Best New Gear of 2021.
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Once a year Athlon’s writers are invited to meet some of the industry’s top manufacturers. While there we get hands-on time with the latest, greatest, and upcoming products. Athlon Outdoors Rendezvous is a three-day range event highlighting everything shooting-related. From thermals to sub-compact pistols, hunting shotguns to long-range precision rifles, and ammo, that makes it all fun. Obviously, this experience requires some gear. Fortunately, there were manufacturers on hand with the best new gear at the recent Rendezvous.

Best New Gear From Rendezvous

5.11 Tactical

Upon arrival, everyone received a 5.11 Tactical Fast-Tac 12 Backpack. The pack featured a laser-cut MOLLE front panel, WEB side platforms, an admin panel, and an internal laptop compartment. It additionally contained a rear hydration compartment with 24-liter capacity. Within the backpack were the rest of our essentials and some great extras.

5.11 Fast-Tac 12 Backpack.

5.11 also provided the outerwear. Men wore the Tac Dry Rain Shell, a lightweight, seam-sealed, waterproof, breathable jacket. It features a removable hood, adjustable cuffs, and hem as well as the RAPIDraw side access and hidden ID panels. 

For women, something a little warmer and quite stylish. The Peninsula Insulator Jacket packs into its own removable stuff sack. It also features a full-zip front with zippered hand pockets with internal pass-through. Likewise, it includes an external chest pocket and shock cord hem adjustment.

Best New Gear 2021 – 5.11 Outerwear.

5.11 shirts made getting ready for the day easy and uniform. Men donned the Legend Long Sleeve shirt. It features soft, enzyme-washed cotton with a touch of elastane, providing stretch for all-day comfort and performance.

The women wore the Liberty Flex Long-Sleeve Shirt. A lightweight, snag-resistant, breathable, moisture-wicking shirt that features the RAPIDraw snap placket. It is also darted to provide a feminine silhouette. This shirt could easily become one of my favorites, as it also appears to be wrinkle-resistant—perfect for traveling.

5.11 Long Sleeves.

For more information, please visit 511Tactical.com.

Hearing Protection

Best New Gear 2021 – Hearing protection.

Howard Leight provided hearing protection to ensure at the end of the three days we can still hear the sweet sounds of life. There were several options available.

I chose the Impact Sport Electronic Earmuff. It offers approximately 350 hours of battery life and a noise reduction rating of 22dB. Meanwhile, others opted for the Impact Sport In-Ear Bluetooth Earbuds with Hear Through Protection. It boasts a 10-hour run time and noise reduction rating of 29dB, with the added features that blue tooth offers.

I took the opportunity to try them both and find each to be superb in quality, noise reduction, and comfort.

For more information, please visit HowardLeightShootingSports.com.

Eye Protection

Eye protection.

There is a rule in medical triage that life, limb, or eyesight is an emergent situation. So, eye protection was provided by Howard Leight, MagPul, and Leupold.

The Howard Leight UVEX Genesis Sharp-Shooter were ideal coupled with the Impact Sport Earmuffs. The thin, adjustable ratcheting frame lent to ultimate comfort.

Leupold provided four different polarized-style options for each writer to choose from. My choice was the Packout Matte Tortoise with Bronze Mirror lenses. The clarity these lenses provide made the scenic fall landscape even more enjoyable to view and the distant targets easier to acquire.

For more information, please visit HowardLeightShootingSports.com, Magpul.com, and Leupold.com.

Firearm Accessories

Best New Gear 2021 – Firearm accessories.

Also included in our backpacks was a US Palm 30-round AK-47 polymer magazine. It features a low-friction, self-cleaning polymer follower and proprietary polymer body and end cap.

Primary Weapons Systems included an Enhanced Buffer Tube with ratcheting castle nut and QD swivel attachment for ambidextrous sling use. It also features enlarged drain holes, external flute, and an extended lip preventing carrier tilt by supporting the carrier while in battery.

For more information, please visit USPalm.com and PrimaryWeapons.com.

Wrapping it Up with Swag

Magpul also provided some essentials. Mornings were cold on the range and the Magpul beanie made embracing the outdoors more comfortable when the temperature dipped. An assortment of T-Shirts provided welcomed comfort at the end of long days, and the stickers a whimsical bonus.

As many headed to the airport and re-entry into day-to-day life, they were assuredly met with the need to wear a protective face mask. The 5.11 Comfort Mask (2 pack) was there to meet their needs. With three-layered construction, comfortable ear loops, adjustable nose clip, moisture-wicking, and soft lining, there is no question that those who wore them flew in comfort.

Best New Gear 2021 – 5.11 Facemasks.

Although this gear was provided with range days in mind, the stylish design and comfort will allow for use in daily life with ease and discretion. In total, the loadout made for a comfortable and safe Athlon Outdoors Rendezvous experience.

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