Rambling Review – Lowa Renegade LL Mid Boots

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Rambling Review – Lowa Renegade LL Boots

Lowa Renegade LL Boots
Lowa Renegade LL Boots

Why:

I’m a big fan of hiking. Whether hunting, fishing, or putting on a backpack, I like to leave the sounds of civilization, quads, and dirtbikes behind to find country that others don’t typically get to see. My feet end up taking the bulk of the abuse and therefore it becomes imperative that they get the support from a good pair of boots. I have been a hard core Merrell fan for the past couple of years, but when they did a redesign of their one boot, something changed. I had the opportunity to try out a pair of Lowa Renegade LL Mid boots, and I don’t think I need to look for new boots anymore.

Lowa Renegade LL Boots
Lowa Renegade LL Boots

First impressions:

The Fit – The Lowa Renegade LL Boots feature an over the ankle fit. With three boot lace hooks, the boots are able to be cinched to the proper tension and comfort.

Leather-lined – I don’t have a whole lot of need for Gore-tex while hiking and hunting here in Arizona, so having a pair of glove leather-lined boots that are comfortable and breathe well is critical.

Vibram® Evo rubber – I’m a big fan of Vibram soles and the Vibram Evo rubber boast superior traction and durability.

Manufacutured – Lowa Boots have been handcrafted in Europe since 1923 under the world’s most stringent manufacturing, environmental and labor regulations.

Lowa Renegade LL Boots
Lowa Renegade LL Boots

Field Use:

There is no better test for a pair of boots than a season of Arizona quail hunting. I started wearing these boots prior to the season in order to break them in and was pleasantly surprised to find that they needed little to no time to break in. I went on several short hikes as well as a couple longer scouting trips.

Since quail season arrived, I’ve spent just about every weekend chasing Gambel’s through the desert in my Lowa Renegades. Even in Temperatures as high as 95º, I have found these boots to be extremely comfortable. I typically do most of my hiking/hunting in a pair of merino socks, and when paired with the glove leather that lines the inside of the Lowa Renegade boots, my feet were comfortable and breathed exceptionally well.

Arizona Quail Country
Arizona Quail Country

One thing that I really like about the Lowa Renegade LL Mid boots is the extra support that they offer in their “over the ankle fit.” Although they are labeled as a “mid” type boot, they offer substantial more support than other mid-type hiking boots that I’ve owned. With three lace hooks, I can get the perfect tension, fit, and support that I need for the steep desert hills that I need.

The Lowa Renegade LL are soled with Vibram  which provide serious traction on the ever unstable desert floor. The boot uppers are constructed of a water-repellant waxed nubuk leather is not only flexible but strong, and offers a layer of protection while hiking.

Pros:

Little to no break-in time

Vibram Evo soles

Waxed nubuk leather uppers

Glove grade leather lining

Cons:

Price tag (but well worth it for the quality)

Prognosis:  I love these boots. Need I say more? Check out the Lowa Renegade LL Mid boots and the rest of Lowa’s boot lineup.

 

Disclaimer:

The reviews at Arizona Wanderings are my honest opinion. Arizona Wanderings is not sponsored by or associated with any of the stated companies and is accepting no compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for this review.  The Lowa Renegade LL Mid Boots were provided by Lowa for the purpose of this review. My independent status may change in the future but, as of the date of publication, no relationship other than described above has been pursued or established.

The Trout Underground vs. Tom Stienstra

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I don’t often take a break from my weekly drivel of trip reports and gear reviews to talk about the news, but this is just too good to pass up. Tom Chandler of the Trout Underground has long been one of my favorite reads, and I find myself stopping whatever I’m doing when a new article from him pops up in my RSS reader. Lately, Tom has been busy as he defends the every blogger’s right to freedom of speech.

The story is almost unbelievable. Here’s the short version:

Mr. Chandler and several other media outlets report the arrest of local newspaper writer for cultivating cannabis. Newspaper man sues the blogger for defamation because the blog post is sitting at number 1 on Google. Judge sees through the newspaper man’s shenanigans and upholds the First Amendment. Big newspaper man (who should have known better than to try and infringe on someone else’s right to report factual information) loses lawsuit.

Tom Chandler
Image borrowed from the Trout Underground

 

Tom Chandler shares the entertaining journey here in the three posts below.

1. How it all started: Outdoor Writer Tom Stienstra Busted for Marijuana Cultivation in Weed (Or, Ooops!)

2. The persecution of the First Amendment: The Lawsuit Post

3. Victory: Free Speech Wins – SF Chronicle Writer Tom Stienstra Loses Lawsuit against Trout Underground

 

 

 

 

Arizona Quail Hunting Report

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The Q5 Hunting Vest
The Q5 Hunting Vest

The grass cover was exceptional as it mixed in with the prickly pear cactus. Watching the covey scatter, we slowly eased across the wash and up the opposite hillside. We zig-zagged through the maze of desert plants, and were greeted with single birds holding tight in the thick grasses. It made for a good day of hunting to say the least.

