Rapala Classic Birch Knife – A Review
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First I need to thank Bob Ringer of Spong PR and of course the folks at Rapala for sending one of their knives for me to review.

From their June Press Release:

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)

I was sent a sample of the Caping Knife. Here are the specs:

Scalpel like in appearance and function, the Caping knife is the perfect choice for working with birds and small game. An excellent tool for removing hide from face of trophy animals.

• Compact and maneuverable, ideal for tight detail work
• Slight drop point with a surgical edge
• Razor-sharp blade of German 420 Stainless Steel
• Classic Rapala birch handle
• Through tang construction
• Genuine leather sheath with belt loop
• Molded one-piece scabbard for safe storage

First off, the folks at Rapala were kind enough to answer some questions for me about their new line of knives, back in July. You can read the interview here: Rapala Talks About Their Classic Birch Knives.

The first thing I noticed about this knife was the sharpness. Out of the box, this was easily the sharpest knife I have ever owned. Seriously, it rivals the knives that utilize the snap on scalpel blades. It is scary sharp. It is well-built. The blade tang runs all the way through the handle giving it great strength. I leaned on the blade trying to flex it or break it to no avail. Not that looks matter much in the field but the knife is a handsome implement. I love the classic birch handle which also helps make it a nice-looking knife.

The blade is well-shaped for caping and the right size as well. With the design of the point and the overall shape of the blade it’s great for finer work and getting into small places. The grip is fat enough to make it easy to hold, especially when wet or bloody and the contour is perfect along with the thumb relief contour on the back of the blade.

One thing I didn’t test is how well the edge holds on the knife under regular field use. I hope to put it through its paces in late October on my Arizona mule deer hunt. I’ll be sure to post a follow-up. What is striking to me with this knife is the balance between craftsmanship and pragmatism. On one hand, this knife is a true work of art; on the other, I have no doubt that it will stand up to heavy use. It will definitely be in my pack this fall.

These knives retail for about 28 bucks. An absolute steal and worth every penny. If you’re looking for a new knife, check out the Classic Birch line from Rapala.

Product Review – Vapium Summit Plus Vaporizer
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Thanks to Ethan Anderson of Evan Nison Consulting for sending me one of these to review!

IMPORTANT! This is a bit of new territory for me, so I feel the need to state unequivocally the following: I do not, under any circumstances condone illegal activity. This isn’t a “wink,wink,nod nod” statement. I am serious. Whether it is illegal drug use, poaching, or parking in the fire lane, I don’t condone it. Period.

That being said, I fully recognize that in many states marijuana for medical use is in fact, legal. I particularly follow its use in treating PTSD for Veterans, a topic near and dear to my heart. My wife is a medical marijuana card holder. She is a quadriplegic and an amputee as well. She served as my guest reviewer. ~DesertRat

What caught my interest for this product was the product description from Ethan: “Just getting in touch because I thought you might be interested in trying out this durable, water-resistant vaporizer called the Summit Plus.
It’s perfect for people who spend a lot of time outside. This slick and compact vaporizer can handle extreme temperatures, is splash-proof and dust protected, and quickly and easily loads and heats dry leafy materials.”

From the Vapium Website:

SUMMIT VAPORIZER BY VAPIUM

Summit Plus™ by VAPIUM® is a rugged portable vaporizer that is as powerful as it is easy to use. With innovative technology, high-quality construction and intuitive functionality crafted specifically for on-the-go use, Summit refines industry standards of both utility and style. It promises to perform wherever the trail may lead, and beyond.

RUGGED

Ergonomic – textured easy-grip design
Tethered, magnetic lid – no missing parts!
Easy maintenance – magnetic snap-together assembly
Durable, high-strength exterior

RELIABLE

Low draw resistance
Stainless steel vapor pathway
Tested in snow and extreme cold
Lithium-ion battery – up to 1 hour of continuous use at 410°F/210°C
Automatic shut off

REFINED

Use while charging – micro USB rechargeable
Stir Tool built in, simply remove to stir, mix and pack
Smartphone Control allows for pairing with your device for precise temperature and session time control (Available Summer 2016)
Continuous air path is constructed from laser welded stainless steel
Haptic feedback vibration indicates device readiness
8 temperature settings from 330°F to 440°F (160°C to 230°C)
LED battery indicator – displayed using 4 LEDs when Go Button is pressed

So my wife was very impressed with the design and the features. The design is simple, yet sturdy. It is well thought-out. The range of heat settings is very handy. It’s nice to have an 8-step, defined range of heating. The magnetic lid works really well and it is integrated with the controls. The pick is a nice feature. The Stand By and Heat functions work really well. Overall, it is well-designed, sturdily made and comes with some great features.

