All ground blinds have good and bad points. It’s a constant trade-off between function, hunting style, material quality, size, weight, and price.
The Big Cat 350 does a superb job of finding an excellent balance.
In this article, I wanted to give an in-depth review of its qualities and highlight some of its downsides. I’ve rated the Big Cat 350 on ease of set up, effectiveness when shooting, comfort, build quality, and value for money.
Read on to find out more.
Things to consider before buying a ground blind
Ground blinds are excellent for…
Getting close to prey without being seen or heard.
Technically the prey comes to you in a ground blind, not the opposite. A well-placed and brushed-in ground blind will camouflage you into your surroundings to the point that a deer won’t know you’re there.
Hunting in a well-known area.
Animals are anxious about changes in their visible surroundings and very astute at noticing them. You should set up your ground blind in its spot some days or weeks in advance for the best chances of success. It gives animals a chance to get used to it.
If you want to hunt for the day in a new area, my recommendation is you look into a tree stand.
Making your hunt as comfortable as possible on a long hunt.
A ground blind will house your gear and as many as five (or more!) hunters together. You feel more comfortable talking in a ground blind. In a tree stand, you might feel a little disconnected (depending on stand placement).
If you’re a tall hunter, you need to be wary of blind height. Particularly for pop-up blinds, as they’re often as short as five-and-a-half feet.
The ground blind excels by keeping you well protected in rough conditions, such as hot sun, rain, wind, or snow.
Hunters afraid of heights.
That’s right. If you don’t like heights, you probably won’t be buying a tree stand any time soon. A ground blind it is then!
Ground blinds are generally not for…
Running and gunning
Although it’s not out of the question, it’s less likely you’re going to run and gun with ground blinds. Ground blinds are designed to set up shop and wait for the animal to come to you.
Despite this, if you like to get out there and track down your game, some very lightweight ground blinds are available. If this fits your style, I suggest you check out the Ghostblind 6-Panel Runner Blind.
Again, by no means rule it out, although a ground blind’s height is generally restrictive. I’m not saying it’s not possible, though. If you want a suitable ground blind for bowhunting, check out this article.
Nonetheless, for bowhunting, I’d typically recommend a tree stand. It has its negatives (for example, obstructive branches), but it offers more mobility and freedom to a bowhunter.
Barronett Blinds Big Cat 350 Specifications
The Big Cat 350 is the market leader. Its high-quality materials and build, and ample space for several hunters to spend the day in comfort, made it our pick for the best ground blind this year.
Set up is quick and easy – Barronett claims it can be done in less than one minute. The Big Cat folds down in as little time as it stands up and weighs 19lbs for transportation.
The enormous interior measures 80 inches (height) by 90 inches (width at elbow height). The footprint is 70 inches all around. There’s plenty of elbow room for three hunters, even with weapons and a tripod for a camera.
It’s a perfectly good ground blind for bow hunters, gun hunters, and crossbow hunters alike. The Big Cat 350 is one of few quality ground blinds to allow you to shoot from standing.
It’s built with an all-metal, ball-and-socket design that uses thick, stiffer 10mm fiberglass poles and sturdy hubs. The blind has low-profile zipperless and velcro-free windows for noise-free adjustment. All-round visibility is excellent; it has six trapezoid windows and two peek windows.
The Big Cat is available in blood-trail (autumn leaves), backwoods (green leaves), and blades (brown-yellow grass) camo patterns. Barronett’s patterns are large-scale and photo-realistic, which helps to disappear into the environment at any distance.
It’s an excellent ground blind for hunters who want to spend the day in comfort with friends. It provides space for people and equipment and strong protection from the elements. It’s not an excellent ground blind for running and gunning, principally because of its weight.
- Excellent quality for the money
- Excellent in harsh conditions
- Unbeatable customer service
- Portable (19 lbs)
- Built of sturdy materials
- Best ground blind for tall hunters
- Best ground blind for recurve bows
- Shoot-while-standing design for various weapons
- Great for remaining seated too
- Many windows (at multiple heights)
- Easily fits three people
- Three camos to choose from: backwoods, blades, and blood trail
- May make noise in high wind
- Excellent width is a downside on uneven terrain (not flush to the ground)
- Flimsy stakes
Barronett Blinds Big Cat 350 Features & Benefits
How easy is it to set up? 7/10
Once you’ve done it a couple of times, the time it takes to set up and pack up is impeccable. If you’re keen to keep things moving quickly in the field, get some practice in your backyard before taking it out. The blind opens up in around a minute, although you’ll need a little longer to stake it to the floor and far longer to brush it in.
An integral part of setting up is transporting the ground blind. The Big Cat 350 weighs 19 lbs – I’ve seen lighter, and I’ve seen heavier. In reality, it’s a reasonable weight considering the material quality and how big the blind is. It also comes in a bag which you can wear as a backpack to stay mobile. However, if you want a lighter option, there are alternatives available. (See ‘alternatives’ section below)
How comfortable is it? 9/10
Comfort is an area where the Big Cat 350 shines. It has so much space, quickly enough for three hunters, and at a push, you can squeeze a fourth. It depends on how much gear you take.
