ATA TOP PICKS

By Steve FloresJanuary 11, 20137 Comments

LAST UPDATED: May 1st, 2015

With the 2013 ATA Show having come and gone, I’ve since taken the time to sit down and really let all of the new products seep into my consciousness. Some were good, some were bad, and some were just plain…well, you know the rest. Overall, I have to say it was a great show. Still, when you consider the pressure to unveil the latest and greatest products EACH YEAR, you quickly realize that at some point that just isn’t possible. At some point improvements cease to come in leaps and bounds and simply come in baby steps.  Nevertheless, there are some companies that are really thinking “outside-the-box” and offering some pretty cool products that, in my humble opinion, can really make a difference when it comes to filling your tags. While there are probably products that were over looked or simply left off of my list due to time and space, in my humble opinion, these are the ones that grabbed the most attention from me.

Game Plan
This company impressed me from the start. With several products that are well thought out and function differently from other similar items on the market, I really believe these guys are going to make some noise in 2013. The one item (among many) that stood out in my mind was the new Base Camp Travel System. This system is leaps and bounds ahead of other offerings because of its versatility, construction, and ability to keep all of your hunting clothes as “scent-free” as possible no matter the circumstances. For the whitetail bowhunter, nothing will make or break your hunt like clothes that smell like danger. For a mountain bowhunter like me, who doesn’t have the luxury of playing the wind, scent control is paramount to my success. That is why I like this particular product so much.

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Unlike other storage bags that either have small compartments inside the main bag or perhaps no compartments at all, the Base Camp comes with individual packing cubes that allow you to separate and organize your clothing while also keeping them in an airtight environment. One cube can hold base-layers, another can hold gloves and bennies, another your second layer of clothing, and another…..you get the idea. The best part is that this system will let you access certain items without the risk of contaminating other items in the process.

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The Base Camp comes with 4 packing cubes however additional cubes can be purchased. There are also 2 hood compartments that come standard; providing additional storage space if needed. And for those sloppy mornings when Mother Nature makes getting dressed a real pain in the “you know what” the Base Camp comes with a pull-out changing mat that provides a clean dry area no matter the conditions. But the features of this system do not stop there. Underneath all of this you will find a Drop Bottom compartment that is perfect for adding the last essential items you will need; like a pair of boots and your favorite safety harness.

There are so many ways to use this bag. The personal options that it provides are one of the reasons I like it so much. I have no doubt that it will be an essential part of my “game plan” (no pun intended) this hunting season.

Moultrie P-150
The P stands for Panoramic and it is perhaps one of the most interesting technologies to hit the scouting camera market in recent memory. Before we get into the specs of the camera, let’s discuss what makes this thing so special. The Panoramic 150 comes with 3 infrared motion sensors that cover a super-wide 150 degree detection area. Compare that to your current scouting camera!

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When movement is detected, the Silent-Slide lens rotates silently to take photos or videos. Watching the unit on the showroom floor was really cool. As people would walk by, the camera lens basically followed them. With 1-sec trigger speed and 8,000 images on 4 c-cell batteries, the P-150 has plenty of juice to capture photos or video of your next trophy. Pictures come in two forms: 16:9 widescreen or 48:9 Panoramic. The unit will not spook game either thanks to the Low Glow Nighttime IR feature.

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The P-150 has a ton of other features that include: The ability to choose between Time-lapse plot camera by day/motion detection by night (or both), HD day/night video, multi-shot 1-3 image burst, password protection, and Motion Freeze Nighttime Blur Reduction. Still the best part is the rotating lens and the ability to move with the game rather than remaining stationary like every other camera on the market.

Under Armour Infrared
Those who know me will be the first to say that you could slap a UA symbol on a turd and I would like it. Well, maybe that is taking things a bit too far, but I will admit that I am fond of Under Armour’s hunting apparel and for good reason…..it works! Last year these guys really shook things up by offering the hunting world an alternative to carbon-based clothing….UA Scent Control. This year, they are stoking the fires; literally. In an effort to keep hunters in the field longer, Under Armour introduces their new Infrared Technology to the Ridge Reaper line of clothing and on select baselayers and footwear.

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Infrared is the result of UA’s effort to invent something new in the world of warmth. The result may be the best insulation system ever created. The theory behind the technology was that just because something makes you warm doesn’t mean it can keep you warm. In other words, heat loss is the major weakness when it comes to enduring the elements. How often have you started off a hunt confident you could handle the conditions but then was forced from your stand simply because you were cold?

UA’s research to make a better product eventually lead them to look at Stealth Bombers. These flying marvels are covered with a special ceramic material that absorbs electromagnetic waves (which makes them invisible), and electromagnetic waves are actually a form of heat….this means that the ceramic material is actually absorbing heat. To test this technology on hunting clothes, the guys at Under Armour used thermal imaging which detects and pinpoints heat loss in insulation systems. The possibilities of using the ceramic material and the visual confirmation from the infrared imaging is what inspired the company’s latest innovation…..a living, breathing body warmer….Cold Gear Infrared.

