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Jason Hairston, 1971-2018

Jason Hairston with hunting gears

It is with heavy hearts that we report that KUIU founder Jason Hairston died this week. He was 47.

We here at Western Hunting Journal send our prayers to his family, his extended family, friends and everyone at KUIU.

The company released a brief statement and a photo of Hairston on its website.

“We are shocked and saddened to announce the tragic passing of KUIU founder Jason Hairston. His legacy lives on in KUIU’s spirit of relentless innovation.”

In the Sept-Oct 2018 issue of Western Hunting Journal we are featuring the Evolution of Hunting Apparel, and anyone familiar with the hunting community knows that Hairston played a major role in the advancements of clothing we wear while in the field. It is an understatement to say Hairston will be sorely missed.

While Hairston’s story is well-documented, some of it bears repeating. While on an elk hunt in Idaho’s White Cloud Mountains Hairston and Jonathan Hart lamented about their clothing’s inability to perform under extreme conditions. With an eye toward the mountaineering community, Hairston and Hart developed a line of clothing that was insulated, waterproof, breathed, and stretched. It is a classic story of “Necessity is the of Mother of Inventions.” The two went on to found SITKA in 2005.

When SITKA was formed in 2005, both Hairston and Hart were at the helm of the company and they pioneered hunting apparel to a level few thought possible. They developed products using Gore-Tex® membranes and Gore™ Optifade camouflage patterns that were not only cutting edge, but created cult-like followings within the hunting community. The company was wildly successful and its growth necessitated the need for capital investment. In 2009, SITKA was purchased by W.L. Gore & Associates. Hairston left, and Hart stayed on to lead Sitka. In 2011, Hairston launched the now popular KUIU.

Hart commented on SITKA’S Instagram account.

“We are deeply saddened by the news of Jason Hairston’s passing. Twelve years ago, our shared passion led us to co-found SITKA Gear and together we revolutionized hunting apparel. More recently at the helm of KUIU, he’s been a great competitor that pushed all of us at SITKA, and the industry as a whole, to be better. Jason was always larger than life and he will be missed.”

For a detailed account of Hairston’s story and his company’s philosophy click on the link below. https://www.kuiu.com/about-us.html.

Pat Hoglund, WHJ Executive Editor

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