Best New Bowhunting Gear 2019
Our editors hit the Archery Trade Association showroom floor to find the hottest new archery gear
Each year, the top gear makers in bowhunting get together for the Archery Trade Association show to put their best new products on display. There’s a lot of great gear at this show, but there’s also a lot of hype. So to help cut through the clutter, we trolled the showroom floor and picked our favorites. Obviously, we haven’t been able to test any of this gear yet, but at first glance, these are the items that we’re most excited about field testing. We’ll keep updating this gallery throughout the show.
Bowtech Realm SR6 and SS
Bowtech’s 2019 line includes a pair of new iterations on last year’s Realm platform. The SR6 is the speed version of the Realm. And it is fast indeed, with advertised IBO speeds of 352 fps. The SS is designed for smoothness, but it’s still plenty quick with speeds of 336 fps. On the test lane, I was a big fan of the SS. The draw cycle is smooth (duh) but it’s the draw curve that really makes it nice. There’s no hump to speak of and the entire cycle is even and easy. In other words, it’s exactly what I like to have in a treestand. That said, the SR6 was impressive. Yes, it definitely has more of a speed-bow draw. But it also delivers speed bow results, and the draw cycle was not unpleasant. Both bows have a ton of tuning built in, including a cool new cam sync feature dubbed Cam Synchronization Axles. This allows you to precisely tune the angle of the cams to your grip. Both models should be popular and both continue on the long line of excellent options from BowTech. Each bow will retail for about $1,100. —Tony Hansen
Easton T64 FMJ
The benefits of a micro diameter (4mm) arrow are solid: less wind drag and better penetration. But, using a 4mm diameter arrow means you’ve either got to shoot Deep Six broadheads, or you’ve got to mess around with outserts that allow you to shoot standard broadheads. No more. The new FMJ arrow from Easton starts at 6mm in the front and then tapers down to 4mm at the nock end. Easton engineers say this gives you the best of both worlds: a high FOC (Front-of-Center—percentage of the arrow’s total weight that is located in the front half of the arrow) that allows you to shoot standard broadheads, but still has the performance benefits of a micro diameter arrow. The company said it took them two years to perfect the design, and you’re going to pay for that innovation. A dozen of these bad boys have an MSRP of $299. But even at that price point, elite bowhunters searching for any possible advantage will want to give these arrows a look. —Alex Robinson
TenPoint Nitro XRT
TenPoint’s latest model touts speeds of 470 fps, and is going to be one of the year’s top sizzlers. TenPoint diehards will be surprised by the reverse-limb configuration (though not entirely, since TenPoint did have the reverse-limb Nitro in 2018’s lineup), shooters of previous reverse-limb crossbows may be pleasantly surprised by the bow’s overall feel. This is a common knock on of reverse-draw models—the balance of the bow is different. But when shooting the XRT at the ATA test lanes, I found it to be well-balanced and easy to handle. This is a premium crossbow with a package of premium components, at a premium price. The MSRP on the XRT, complete with the ACUdraw PRO, EVO-X Marksman scope, a STAG hard case, sling, and EVO-X Centerpunch comes in at $2,549. —T.H.
Expandable and hybrid broadheads may be the hot trend right now, but there are still plenty of bowhunters who prefer a good old fixed-blade. Those guys should pay attention to the new Muzzy One. This is a one-piece broadhead made 100 percent from machined steel. There’s no parts to break, no screws or hinges, and no weak points on this 100-grain head. You can sharpen and re-sharpen the blades as much as you like. It offers a 1 3/16″ cut. MSRP $50 for a three pack. —A.R.
Coming on the heels of the Triax, the winner of Outdoor Life’s 2018 Bow Test, the new Vertix shares many of the same features and characteristics with a few added touches that make it, perhaps, an even better bowhunting option. The most noticeable change is in the cam, more specifically, in the mod system which now allows you to change both weight and draw length without swapping out mods. The grip is also new. The Engage grip is designed to reduce torque and provide a more comfortable feel. The Triax was my personal hunting bow last season, and it’s one of the best bows I’ve ever hunted with. But the Vertix is impressive. It has a very similar feel to the Triax but, according to Mathews, has even less vibration. I couldn’t detect any difference at the ATA shooting lanes, and the Triax has virtually no vibration to begin with. So, yes, it was completely dead in the hand when shooting. At 30 inches axle-to-axle, it is two inches longer than the Triax and will list for $1,099. —T.H.
