The BioLite CampStove 2 – Turning Fire Into Electricity Anywhere You Go…. From A Truly Amazing Company!

Do I have one – No… Do I want one – ABSOLUTELY!!

Before we get into the CampStove let’s take a minute to look at BioLite as a company and what they are doing.

BioLite as a company has been around for a little over ten years and they actually have a great story if you take a few minutes to read about them on their website. I would challenge you to take a few minutes out of your day and read – About BioLite, A Mission Ignited, The Road Ahead and the 2018 Impact Report. If you do you will see that they aren’t just a stove, solar or lighting company.. They are a company on fire (no pun intended) to make an impact on half the planet that lives an energy poverty life. Wait.. so this company isn’t solely looking to make products and sell them? No.. they are giving back…. and giving back in a huge way.

Yes.. we will get to the CampStove in a few minutes.. Settle down…

I know that what we do here is bring previews and reviews of products whether they be good or bad products but every once in a while we run across a company that truly stands out and BioLite just happens to be one of those companies.

Let’s take a look at BioLite… All info taken straight from BioLite’s OUR STORY page. I could try and rewrite it and make it my own but why try to change something that says exactly what you want to portray. Hopefully BioLite won’t be too upset that I am using their photos and copy from their page. So here is a sampling of what I asked you to read a few paragraphs up.

Our Story – The BioLite History

BioLite is on a mission to bring Energy Everywhere™ with revolutionary products that transform the way we Cook, Charge and Light our lives off the grid. We are a team of engineers and designers, operators and analysts, story tellers and evangelists, who believe that advanced technologies, built on sustainable business practices, have the power to change the world. Our unique Parallel Innovation business model pairs the needs of families living in energy poverty with the passions of outdoor enthusiasts pushing the boundaries of life outdoors and on the go.

Our founders, Jonathan and Alec, met at Smart Design in New York City where they quickly bonded over their interest in sustainable design. Alec, frustrated that almost all efficient camping stoves required fossil fuels, had the idea of a wood-burning stove able to utilize its own thermal energy to improve combustion. Jonathan, an avid camper, quickly brought his engineering background to the table and the two began the design process. Countless nights, weekends, and prototypes later, the BioLite CampStove was born: a portable biomass stove that leveraged thermoelectrics to create a smokeless fire all while charging personal devices.

There is your sneak peak… Now go to their website and read the rest and I guarantee you will be blown away. Here’s the link to the Our Story page… Yes.. click on it now and read.. https://www.bioliteenergy.com/pages/our-story

And now we stray from the awesomeness of BioLite and what they are doing for the world and take a quick look at the CampStove 2.

First.. I have to say it is one of the coolest looking stoves. Like a fire burning spaceship! So you might ask what the heck is the yellow gadget attached to that stove? That’s the cool part about this stove and makes this thing stand out from any other stove I have seen. Being that I’m not an engineer.. Actually far from it… This is what they say on the website about the CampStove 2.. Turn fire into electricity with BioLite’s award winning stove. Ok.. Here is the fancy part……. Patented combustion technology creates a vortex of smokeless flames for a portable campfire that can cook your meals and charge your gear, all at the same time… Hold up.. cook your food and charge your gear.. Are you saying you can cook a meal and charge a cell phone, battery pack, anything?? Yes my friend that’s exactly what they are saying. Where do I sign up !! This awesome little stove doesn’t run on those gas canisters but rather wood.. Just look around and grab some sticks and twigs and start it up. Truly unbelievable.. And remember what this company is doing for others.

Truly Fantastic Products From A Truly Fantastic Company That Actually Cares About Others… Unique To Say The Least…

Specs

  • Charge phones, lights and more with the 3W generated power
  • Burn sticks, twigs, wood scraps or pellets you can buy on the BioLite website
  • Boil Time for 1L is 4.5 minutes
  • Packs down to the size of a 32 oz water bottle
  • Weight comes in at 2.06 lbs
  • CampStove also comes with the FlexLight shown in one of the images above.
  • Regular Price $129.95.. But currently during the HOLIDAY SALE $103.96 – Amazing Deal !!

If you aren’t sold on the CampStove 2 yet I don’t know what to tell you. An amazing stove that is unlike other stoves on the market from a company that is doing amazing work throughout the world for people that need the help.

Check out BioLite’s website to see all the other amazing products they currently offer. CampStove, FirePit, BaseCamp PizzaDome, Solar Panels, Multiple Lighting Products and much more. Take a few minutes to read about BioLite on their Out Story page and help support what they are doing.

https://www.bioliteenergy.com/

Bravo BioLite.. Bravo!!

AVALON7 – Rob Kingwill And His Unmatched Passion For The Outdoors – Show Me The Facemasks!

Who would know the need for a facemask better than a former US Snowboard Team Member? No one.. Rob Kingwill is the founder of AVALON7 and as his website says he is the sole proprietor, principal artist, web designer, sticker maker, credit card max-er and late night tag sewing master running the company our of his small studio in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The guy is nothing short of a superstar!

Although Rob’s website centers a lot around the snowboarding scene I think his facemasks easily fit into everyday outdoor activities not only in the winter but also for those of us that try to keep our face and neck out of the sun while fly fishing, hiking and backpacking. Winter uses are easily seen with the need to keep our face and neck warm and out of the sun but what about during the warmer months? As we all know the excitement of getting out on the stream, river, lake or the trail can temporarily make us brain dead and we forget the sunscreen.. after a few hours with the sun beating down on us we now have a new problem and that is now having to spend the rest of the trip treating a sunburn. Yes, it’s happened to all of us.

We will check out a few of Rob’s Facemasks in a few minutes but first.. When checking out his website I ran across a couple of things I think are pretty cool and gives you an idea of what Rob is about and his mindset as an outdoors guy.

First is what Rob calls his AVALON7 Manifesto

  • AVALON7 was built to help you remember who you are; that you are capable of great things.
  • We hope to inspire and empower you to live life to the fullest.
  • To be optimistic and reach for your highest self.
  • So turn off the TV. Put down the phone. Think outside. Adventure more. Life activated.
  • We are here to help you realize you are a force of nature and you are limitless in your potential.

Tell me that isn’t awesome.. That truly tells me alot about a person as well as the mindset of the company as a whole. It all starts with the owner’s vision and Rob’s vision is cool.

Yes I am going to make you read one more thing before we get to the cool stuff AVALON7 is putting out!

We Are All Adventurers

­ Adventure is at the core of who we are at AVALON7.  It is the call of the unknown, the promise of unseen vistas and undiscovered powder stashes that push us to wake up before dawn and step out into the world in search of inspired moments and fresh perspectives.  It is a sirens call.

We Are All Adventurers.   Even if you never climb a mountain, or swim in the ocean, you can still be an adventurer in your life.  You can read a new novel, try a new style of art, or just take a different route on your way home from work.  Discover the power of the Adventure Mindset- one focused on growth and new experiences.  This is an optimistic perspective on the world, one that takes every setback as an opportunity to learn and gain experience instead of being focused on suffering and pain.  Sometimes we forget that the struggle, or the work is all part of the process.   In the end the journey is the reward.  Adventure Inspired!

