Napier 57 Series Truck Tent

This past weekend I got to take my new truck tent from Napier Outdoors for a shakedown run and boy was it fantastic! For the past few years I have been using the Napier Backroadz series tent for my adventures and it’s a great tent, love it to death but it was time for an upgrade. I contacted Napier and a few days later there was a knock at my door and a man clad in brown delivered my new 57 Series tent!!

Straight off, this one is much heavier than my old one and has twice the poles, more headroom , windows, side vents, rainfly and…ready for this… a 4’x4’ awning that extends out from the back over the door! How cool is that!! After setting it up in the driveway to get a feel for how it went up and the order of the poles I was ready for a full on overnight outing. I called my gal-pal Kim and off we went. Arriving at Algonac State Park around 7pm we only had a short bit of time until sunset to get everything setup…the pressure was on!!

We unloaded the truck bed with all haste and then set to the task of erecting our shelter.

So, first things first. The 57 Series comes with its own expandable duffle bag that is large enough to hold the tent, poles, rainfly and gear loft. It’s a durable nylon bag with strong zippers and padded handles! As a stroke of genius, the instructions to assemble the truck tent are sewn into the carry bag!! How cool is that, absolutely zero chance of loosing the instructions! Its this attention to details like this that sets Napier Outdoors products apart from the crowd.

Opening up the duffle, I set about unrolling the tent into the bed, sorting the poles and consulting the instructions for the proper order of setup. It was a breeze! Figuring out what pole goes where couldn’t be easier because the sleeves the poles go into have color matching trim at the openings that correlates to the color of the correct pole!!! Its idiot proof!…well, almost….

Anyway, after getting the poles in their correct positions it was time to raise this puppy. It went up smooth and secure with no issues. From start to finish, it only took about 20 minuets to put up and then it was ready for use!

One thing I really like about this design are the straps that hold the tent in place in the bed. The left and right side both have three tie downs that hook to the truck body and inside the wheel wells. These straps are nylon webbing connected to a section of elastic to maintain tension. The really cool part is that all six of these tie downs are shrouded in nylon to protect your trucks finish…again, attention to detail.

The real wow factor aside from the taped seams is the 4’x4’ awning off the back! That was the real showstopper. Many campers walking by would stop and asked questions about the tent…where did I get it….was it easy to set up….cool awning!! It really made a difference and offered a bit more covered room, enough for two chairs to enjoy some shade or shelter from the rain!

With the tent up I turned my attention to dinner and started a fire and began organizing the camp kitchen. I have found there are two things that can ruin any trip, bad food and rough nights sleep! With dinner in the works we finished off the inside of the tent.

It was no longer a truck bed but a refuge from the elements, a place to rest after a hard day of adventure and relaxation!

As evening transitioned to night the campground came alive with happy figures illuminated by campfires, twinkle lights were strung and games were being played! I broke out my guitar and played to the stars and the trees…

The fire began to die down and we decided to turn in. Now, this is where the true test of the tent comes in. Some people will say “what test? It just has to sit there.” and yes, in that they are right but there’s more to it. First off there’s enough head room to move around comfortably and I was able to stand upright in the center. Second is breathability. With all the possible venting configurations with the tents windows it did a great job on cutting moisture inside while maintaining a comfortable temperature.

We bedded down for the night as the campground grew quiet. All that could be heard were the crickets chirping and the occasional lake freighter going past. I haven’t slept that good in quite some time!

We woke up with the sun as its light gently filtered trough the tent rousing us from our slumber. Everything was dry inside with no condensation issues and we climbed out, rested and ready to start the day!

I stoked up a fire for breakfast set to work while Kim prepped the fixings. We had bacon, English muffins and some fantastic omelets all cooked over an open fire!

Even if your roughing it, that’s no reason to live like a savage, and trust me, with this tent from Napier you’re far from roughing it!

Click here for more information or to get yours!

As always, thanks for reading!

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Gear Aid Revivex Durable Water Proofing!

Nothing can ruin a good day of bushcrafting and dampen spirits like a downpour! I don’t know about you but I don’t always carry rain gear when I head out, but I do always have a boonie with me! Their great at shedding rain and sun and are must have for any adventure . At some point though, they do soak through and Blam’O! You’ve got a wet head!!The weather around HQ has been exceptionally rainy as of late so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to test Gear Aids Durable Water Proofing spray. Designed to refresh raingear, coats, hats and tents the Gear Aid DWR is a fantastic product. Following the instructions I headed outside, hat in hand with the expectation of creating a waterproof cover for my head.

