The Ameristep Care Taker ground blind was already one of the most popular hunting blinds in the U.S. Even before the new “Kickout” version, it was already firmly amongst my favorites, thanks to its robust and lightweight build. I also like that it favors portability and functionality over extravagant add-ons.
Now, with the new release of the Care Taker “Kickout”, I’m considering making it my best ground blind this season over the Big Cat 350, after Ameristep ironed out the one or two issues that I had with the original Care Taker. Watch this space.
Things to consider before buying a ground blind
Before reading the Care Taker’s specifications, here’s a quick recap on why you might buy a ground blind and some of the alternatives available.
Use a ground blind to
Get close to prey without being seen or heard
The premise behind a ground blind is that you get close enough to prey to take a shot – be it with a bow, rifle, or camera – without being noticed. Ground blinds are fantastic at this. If you leave your blind out early in the season and brush it in well, animals get so close that you can practically touch them. For photographers, in particular, you’ll never get a better shot than from a ground blind.
Hunt in well-known areas
Ground blind serves you best if you regularly hunt in the same area. You can leave your blind out early in the season and leave it there for animals to get used to its presence. Animals notice any change in their surroundings, so taking a ground blind and pitching it somewhere new may make local game wary.
It isn’t a written rule, though. There are plenty of lightweight blinds built for portability. The Care Taker is an excellent example of a traditional popup blind, while the Ghostblind 6-Panel Runner Blind is an example of a runner ground blind.
Alternatively, if you want to hunt for the day in a new area, you could also consider a tree stand.
Make a long hunt as safe and comfortable as possible
What’s safer, climbing a tree with a tree stand or popping open a ground blind? And where will you be more comfortable? Sat on a 20 x 30-inch tree stand base, or in a two-person ground blind safely anchored to the floor?
In a ground blind, you can take all the gear you like, maybe even a camera and tripod. You can spend the afternoon side-by-side with a friend working together. Many ground blinds have space for heaters and rugs if it gets cold, and they protect you from the wind, rain, and snow. These are some real advantages over a tree stand.
Keep your feet on the ground
Not everyone feels comfortable up a tree for a long hunting session. If this is you, then a ground blind is the best choice.
Don’t use a ground blind to
Many ground blinds prioritize portability over space. Some of the best ground blinds are between 5 and 6 feet in height, restrictive or entirely impossible for a bowhunter. That goes for runner blinds too, which are 20-30 inches tall.
That said if you do want to find a suitable ground blind for bowhunting, check out this article.
Track down game
You usually set up a ground blind in one place and leave it there for the season. Some ground blinds – like the Care Taker – are more portable, but even so, the premise is still to set up and wait it out.
If you’re an aggressive hunter, a popup or hub-style ground blind might not be the best choice. Check out tree stands, runner blinds, or even try going it alone.
Ameristep Care Taker Ground Blind Specifications
The Care Taker from Ameristep is a compact, lightweight two-person ground blind built at a great price without sacrificing too much on quality. It’s amongst the most sold ground blinds in the world and a firm hunters’ favorite.
The blind footprint is 60 inches by 60 inches, and the height is 66 inches tall (5’6″). It’s perfect for two people, but you wouldn’t be able to fit in a third. Ameristep has a clear goal for the blind, to remain lightweight and portable for hunters to stay active.
To this end, it weighs 13.5 lbs and comes in a carry sack you can sling over your back. It’s easy to set up and deploy on many different terrains. Its small footprint allows it to fit into thickly-wooded areas, meaning that the Care Taker is practically invisible once brushed in.
The massive popularity of this blind has led Ameristep to release several new versions, and in particular the new “Kickout”. The kickouts are designed to optimize ground space and give you space outside of the original footprint to place your gear, freeing up the essential immediate space for hunting activity. The new Kickout footprint is 65 inches by 65 inches.
The new shape makes a significant difference to its aesthetic appearance from outside. Still, it’s not a bad change, and Ameristep claims it gives the blind a unique, organic shape that blends into thickets more effectively. The Care Taker Kickout has maintained the built-in brush loops that are excellent for adding the finishing touches to your concealment.
The Care Taker frame is made of reliable materials. Its spider hub is dependable when challenged by the elements and is essential to the quick and easy setup. Expect to have it deployed or packed up in less than five minutes.
It also has a Durashell Plus fabric, which is durable yet lightweight and has an interior coating of ShadowGuard technology to remove interior shadows and silhouettes. The windows are also built with replaceable shoot-through mesh to remain hidden as best as possible.
Something I didn’t like about the original Care Taker was the camo-netting velcro over the windows. It was so loud, so I recommended using some clothes pegs to hold them back and avoid the velcro. Luckily, Ameristep has gone one better and fixed this on the new Kickout version. It’s now equipped with single hook windows which open and close silently.
- Best ground blind for the money
- Best two-person hunting blind
- Insanely easy to set up
- Built for portability (13.5 lbs)
- A frustrating height, both for tall hunters and bowhunters.
