Review – ThermaCell Mosquito Repelling Lantern
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I’d like to thank Nick Brosnan at Backbone Media for sending me the mosquito repelling Scout Camp Lantern to do a review on.

From the Thermacell Website :

New for 2016, the Thermacell Mosquito Repeller Scout Camp Lantern effectively repels mosquitoes, black flies, and other biting insects by creating a 15 x 15-foot zone of protection for bug-free comfort. Its bright 220-lumen light runs for 10 hours on its highest setting and makes it a great addition to the serious camper’s gear. Ideal for use while you are camping, hunting, and fishing, the Thermacell Scout Camp Lantern has been evaluated by the EPA for safety and effectiveness.

4 light settings and up to 10 hours of run time on High setting

Includes: Thermacell Trailblazer Camp Lantern, 1 Max Life repeller mat, 1 butane cartridge

Requires 4 AA-batteries (not included)

The folks at Thermacell were also kind enough to send me an extra 4-pack of butane cartridges and repellent strips.

Now some of you may be wondering about mosquitoes in Arizona. trust me, we have them – especially in our summer monsoon season. Summer thunderstorms mean standing water and standing water means mosquitoes. I had the perfect test site – my house. You see, our back door is open a lot, due to the fact that we have 4 dogs who want o be out when they are in, and in when they are out. During the rains, our house is frequently full of mosquitoes. We’re a computer family, and often – we are all relegated to our usual spaces, pecking away at our own computers. While we are writing articles, playing video games and perusing social media – we are getting bitten – a lot. Wrists and ankles, especially. The Thermacell was a welcome Product Review!

Every member of the family tried it – my daughter in her bedroom, my wife in her home office, and me at my workspace in our living room. This thing works as advertised. When it was operating, we weren’t getting bit. At all. I have no reason to believe it would be any different in the outdoors. My wife and daughter are skeptics, and they were impressed.

The lantern portion works well too, with different settings available. The butane cartridge and repellent strip are easy to change and they last around 12 hours as advertised.There is a slight odor emitted but is barely noticeable. Lighting the device is easy nice you get the hang of it. The lanterns sells for about 40 bucks which I think is worth it, all things considered. I’d absolutely recommend this for a cottage, tent or camp table, where mosquitoes are a problem. The base is made so it can stand freely on a flat surface, or it is also equipped with a handle so you can hang it.

You can watch the video here:

This definitely gets the Desert Rat “Thumbs Up”! Especially this year, when we are much more concerned about the risk of mosquito-borne illnesses, such as Zika and Dengue, given the increased presence of mosquitos carrying these viruses in the United States. Thermacell wanted to let my audience know about Thermacell non-topical mosquito repellents, which are an effective and safe way to protect from biting pests.

Thermacell lanterns, torches and repellers use butane to heat a repellent pad to evenly and effectively disseminate a repellent for up to 12 hours. These products are EPA approved and have been tested by the U.S. Army for effectiveness against mosquitoes.

All products are proven to be up to 96% effective against mosquitoes and create a 15 x 15 foot zone of protection in just minutes.

Learning More About Badlands’ Clothing Technology
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Hopefully you read the Press Release about Badlands’ New Apparel. I was intrigued by the technological advances in this line and asked Badlands if they’d be willing to do an interview so my readers could learn more.

A huge “Thank You” to Blake Van Tussenbrook for taking the time out to answer some questions about their great new line of hunting clothing.

1. That’s a whole bunch of technology-based features! How important is it to integrate technology with clothing?

In our many years of doing research about different technologies when it comes to building packs and designing clothing we’ve found that we simply can’t ignore that there are some really amazing technological advances in the world. From innovative fabrics that breathe and resist moisture to linings that reflect heat and use perspiration to your advantage – we simply look for the most functional tech out there and put it to work for hunters everywhere. We feel that if we aren’t bringing technology to our clothing line then there’s really no reason for anyone to look at our product over another.

2. When designing clothing, do you seek the technology you desire, and then try to integrate it, or do you just take what’s known and available and utilize it?