Hanging my boonie on a weathered nail protruding from the arbor in the backyard and taking the “more is better” approach I sprayed the hat at the instructed distance and until it was rather saturated. Satisfied with my application I proceeded to the dryer. Again, following the instructions on the bottle, I set the dryer temp and timer and waited….

Time for the science!

Gear Aids DWR is a proprietary inert fluoropolymer that does not change, combine or degrade over time into something else…What that means is that the performance is consistent through out application on various items. How cool is that right?! It is hypoallergenic, colorless and made in the USA!

Once dry I inspected the hat to see if there was any discoloration or alteration of the ATACS FG print. I found none. The boonie looked the same as it did before application and I was excited to continue evaluating the spray.

Now for the real test, I took the hat for a spin in the sink….It worked!! The stream of water from the faucet was neatly deflected by the DWR and rolled of the brim like water off a ducks back! After showing off the performance to the crew here, answering questions and listening to the Ooo’s and Ahh’s I grabbed my hat and headed outdoors…It hasn’t rained since, but when it does, I’m ready!

I’m really impressed with the performance of this product. It took a hat that had no repellency in it what so ever and made it this awesome piece of kit. I can only imagine how it will work to renew your favorite raingear!

The applications don’t end there… You can apply it to packs, jackets, sleeping bags, tents….anything that needs to be water repellant even your existIts uses are endless and I cant wait to see what I use it on next!

Click the link below for more information and as always, thanks for reading!

Gear Aid Revivex

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Rustic Rafters Campground…

As I write this post it seems almost a lifetime ago that my kids and I were at Rustic Rafters, but in reality it was just the other day. I keep feeling like its time to start prepping the fire for lunch! Splitting wood, getting the fire started and working on a hot bed of coals for the burgers while my two little campers sit on the cabin steps whittling.

My kids and I had the pleasure of spending another long weekend at our getaway of getaways, Rustic Rafters. Nestled away in northern Michigan, Rustic Rafters is the quintessential “Up North” campground. With spacious sites, beautiful showers and charming cabins, this place is everything you need for a basecamp for your wilderness adventures or to just sit in camp and watch the sun move across the sky!

We were the first people to stay in one of Ray’s new bunk houses! Designed and hand built by him they are fantastic for a large family or hunting party! The bunk houses are laid out with a table, chairs, coffee pot, fridge, microwave and toaster. There are two sets of bunks on either side of the cabin with a heater between them and to top it all off, a beautiful porch with a table and benches for eating out!!

Our meals were true Cowboy fare! Saturdays dinner consisted of flame grilled steak and beans followed by a breakfast of bacon and flapjacks. That was chased by a round of grilled burgers for lunch and then a mess of eggs and flapjacks the next morning. Everything was cooked over an open fire and hot coals, imparting that delicious, smoky flavor that can only come from cooking outdoors. The children and their sophisticated pallets have decided that brown eggs taste better than white and I was right in my decision to go with them. Originally being met with skepticism and doubt, I had to convince them that the browns were the way to go and take it on faith that I knew what I was doing! Their little faces certainly mirrored the doubt in Dad they were feeling inside!

Fosters Market in Lake City has some of the freshest meat around and the staff is always helpful. Bill came to our rescue when we had a S’mores Emergency and was able to save the day! Thank you Bill!!

We did manage to stroll into town and visit the Family Diner. There has been a restaurant in that spot for as long as I can remember and its tradition to eat there at least once per trip! The food is great and the prices are very reasonable. As with Fosters, the staff was excellent and saw to our every need. They even have a gluten free menu!!

So when you go up north you need to do up north things. Looking for wildlife is near the top of the list and we were not disappointed. The local back roads provide the perfect venues for critter watching and we were treated to seeing a doe and her fawn cautiously picking their way along a creek, a lone turkey roadside and a badger! Yes, a badger!! He crossed the road in front of us in such a manner as to appear angry that a road was cutting through his swamp!

