How to Select the Right Sleeping Bag

A sleeping bag that helps you sleep well can be a game-changer while spending time in the outdoors. If you don’t get some quality sack time at night, not only will you not be at peak performance the next day, you could end up pretty miserable. But not just any old sleeping bag will fit the bill; you need the right sleeping bag for you based on how you sleep and the conditions you plan to encounter (climate, weather, available shelter, etc.). It’s not a one-size-fits-all formula for selecting one of your most important pieces of gear; there’s several factors that you should take in to account as you look for the right bag for you. Often times, finding the right sleeping bag can be a trial and error process. I can tell you from experience that it is worth the time, effort and money spent finding the right bag that lets you sleep your best at night in the mountains.

There are several styles of sleeping bags: rectangular, mummy, quilt, hybrid, etc. And within each of those categories, you can usually get down or synthetic in most models, left or right side zippers, extra length and/or width, wide vs narrow foot boxes, hood styles, and the list of options goes on and on. While I do own and use a very plush and roomy rectangular style bag that gets paired with a cot and foam pad when the occasion allows, the bag weighs something like 14 pounds and only gets used if I’m sleeping in a trailer or driving right to where I make camp. Since these situations are very uncommon for back country hunters, this article will be geared more towards how to pick the right sleeping bag based on backpack hunting/back country intended use where weight and size are at a premium.

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How to Choose the Right Trail Camera in the West

Stealth Cam Header

There are many different models of trail cameras these days, all with different specs and megapixels that may make it confusing when trying to choose. It’s hard to know which one is right for you and your situation. You might be new to trail cameras and just want to get something going to see what’s in your area, or you might be a seasoned pro looking to upgrade your cameras cameras for higher quality images.

Typically you want the most megapixels and the most LED bulbs for the best price. On all Stealth Cam models, the number in the model name represents how many LED bulbs are in the camera. If it says “NG”, it stands for No Glo bulbs which eliminates the flash at night so it doesn’t spook the animals. No Glo LED bulbs are great for security cameras as well.

Stealth Cam Utah Moose

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Sleeping Bags – 101

Synthetic VS Down

This is a topic that has been covered extensively and there are a million write ups explaining the differences and pros and cons of different types of insulation. For the purpose of this write up I will give a broad overview of Down and Synthetic insulation.

Synthetic insulation is generally heavier and will not compress as small as down. It also tends to pack down over time and lose loft. Loft equals warmth. On the plus side, synthetic insulation is generally cheaper than down and will hold loft and provide some warmth when wet. It also tends to dry faster than down. Down insulation is lighter and will compress extremely small. The downside is it is more expensive and will not insulate when it gets wet. It also takes longer to dry out. Marmot uses Hydrophobic down or synthetic insulation in most of their bags with a couple of models using both synthetic and Down. Hydrophobic treatment is a method of covering down with a waterproofing agent that helps it repel water. This along with mixing in a small amount of synthetic insulation gives users the best of both worlds in one bag.

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Lightweight Camp Stoves

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.

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Havlon Piranta Edge VS Outdoor Edge Razor-Lite

Havalon and Outdoor Edge

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. 1) It needs to be lightweight
  2. 2) It has to hold its edge
  3. 3) It must be durable!

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Marmot Sleeping Bags

Marmot Logo

Spring is slowly fading into summer. Many of us have already been out on the mountain after turkeys, bear, or shed horns. Draw results have been announced in most states with a couple states set to release results in the next few weeks.  We have had all winter to think back on the past season and consider what gear worked, what didn’t and what we need to upgrade. This is the time of year for us to start researching and making decisions on what new gear we are going to add to our kit for the upcoming season. With that in mind I wanted to do a quick review on Marmot sleeping bags. Whether you are an experienced backcountry hunter or someone fairly new, Marmot has a bag with specific features and a price point that will work for you. In this write up I will cover a few Marmot specific features and then give a quick example of a Good, Better, and Best option.

Marmot has been making outdoor gear since 1974 and was the first to use Gore-Tex fabrics in sleeping bags. Because of this long history they have been able to fine tune their sleeping bag line with a few specific features not found in other bags.

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Badlands XR Bino Harness Review

The Badlands XR Bino Harness is a serious game changer. If you’re looking for a way to comfortably and easily carry your binos and rangefinder in one, then look no further, the XR bino harness will be your new favorite piece of hunting gear.

The setup has a separate compartment for your binos as well as your rangefinder, so you won’t have to worry about your lens’s getting scratched from rubbing together. The bino compartment fits most 10×50 and smaller binos. If you do have a smaller pair of binos, this harness has an adjustable shelf that lies between the bino compartment and the rangefinder compartment. So, whether your binos or rangefinder need more (or less) room, it is completely adjustable to fit your gear.

One of the greatest things about this harness is the fact that there are no zippers. Zippers create unwanted noise and frustration when you’re trying to get your gear out in a hurry and a zipper gets caught up. They instead use magnets, you may be wondering if these magnets don’t hold very good and fall open constantly, the answer to that is they hold a lot better than you’d expect. The magnets are strong enough to hold the flap on tight to the compartment, even if you bump the flaps or get hung up on something, they still will hold tight. I’ve taken my harness on a lot of hunting trips and I’ve never had either compartment come loose, allowing my gear to fall out.

 

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2018 Sitka Apex Series Review

ORIGINS

For years Sitka’s 90% series ruled the game in terms of comfortable and quiet technical hunting apparel. However, with advancements in textile development and consumer demand, the 90% series was overshadowed over the course of a time and consequently discontinued. Many fans of 90% were very sad to see it go and wondered what could possibly replace it.

For 2018 Sitka answered that question with their new APEX series. Designed for the spot and stalk hunter who demands silence and performance out of their gear no matter what.

The APEX series features the APEX Hoody, APEX Pant, and APEX Pack. All are purpose built to be extremely quiet, comfortable, and practical for hunters that prefer to sneak up on their intended quarry. I was lucky enough to put these pieces to the test on an OTC Arizona Mule Deer hunt in January of this year and I was very impressed.

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5 Things to do Before Your Archery Hunt

1 – Get Familiar With your Bow

Getting familiar with your bow is the number one most important step when you’re getting ready for your hunt. From learning to make adjustments on your bow to knowing what components work best with your set up.

When you’re learning to make adjustments to your bow, some great things to know how to do include: changing the draw weight, adjusting the draw length, and adjusting your sight and rest. If you are out hunting and an accident happens that moves your sight or rest loose, knowing how to adjust both is going to save your whole hunt.

Another part of getting to know your bow would be knowing what arrows and broadheads work the best with your set up. A great option for finding the perfect arrows is the BlackOvis.com Custom Arrow ID. This allows you to completely build your arrows from top to bottom making them the perfect match for you and your bow.

BlackOvis Arrow ID

2 – Practice, practice, practice

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Midweight Merino Base Layer Comparison

If you love spending time outdoors, I’m sure you’ve come to realize how vital your base layers are to the quality of your overall experience. Base layers provide warmth and comfort, and a good base layer is probably one of the most underrated pieces of equipment we have at our disposal as outdoorsmen. When the guys at BlackOvis mentioned to me that they were interested in comparing their BlackOvis brand of base layer with one of the industry leaders in merino base layers – First Lite – I was all over the idea. I don’t think you can have enough base layers, because as the temps drop you can just throw one on over top of the other and layer to keep warm. From late October on, if I’m out in the field, I almost always have at least 2 light to midweight base layers on.

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