Updated: Apr 20, 2022
Each and every year, outdoorsmen and women come from all over for one of the industry's biggest consumer expos: The Western Hunting and Conservation Expo. I have the opportunity to see a lot of really great products as they come out since I work in an archery shop, but nothing beats getting to see those products in person.
There were so many great products at the 2022 show, especially since the 2021 show was canceled. With only one day to walk the show, I tried to see as much as possible.
Here are some of the products that really stuck out to me this year at the show.
Caribou Gear Outdoor Equipment Company
I always research game bags to carry in my shop and test the ones I can. While there are a lot of good ones out there, Caribou Gear is definitely at the top of the list of the options I have seen. Most people think a game bag is a simple cloth bag that you put meat in to carry it out. As a hunter, you put in blood, sweat, miles, and sometimes even tears, so you need game bags that hold up in the elements to keep your harvest safe and clean.
I was impressed to see that Caribou Gear game bags are more than meets the eye.
The patented fabric allows the meat to breathe while keeping insects and dirt out. They don’t put their logo on the bags to make sure even the smallest areas don’t hinder performance. From a marketing standpoint, this is the ultimate sacrifice to truly put the customer first and ensure a quality product.
Game bags can hold over 400lbs without buckling.
Reflective tabs are sewn into an already existing seam and strategically placed so hunters can find their game hanging in the dark.
Each set of game bags comes in a small packable mesh carrying pouch, to take up minimal space in your pack.
They also have several options if you prefer to bone out the meat, and full carcass bags for all game sizes.
The Wapiti Elk bone-in 5 pack weighs 21oz and is $78.99. The Muley packs weighs14oz and cost $65.99.
Another product from Caribou Gear that caught my eye was the Hunters Tarp. This is an item I have always underestimated! No matter how hard we try to keep our meat clean, dirt, leaves and other debris still seem to find their way onto it. In the past, we've carried a regular tarp that we could use to place our meat on or put under our sleeping bags. The Hunter's Tarp is a much better option. Measuring 4' x 5', it is very lightweight at 5.6oz with the stakes. It can also be used as a liner in your pack, waterproof shelter, and more. The Hunter's Tarp is available in green or orange and retails for $64.99.
Check out the full line of Caribou Gear products on their website at https://www.caribougear.com/.
Hatch Outwest Precision Bipod
I’ve never really understood the benefits of a bipod until the last couple of years. Growing up in thick timbered hunting areas the only shots we took were quick standing shots at closer ranges. When I moved to a high desert landscape, the shots were a lot farther. To me, this meant increasing the chances of a bad shot. Being new to the bipod world, I’ve tried several different options including the Atlas Bipod (great for the range) and a lower end TrueGlow (needed more extension for hunting). Two bipods, each with their own purpose.
That’s where Hatch Bipods come in! This is a universal bipod that can be used for prone or standing positions and everything in between. Hunting throws you all sorts of curveballs and you never know what kind of shot you're going to get out there.
Constructed of aluminum and stainless steel and weighs 19.6oz.
Attaches using a Picatinny rail system and can easily be put on or taken off to quickly set up for any shooting position.
Prices range from $364.99 to $479.99. Compared to other options, this price is very reasonable for a versatile option.
Made in the USA.
Limited Lifetime Warranty and reasonable repair prices if the product gets damaged or broken.
View all of the Hatch Outwest bi-pod options, how-to videos, customer testimonials, and more at https://www.hatchoutwest.com/.
SkullMAX Skull Mounting System
Once your hunt is over and you have your trophy Euro mount, what better way to share your memories than to display your mount for everyone to see! The patented SkullMAX Mount offers a simple and innovative design that allows you to tilt, shift, tip, or spin your Euro in any direction. Instead of a hook system, SkullMAX has a clamp that grips the skull for a very secure attachment.
SkullMAX promotes itself as the most adjustable, versatile, and secure European Mounting System available.
Multiple wall mount and desktop options are available.
