Bill Robinson knew about cat litter odors and smelly feet. Lots of people did. It simply took an inspired moment for Robinson to put the two together and find a business opportunity in the hunting and outdoor field. In 1985 he realized that the same innovative chemistry that reduced or eliminated obnoxious pet odors could be applied to hunting boots and clothing. At that moment a multi-million-dollar business was born, although it took more than a decade for the company he founded to begin to realize its full potential.
Today, Robinson Outdoor Products, LLC is divided into three different brands: ScentBlocker (apparel and liquids), Whitewater Outdoors (“Strategic Hunting Apparel”) and Tree Spider. Each brand is carving out its own niche in the hunting and outdoor business with innovative products and forward-looking design.
“Our company thinks differently,” says President Scott Shultz. “The concept of innovation underwrites everything we do. We believe we innovate or we die, from how we initially view problems to how we connect with our customers.”
This “innovation lifestyle” began with the company founding. A dozen years later it took on new meaning when Robinson began to study adsorption (the accumulation of molecules of a gas to form a thin film on the surface of a solid) and subsequently began producing activated carbon scent-control clothing. It was Robinson’s giant step beyond liquid scent-elimination products. The ultimate result was ScentBlocker camo garments.
In 2002, founder Bill Robinson sold his company to Scott Shultz. The next year Schultz purchased Whitewater Outdoors, a 50-year-old Wisconsin apparel company, and brought it into the Robinson fold. The combination of a visionary upstart with an experienced clothing manufacturer worked marvelously.
Four years later, Schultz really ventured outside the Robinson comfort zone and launched Sportsmen’s Edge, a line of vitamin supplements formulated to increase performance in the field.
In 2007 Schultz began to ramp-up Robinson introductions. It debuted the new ScentBlocker Dream Season footwear line, S3 apparel, and Ti4 spray—the first spray scent eliminator to combine pH neutralization, organic odor adsorption, microbial prevention and an oxidization deterrent. Two years later Schultz’ company began working with Michael Waddell and friends to introduce Bone Collector clothing.
It has been a ride, Schultz observes, but remember the mantra—innovate or die— and don’t imagine this ride is over. Case in point? The still-new Tree Spider brand. Tree Spider is a great example of the innovation lifestyle, and it’s a lifesaver.
See page 2 for more products.
As long as bowhunters have climbed trees, treestand safety has been an issue. In the ‘80s, few were, unaccountably, concerned with safety and many hunters fell and were either killed or seriously injured. As climbing stands became more functional in the ‘90s, bowhunters reached higher, 15-, 20-, 25-feet, and maybe—maybe—looped a rope around their waist and the tree trunk. The rope was eventually replaced by a nylon tether and bowhunters died not from the fall but from suffocation, hanging beneath their stand, unable to climb back up or down.
The 2000s saw advances in safety harnesses, now called fall arrest systems. These allowed hunters to suspend in the upright position, and maybe climb back into the stand or grab the tree trunk. They were a safety advance, but unless the hunter could blow a whistle, call a buddy or cut himself free from the straps, he still might die from suspension trauma: restricted by the tight straps, blood pools in the extremities. It can be fatal.
Safety is a serious issue for hunters. The adjustable Tree Spider fall arrest harnesses—the Speed Harness ($150), Speed Vest ($190) and new-for-2012 Micro Harness ($120)—come with instructional DVDs and an illustrated 32-page handbook. The new Micro Harness weighs just 1.7 pounds—which Robinson says is “the lightest full-featured safety harness on the planet.” The bungee tether, which significantly reduces fall shock, comes in three lengths based on harness size and the metal leg buckles are rated to an awesome 4,400 pounds!
The next step in safety beyond the harness is the Tree Spider Livewire Descent System ($80). The Livewire Descent System is the first descent system that provides total hands-free descent, lowering a fallen bowhunter to the ground quickly and safely.
In its package, the Livewire is lightweight, comes in a small pouch and it is easy to use. One end clips in the tree strap, the other end clips to the harness tether using an aluminum carabineer. With its 30 feet of webbing spooled around an internal ratchet system, Robinson warns not to rely on the Livewire above 25 feet or weights beyond 300 pounds. It is designed for one-time use after which it should be discarded.
Although its primary focus has been elsewhere of late, Robinson has not at all given up its marketing interest in liquid scent eliminators. Indeed, its’ new ScentBlocker Scent Eliminating Liquids bring everything together under one branded name: Ti4 Titanium spray (for clothing, boots and gear), Fall Blend spray (a combo scent eliminator and cover scent), Carbon Laundry Detergent (for activated carbon apparel), the Original ScentBlocker spray, Shampoo & Conditioner, Clothes Wash, Hair & Body Deodorant and liquid Body Soap.
In the ScentBlocker apparel line, Robinson has new sets of jackets and pants in its Triple Threat and Super Freak camo lines. The jackets are Tree Spider compatible and both lines are available in Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity and Realtree AP.
Super Freak is a lightweight “tech-driven” garment system, a top-of-the-line infused carbon system and body-lock closure system to contain odors. The exterior is a comfortable burr-resistant, stretch fabric.
Triple Threat garments are waterproof, windproof and breathable and include infused carbon system and body-lock closure system to contain odors.
Robinson Outdoor Products and its three brands—ScentBlocker, Whitewater, and Tree Spider—is located at 110 N. Park Drive, Cannon Falls, MN 55009. The telephone is (800) 397-1927. Several web sites are available including www.robinsonoutdoors.com, www.treespidersafety.com, http://whitewateroutdoors.com and www.sportsmansedge.com. The company is also active communicating to dealers and consumers via Facebook.com, YouTube.com and Twitter.com.