Having access to some private land I decided it was time for my kids to experience an up north rite of passage…their first bows! They took to them like fish to water! I found two nice little compound bows for them, attached the sights ( like a flat lander, or so I was told!) and we headed out to the back forty. Large McDonald’s cups were the targets of opportunity with a sawmill and its dust pile as our backdrop. After a detailed and lengthy safety discussion and many arrows being let loose, Noah was the first to put one through his target and was soon followed by his sister. With turns being taken and arrows flying it became quickly apparent that I had a couple of archers on my hands! In fact, Zoe asked about bow fishing!! I’m so proud of the both of them.

Cupping my face, my hands still smell of work and the forest. Hands that split wood, worked the fire, carried water and provided for my family. Hands that did real work….hands that affirmed our connection to the real world in a time of Facebook and video games and virtual reality. The skills I used were real, the knowledge I used was real and time we shared together was priceless!

Below are links to the places mentioned in the article and as always, thanks for reading!

http://www.rusticrafters.com

http://www.fostersmarketlakecity.com

http://www.family-diner.com

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A Cut Above…

The world of pocket and EDC knives is constantly evolving and changing. From blade designs and deployment methods to blade shapes and materials used, there are as many “different” knives as there are uses!

Leading the charge on the field of knife design is CRKT. Their spirit of innovation and embracing new ideas has brought many a creative yet functional knife to market.

The Main Show…

The DAKTLY is no exception to this! When the box from CRKT arrived I tore into it with excitement which quickly morphed into curiosity as I wondered how I was going to open this knife without loosing a finger or two!! With a bit of fiddling I figured out how to open it and a little after that I had mastered opening and closing it with one hand! 

Utilizing a very uniqe swing out mechanism, the DAKTLY leaps into service by depressing the safety / pivot release lever. Once done, this allows the blade to swing freely from its stored position inside the stainless steel “cage” that makes up the handle. Once released from confinment and with a press and push of the thumb the blade snaps into position! Now heres the thing…looking at this little knife and the way its designed one would not expect the type of blade lock up it deliveres! 

Central to the swing out mechanisim is an astethicaly placed ring. This ring provides great finger purchase as well as doubling as a beltloop clip and bottle opener when opened! This is where the safety comes in. Engaging the safety prevents the blade from accidentally opening when you clip it or put it in your pocket!

Lets talk about the blade…

Following on the less is more principle the blade has lightening cut outs and a very utilitarian profile that provides excellent control. Shipped razor sharp, it cut all materials put before it. Cardboard, leather, steak…more steak…mmm, steak! Ok, back to the knife! 

After dispatching several boxes that were just asking to be broken down and carving up a nice piece of beef, the DAKTYL had one more suprise up its sleve. Its a cinch to clean! Seldom when looking for a new knife have I ever looked at ease of cleaning but it is something that we all should pay attention to, especialy if like me, your using it as a camp knife! You don’t want any lingering bits of dirt, fish guts or blood hiding and just waiting to find there way into you either via food prep or cut! A good bout of food poisoning can cut short or at the very least ruin a perfectly good camping trip. Make it a survival situation and “You died from disentery!” (thank you Oregon Trail!)

Where this little knife really shined was fishing! Attached to my Agilite pouch, it was always on hand for trimming line and opening eyelets on jigg heads! With a click and a flick the blade was out and ready for duty. Now thats not to say that it remained on my fishing rig… It is equally at home on my waist, clipped to a belt loop! Clip it to your waist, pack or pouch…hang it around your neck with some paracord…it’s always handy and ready for any job you can throw at it!

I found the DAKTYL to be a useful knife of exquisite form. The fit and finish is spot on with an addictively smooth blade deployment and a precise, tight lockup. 

As always, thanks for reading!

For more information or to get yours, click here….

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Don’t Lose Your Cool!….

I love relaxing in camp. The tent, fire and camp kitchen all make the perfect backdrop for a scene of relaxation and contemplation. Add a nice cold Cola and I’m good to go! Now, I’ve used all manner of things to keep my beverages frosty…ice, styrofoam, insulated cups…you name it and I’ve tried it and most of those methods were less than ideal. Styrofoam cups are flimsy not to mention bad on the environment, I can taste the plastic of the insulated cups and ice dilutes what your drinking…unless its water!

