Who doesn’t love new gear? Any chance I get, if it makes sense (and even sometimes if it doesn’t!), I love to make sure I’m loaded with improved gear just to give me that little edge or a bit more confidence while in the field. This year over the course of the last couple months I’ve had the chance to trial a few items that I’ve never carried in the to field before. So far they haven’t disappointed.
Cutting tools, especially a hatchet or axe have been around forever. For good reason too. They can help provide shelter, heat, breakdown game, or even defend yourself from any rogue wildlife you may come across. This year Gerber upped their game of field utensils and came out with the Bushcraft Hatchet. This hatchet offers quite a few features that I consider upgrades from my previous go too. First, it comes with a rubberized grip to keep it securely in your hands in all types of conditions. Second, most of 2.4lb total weight feels to be in the cutting end due to a light weight synthetic handle and forged single piece head, including a hammerhead. I bring this up because when using the hatchet to split campfire wood this head heavy design felt like it assisted with the splitting duties. Likewise, the head is a very robust design that can take on some of the heavy chores associated with laying out a good hunting camp.
The last thing I’ll mentioned is the handy waterproof storage Gerber hid in the handle. The Bushcraft comes with 5′ of parachord and a space to keep some matches (or a small lighter) and tinder for any unexpected situations that may arise. The only comment I’ll make is that I did take a file and stone to the blade to sharpen it up a bit. It was fully capable out of the box but I like to have a bit more of an edge for clearing smaller brush around stands and shooting lanes. At the end of the day it’s been a great tool prepping for deer season and will certainly be in my truck or pack when it comes time to hit the woods this Fall.
Sawyer is definitely a new name that will be joining me this hunting season. While they have been around since ’84 I have to admit I’ve not used their products until this summer. I kinda feel like I’ve missed out over the years by waiting this long. Their bread and butter products are bug repellants and water filtration devices which clearly go hand in hand with hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities. Sawyer is unique in regards to their bug defenses by using two key ingredients that help them stand out when compared to familiar bug repellants, Picaridin and Permethrin. Also, not only does Sawyer offer skin repellant but a formula to put on fabric to keep the bugs off in the first place.
I grew up with products containing deet so at first I thought Picaridin and Permethrin were some organic mixes that really didn’t do much of anything to actually repel bugs. However, after an exhaustive search on the two ingredients, all reports I read said they were just as effective as deet. In some cases they were claimed to be more effective than deet. With that knowledge I decided to give some of their products a shot this summer while prepping for deer season. In short, I wasn’t disappointed. Sawyer will be my new go to for insect repellant.
I used a combination of fabric treatment and a super convenient lotion. I sprayed the Permethrin fabric treatment on the legs of my pants and around my midsection as I would be working in tall grass with hopes to keep the bugs away in the first place. I followed that up by rubbing the lotion on my legs just above my socks. (Note: the fabric spray is also meant for use on tents, sleeping bags, etc. I reached out to the team at Sawyer concerned it may impact the waterproofness of my tent. They assured me it would not have any negative effect on waterproofing or tent fabric.) Next I applied the Picaridin lotion to my arms, neck, face, etc. I am now a huge fan of the lotion because it is not the least bit greasy and I don’t get a mouthful of spray when covering my head neck area. This combination kept me tick and mosquito free over the course of several trips to the bug infested summer woods. I wish I would have had these Sawyer products during turkey season as I spent a fair amount of time pulling ticks off of myself and son along with swatting my fair share of mosquitos.
The other product I tested from Sawyer was their S1 Select Water Filter. I need not go into the details of importance of water on a hunting trip, short or long. It is however important that the water be filtered and safe to drink or else your trip could get ugly, quick. I’ve used filters that you pump and those that are gravity fed. Both are effective, with the gravity feed models being much more convenient for a multiple person, back country camp. This time I wanted something a little simpler that would easily store in a day pack or glove box. The Select Water Filter with Foam Filled Bottle is about as easy as it gets. Fill bottle with water, screw on filter lid, drink. One detail I would like to comment on is the foam filter inside the bottle. While the micro squeeze filter on the lid eliminates the protozoa and bacteria that would otherwise make you sick, the foam filter in the bottle removes various chemicals and pesticides that may be found in your back country water sources. This is especially welcome for me here in the MidWest where we’re surrounded by agriculture fields which depend heavily on the use of chemicals to maximize yields.