- Lacks space if you’re a “comfort” hunter.
- Noisy door zipper to enter and exit
Ameristep Care Taker Ground Blind Features & Benefits
How easy is it to set up? 9/10
Setting up and packing up the Care Taker is one of the ground blind’s many strengths. You will probably spend more time clearing out the forest floor of debris for a nice flat surface than popping this thing up.
Except! The first time you set it up, it’s a little bit strange getting it to pop out correctly, so set it up in your backyard before taking it out to the forest.
As mentioned earlier, it comes with a neat carry sack for you to carry it around. All in all, this blind gets a respectable nine out of ten for ease of set up.
How comfortable is it? 7/10
The new “Kickout” version has bumped the comfort score from a six to a seven. The Care Taker was never uncomfortable, but it has reduced headspace and width compared to larger blinds.
The Kickout has tweaked this a little. The kickout space gives you extra room for gear that allows you to clear out premium floor space. Before with two people in it, you could feel it was at maximum capacity. Now, the extra floor space makes you feel more relaxed. As a rule, I’d say you can fit one person and a tripod/camera in here, or two people each with a ground blind chair.
On the new version, they have also incorporated two little side pockets to store things. It’s a bit gimmicky, but it’s a nice thought.
Finally, I’d say that the door is a little small for big hunters to get into, particularly wearing heavy coats and carrying gear.
What’s it like to shoot from? 7/10
That depends on what you shoot. The Care Taker is ideal for photographers, rifle hunters, and crossbows. You should probably avoid this ground blind if you bow hunt, although I have seen people angling their bows and doing a funny sit-squat to shoot. I don’t want the hassle.
Height restrictions aside, it has 360º visibility, and Ameristep has removed the velcro from the windows on the new Kickout version. To take a shot, you had to make a noise to free the window space on the old one. Now you can do so in perfect silence—well done to Ameristep for listening.
How well is it built? 7/10
The frame is a sturdy SpiderWeb technology. It’s flexible, which means that although it may buckle from rain or snow, you can pop it back out. That may even be preferable in some cases to avoid straining the fabric.
I mention the fabric because this is where I believe it could be more robust. I like that it has an interior layer of ShadowGuard – the blind feels dark, and you feel invisible to the outside. The Durashell Plus fabric, however, seems to pick up little nicks easily, which is an issue for remaining waterproof.
Overall, unless they start to build up, it’s generally not an issue. I do recommend you take it into the garden and spray it all over with this fabric guard from 303 products every season. There’s no harm in a little maintenance.
With this in mind, I wouldn’t leave the Care Taker outdoors for a whole season. It’s not strong enough to take the beating (although some would disagree with me). Take care of it, and it will take care of you for four or five seasons.
Finally, if you decided to leave it outside, scrap the package stakes because they’re flimsy. Replace them with stronger industrial ones.
Value for Money 10/10
The Care Taker is massive value for money, particularly the new Kickout version. The price is always subject to change from retailer to retailer, but you’d be unlucky not to find it for less than $100, which is an absolute bargain.
It’s well-built, reliable, easy to transport, and well priced. All in all, it’s an outstanding ground blind.
The Big Cat 350 – The best overall ground blind available this year
Sharpshaft: Read our review of the Big Cat 350.
The Big Cat 350 is currently our best overall ground blind. The Big Cat’s size makes it more comfortable, more people can hunt together, and you make less noise by brushing the sides of the blind with an arm or coat. The Big Cat also weighs an impressive 19 lbs, considering that it’s big and made of quality materials.
That said, it’s not as portable or easy to set up as the Care Taker. It also comes at a mid-range price, although it’s still great value for money.
The Doghouse – the best budget ground blind on the market
Sharpshaft: Read our review of the Ameristep Doghouse.
The Ameristep Doghouse is similar in specifications and functionality to the Ameristep Care Taker. It’s a two-person ground blind and weighs 10 lbs to the Care Taker’s 13 lbs. It also comes in at an unbeatable price.
Before running straight off to buy one, the quality difference between the Care Taker and the Doghouse is noticeable, although it doesn’t mean that the Doghouse is low quality.
The 6-Panel Runnerblind – A highly portable, run n’ gun solution
Sharpshaft: Read our review of the 6-Panel Runnerblind.
The 6-Panel Runnerblind is an excellent choice for athletic, mobile hunters looking to track down game and be aggressive. It’s an 8-pound 26-inch foldable panel with a reflective outer edge. The outer edge reflects the natural environment at game, concealing you entirely. It packs up quickly to move on to the next spot in minutes.
The Ameristep Care Taker is a highly functional ground blind that’s fantastic value for money.
We use ground blinds to get as close to game as possible while not being seen. The Care Taker is one of the best blinds at achieving this. It fits into all types of wooded areas and thickets. It brushes in excellently, and animals aren’t afraid to get up close and personal. If you’re happy with the size, then don’t think twice about this purchase.