I remember one bird in particular that held exceptionally close and allowed me to walk by him, even after I had given his hiding place a good kick with my foot. Convinced that the bush held no birds, I took another two steps before the same bush erupted with the sound of flushing quail. I spun on my heels and let loose too quickly with the bottom barrel and an unbalanced stance. Righting myself, I took a split second to let out half a breath before squeezing off the top barrel. As if by magic, the quail stopped mid-flight in a puff of feathers and fell to the desert floor.

Holding that gray Gambel’s in my hands, the world seemed to slow. Clairvoyantly, I stepped outside of my self and could see just how lucky I was to be in that moment, on that hillside, holding that bird, with the sun shining down on me. It’s cliche to say, but it’s easy to take for granted just how good we have it.

As if the day could get any better, we sat on the tailgate and enjoyed a few IPAs before packing it in and bouncing our way back to civilization and the women in our lives who understand our need and love of the outdoors. It doesn’t get much better than that.

AZ Windmill
Arizona Windmill
Gambel's Quail Hat
Arizona Quail Hunting Report

The Q5 Centerfire Upland Vest

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The Q5 Centerfire Hunting Vest
The Q5 Centerfire Hunting Vest

Last year I spent quite a few days in the original Q5 Bird Hunting Vest designed by Dan Priest. Dan’s extensive quail hunting knowledge and experience led him to build a high quality vest that is manufactured right here in Arizona. This season, he released a new version of the vest called the Centerfire.

Although I’ve only spent a few days in the field using the vest, I wanted to post a couple of initial thoughts on the changes to the new Q5 Centerfire Bird Hunting Vest.

  • Bigger game bag
  • Larger back zippered pockets
  • Water bottle holders
  • Water bladder holder and adjustable hose clip
  • Zippered/Velcro shell pockets
  • Detachable daypack that can be used in conjunction with the game vest that greatly increases the vests carrying capacity

The Q5 Centerfire is available in coyote brown/blaze orange or digital camo. One of the biggest selling points of any Q5 Upland Hunting Vest is this:

“When you purchase this vest, you are helping a child experience camping and the great outdoors. A percentage of the proceeds go to Arizona Outdoor Adventures, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing healthy outdoor activities for underprivileged children. Go to www.azoutdooradventures.org for further information.”

The new design is pretty awesome and has some serious hauling capacity for all day trips. If you’re in the market for a new vest, the Q5 Centerfire Upland Vest definitely deserves your consideration.

The Q5 Centerfire Hunting Vest
The Q5 Centerfire Hunting Vest
The Q5 Centerfire Hunting Vest
The Q5 Centerfire Hunting Vest with zip
The Q5 Centerfire Hunting Vest
The Q5 Centerfire Hunting Vest with Detachable Day Pack
The Q5 Centerfire Hunting Vest
The Q5 Centerfire Hunting Vest
The Q5 Centerfire Hunting Vest
The Q5 Centerfire Hunting Vest

Disclaimer:

The reviews at Arizona Wanderings are my honest opinion. Arizona Wanderings is not sponsored by or associated with any of the stated companies and is accepting no compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for this review.  The Q5 Centerfire Upland Vest was provided to Arizona Wanderings for the purpose of this review. My independent status may change in the future but, as of the date of publication, no relationship other than described above has been pursued or established.

 

Arizona Squirrel Hunting

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Squirrel
My buddy Dan with his first squirrel

Dan and I are in the same boat. Both our wives are pregnant with little girls, and both our wives were wanting to get out of town. When the girls decided that we would be headed to Flagstaff for the weekend, the wheels in my head started to turn. Dan had never been hunting before, but was eager to give it a try. I knew just what we were going to target – squirrel.

After a big breakfast of eggnog chocolate chip pancakes and scrambled eggs, we parted ways with the girls as they were headed in to town for pedicures while the boys headed into the woods for the Great Squirrel Hunt of 2013. To be honest, I was a bit worried, as I wanted Dan’s first hunting experience to be positive and end in success, but it didn’t take long before Dan spotted the first squirrel and put it in his game vest with a well placed shot.

The rest of the day was full of craning necks, discussions about daughters, and enjoying the fall air of Flagstaff. We were able to add two more squirrels to our haul and headed back to the house to meet the girls. After cleaning our prizes, we prepped them with jalapenos, bacon, and garlic for a delicious dinner.

This was my first time squirrel hunting in a long time, and in truth, it’s as much fun now as when I was a kid. Arizona is blessed with multiple species of squirrel that gives first time and veteran hunters a big opportunity to get into the woods. Although the meat was actually surprisingly good, I think I might be most excited about acquiring a few squirrel tails for fly tying.

