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2012 Deer Gear Preview

2012 Deer Gear Preview


Each fall we try and bring you a smorgasbord of products that may be useful in adding to your hunting arsenal.  For most of you, your season has already begun so by now you know the equipment that you need and have some idea of the equipment that you might need.  In contrast to our more in-depth individual product reviews, we try and give you the fast facts about each item in the Deer Gear Preview.  If what you see intrigues you, check out the link to the manufacturers website by clicking on any of the pictures and better yet, contact the company and ask some questions.  All of the manufacturers listed in this preview have gone out of their way to answer our questions.  On another note, Christmas is approaching so consider this as our way of brainstorming for possible gifts for the hunter who has it all!  We hope you enjoy this year’s take on the Deer Gear Preview!

Hunter Safety System Hybrid Harness:  $139.95

We’ve been fans of the HSS product line for years and my 7 year old Pro Series HSS Vest has been a mainstay in my gear bag.  Lately HSS has come out with some variety in their line of harnesses and one feature to all of these that intrigued us was their overall weight.  The new line of HSS harnesses and vests are much lighter than the older styles and the buckle design has been streamlined.  These two attributes caused us to contact HSS to see if we could try out their new Hybrid harness.  It is a combination of their Ultra lite design and Pro Series Vest.  At only 2.5 lbs this design is the perfect combination of pockets and padding.  It gives us the pockets we need for small items like cell phones, wind checkers, and flashlights but also allows for handwarmers.  The leg buckles are stronger and lighter than previous models and are very quiet to latch.   By now, we shouldn’t have to tell you the reasons why you should wear a harness in the treestand.  Look in the eyes of your loved ones if you need more motivation.  In our opinion, there is only one harness brand to consider when you’re in the market for a safety harness.   That brand is Hunter Safety System!  They not only offer a variety of models to suit your needs, the comfort and design is unmatched.  Check them out at www.huntersafetysystem.com

ArborWear:

No Deer Gear Preview would be complete without us mentioning our friends from ArborWear, their awesome double-thick hooded sweatshirt and some new products they bring to the table.  Let’s start with the double-thick hoody.  When the weather turns colder, we have literally one piece of clothing that we reach for and that’s the Double-thick hoody from ArborWear ($99 full zip, $89.95 pullover)  Here’s a funny commercial we made last fall:

The Double-thick hoody comes in pullover and full zip and is a must for all outdoor activities this winter.

ArborWear is constantly coming out with new products and one of them is the Hiram Pullover ($119.95 shown above the video in 1/4 zip grey)  We’d characterize this product as a performance blend of wool and polyester that gives you the warmth of wool without the bulk.  This thing is sweet and gets better with wear.  The fit is perfect and would serve as a great base layer for the Deer woods.

Another nice addition to the ArborWear lineup are the Tech Beanies ($19.95)  These polyester, moisture wicking beanies are light and great for wearing on the way to the treestand to keep from getting “sweated up”.  Surprising enough, these beanies are also quite warm on those frosty mornings.  Blaze orange is also available for those mid to late season deer drives!

LifeProof Blaze Orange Iphone Case with Belt Clip: $79.99 for case, $29.99 for belt clip

Our iphones have become a necessity for us in the woods.  From the luxury of checking Fantasy Football scores to the practicality of checking the wind direction and radar, the smartphone has become part of our carry-on luggage in the treestand.   Having a good quality waterproof case is critical in the elements that we hunt in.  We believe that we have found the perfect case in the LifeProof brand.  Not only is this case completely waterproof, it now comes in Hunter Orange!  The case itself is sleek and only adds 1.5mm to your existing iphone’s dimensions.  The LifeProof case is the only case that we have tried that produces crystal clear images when using the camera.  The Military grade shock-proof material that the LifeProof case is constructed from provides a good grip while still allowing full sound capabilities from the iphone speakers.  Couple this case with the belt clip (sold separately) and you have the perfect accessory for your pack.   The clip will attach pretty much anywhere on your gear and you won’t have to worry about stashing the phone away in some unreachable pocket when the weather gets nasty.  We’ve used these cases while hunting, ice fishing, boating, and during some real downpours so there’s no need to doubt the waterproof claims.  This case provides peace of mind for your phone and that is worth every bit of the price for us!  Check out this video shot entirely through the LifeProof case with the iphone:

Zeal Optics:

We’ve reviewed some of the models of Zeal’s sunglasses before on this site and we love the style and rugged material that these optics are made of.  The Z-resin plant based material that Zeal makes their frames with is unique in that these optics are “crude-oil free” so you can feel a little better that the Zeal brand is an eco-friendly purchase!  They also have a great nose piece on most of the styles that are adjustable for a variety of face types.  It seems like we have an infatuation every few months with one of their new styles and this bow season it seems to be with the BREWER model.  These are similar to the classic “wayfarer” style made famous by Tom Cruise in the movie “Risky Business“.  I’m no Tom Cruise, but I thought the face-paint added a nice touch! Check out our previous review of the Zeal brand here:   http://www.theheritagehunters.com/content_admin/?p=2318