Full disclaimer, I’m a fan of Sitka Gear. There is good reason though, they keep putting great clothing on the market. However, if it doesn’t improve my situation, I have no interest in fussing with something just because it’s shiny. I must admit in this situation, adaptive insulation had my attention as something that would be extremely useful during the course of a hunting season. In the case of the Ambient Collection, with PremaLoft Evolve insulation, I was flabbergasted out of the box. When I opened the packaging, immediately I noted the Ambient Jacket was feather light. Next, it was completely silent while articulating my arms and torso. Lastly, it fit well and is meant to be a versatile piece. Versatile in that it can be your outer layer but also perform just as well as an insulating layer.
The whole premise behind the PremaLoft Evolve insulation is that it provides excellent insulation when stationary but breathes and expels heat when active. This breathing also allows for moisture to be removed from around your body to keep you dry and comfortable when you start to cool back down. I won’t pretend to explain the science, but from the Sitka press release it’s described as follows:
The PrimaLoft® Evolve insulation mimics properties found in animal fur with fibers of differing lengths and deniers to create natural highs and lows in the material. This produces highly open structures that maximize airflow when on the move, and air entrapment when at rest, for optimal thermal performance with low bulk.
Being it is still in the 80’s/90’s here I haven’t put the this garment to a field test. Based on my initial review, previous Sitka performance, the fit, and the feel of the Ambient Jacket, it will be joining me this Fall in the deer woods and beyond.
I’d been out of the game camera business for the last 7 years or so. I got tired of going out and setting them and going back a month later to find that 1/3 of the time it wasn’t working properly or another 1/3 of the time I got 1,000 pictures of the same blade of grass swaying in the wind. I did however enjoy the 1/3 of the time that I did get pictures of bucks and was able to best pattern when deer were in the neighborhood. With the advent of cellular cameras I figured it was time for me to get back in the game. I’ve owned Moultrie cameras in the past and they worked mostly as expected. However, with all the improvements over the last several years and the release of the Moultrie Mobile and the Edge camera, I felt the time was right for me to get back in the game.
If you’re intimidated by the thought of technology, cellular phones, and camera settings, you no longer have anything to worry about. The Edge is simply turn it on and go. One of the easiest things I’ve done so far this year in preparation for deer season was getting my Edge sending me pictures. The directions are easy to follow and believe it or not they actually have a real customer service department that speaks better English than me (and on a Saturday when you need them). I mention the customer service aspect because while setting the camera up I ran in to an issue with the app not saving my credit card info therefore not allowing me to complete the set up. One quick chat session and a follow up phone call a short time later and I was rolling. Completely pain free. As for performance of the camera, so far I’m impressed. I’m attaching photos that my camera took and the trigger speed seems to be catching deer just where I want them, in front of the camera. The most impressive thing to me about the Edge is it’s price. I’d been shopping for cameras and actually bought a different brand several months ago. I paid way more for those cameras and am getting just as good of performance from my Edge. At a price around $99 I can buy 2 or 3 for what some of the others are running. Moultrie nailed it on this one, performance and price. What else could you want?
Whether you are just getting the family outdoors, a backcountry camper, hardcore hunter, or like to be prepared for all types of weather there is something on this list for you. I’ve already put many of the items to use and look forward to their continued performance for this season any many more to come.
Note: I received the aforementioned products at no charge in return for a fair and honest review. As you’ve just read, I feel I have upheld my end of the bargain. I receive no additional compensation whether you chose to purchase any of the items above. However, I don’t know why you wouldn’t need at least one or two of them in your pack this Fall!