scentlok and scentblocker
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Here’s How ScentLok Took Down ScentBlocker

In the vast world of hunting products, no two companies have traded blows more than ScentLok and ScentBlocker. The two hunting apparel companies were always on the edge of scent control innovation and constantly at each other's throats—until they suddenly weren't. In the end, ScentLok won the scent-free hunting clothing war. They eventually acquired ScentBlocker. Ah, mergers and takeovers—the ultimate mic drop in corporate competitions. But how did they end up there? Well, we'll attempt to explain it all to you.

Robinson Outdoor Products

ScentBlocker was the signature brand of Minnesota-based Robinson Outdoor Products. The company was founded in 1985 when it started offering scent control sprays. The company, founded by Bill Robinson, started offering ScentBlocker, a carbon-based scent-eliminating line of sprays, in 1997.

ScentLok emerged in 1992 in Muskegon, Michigan and the two companies quickly became rivals. Hunters had traditionally practiced staying downwind of big game. But now, multiple companies have developed carbon clothing to suppress or eliminate human scent.

ScentLok and ScentBlocker quickly developed a devoted following of fans, and bowhunting internet message boards raged with hot debate on which brand was better. It lasted for quite a few years. But there was a storm brewing that would change things in the scent control clothing industry completely.

The Lawsuit

scentlok and scentblocker

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We need to mention this pivotal case to talk about ScentLok vs. ScentBlocker. In 2013, ScentBlocker launched a new type of scent control clothing labeled Trinity Technology. They started a new ad campaign as part of their new line launch.

In the ad, ScentBlocker claimed the new Trinity technology was 40 percent more influential in absorbing human odor than carbon and 200 percent more effective than zeolite. ScentLok didn't believe the claims. In 2016, the parent company of ScentLok, A.L.S. Enterprises, sued Robinson Outdoor Products for false advertising. It went to a jury trial, and there was a lot of debate over the effectiveness of the Trinity product vs. activated carbon products and the logistics of advertising such products.

All you need to know is that eventually, the jury agreed with ScentLok and awarded A.L.S. Enterprises $3.8 million. In January 2017, A.L.S. Enterprises was awarded nothing. You read that right. Nothing. Nada. Squat. The judge believed Robinson Outdoors didn't commit false advertising. Secondly, A.L.S. Enterprises couldn't prove any damages from the Trinity ads.

Unfortunately, the lawsuit damaged Robinson Outdoor Products. But it wasn't just the expensive lawsuit that hurt the company. The hunting industry has been in flux recently, and many retailers, especially brick-and-mortar locations, were hurting. Many still are. A Robinson spokesman told Wide Open Spaces at the time of the lawsuit that larger retailers focusing less on national brands like ScentBlocker hurt the company.

Not helping the company's profits were two hot falls in 2015 and 2016. Warm temperatures aren't just bad for the hunting clothing industry. They're bad for the hunting industry in general.

That's a lot of words to say that the company was vulnerable. After the lawsuit, many hunters wondered what was next for the two brands. We got our answer in March 2017 when Robinson Outdoors filed for Chapter 11.

ScentLok Acquires ScentBlocker

After Robinson filed for bankruptcy, all there was to do was watch and see what happened next. In July 2017, the rivalry ended as ScentLok made a deal to acquire Robinson Outdoors and all its assets. While the biggest brand acquisition was ScentBlocker, ScentLok also acquired a few other hunting brands owned by Robinson in the process. The brands included Tree Spider (treestand harnesses), ScentShield (cover scents, storage bags, soaps, and shampoos), and Whitewater Outdoors, another hunting clothing maker.

The acquisition also meant ScentLok got ScentBlocker's patents and access to their technologies. However, instead of just killing off the brand, ScentLok has continued to operate it as a separate entity from its line. The brand is now known as Blocker Outdoors.

At the time of the acquisition, ScentLok CEO and owner Patrick Hylant promised to look closely at the technologies Robinson was developing. He also stated there might be some crossover in technology between the brands. In November of 2017, right at the tail end of firearm whitetail deer season for Michigan, ScentLok announced they were uniting all their hunting brands under one corporate entity now known as Nexus Outdoors.

That is basically how the story of ScentLok and ScentBlocker goes. ScentLok won. Both brands still live, albeit united, under the same umbrella of Nexus Outdoors.

The outdoor industry, especially the hunting sector, has struggled recently due to a decreasing interest in the outdoor recreational activities we all love. But for now, these two brands will keep chugging away.

This article was originally published on July 8, 2019.

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