We endeavor to make the best accessories possible for every outdoor adventure- sometimes it’s the little things that can make all the difference.  Take for example the versatility of our Mesh Tube facemasks.  They are small, lightweight and easily packable, but when the sun goes down and the temperature drops, you will be glad to find one in your pocket as you make your way out of the woods!

Life is meant to be lived and loved, and we are only here a short while.  Find your spark, find your inspiration, and chase it to wherever it leads.  Live Activated and Adventure More.   Your time is now.

It’s not often you run across a company that has this type of passion and takes the time to put it into writing on their website. Now I don’t know Rob outside of the emails that we have had back and forth but in my opinion it isn’t something he is using to sell products. Like I said it is a mindset and a way of life and the passion shows in what Rob is doing on a daily basis.

AND NOW TO THE GEAR!!

AVALON7 puts out some cool stuff from Facemasks to Clothing to Hats & Beanies to what they have labeled as Other Stuff! You can take some time to look over the website but today I am going to focus mainly on Rob’s Facemasks. So here we go with his seven offerings. Most of the information here is straight from the Avalon7 website. I can’t take credit for the creative ways he describes his products.

The Classic Tube Facemask – ­ AVALON7 Classic Tube Face Masks for skiing, snowboarding and flyfishing. Elevate your style with one of our unique limited edition facemasks designed by artists from around the world.  Our Classic Tube Facemasks are seamless tubular bandanas made out of an ultra-soft microfiber fabric that protects your face from sun, wind, snow and dirt, and wicks away sweat.  UPF of 25+.

The Mesh Tube Facemasks – ­ AVALON7 breathable mesh sun facemasks for snowboarding, skiing, fly fishing and hiking. AVALON7 mesh tube facemasks are the next level in facemask comfort and functionality.  They work great for protecting your face all day without fogging your glasses or goggles, and allow you to breathe freely no matter how hard you get after it.  Transformable to be warm in the winter and cool in the summer!  UPF of 25+ There are four series of mesh tube facemasks – Artist Series, Connect Series, National Park Series and the Flag Series. Below is one example from each series. Check out the website for a full line.

The Stormfleece Facemasks – Snowboarding and Skiing Facemasks. The AVALON7 StormFleece Facemasks are built for the coldest days where you need extra protection from the cold and wind.  These are our warmest facemasks, built from our FX7 bonded fleece fabric, which is smooth on the outside and soft and fuzzy on the inside.  UPF of 50+.

The Fleece Neck Gaiters – AVALON7 Standard Fleece Neck Gaiters are warm and comfy, and area a great universally loved style. Our classic fleece pile neck gaiter will keep you warm and cozy this winter with an extra soft inner layer of fur fleece.

The Tie-On Mesh Bandanas – AVALON7 Bandarils are the most breathable mesh bandanas on the planet- perfect for snowboarding, skiing, fly fishing, biking and hiking! They are made out of our innovative X7 MeshTek polyester mesh fabric, which is warm, breathable and fast drying.  This tie in the back style bandana is extra big and is great for touring.

The Balaclavas – AVALON7 balaclavas are a team rider favorite.  They are made from our super comfortable Stretchsoft fabric, and are perfect for keeping your whole head warm and dry on deep powder days.  The face hole is intentionally left without stitching so that it is ultra comfortable under your goggles, and allows for extra stretch if you want to wear the balaclava upside-down as a regular tube. Layer one underneath one of our Mesh Tubes, and you have the A7 Powerslayer System, which optimizes breathability and comfort, allowing you to freely rotate the Mesh Tube when it gets wet while keeping your balaclava underlayer nice and dry.

The Powerslayer Facemask Combo System – The AVALON7 PowSlayer Facemask System is a revolution in facemask technology.  By combining our innovative Mesh Tube facemasks with our lightweight Balaclavas, you have a versatile, transformable system of layered face protection that you can adapt to any condition.  With the combo you get a standard balaclava and a standard mesh facemask.

So there you have a brief list of the Facemasks that Rob and AVALON7 offer. Check out their website for far more color and pattern options as well as all the other products they offer outside of Facemasks.

Oh…. and lastly.. This is a really cool thing that needs to be added . Not only does Rob have a cool vision, mindset and passion for what he is doing.. He is also giving back. Check out what he has going on with the giving side of the business.

A portion of proceeds from the sale of this product goes to our non-profit partner The FUTUREPOSITIV Project 501c3 to help kids activate in the outdoors through snowboarding.   www.futurepositiv.org

1% is also donated to 1% for the Tetons,  to help fund sustainable projects in Jackson Hole. www.onepercentforthetetons.com

Check out AVALON7 and Rob’s website at https://avalon7.com/

The Lightest Reel In It’s Class Without A Huge Price Tag – The Redington Zero Fly Reel

The Redington Zero line of reels have been around since 2015 so you have probably seen them in your local fly shop or while shopping online. If you haven’t you may need to get out more. In all seriousness these reels are sticking around for a few reasons… They are just good little reels that do exactly what you need them to do, weigh a crazy light 3 oz. and will set you back right at $100…. actually $99.99! And.. they come in multiple colors – Black, Sand, Teal, Dreamcicle and Avocado… I have two – a Black 2/3 and a 4/5 in that funky Dreamcicle color!

Let’s jump back to that weight topic.. The Zero weighs in at only 3 oz. and in all my research of lightweight reels I can only find one that “claims” to be lighter and that’s the Ross Colorado LT. There are multiple websites that say the Colorado weighs 2.9 oz. So for all intents and purposes they weigh the same thing. One of the main differences in these two reels is that the Zero has an Un-machinable, unique die-cast construction (from the Redington site) and the Colorado is a fully machined reel. The other main difference is the price with the Zero coming in at $99.99 and the Colorado at $295.00. Two different reels at two different price points. It’s really hard to compare the two of them except that they both get the job done for the most part the same way.

Being that the Zero has a click-pawl drag you know that it will have that ever popular clicking when line is being stripped out as well as when you are reeling it in. So for all you Fly Fisher Folk (FFF) that love the clicking sound you are in luck! Although this reel has one of the loudest clicking sounds I have heard it really doesn’t detract from the reel and I actually like it. The drag does exactly what it’s supposed to do which is give a little bit of tension and you do the rest yourself.

The Zero comes in a 2/3 or a 4/5 and in my opinion that makes them a great choice for your small stream fishing. So what are you really looking for when fishing a small stream for smallish fish? A kick butt sealed drag system that gives you a 10 pound drag pressure? Heck no you don’t need that. Can you buy it and be the king of the stream with your $600 reel, sure you can but is it needed… Once again no.. Speaking for myself what I need for small stream fishing is basic, dependable and a reel that holds line for me. And the Redington Zero fits that description perfectly. Pair the Zero with a great rod in the 2wt – 4wt range and you are in for a great time.