The hub shape gives it a more spacious feel, and indeed, you’ve got an extra 20 inches at elbow height. It’s also one of the only ground blinds where my tall friends don’t moan. That’s saying something in the ground blind space.
It is excellent at retaining heat, particularly with three hunters packed in. The kicker is you’ve got plenty of space to place a mini-heater and stay warm all day.
Against the elements, this is a fine ground blind. It has enough airflow to stay cool under the sun but cuts out heavy gusts of wind. It does have tiny holes along the roof, however. They let in some light, although you can patch them easily. It’s still a waterproof blind, but I recommend covering your back. Take any ground blind into the garden and spray it all over with this fabric guard from 303 products.
What’s it like to shoot from? 10/10
The Big Cat is an excellent ground blind to shoot from. It has six trapezoid-shaped windows, four on the front side, and two on the back. Importantly, this allows you to see out at 360º. It also has two peak windows.
The windows are at two heights – the low-profile windows allow you to shoot game nearby or angled down a hill. Equally, these ports also enable you to shoot from a ground blind chair.
A less common trait for a ground blind is the 6’8″ height. It means you can stand tall with any weapon (even a recurve bow) and shoot from the higher trapezoid windows.
Anybody over 6 feet in height will know what a luxury this extra head space is.
When it comes to shooting, you can quickly and easily detach the window toggles to get a good shot. The zipperless velcro-free windows are amongst my favorite features; silence is vital at such a critical moment.
How well is it built? 7/10
As mentioned earlier, it has a strong build – its particular strength is the strong frame materials.
Although the skin could be more robust, the material’s general quality is high compared to other blinds in the same price range. It represents a significant step up in ‘resistance’ and durability than similar options.
The Big Cat 350 fabric is a more than reasonable 150D (deniers). To understand what this means, the higher the denier, the more durable the fabric.
If you pay more, you can find even stronger/more scratch-resistant fabrics. Look no further than Barronett’s Ox 5, for example, which has a double-layer 300D fabric. Of course, you’ll need to find the right balance between weight (it weighs a massive 33 lbs) and cost (the Ox 5 is around double the price).
I’ve also noticed that many of the Barronett blinds’ large footprint prevents the blind from remaining flush to the ground on uneven or sloped terrain. I don’t consider this a huge problem, and at any rate, you’ll get this with any larger ground blind.
What I think could be better are the stakes, mainly if you hunt in an area with strong winds. If you’re within the blind, it isn’t a problem. If you plan to leave it out for the season, go ahead and replace the packaged stakes immediately with industrial longer, stronger ones.
I’d also mention customer service as part of the build quality. If you have a problem, then you’d like Barronett to give a damn. The good thing is I’ve heard great stories about Barronett replacing faulty or customer-damaged parts for free.
Value for Money 9/10
To me, excellent value for money means, does the blind do its job? How long does it last? How much does it cost? And finally, when comparing these things to other blinds, is it better or worse?
The Big Cat 350 is our best ground blind pick for a reason. It is tremendous value for a well-built ground blind that lets a small group of hunters spend the day in comfort together. Depending on how you treat it, it’s not a one-or-two season blind. It could happily last you four, five, or more.
What they say
I’ve looked around the internet for other user feedback, which is generally extremely positive. Two examples that stand out are:
- Barronett Customer Service – Barronett replaced this guy’s two broken poles for free with free shipping
- This guy had two blinds – the Big Cat 350 lasted him four years compared to two years with the Rhino 150.
- The Big Cat 350 gets recommended over the Care Taker for superior space and noiseless window openings.
The Big Cat 350 isn’t for everyone. The ground blind you choose depends mostly on your hunting style, hunting terrain, and the functionality you need. I’ve added some alternatives for you to check out here:
The Care Taker – Portable, lightweight, two-person ground blind
Sharpshaft: Read our review of the Ameristep Care Taker.
The Care Taker is a fantastic ground blind, and if you’re looking for a smaller, more agile option, this is the right pick.
It’s a quick-setup, 13.5-pound super blind, often available for less than $100. It was a close runner-up for our choice of ‘best ground blind‘.
The Ox 5 – Spacious, heavy-duty, five-person ground blind
The Ox 5 is the very top end of the premium line for Barronett. Where the Big Cat 350 compromises on weight, portability, and cost, the Ox 5 does not. It’s big enough to hold the club barbecue inside, without realizing there’s a Cat 5 hurricane passing by!
The 6-Panel Runnerblind – A highly portable, run n’ gun solution
Sharpshaft: Read our review of the 6-Panel Runnerblind.
The 6-Panel Runnerblind weighs six pounds. Sling it over your shoulder and get on the move. It’s a 26-inch tall fold-up panel that you crouch and hide behind. The outside of the panel is an angled reflective plastic. It mirrors the surrounding environment back at animals, making you entirely invisible. It’s some intelligent engineering and works well. The big drawback is sitting on the ground and peeking at prey because it can get uncomfortable. Also, it’s not a ground blind for bowhunters.
The Big Cat 350 is an outstanding option for this. It’s transportable yet sturdy and has a tremendous amount of space for you and your gear. It’s one of the best blinds I’ve been in for shooting, as you’re completely unrestricted. If this sounds right for you, then go check it out.