Then along came YETI!… 

You know the cups, stainless steel, modern design? Well to be honest, I tried a few of the copies and knock offs only to find they can’t hold a candle to the real deal! So after hitting pretty good at the casino, I decided it was time to upgrade my cup game and get a YETI. I chose the 30oz Rambler and I love this cup! It keeps my Coke so cold that its almost hard to swallow! I can fill it with water and ice and drink from it all day with only replacing the water! The cups do what the ad’s say and ice keeps over night! Litterally, how cool is that!!

It fits in my hand nicely and in my Agitlite pouch on my chest rig even better! I’m totally self contained!!

The stainless steel construction makes them a breeze to clean and the rugged plastic lid seals up tight everytime. I have no complaints about this cup at all.

Sleigh Bells?!What?!…

Now, people have said to me “Scott, why don’t you buy a cheaper one?” “Hey, I got mine for half of that!” and so on and so on…but here is why I bought a YETI, I have had the clones, i have had the similar styles but none of them performed. Sure, they would keep things cold for a while but not all day and into the next like my Rambler. I have high expectaions for my gear, when I do something I give it all I have and then some, I expect my equipment to perform the same if not better. Thats why I spent a few dollars more, expecting more and I wasnt dissapointed. About a week and a half into my ownership of this amazing vessel, it develped a ring. I don’t mean like a ring around the inside….I mean like an honest to goodness ring! Like a sleigh bell!! I was dissapointed as anyone would be, here is this marvel of beverage containment that now sounds like it was part of Santa’s kit! I lived with the ring for a bit until I noticed that it wasn’t keeping stuff cold like it did before. Seems like the weld had popped… I sent YETI and email and had a reply the next day. I sent pictures and a video as requested to show what was wrong with my cup.

This is Jackie,your Time Life Operator!”…

The reply came back to contact customer service…oh boy I though, here we go….because we all know what this is going to be like…or so I thought! I called and on the third ring a polite young woman answered the phone and introduced herself. I explained I was calling because I received an email instructing me to do so. Without a word I hear clicking in the background “Oh yes! were going to get a new cup out to today!” Wait, what?! Where’s the – “your warranty is only valid on the first tuesday after the second blue moon in an even year during a month that ends in ‘Y'” – argument? Then she goes on “and may I say, your cup has the loudest ring we have ever heard!” You’ve got to be kidding me! She continues to appologize for the cup, assured me I would have my new one in five days and asked if there was anything else she could do for me. I asked if she could throw a truck decal in the box and she said that she was sure they could put together something! What a great company! I understand that when mass producing products things are gonna happen and stuffs gonna come out less than spec, it happens, but to stand by your product like that is what sets YETI appart from the rest!

A note to YETI, your great product and outstanding customer service has earned you a customer and raving fan for life!

Click here for more info or to order your own Rambler!

As always, thanks for reading!

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This is One Sharp Pen!

What is the definition Every Day Carry (EDC)?

Well it varies from person to person but is generally accepted as a lifestyle whereby an individual carrys with them on their person, or in a bag/pouch of some sort, a kit comprised of tools and gadgets that they feel will help them overcome any adversity they might face in going about their daily business. Now, that may mean a flashlight, knife, pen, first aid kit and many times a firearm. Loadouts very from person to person but there are some basics that are just understood and go unspoken. A pen, flashlight and cutting instrument of some kind. Now add to that anything else you feel you might need and you could end up with pretty big kit! The key here is to balance need vs weight vs probablity. Its a vicious triangle that can drive even the most patient of Boy Scouts mad!….”BE PREPARED!”
So taking that into consideration I’m always crusing for new gear and ideas to help maximize my “preparedness capacity” while reducing bulk or weight and I made a fantastic find!

SOG has developed a new line of tools for the EDC crowd they call the Baton Series! It is a collection of tools designed to be descrete and go unnoticed until they are needed. From a pen/scissors combo all the way up to a full fledged multitool, these gadgets are an EDC’s dream! I got to hands on with the Q1 which is the pen/scissors combo and after two weeks of daily use and abuse, I’m really impressed with this little tool. 

The Q1 has a retractable pen in the front, a pair of razor sharp scissors in the middle and a blade screwdriver and bottle opener on the back end! Pushing the pen stud forward exposes the ball point stylus, locking it into place. Pressing the stud into the Q1 body retracts the pen and helps prevent you from writing on your shirt as you put it back into your pocket!  The pen writes smooth and ink is applied to the paper via a pressurized cartridge allowing for writing in just about any position. The cartridge is easy to replace and the pen tip twists and locks instead of threading on or off. The only drawback I found was that the spring under the cap is quite willing to bounce away to the unknown when your taking it apart!
The screwdriver on the back is a nice addition and handy to have. Not a pryer mind you, but still a solid tool for those quick tightening jobs or your trying to pop open a cold one after a long day at the grind.