  • 2/3 Reel & 4/5 Reel
  • Colors – Black, Sand, Teal, Avocado and Dreamcicle
  • Reel Diameter – 3 inches on the 2/3 and 3.3 inches on the 4/5
  • Backing – 20 pound at 100 yards – Small stream fishing says you will hardly ever get to the backing….
  • Drag – Click/Pawl – Yes the beautiful sound of a click/pawl reel!
  • Construction – Un-machinable Unique Die-Cast Construction
  • Weight – 3 oz. – Super-Lightweight – Lightest Reel In It’s Class
  • Large Arbor Design helps reduce line memory
  • Converts from right hand retrieve to left hand easily.
  • Nylon Reel Case
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • $99.99 Reel
  • $49.99 Additional Spool

So to wrap it up.. If you fish small streams and absolutely love the sound of a reel clicking as line is going out, the Redington Zero might be the reel for you. Actually I would say the Redington Zero IS for you! And.. at $99.99 how can you go wrong giving one a try. I tried one out and bought a second one… I now need a third in that cool Avocado color….

Check out the Redington Zero at your local fly shop, just about anywhere online or Redington’s website – https://www.redington.com/fly-fishing-reels/zero

Custom Rod Builders – Bamboo / Graphite / Fiberglass – Sneak Peek – Coming Soon….

New post coming soon so check back.. We will be doing a spotlight on three custom rod builders with a focus on handcrafted rods that show the level of passion put into each rod by their maker. I am currently working to secure the third and final rod builder but right now we have the following: Bamboo – Custom Fly Fishing Rods by Chris Lantzy, Fiberglass – Graywolf Rods by Shane Gray and Graphite – I am working on identifying a graphite rod builder that would fall into the handcrafted area like the two others listed above but nothing set in stone yet. Check back. Below are a few images from the builders we are going to spotlight along with their website so you can browse how they build their rods.

Bamboo – Custom Fly Fishing Rods by Chris Lantzy – https://flyrods.weebly.com/

Fiberglass – Graywolf Rods by Shane Gray – https://www.graywolfrods.com/

Graphite – We Will See… ? ?

Device Charging With Wind Or Water – No Sun Needed – The WaterLily Turbine

Gone are the days of just heading out into the backcountry to backpack, hike, camp or fly fish with basic gear. Now everywhere you look people are attached to some type of electronic device with just about everyone needing a phone attached to them at all times. Now I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to have a cell phone with you at all times because they really can help with navigation, connecting with family, checking social media.. oh wait.. That’s not important…

As we all know phone batteries just don’t last long so what is the answer for power when you are hiking out on the trail or fly fishing next to a river or stream? External batteries… Portable Solar Panels and Chargers.. Yes there are options to keep you connected at all times but let’s look at those options.

  1. External batteries – these are fabulous and work great to keep all your electronics charged. But what happens once you deplete all the power from your external battery..
  2. Portable solar panels – just like external batteries these are great for charging all your devices. They are usually light, can be attached to your backpack, lay on a rock or ground or on the hood of your car. And yes they work great and charge everything you have with the power of the sun. Oh.. except when it’s cloudy, night, raining.. you get the picture. Yep they work great in ideal conditions but how often does that happen?

Just about everything you can find online is solar or battery related when it comes to charging your devices when you are away from an outlet. Until now..

The WaterLily Turbine is a solution to the backcountry charging issues you are having. The WaterLily Turbine works in three different ways. Water Power, Wind Power or Your Power. Let’s look at what this cool little device offers and how you can add it to your gear bag and have unlimited power.

Let’s look at the three ways you can get power using the WaterLily Turbine.

  1. Water Power – WaterLily is a portable charger that gets its power from rivers, streams, creeks, brooks or any type of moving water. If you have water that is moving and can drop this little turbine in it will give you power. Oh.. and it works when it’s cloudy, at night, 24 HOURS A DAY!! It’s truly an amazing little device. If the blades inside the turbine have water going thru them and they are spinning you will have power.
  2. Wind Power – set it up so that the wind is blowing on it and once again if the blades are moving you are getting power. It’s not a complicated concept. If it’s moving it’s working.
  3. The Power Of You – If for some reason you aren’t around running water or there is absolutely no wind there is a small attachment that allows you to hand crank which gives you power on demand. This is a great option for emergency situations.

Who wouldn’t want to wake up to fully charged devices after a night of this little turbine spinning in the river? Right.. Everyone wants that.

And.. The WaterLily Turbine can generate 360 watts of power in a day compared to a 14 watt solar panel pushing out 42 watts of power and if you jump up to a 100 watt solar panel it will produce 300 watts of power.. Yep.. once again on a sunny ideal day these are the best case scenario numbers you are going to get. Did I mention the turbine works when it’s cloudy or at night? Just a reminder…

Now we are going to dig into the features and 100% I heisted this off the WaterLily website. What’s the saying? Don’t ask for permission ask for forgiveness!! I have a feeling WaterLily won’t care that I am using their information and data. So here we go..

  1. Class Leading Blade Design – Blade design has been perfected from nearly 10 years of research and development.
  2. Frictionless Drive – Charge in water flows less than 1mph, or from strong gusts on windy days.
  3. 10 Foot Charge Cable (Not drawn to scale) – Keep your devices safe while charging with our abrasion resistant cable.
  4. 20% More Power – Upgraded circuitry and electrics means WaterLily pushes out 20% more power than the original turbine.
  5. Durable, Drop-Proof Housing – Throw it in! Built to keep the power going through the bumps and bruises of outdoor adventures.
  6. Removable Stainless Steel Lanyards – Set up and mounting options are limitless thanks to 4 flexible removable lanyards.
  7. Sealed Female USB Connector – Up to 15W when you need it, waterproof flaps to keep the USB port clean and dry when you don’t. (USB Output Option)
  8. Chainable SAE Connector – 14.6V of power through a versatile SAE connector. Daisy chain multiple turbines for more power. (12V Output Option)

There are two different options you can choose from when purchasing one of these turbines.

USB Output – WaterLily USA allows you to get unlimited power for your USB devices. You can charge your cell phones, USB batter packs, lights, speaker, camera and any other USB device you may have.

12V Output – WaterLily 12V can power lead acid batteries and portable power stations which is perfect for off the grid situations or you can use it as an emergency power supply.

Technical Information

USB Output – 5V regulated USB output, up tp 3A. Maximum Power 15W, USB 2.0 connector, 10 foot cord.

12V Output – 14.6V DC, up to 2A, Maximum power 15W adn you can connect multiple turbines for more power, 2-pin SAE connector, 10 foot cord.

  • 2.85 lb (1.3 kg)
  • 7″ diameter × 3″ thick (180mm × 76mm)

Water Flow Speed

  • Minimum flow required: 0.7 mph (1 km/h, 0.5 kt)
  • Flow for peak power output (15 W): 7.2 mph (11.5 km/h, 6 kt)
  • Maximum water speed: 9 mph (15 km/h, 8 kt)

Charge Times

In an average river, WaterLily can charge most small electronics at the same rate as a wall-charger. The faster the water flow, the more power WaterLily can generate, up to 15 watts.

If your WaterLily has a 12V output, you can chain multiple turbines together to double, triple or further multiply your power output.

And lastly.. let’s quickly talk about accessories.

Hand Crank – Generate power when water and wind are not available. 10 minutes gets you 6 minutes of talk time. Great in emergency situations.  $24.99

Charging Bag – Keep your electronics dry and safe from splashes while charging. Perfect for charging on shore and in any weather. $34.99

Float – Use the WaterLily float to keep your WaterLily Turbine in the fastest flows! Great for low speed flows, Use for towing with a canoe, kayak or even a low drag sailboat. $19.99

And now to the last part.. How much do these things cost?

