Category Archives: Brand Highlights

First Lite – New for 2017

First Lite – 2017 NEW Pieces

2017 First Lite Gear

With the launch of First Lite’s 2017 lineup just around the corner, there is a bunch of new pieces that they’ve introduced and we decided to help you all out by explaining the benefits of each and every one! This year First Lite also introduced an addition to their color options with a new Cipher pattern.  For an in depth look of what and why Cipher is check out our Write Up Here.

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Stealth Cam – Brand Overview

Stealth Cam Logo

Ask any serious big game hunter what brand of trail cameras they use to keep track of the big game animals they’re after and Stealth Cam will definitely come up in the conversation. Stealth Cam is not new to the scene, either; they’ve been around since 2000. Prior to Stealth Cam’s launch, the trail camera market was not what it is today. There were options available, but not nearly like the selection we have at our fingertips now, and they were built differently and not near as functional or user-friendly as what’s currently available. The creators of Stealth Cam decided to change that. They saw a niche that needed to be filled. Their goal was to create a functional wildlife monitoring system using the latest technology that would be affordable to the average sportsman.

Over the years, Stealth Cam has refined their product. They’ve had setbacks just like any new company can and usually does, but through increased effort into the engineering process they’ve been able to overcome those setbacks and in turn create even more highly functioning products. The drive to become the best in the industry has ultimately benefited the customer by far the most as their technology and products have improved, from the looks and ergonomics down to the components and circuitry. For example, until just recently, Stealth Cam had been found to have one of the slower trigger speeds as well as recovery speed times. But, thanks to their engineers they were able to fix that, and now they boast some of the fastest cameras on the market. Just goes to show that when companies compete the real benefactor is the customer!

Below is a quick overview of a few of the top-of-the-line models currently offered from Stealth Cam and sold on BlackOvis.com

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Sitka SUBALPINE – New for 2017

 

WHAT IS OPTIFADE?

GORE OPTIFADE Concealment incorporates the micro and macro patterns of the animal kingdom to help make hunters unrecognizable as predators, even when detected. Stalking predators, like tigers, have a macro-pattern of stripes that break up their body symmetry as they chase prey.  OPTIFADE takes these same concepts and uses a pattern that was designed for what ungulates see not how WE see making it an extremely effective pattern.

SUBALPINE VS. OPEN COUNTRY

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First Lite Cipher Camo – New for 2017

What is Cipher?

Cipher camouflage from First Lite leverages the same proven working principals as their Fusion camo. The relationship between colors and shapes in both First Lite patterns are specifically designed to fool the brain and resemble patterns found in nature. No Pixels, no trees. Breakup camouflage from First Lite utilizes several key principles to help you disappear in both short and long distances:

  • Large Shape Disruption –  Used to distort and hide the hunter’s body by incorporating large regions of light and dark colors that work against the human figure.
  • Small-Medium Texture Disruption – A scattering of small-to-medium sized elements from a nature-based algorithm effectively blends the hunter into their surroundings when close to prey.
  • Disruptive Coloration – Finely tunes palettes of color to contrast against body outlines to blend with natural surroundings.
  • Focal and Depth Confusion – Color and shape algorithms based in nature are strategically placed to confuse depth perception. Peripheral vision of the prey is also distorted with the controlled contrast and disruptive coloration.
  • Light and Dark Crackleture – Unique to First Lite patterns, the crackleture use of light and dark shapes that weave throughout the pattern offer yet another level of versatility and effectiveness, eliminating color blobbing and further distorting the hunter’s shape.

Cipher Camo

Cipher vs Fusion?

Although they use the same science and both are very flexible to a wide variety of environments, Fusion incorporates green into it’s color pallet which makes it ideal for early season, western lichen/sage/pine, and any type of heavy wooded areas. Cipher on the other hand uses a much more muted color pallet for dry and late season environments.

First Lite Camouflage

First Lite Beanie Comparison

First Lite Beanie Comparison

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This year First Lite redesigned their accessory line and made a couple changes as well as additions to help fill the need that hunters ask for. One of the main differences right off the back is sizing. Starting this year First Lite started offering two sizes in their beanies, a Medium and a Large. The Medium size took over the old “One Size” and gives you the same fit and feel that you know and love out of any previous First Lite Beanie. The Large has a little bigger dimensions and sits a little lower on your head making it a perfect choice for those who want a little more covered or for those who just have a mellon on their shoulders.