The one drawback in my wife’s testing was the draw. In spite of the great range of heat settings, she couldn’t seem to hit the sweet spot. She’d move up through the settings and they would be too cool and then “bam” in the next setting the draw was too hot. She indicated it was almost uncomfortable. To be fair, maybe it was the product, or maybe she needs to keep experimenting with heat, product, volume in the chamber and “tamping”. If she can find the right combo, she’ll be a fan.

My impression is that this is a great Unit, and fairly priced at about 150 bucks. It comes with the following:

Dry Bag
Cleaning Kit with Cleaning Brush, Elongated Cleaning Brushes, Cleaning Wipes, and Extra Screens
Built-in Pick/Pack Tool
Securing Ring
2 Mouth Guards
3 Replacement Screens
User Manual

Again, please check out the website for yourself. I think if you can get the hot draw problem solved, you’ll be really happy. The manual is detailed. The controls are extensive, easy to use and practical. Heck, you can pair it with your Smart Phone. The operation is easy, and the size of the Unit is just right.

An Interview With Krimson
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This interview was originally posted over on our parent site OutdoorHub.com ~DesertRat

I was at a Mule Deer Foundation fundraising banquet in May when I met Krimson and her family. Krimson is an amazing young lady who is not only an amazing huntress, but a talented musician and songwriter. From her website, here is her story:

Her story was captivating, so I reached out to her and asked if I could do an interview. I think the outdoor world needs to learn about her! Thanks for Krimson for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions!

You’ve been hunting and fishing for a long time! Does your whole family participate? How about your friends, especially growing up?

I grew up hunting primarily with my Dad and brothers. My brothers are 9 years older than I am, so they were always there to help my Dad and I pack out of the field when I was young. When I shot my mountain goat at age 10 it was a 5 day drop camp, when we finally reached the goats we were so far back just my Dad and I wouldn’t have made it out alive.

My parents started our family lodge when I was a year old, however, my family has been hunting for generations. Kodiak holds an annual contest each year for the biggest Sitka Blacktail; which my grandmother won in 1961, and I proceeded to win 3 different years. So as you can see, hunting has always been a huge part of my life as well as tradition. You can read find more of these stories on my website at http://krimsonlive.com/hunting/.

Hunters are constantly targeted in social media these days; especially lady hunters. How do you deal with the negativity and nasty comments? Does it ever get to you?

Personally, anti-hunters have never really bothered me simply because I understand that hunting is something, they simply don’t understand like I do. I am an outdoors woman because that’s how I was raised, many people that don’t agree with what I do have never done it. What does bother me however, is to see how some people respond to the way that I choose to live my life. It bothers me to see that society can attack someone so strongly for just something that they believe in. I’m sure I can find many things on the internet that I don’t agree with, but if that’s how someone chooses to spend their life, for reasons that they were raised by, who am I to disagree with them?


You’re combining your love of the outdoors with a blossoming music career. Tell us about that.

I have always had a great passion for music & the outdoors. Writing, singing & listening to music has been my way of expressing myself and the great outdoors has just been where I can experience that within myself. Its that special time for me to make connection and memories with people that I love.

What is the biggest challenge so far, in becoming a successful musician?

The biggest challenge in my career has be being a jack of all trades and a master of none. Not being able or willing to live solely in Los Angeles to pursue a music career has definitely held me back from that portion of my career. I grew up in the small town of Kodiak, moving to LA would be giving up the amazing lifestyle that I have been privileged with. I spend each year managing our lodge and taking care of clients, while building my business selling crab and traveling to Los Angeles to write & record. I don’t think I’m ready to give any of those up quite yet.

As a young musician, how do you define success? What is that spot in your career where you can say “I did it”?