The WaterLily Turbine – USB Connector model is $159.99 and the 12V Connector model is $189.99.

So.. if you are backpacking across the Sahara Desert and have unlimited sun pick up a solar panel charger but if not take a look at the WaterLily Turbine chargers. In my opinion this is a really good option and at 2.85 lbs it’s really not bad for a solution to charge all of your devices so you can stay connected.

You can check out the WaterLily website at https://www.waterlilyturbine.com/

HG – Hammock Gear – Truly High Quality Ultralight Gear For The Hammock Sleeping Folk

So you have been camping for years in your ground tent and sleeping bag and absolutely love it.. but there is another option and it’s been around for a while now but the talk is getting louder and louder.. Hammock Camping…

So why hammocks? First, you sleep better… how many times have you been on a camping trip and wake up each morning and don’t feel refreshed and like you got a good night sleep? Most of us.. that’s because the ground is a very unforgiving place to sleep. It’s hard, uncomfortable and flat out not the best way to sleep. And.. yes you can have a sleeping mat or pad but it still isn’t ideal. So sleeping in a hammock is as one article I read – sleeping in a suspended, floating cocoon of happiness. I read that and thought.. WOW.. this lady is a lifelong camper and is making a statement like that about hammocks. They must be amazing. Who wouldn’t want to camp and wake up feeling great?

Second is weight.. When backpacking you are constantly looking for lighter and lighter gear so you aren’t hauling a ton of weight on your back. Backpack, tent, tent poles, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, etc, etc, etc.. Compare all that gear to sleep to hammock camping which if you do it right like a HG Wanderlust Hammock Camping Kit that weight comes in at an amazing 40 oz or 2.5 lbs or 5.5 with the addition of the optional standard insulation. Try the traditional camping route with a tent and gear in under that.. We will look at the Wanderlust a little more later in the post.

Now that I have your attention and Hammock Camping sounds intriguing let’s look at HG and some of their gear.

HG – Hammock Gear… I pulled this information from their About HG page – Established in 2009, Hammock Gear is a small manufacturing company based just outside of Columbus Ohio. We pride ourselves on using the highest quality materials available on the market, to produce our line of ultralight backpacking products. Many of our craftspeople have been active in their respective fields for decades. Drawing on the expertise of our team members, as well as the experience of our customers, we are constantly striving to improve our line of products preferred by hammock and ground campers alike. This combination of expertise and high expectation is the foundation of our mission as a manufacturer of outdoor recreational gear.

I have been talking to HG for a few weeks now and have done a lot of reading and research on HG as a company as well as hammock camping in general. As you know I am a fan of small companies and individuals that produce hand crafted products and HG falls right into that small manufacturing type of company and I like what I have read and seen so far. From the interactions I have had with HG’s President I can see how they have a passion for what they are doing and putting out for us outdoors folk. Their products aren’t mass produced but rather made with that same passion and attention to detail so you know that you are getting quality.

The Wanderlust Complete Kit For Hammock Camping

Here’s what you get…

  • Zippered Bug Net Hammock
  • Ultralight Hammock Suspension including Continuous Loops, Ridgeline, Carabiners, Ultralight Daisy Chain
  • Quest Tarp equipped with 12′ green reflective guyline at both ridgeline tie-outs and 6′ orange reflective guyline at all four perimeter tie-outs
  • Knotless tie-out package with LineLocs and titanium clips
  • Aluminum Y-Stakes (4)
  • Matching Stake Stuff Sack
  • Stuff Sack for storing everything together
  • $229.99
  • Total Weight – 40 oz / 2.5 lbs

Optional Standard Insulation

  • Economy Burrow Standard Length and Width 20 degree comfort rating: Moroccan Blue Outer / Black Inner
  • Economy Incubator Standard Length 20 degree comfort rating: Moroccan Blue Outer / Black Inner
  • Both quilts ship with their own FREE individual storage sack and stuff sack!
  • $499.99
  • Total Weight – 88 oz / 5.5 lbs

With Every Wanderlust Kit Purchase you get

  • A mesh gear sleeve
  • Silicone seam sealer for the tarp

The options you can select on the Wanderlust are primarily color related – The zippered bug net hammock comes in black, charcoal grey, dark olive green, moroccan blue and moss green. Then you get to choose your tarp color – copper or dark olive green.

Now we are going to look at the two components that make up the optional standard insulation part of the Wanderlust.. The economy burrow and economy incubator.

The Economy Burrow or Top Quilt

From the HG website – The Economy Burrow top quilt works well for ground sleepers (make sure you order the wide width) and hammock sleepers alike.  With a Economy Burrow you can rest assured that when those temperatures plummet, you will remain toasty warm.  Our top quilts feature a half taper design and vertical torso baffles, which helps to make sure you have proper side coverage to your hips, while also saving a little bit of weight due to the tapered footbox.  We have two options for foot boxes, zipper and sewn.  The zipper footbox is more versatile, allowing you to unzip and lay the quilt out flat.  The sewn footbox should be utilized if you only camp in cold weather, and don’t need to vent the top quilt.  Each top quilt comes standard with grosgrain loops along the sides of the quilt to allow ease of attaching our Ground Pad Attachment Kit, which comes in handy if you sleep on an insulated pad.  Our Economy Burrow is 15-20% overfilled to help minimize down migration and prolong the loft of the down over time and use.

Now comes the difficult or fun – however you look at it.. The options!!

There are 5 outer shell colors to choose from – black, blue, grey, green and orange.

There are 2 inner shell colors – black or grey

Temperature Rating Options of – 40° F, 30° F, 20° F, 10° F or 0° F

Length Options – Standard (5’7″ to 6’2″), Short (5’2″ to 5’7″) and Long (6’2″ to 6’7″)

Width Options – Standard (50″ for Hammocks) and Wide (55″ For Ground & Hammocks)

Footbox Style Options- Zipper or Sewn

Down Fill – 800

Overfill options – Standard Fill, 1 ounce, 2 ounces, 3 ounces or 4 ounces

And lastly – Ground Pad Attachment Kit

Whew.. That’s a lot of options that will get you EXACTLY what you want and need.

The Economy Incubator or Underquilt

From the HG website –

The ULTIMATE underquilt for guaranteed comfort at a low price… The Standard length Economy Incubator is long enough to generously cover most hammock campers up to about 6’ 1”.  Our Economy Incubator series utilizes downproof 1.1 oz / yd² (20D) Calendared Nylon Taffeta fabric and 800 fill power DWR Treated Grey Duck Down. This underquilt will protect you in temperatures down to its temperature rating. If you are looking for an underquilt that is hassle free and will allow you to enjoy your hammock for more months of the year, you have found it.

The Economy Incubator comes with 9 anatomically contoured, differential cut baffles that run the length of the quilt. One of the things this construction technique does is to greatly reduce the shifting of down that is sometimes more noticeable in quilts made with premium down.  This is one of the reasons Hammock Gear quilts are always 15-20% overstuffed. The differential cut, contoured baffles also provide the highest level of fit which is critical to keeping warm. The Economy Incubator comes complete with our state of the art shock-cord suspension system, featuring color coded s-biners that help you to easily orient the head and foot end of the underquilt for a quick and effortless set-up. All of our quilts are shipped with a complimentary cotton storage sack, and a nylon stuff sack!