Besides sizing, First Lite also introduced a new beanie, the Tag Cuff. Much like the Merino Beanie, this is made 100% out of Merino about twice as thick and features the “tag” fold-up style band around the base. This adds an extra layer of warmth for those bittersweet chilly mornings.

Having the option to choose the right style that fits your hunting style really helps keep your gear as versatile as can be and also allows you take full effect of all that specific product was designed for. They all are made out of 100% Ultra Fine Merino, which makes them lightweight, breathable, naturally odor resistant and they even stay 80% warmer when wet compared to other fabrics.

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The “Classic” First Lite Merino Beanie is the perfect choice for early season hunting. If you spend a lot of time in high altitude or deep drainage’s where sunlight isn’t shown as much but you just need that added layer of warmth to keep your head and ears warm then this is the beanie for you plus it only weighs a couple of ounces. Again, this does come in two sizes now, Medium, which was the old One Size, and Large.

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The Brimmed Beanie is everything you know and love about the Merino Beanie, the only difference is that it has a brim on the front. This tends to be the better choice if you do a lot of summiting or peaking in both twilight hours as well as during the day when you need to shield the sun out of your eyes without having to wear a hat. Besides that the fit, feel and technologies are identical.

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The First Lite Tag Cuff Beanie is a new addition to the accessory lineup this year. First Lite got a lot of feedback about people wanting a beanie that did a little more than the Merino but still stuck within that price zone that every hunter can afford. The Tag Cuff is about twice as thick as the standard Merino Beanie and is similar to the same 330g Merino weight that the First Lite Chama EXP offers adding that extra heavyweight layer of warmth that is crucial in the late-season. It’s still made 100% out of Merino so still odor resistant, performs great even when wet, and features that “Tag Cuff” brim all across the base of the beanie which helps keep your ears warm and sweat under control just in case you get a little more active than planned.

Overall we’re excited to see the growth that First Lite has had in the last couple of years and how they always retain to keep the same Quality as they make advancements and spread out their product line offerings. You can’t go wrong with either or but be sure to pick one up and at that price pick up a spare as well that you can keep in your pack, truck, UTV at all times. You can never have enough beanies. Take that as a “Tip of the experienced idiot”.

Sitka 90% Series Explained

Sitka 90% Series Explained

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In our world of remakes, remixes and new models, occasionally you find that somebody got it right the first time. That the original is still the best. Willie Nelson, Ghost Busters, Pre 64 model 70’s and the Sitka 90% series. This was the idea that started it all. High quality, technical fabrics made into clothing, designed and built specifically for hunters. The days of an old pair of jeans and a flannel shirt, baggy cotton camo, and heavy one size fits most army surplus stuff are officially gone and we never have to go back. When Sitka came out with the first 90% series it really did change the way we viewed our hunting clothing. Hunters realized that they could hunt longer, smarter and more efficiently than before. We found that by choosing a few specific pieces and using an intelligent layering plan we could be comfortable, mobile and safe for longer periods of time further away from a home base. Clothing was now gear. We have come a long way since then and our options for high quality clothing seem to be growing every day, but the 90% series from Sitka just may be the best of the best!

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Sitka Timberline Jacket and Pant- Gear Review

Timberline Pant

Since Sitka Gear came out with the Timberline Pant it has become a tried and true favorite with a vast number of hunters around the globe. The Timberline Pant was created as a super durable and highly technical pant that can be used from mid-late season. The 4-way stretch material makes this pant extremely comfortable and allows full range of motion when climbing up a steep incline and crouching, crawling, or sitting. One of the coolest features is the waterproof/breathable nylon ripstop knees and seat. When you have to kneel down or sit and glass on wet or rocky ground you will really appreciate having it. The pant also features removable knee pads which are well designed and they will conform more to your knee as you wear them. They are available in solid colors as well (Lead and Moss) and the Optifade Open Country camouflage pattern.

Sitka Timberline Pants

 

For 2016 Sitka did some refining on the existing design. They developed a softer and lighter removable knee pad, articulated the knees, did away with the old integrated belt so you can use most climbing style nylon belts, and moved the cargo pockets to a better position on the leg. The material is also new which adds to the comfort and overall performance of this already great piece. For those of you who prefer suspenders they include their comfortable and well designed suspenders with this pant. They are easily removed if you’d rather wear just a belt also.