The ball pivoting system gives you the freedom to place your mount in any way/direction you’d like, which also allows you to utilize the maximum amount of wall space.
Made in the USA.
Comes with an unconditional warranty if you decide you don’t like it for any reason.
Prices from$54.99 to $139.99, depending on size. View the entire product lineup and photo gallery at https://skullmax.com/.
Alpen Fuel Backcountry Food
SERIOUSLY a taste bud explosion of flavor! I admit that I came across this booth by accident. It was towards the end of a long day at the show, I was hungry and drawn to the free samples. Over the last year, I’ve made it a goal to up the ante with nutrition options in my shop since nutrition is important when you're in the backcountry. There are some great freeze-dried and dehydrated breakfast options on the market already, such as Peak Refuel and Heather's Choice. As much as I love the Mountain Berry Granola from Peak Refuel, I feel that a lot of these companies have minimal and similar choices.
Alpen Fuel has hit the mark! They offer the following flavors: Lemon Berry Granola, Caramel Apple, Chocolate Strawberry, Orange Pegan, Coconut Mango, and Cranberry White Chocolate/Nut Free. From a nutritional standpoint, their meals range from 630-770 Calories, have 12% of your daily value of sodium, are high in saturated fat, high in protein, and the majority of the sugar comes naturally from the fruit. You can choose between packs with or without powdered milk, so all you need is water. Additionally, their meals are gluten-free.
When it comes to weight, every ounce counts and you need to make everything you bring count. Each package weighs only 5oz yet is packed full of the energy you need to get going and keep going.
Meals average $7.49 each and can be purchased at various retail stores and online at https://www.alpenfuel.com/.
Bucked Up Supplements
I've never paid any attention to how important it is to fuel your body the right way when it comes to hunting or hiking. But over the last few years, I've seen the hunting and fitness industries collide and have been trying to find the best combination of meals and supplements/vitamins to give my customers the best chance of getting out further, faster, and longer.
Bucked Up is not necessarily new, however, they are really starting to get discovered in the hunting world. They offer a variety of products including pre-workouts and energy drinks (AMAZING, by the way), and try to make them as close to all-natural as possible. Bucked Up supplements have been a top seller in my shop for customers who are in the gym every day, interested in improving their overall health, or striving to become a top outdoor athlete.
While hiking and hunting, I have used both the Bucked Up Pre-Workout and Bucked Up Outdoors packets. The single-serving packets are great to use in a hydration bladder. These products have saved me on more than one account when I'm beat, and the pack out hasn't even started. I’ve also seen a significant increase in energy, staying hydrated, and quicker recovery times when I incorporate their supplements into my daily and hunting regimen. This has seriously been a game-changer for me and taken my hunting to a whole new level!
When I interviewed this company, I felt comfortable that they really wanted the best for their customers. They are open when it comes to letting customers know exactly what is in their products. It put my mind at ease, especially when it comes to their kid's line.
Visit the Bucked Up website at https://www.buckedup.com/ and use code KNOCKDOWN20 at checkout for 20% off.
Pak Jak Wilderness Jacket
Overall, jackets are a pretty standard design. Not much innovation from one brand to the next. They've changed colors and materials yet all remain the same, a jacket. Until now! At first glance, the Pak-Jak looks like just another lightweight puffy jacket...but it can be worn in up to eight different ways.
We’ve all made the mistake of leaving the truck warm and within a couple hundred yards, wanting to shed some layers. At that point, you're already getting sweat on your clothes and it’s frustrating to stop, take off all your gear, shed some layers, stow them away, and put your gear back on again. Sweating in cold temperatures is one of your worst enemies and one of the main hotspots for that is your back, due to not enough airflow between your back and pack or the use of too many layers.
The Pak-Jak helps prevent this. The jacket zips up in the front just like any other jacket. Where it differs is the interchangeable back panel. If you start to get overheated, you can remove the back panel and attach the jacket to your pack with a simple 4-snap attachment system. If you prefer to still have that “jacket feeling” you can put the mesh panel on instead of having an open back. You can also remove the upper snaps and move the jacket down away from your torso or completely off.