Now for the main show! The scissors are concealed within the body of the Q1 and are deployed by pulling it appart and put away by pressing it together! How cool is that!! Don’t be put off by their size, these little buggers are sharp and strong. In testing they made fast work of paper products and were just as effective at cutting 6-7 weight leather! Would I want to use them to make a shirt from the tanned hide of the deer I caught in my snare while waiting to be rescued from the wild? No, but I could…Could I use them to cut a strip out of my leather belt to reattach my radiator hose and get back to civilization? Yes!

The body of the Batons are annodized metal with a fit and finish that is spot on. The seam where the two halves come together closes up flush with no uneven spots or angles that could snag. Overall the design has a nice feel and is easy to write with. The rounded edges sit comfortably in the hand even after prolonged use.

In my opinion the Q1 from SOG is a true Every Day Carry tool and a must have. It has three of the most often needed tools through out the day and is marvel of SOG’s innovation and engineering

Click here for more information or to order yours!

As always, thanks for reading!

And for our Finnish readers: “Kiitos lukemisesta!”

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Fish’em if Ya Got’em!

Summer has finally begun and to me and my family, that means fishing! With the weather being as nice as it was Saturday I packed up the kids, a lunch, rods and trusty old truck tent and headed out. Our destination of choice is a DNR public access point 20min from home. 

We pull in and it quickly becomes apparent we weren’t the only ones looking to enjoy the lake today! Trucks with boat trailers as far as you could see filled the main parking lot and the spaces edging on the lake shore were dotted with various vehicles in multiple states of use, none of which really fit the bill for a day camp.

We pick our spot and I back the truck in. As soon as the engine was off my kids were outta the truck and unloading our gear! I’ve got two fantastic little helpers and quickly their nimble little hands went to work assembling the poles for the truck tent! As I unrolled and opened the tent into the truck bed, my son went around attaching the straps to the body. Once that was done we inserted the poles and up she went! The Backroadz tent from Napier Outdoors is a constant companion in my truck. It’s great for camping trips or quick shelter from the sun or rain! We use it a lot for day camping. In fact we have even used it last winter on one of the nicer days to take food down by the water to eat and play boardgames! 

Time for lunch!

My daughter grabbed our food, a blanket and climbs up into the tent. Tossing in and smoothing out the blanket, she sat down and helped me pass out the food. As lunch was winding down she produced a couple of card games and playing commenced. I’m not sure how but her brother and I kept losing, can’t prove it but I think she was cheating!!

We enjoyed the shade of the tent and the gentle lake breeze passing through it. The view out of our little shelter was amazing and we sat there quietly taking it in. I’m fortunate to have kids that enjoy the outdoors as much as I do, they are always up for adventure!

With our lunch over Noah grabbed his pole and turned toward the lake and Zoe decided she wanted to put her head down for a snooze. The nice thing about the access point is that you can park right at the waters edge so I was able to sit down and watch them both!

With her nap over, Zoe and I joined Noah on the rocks casting our lines. Well, they were casting their lines, I was untangling reels, removing seaweed and untwisting  crossed lines! Not to mention replacing tackle! I was support crew and totaly fine with my desginated role, as long as they were having fun, I was having fun! My chest rig was a God Send in that I wasnt constantly going back and forth to a tackle box and rooting through it looking for stuff! 

Another resident of the trucks backseat is my chest rig adorned with multiple pouches from various companies and filled with an assortment of tackle. It’s fantastic for fishing and keeping everything at hand when your working your way through bushes (or fences!) Trying to reach that secret spot where the big ones lurk! Organization is a must and the way I’ve got it kitted out works well for me.

Sadly, the fishing gods weren’t smiling on us and we didnt take anything home except for fun memories of a well spent afternoon!

As always, thanks for reading!

Here are links to the gear…

Tent: Napier Outdoors 

Chest rig: High Speed Gear

and Pouches: AgiliteBDS TacticalExplosive OPS Gear

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