I don’t think there is a single definition for success. I believe that it doesn’t matter what you do in life, as long as you enjoy what you’re doing, you give it your all and enjoy life, who’s to say you’re not successful?
However, to answer to your question, I will call myself successful when I can reflect on my life and know that I enjoyed my youth while it lasted, that I built a thriving career doing something that I had passion for, that I helped everyone I could along the way and to raise loving children to achieve the same by making this world a little better place at a time.

What is the biggest challenge faced by the hunting community? What can we do about it?

I suppose our biggest challenge is and will be protecting our rights to hunt & bare arms. Personally, I haven’t experienced any complications with this issue yet, but I am afraid that if we don’t gain better control of our guns that our rights will diminish over time. I am optimistic that I can give anti-hunters reasons to believe that hunters & gun owners are truly not the reason for today’s violence and that hunters are passionate people. I don’t enjoy hunting as a sport to kill; hunting is a cycle of life, harvest & tradition. I’ve been hunting all my life, and most would tell you that I am one of the most caring, nurturing people you will ever meet. As far as gun control goes, we must fight to keep our guns in hand to protect our families & the things we have worked for.

What is your favorite thing to hunt?

I don’t think I have a favorite animal to hunt, every species I have sought for has a different style and I enjoy them all. However, the moose trip that I took with my boyfriend and my Dad was probably my favorite hunting trip overall.

What’s the big hunt or fishing trip on your bucket list? Your dream trip?

My big dream hunt would be taking my Dad on a Big Horn Sheep hunt. He lives to see our excitement in things that he enjoys and I hope that I can return that favor one day by taking him on the hunt that he has always wanted.

What can my readers do to help you?

Your readers can help by believing in me, trusting that I can make this world a better place a little at a time and telling me what I can do to help others.

They can follow me on Facebook & Instagram and share my story with others. Further assistance could be done by donating to my campaign so that I can continue to make music and and fight for our rights to hunt & bear arms.

More information can be found at my website KrimsonLive.com

Thank you for your time, Krimson

What an amazing young lady – I look forward to following her career (and hunting adventures) as she continues on her journey. Hopefully we can chick in from time to tome…

LifeStraw Go Bottle – A Review
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A huge shout out to Jason Silva from CGPR for contacting me and suggesting a review on the new Lifestraw Go water bottle.

So, believe it or not, this was one of the scariest reviews I have ever done. Yes, seriously. My dilemma? I wanted to do a thorough review and really test the unit, but I didn’t want to get sick or die if it didn’t work.

From the Press Release:

LifeStraw®, a global leader in developing innovative filtration and purification products for safe drinking water, is introducing a new LifeStraw Go water bottle on June 1. It utilizes a two-stage filtration process which removes bacteria and protozoa to make microbiologically contaminated water safe to drink, while also reducing organic chemicals, chlorine and bad taste. The new LifeStraw Go bottle comes in five colors to appeal to a variety of user preferences. It’s available at retail locations throughout North America, including REI, and online at www.lifestraw.com. The suggested retail price is $49.95.

LifeStraw Go uses a two-stage filtration process. Stage one is a hollow fiber membrane that removes 99.9999 percent of bacteria (E. coli and salmonella), 99.9 percent of protozoa (Giardia, Cryptosporidium, etc.), and reduces turbidity by filtering particulate matter larger than 0.2 microns. Stage two is an activated carbon capsule that reduces chlorine, organic chemical matter (like herbicides and pesticides), and bad taste. The hollow fiber membrane will filter up to 264 gallons throughout its life, while the carbon capsule will filter 26 gallons. Replacements for both will be available in July.

I really struggled with what would constitute an effective test. I thought about just going out into my yard and getting some dirt and mixing it with water. The thought of pesticide and dog pee wasn’t very appealing however…

Then, my opportunity presented itself! Some fellow members of the local Chapter of the Mule Deer Foundation and I were heading up to a ranch in central Arizona one Saturday, in order to discuss some upcoming habitat projects. Maybe I would find a suitable pond or stock tank to get my test water. The first tank we hit had cows standing (i.e. peeing and pooping) in it, and it was the color of a vanilla latte. Honestly, I didn’t have the gumption to try that water. Then we came to a big holding tank with algae and stuff floating on top. Perfect!