When designing clothing we first think about what we want each particular piece to do. Are we designing a hot weather shirt? Are we designing a 3-layer waterproof piece? Are we making a new bib for tree stand hunters that absolutely has to be warm? After we know what we want, we search for the best technology available. What sets Badlands apart is we often look to other industries and think outside the box for our tech. For example, the black Hypalon material we use at all stress points on our backpacks originally came from industrial gaskets. We knew it was an extremely strong material so we used it in packs. It’s the same with our apparel. The best technology we could find for cooling the body came from something NASA developed for cooling space suits under extreme heat. We’ve built that CoolTouch tech into our Algus Series of clothing for hot weather. There are a lot of really great companies outside of the hunting world pushing the limits when it comes to technology and we often bring a lot of those things to hunters for the first time. It’s all about thinking outside of the box for us.

3. Technology shifts the price-point; can you have too much technology?

There is definitely such a thing as over-engineering a piece of clothing or equipment. Nobody needs the “Badlands Commuter Pack – featuring built-in coffee maker and Wi-Fi signal.” One of our main focuses is providing the technology needed to have a functional and long-lasting piece of equipment while still keeping the piece affordable for the average person. When it comes to price-point we also offer the most iron-clad unconditional lifetime warranty in the industry so we feel consumers are getting a lot of bang for their buck. Yes, you might be making a sizable investment initially but keep in mind it will be the last gear you really ever have to buy.

4. How has the new pattern been received?

Badlands Approach camo is off to a blazing start. Everywhere we’ve taken the pattern from tradeshows to hunt camps to now having it available online, the response is always the same, “wow, that really works!” When people are able to see firsthand how Approach breaks up the human form and how the neutral color palette blends extremely well in many different types of terrain it really blows them away. Our main goal in designing Approach from the ground up was coming up with the most versatile pattern available and so far that’s been exactly the feedback we are getting. We just can’t wait to get more of it out into the hills, mountains, trees and woods.

5. What has been the biggest challenge in designing this line?

The biggest challenge has been the wait. This pattern has been 5 years in the making and has changed forms so many times that it’s truly been a labor of love. Everyone at Badlands has had a hand in developing this pattern and it feels like our baby in a way. We knew we had to not only design a pattern but design a whole bunch of groundbreaking new products to go along with it so that definitely took time, patience and a lot of man hours to accomplish. Now that the wait is over and Approach is here the work is only increasing to fill the demand for the new line. It’s a great feeling to get the pattern out into the world but we’re already thinking ahead to the next big thing!

6. How do you balance utilization of new, cutting edge technology with making sure the technology is proven and reliable?

It all comes down to design, test, repeat. That is our mantra around here. The design team knocks something out that is awesome – we get a sample made by our talented staff – then it becomes all about the field test. We’re lucky to be about 10 minutes from the mountains here at Badlands headquarters. We can literally have gear up on the mountain and being put through the ringer within minutes. You can read about technology all you want but until you really try it out for yourself you won’t know if it’s legit or just sales fodder. Luckily for the Badlands faithful we test everything extensively before it ever gets released. The only way to test our new CoolTouch line of apparel was to go out and sweat in the hot hot heat. The only way to test our Heatwave technology was to wait for the cold and get out there. Once we know for certain that a piece of technology will do what it says it will do, then we begin working it into a Badlands product.

7. With this new line, what are you most proud of?

We’re extremely proud to put our name and logo on what we know is the best apparel we’ve ever released. Like anything else in life, we’ve learned from past mistakes and for us it’s all about improvement. To see a project that has been over 5 years in the making come to fruition in the form of nearly 30 new products is a proud moment for us. The sweetest and most rewarding moments however will come when we start seeing photos and video of the gear being put to the ultimate test. It feels good to have absolute confidence that the gear we’ve made will indeed exceed expectations and keep hunters going in the field.

Thanks again to Blake and the good folks at Badlands!

Avex Thermal Bottle – for Hot and Cold Liquids
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First off, I need to thank Maggie Edmunds from Backbone Media for sending me the Avex 3Sixty Pour Thermal Bottle to test out.

When I received the product, I was excited to try it. The bottle looked great, and came with a bunch of great features!

