Sunday, November 20th, 2011
2011 DEER GEAR
Have you ever tried a product that suited your exact needs perfectly at first use? We were fortunate enough to try out several new and innovative products this Fall that did just that. For the sake of simplicity with all of these products, we’ve broken them down into two categories: The Best of Show; which represents products that we’d feel “naked” without, after our testing, and The Best of the Rest; which still represent good quality products, but may require some additional time with before they fall into the first category. Click on the pictures or the Product name to visit the manufacturers website.
BEST OF SHOW
I don’t know why this stuff isn’t in everyone’s closet by now. From standing on the sidelines of my daughter’s frigid soccer games, to ice fishing, to the deer woods, the double thick sweats are a fantastic piece of gear. Whether it’s the hooded sweatshirt, quarter-zip sweatshirt or sweatpants, Arborwear has hit a homerun with the double-thick series of apparel. They have a variety of items that are “tougher than nails” and you should definitely check them out at www.arborwear.com
Another great product from Arbor Wear is their 1/4 zip pullover with “Dri-Release” that has a built-in odor neutralizer which also does a great job of moisture management. Combined with the Double Thick Sweats, the 1/4 zip pullover is a great combination for outdoor activity when the mercury drops! Another thing that Arborwear does really well is come up with great slogans for their apparel. Check out their latest Thanksgiving Advertisement below:
Once you experience Gerbing’s line of Heated clothing, you’ll realize why you never again have to be concerned with the question “How cold is it going to get?” Gerbing’s heated vest is an absolute must have piece of equipment for the avid hunter and ice fisherman. Not only does the vest give you the ability to wear less layers, it gives you the ability to have “heat” at your command with the small rechargeable battery packs that fit neatly in the vest pockets. It’s pretty simple really. You wear the vest (which is pretty warm in it’s own right) to your stand and sit until you start feeling that unforgettable chill that hunters experience. With a simple push of a button on the battery, you can heat up the inner-workings of the vest to the level of your choice (100%, 75%, 50% or 25%). When you get home, you plug in the battery to a charger (included with the vest) and recharge for the next hunt. We also will be trying the heated sock version of the Gerbing System later this Fall/Winter so stay tuned to see how we like those!
It seems like when Leupold does something, they do it right! The RCX trail camera system is by far the best we’ve ever used. Not only are they easy to hang and operate, the controller / viewer allows you to 1) take a look at your field of view to make sure it’s pointing correctly and 2) View your pictures in the field and download them to another SD card in the controller. Simply throw the controller in your pack and you can check your pictures without removing anything from the camera itself. The units allow for both pictures and video depending on the settings you choose as well as options for a single or continuous string of pictures. We can’t imagine using anything but Leupold trail cameras from now on.
The beauty of this product is its simplicity! Slide the switch forward and you’re recording. Slide it back, and you’ve turned it off. We absolutely love these Midland cameras for capturing all the action that happens to and from the treestand. They are small, easy to clip onto your hat and take great video. Order one of these to video your next track job!
This hat is literally two hats in one. When we heard that this product was “reversible” we had our skepticism. Usually one side is better than the other, but this is not the case with the RackHat. Realtree camo on one side and blaze orange on the other. We can see this hat working especially well in Turkey season by turning it to the blaze side while walking out of the woods with a forest chicken slung over your shoulder.
I’ve always been somewhat of a “scent freak” when it comes to storing my hunting clothing. I moved from rubber totes to the Hunters Specialties bag and that all seemed to work pretty well……….Until now. Since finding the Watson Airlock Camo bags, I can literally throw ALL my hunting clothes in one bag along with all my non-apparel accessories and drag that sucker from hunt to hunt. We do a ton of “speed hunts” in a few different counties and this carrier bag is perfect for a hunter on the go. It’s big (26″L x 19″H x 12″D), rugged (Back2Back™ fabric coating technology for water repellent and abrasion resistance) and Scent Proof (Airlock™ Technology to lock out odors). Watson Airlock also offers a version of this bag called the “Bottomless” bag for boot storage in the same size as the camo carrier that we tested as well as a bigger 34 inch version.