I had the opportunity to test out the new version this season and so far I’m very impressed. They are definitely more comfortable to wear and the DWR is amazing at repelling moisture in mild rain or wet vegetation. The new cargo pocket placement is just right and you can get what you need in and out of them silently and easily without looking, which is how it should be. The pants themselves are very quiet compared to competitors pants that are similar in their performance capabilities. I never thought they were loud or noisy by any means.

The Timberline Pant would be too warm for most early season hunting situations in my opinion. I would definitely suggest them for any mid season hunt where the highs are lower than 65 degrees Fahrenheit. For me personally I can wear them without a base layer down to 35-40 degrees F unless I’m sitting still for hours at a time. Obviously you can get down to much colder temps by utilizing a quality base layer in conjunction, which is great for people wanting to do later season hunts in snowy conditions. I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that these pants are the best thing out there for mid-late season active hunting such as sheep, mule deer, elk, and mountain goats.

Timberline Series

Timberline Jacket

Sitka added a new Timberline jacket to their Big Game line for 2016 which features GORE WINDSTOPPER which is seam-taped to prevent any wind from getting through while remaining breathable. The taped seams and the location of the seam away from the top of the shoulder also help maintain a high level of water resistance. The outer shell of the jacket is a High Gauge Nylon Face with knit backer which is extremely durable and lightweight. The shoulders and sleeves are a Nylon Stretch Woven shell with Lofted Micro Grid Fleece backer which helps make this jacket very comfortable and non-restrictive. This has a very nice and fitted drop away hood which will help keep those icy winds at bay as well as keep your head dry in a light to moderate rain/snow.

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I have been using and abusing this jacket for the past several months in a variety of conditions and now it never leaves my pack. I’ve used this jacket from 11,000 ft glassing mule deer in the early morning wind, constant light rain and wet vegetation, to snow and freezing temperatures. As an active hunter this is my new go-to jacket, it breathes better than rain gear and unless it’s pouring rain I prefer to use the Timberline over my dedicated rain gear. Like the Timberline Pant, with a quality base layer like the Sitka Core Midweight 1/4 zip I can stay warm and comfortable in frigid temps and roaring winds in the mountains.

Whether you are hunting bugling elk in September or hunting Mountain Goats in B.C. this jacket will definitely compliment your clothing system and will more than likely earn a place in your pack for a long time to come.

 

Alaska Guide Creations (AGC) Bino Bivys Explained

Alaska Guide Creations binocular harnesses are possibly the most sought after binocular carrying systems on the planet.  There are a million and one reasons why the Alaska Guide Creations is the top dog in the industry and we strongly believe the biggest reason why is that there are different options for your own hunting style and that each and every pack is sewn together here in the USA! Most manufactures only have one are very few Bino Harnesses, but AGC has four different harnesses: the K.I.S.S, C.U.B., Classic & Denali and then we also had them design one specifically for us called the Hybrid. Four of them also come with the option to add a max (basement) pocket to the bottom of the harness. The beauty of it all is that we sell them all!  Let’s start at with basics.

Kodiak K.I.S.S. – (Keep It Simple Secured) – Available in Standard & Max

Kodiak C.U.B. – (Compact Utility Bag) – Available in Standard & Max

Hybrid – (BlackOvis Custom Design) – Available in Standard & Max

Alaska Classic – The “Original” – Available in Standard & Max

Stalker Hydration Pack – adding Versatility to your A.G.C. – Available Here

 

AGC Community Comparison

One of the biggest things Alaska Guide Creations(AGC) has been known for is having so many different options and versions, with that being said, it might be a little confusing of what “WE” carry.  What we did here at BlackOvis was picked the best and had them all made the way “WE” wanted!  To start off, We offer the B.T (Bino Tether) on each and every pack that we sell.  We work it into the price instead of having you purchase it as an “add-on”.  If you’ve already purchased an Alaksa Guide Creation from someone else or just happen to be one of the “lucky ones” who have more than one pair of bino’s and want to be able to easily switch back and forth then we also sell the Bino Tethers Seperately Here . Out West, it’s also all about stealth, so every AGC pack that we have also uses the H.B.S. (Hook and Bungee System), which allows quick and easy one-handed opening and is completely silent.  A great feature about AGC that is commonly overlooked on other harnesses in the industry are the shoulder straps.  All of Alaska Guide bino packs utilize an extremely breathable mesh that utilizes no foam, no padding, and allows you to wear your harness comfortably with backpacks. Since it’s so thin, the pack pretty much vanishes so you won’t be messing with your straps as you hike.  Be sure to test this out when you pick up your own and you will immediately notice the difference compared to other harnesses.

