Rhino Labs Evolution XP1 Blind Review
A while back I wrote a review on the Cabela's Full Draw 2 blind that I had been faithfully using over the last few years. Considering that I only gave around $100 for it, the Full Draw had held up pretty well and allowed me and several friends the opportunity to harvest a number of turkeys. However, with my son starting to spend more time with me in the field and my wife and daughter showing an interest in tagging along, I made the decision early this year to begin my search for a new blind.
The Evolution XP1, by Rhino Laboratories, is a great-looking and well
designed ground blind based on the popular 5-hub system.
My expectations were simple enough - I needed a blind with plenty of room, plenty of shooting windows, made from a durable fabric, at an affordable price. That wasn't asking too much, was it? In all honesty, I was really looking hard at the Primos Double Bull Dark Horse, but I just couldn't get past the $400+ price tag. That's when, while walking the aisles at the NWTF National Convention, I came across a brand new blind by Rhino Laboratories called the Evolution XP-1.
The first thing I noticed about the Rhino blind was the heavy 600-denier polyester material wrapped around the large, five-hub frame. Material is what really seems to separate the "cheaper" blinds from the top end ones and Rhino Labs has certainly spared no expense in that department. Not only is the material heavy, but it is also treated with UV protection to slow down the harmful effects of the sun, as well as an antimicrobial treatment to protect the blind from mold and mildew. While I haven't had the blind long enough to attest to the effectiveness of either of those treatments, I can certainly attest to its water repellence! During a turkey hunt last spring, my hunting partner and I had the blind set up in an open field and got caught in a downpour that lasted for close to an hour. The only place we had water coming in was where it was running off the top and into the front window, and at a couple of seams - which I plan to treat with a good seam sealer like you use on a tent.
The second thing that caught my attention was the blind's window layout. The front of the blind has a large panel of solid fabric sewn at the bottom with magnetic closures on the sides and top that allows 180 degree field of vision. The back side has a series of five windows that are held closed by magnets under normal conditions, or with a zipper when hunting in extremely windy conditions. Additionally, all of the back windows include shoot-through netting that is held in place with Velcro and can be removed as needed.
The backside of the blind has a series of smaller windows that can be
left open or closed depending on your setup. These windows have both magnetic
and zipper closures, along with shoot-through netting.
The shoot-through netting on the front window is held in place by hooks and loops for silent lowering when needed.
The windows are held close by strong magnets, which allow for silent opening and closing.
The front panel and five back windows give the hunter a full 360 degree field of view and lots of options when it comes to setting up the blind for hunting. Like most other five-hub blinds, setup and take down of the Evolution XP-1 is quick and simple. Rhino's website claims it can be done in under 10 seconds, and with a little practice, I have no doubt that it can be done (though I'm not sure why you would ever need to be in that big of a hurry!).
The Rhino blind also has a few other features that, while easily overlooked, I found extremely beneficial and worth mentioning. The first is the leather-reinforced corners that keep the hubs' rods from poking through the blind material - a great addition that I don't think I have seen on any other blind. The other feature is the oversized carrying bag that accompanies the Evolution XP-1. Made of the same material as the blind, the bag has a set of padded backpack straps that make the 20 pound load a breeze to pack in, and its big enough to add your seat or some gear to free up your hands.
The corners of the blind are reinforced to prevent the frame's rods from busting
through the material, and plenty of brush loops allow you to really brush in the
blind for excellent concealment from wary game.
The Evolution XP1 comes with an oversized bag that includes padded backpack
straps and a chest strap for easy carrying in and out of the field.
Rhino Labs certainly seems to have a winner with their first entry in the hunting blind market. Combining some of the best features from the other big-name blinds on the market has resulted in a first class product which is being offered at a very affordable price ($299). While I can't yet attest to its durability, I feel certain that the Evolution XP-1 is built to last; and having met and talked to the company's owner, I am confident that if a problem should arise, they will stand behind their product. For more information or to order a Rhino blind, check out the company's website at www.Rhino-Labs.com.
Brian Grossman is a wildlife biologist, freelance writer and avid outdoorsman from Mt. Washington, Kentucky. You can visit his web site at www.PoorBoysOutdoors.com.