The Mayhem Boots from Wolverine combines everything I love about a lace-up hunting boot and the one thing I love about rubber boots……..the easy on/off! With the Mayhem side-zip boots, I can lace them up and forget about it! The Individual Comfort System or ICS easily changes the amount of cushioning in the heel. Simply remove the insole and turn the gel disc to enhance inner support, increase outer support, add cushion or even make the shoe more firm. With it’s 100% waterproof full grain leather construction, the Mayhem boot from Wolverine has found a home in our arsenal of footwear!
The Black Bear Boot not only have that Classic look, they are built to withstand any punishment you can dish out! A throwback to the days before camo rubber boots, these 10 inch boots are waterproof and have 400 grams of Thinsulate Ultra, making them the perfect still hunting boot! One look at the stitching on this boot or perhaps the aggressive tread pattern on the outsole and you’ll see that these boots are built for wear and tear. The padded removable insole is a nice touch and means that comfort is also important to Irish Setter. When the season turns from sitting long hours in the stand to hiking over vast terrain, reach for the Black Bear Boot from Irish Setter!
Just take one look at the saw teeth on this bad boy and you can figure out how well it will cut. No longer do we need to sweat buckets taking limbs the size of our calves, nor do we need to worry about saws breaking in the middle of those type cuts! The Wicked Tree saw is in fact “Wicked” when it comes to making short work of branches and small trees. The saw is 14.12 inches long when it is open and only weighs 0.5 lbs. I would love to see this company come out with a pole saw version of this thing and maybe add some sort of a sheath for this compact cutting machine. Check out the video on their site to see this saw in action! (click on picture above to see how Wicked Sharp and Tough it really is!)
Seemz offers a variety of scent-free products and one of those comes as a complete system called “The Krush”. The Krush system includes:
32 oz Scent Elimination Spray
12 oz Scent Elimination Spray
64 oz Scent Elimination Refill Bottle
32 oz Laundry Detergent
12 oz Hair and Body Soap
Seemz Truck Sticker
I’ve used the Krush System all bow season and have not run out of spray. The Spray bottles are unique in the fact that they spray just as well when tipped upside down. The whole odor elimination system hinges on what Seemz calls “Odor Fusion Technology” which creates a molecular barrier that prevents odor molecules from reaching the air, thereby possibly floating downwind to your prey. The Krush system from SEEMZ Technology has not only saved me money this fall, it has also provided me with the confidence of having a reliable scent-free system.
BEST OF THE REST
The newly redesigned Believer G1 from Concept Archery is another great addition to their line of 99% let-off bows. The Specs on the Believer G1 are:
As with all the Concept bows, the draw cycle is super smooth and it’s a blast to shoot. We were able to have several of our staff shoot this bow this Fall and they all had the same impression……….smooth draw, accurate and fun to shoot! The valley on the 99% let-off bows takes a little getting used to on the “let-down” if you’re not shooting the arrow. It’s hard to know when the rollover is going to occur going from 1% holding weight to the full poundage gain. Hand shock was minimal and we’re pleased with their redesigned wood grip. It not only looks classy, but it’s slimmer and fits the “life-line” of our hands better than the older models. Concept is making huge strides in their bow production and if you’ve never shot one, you’re missing out!
Then LLBean name is synonymous with quality and durability when it comes their apparel. The offerings for their line of hunting apparel is no different. LLBean has come up with what they call “The Big Game System” which essentially is a series of shell, liner, and pants or bibs. There are two different shells and liners to choose from and although our pick for those where the Technical Shell and the midweight liner, it’s hard to go wrong whatever you choose. All aspects of this Big Game System is built for hard wear in harsh weather and the best thing about these garments is that they kept us dry and warm in our outings.
The Northweave series is a lightweight shirt and pants that are designed to be a durable moisture wicking garment. These were not only great for hanging tree stands in late summer, but would serve us well for chasing Spring Gobblers in the rising May temperatures.