Like the burrow there are multiple options to choose from

Same 5 colors of outer shell and 2 colors for the inner shell

Same temperature ratings from 40° to 0° F

Same length options, down fill and overfill options.

Looking at all that you get for a great price how could you go wrong picking up a new sleeping system that offers superior comfort and weight perfect for backpacking? Not to cloud things but they do offer a premium line as well which offers more color combinations and the down fill goes from 800 in the economy line to 850 or 950 in the premium.. We can talk about that in a different post.

So now you need to decide if you want to sleep better when out camping… who wouldn’t… if you fall into that category give HG a look. You can check out the large offering of gear they produce on their website of https://hammockgear.com/

I would guess you won’t be sorry you went with a passionate company like Hammock Gear..

Big Y Fly Company – More Than A Massive Fly Offering

I’m sure if you are reading this and enjoy slinging a fly out onto the water you have heard of The Big Y Fly Company. Their fly offering is probably one of the largest I have ever seen. Everything from the Armored Car Beadhead to a Christmas Island Special.. they have it all. If you have ever been on their site you have probably clicked on Flies and you can easily bounce from fly to fly looking at the thousands of options. I’ve done this on countless occasions and it’s fun.. Just looking at flies.. BUT.. right below Flies on their website there is a section for GEAR.. and they have a fantastic offering of gear from Rods and reels to sunglasses and boats. It’s worth taking a look. And.. they have a large line of their own fly fishing gear and at prices that won’t break the bank like a lot of gear that’s out there right now.

Fly Rods – Big Y has four fly rod options

  1. The Big Y Nano Big Game Rod – A 9′ / 7wt / 4 piece IM 12 high modulus nano fly rod. Per their website – the filica nano material impregnated into the carbon fiber makes the rod both stronger and lighter. They have perfect balance, lightweight and have the cleanest and crispest actions. Snake guides, transparent blue finish and comes with a tube and sock. All for $199.95.
  2. Big Y Nano Fly Rod – Comes in 3wt/4wt/5wt and 6wt options. All rods are 4 piece and 9′ except for the 3wt which is an 8’4″. Same high modulus nano material like the Big Game Rod. Also at the same price point – $199.95.
  3. Big Y Nano Nymph Fly Rod – This is a 10′ / 3wt / 4 piece rod made from the same material as the previous two rods. This is a fast action rod. They made this rod a little stiffer than most nymph rods on the market to help get your flies out a little further.
  4. Big Y The Boss Fly Rod – This rod comes in 4wt/5wt and 6wt and all are 9′ 4 piece rods. Price on these is a little more than the other rods offered – $299.95. This rod is all Pacific Northwest made. The blanks are rolled, built and finished in Woodland, WA. Yep.. A local rod 100%. That’s a hard thing to come by anymore. This rod features Pac-Bay striping guides and hard chrome snake guides, rosewood reel seat with matte silver locking components, AAA reverse half wells cork and comes with a cordura rod tube and rod sock.
  5. ALL rods carry a lifetime warranty. What does that mean since everyone is using that term these days – It means call and let them know your rod is coming their way.. include a check for $50 and they will replace your broken rod with a rod of equal or greater value. Not bad if you ask me…..

The two Reel options from Big Y

  1. Big Y General Fly Reel – 5/6wt, 7/8wt and 9/10wt options available. Great reel for both the trout fisherman as well as being able to fish the salt water flats. This reel has a sealed drag system using a carbon disc. It’s machine but out of cold forged 6061-T6 Aluminum, oversized handles and drag knob, caged frame and includes a mesh reel pouch. I have this reel and it is 100% a workhorse. The drag could possibly stop a small steam locomotive. It’s impressive. The 5/6wt and 7/8wt are priced at $129.99 and the 9/10wt is $139.99. You can also pick up a spare spool for a fantastic price of $65.00. You honestly can’t go wrong. I love mine.
  2. Big Y Standard Fly Reel – Four options available on this reel. 3/4wt, 5/6wt, 7/8wt and 9/10wt. This reel is cut from 6061 aluminum and include precision needle bearings on a chrome alloy spindle which makes this thing smooth and handles great. Carbon disc drag and it comes with a neoprene pouch. And as their website states it is backed with their lifetime warranty, as long s you don’t intentionally break it they will take care of you. Can’t ask for more than that….

Moving on.. Next up is the huge Vests and Packs line-up from Big Y.. At eight different packs it far too extensive to write about each of them so here’s a quick peek into what they offer.

Big Y Day Sling – Priced at $44.95. Perfect size for a day on the water.

Big Y Minimalist Lumbar Pack – $29.95 – Designed to be worn as a chest or lumbar pack. It comes with neck and waist straps but the cool feature is it has wading belt loops on the back so you can wear directly on your wading belt.

Big Y Minimalist Pack – $19.95. Small check pack that gives you the ability to carry just the essentials that you will need for a day on the water. This pack will carry at least one fly box.. maybe a couple.

Big Y Minimalist Sling – $29.95. This is the smallest sling they offer but it has enough space to carry everything you would need including a fly box and a convenient place to carry a water bottle.

Big Y Sling – $54.95. Considerably higher priced sling compared to those listed so far but this is their lightest sling pack and has pockets and attachments to carry everything you need.. And the bonus.. this sling is made with waterproof fabric. Bonus !! So light and waterproof and still priced far below other sling and pack manufacturers.

Now we move out of the “sling and pack” types of bags to the larger vest style.

Big Y Solo Pack – $69.95. This thing has it all including a heavier nylon to make it more durable. The Solo Pack is a vest and backpack combo and you can see from the pictures below that it should be able to hold everything you would possibly need plus far more. This thing is cool and I might need to pick one up very soon.

Now a full blown traditional verst – The Big Y Venture Vest – $59.95. This is for those that fly fish and like the traditional look and feel of a vest. As like all their other packs this vest will hold whatever you need for a day on the stream or river. Numerous pockets and a mesh back help to keep you cool on hot days as well as a nice feature of hand warmer pockets to help out when you are standing in a freezing cold stream and your hands need a break. So this thing is great in any temperature.

And lastly.. The Deluxe Fishing Pack – $84.95. Features include – two main pockets on each side (one contains a removable fly patch), one chest pocket on each side, a back pack section and a hydro slot in the back pack, two coil zings, larger pockets, one additional zipper pocket on each side, multiple mesh pockets inside and out, and enough rings to attach every tool/accessory imaginable. Now that’s a great vest…

The last thing I want to go over is the Kabillion fly boxes Big Fly offers. No I am not going to list all of them but here are a few images and you get to visit their website (listed below) to see everything they offer. From the images below I think you can tell they carry of huge number of fly boxes… Whatever you want they probably have. Check them out!!

So that wraps up a quick overview of a few of the Big Y fly fishing items offered. I can tell you that I have been dealing with Amy at Big Y and she is truly one of the most responsive people I have worked with and full of useful information. If you haven’t checked out their website head over today and see what they are doing. BUT.. make sure to check out the gear before heading down the long and interesting path of the flies they offer.