The Pak-Jak weighs only 16.4oz (size XL) and is made with the highest grade Primaloft Gold to keep you warmer in wet temperatures compared to down. (Side note: This material is made from recycled water bottles and apparently 339 million were recycled in 2020.)
The Pak-Jak is available online for $279 and comes with an attachment system and mesh panel. Additionally, it has a lifetime warranty, even if you just don't like it.
I feel like this is a product that is so different it can scare people away from buying it. It's not a traditional jacket like we're used to wearing. To me, it's very innovative and improves something that hasn't changed in years. I am currently testing out this jacket myself and will have a review soon to follow!
Learn more about the Pak-Jak, see videos and review reviews at https://www.pakjak.us/.
Western Skies Skulls & Jewelry, Laura Groesbeck
This gal, I have to say, is a go-getter! She makes beautiful, unique, one-of-a-kind jewelry and accessories that are very reasonably priced. All of her jewelry comes from shed antlers she collects every spring or from birds she’s hunted, and are decorated with Swarovski crystals to really make them shine. So ladies, if you see a piece that you like, you need to JUMP ON IT before it’s gone! And if you don’t see something that's in your personal style, she is more than willing to work with you on custom pieces. She has definitely taken antler jewelry outside the box and brought a whole new level of creativity to it.
However, what really caught my attention was that Laura has taken a very traditional way of displaying your trophy animal and completely transforms it into a work of art like no other. With a mix of painting and hand-beading, each design is totally unique. She had a longhorn skull displayed at the show, and it took over 60 hours to complete. Although it is very time-consuming, her prices, were very reasonable when compared to traditional taxidermy work. For a full skull, she charges around $500 and $350 for a partial mount.
I am really bad about staying hydrated unless I have a hydration bladder/hose system. I prefer having the hose run over the shoulder of my pack for quick and easy access on the go. (Little secret..add a Bucked-Up packet in there and you’ll go all day long!) However, cleaning them can be a pain, and it's even worse when you don't get all of the soap out or don't get it clean enough.
My current pack doesn't have a place to keep a hydration system, so I switched to a Nalgene bottle this past season. I like how convenient it is to drink large amounts of water at once and that's it's a lot easier to refill in the hills, but I’ve noticed that I don’t drink nearly as much water since I have to stop and take it out of my pack every time.
Hardside Hydration has created a hybrid system that is basically a Nalgene style bottle, with the hose of the more traditional hydration pack! They also have insulating sleeves to keep your water from getting too warm or cold. Simple yet very smart design and product for tons of uses outdoors
The Insulated Swig Rig cost $31. Replacement parts are $18 for the bottle, $18 for the Swig 63 lid (that can be put on other bottles), and $18 for the hose system.
If you already have a bottle, all you have to get is the Hardside Hydration lid and hose system to upgrade yours! Learn more at https://www.hardsidehydration.com/.
Bow Shop Bible Mobile App
Working in an archery pro shop, it is up to us to be the experts! We guide and point people in the right direction when it comes to bows and bow tuning. We often deal with everything from the latest and greatest for the year, to the “old faithful” bows that stay true. Either way, when a bow needs to be fixed, propper arrows matched, and so on, our customers look to us! I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent finding specs and information to help a customer. UNTIL NOW!!!
The Bow Shop Bible mobile app is a game-changer for archery shops. They have created an app that has everything including bow specs, arrow specs, types of knots, and basically everything you need to know about the tuning process. You can find the specs you need with a couple of clicks.
Some of their bow information goes back ten years and includes bows that aren't even made anymore and information on off-brand bows. I think every bow shop should have this in their toolbox as a quick reference. And for archers who handle their own tuning, it can be very helpful.
Although this information is already out there for everyone to get, the Bow Shop Bible brings everything together in ONE place.
Learn more at https://bowshopbible.com/. Bow Shop Bible is available in the App and Play Store and costs $3.99/month, or you can purchase a lifetime subscription for $99.