The Airlocker simplifies scent control in a brand-new way.
There are a plethora of scent control products out on the market and everyone's trying to come up with the next big idea.
While many companies are getting increasingly more complex with their scent control products, one small Michigan Company, Wild Winds Hunting Products, is taking a simpler approach to scent control. Instead of fancy electronic deodorizers, carbon lockers, cover scent sprays and complex scent control bags, they're looking to harness the power of nature.
Enter the Airlocker. It is a steel and canvas storage system manufactured in Marcellus, Michigan, that allows you to store and dry your clothing completely in the outdoors.
A unique approach
Where many other products rely on chemical scent control sprays, the Airlocker is taking an all-natural approach to scent control. In a way, it's not far off the days when many hunters were storing clothing in plastic tubs with leaves and acorns to try and infuse an outdoor smell.
The inventor of the Airlocker, Steve Knipp, told me he also invented it so he would have a place to dry his hunting clothing in the early season in wet conditions without having to go through scent decontamination efforts over and over.
Right off the bat, some positives to storing your clothing outside is that I was able to put my hunting clothes outside and just forget about them. I also didn't have to find a place for a large scent-free closet or bag in a house where I'm already strapped for space.
Airlocker is pretty much foolproof as far as scent contamination goes. With a closet or bag, a small hole could contaminate your prepped clothing without you realizing it. But because your clothing is never inside, it never has a chance to be exposed to these contaminating scents in the Airlocker.
One thing I really like about the Airlocker is that it's environmentally friendly. You're harnessing the power of nature to dry and keep your clothes scent-free. Too often, we as hunters forget about taking care of this planet and the natural resources we all know and love. Yes, it's a relatively small impact, but every little bit helps.
Quality out of the box
One of the first things that struck us about Airlocker is the quality of the materials. This isn't cheap metal and fabric pumped out of a factory. The metal frame and grate bottom of the Airlocker are made hand-welded and powder-coated stainless steel. It's heavy and durable to offer a double layer of protection. It's been a long time since we've seen a hunting product made with such quality craftsmanship. One would never guess these things are made in a garage by a family who simply loves hunting.
The 900 denier fabric used as the outer coating is especially noticeable the first time you open one of these up. In fact, I think it's safe to say the Airlocker is made of heavier and more durable material than either of my two camping tents. That goes for the outer layer and the screen layer below it.
It doesn't matter what part of the Airlocker we're talking about. Nothing about this product feels cheap or hastily made. When they say it's built to last, I believe them. For hunters in different parts of the country, Wild Winds offers the Airlocker in different styles of camo patterns so you can find what suits you best.
Ease of setup
Back in September, I set up a new, but very simple ladder deer stand in my hunting area. I assembled most of the pieces at home before transferring it to my hunting spot. I then spent two hours in the mosquito-filled woods swatting away blood suckers as I completely disassembled and reassembled the stand on the forest floor because it actually fit together in a way that looked right, but was completely wrong.
I share this story because I really get impatient with setting things up like this. Especially when things are of cheap quality and they fit together wrong or not at all, which seems to be the case far too often these days.
The Airlocker is the total opposite of all these problems and it's such a breath of fresh air for a hunting product. When I interviewed the owner, he said it sets up in 30 seconds.
In truth, it took about five minutes for me to set up the Airlocker in my backyard next to a lilac bush. The only reason it took that long was because I had to get a ladder to get the rope over the top of the branch I hung it from.
I was honestly shocked at how easy it was to set this piece of hunting hardware up. Just as they state, there is literally no assembly, just hang it by the I-bolt and let the rest fall into place and it's ready to go. It wasn't 30 seconds, but it was darn easy to do.
Storing and drying clothing
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little nervous about storing my damp hunting clothes outside initially. One thing I have to make clear here. I literally set up the Airlocker at home just a few days before Michigan's firearm deer season started. I washed my clothes and put them in the unit overnight. We had temperatures in the 20s and 30s and overnight my clothing partially freeze-dried.
That was what I was expecting. Had I more time, I would've just let the Airlocker do its thing. But because I had an all-day sit planned for opening day, and didn't want to sit in cold temperatures in partially-dried clothes, I sped the process up by drying my clothing the rest of the way in the dryer with specialty scent control sheets. Once I was done drying them, back outside and into the Airlocker they went.