Take advantage of this great state and get out for some Arizona squirrel hunting.

Squirrel Hunting
There is lots of this when squirrel hunting
Flagstaff, AZ
Flagstaff, AZ
Spider
This creep was on my leg
Squirrel
A successful day in the field

 

Rambling Review: Columbia Full Flight Chukar Pants

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Rambling Review: Columbia Full Flight Chukar Pants

Columbia Full Flight Chukar Pants
Columbia Full Flight Chukar Pants

Why:

Arizona quail hunting can be a nasty experience. Most everything that God created in the Sonoran desert is trying to stick, scratch, sting, or bite you. So when you’re crashing through washes and the maze of cactus, protection is key. The other wonderful thing about Arizona is it still gets pretty hot in October and November when following those running Gambel’s. So trying to find a happy medium of protection while trying to achieve some breathability can be more than a bit difficult. I have tried a couple different types of upland pants that have worked pretty well, but when I came across Columbia’s Full Flight Chukar Pants, I knew I wanted to give them a try.

Columbia Full Flight Chukar Pants
Columbia Full Flight Chukar Pants

First impressions:

Lightweight – Right out of the box it’s very easy to tell that these are lightweight pants. The uppers and backs of the pants are made of a cotton/nylon blend with Columbia’s Omni-Shield technology. The Omni-Shield technology is stain and water resistant.

Overlays – The fronts and calf sections of the pants are overlayed with a stout, abrasion resistant poly material.

Pockets – Comes with all the standard pockets you would expect in a pair of pants, plus one thigh pocket on the right hand side. The back pockets and the front thigh pocket come with zippers

Fit/Sizing – I ordered my regular sizing and found the Columbia Full Flight Chukar pants sizing to be spot on. They have a “modern, classic fit, straight-leg” which in my opinion works real well for our desert hunting here in AZ. Any baggy extra clothing material has a tendency to get snagged on brush or pick up unwanted cholla.

Columbia Full Flight Chukar Pants
Columbia Full Flight Chukar Pants

Field Use:

The Columbia Full Flight Chukar Pants are a part of Columbia’s Professional Hunting Gear line. I’ve been wearing these upland hunting pants for scouting trips as well as for the first couple weeks of quail hunting. Compared to a regular pair of jeans or double faced brushbeater pants, these are significantly more lightweight. That plays huge when during the early season and your hiking hills and gullies trying to find birds. The poly material on the face of the pants did a pretty good job of protection. They are definitely not as thick as a pair of chaps, double layered denim or tin cloth, but when you’re talking about a full day of walking and tying to lighten the load, these will do the trick. Bottom line, these pants are extremely comfortable and fit me very well.

One thing I would like to say though about hunting in such a harsh environment like the Southwest is that expectations of your gear must be managed. I think that the Columbia Full Flight Chuckar pants are a happy medium between lightweight/breathability and protection from the elements. Lighter weight means you sacrifice some of that durability and protection, and having that extra durability on the legs of the pants adds some weight and takes away some of the breathability.  I have had to get used to was the polyester material on the face of the pants. I have heard it described as having a “synthetic” feel to it. The material definitely doesn’t breath the way that the upper cotton/nylon material does.

So what I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t matter what pants you wear on opening day. You are still going to sweat like a dog on opening day of Arizona quail no matter what. The nice thing is that the Columbia pants breathe fairly well and keep you comfortable in the field. These are my go-to pants for this season of quail hunting.

Columbia Full Flight Chukar Pants
Columbia Full Flight Chukar Pants

Pros:

Good mix of lightweight/breathability and protection

Reasonable price-point

Durability

Sizing and fit

Cons:

Imported

Polyester material does not breath as well as the rest of the pants

I’d love to see some suspender buttons on these pants too

Prognosis:  If you’re looking for a lightweight durable pair of upland pants, the Columbia Full Flight Chukar Pants should be at the top of your list.

 

Disclaimer:

The reviews at Arizona Wanderings are my honest opinion. Arizona Wanderings is not sponsored by or associated with any of the stated companies and is accepting no compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for this review.  My independent status may change in the future but, as of the date of publication, no relationship other than described above has been pursued or established.

 

Arizona Quail Hunting: Gambel’s Quail

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Cholla
Cholla

My morning started out a bit rocky, but things eventually turned out. As the light was just starting to come up. I bent down to duck under the tree and came face to face with a palm sized tarantula. The end of my nose was about 8 inches away from the rock that his hairy arachnid body clung to and for a moment my world stopped. I stifled the “little girl scream” that was rising in my throat and hurried along my way as the spider did the same. I could hear the covey of quail putting and chirping their way through the heavy patch of cholla ahead of me, and when they finally did flush, I was ready. Despite the spider and shirtsleeve full of cholla, it turned out to be a beautiful day hunting Gambel’s quail.