As I typed that last paragraph I went to the Big Y Fly Company website and found something really cool.. HATCH CHARTS!! Tons of hatch charts for a lot of rivers and streams as well as lakes. A Match The Hatch chart and a Saltwater Fly Chart.. And lastly – links to commonly used flies in a number of states. Now that is a really cool page you need to visit. https://www.bigyflyco.com/HatchCharts.asp

Big Y Fly Company’s website is https://www.bigyflyco.com/

Check them out today. The amount of flies, gear and useful information is overwhelming.. It’s a great resource.

The Outstanding Workmanship And Beauty Of A Liam Hoffman Axe. Simply The Best!

Somewhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina there is a guy that is putting out probably the finest axes known to man. Yes, I know that people will argue that Gränsford Bruk makes the greatest axes and they are truly fantastic works of art but Hoffman in my opinion puts out a superior product. Product is probably a horrible word to use.. work of art is more like it.

I have been around a lot of axes and hatchets in my life and used quite a few of them but this past week I was able to see a Hoffman and a Gränsford Bruk in person. I am looking to purchase a new small backpacking hatchet so I went looking for someone that had them. After seeing them side by side they are both truly fantastic works of art. But.. Hoffman just had a feeling of a superior hatchet and the fit and finish and attention to detail are absolutely second to none. So now I have to wait until December 23rd and rush to get on the Hoffman site to hopefully get one of the few Mini Campers he lists at 7:00 PM. I hear they go incredibly fast. Wish me luck..

Liam releases a different model every Monday at 7PM EST on his website in limited quantity up to a maximum of 10. This will be my first time to try and get one of his axes and if I don’t make it in time it looks like I may have to wait months until the Mini Camper is available again. That should tell you how much people want a Hoffman axe.

Now that I have found my backpacking/camping axe I thought to myself.. I am going to do a search on the web of “Best Backpacking Axes”. I did and the results were astonishing to say the least and it made me think about the way I do my previews and reviews on this page. I read article after article after article.. and I honestly couldn’t believe what I was reading. It wasn’t just one article or review it was EVERY SINGLE ONE I READ. I have to tell you I am proud of the way I do my reviews and reading these articles solidified that. I am going to give you one example of “Best Backpacking Axes”. Here we go.

I read the article and thought to myself.. is this guy for real? How is he saying these 6 axes are the BEST axes out there for backpacking. Then I scrolled down the the tiny tiny print at the bottom of his page and this is what it said “****** is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.” Now his article makes total sense. He’s getting paid to give you an opinion that is so far from impartial it isn’t funny.

When I think of “THE BEST” I think these are actually the best. And when I think of the best I think of superior quality, workmanship and performance. Here are some descriptions he listed in his reviews of “THE BEST” backpacking axes. (1) Made In One Piece (2) Axe And Multi-Tool Combo (3) Lacquered Leather Grip (4) Potential To Chip After A Couple Of Hard Uses (5) Difficult to get good chopping power (6) Composite Handle (7) Edge Can Chip After A Few Uses (8) Dulls quickly and requires frequent sharpening. Honestly how can a person write a review of “THE BEST” of anything and have all those descriptions. I’ll tell you.. BECAUSE THEY ARE GETTING PAID TO SEND YOU TO AMAZON…

How I handle things.. I DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT get paid from anyone for advertising or part of a program where I get paid to give an opinion. Why?? Because it clouds your judgement and that doesn’t make for an impartial review. Ok Rant is over..

Maybe I am a gear snob but I do appreciate hand crafted quality gear and Liam Hoffman and his team does put out some incredible axes.

I do want to give you a feeling for what Liam is about and where he comes from. Below is what Liam has on his About Us page.

Growing up in the rural Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina I was accustomed to playing outside in the woods and creeks, opening up my mind to creativity. I have always been very hands-on and creative. I would make paper dye with wild violets and mold bowls from clay dug out of the creek banks. My mother and her family are very artistic and creative with design. My father is a hard working farmer. I believe I have both these attributes, and that when these traits are combined they fit perfectly the description of a blacksmith: hard work mixed with creative spirit.

I began blacksmithing in the fall of 2008 at the age of thirteen, starting out with nothing but a pit fire and a trailer hitch for an anvil. Over the last several years I’ve worked my way up by purchasing new equipment one machine at a time and learning about the craft and science of moving steel. My parents have been extremely supportive in helping me pursue my passion. They gave me a push start by building a small brake drum forge for my fourteenth birthday. My dad took on the project of building my small 200 square foot shop over a two-year period. Once this foundation was established, I had my business well under way before graduating from high school.

I always get asked how and why I got started in blacksmithing at the age I did. One might think that I saw a blacksmith at a local fair or read about it in school and ran home to try it out. There was no conscious reason why I started, it’s just called being a 13 year old boy. There is nothing else to it. Once I started heating up and hammering on steel, I knew it felt right. Only afterward did I discover what I was doing was called blacksmithing. Today I’m twenty-three years old with 10 years of experience, author of my book FORGED a Guide to Becoming a Blacksmith, and I’ve had the pleasure to teach private lessons to students from as far away as Australia. In June of 2016, I traveled NYC to appear on History Channel’s Forged in Fire. There, I forged a Kora sword and became the youngest to win Forged in Fire against ABS Master Bladesmith, Josh Smith.

I believe that high school hindered me in a way since I discovered my vocation at such a young age. Getting an education is imperative, but at the same time it felt nearly obsolete for me and it’s becoming more apparent every day how this traditional schooling isn’t working for so many folks with an aptitude for trades. I was already working 35 hours a week after school and on weekends, making both school and work life challenging. Add to that several years in Boy Scouts, achieving Eagle Scout at seventeen. I truly believe in hard work for building character. The secret to success is passion and hard work, of which I’m fortunate to have plenty for blacksmithing. Our goal today is to create a tool that your great grandfather would call quality. Made by people, not machines. We’re creating legacy tools to be passed down generation to generation.  

What that tells me is Liam is passionate about what he does and his axes are hands down in my opinion the best out there. So if you want a axe that is quality look up Liam Hoffman and get in line for one of his works of art. If you want cheap rubbish axe head over to Amazon and pick one up for $19.99.

Check out Hoffman Blacksmithing at his website – https://www.hoffmanblacksmithing.com/ or his Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/HoffmanBlacksmithing/ or on Instagram @hoffmanblacksmithing

As I always say with any hand crafted gear I post about – I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Liam hands down makes the greatest axe out there.

Überleben And Their Lightweight Stöker Flatpack Stove And Unwaxed Canvas… Also The Hexå Fire Starter

It’s not often that I give myself credit for much but when starting this review I decided I needed to figure out how to do the umlaut marks over the letters.. And I did.. Now moving on…

Up today is the Überleben Stöker Flatpack Stove and their Hexå Fire Starters. If you don’t know anything about Überleben you really need to check them out. They are putting out some really cool products and I got my hands on a flatpack stove and a fire starter.. See how I did that.. I didn’t list the two words that require me to find the Ü, ö and the å !!

First up is the Stöker Flatpack Stove.. We all know there are a multitude of backpacking stoves out there and alot of good ones. But there is something about this one that is simple, basic and just really cool. This little gem is made out of high quality HD 304 stainless, breaks down into 7 pieces and lays flat in a canvas bag. All that and weighing in at a light 14.6 oz. and that even includes the canvas pouch! How cool is the packaging this thing comes in!!

