For this gear review, I purchased five items from the BlackOvis NWT Merino Wool gear line. The idea was to buy everything from the waist up, give it a go and see what I thought. I bought the following items:
There is actually an additional top in their line, the 200 Crew Long Sleeve Top, but I missed it when I loaded my shopping cart. I can guarantee it will be hanging in my gear room before this September.
When choosing a base layer material, we essentially have three options: synthetic, wool or a blending of the two. As a general rule, synthetics like polyester, capilene, et al. are less expensive, dry faster, breathe better and are typically more durable than wool. For a long time, wool was coarse, itchy and therefore uncomfortable. This was a strong motivator to buy synthetic. Merino wool isn’t a new product. It has been around for quite a while now, but when the industry discovered the amazing merino… it changed everything. A merino wool fiber is super fine, much more fine than a human hair, which translates into incredible “next to skin” comfort. Selective breeding programs and new manufacturing techniques continue to make wool “obstacle”s essentially obsolete.
I love camp stoves. For me, it isn’t difficult to explain why they continually draw my attention to that section of the website over and over again. I like shopping for stoves because of what they represent. When I’m confined to the valley floors, slugging it out in the concrete jungle, I need hope. I need to see light at the end of the tunnel. I need to know that I’ll be back on the mountain again soon. When I see a camp stove, my mind drifts off to dark mornings and hot coffee. I can almost smell the pre-dawn air. In my minds eye, I’m watching the sun creep down the hillside on its way down to the valley below. The birds are in full chorus. Mule deer are hastily grabbing every last bite of food as they disappear into the shadows. My world is coming alive and for that brief moment, as I shop for camp stoves, the business of life is put on hold and I am free. That’s why I love camp stoves!
Have you ever noticed how certain smells, images or a song can instantly transport you back to a former place and time? When I look at stoves, I remember the days spent sitting in the snow with a stove boiling water between my feet. I see my stoves and I remember melting snow on a scouting trip. I remember hiking with my son in the summer until we reached snow line. My mind drifts off to backpack camping with my daughter through the Jewel Basin. I can shop for stoves and reminisce for hours!
When it comes time to choose a camp stove or a cooking system, there really is “a tool for every job”. So let’s begin by asking the most basic of all questions, “what is the task that we need our stove to accomplish”? Essentially, we’re looking for a heat source. Preferably a heat source that is a smidge smaller than my barbeque grill and a lot more efficient than my smoker.
I’m a bit of a brute. My friends & family call it “The Howard Syndrome”. If there’s a weakness or a design flaw in anything that I use, that item simply will not survive. This is important for you to know, because it affects the way I approach my gear choices. I am really, really rough on my gear. It isn’t intentional. I pay good money for my gear & I would never ruin my stuff on purpose. Destruction just sort of happens…
Additionally, I primarily hunt the mountains of Montana. This requires a lot of effort including large swings in elevation everytime I go into the woods. So, when it came time to choose a knife, I had three main criterion:
- 1) It needs to be lightweight
- 2) It has to hold its edge
- 3) It must be durable!