Insane Archery Bow Camera Mount: $39.95 in black, $49.95 in camo

We spent all Spring and Summer testing this product and we have come to the conclusion that it absolutely should be in the gear bags of anyone that wants to add an extra dimension to their hunts without ANY extra hassle.  Professional and Amateur videographers alike can appreciate this simple rugged product.  Screw it onto the stabilizer and your ready to video your shot!  We like the Insane Archery mount for the variety of camera angles it provides and it also comes in handy when your cameraman calls in sick!  Here’s a video explaining all of the features of the Insane Archery Mount

Thermocell’s Heated Insoles: $129.99

The ability to stay on stand in the deer woods is very much determined by how long you can withstand the cold.  Thermocell, makers of the famous and extremely effective mosquito repelling device, have broadened their horizons and developed a product for use in cold weather.  Their Heated Insoles are rechargeable and remote controlled.  The Heat that is generated has 2 levels (Medium = 100 degrees and High = 111 degrees) and lasts continuously for up to 5 hours.  We had no problems with the remote control device and it’s a nice feature allowing the heat to be turned on/off without messing with the insoles or taking your boots off.  The insole itself is not bulky or hard (like we thought it might be) and resembles a normal insole that can be trimmed to help get the proper fit inside the boot.  We found these insoles to work the best with a performance type sock and a rubber boot.  That combination allows you to walk to your stand without getting your feet all sweaty and once you’re on stand, you can decide when it’s time to remotely control the type of heat you want to turn on.  All in all, a great idea that has been perfected by Thermocell.  Give them a try, your feet will thank you!

Blood Vane by Outer Limit Archery: $19.99 for 6 pack

This product is a genius idea!  Forget the hassle of gluing individual vanes and the problems associated with fletching your own arrows.  Hey, we’ve done our own arrows for years and it’s fun, but sometimes we’d like the process to be a little more streamlined.  Enter Blood Vane!  This is a one-piece set of 3 vanes that slip over the arrows shaft.  In between the vanes are glue tracks that require just a dab of glue to run into the track.  The vanes are remarkably rugged and there is absolutely no issue with flight.  They fly exactly like normal fletched vanes.  We’ve shot these vanes for 2 straight months now and have had zero issues with them. They still look brand new! Check out the installation video on the Outer Limit website:      http://www.outerlimitarchery.com/blood-vane.html

Swhacker Broadheads:  $34.95

Swhacker has expanded their cutting diameter on their already devastating design.  It’s sort of like giving Superman another super power!  With a high-carbon steel chiseled tip, aircraft aluminum ferrule and two separate cutting edges on the .032 thick blades, these heads slice and dice with even more cutting diameter.  Simply put, if your setup allows for a mechanical broadhead and you want the most cutting diameter with field point accuracy, give these heads your attention.  You’ll be glad you did on your next blood trail!

Backpackable Bow Case by Midwest Orion: $65

As the name implies, this product is a backpack and bow case all-in-one.  The padding and weather resistant materials make this pack a great option to transport your bow to the stand and hang it while you hunt.  The price is less than many of the backpacks currently on the market and your bow will be protected inside.  We found this product to work excellent when using climbing stands.  Many times we find it difficult to carry our traditional packs on our backs when also transporting a climber.  The backpackable bow case has a tough nylon handle to carry your bow along with everything else.  Here’s a video of the backpackable bow case in action:

Worksharp Knife and Tool Sharpener:  $89.95

There is no beating around the bush with this product.  The thing works awesome!  We got this sharpener out of the box, found about 10 knives that needed sharpening and within the first 4 knives knew we had stumbled onto a winner.  Literally 3 or 4 pass throughs on each edge of the knife is all that is needed to get your cutlery back into razor sharp condition.  Simple and easy to use, this product should be on everyone’s christmas list this year!  Excellent, excellent, excellent!  Need more proof?  Here’s a video for you:

LLBean Hunting:

We’ve always associated LLBean with ultra high quality products designed to last forever.  Couple that with the fact that they have a great array of hunting products and you’ve got a “Go-To” place for all your hunting needs!  Did you know that they offer products in addition to their LLBean branded items as well?  Check out these offerings:

LLBean Gore-Tex Upland Kangaroo Boots: $179.00

Now I’ve not had much experience with Kangaroo leather but apparently it is 60% stronger than normal cowhide.  After our testing of these boots, we have no reason to disagree!  The Kangaroo leather is lighter than cowhide which makes them lighter than the boots we’re normally used to.  The comfort level with the Upland boot is similar to wearing a pair of your favorite sneakers, and Gore-Tex???  Need I say anymore about that little feature?  Hey, we’d be the first to tell you that $179 is a little steep for a pair of boots but not in this case.  If you want an ultra light and comfortable pair of waterproof (not just water resistant) boots that will probably be around longer than you will, check these babies out!

