OL Ranks the 6 Best Ground Blinds for 2011 | Outdoor Life

OL Ranks the 6 Best Ground Blinds for 2011

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Ground blinds now outsell tree stands two-to-one--and for good reason. These instant hunting huts are portable and easy to set up, and they provide shelter from the elements. They're also versatile, allowing hunters to adapt to hunting conditions on the fly.

This year's crop of ground blinds offers a variety of features, from a natural-looking textured shell to a zip-in floor to built-in bow hangers. We tested and ranked six of the best new blinds.

#1 - Hunter's Specialties Hide 'N Hunt

****(2011 Outdoor Life Editor's Choice) ** **

Price: $230
Specs: 62 in. wide x 65 in. tall; 19 lb.

This compact blind features many well-thought-out details. The corners are 
reinforced inside and out, minimizing wear. The shell material is particularly quiet, with a laminated backing that blocks sunlight.

Solid-cast hubs provide strong skeletal support. The windows, which are zipper-and magnet-equipped, adjust effortlessly and were the best in the test. The seamless one-piece roof is genius, eliminating the possibility of pesky drips in wet weather. The storage bag is made of thick, re-inforced material.

A RealTree APG pattern and interior pockets round out a package worthy of our Editor's Choice award.
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Report Card_
Overall: 4 out of 4 stars
Portability: A+
Ease of Use: A+
Roominess: B-
Opacity: A+
Fit & Finish: A+
Price/Value: A

#2 - Barronett Big Mike

****(2011 Outdoor Life Great Buy)

Price: $150
Specs: 75 in. wide x 80 in. tall; 19.1 lb.

This blind impressed with its 360-degree panoramic windows. Replaceable, three-panel shoot-through screens (replace only the portion of the screen that has been shot) provide good cover. Big Mike stands tall, which makes standing shots easy.

Stake-down loops are thoughtfully situated inside the blind, making setup quick and easy. The Blood Trail camo melds well with most surroundings. A ground skirt squelches unwanted light while softening the bottom line of the blind. Built-in bow hangers are a real plus. The carry bag straps need some help, though, as they're not adjustable and are unpadded.

Report Card
Overall: 4 out of 4 stars
Portability: A
Ease of Use: B
Roominess: A
Opacity: A
Fit & Finish: A-
Price/Value: A+

#3 - RedHead BlackOut

Price: $200
Specs: 64 in. wide x 73 in. tall; 23.9 lb.

Dressed in RealTree APG, this roomy blind features detachable mesh shoot-through windows. Multiple horizontal and vertical windows provide plenty of target-acquiring real estate. A top panel zips open, providing light when desired and allowing air to circulate. Interior tie-down loops allow for easy staking. The blaze-orange fold-down reflective safety ports add a welcome degree of safety. An in-ground bow holder is handy for managing stick-and-string.

An oversize carry bag makes packing the blind simple and hassle-free. The padded straps are great and make for a comfortable carry.

Report Card
Overall: 4 out of 4 stars
Portability: A-
Ease of Use: A
Roominess: A
Opacity: A
Fit & Finish: A
Price/Value: A

**#4 - Ameristep Carnivore **

Price: $330
Specs: 74 in. wide x 67 in. tall; 25.9 lb.

The Carnivore's poly-cotton shell is sheen-free and whisper-quiet. Compact hubs and support rods stretch the skin tight--a real plus when the wind whips. A zip-in floor, the only one in our group, keeps feet dry and critters out. Large zippers with oversize grabs are well suited for gloved hands.

An ultraviolet inhibitor keeps the sun's harsh rays from fading the RealTree APG camo. The blind is a bit heavy, but a fantastic carry bag lessens the load with generously padded shoulder straps that adjust to any user. One request we'd make is for blaze-orange ports to be added for safety when you're concealed in crowded woods.

Report Card
Overall: 4 out of 4 stars
Portability: A+
Ease of Use: A
Roominess: B+
Opacity: A-
Fit & Finish: A+
Price/Value: B

#5 - Primos Double Bull Crusher

Price: $400
Specs: 60 in. wide x 68 in. tall; 27.9 lb.

The Crusher's unique shell is overlaid and sonic-welded onto the base material. This process produces a fabric that has natural shadowing without shine. Massive, structurally strong hubs lock the high-tension rods firmly in place, while an over-molded cover prevents pinched fingers.

The windows wrap around the perimeter of the blind, allowing for easy viewing; however, they're positioned a bit low for tall users. The attractive Ground Swat camo blends well with most surroundings. The carrying case is a frame pack that doubles as a chair or an interior shelf. The carrying straps adjust easily and are comfortable.

Report Card
Overall: 3.5 out of 4 stars
Portability: A-
Ease of Use: B-
Roominess: B+
Opacity: A
Fit & Finish: A-
Price/Value: C+

#6 - True Timber TimberBlind V1

Price: $130
Specs: 58 in. wide x 64 in. tall; 12.3 lb.

The compact design of the V1 makes it best suited for run-and-gun hunters. The lightweight blind (the lightest in the field) is constructed of 300-denier fabric and has 12 shoot-through windows with hook-and-loop closures. Elongated side windows provide alternate shot opportunities when animals present unexpected shot angles.

The V1 sets up quickly with little fuss and is ready to hunt in a matter of minutes--a real plus for public-land hunters who carry their blind into and out of the woods each day. The carry/storage bag would be improved with beefier straps and the addition of padding.

Report Card
Overall: 3 out of 4 stars
Portability: A
Ease of Use: A-
Roominess: B-
Opacity: C-
Fit & Finish: B
Price/Value: B+

We put a half-dozen new pop-up blinds through the wringer to see what each of them has to offer ground hunters.