Ultimate Layout Blind
By: Sean Sutherland
Total concealment, relative comfort and packability are features most sought after in a layout blind.
Each year, my waterfowling passion takes me to the far reaches of the Central and Mississippi Flyways. Layout blinds are a necessity for quite a bit of my duck- and goose-chasing travels. Hours spent scanning the skies in Saskatchewan windrows and eastern Nebraska cornfields makes me appreciate the positives and negatives of every blind I use.
While no blind can fully satisfy the particular needs and wants of every hunter, my experience with Cabela's Ultimate Layout Blind proves to me that it achieves a good balance between comfort, portability and concealment.
It takes a bit of effort to piece together a brand-new Ultimate, but once it's together (and the user becomes familiar with the failsafe six-pin system) it will set up in less than two minutes. I've found attaching the front door hinges first, the side supports second and the back door hinges last is the most efficient setup method for me.
While not the most compact blind on the market, the Ultimate collapses into a respectable 36"W x 49"L x 2-1/2"H package for easy stacking in a pickup bed or decoy trailer.
The Ultimate's rugged, 600-denier nylon shell comes nicely camouflaged, but I chose to brush on an ample coat of clay-rich mud. I strongly recommend mudding all layout blinds. The mud dulls the out-of-the-box shine common to heavy-duty nylon, providing an excellent base for adding natural vegetation.
There are plenty of stubble straps, though extra care should be taken to add loose vegetation to the lower foot area. Covering all edges of the blind is important to achieve maximum concealment. Make certain the blind's "skirt" is pulled down to adequately cover the black waterproof lining. The wire-supported mesh face panels conform neatly, and offer a thin gap to watch birds work unobstructed.
A huge advantage of the Ultimate is its built-in waterproof base. The blind remains watertight on any wet terrain, from cornfield sheet water to ankle-deep marshes. Setting up for snow geese on pig-slop-muddy, spring-thaw cornfields, I find the waterproof bottom and sides to be completely reliable. Abrasion from sharp corn stubble and cattail stumps does not phase the 1,000-denier PVC tarpaulin.
The flagging ports took a bit of getting used to, but I found the blind to be very comfortable for calling. One of my favorite features of the Ultimate is its adjustable pillow. By securing the pillow as a lumbar support when I'm down in the blind, it is positioned perfectly as a cushioned seat when sitting upright. There's ample legroom, as I'm 6'1" and had at least 7" to spare. Legroom is especially important when hunkered down deep inside the blind to avoid the prying eyes of spread-surveying waterfowl.
Another exciting feature is the moveable cup holder. Between it and the large shell pockets, I was amazed at how easily the varied items a waterfowler takes to the field could be organized within the Ultimate. The nook behind the seat is the perfect spot for a medium-sized shooting bag and a folded gun case.
The zip-open foot flap is convenient for the post-weekend blind cleanout. At 85 lbs., my faithful Labrador is a bit too large-framed to share the blind with me, but there is enough room in the front of the blind to accommodate a well-behaved, medium-sized retriever.
The Ultimate Layout Blind blends comfort, concealment, and portability with wet- and dry-ground versatility. Considering all of its hunter-friendly features and quality construction, I strongly recommend this exceptional blind to any waterfowler seeking to achieve maximum enjoyment out of his or her hunting experiences.