I recently picked up a ScentBlocker outfit. I know hunters who swear by odor elimination technology and, as the consummate skeptic I just had to try it for myself. I'd heard plenty about their new-last-year Dream Season apparel, but in the end I opted for the lighter-weight Bone Collector Brotherhood jacket and pant. During the fall of 2009 I put it to the test in warm, cold, wet, and dry weather hunting caribou on Canada's northern tundra, and pronghorn, mule deer, and whitetails in Alberta. I was pleasantly surprised. I'm not sure it eliminates all scent, but it sure seemed to work for me.
I don't know about you, but I'm blown away by the sheer volume of dysfunctional garments on the market today. If there's one thing I've learned over the past 25 years as a hunting consumer, its buyer beware! A lot of it looks great, but in the end it often fails to deliver on its promises; either the material is too stiff and loud, the clothing doesn't fit right, or the price tag is way out of line. In turn, I'm always on the lookout for quality hunting clothes.
ScentBlocker is one of two scent control and elimination lines owned and marketed through the parent company Robinson Outdoor Products. In 1985, company founder Bill Robinson, a chemist by profession, developed Robinson Laboratories Scent Shield scent elimination spray, a product that eliminates human odor. This product was so successful, that in 1997, they negotiated a contract with an American company that allowed it to produce activated carbon scent-control clothing. Today, ScentBlocker is a household name for hunters. Their innovative scent control technology is said to integrate the chemical suppressive qualities of activated carbon and scent absorption. In 1998, ScentBlocker integrated even more technology by forming a business relationship with European Freudenberg fabrics, a product that had even greater biological control properties. Since 2003, new owner Scott Schultz has taken ScentBlocker (and Whitewater Outdoors) to levels never seen before. Following several key partnerships over the past decade, finally in 2009 ScentBlocker joined forces with Michael Waddell, Nick Mundt, and Travis "T-Bone" Turner to introduce the trendy Bone Collector line of clothing.
The well-known ScentBlocker logo
If you follow the outdoor gear scene, you've probably noticed a rapid introduction of the Bone Collector® brand on many different products ranging from firearms to bows and, yes even clothing. Well, the jacket and pants I picked up have this very same logo on them. As an aside, I also own a muzzleloader and a bow with the Bone Collector name on them and I've noticed something consistent - every one of the products they attach their name to seems to be first class and functional. My ScentBlocker outfit is no exception. Following are a few of the key features and my general evaluation.
The Bone Collector Brotherhood jacket and pants I tested came in Realtree AP. When looking at scent-control apparel options, I learned that different jackets and pants came in Mossy Oak Treestand and, for many applications that was considered preferable, but for an all-purpose suit the Realtree AP works well.
"Forget the wind, just hunt" is ScentBlocker's well-known axiom. But can it really be that simple? Perhaps not, but I'll say this, throughout the 2009 season I had several encounters with game at very close range while wearing their apparel. While I would never for certain that it was this scent-control technology that closed the deal, I can say I didn't spook the game and the meat ended up in the freezer; tough to argue with results. It certainly makes me consider the potential value of their carbon scent-control technology.
The jacket and pants are made of ScentBlocker's fleece outer fabric. It is bonded with their SPF 50 activated carbon and then finished with S3® antimicrobial to help prevent odor causing bacteria. But, like any carbon-based scent-control technology, the company says it has to be activated or perhaps more accurately "regenerated" in order to work properly. Before using it, I was advised to wash it with a special carbon activation detergent and then let it hang dry. When it is dry, to regenerate the scent-control technology, it has to be run through the dryer. I'm told this should be done for at least 15 minutes.
The jacket in particular is practical for multiple applications
Both the jacket and pants are made of an extremely soft and lightweight fleece outer. High-tech in every sense of the word, I was impressed with how silent this clothing is. While I found it to be suitable for several applications, where it shined most was for bowhunting whitetails. Even on calm days when you could hear every sound imaginable in the woods, this outfit was extremely quiet. Nothing is more annoying or detrimental to your hunting than when your pants or jacket make noise when you walk, climb into your stand, or draw your bow. Among other animals, I took two whitetails with my bow last fall, one at 10 yards and the other at 26 yards. Both times I was able to draw my bow undetected. I was even able to stand and move my position on stand without making a sound in the outfit. For quietness, it gets an A+ rating in my books.