Sitka Fanatic Pack
This new pack is being introduced into Sitka’s updated Fanatic line, which is designed specifically for the hardcore whitetail hunter. This year, Sitka focused on refining the line with one main goal: make it quieter. They worked with deer researcher Dr. Karl Miller from the University of Georgia to get a better understanding of how deer hear, and what types of frequencies and noise levels might be most alarming to them. In the clothing, they updated their fabric materials, including their berber fleece and Windstopper, and as they designed this pack, they pulled out any potentially noisy features. It has no buckles, no Velcro, or and no loud zippers. The pack closes with a clever strap design instead of a standard zipper. It has plenty of room in side pockets and the main pocket, and it utilizes compression straps for fastening a bow or gun. MSRP $200. —A.R.
Rage Hypodermic NC
Even the most diehard Rage fan will admit that the traditional shock collar can be fickle at times. If you don’t get it tightened carefully, the blades slip out of place. The new Hypodermic NC solves that issue with a spring system to keep the blades closed. No more collar blade lock required. Besides that, the blades have a slightly more swept back angle than the original Hypodermic. Besides those upgrades, this is the Hypodermic you already know and love. This 100-grain head has an all steel construction, a chisel tip, and a 2-inch cutting diameter. MSRP is $50 for a three-pack. —A.R.
Primos Surroundview Stakeout Blind
Primos set the ATA show on fire last year with its Surroundview blind. The blind utilized a new one-way viewing mesh that allows the hunter to see out of the blind, but prevents critters from seeing into it. It’s the one-way glass concept, but with camo mesh. This year, Primos is taking that Surroundview mesh and incorporating it in a run-and-gun Stakeout blind. This panel-style blind has three windows that you can open or close depending on where you expect to get a shot opportunity. The Stakeout folds out into a half-circle so your hidden from approaching game from your front and flanks. This is the ideal blind for taking out kids (or any fidgety new turkey hunter). It’s also ideal for guys who want to bowhunt turkeys, but want to stay mobile and not haul around a big blind. It folds down small enough that you can easily carry it on run-and-gun missions (it comes with a bag), and it only weighs 4.5 pounds. So you get all the advantages of a turkey blind, without the bulk that would keep you from moving on birds. MSRP is $125. —A.R.
Short. Really short. Those were the first thoughts that crossed my mind when I looked at Ravin’s newest crossbow model. Those same thoughts came to mind when I shouldered it. And then I pulled the trigger. Another word came to the tip of my tongue: Fun. The R26 is 26 inches in length, a scant 5.75 inches wide when fully cocked, and weighs 6.5 pounds. But you really appreciate the compactness of the bow when you pick it up and shoulder it. It is miniscule in comparison to all other models. And yet the bow feels stable and solid when shooting it. It zips arrows out at 400 fps despite a short, 9.5-inch power stroke and proved highly accurate in the short time I’ve been able to spend with it. This will be one of the most talked-about products from the 2019 ATA Show and for good reason, it’s highly innovative, a lot of fun to shoot, and just performs. MSRP: $2,050 (includes bow, scope, and arrows) —T.H.
Pelican Air 1745 Bow Case
You’ve spent all summer shooting and tuning your bow, building arrows, sharpening broadheads, and now you’re ready for the bowhunt of a lifetime. But before you get to camp, those baggage handlers are going to have their way with your gear, and that’s where this bad boy comes in. This crushproof, dustproof, watertight case was built specifically for transporting bows and arrows. The inside features are expertly designed with adjustable straps to secure almost any compound bow. A foam divider gets latched down over the bow for added protection, and just in case any of your accessories happen to pop loose. The whole storage system is modular, so you can set it up almost any way you like. The case is much lighter than you’d expect. It has wheels for rolling through the airport and two TSA approved locking latches, plus 4 stainless steel lock hasps. At $399, it’s not a cheap case, that’s a reasonable price to pay for peace of mind. —A.R.