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This new coating, on the inner layer of the garment, absorbs and retains your own body heat, so you stay warmer longer….with no extra weight or bulk. Look for this ground-breaking technology on select base layers, footwear, and the Ridge Reaper Series of outerwear.

HSS Elite Vest
Each year it seems someone is developing and releasing a safety vest…and that’s a good thing; the more lives that can be saved the better. My only criticism is that most of the companies making safety harnesses also produce some other product. In other words, safety harnesses are not their primary focus. However, one company doesn’t fall into this recent trend.

Hunter Safety System (HSS) is a safety harness company…period. Their motto “Saving Lives Is All We Do” really sums up what they are about. They don’t make clothing, boots, treestands, arrows, or anything else. They only make equipment that will keep you safe while hunting from an elevated position.

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New for 2013 is the Elite Vest. The Elite vest is very stylish and attractive. But can those attributes really save your life? You bet they can; especially if they make it easier and more desirable for the user to wear. Beyond the hip look and feel of the Elite vest you will find other characteristics that make using it much more enjoyable than other vests on the market. The Elite design provides an easy-out, two-way zipper that protects the waist buckle and eliminates the possibility of binoculars or other accessories knocking against it. Its lightweight, brushed micro-tricot shell is deadly quiet, weather resistant and provides just the right amount of warmth when the temperature drops. The stretchable material in the Right-Fit™ zone is designed to keep the Elite snug and smooth, no matter your size, and the shoulders feature a unique silicone print that keeps backpacks and slings from slipping while walking in the field. The Elite is lined with HSS’s own Comfort Cool fabric that wicks moisture when the heat is on.

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The exclusive Six-Plus-Two™ pocket design features two large bellows pockets with magnetic closures, two divider pockets to keep gear separated and quiet, and two quick-access pockets provide instant access to items like cell phones or mouth calls. The unique “plus-two” zippered pockets in the upper portion of the vest house removable binocular/accessory straps, or they can serve as another set of easy-access security pockets. The Hunters Safety System engineers also gave the Elite a newly designed tether strap that is lighter yet provides more shock absorption than previous model tethers. Then, they wrapped the harness in a combination of high-performance smart fabrics that are durable and silent. Even the zipper on the Elite got some attention. In the event that a fall occurs, you can literally unzip this vest (if needed) with one finger. It does not get tight when tension is placed on it; preventing the user from getting out of it or reaching something underneath it. The new Elite comes in Realtree Xtra camo.

LaCrosse AeroHead Boot
My first experience with Lacrosse Footwear was a pair of Alphaburly’s I purchased some years ago. Those boots were (still are) very comfortable and ultimately changed my view of what a rubber boot should feel like and how it should perform. Even though the Alpha series is getting a face lift for 2013, the newest addition to the Lacrosse family will probably be getting all of the attention. I tried this boot on after walking the ATA showroom floor for 2 days and honestly I didn’t want to take it off.

Featuring patent-pending AeroForm™ technology, a groundbreaking new construction that offers an extremely comfortable fit, with the ultimate in flexibility and durability all in a lightweight form, the new AeroHead TM boot redefines comfort and reinvents durability.

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First, the engineers start with a neoprene core which by nature is very flexible and provides warmth. Then a Liquid Rubber Seam Application is applied to the rear of the boot which not only reinforces it but flexes for easy on and off applications. Then a lightweight Polyurethane shell is injected around the neoprene shell. The Polyurethane is durable, flexible, insulating and lighter than rubber. With a thick layer of cushion underfoot, an integrated shank for support and a rugged rubber outsole, the LaCrosse AeroHead™ redefines comfort and protection in the field. The AeroHead TM also comes in an insulated version. Available in Realtree Xtra and Mossy Oak.

Hooyman Rachet Pruner
The beauty of this product is that it eliminates the need to carry another. With the Rachet Pruner from Hooyman, I can kill two birds with one stone. This leaves room in my pack for something else! The 2-in-1 pruner and compact folding saw is lightweight and is constructed of strong aluminum. Plus, the hardened pruning blades hold their edge much longer and the tapered blade design adds strength and integrity to the unit.

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An elastic finger support strap holds the pruner to your hand and the folding saw detaches for easy cutting. Rounding out the features is a compact, pocket-sized 3 1/2″ high carbon steel saw blade; perfect for constructing a shooting lane….straight to your next trophy buck.

Steve Flores
Steve Flores is a passionate hunter who enjoys chasing mountain whitetails in his native southern WV. Steve credits his love of hunting to his Dad who took the time to introduce him to what has become a life-long obsession....bowhunting for whitetail deer.
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