Arizona quail hunting can be tough and this season looks to be only slightly better than last. I am cherishing these mornings where I can get out and stretch my legs while the rest of the city is sleeping in on a Saturday.

Gambels Quail
Gambels Quail
Blaze Orange Gambel's Quail Hat
My new lucky hat
Horse
Desert Dweller
Gambel's Quail
A nice batch of Gambel’s

Rambling Review – GSI Pinnacle Base Camper Small

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Rambling Review – GSI Pinnacle Base Camper Small

GSI Pinnacle Base Camp Small
GSI Pinnacle Base Camp Small – The Kit

Why:

Camp cookware can be critical when planning any outdoor trip. Although there is a time and place for backpacking and traveling light, sometimes when truck camping or feeding a bigger group of people it can be really nice to have cookware that can do a bit more than boil water. GSI has always been a leader in camping cookware and their GSI Pinnacle Base Camper Small is an all around great outfit for those looking for new camp cookware.

GSI Pinnacle Base Camper Small
GSI Pinnacle Base Camper Small

First impressions:

More than meets the eye - There is more to the GSI Pinnacle Base Camper Small than meets the eye. The whole kit includes:

  • skillet/pan (8in)
  • large pot with lid (2L)
  • small pot with lid (1.5L)
  • interchangeable handle
  • cutting board
  • sink/carrying case
GSI Pinnacle Base Camp Small
GSI Pinnacle Base Camp Small

Size and Dimensions - When thinking about car camping, the GSI Pinnacle Base Camp is a very compact cookset, especially when you think about all of the pieces in the kit. However, it would be a bit of stretch if you were thinking about taking it on a backpacking trip where space and weight are issues. The whole set measures 8.20 x 8.20 x 5.40 inches and weighs right around 2.15 pounds.

Material - The pots and skillet are formed of hard-anodized aluminum with a Teflon coating. The strainer lids are pretty stout as well and boast being crush-proof and heat resistant.

GSI Pinnacle Base Camper Detachable Handle
GSI Pinnacle Base Camper Detachable/Interchangable Handle

Field Use:

I’ve taken the GSI Pinnacle Base Camper on a couple of trips this fall and found that it is an exceptional camping cookware kit.  I’m a breakfast guy and was in heaven frying up bacon and scrambled eggs. I cooked several meals over my Crux Lite stove until one trip where I had one of those “face-palm” moments when it ran out of gas. With not many other options, I made a small fire in the campfire ring and used the skillet and pots to make breakfast.  The pots and pan performed flawlessly with the heat dispersing evenly over the pan and pot. I was curious how the open fire with it’s uneven heat would affect the appearance and shape of the aluminum, but neither the pot or pan were warped or misshapen.

GSI Pinnacle Base Camper Small
GSI Pinnacle Base Camper over an open fire

The interchangeable handle is pretty cool as well. It is extremely sturdy but just a simple click of the button and it pops free of the pot or pan.  Over the open fire, the handle did get a bit hot, so be careful when touching it. The whole kit fits inside of the carrying case which with it’s welded seams also doubles as a sink. This can be really handy when trying to maximize water and soap usage after the meal. When the whole kit is packed up, there is actually some extra room inside the innermost pot so you can store utensils, small bowls/plates, or anything else you might want to include in your camp cook set.

The size of the kit is it’s biggest asset and it’s biggest critique.  Because of how big it is, you have the opportunity to cook larger more traditional meals versus boiling water for a Mountainhouse. The GSI Pinnacle Base Camper Small is pretty self explanatory: it’s for a base camp. It excels in car camping situations or if you are planning on setting up in one spot for a while and space is not an issue. If you are traveling light and looking to save ounces, GSI Outdoors has a bunch of other products that would probably work better for those lightweight backpacking situations.

GSI Pinnacle Base Camper Cutting Board
GSI Pinnacle Base Camper Cutting Board

 

Pros:

Lightweight

Multiple pieces of cookware

Non-stick

Distributes heat evenly

Fits together easily and compactly 

Price (for the amount of pieces you get with this kit, it’s a pretty good deal)

Cons:

Price (it’s an investment)

Handle can get hot if you’re not careful

 

Prognosis:  I really like what GSI Outdoors has done with their GSI Pinnacle Base Camper Small. It is the perfect answer for someone looking for a base camp and car camping cook set.

GSI Pinnacle Base Camper Small
GSI Pinnacle Base Camper Small

 

Disclaimer:

The reviews at Arizona Wanderings are my honest opinion. Arizona Wanderings is not sponsored by or associated with any of the stated companies and is accepting no compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for this review.  The GSI Pinnacle Base Camper Small was provided by GSI Outdoors for the purpose of this review. My independent status may change in the future but, as of the date of publication, no relationship other than described above has been pursued or established.