Here's the ScentLok and ScentBlocker saga finally explained, so we can all consider the air cleared.
In the vast world of hunting products, no two companies traded blows more than ScentLok and ScentBlocker, two scent control hunting apparel companies that were on the edge of innovation.
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 they started offering scent control sprays. The company, founded by Bill Robinson, started offering ScentBlocker, a carbon-based scent eliminating line of sprays in 1997.
Robinson's immediate rival was Muskegon, Michigan-based ScentLok, founded in 1992. The two companies quickly became rivals. They were both in the right place at the right time for a burgeoning odor control industry. Hunters had traditionally just practiced staying downwind of big game. But now, multiple companies were working on carbon clothing to suppress or completely eliminate human scent.
Both 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.
We can't really talk about ScentLok vs. ScentBlocker without mentioning this pivotal case. In 2013, ScentBlocker launched a new type of scent control clothing they labeled as Trinity Technology. As part of the launch of their new line, they started a new ad campaign.
In the ad, ScentBlocker claimed the new Trinity technology was 40 percent more effective on absorbing human odor than carbon and 200 percent more effective than zeolite.
ScentLok didn't believe the claims and 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 really need to know is that eventually the jury agreed with ScentLok and awarded A.L.S. Enterprises $3.8 million.
Fast-forward to January 2017, and a judge overruled the jury and awarded A.L.S. Enterprises nothing. There were two reasons for the overturn. One, the judge believed Robinson Outdoors didn't commit false advertising. Secondly, and probably most important in this case, A.L.S. Enterprises couldn't prove any damages from the Trinity ads.
Unfortunately, the lawsuit came about at a bad time for Robinson Outdoor Products. But it wasn't just the expensive lawsuit that hurt the company. The hunting industry has been in flux in recent years 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 the company was hurt by larger retailers focusing less on national brands like ScentBlocker.
Not helping the company's profits were two unusually warm 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.
After the lawsuit, many hunters were left wondering just 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 came to an end as ScentLok made a deal to acquire Robinson Outdoors and all their assets.
While the biggest brand acquisition was ScentBlocker, ScentLok also acquired a few other hunting brands owned by Robinson in the process. This included Tree Spider, a line of treestand harnesses and accessories; ScentShield, which includes lines of cover scent, 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 own 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 may 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.
The end of the story?
That is basically it for how the story of ScentLok and ScentBlocker goes. I guess you could say ScentLok won. For now, both brands still live, albeit united under the same umbrella of Nexus Outdoors.
The outdoor industry, especially the hunting sector, has struggled a bit in recent years due to a decreasing interest in the outdoor recreational activities we all love. But for now, at least, these two brands will keep chugging away.