magellan outdoors review
(Photo/Josh Garza for Academy)

Hunt/Fish Gear for Less: Academy Sports Sets Sights on Technical, Affordable Sweet Spot

With extensive hunting and fishing lines, Academy Sport + Outdoors’ private labels bring high-tech outdoor gear to the masses.

Do not pass up Academy Sports + Outdoors gear if you’re shopping in the hunt/fish space; it really delivers. I spent 2 days hunting doves and fishing the salt marshes of Rockport, Texas, testing it from head to toe.

As the Hunt/Fish Editor here at GearJunkie, I’m intimately familiar with a lot of gear. And I’ll be honest: I wouldn’t be able to afford a lot of it personally. I certainly wouldn’t have been able to purchase it, say, as a kid interested in fishing, or as a college student living off ramen.

So, when offered the opportunity to test gear that is wildly — and I mean wildly — affordable, I jumped at the chance.

I’m going to break down the basics of the brand, both the hunting and fishing kits that I used, and why I think this is some of the most unique gear of the moment.

Who Is Academy Sports + Outdoors?

If you’re unfamiliar with Academy Sports + Outdoors, Magellan’s parent company, you likely don’t live in the southeastern part of the country.

Academy Sports + Outdoors is a chain of huge sporting goods stores that span from Texas to the Southeast coast, and up through Kansas.

The brand boasts multiple private labels, and each strives to put the best gear into the hands of everyone, with affordability top of mind. Magellan Outdoors is its clothing line. Other private labels include Yildiz shotguns, H20 Express fishing, Marine Raider and, most recently, the acquisition of Redfield Optics.

In Texas, I was able to test more than Magellan. We shot Yildiz shotguns and cast H20 Express rods and reels. Everything performed to a point where I’d have expected it would cost a fortune.

But it doesn’t. I want to highlight the top items from the brand that I tested on the trip, which proved to be the ultimate testing grounds for such things.

5 Pieces From Academy’s Private Labels Worth Your Hard-Earned Cash

Yildiz Legacy HP 20GA/28″ O/U Shotgun

yildiz legacy shotgun

OK, I’m starting with something that is not technically the Magellan brand, but it is an exclusive shotgun brand label within the Academy private label family.

I shot a bunch of the Yildiz guns, and the 20-gauge HP Legacy ($480) proved to be my favorite. The aluminum alloy receiver drops weight from the gun, and recoil is less than expected with such a light gun. The quail laser-etched into the gun upgrades the look of this extremely affordable shotgun.

If you prefer a steel receiver, you can jump up to the HPS series for another $70. The HPS series is available in 12-, 20-, and 28-gauge options, whereas the HPS is available in 12- and 20-gauge.

For anyone who’d like to add an over/under to their hunting game but might not have the money to go big, you get performance and style for under $500. What’s better than that?

Check Price at Academy

Magellan’s Lightweight Eagle Pass Hunting Line in Veil Flagship Camo

magellan outdoors review
The author wears Academy’s Eagle Pass line in Veil Flagship camo; (photo/Josh Garza for Academy)

You might be familiar with Veil camouflage without even knowing it. Well-known brands like First Lite, Prois, Simms, and Kryptek use the company’s high-tech camouflage technology in their garments.

Magellan’s Flagship Veil camo is designed to fit into the landscapes of the Southeast, but I’d venture to say that it would fit in out West as well. And their lightweight hunting tanks, shirts, and pants look every part of their much more expensive brethren from other brands.

I’d been archery hunting elk in 90-degree Montana heat and after trying Magellan’s line, I’d wished I’d had it the week prior.

Each piece is light as a feather while maintaining a durable feel. Thoughtful details like roll-up pants, extra pockets, and airy backs and sides go into each garment. Though it’s offered in multiple camos, I love the high-dollar look of the flagship Veil.

It would take a real camo nerd to distinguish the fact that you paid $15 for a long-sleeved crew rather than $90. And then you’d have bragging rights anyway.

Here’s what I wore throughout the trip:

Check Men’s & Women’s Eagle Pass Hunting Lines at Academy

Magellan Outdoors Pro Gaiter Hoodie

magellan outdoors pro gaiter hoody

Younger me might have scoffed at sun shirts, but these days I can’t get enough of them. And the extremely soft and comfortable Magellan Outdoors Pro Gaiter Hoodie ($35) is up there with the best of them.

With a built-in gaiter, a zippered pocket, and a sun hood, it’s about as techy as you need it to be. Mesh panels and a polyester/elastane blend keep you cool and comfortable.

And for $35, you’ll be protected from the sun’s rays, extreme heat, and bank account anxiety.

Check Women’s Pricing Check Men’s Pricing

Magellan Pro Waders

magellan outdoors review
The author with her redfish.

My favorite piece of fishing gear on the trip was the well-thought-out and comfortable Magellan Pro Waders ($150). Yeah, they’re designed for men, but waders can certainly be unisex.

The highlight of these waders for me is that an internal waistbelt system helps with fit and comfort, and fleeced handwarmer pockets are a dang nice touch. Expandable side gussets allow for a bit of extra room or air, and the woven polyester didn’t make me feel like I was in a rubber suit.

For $150, these might be the nicest budget waders I’ve worn. And tbh, they’re up there with the expensive ones.

Check Price at Academy

Magellan Outdoors Pro Angler Fishing Shoes

magellan fishing shoes

Fishing shoes were never much of a thought to me. But I loved wearing these and found myself reaching for the Pro Angler Fishing Shoes ($50) even in casual moments on the trip.

I had zero issues with rubs, the self-draining design worked wonders in rain and ocean, and I didn’t slip around the deck of the boat on day two.

Plus, they’re cute. And you can expect more colors and options in 2022 from this awesome line of fishing shoes for both men and women.

Check Women’s Shoes Pricing Check Men’s Shoes Pricing

Final Thoughts: More to Come From Academy’s Private Labels

magellan outdoors review
(Photo/Nicole Qualtieri)

I had the opportunity to sit with Academy’s private label product team and see (and test) some of their upcoming gear for 2022 and as far out as 2023.

It’s good stuff. It can be hard as a gear editor to consistently try out high-dollar gear that I know that I personally wouldn’t be able to afford or justify financially; I can’t imagine dropping $800 on a pair of waders.

But, I never felt like I wasn’t prepared. And we were run through the gamut. Huge storms, big rains, and big wind seemed to find us in every corner of Texas. And time in, time out, I felt prepared, comfortable, and ready for whatever was next.

Academy’s private labels might not be for every pursuit just yet. You probably won’t hunt bighorn sheep in their gear like you would in some of the high-dollar stuff.

But Academy is a great place to start for folks who hunt and fish recreationally or are looking for an entry-level point to get into the sporting world.

Nicole Qualtieri

Based in Montana, Nicole Qualtieri is GearJunkie's Hunt + Fish Editor. She also serves as a Board Director for Orion the Hunters Insititute, a non-profit promoting fair chase and hunting ethics nationwide. A DIY hunter, she comes from a non-traditional hunting background and began hunting and fishing in her 30s. She's been a voice for hunting, fishing, and conservation since 2014, when she got started working on the television show MeatEater. She's an avid horsewoman, bird dog aficionado, snowboarder, hiker/backpacker, food nerd, and all-around outdoorswoman. Find her online at @nkqualtieri.