The Gear Issue

Gearheads of the world, unite!

New gear gets me going — that’s why I love this issue and this time of year. Of course, it seems as though every year, every company is trying to build a better mousetrap — but the amazing truth is that a lot of them are actually succeeding.

One of the premier items on the checklist this year is Leupold’s new Vendetta Archery Rangefinder (reviewed in our July/August issue). Read our review — this rangefinder is going to change the way we bowhunt from this moment forward. It’s one of those products that is both wildly different and yet so obviously needed.

I’m also a sucker for GPS units. I acquired my first handheld unit, a Lowrance, in 2005. Even with its calculator-quality LCD screen and the painful wait times while it located satellites, I still loved it. Cheap smartphones have better GPS receivers in them today, but in 2005 it was high-tech. For 2012, Bushnell’s new Backtrack GPS units are some of the more exciting offerings in this segment. I own the original Backtrack and I still think it’s a sweet unit — but these new models are light-years beyond, yet still retain the user-friendly qualities the Backtracks are known for. (Backtrack GPS are reviewed in the July/August issue. Keep posted for the Sept/Oct issue when we unveil more new and exciting GPS units.)

I’m also a bit of an apparel geek — so when companies like Browning, Hot Mocs, Thermacell, Rocky and others tell me they have new products, I’m all ears. Staying warm and dry is paramount to a successful outing — and this starts from the feet up. Hot Mocs and Thermacell have two different takes on the same problem this year, and that problem is: frosty feet. Both companies must understand Prairie winters, because they’ve gone beyond simply using insulation to solve this problem — Hot Mocs’ new tree-stand-approved Shoe/Boot covers utilize chemical warmers and Thermacell offers battery-operated, remote-controlled, electrically heated insoles that fit in any shoe or boot. Minus 30? Bring it on.

Browning’s new clothing line, Dirty Bird, features Primaloft insulation. I attended a product demonstration for Primaloft at the 2012 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT) in Las Vegas earlier this year. I looked on, impressed, as the product demonstrator placed a palm-sized square of Primaloft insulation atop the open hand of a blindfolded test subject. He couldn’t feel any weight, and couldn’t say for sure on which hand the insulation had been placed — but became aware of the presence of Primaloft when his right hand immediately got warmer than his left. I own a Primaloft-stuffed sleeping bag — I can assure you the demo wasn’t rigged. Hey, the military uses it to keep troops warm in the mountains of Afghanistan so you can bet it works.

One of the neatest firearms I’ve seen in a while is the Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle (reviewed in the July/August issue too). This bolt-action rifle has 10 interchangeable barrels, which allows this one rifle to shoot several different calibres — ranging from .204 Ruger to .300 Win Mag — just by swapping out the barrel in a process that takes a practised hand about two minutes. That’s cool!

Yes, there’s so much to get excited about. Check out the July/August issue, on newsstands now. Hunting season is almost here…

 

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