Under Armour Ridge Reaper Gear from LLBean: ($249.99 Jacket, $249.99 Bibs, $39.99 Gloves)

We’ve always been fans of Under Armour but $500+ for a hunting suit??  Honestly we thought we had caught LLBean at their own game here with these.  I mean here’s a company that has built a reputation on offering long lasting, well made products that give you the most bang for your buck right???    So you’re telling me that this Under Armour stuff is made to your specifications and that’s why your carrying it, right?  Apparently that is exactly right!  Keep reading to see why……..Pulling the Under Armour products from the box had just added to my skepticism because the Ridge Reaper apparel is a tad on the thin side.   It is designed to be worn as an outer garment over base layers so if you’re looking for insulating properties, check out one of their other styles.  Although thinner than what I was expecting, the Ridge Reaper fabric is extremely tough AND  features Under Armour’s new scent control properties to suppress bacterial growth and odor.  It’s quiet, waterproof, windproof and you won’t feel like a bulky marsh mellow walking to your stand with these garments.  The fit is superb and to be honest, we feel a little embarrassed to think that we had doubted LLBean’s decision to carry a product like this.  Yeah, it’s expensive stuff but in our opinion, the Ridge Reaper garments are worth the moolah if you can afford it.  Well played LLBean, well played!

Terramar Base Layers:

Over the years, we’ve found that a good base layer is as important as your bow or gun.  A performance oriented base layer with the right degree of warmth can make or break your experience on stand.  You’ll either be prepared and comfortable or ready to call it a day before it even starts!  We found this company called Terramar over the summer and decided to give their products a try this season.  So far, so good!  Terramar has 3 ratings for their base layers; (1.0 warm, 2.0 warmer, and 3.0 warmest).  We tried their 3.0 warmest level in a crew style top and bottoms in mossy oak camouflage.  ($44.99 each).   The base layers are constructed of what Terramar calls their GEO Fleece.  Not only is the performance level of this product there with a quick-dry moisture wicking feature, the GEO fleece contains an anti-microbial element for scent control.  The fleece is thin and constructed of a polyester / spandex mix (95 % / 5 %) that makes layering easy and not all bulky.

We also tried out the reversible beanie and neck warmer from Terramar: ($24.99 Beanie and $9.99 Neck Warmer)

The reversible beanie is made from merino wool and is the perfect blend of weight and warmth.  Thin enough to wick moisture but also warm with a degree of stretchability.  The neck warmer is more for early season in that it is constructed of micro polyester and spandex.  Simply put, if you spend a lot of time in the outdoors (Hunting, skiing, snowmobiling, cutting wood, etc.)  you may want to check into the Terramar line.  They are sure to have a style and warmth level to suit your needs.

Ruckpack Nutrition / Energy Shots: $2.29 each or $54.95 per case of 24

We wrote a review of these non-caffeine energy shots this summer but thought we needed to mention them again.  Many of you know that we recently welcomed a newborn into the family a little over a month ago.  Let me just say that the RuckPack shots have been a life saver in helping me with the energy I need to juggle a baby (not literally juggle him but you get the point), my everyday responsibilities and the rigors of hunting season.  When you’re running on empty, reach for RuckPack!  Here is a link to our review on them:   http://www.theheritagehunters.com/content_admin/?p=2345

NiteHawk Portable Bow Press: $114.99

We’ve used NiteHawk Archery’s Portable Press for several years now and can say without a doubt that every bow hunter should own one!  Not only does it serve as our main press, it is so light and packable that we take it on our hunts out of state in case an issue arises.  The two things that really stand out about this press is 1.) The convenience and portability and 2.) The design.  The press works by pressing the tips of the limbs evenly to distribute all of the pressure down the center instead of the sides of the limbs.  If you look at many of the new bow designs out on the market, this press fits inline with how the manufacturers recommend the bow to be pressed.  To be honest, we have had our bows pressed in reputable bow shops with high priced presses only to hear sounds coming from the press/bow that quite frankly make us nervous.  The NiteHawk Portable Bow Press alleviates our fears and we recommend it to anyone with any style bow.  There is even a shorter turnbuckle model available for pressing crossbows and Nite Hawk has updated the current version of the regular bow press. Here is a video of the press in action and look for this press to be featured as one of our “At The Tailgate” video segments later this fall!

CarboMask: $14.95 for 3.5 oz

We are facepaint users and have been for ages.  Carbomask has combined a non-scented facepaint with activated carbon to mask even more of the scent coming from your face.  The paint dries crazy fast and comes off easy (we don’t take the “come off easy” comment lightly.  It really does but we recommend using non-scented baby wipes to aid the process).  Other than a few chunks of carbon, the paint goes on smooth.  You also get a ton more product than normal facepaint products (3.5 oz goes a long way).

Well that’s it for this year’s 2012 Deer Gear lineup.  We hope you’ve seen a few gems and found something that you want to try out in your gear bag for the remainder of the season. Stop back later this fall when we show you some of these products in action on our “At The Tailgate” video review series.

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