Bushnell Core DS Trail Camera
A trail camera that doesn’t take good night photos is halfway usless (spoiler: big bucks move more at night. Bushnell knows that hunters need quality photos from their cameras, day and night, which is why the new Core has two image sensors (DS stands for Dual Sensors). One sensor is set to capture images during daylight hours, and the other is optimized to capture nighttime photos. Aside from that upgrade, the Cores has all the same great performance features as previous Bushnell cams: 100 feet detection range at night, 0.2-second trigger speed, 0.6-second recovery time, 1080p video with audio, and a two-year warranty. MSRP is $200 for the low-glow version and $220 for the no-glow version. —A.R.
Alpine Bino Slicker
My hunting life changed when I saw my first bino harness. Since that day, I’m not sure I’ve ever spent a day afield without one strapped to my chest … and if I have, I am positive I whine about it the entire time. My issues with them: many are bulky, almost all are pricey. This new option from Alpine is neither. The Bino Slicker XD features a typical harness design, stout and light. But it’s the cover design that caught my eye. It’s a basic neoprene cover, and that’s what makes it. This thing is crazy light (the total harness weight is six ounces). The harness cover is smartly and simply designed. It snaps over with elastic. The fit is tight, secure, and fast. And with an MSRP of $49.99 (meaning it’s likely going to retail for about $40), this is a great bargain for an exceptional accessory. —T.H.
Lone Wolf Custom Gear D’Acquisto Series
They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. I have one. I am a fanatic about treestands. More specifically, I’m fanatical about stand systems that allow me to hunt the way I love to hunt — and that’s places where other guys aren’t hunting. This often requires plenty of walking, plenty of packing stands around, and a lot of trial and error. Every pound on my back is felt at the end of the day. With that in mind, the D’Acquisto series is, in my opinion, the coolest product released at the 2019 ATA Show. The stand features American-made aluminum construction, a big-enough 27×19.5-inch platform and it weighs in at just 7.5 pounds. Yes. That’s less than eight pounds. The climbing sticks are available in two versions – regular and mini. The regular sticks are 32 inches in length while the mini measures 17.5 inches. The regular stick weighs two pounds, the mini 1.5. Now here’s where things get cool: the entire system is designed to work together. The mini sticks attach directly to the stand without any straps. Instead, they nest securely on stick ports. The seat folds backwards and locks in to provide a stable platform for a backpack – solving a very real problem for those who love to hang-and-hunt. This is an absolutely ideal setup for mobile bowhunting, but it does comes at a steep price. The stand lists for $499 while a four-pack of mini-sticks runs $299 or $329 for full-size sticks. www.lonewolfcustomgear.com —T.H.
Moultrie Mobile Cameras
I’ve used Moultrie‘s Mobile system cameras for several years. They’ve proven to be the most reliable cellular-equipped trail cameras I’ve utilized. But, they used a separate modem that was kind of a pain to use and meant there was a lot of equipment hanging off the side of the tree. No more. Moultrie’s new lineup features two cameras – the XV7000i (Verizon) and XA7000i (AT&T), both of which feature 4G cellular technology (no modem required), .3-second trigger speeds, and flash ranges of 80 feet. They shoot 20 MP pictures and run on 12 AA batteries. The price on these is refreshing. They come with a list price of $179. If these cameras function as well as previous iterations of the Moultrie Mobile system, these have the potential to be a game-changer in the world of affordable cellular-equipped cameras. —T.H.
Summit Ground Blinds
Summit has been a long-running name in the world of treestands. Now, they’re taking to the ground. Summit has released a full lineup of ground blinds and they’re well worth a look. The Viper is the flagship of the lineup and it’s available in 3- or 4-man models, which list for $299 and $329 (respectively). Its most interesting feature is a very cool mesh material that prevents game from seeing in but is easy to see out of, leaving far fewer blind spots than in standard blinds. Next in the lineup is the Goliath. It’s also available in 3- and 4-man models and each offer a ton of square footage at an attractive price ($219 for the 3-man and $249 for the 4-man). Next comes the Cobra. The 4-man sells for $249 while the 3-man sells for $219. All of the models utilize a cool hinged door and feature a carry case that doubles as a gear organizer inside the blind. The lineup also includes the value-focused Vital blind, which weighs just 12 pounds and can accommodate a pair of hunters. It will sell for $140.