I’m going to break away from the stove for a couple of seconds and give you a glance into Überleben and their beliefs. The following comes from their About Us section.. and.. I can tell you without a doubt this is the best About Us section I have ever seen on a company’s website. I’m not sure who at the company wrote this but they definitely deserve a gold star.. Wow.. So here you go.

We believe that less is more. We believe in quality over quantity. We believe in respecting tradition, while continually challenging it. And above all, we believe that fire is absolutely non-negotiable. 

Überleben is German word meaning to survive — and/or, to live. While those words appear the same, they’re somewhat different. Fire is essential to survival. However, “survival” is not the reason we trek into the woods after work on a Wednesday afternoon. We’re doing this because something deep inside us is still whispering, “build fire or die”. Subconsciously, we’re not attempting to escape physical death — but psychological death. We long to live. Not merely survive. We’re chasing the experience, an we exist to share that experience with others. 

This isn’t about Instagram followers. Nobody cares about your feather sticks. This isn’t about them. It’s about you.

Ok.. back to the stove now.. below is some information that they list on their website.

Introducing the Überleben Stöker Flatpack Stove. We didn’t need a stove — we just really wanted one. Made of the highest quality HD 304 stainless, the Stöker weighs in at only 14.6 oz packed flat (including the canvas sleeve). The perfect balance of durability and weight. If you can’t find fuel for this, you’re going to need more than a fire to save you.

  • Fueled entirely by organic matter (twigs, bark, pine needles, etc.), this stick stove / bio stove will keep you going indefinitely. No more fuel canisters. 
  • Simple 5-panel assembly allows for low profile / flat pack stow.
  • HD 304 grade stainless steel is anti-corrosive and extremely strong.
  • Includes unwaxed canvas sleeve (wax or leave breathable, according to your climate / preference).
  • Canvas Sleeve doubles as a tinder bag.
  • Weight: 14.6 oz. (including canvas sleeve)
  • Assembled Dimensions: Height – 6.5”, Width – 5.5”( at base) and 4.5” (at top)

I got the stove in the mail, admired the way it was packaged and then opened it. I can’t say enough about this little stove. It’s just cool and built different than anything else I have seen. It’s hard to describe.. JUST COOL!!

My experience.. Putting the stove together was easy, straight forward and absolutely no need for instructions. If I can’t put together something with a total of 7 pieces there is something wrong with me… So.. I got the stove put together and tested it out. Did I mention it cool?? I think I did.. I loved it. It’s basic and gets the job done and all for $38. Yep.. only $38. It’s a great deal. Yes we can buy a stove that requires fuel and burns a kabillion degrees and you can raise and lower the flame.. blah blah blah.. boring. This stove let’s you do what you were meant to do and that is build a fire. Build a fire and cook your own food. Pick on up.. That’s all I need to say.. Just get one.

***NOTE*** Yes I used the stove and took a multitude of photographs but come one.. How can anyone take photos and compete with the images on the Überleben website.. Well. I can’t and that’s why I used their images and not mine..

Here is the link to the Überleben Stöker Flatpack Stove – https://www.uberleben.co/products/stoker-flatpack-stove

And if you have a Stöker stove or any wood burning stove what do you need….. Yep.. a way to get a fire started. Yes you can use a BIC lighter but the fire gods may strike you down if you ever use a BIC light or any little silly lighter to start a fire in the Stöker stove.. If you are going to own a Stöker you dang well better get a real fire starter and Überleben just happens to have you covered in this area. Yes.. more cool pictures from their website.

Not only does Überleben have fire starters they have a lot of them in all shapes and sizes. I picked up the 3″ Hexå Fire Starter and it does exactly what it is supposed to do – It Throws Sparks! The Hexå comes in a 3″ & 6″ both with a multi-tool scraper. Once again a cool thing to have with you. Never know when you will need FIRE!!

From the website –

Introducing the Hexå. We’ve been plotting this move for awhile now. We got tired of waiting for someone else to do it. Our proprietary hexagonal ferro profile means 6 flat sides; or more surface contact — and more surface contact means more molten ferrocerium thrown whenever you need it.  

  • Flat profile design, for greater control and greater efficiency. Approx. 8mm of direct striker-contact on each side
  • 1/2″ (12.5mm) thick Sånft-korr ferrocerium rod yields 20,000+ strikes
  • Works at any altitude, in any weather… even wet.
  • Includes full grain leather lanyard for multiple securing options, and 6-function multi-tool scraper.
  • Available in 2 lengths (3″ & 6″)

The 3″ Hexå comes in at $18 and the 6″ at $32. Small price to pay for something that can start you thousands of fire out on your adventures.

Like I said there are a multitude of fire starters on the Überleben website so take a look what they have.

Just know that when you pick up a stove and a fire starter from the Überleben website you are going to be the cool kid on your next backpacking or camping trip!

Check out Überleben and all their awesome gear on their website – https://www.uberleben.co/ or their Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/uberleben.co/ or their Instagram page @uberleben.co

If You’ve Never Tried Furled Leaders – You May Be Missing Out

Flyfisher folk are a very loyal a fiercly loyal group of people. And by loyal I mean you will argue until you are blue in the face for your favorite brand of rod, reel, leaders and all the way down to nippers. I honestly had a guy at a TU meeting once try and argue with me that the nippers he uses are hands down the best. Yep… nipper war. With that loyalty also comes a passion and there are definiately people passionate about the world of leaders. And why shouldnt they… when fly fishing it is one of the very last things between you and the fish you are trying to catch.

Some have used furled leaders and some haven’t so let’s do a very brief run down of the history of furled leaders. Furled leaders have been around for well over 200 years and most say they were invented sometime in the 1700’s and were originally made from silk and horse hair but now furled leader makers have a wide varity of materials they can use – monofilament, fluorocarbon, polyester thread, nylon and many others. For those of you that are diehard tapered mono leaders folk you may be missing out. And… if you are solely using mono or fluoro leaders for dry fly fishing I know you are missing out… Trust Me On This One!!

If you have read any of my reviews you know that I have fly fished for about 20 years now and I have always been a mono tapered leader guy.. why.. becuase that’s what the people at the fly fishing store told me I needed to use. That’s the joy of being the type of person I am – you don’t always listen or believe what people are telling you and in my case that was a positive when it comes to leader selection.

For some time now I have been questioning that I don’t need to fish anything outside of the tapered mono leader so I started looking into furled leaders. I purchased a bunch of leaders from different makers and tried them out and I have to say I was sold.. if you are a furled leader person you know what I’m talking about – they are just different.. Am I saying you should 100% switch to furled leaders – No.. there are applications for furled and for tapered mono or fluoro leaders but I tend to use furled far more than I do the other now.

I started looking at furled leaders and purchased a good number of them from a lot of makers out there and some were good, some were bad and when I say bad I think my 12 year old could have done a better job of producing one. But.. When I purchase handcrafted gear of any kind whether it be a rod, flies, bags and leaders I like to talk to the person that has put what I think is their passion into producing what I am going to be using. I love handcrafted gear rather than mass produced gear made overseas. I like something that doesn’t look perfect because it was stamped out in a production line. I like stuff that has character and was made by a person that has a passion for what they are doing. That’s what I look for and I am willing to pay a little more for passion over conveyor belt production.