We’ve always been big fans of Irish Setter’s boots and are quickly becoming fans of it’s clothing line……..that’s right! If you didn’t know by now, they make apparel as well as great boots! The Springfield Jacket and Starbuck Lined Pants contain what Irish Setter calls “Wool Loft” insulation. It is this 100% wool insulation that traps in the heat while allowing for moisture management. The “Ultra Dry” membrane keeps the garments wind and waterproof. One looks at this apparel and you get a sense of quality. There are no imperfections in the seems or clasps that we could decipher. That’s probably a good thing for the price! (Springfield Parka = $209 and Starbuck Pants = $199)
The RamCat is a fixed style head with blades that move forward and back. The ferrule is one piece stainless steel with 0.32 inch thick blades that are sharpened on the front and rear. The cutting diameter is 1 3/8 inches and the cutting tip has deep lobes that serve to minimize any windplaning. We found RamCat Broadheads to outperform our expectations on toughness and durability. After shooting these heads through 1/2 inch plywood, they sunk into the tree behind it, only to be pried out with only a slightly bent tip of one of the blades (see above). The flight of the head flew great out of our Hoyt Rampage XT’s and we found no difference between the RamCats and our usual mechanicals. All testing was done with Victory VAP arrows and the combination with the RamCat is absolutely impressive! Check out how far the head sunk into the tree behind the plywood! (below)
This product is the epitome of a 2 in 1 product for hunters. As the name suggests, it is a pack that quickly folds into a chair. No longer do you have to carry a seat/folding chair as well as your pack into the deer woods. Originally I thought that it would take some getting used to in order to figure out how the chair folds/unfolds in order to strap to my back. I was wrong! There really is only one way it logically folds/unfolds and it is quite simple to use, even when the pack pockets are filled with gear. As one might surmise, this product has other uses besides hunting. From fishing, to camping, to sitting on the sidelines at your child’s games, the Chair Pak comes through as a useful and durable product.
We also tried out 2 different types of safety / sunglasses from a company called Radians. The Shift glasses remind us a lot of the classic M-frame Oakleys and come with 5 different color lenses (along with a sweet black zip box to keep them in). The nosepiece fits great on these and they are so lightweight that you won’t even know you’ve got them on. In fact, there were a few times I caught myself forgetting they were on as I climbed into my afternoon stand! The other pair of glasses are called the Vengeance glasses by Radians and these are also lightweight and stylish. They too come in a variety of lens options and two different frame colors (black and tortoise shell). Both the Shift and Vengeance glasses meet or exceed ANSI Z87.1 + standards and are both very affordable. (Shift = $78 and Vengeance = $11)
Anyone who has marked their hunting property with POSTED signs knows that sometimes you want something a little extra to send that message. Radians also manufactures a line of “Safe Tape” to do just that. Coming in 3 different messages (NO HUNTING, POSTED….PRIVATE PROPERTY AND NO TRESSPASSING), the high visibility boundary tape works perfectly. The durable 4mil tape comes in 300 foot rolls and worked especially well for us in marking gateways and parking areas.
HyCreek is famous for offering “package deals” when it comes to hunting clothing. We decided to test out their Bowhunters Stealth II Package for 2011. The package comes with a Jacket and pants that both have a 130 gram low-nap outer layer and a 300 gram berber fleece inner layer. It also comes with their STAY-DRY Wicking Underwear w/ ScentSense (top and bottoms) and PRO II Extreme Insulating Thermal Set (top and bottoms). In essence, you get 6 garments for $229. Now after having had several years of experience with base layers, it’s no secret that I’ve always been a big fan of the Under Armour products. However, the base layers that come with this HyCreek Stealh II package are just as good in my opinion. I found that the wicking properties of the base layers did the job quite well as did the insulation properties. As for the outer layer Jacket and Pants, the phrase I would give to these would be “tougher than nails”. They do very well with the wear and tear associated with walking through the woods and brush. The Jacket and Pants also do an extremely good job with blocking the wind. As for fit, the Jacket, pants and base layers are true to fit and comfortable. If you’ve ever seen those HyCreek Advertisements on the back of a hunting magazine and wondered how they would fair, feel free to give them a try. It’s not a gimmick!
