Well, another year and another two, er um, 52 weeks to “flatten the curve”. December marks the 90th week of some type of lockdown and time seems to have warped. If Christmas has snuck up on you, fear not for I have suggestions for what to buy yourself and others. As always these are products I have actually used and have experience with.
Bog Pod Shooting Cradle
If you hunt predators or other game that involves longer shots you probably use shooting sticks, a bipod, or a tripod. There are many options out there. While watching a Foxpro video recently I saw that Al Morris and Tom Austin were using the Bog Wide Body Shooting Rest. I thought if it’s good enough for the pros it’s good enough for me, so I got one. This is a versatile shooting platform. You can leave your rifle in it while you glass or call, and then quickly get on the rifle for the shot. My hunting buddy used mine on a tripod for some night hunting and as a result he is buying one. It comes with the Bog Pod Switcheroo quick detach stem, but I took that off and put an Arca rail on mine for use with my Arca tripods. $45 at www.boghunt.com
5.11 A/T Mid Boot
The 5.11 A/T Mid Boot is a comfortable, tough knockaround boot. The A.T.L.A.S. All Terrain Load Assistance System is designed for people carrying gear, so the support is terrific. The 3D molded TPR toe and heel protect your feet while you are hiking, working, or whatever. The ASTM slip and oil resistant high traction outsole is aggressive and stable. When I put these on my feet feel like they have been “armored up”, but these boots are comfortable enough for all day wear. Available in a wide range of sizes and black, dark coyote, or dark coyote / ranger green. $150 at www.511tactical.com
5.11 Rapid 1AA Headlamp
Everybody can use another headlamp. At 4.4 ounces and just under 4 inches long, the 5.11 Rapid 1AA Headlamp compact and handy. The light can be easily removed from the headband and clipped to a bag or pocket. There are two buttons, one for a flood and one for a spot. The spotlight has four brightness settings. The brightness varies from 200 to 330 lumens, and the runtime is one hour on a single AA battery. I found this light to be useful for most camp tasks, rather than something you would use as a search light. The size and utility make it a great light to stuff in any go bag. $50
5.11 Field Watch 2.0
Do you know what time it is? It’s time for a new watch. The 5.11 Field Watch 2.0 is a good-looking watch with a stainless steel 44mm case. The luminous hour, minute, and second hands are easy to read, and the mineral crystal display is scratch resistant. There is a date window, but I will admit it’s a little small for my eyes. The unidirectional ratcheting dive bezel functions well, and the watch is water resistant to 100 meters. Available in black or kangaroo. $170
OnX is a mapping application for your phone or tablet. It shows you public lands as well as private parcels. I’ve been using OnX for a few years now and it is one of my most used phone apps. OnX lets you mark waypoints, check out satellite photos of hunting grounds, and generally see where the heck you are. You can see who owns the property you wish to hunt, and it keeps you hunting where you are supposed to be (and out of where you shouldn’t be). OnX identifies your current position at all times. You can drop a waypoint with a wide variety of icons, as well as make comments on the waypoint to remind you of critical details on your next hunt. The app is well designed and easy to use. I get the Nationwide (Elite) Yearly subscription for $99 at www.onxmaps.com, but they have sales occasionally. Pro tips: (1) before leaving for a hunt download key areas you will be going to be able to view them when you don’t have cell service (this works great), and (2) carry a USB battery pack and phone charger cable if you have access to cell service and run it continuously – serious battery drain!
Jetboil makes portable cooking systems. Last Christmas I gave a friend a Jetboil and he says he uses it more than any other gift he has ever received. I use an earlier version of their Flash Cooking System, which they claim lets you boil water for pour-over coffee in about 100 seconds. I’ve found it’s a bit longer than that when it’s cold outside, but regardless it is fast. There is nothing like a freshly brewed cup of coffee to keep your hunt going strong (regardless of what you are hunting). Of course, you can also use it for cup-o-soup or other hot snacks. These are available in many places with an MSRP of $109.95 or less if you shop. www.jetboil.com
You only have to learn the lesson of the value of good socks once. Blisters and cold feet are great teachers. Get yourself some Smartwool socks and you won’t have to learn the hard way. Smartwool merino wool socks are breathable, warm, and odor resistant. I am old enough to remember itchy rag wool socks and these are so much better. I’ve comfortably hunted odor free for a week in the same Smartwool socks. They dry quickly and are soft and comfortable. Today’s Smartwool socks are heavily engineered for hiking and hunting, and they last for many seasons. I use and recommend the Hunt Full Cushion Tall Crew socks ($27) or the Hunt Light Cushion Tall Crew socks ($25) www.smartwool.com
Crashpad sleeping bag
While surfing the interwebs one day I stumbled upon Crashpad products. These are designed and sold by Aussies who routinely go off road and off grid. They are hard on their gear. I was in the market for a new sleeping bag for overlanding, aka, sleeping in my truck. I bought their Sleep system, which is a fancy name for a double sleeping bag. It can be used as two single bags (rated to 5 degrees Celsius), one super warm single bag (-10 Celsius), one two-person bag, or a couple of comforters (or donna’s as they call them down under). Zippers are the weakest link in a sleeping bag, and like everything Crashpad sells these zippers are overbuilt. At just over 8.5 pounds this is a heavy bag designed for overlanding, not a backpacking bag. It has a soft flannel interior lining and a tough ripstop nylon outer shell. It is 94 inches long including the 16 inch hood, and 35 inches wide. The best two words to describe this bag are comfortable and warm. $148 at www.crashpadgear.com
Once you buy one thing from Crashpad you are sure to buy another. Their Crashpods are tough bags to keep a variety of things organized while you overland or hunt. The transparent top lets you see what you have stowed in each bag, and the divider helps customize the interior for that bag’s gear. Super tough zippers and pull tabs placed at clever locations allow easy access. The entire bag is tough and built for a long life of rough use. There is a grab handle on each end. The small Crashpods are perfect for organizing an overlanding kitchen or to stow other gear. The small size is 6.3 x 17.7 x 8.7 inches, and the large is 6.3 x 17.7 x 12.6 inches. $45 for the small or $55 for the large at www.crashpadgear.com
A little education goes a long way, and if you want to have your eyes opened for how the Marxist movement is progressing in our country look no further. Mark Dice is a media analyst and author who gained fame on YouTube with his “man on the street” videos. These were a similar genre to what Jay Leno used to do. Mark Dice asked people on the street about current events and hilarity ensued. Fast forward a few years and he really blew up when he started saying what the mainstream media refused to say – and he routinely got banned as a result. His books are excellent, well written, and thoroughly footnoted. His tee shirts and other merchandise are sure to get a reaction. Spice up your Christmas and get the in-laws a Let’s Go Brandon or Arrest Faucci tee shirt before they are banned. www.markdice.creator-spring.com