Spy High Mounting System
Nearly every year, I lose at least one trail camera to bears, and I’ve learned the animal’s tastes aren’t particular. They love the sweet, gooey nougat center of a Moultrie model the same as they do a Cuddeback. The problem is my cameras are in easy-to-reach places, and since I’m unwilling to haul a ladder far into the hills, I never had any simple solutions. A new device called the Spy High Mounting System may be my saving grace. The Montana-based company created a universal trail camera mount you can attach to extendable poles, position up to 24-feet high in a tree, and aim using a laser.
There’s even a cordless drill driver so you don’t have to twist the poles to install or remove the threaded camera base, and a C-clamp option for areas where tapping trees isn’t allowed. I have no doubt the device will help me keep cameras out of a bear’s jaws or a would-be thief’s hands, and I’ll finally get a view above the forest floor to see the actual paths of passing critters. In the off-season, I can use a mount to hang a remote spotlight at the cabin, or let the wife suspend some crazy Christmas decoration. A starter kit includes 2 extension poles, 2 camera mounts, 2 tree attachments, a saw blade, a laser bracket and laser, a drill driver, and a universal camera mount. However, you can buy replacement parts or other accessories at www.spyhighmounts.com. MSRP: $200 —Ben Romans
Cirrus Wind Indicator
When engaged, three LED lights illuminate wispy puffs of smoke and it’s easy to detect the slightest air movement, even in the dark. Cirrus updated the second iteration of the device to include a USB recharging port (in case your iPhone needs a boost while you’re in the woods), and more importantly, an SD card slot to check trail camera images. Using the Cirrus smartphone app, you can connect to a Cirrus device via Bluetooth and download the card’s material—then delete, like, or share the images. Or, rather than spend too much time on the ground deleting photos of squirrels and birds, swap your trail camera cards, take the old one into the stand or blind with you, and spend some time reviewing images while your phone charges and you’re waiting for a deer to walk by. —B.R.
Burris Oracle Rangefinding Bow Sight
If you’re not interested in introducing more tech to hunting, just skip this one. But if you’re into newfangled electronics that remove a few steps from the bowhunting equation, then the Oracle from Burris might top your gadget wishlist. Last year’s Garmin Xero was hotly debated; this year it’s the Oracle, released at the NRA show this spring. The sight uses a laser to calibrate the rangefinder when first setting up a rig (online reviews suggest that this can be a bit of a process), but it’s removable once the bow is set. Push a button on the riser to range your target, and a single light will appear in place of a pin to use as your holdover. There’s a fixed “pin” (light) at 20 yards, and a backup system for displaying 10-yard increments in the event of rangefinder failure. The sight doesn’t include any glass, weighs 17 ounces, and the laser rangefinder will put out a reading on big game out to 200 yards. Like other electronic sights, the Oracle isn’t legal in some states, so check your regs before you shell out. MSRP: $830 —Natalie Krebs
New Sitka Fanatic Bib
Plenty of hunters were already sold on the warmth-without-bulk of the Fanatic Bib, but Sitka made a few updates anyway. The latest iteration of this late-season game changer is quieter and 20 percent warmer, according to Sitka, though there’s no appearance of added bulk. The most obvious change was Sitka stripping the external berber fleece from the lower legs in favor of stretch fleece and three layers of GORE-TEX. (Customers reported that fleeced cuffs collected burs, hence the update.) When paired with the jacket, the alternating strips of fleece are slightly reminiscent of a poorly-shaved poodle, but if you’re prioritizing treestand fashion over performance, you’re missing the point. The strategic strips are designed to keep you warm while also reducing interference and bulk when drawing your bow. These bibs aren’t cheap, but if you hunt consistently in late season, they’ll be worth every dollar. —N.K.