Binocular Fitting Guide

The best way to figure out what optics fit best in each pack is to think of the following:

K.I.S.S. | C.U.B. | Hybrid – 8X42/10X42 (Some 12X50) 

Classic – 12X50

Denali – 15X56

For the most part, you can use this as a reference for what fits best but also keep in mind if you have wider bino’s w/ built in rangefinders, it’s suggested to order the next size up.

Suggested Packs depending on style of hunting:

K.I.S.S.

The K.I.S.S. is the lightweight, minimalist answer for wanting to carry your bino’s while keeping them protected from the elements. This pack is the only harness that has elastic/mesh side pockets. These pockets are great for open reed calls and wind-checkers.  This is the lightest, simplest and cheapest of the packs available.

Binocular Compartment Measurement: 6.5” x 6” x 3” (Tall x Wide x Deep)

C.U.B.

The C.U.B is the exact same size as the K.I.S.S. but features an added pocket out front, which is great for Rangefinders.  This is a must have for any Archer no matter if you’re a hunter or 3D fanatic.  The AGC CUB pack is will fit up to 10X binos with ease and is a great choice for the average hunter on a budget. The C.U.B. also uses zipped pockets on the sides instead of the mesh/elastic featured in the K.I.S.S., which keeps anything you put in them concealed and protected.

Binocular Compartment Measurement: 6.5” x 6” x 3” (Tall x Wide x Deep)

Hybrid

The Hybrid fits the exact same size of optics as the K.I.S.S. and the C.U.B. but give you the option of having side mesh pockets over the standard Zipper Side Pockets. This was a design that we worked directly with Alaska Guide Creations to create for us. Besides the Mesh Pockets it’s everything you still know and love about all the other bino packs made by A.G.C.

Binocular Compartment Measurement: 6.5” x 6” x 3” (Tall x Wide x Deep)

Classic

The Classic is the “Original” bino pack and the first pack that Jaret produced.  This pack looks exactly like the C.U.B. but is a little taller and wider which makes this pack a great choice for anyone rocking up to 12X binos.  The Classic is the ultimate all around pack that is great for all sorts of Big Game.  The side pockets are a little bigger and also feature a bigger MAX pocket (on the MAX version), which can hold even more gear.

Binocular Compartment Measurement: 6.75” x 6.5” x 3.5” (Tall x Wide x Deep)

Denali

The Denali is named after the highest mountain peak in North America.  This is the harness that was built for the “big boy” optics and is the ONLY bino harness in the industry that is capable of holding 15X binos.  This pack is the dream harness for Sheep Hunters and will give your optics the protection they need no matter what altitude. This pack does not come in a MAX pocket version.  

Binocular Compartment Measurement: 7.75” x 7” x 4” (Tall x Wide x Deep)

Stalker Hydration Pack

The Stalker Hydration pack is a second alternative for the standard Shoulder Straps that are included on your Alaska Guide Bino Harness.  This pack snaps into the pre-existing buckles on your AGC and give you a small day pack which is a great choice for early season scouting or when setting up Trail Cameras where you need just a little more room but don’t want the bulk of taking a huge pack. The Main Compartment has a drawstring to hand your bladder of choice and a couple of outer pockets to store your gear, snacks, or more. If you’re a serious gear head, be sure to check this addition out!  **Please keep in mind, this does not come with an Alaska Guide Creation pack and is just an “Add-on”.  You still need to purchase a Bino Pack**

What is MAX?

The MAX versions of the packs utilize an extra pocket on the bottom of the pack, also known as the “Basement” which is great for knives, tools or any other gear that you’d rather have in reach instead of in your pack.  You can also utilize the MAX pocket for bigger items such as the Rangefinders, GPS’s, your wallet and other bigger items.

MAX Pocket Sizing:

  • K.I.S.S. MAX – 2” x 5” x 3” (Tall x Wide x Depth)
  • C.U.B. MAX – 2” x 5” x 3” (Tall x Wide x Depth)
  • Hybrid. MAX – 2” x 5” x 3” (Tall x Wide x Depth)
  • Classic MAX – 2.125” x 5.125” x 3.125” (Tall x Wide x Depth)

 

Be sure to check out all of the packs that we offer and feel free to contact any of our Gear Experts for fitting questions and we would be more than welcome to test out the fitting before we ship your pack!  Choose your bino harness, select your color, and experience the protection and fit that a bino harness is supposed to feel like.