Features include:
*Vacuum-insulation keeps beverages hot for up to 16 hours or cold for up to 30 hours
*360 degree pour spout interface allows for a smooth pour at every angle
*Leak and spill proof lid with a half-turn valve for easy opening
*Double wall cup to keep beverages at the perfect temperature while on the go
*Exclusive, patent-pending, base design grips table tops and reduces clanking
*Interchangeable components
*100% BPA-free

Looking the product over, it was well-designed and looked to be of quality manufacture. It is rugged and I’m confident it would stand up to regular outdoor use, and maybe even more than that…

So the first night I tested my thermos I had made a pot of black coffee, drank my fill and then poured the rest in the vacuum bottle. I sealed it up and in the morning – it was tepid. Hmmm. Then I tried filling it with cold water. Ugh – a few hours later the water was barely cooler than room temperature. For the first time ever, I was afraid I was going to have to contact the manufacturer and warn them of a bad review – this bottle simply wouldn’t perform as advertised. I stewed on it a couple of days and tried it again, being a bit more methodical. So, I got out my handy-dandy InfraRed Temperature device and decided to keep track and take better notes. Other than that, I only changed one thing. This time, I poured hot water in the bottle prior to adding coffee – letting it “preheat” for about 20 minutes. I dumped the hot water and filled up the bottle. I check the temp and it was 180 degrees. I sealed it up tight and set it on the counter. The next morning (about 7 hours later) I opened it up and poured a cup of of coffee. The coffee checked out at 158 degrees. Not piping hot, but hot. I called that a success.

Then I checked the “cold performance”. I filled the bottle with ice and added water until it was full. For comparison purposes, I sat a plastic cup next to the 3Sixty Pour and filled it with ice and water. At 8 AM the water in the thermos was checked at 40 degrees and the water in the cup was checked at 40 degrees. I rechecked the water at 7 PM that night – 11 hours later. The water in the thermos had actually gone down! It checked at 36 degrees; as expected the cup of water on the counter was now 79 degrees. Success again!

As a further testament, I was on a course later that week and was doing protein shakes for lunch. I filled the vessel with ice water, thinking if I left it in my car until noon, it would still be cool enough at lunch time to make my shake. That day it reached 115 degrees here in Phoenix. I bet it was 180 or 190 degrees inside the car. Four hours later I went out to grab the container of water – still ice! Dang…

I’m not sure what I was doing wrong at first, but I can now confidently vouch for this product. I would recommend preheating the container with hot water prior to adding your hot beverage – it just seems to perform better.

From the website:

With the 3Sixty Pour performing up to 16 hours hot or 30 hours cold, you have no excuse but to keep the adventure rolling. We’ve not only mastered the temperature retention but we also bring you a 360 degree pour spout interface that provides a smooth stream of liquids from any side. For on-the-go convenience, the easy, half-turn knob allows for easy pouring from any angle. When securely closed, enjoy the peace of mind of a leak proof bottle so you can savor every last drop. The insulated lid also duos as cup and the double wall vacuum insulated 18/8 stainless steel body keeps cool to the touch with hot, and is sweat-proof with cold liquids

The design of this product is really well thought-out. I do enjoy the fact that you can pour from any direction, without taking the stopper all of the way out. Especially with ice water, it also doubles as a nice strainer. Even better, the whole stopper assembly is easily removed for cleaning. I will definitely be taking this with me, this fall. The unit sells for $29.99 which is well in alignment with similar products from competitors, even a little less than some of them.

Again, you can check it out here: 3Sixty Pour Thermal Bottle. The site is thorough and well laid-out. You can find specs on the bottle, cleaning instructions and more. Well done!

Xpedition Archery – Remember The Name
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I had a great time visiting with the folks from Xpedition Archery the other day, along with Kenny Cuchiara, owner of Arizona Archery Club. Az Archery Club has an amazing facility and if you haven’t been there, I’d highly recommend it. They represent lots of brands, have a well-stocked store front and a climate-controlled, indoor range. Their staff is knowledgeable and friendly.

The folks at Xpedition didn’t get it into their head they wanted to make bows, and then decide to learn about machining. Instead, they were born of a precision aerospace manufacturing plant. Combine that with people who know bows, and the result is a line of products that are precisely built to the highest quality standards, as efficiently (cost-effective) as possible, with the latest in applied technology. What does that mean to you the bowhunter or target shooter? An outstanding bow built to exacting standards, with fit and finish that are likely unequaled, along with features that are well-designed.