Elusion camo represents one of the most exciting products to hit the scene in a very long time. We’ve seen camo companies emerge over the years, but none that seem to have the longevity to compete with the “Big 2” of Mossy Oak and RealTree. Although in the early stages as a company (having just started in March of 2011) Elusion Camo has already been a buzz on the internet. We decided to see what the buzz was about and got ourselves two sets of BDU style suits (Ridge Raider and Forest Ghost Autumn patterns). The suits are 100 % polyester and have no insulation but can be worn over layers of insulation because of the generous sizing. The pockets seem to be well thought out and the Velcro enclosures hold up well after prolonged use. The suits come with jacket, pants and headcover and there is one price per suit to make things simple. The area where Elusion Camo shines is the HD quality of patterns and variety of patterns available. One look at the 11 patterns available and you’ll see why we think this company is going places. The company’s founder Lee Dufresne is also a force to be reckoned with. He is one of the more driven individuals that I have met in the hunting industry and appears to have “the sky’s the limit” philosophy on this company. The true photo HD quality of the patterns has “turned heads” in the industry and we predict that it’s only a matter of time before Lee has the ear of a major bow brand to dip their risers. Another feat that Lee has managed to accomplish in his first year in business is to manufacture his products entirely in the USA. When you purchase a suit from Elusion Camo, you know that you are helping to employ another person in this country. Add to that the feeling of comfort that comes with Elusion’s guarantee policy and we think you’ll be pleased with your purchase. Lee is always willing to “talk shop” and answer your questions so don’t hesitate to contact him (Lee@elusioncamo.com). See if you can get Bill Jordan or Toxey Haas to answer an email!?!? Check this stuff out at www.elusioncamo.com
5.11 is a company that specializes in tactical equipment for law enforcement and the military. That means quality equipment that is well thought out. 5.11 offer a line of gloves that are not only tough and comfortable, but are off the charts on dexterity. Because members of law enforcement and the military have to be able to “feel” what they are doing while wearing gloves, 5.11 has mastered the market in this area. We tried out the Taclite 2, the Station Grip and Praetorian gloves in their line and we’re not sure we can put enough wear and tear on them to justify needing another pair. We gave the Praetorian gloves to a K-9 handler friend of ours to try. Needless to say, he raved about them so much that we never saw them again! He told us that not only did they not take long to “Break in” but they were a perfect combination of warmth and tactility. In short, they are tough enough to handle the dog in a rowdy situation but tactile enough to use in drug searches. As for hunting, we found the Taclite 2 glove to be the perfect early season bowhunting glove. They are like shooting a release with no gloves on yet, they provide a level of protection when griping the tree steps to climb into a tree stand. The station grip gloves are the perfect riding gloves for ATVs and do equally well for putting up those tree stands in the summer and early Fall months.
With 2000 grams of Thinsulate, you’d think the Swampwalker 2000 boots would be too heavy to bother wearing too/from your stand. Not so! Itasca has found a way slimline the entire boot while maintaining the extensive insulation aspect of these boots. Sure, they are a little heavier than your uninsulated boots, but we really didn’t notice too much of a difference between these and our usual 1000 or 1200 gram rubber boots. As for the quality, the seems are nicely welded and the outer walls of the 17 inch boot are made of tough rubber. We can’t wait to see how these fair on the ice this winter!
This product has got to be the coolest I’ve seen in a while. I’ve always thought that a European mount looked much more bad ass than a regular taxidermist mount. Skull Lok takes that concept and gives you a custom mounting bracket for a European mount or a simple horn mount. When I first contacted Jon from Skull Lok, I asked him about the broadhead brackets. To my surprise, he told me that he can make a custom bracket of just about any shape (he even does the shape of your home state) and he offered to do up the Heritage Hunters logo for us as a giveaway. When it showed up at my door, I was blown away. The thing is beautiful and the powder coat is equally impressive. If your hunting club or organization is looking for a great promotion, drop a line to Jon Eichhorn at email@example.com
The Strut & Rut Energy brand energy “shots” have got to be the ultimate energy drink for hunters. The container looks like a giant shotgun shell and to be honest, they’re almost too cool looking to throw away after drinking. They make me want to line them up on a shelf somewhere………anyway, the actual drink itself tastes great and doesn’t cause any sort of “crash” after the fact. We’ve found that energy drinks come in two basic varieties; Those that give a short-lived burst of energy with the crash that comes later and those that provide a sustained, almost “Timed-release” trickle of energy to keep you going even when you’re dog tired. Strut & Rut Energy is definitely of the latter version and we would recommend it to any and all hunters that want to keep up the pace, even after getting up day after day at O-Dark Thirty!
We hope you’ve enjoyed the variety of items presented in this year’s 2011 Deer Gear preview. Obviously not all the items are necessary to bag that slammer, but they’re all worth a look! Do us a favor and let us know what you think of any of these items in our FORUM.