The Best Products to Soundproof your Hunting Gear
Tests reveal the top products for silencing your hunting equipment
If ultra stealth in the whitetail woods is your thing (which it should be for every serious whitetail hunter), you’ve probably tried about everything to silence your gear. With all the metal and plastic equipment hunters have (treestands, climbing sticks, camera gear, tripods, releases, bow arms, hooks, buckles, …) there is an incredible chance to make noise at the worst possible time, hunt-ruining noise. For decades hunters have used moleskin-based products to help dampen sound. This fuzzy tape has been known to help (companies such as Stealth Strips, and Common Hunter currently sell this), but how well? Recently, my company Sound Barrier introduced Buck Bumper and Buck Bumper Thick to the market as an alternative to moleskin, which are foam-based products engineered for sound elimination. This begs the question, which is better? In fact, so many people have asked, we decided to stick our necks out there and actually see, scientifically, which does a better job soundproofing, silencing your gear, and making you a more stealthy hunter.
FULL TRANSPARENCY: I must state the obvious - this was an internal test of which we are publishing our results. It includes data and results from the samples tested only, and assumes comparable products are consistent with the results. Nevertheless, the scientific procedures were meticulous, unbiased, and conducted with a high degree of precision. This ensured accurate, and as you’ll see, statistically significant results. So for all the science nerds out there, let’s take a look!
PROCEDURES: the setup was simple - reproducing the common hunter noise of metal on metal contact. In this case an aluminum striker (similar to gear like treestands) and a stationary piece of tube steel (imitating treestands or climbing sticks) were used to make the hunter noise. The striker utilized gravity and a constant release point to apply a consistent, repeatable force every trial. The striker, as well as the tube steel, were clamped and stationary, so the only variable was the soundproofing product being tested. Trials of a control were run (metal striker on bare tube steel as a baseline) and the same was done for each product being tested. Sound intensity in decibels (dB) was recorded with a sensitive sound level meter each strike. Last, the distance these sounds would travel through the air (or through the woods on a calm day) were calculated.
(Above picture shows - left to right: Buck Bumper Thick at 1/8in thick, Buck Bumper at 1/16in, and Moleskin-based at 1/32 in thickness)
CALCULATIONS: Distance these noises would travel were calculated from the data of each product based on a common physics equation known as the inverse square law. It is known that noise decreases 6 dB every time the distance is doubled, and this equation allows for exact distances to be found (to .01 yards in our case, or precision of much less than 1 inch). A cut off of 20dB ambient background noise (a typical calm day in the woods) was used that would be the threshold for whitetail hearing. Basically, anything less than this, deer would not hear, and this distance would be recorded as how far the sound “traveled.” These distances were then averaged to eliminate small sources of error. Last, the data was statistically analyzed to determine if any differences from product to product were statistically significant (meaning, were they actually different at all?) to a 95% confidence level (this is standard in statistics and means a very high confidence level).
RESULTS: The results, are seen in the 2 graphs and table below.
(Graph 1 above shows reduction in the distance noise traveled by product. LONGER BAR = MORE EFFECTIVE noise reduction)
(Graph 2 above shows the opposite of the first: distance noises traveled with each product. In this graph SHORTER BAR = MORE EFFECTIVE noise reduction.)
(Low Variance shows products that are more consistent in noise reduction - seen in blue)
CONCLUSIONS: The data and graphs speak volumes. Here are the some key takeaways and details from the test data.
1. THE RESULTS ARE STATISTICALLY SIGNIFICANT. This means each product’s effectiveness at reducing hunting gear noise is indeed very different (i.e. statistically significant). The Z-score of -2.225 for Buck Bumper shows its average noise reducing capabilities over 2 standard deviations from the moleskin sample average. Translated, Buck Bumper and the moleskin-based product tested do not do the same job of noise reduction.
2. BUCK BUMPER IS MOST EFFECTIVE. When it comes to reducing the distance equipment noise travels, Buck Bumper and Buck Bumper Thick were significantly more effective than moleskin-based products. Products like those made by Stealth Strips, Common Hunter, and others do decrease noise travel distance, but were not best for decreasing hunting equipment noise based on testing.
Distance: Buck Bumper beat moleskin-based by an average of 10 yds reduction in noise travel distance, and Buck Bumper Thick beat moleskin-based by an average of 28 yds noise travel distance.
Statistically: There would be a 98.7% chance Buck Bumper would work more effectively than moleskin-based products, and the probability is 5000 to 1 Buck Bumper Thick would be more effective at reducing noise. (The flipside of that: there would only be a 1.29% chance of the moleskin-based working better than the average performance of Buck Bumper (with 95% confidence), and there would only be a 1 in 5000 chance (.02%) moleskin-based products would work more effectively than Buck Bumper Thick.)
Variability: Table 1 shows Buck Bumper and Buck Bumper Thick are more consistent at noise reduction (variance of 0.6010 and 0.4488) probably due to the durable and elastic properties of the material. Moleskin-based products are less consistent at noise reduction (.7912 variance), probably due to the less durable nature of their fuzzy surface.
As a hunters, we put a lot of effort, time, and energy into pursuing whitetail. We take every advantage possible, knowing that sound science and quality products are often times the little things that make the big difference. When whitetail hunting is a game of inches, yards really matter!