So when I started purchasing furled leaders from a good number of people online I would always email them and try to get to know them, how they started making furled leaders and get a feel for what they are doing. Shockingly the number of them that responded was shockingly low. Let’s be clear.. People that produce furled leaders are hamering out the volume like Rio, SA or all the other mass produced leader makers out there so you would think they would respond to a polite email inquiring about their business… once again sadly most didn’t. A few did but there was one and only one that responded in a way that said to me.. Yep this is the one I am going with. That person was Brandon Moon with Moonlit Fly Fishing. Hands down one of the best people I have ever dealt with. Love him.. He’s great and if you reach out to him I guarantee he will treat you the exact same way. So now.. The only furled leaders I use are Moonlit.. Why?? Becuase like I have said above I like people that has a passion for what they are doing and put their heart into their work and that is exactly what Brandon does.. He is truly an amazing person.

I deceided to do a write-up on furled leaders last week and shot Brandon an email asking for some information and he delivered. I asked him about the history of furled leaders, how he got started and a multitude of other questions bordering on probably being annoying but he answered everything I asked.

(1) Why furled leaders – A furled leader is constructed like a fine tapered rope. Because of this it is stronger and more durable. They last longer because you are simply replacing tippet rather than the whole leader.  It also has minimal memory. This allows the leader to lay straight, and transfer 100% of the energy to the fly. This gives you better turnover, presentation, and drift.

(2) Why Moonlit Furled Leaders – A few things about our leaders that make us unique are we like to mix materials to blend their properties. We incorporate a core of mono or FC in all our leaders to give them some stiffness to help hold form all the way through the cast, and cut through the wind better.  Our platinum leaders are constructed like a 3 strand rope. This gives you a tighter more compact furl with rounder cross sections. This makes it more aerodynamic and gives a softer presentation. Our Nirvana series is constructed of one of the strongest threads on the market, and has a lighter density than water. This allows the leader to float without any treatment.

(3) How did you start in this business – Moonlit Fly Fishing was created to share mine and my Grandpa Augers passion for fly fishing.  This company has helped me to connect with him in a way I was unable to while he was alive.  He had a passion for fly fishing and loved to share it with others, and by sharing that with you I am able to continue his legacy.  I take great pride in making sure our products are of the utmost quality, to help enhance your experience, and so you can feel the pride and craftsmanship that goes into every product.

That is passion in my opinion and this is the reason I use Moonlit Furled Leaders.. They are good.. plain and simple. Now I’m going to give you a little information about Moonlit and the leaders they offer.

The majority of the next few things were taken from the Moonlit website with the permission of Brandon.

Over the last few years we have seen furled leaders making a move back into the fly fishing community. With this you are seeing more and more options coming to the market. This is a great thing as it drives the manufactures of them to be not only competitive, but also innovative. We believe we shine in both these areas. With all the choices though it can be difficult to choose the right leader and set up for you and your needs. Here we will help you choose the most effective leader.

First let’s talk about the difference between a few leaders. We offer two different leader choices, our regular line up of leaders and Platinum Series. The difference between these two are significant. The regular leaders are constructed like your typical furled leader, and made like a two strand rope. Although still better than the other leaders on the market we felt like we should offer something better. The Platinum Series is constructed like a three strand rope, which gives it a tighter more compact furl. Along with this we also get a rounder cross section that helps make them more aerodynamic, cutting through the wind better. The tighter furl also gives them more power and line control, helping you cast longer tippet with greater ease.

Dry Fly (Feather Weight) – Let’s start off with your Dry Fly Leader. For fishing dries we want something that is going to give us both delicate presentation, line control, and drift. Our Featherweight leaders do just that for you. The regular Featherweight comes in 5′ for 0-3wt and 6′ length for 4wt plus, and will cast 5′ of tippet very well. The Platinum comes in 5′ for 0-3wt and 7′ length for 4wt plus, and casts up to 7′ of tippet for a long 14′ leader to fish those small dries to spooky fish. After much casting I’ve found that casting longer leaders from 10′ or more gives me better turnover and presentation. Our Featherweight comes with a core in the butt section to help stiffen the leader to cut through the wind better, and handle wind resistant dries. The Platinum goes on the end of my fly line every time to fish dries. Our favorite is the Hi Vis tip leaders to help us track and sight our small dries that can be difficult to see at times. We prefer using Tip Rings on these leaders for the quick change of tippet it provides, but a Shorb Loop would work just as good. If you choose to get a Shorb Loop simply tie a loop knot in your tippet and attach using a loop to loop connection. The Micro Swivel would be a great option if you are going to be casting bigger more wind resistant flies to help reduce any twisting.

Nymphing (Big Hog) – For fishing nymphs and or smaller streamers the Big Hog is the leader you should use. This leader just like the Featherweight comes in 5′ length for 0-3wt and 6′ for 4wt and above casting up to 5′ of tippet. The Platinum series comes at 5′ for 0-3wt and 7′ for 4wt plus casting up to 7′ of tippet, and casts two fly systems with ease. These leaders will work with Thingamabobber as well. Once again I like longer leaders and find better turnover and drift. This leader is constructed with a core of premium FC to help stiffen the body of the leader and transitions to a straight FC tip. This gives you the most punch for a nymph leader. We prefer to use ours with a Hi Vis butt section of a bright polyester thread about 12″ long. When treated this section floats acting as a strike indicator. If you put a mark using a black Sharpie every one to two inches you will get a segmented indicator helping you detect the more subtle strikes. We prefer using the Micro Swivel on these to help reduce some of the twisting you will get with heavier weighted flies. However you can still fish either the Tip Ring or Shorb Loop just as well.

Streamers/Sink Tip (Hogzilla) – For fishing large articulated streamers or sink tip lines the HOGzilla leader is the right tool for the job. This leader is constructed of only the finest most premium FC. It is a short compact leader at 3 1/2′ long, and will cast up to 5′ of tippet. This is for several reasons, first being that when casting larger and articulated streamers you need a shorter leader to help provide the power to turn it over. Second for sink lines you need to use a shorter leader so that your fly will sink more uniform with your line. The longer the leader the more variation you will see in the depth of your fly with your line. We prefer using the Micro Swivel on these to help reduce some of the twisting you will get with heavier weighted flies. However you can still fish either the Tip Ring or Shorb Loop just as well.

Now that you know about furled leaders as well as Brandon at Moonlit I wanted to give you a quick peek at what a furled leader jig looks like. Below are a couple of pictures of where Brandon produces all his leaders.

We are now at the end.. If you have always been told you need to be using Mono/Fluoro tapered leaders, maybe just maybe you now will have an open mind and give furled leaders a try. I did a while back and I can honesly tell you.. I absolutely love the presentation of the fly on the water with furled leaders. It’s hard to explain but it is just different.. It’s delicate, better drift and furled leaders have no memory…. plain and simple – You should at least give them a try if you haven’t and if you are a fan of furled leaders you definitely should drop Brandon a line. Like I say in most of my posts about handcrafted products – YOU WON’T BE DISAPPOINTED.

You can find Brandon and Moonlit Fly Fishing at https://moonlitflyfishing.com/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/moonlitflyfishing/ or Instagram at @moonlitflyfishing