Editor’s Picks: 6 Great Products From ATA 2020

Each year, hunting buddies ask the author to name his favorite products from the annual Archery Trade Association (ATA) Show. These six items, which vary in size from minuscule to monstrous, caught his attention.

Editor’s Picks: 6 Great Products From ATA 2020

The annual ATA Show is heaven on earth for bowhunters and target shooters, and ATA 2020 certainly didn’t disappoint when it came to showcasing innovative new products. I saw many gear items that turned my head at this year’s event, but if forced to pick my favorites, I choose the six shown below (alphabetical order).

 

Hunter Safety System Shadow Vest

Even though I know I should wear a full-body safety harness every time I climb a treestand — and I do — it’s still a hassle. Don’t get me wrong: I have a healthy respect for heights, and I love the feeling of security while wearing a full-body harness, especially when used in conjunction with a LifeLine. That said, many harnesses are heavy and don’t fit well, which is why I often still wear one I purchased 30 years ago. I know, it’s probably not safe anymore. I provide this background story as a reason why I was impressed with the new Hunter Safety System Shadow Vest. It weighs only 27 ounces, and it looks as if it has enough adjustability for me to wear from September through December, which means it’ll fit regardless of whether I’m dressed in camo jeans and a long-sleeve t-shirt, or if I’m in full Michelin Man winter mode.

Visitors of ATA 2020 checking out the new Shadow Vest in the Hunter Safety System booth.
Visitors of ATA 2020 checking out the new Shadow Vest in the Hunter Safety System booth.

While you can’t put a price on safety in the stand, it’s also nice to know that the Shadow is affordable — MSRP is $49.99. Contact: www.huntersafetysystem.com

  

Millennium Q200 The Buck Hut Shooting House

This past fall I began field testing an Assassin 18-foot Dual Ladder Stand from Ol’Man, which is part of the Millennium family. Spoiler: It’s fantastic. As I walked by the massive Millennium/Ol’Man booth during ATA 2020, I couldn’t help but notice an elevated ground blind that appeared to be designed with me in mind. Called The Buck Hut Shooting House, it’s a hybrid of sorts. It’s built from a heavy-duty, waterproof soft shell material that the company says will last many seasons. The inside of the Hut measures 7 feet, 4 inches wide, 4 feet deep, and 7 feet tall, meaning it will work well for bowhunting. The lightweight tower has two adjustable legs for leveling on uneven ground, and all metal frame parts are made from heavy-duty powder-coated steel construction.

Millennium Q200 The Buck Hut Shooting House
Millennium Q200 The Buck Hut Shooting House

The Buck Hut has a 500-pound capacity, so I could bring both of my sons in the stand with me without any trouble. The next two figures were equally impressive: The entire system weighs only 323 pounds, and MSRP is only $699.99. Contact: www.millenniumstands.com

  

Mystery Ranch Pop-Up 38 Backpack

This product falls into the “why didn’t I think of that” category. The Pop-Up 38 backpack from Mystery Ranch has a frame that quickly converts it from daypack into load-hauling pack. In other words, it’s two packs in one. The frame features expandable pole stays; the height is adjusted via flip locking mechanisms. The adjustable load shelf is used for game bags or other heavy items. The Pop-Up 38 is rated for loads up to 80 pounds. It weighs only 5.3 pounds and the daypack itself is large; outer dimensions 24 x 12.5 x 10.5 inches.

Mystery Ranch Pop-Up 38 Backpack
Mystery Ranch Pop-Up 38 Backpack

Like all Mystery Ranch backpacks, the pockets were placed with hunters and hikers in mind. Dual side pockets hold trekking poles, water bottles or longer tripods, and buckles and compression straps throughout cinch down firmly. Finally, just about anyone can use this pack regardless of size because the patented Futura Yoke adjusts easily to torso length. MSRP: $350. Contact: www.mysteryranch.com

 

SpyPoint Cell-Link

The talk during dinners after each day of ATA 2020 eventually come around to “what did you see today that was cool?” and more than once I heard people mention the SpyPoint Cell-Link. If this works as advertised, then it truly is a game changer when it comes to scouting cameras. SpyPoint says the new Cell-Link is a universal cellular adapter, meaning it transforms any non-cellular trail cam with a standard SD card slot into a cellular device. You simply plug the Cell-Link cable into the SD port of your cam, and Cell-Link goes to work when your camera takes a pic. Specifically, it transmits the image to the SpyPoint app (free) on your phone.

SpyPoint Cell-Link
SpyPoint Cell-Link

MSRP for the unit is only $69.99, and the good news is cellular plans for the system will be available directly through SpyPoint, including — pay attention now — a free plan that transmits up to 100 photos per month. A spokesman in the SpyPoint booth said if you want unlimited photos, the cost will be about $10 per month (Verizon or AT&T). According to the SpyPoint website, Cell-Link will be available in April 2020. Contact: www.spypoint.com

 

Thorogood Mountain Ridge Boots

As a bowhunter who loves late-season whitetail hunting, I couldn’t help but be impressed by a new cold-weather boot from Thorogood. Called the Mountain Ridge, this 10-inch leather boot contains 2,000 grams of 3M Thinsulate Insulation. It features durable cement construction with a rubber outsole, which looks like it should provide outstanding traction on snow. And even though most water has turned to ice during December deer hunts in the Midwest and North, the waterproof membrane of the Mountain Ridge will keep your feet dry if you must cross a shallow flowing creek.

Thorogood Mountain Ridge Boots
Thorogood Mountain Ridge Boots

In addition to the Thinsulate Insulation, these boots feature NASA-inspired SOLARCORE lining, which has been tested to retain 50 percent more heat than insulation alone. Boot weight per pair is 3 pounds, 14 ounces. MSRP: $200. Contact: www.thorogoodusa.com

 

Xenek Ground Blind

Last but certainly not least is the new Ascent pop-up ground blind from Xenek, a company I’d never heard of before. One of its co-owners, Jake Schneider, explained that Xenek launched during spring 2016, and 2020 was the first year they’d be selling and shipping blinds to dealers. Previously, sales had been direct-to-consumer.

Xenek Ascent Ground Blind
Xenek Ascent Ground Blind

As for what sets it apart in the crowded pop-up blind category, I’ll highlight a few.

  • DSX Camo: Designed in collaboration with legendary decoy maker Dave Smith (owner of Dave Smith Decoys), the DSX camo pattern utilizes contrast and color in a macro sense. Many camo patterns turn into a black blob when seen from a distance.
  • Panoramic front window: The Ascent has a panoramic front window utilizing Xenek’s patented adjustment system with four-way stretch fabric. This system enables hunters to customize the size and shape of the window. I’m not aware of a more adjustable front window on any other ground blind. I love the fact you can silently enter the blind through the front shooting window; this would be a pre-dawn game-changer when bowhunting near a turkey roost. The blind also features shoot-through mesh window screens that can be silently installed or removed from inside the blind.
  • Tripod slots: I always shoot a crossbow from a rest, and my top choice is a tripod. The problem in a blind, however, is a tripod must sit back a bit from the shooting window because one of the tripod legs is always crashing into the wall of the blind. Not with the Ascent. It has built-in tripod slots within its walls. These slots allow a tripod leg to slide outside the blind, saving precious space inside the blind while moving a crossbow, or a camera, closer to the window for a better shot.

This blind contains too many innovative features to detail here, so I encourage you to check out the video below. As for cost. I was expecting a “spare no expense” blind to retail for $599, perhaps $699, so I was shocked when Schneider said, “$399.” Contact: www.huntxenek.com

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