Photos by Cliff Gardiner and John Keller (Blinds). Illustrations by Jason Lee
Portable ground blinds are more popular than ever–for good reason. They appeal to older hunters who no longer want to climb trees and to parents looking to share the outdoors with a child while keeping everyone’s feet on terra firma. Ground blinds have utterly transformed turkey hunting for bowhunters, and for the rest of us they simply go where treestands can’t. Hub-style blinds–which stuff into a bag and have an integrated frame for fast setup and takedown–are the favorites in this category. We had four hunters test four models during turkey and deer seasons to see which offered the best portability, concealment, and utility.
Alex Buecking, 26
• Home Hunting Area: Montana
• Days Hunted Per Year: 15
Eric D. Greene, 40
• Home Hunting Area: Texas
• Days Hunted Per Year: 10
Tim James, 35
• Home Hunting Area: Indiana
• Days Hunted Per Year: 10
Bill Kramer, 40
• Home Hunting Area: Pennsylvania
• Days Hunted Per Year: 40
★ Piece of Sheet
★ ★ Plastic Tarp
★ ★ ★ Hunt House
★ ★ ★ ★ Secret Lair
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Invisibility Cloak
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Specs: 73″ tall, 821⁄2″ wide; 21 lb.
The Lowdown: Testers placed the Blackout first because it offered the best combination of value and solid construction. It was easy to put up and take down, although Buecking cautioned that you could easily lose the removable windows if you’re not careful. But he, like the others, really liked the large window openings, saying, “This blind has the best vertical and horizontal range of all.”
Greene praised the fabric’s snug fit over the frame, as well as the interior straps and pockets, which were useful to hang or stow gear. He added, “Nothing on the blind is fragile or prone to failure.”
Kramer agreed that it was sturdy, and he appreciated the four foldout blaze-orange patches on the roof: “I’m all about safety and love this feature.” For James, the key detail was the design of the entry door that made it “easy to get in and out.”
Hits: “Ample interior room.” –Buecking
Misses: “Backpack straps are not adjustable.” –Greene
Hide ‘N Hunt
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Specs: 65″ tall, 62″ wide; 14 lb.
The Lowdown: This is the smallest, lightest blind of the bunch, and the testers agreed that it would be best for a lone hunter who might have a long hike to his spot.
“If a minimalist had to pick a blind, it would be this one,” said Buecking. “It packs up very small, which makes it a cinch to carry over a wide range of terrain.” Although he discovered no weak points in the blind itself, he did suggest that the carry bag “could use some beefier straps with more padding.”
Kramer raved, “Easy to set up and take down. Easy to carry. The zippers and magnetic window closures were very easy to use.” He also liked the dull finish of the material, which he deemed to be less likely to spook game.
James, who noted that the material was quiet and the camouflage pattern blended well into cover, also thought that the windows provided “a good view.”
Greene felt the blind would work well for both rifle and bow hunters, but he wished that the door opening was larger. “It’s difficult to get in and out.”
Hits: “Slits in mesh windows for a gun barrel–awesome idea.” –Kramer
Misses: “Could use a floor.” –Buecking
Primos Double Bull
Double Wide Door
★ ★ ★ ★
Specs: 70″ tall, 77″ wide; 22 lb.
The Lowdown: Three of the testers were big fans of the Double Bull. “Very well made with an awesome 360-degree view,” said Kramer. “Performs great, with room for myself and two kids. This is a good choice for anyone looking for a large blind.”
Greene liked the heavy-duty materials and oversize zippers and pulls, and he said the zipperless, double-wide door made the blind easy to get in and out of “even with a backpack and a bow.” Setup was more difficult than the other blinds, he felt, but he found the included instructional video “very helpful.”
To Buecking, the hook-strap window system was “quick, silent, and effective.” But he suggested that the company should rethink the storage bag. “The bag has only one strap. It’s a pain to carry.”
Although James thought highly of the overall design–especially the 180-degree front window–he had constant issues with the frame, which hurt the score significantly. “One of the frame posts popped out of its socket every time I put the blind up or took it down.”
Hits: “Largest interior.” –Greene
Misses: “There aren’t any storage pockets inside.” –Kramer
★ ★ ★
Specs: 66″ tall, 74″ wide; 22 lb.
The Lowdown: A combination of magnets and zippers allows a hunter to arrange the Carnivore’s windows exactly as he prefers, which the testers considered to be the blind’s greatest attribute. Three of them experienced various problems with the frame during setup and takedown, however, which cost it points.
Buecking was the only member of the test crew who said both setup and takedown were quick and easy–but his highest praise was for the blind’s carrying bag. “It’s great. It has external lashing points on each side that run the length of the bag, perfect for carrying multiple firearms. It also hangs nicely on my back–even on steep grades.”
Kramer did say the blind was easy to carry and to set up, but he cautioned that a hunter must fold the blind properly to break it down or risk snapping a support pole, as he did.
Greene liked the zip-in floor–it was the sole blind so equipped–as well as the wide door opening. But he deducted points because he felt the windows did not have enough height, making it difficult for him to draw a bow and shoot through.
Hits: “Material is quiet and durable.” –Kramer
Misses: “Big and heavy.” –James