Brand Highlight – Kryptek

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The unique thing about Kryptek is unlike other camo companies, their concepts and ideas were all forged overseas in the mountains of Afghanistan to the scorching deserts in Iraq.  The Combat Forces that tested and beat this gear into a pulp are the foundation that churned the brand in to the hunting company that it is today.  If there is one type person who is harder on their gear than a hunter, it’s a marine! Kryptek camo is truly military-grade!

The principals of Kryptek have an overwhelming desire to do what no other organization has done before –
  1. Provide customized and performance based apparel that is specifically tailored to the environment.
  2. Meet or exceed the performance expectations of the user, and consistently deliver required comfort, function, and durability.

Through extensive field testing and customer feedback, Kryptek continually adapts and integrates product features that will exceed our customers’ needs for overall performance. The Kryptek Outdoor Group founders retain connections to the military to fuse their combat experience with their love for the outdoors and believe that combat technology should not be limited to the battlefield.

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I actually had the chance to get a complete head-to-toe setup from Kryptek to truly put it to the test and make sure it’s Solid.HUNTING.Gear, and what I can say in the simplest and shortest answer is “by far”.  Not only does the gear fit well but it feels great as you walk and hike miles throughout the day.  My hunt was for Archery Mule Deer in Southern Utah and I needed clothing that would keep me warm in the 20° mornings but would also not cook me alive as the sun came out. Summer’s in Southern Utah can get easily reach the 100’s in a hurry. The beauty about Kryptek is that they have so many pieces tailored to where/what you’re going to hunt. In my case, it was early season so I selected my setup for light and fast, and in layers.  Here’s my set -up to give you an idea:

Height: 5′ 10″
Weight: 165 lbs
Kryptek Hoplite 1/4 Zip Top (M) – Great Merino Base Layer that kept me warm and scent controlled
Kryptek Hybrid Borealis Jacket (M) (by far most favorite piece) – This jacket functioned for everything that I need and was my outer layer for most of my hunt.  Packed up tight in my pack also.
Krypek Valhalla Pant (32R) – Lightweight but extremely durable.  From crawling to hiking miles these performed awesome!
Kryptek Helios 1/4 Zip (M) – This shirt gave me the little bit of extra warmth that I needed on those cold mornings or afternoons without needing a jacket.
Kryptek Hoplite Merino Wool Bottoms (M) – Great to use for cold mornings but breathed exceptionally well as the day got warmer, keeping me comfortable all day.

Kryptek Trident Boxer (M) – I won’t go into details but trust me… you want these.

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When Highlander camo first came out, I had some mixed feelings but as I researched the pattern, I grew to love it more and more.  Coming from a Max-1 family, I was definitely into trying something else and more technical.  The most eye opening parts about my hunt were also some of my biggest struggles.  On multiple occasions when I was being spotted by a buddy as I attempted to approach a group of stud 120″ class Muley’s (which was my dream buck), I ended up blowing multiple stalks.  Not because I was seen, as hilarious as it sounds it was the complete opposite.  My hunting partner, who has the most beautiful Swarovski Spotter and an eye like a hawk, kept loosing me on every spot.  “Where did you go!” , “I can’t find you!” , “I’m having a REAL love/hate relationship with you right now!”.  I had never experienced anything like that before.  I ended up having a chance on a stellar buck and just couldn’t get a clear shot.  It was on a super-steep incline and the face I was on had a couple humps and I couldn’t tell where his other pals were and unfortunately MY pal couldn’t find me.  I ended up eating Tag Soup at the end of the hunt because as many of us do, I got picky and tried chasing them the rest of the week but never had another chance.

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Before this hunt, I was always pinned, I stood out like a sore thumb, and was never able to get closer than 60 yards to a buck.  This year…  I disappeared. I had multiple opportunities on smaller bucks that came in at about 12-13 yards and I could tell that using Technical Clothing allowed me to hike further, hunt harder, and made my heart pump in ways that I never knew it even could.  Kryptek has a solid line with just about every piece for Western Hunters.  If you’re a whitetail machine, then Kryptek might not be the choice for you, but then again, their “niche” is Western style hunting.  Kryptek’s multi-directional camo design works, and sometimes works a little too well.

Be sure to check out any and all the Kryptek products that we sell on BlackOvis.com and keep an eye out early this summer as their 2016 line arrives!  There are some really exciting pieces coming out for 2016 and you know we’ll have it all!

Verdict:  Kryptek “IS” Solid.HUNTING.Gear