I’m an archery novice. I’m not a bow fanatic. I’m not skilled at tinkering, tuning or adjusting bows. I hunt javelina and desert mulies (and maybe elk, someday) with bows. I shoot enough to stay proficient. All that to say “Yeah, I can recognize something is well-built, but when it comes to the nuances I’m lost.” That’s why when an owner of an archery shop raves about a product like Kenny does, I’m convinced. He realllly likes these bows and isn’t shy about it.

You can learn more about Xpedition here: About Xpedition

You can see their line of bows here: 2016 Bows

In this highly competitive business, there is a quiet buzz about Xpedition. They are building their brand smart. They are promoting their brand smart. They are building bows like they build aerospace parts. I think you will be hearing about them more and more…

Oh – and if you’re in central Arizona (or just visiting!) – don’t forget to stop into Arizona Archery Club – you won’t regret it

Rapala Classic Birch Knives – An Interview With Rapala
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Recently I was contacted by Bob Ringer of Spong PR regarding Rapala Classic Birch Knives.

Last year, Rapala, the most trusted name in fishing since 1936, brought its legendary blades from the fish camp to the field with the introduction of the new Classic Birch Collection Hunting Knives. Now, the knives are making their way to sporting goods retailers nationwide.

Made by Marttinni, the legendary Finnish blade manufacturers responsible for Rapala’s iconic Fish ‘n Fillet knife, the Classic Birch Collection offers six razor-sharp, durable knives for any hunter’s needs, including the following models:

- Drop Point Knife (3.75” blade)
- Clip Point Knife (4.5” blade)
- Bird Knife (3.75” blade)
- Gut Hook Knife (4.5” blade)
- Skinner Knife (4.5” blade)
- Caping Knife (3.5” blade)

Marttiini, the same company that makes the renowned Rapala® Birch Handle Fish ’n Fillet® has taken their 88 years of knife making craftsmanship and developed a line of knives that brings their passion and uncompromising standards to the hunting category. Using today’s modern technologies with carefully chosen materials they have created knives that exceed their own exacting standards. Known for their precision blades, every Marttiini knife is manually finished by the hands of skilled artisans to their legendary razor sharp edge.

These knives looked like a great addition to the Rapala line so I asked Bob if the folks at Rapala would be up for an interview. I am grateful that they agreed!

1. Rapala has been making quality filet knives forever. What have been some of the keys to your longevity?

The Rapala Fish ‘n Fillet Knife is made by the artisans at Marttiini. They are still manufactured at the Arctic Circle. Today they are a combination of generations of craftsmanship and modern technology that create knives that are not only sharp, but also perfectly represent the beauty and toughness of the North.

2. What prompted Rapala to diversify their line of knives?

Marttiini has always made and offered both Fishing and Hunting knives in Finland. With the success of over 50 million Fish ‘n Fillet Knives sold, it was time to bring the artful craftsmanship and razor sharp edge to the hunting world as well.

3. I love the birch handles. In today’s day and age of synthetic materials, why stick with wood?

The Birch Handles of the Fish ‘n Fillet Knives are what make the Rapala Fillet knives distinct. A lot of anglers/hunters already use the Fish ‘n Fillet knife when dressing game, it seemed like a natural progression of the knives.

4. What’s the biggest challenging in manufacturing (and bringing to market) quality knives?

With the capabilities of manufacturing knives in China and other places, it allows many players to get into the knife game.

5. If my readers aren’t familiar with the Rapala brand, what do you want them to know about the company?

Rapala was unofficially founded in 1936 when Lauri Rapala invented the Rapala fishing lure. Rapala has grown from humble beginnings to become a market leader in the fishing tackle industry. The brand’s functionality and high quality are known by fishermen worldwide. Rapala maintains its strict standards of craftsmanship while delivering its fishing products to anglers in more than 130 countries.

Thanks again for Bob at Spong PR and the good folks at Rapala for taking some time out to talk about their new line of hunting knives!

Look for a review in the next couple of weeks on one of their amazing knives!