for the Cabela’s MT050 Whitetail Extreme Bibs & Parka and the First Lite Furnace 350 Merino Base Layers. I have been using these as part of my super cold weather gear system and they work really well. If it’s not apparent, I only do reviews on gear I really like, it is not worth my time to write or do videos about stuff I don’t feel strongly about. So, if you see something I’ve done a review on, you can be pretty sure it’s a quality piece of equipment that has found a place in my setup.
Till next time. God bless you, and go get em in the woods!
George Konetes Ph.D. – Founder and Host of the New Hunters Guide.
The New Hunters Guide is simply what George wishes he would have had when learning how to hunt; a single place to get practical hands on knowledge about different kinds of hunting, gear, strategy, and tips that can improve your comfort and fun factor in the woods.