When I first looked into the ScentBlocker apparel, I was headed up to Northern Quebec for a caribou hunt. I needed something that was quiet, controlled scent, but also had insulating properties for cooler temperatures. After a bit of research I decided to go with the Bone Collector Brotherhood. While I would not call this a cold-weather garment, it is also not a warm weather outfit. It is indeed a mid-range option designed more for cooler temperatures in the 35 to 45 degree Fahrenheit range. My recommendation would be to utilize other scent-control technology as base layers if your goal is to maximize the possible scent control characteristics. If that's not as much a priority, but warmth is, then using other layering options to add insulating value is an option.
Most of today's camouflage fabrics fade quickly. According to ScentBlocker's instructions, the key with washing and activating the garment's technology is to hang dry then run it through the drying machine to "regenerate" the carbon scent blocking characteristics. After using it (and washing many times) at the end of the 2009 season, the colors remain surprisingly sharp. The camouflage colors began to fade only slightly after about eight wash cycles. In my view, that's comparably better than many of my other hunting garments. The key appears to lie in how you handle, wash, and regenerate the carbon.
Construction & Functionality
All told, the Bone Collector Brotherhood jacket and pants are well-suited to a variety of hunting applications. In my view, this outfit is best suited for the spot-and-stalk, or tree stand hunter; particularly if you anticipate close-range encounters where scent-control and quietness is imperative. Both the jacket and pants are made of a 100% polyester shell and ScentBlocker's trademark bonded activated 100 % polyester carbon lining. The seams are reinforced and well-hidden.
The jacket has two-zippered pockets - one on the left and another on the right-hand side. It has a hood that can be cinched around your face should that be desired. The main zipper and pocket zippers work fluidly.
The jacket pockets have zippers and tabs
The pants have a sizable right- and left-leg cargo pocket, big enough to hold small gear items (e.g., a pocket knife, hunting permits, compass, GPS, etc.). The two rear pockets (right and left) are practical. Each of these cargo and rear pockets has larger buttons. While these are quiet and somewhat practical, for my own use, a zipper would be more preferable. Front waist slash pockets are both open and big enough to comfortably slip your hands inside. While the pants have belt loops, they also have cinch-tabs on the left and right, in case the pants are a bit big. These cinch-tabs also allow you to tighten up the waist or loosen it, should you opt to wear a base layer of some sort. They also have a zipper-fly and two rubber snaps that securely fasten the pants shut. Likewise the bottom cuffs on each leg can be cinched with an inherent string. Both the jacket and pants are available in sizes M- 4XL.
The cargo pockets are big and each have two buttons
Would I recommend the Bone Collector Brotherhood jacket and pants? My response is positive, but qualified. Yes, I recommend ScentBlocker apparel. In my view, they make a quality scent-control product. To what extent it controls scent I can't say for sure, but it seems to have worked for me. They've given much thought to design and function. Second, and equally important, particularly if you are a close-range bowhunter or spot-and-stalk hunter, this outfit is great; but if you're more of a long-range shooter or tend to hunt in a very warm or very cold climate, perhaps give some more thought to a few of their other apparel options. To learn more, go to www.robinsonoutdoors.com .
Kevin took this antlerless whitetail at 10 yards with his bow while wearing the Bone Collector Brotherhood outfit
Kevin Wilson is a freelance outdoors writer and professional big game & waterfowl
guide/outfitter from Alberta, Canada. Confessing an obsession for big whitetails
and bighorn sheep, he has hunted most North American big game species with either
bow, muzzleloader, rifle or shotgun. Specializing in archery, freshwater fishing,
waterfowl and big game hunting, his articles can be found in several well known
outdoor publications across the U.S. and Canada. For more information on his
outfitting services, visit www.venturenorthoutfitting.com .
Member of OWAA & OWC.