I filled up my bottle after prepping it for first use, as per the enclosed instructions. I screwed on the top, took a deep breath and took a sip. Then I took another sip. I was astounded. I fully expected the water to be safe, but I also expected it would taste funky. Honestly, it tasted great. It tasted like bottled water. Only one of my friends was brave enough to try and he agreed – just like bottled water. Amazing. Two days later and I have suffered no apparent ill effects from drinking that water. I’m convinced.

This bottle costs around 50 bucks and it could literally save your life. If you don’t have a filtration system in your pack, I would recommend it. It is better in some ways than a straw-type device because you can bring some with you. The filtering system is a 2-stage process. Stage 1 is a hollow fiber membrane that removes 99.9999% of bacteria (like E. coli). It removes 99.9% of protozoa (like Giardia)

Stage 2 has an active carbon capsule which reduces chlorine. It also reduces bad odor and taste, and reduces organic chemical matter. The filter is good for about 264 gallons of use. You can learn more about the LifeStraw Go here: LifeStraw Go 2 stage filtration

I would absolutely recommend this product!

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!

Amazing Arizona Fishing
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When I was younger, I actually fished more than I hunted. From probably 10 years old to college, I was a fishing machine. I fished quite a bit too, when I moved to northern Maine (early 20′s). Once I moved to Arizona 20 years ago though, my fishing experiences began to dwindle.

So lately I’ve been getting quite a hankerin to go fishing, and I’ve hit my friend Ken up a few times. Finally our schedules jived and we made plans for a quick trip to the Mogollon Rim for a day of fishing. We picked a day mid-week hoping it wouldn’t be so crowded. We were on the road by 5:00 AM and pulled into Willow Springs Lake by 7:00AM or so. By 7:30 we had the boat in the water.

Ken P at the helm

We weren’t in the water too long before we started getting action. We were trolling. I was running a streamer fly behind a flasher when I pulled in the first fish of the day – a rainbow about 11 inches long and decently fat. Ironically, the fly was one I had in my tacklebox that I had brought from Maine some 20 years ago. I had a bunch of streamers we used to troll the lakes for Landlocked Salmon in the spring. Seems it works on western rainbows too. In spite of landing the first, I then went quiet with Ken reeling in 3 or 4 in succession. Even changing to match his setup didn’t help – at first.

Willow Springs Lake, AZ

It was an amazing day on the lake. Usually there was a breeze and it wan’t unbearably hot. Thunderclouds roamed around near the horizons and it was quiet. A handful of boats, a few kids playing, and lots of good conversation. In spite of our success that day, the trout didn’t make it easy – short strikes and bumps were the theme that day. Hooking them was a challenge, and we lost a couple too as we got them in close.

Tiger Trout, Mogollon Rim

It wouldn’t be a fishing trip without a little adventure. The trout limit is 6 apiece and nearing the end of the afternoon, I was at six trout, and Ken had five. Man, did Ken work hard at getting a 6th one in so we could both limit out.I think we spent more time and effort getting number 12, than we did on the first 11. It was all for naught however – the storm clouds we had watched in the distance all day were finally rolling in. As we headed for the dock, an older gent was pulling up his pontoon boat. We planned to dock just as soon as he was out of the way. 25 minutes later we were still waiting and the sky opened up. In an instant, we were drenched, in spite of our best efforts at getting some rain gear on. Finally the elderly folks were out of the way and we loaded the boat up in the rain. Luckily Ken had decent rain gear on, and I had brought a change of clothes! We got squared away, and on the road. Passing through Payson, Ken said “What’s that noise?” Much to our dismay, a trailer leaf spring was dragging on the ground. We found a spot to pull over, tied it up out of the way and headed to his storage spot in Rye. We arrived without incident.

A plan was made for future repair. We got the boat tarped, blocked and stored, and soon were headed south.

We ended the day with 2 Rainbows and 9 Tiger Trout (a Brown trout/Brook trout hybrid). Some ended up as trout pico de gallo (thanks John Greiss!) and the rest were coated in flour and corn meal, then fried in butter. All in all a great day with a good friend, enjoying beautiful Arizona – and on The Rim, where it was a bit cooler! (bonus!)

Mess of trout, Arizona