“So what makes your blind better than the rest?” I can’t tell you how much I love getting this question when I have the opportunity to talk to people about XENEK and our ground blind. While we have several features that are only found on the Apex ground blind, the single feature that I believe gives you a substantial advantage in the field and blows away competitors’ blinds is the patent pending window system. I want to share with you how our patent pending window system is a game changer, but I also want to share the challenges and the process we had to go through to develop this innovative system. (Feel free to scroll to the bottom if you want to skip to the photos!)
When Jerrod and I first began developing the Apex ground blind, we had to decide whether we wanted a ground blind with a series of windows or a ground blind with a large 180 degree window. For us the initial decision was easy, as we found the 180 degree window far superior for archery, giving us more options and shooting opportunities for the situations and types of set-ups we typically use the ground blind for. We felt that ground blinds with multiple windows never seemed to have the windows exactly where we needed them, and we created too much noise and movement when trying to adjust to use the smaller windows. With that said, we also understood there are times that it is beneficial to have the ability to use a small window when set up on a water hole or on a bait, keeping the ground blind buttoned up as much as possible to minimize the chances of an animal’s eye catching something that it didn’t quite like. This is when we decided we needed to develop a ground blind that was more versatile and could provide the best of both worlds. While other brands offered one or the other, why not offer both?
If you could only see some of the prototypes we created during the development of the window system! I’m pretty sure we nicknamed one Frankenstein. This feature of the blind went through more iterations than I care to mention. We had one prototype in particular that had so many cords and flaps and hooks hanging down from above the window that it was beginning to defeat the purpose we had intended and looked more like 1970’s living room curtains gone bad. During development it felt like our wheels were spinning, but looking back, these steps were very important and showed us what WASN’T working. This may sound like it was a waste of time (and at times it sure felt that way), but I liken it to Jerrod’s philosophy on scouting for elk, which in summary says that if a scouting trip doesn’t produce elk, you’ve identified one more location you don’t have to check during the season! This was true for our window design. We determined what wasn’t working, and finally, after nearly 6 months of window development, the light bulb went off – and we identified the game changer. Why not create a ground blind with window sizes that could be quietly manipulated and STRETCHED into any configuration the hunter needs at any specific time? Flexible fabric is the key to manipulating a window into the exact size and shape for the hunter and the ever changing situations in the field.
With this new idea in mind, Jerrod and I skeletonized two walls of a ground blind, so we could start out with a giant 180 degree window. Then, a few trips to the local fabric store for some yoga pant material, and we had our first flexible window covers pinned and stitched to the blind. Slowly, we began to tweak and modify the window covers, creating even more flexibility and adjustability. Everything was moving forward, and we were amazed at how well this new system was working. Our window could be lowered to allow for smaller youth hunters to shoot without risk of launching an arrow through the wall of the blind. Our window could be raised higher for the hunter that was set up on a slope and needed to bring the window up. Our blind could be shaped into a diamond that faced a water hole or feeder. Our blind window could be arranged in infinite ways. The prototypes worked great. Now we just needed to specify a material that wouldn’t let any light through it. How difficult could that be? Well… probably the most challenging hurdle of our design.
While many of the elastic fabrics used for athletic wear appear to block out light, if you hold them up to the sun, you’ll see that sunlight floods through them without any trouble, especially as the fabric is stretched tight. To maintain a dark interior of the ground blind to prevent animals from seeing inside, we knew we had to find a better performing fabric. We began testing every type of fabric we could get our hands on, and time after time, we found the same thing – none of them could prevent sunlight from coming through when the fabric was stretched. This was becoming a challenge to our design. A BIG challenge. At this point in time we teamed up with FOB Direct in New Zealand to develop a new fabric that would be:
- Durable and able to withstand years of abuse.
- Flexible and able to maximize the use our window system.
- Able to prevent sunlight from passing into the blind.
After several months of development, FOB Direct produced a fabric that met all of our requirements. Our window fabric is similar to the suits you’ll see an Olympic downhill skier wear, except that ours is multi-layered. FOB Direct produced two flexible knit outer layers and a black flexible polyurethane interior layer. Bonded together, these three layers create a durable and flexible material that keeps sunlight out, even when the fabric is stretched to form the perfect window configuration for a hunter. This was the final piece of the puzzle for the design Apex ground blind.
While I can describe the different window configuration possibilities, I think these photos do a better job.
Above are a few window configurations. However, to truly understand the range of possibilities for the window locations, below is a crude photo of our blind during development with the flexible window covers removed. This shows how high, how low, and how large you can configure the window system, so it can be placed to provide you with the best odds for success.
This is why I love getting the question asking why our blind is better than the others. We don’t have to come up with some flashy buzzwords to sell our blind but rather show people our meaningful features and let the Apex ground blind speak for itself.
Our adjustable window system can also be seen in a time lapse on our commercial (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SShT4eH-vKk).
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us!