Most hunters who buy an Airlocker aren't going to do this. They'll likely wash their clothing and have them in the Airlocker in warmer temperatures back in August or September long before the first archery seasons start, so you'll likely never need to dry them in colder temperatures like I did.
So I didn't really get to test how well the Airlocker dries clothing. But I can tell you that once my clothing was dry, it stayed dry in the Airlocker. The only real downside is the fact your clothing will be a little cold when you suit up before you hunt. But it may be worth the sacrifice seeing how fresh and natural-smelling my clothing was after being stored inside.
The Airlocker primarily works by circulating air through the metal grate floor to infuse a smell of the outdoors. But for the purposes of this test, I also used acorn scent wafer to help infuse a bit of cover scent onto my clothing and it was noticeable to my nose. If I can't detect as many human-like smells, it's likely the deer can't either. You can use as much or as little cover scent as you want with this product.
On another note, over the course of my test, Michigan threw a little bit of everything at us. Rain, snow or cold, the Airlocker took it all. Once my clothing was dry, it stayed dry inside, no matter what it was doing on the outside.
I'll note that you'll probably want to consider adding an extended zipper pull to the Airlocker. The standard zipper is a bit small and it was kind of hard to grip in the cold once the whole thing was covered with snow and ice. But this is an easy fix that can be done in seconds.
In the field
So does the Airlocker help you go undetected in the field because your hunting apparel smells like the outdoors? Well, I got a good chance to find out because winds were swirling in Michigan over the first 10 days of the firearms season.
For the purposes of my test, I kept my hunting gear in the Airlocker at home and transported them to my hunting area in a rubber tote. A changing mat might be a good idea if you are going to go this route. I saw over 30 deer my first three sits of firearms season.
Day one, I passed up two smaller bucks and had deer trickling past my location on all sides throughout the day. Some of them on the downwind side, but they didn't seem to notice.
On day two of the season I had the wind blowing on my back as four does passed within 40 yards of my stand. Two of them were older deer. Not once did they ever signal anything was wrong.
I did get busted that evening while sitting on a nearby food plot in swirling winds. But in that case, I feel pretty confident in saying she didn't wind me. I was simply sitting in a chair next a tree with no ground blind cover. Even though I wasn't moving, she was old and wise. Clearly she saw something she didn't like.
What was interesting in that encounter was the fact that she stood there for the next 30 minutes, just staring, stomping and trying to wind me, but seemingly couldn't. Eventually she won the standoff after I couldn't hold off a cough any longer. But I don't think that deer ever smelled me.
Another evening I sat on the same foot plot the doe picked me off earlier. On this particular evening I had 10 does enter the field. I had several larger does downwind of me on this evening, but they didn't seem to notice and I had deer in the field until dark.
The swirling winds continued over the next few days. One morning I finally had a deer that appeared to wind me as she circled in front of me downwind at about 40 yards. You know what? I'll take it. Because the number of times I got away with being downwind greatly outnumbered the times I was busted in a 10-day period. No scent control solution is going to be 100-percent perfect, but I saw far more deer this year than the last few put together.
I didn't see any trophy bucks during my testing, but that's not a knock on Airlocker. Michigan has notoriously high hunting pressure and it's hard enough to see a young buck let alone a shooter once firearms season begins on Nov. 15. To put things in perspective, I've been hunting nearly 20 years and I've only shot a buck after the 15th twice. So don't take the fact I didn't shoot a deer as a knock against this odor-control storage system. I'm also a bit picky about what I shoot, so it's not uncommon for me to go years between harvests.
The bottom line
The Airlockers are American-made, quality products clearly crafted with love and made to last for years and years. It's not often you get this kind of quality in anything let alone a hunting product anymore these days, especially one made in the U.S., using locally sourced labor and materials.
For someone as busy as I am, I love that Airlocker takes all the work out of scent control. Just store it in the locker and forget it. I don't have to worry about odor control where I'm storing my clothing inside. And I don't have to worry about possible contaminants. I just take it out and go hunting.
The Airlocker is the perfect storage system for someone who wants to simplify their scent control or get away from chemical sprays completely. It proves that sometimes the simplest solutions are the easiest ones.
We were definitely impressed and can safely say the Airlocker is one of the highest level of quality pieces of hunting equipment we've seen in years. Airlocker can be purchased directly from Wild Winds Hunting Products on their website.