Most of the anglers I know are gear-heads, and as much as I’d like to think I’m an exception to the rule, I’m really not. I like shiny new things and gear that performs better than its predecessor. As Managing Editor of Angling Trade, I get to play with a lot of cool new gear.
Most of it is fly fishing related but a lot of it is general outdoorsy stuff. Which typically goes hand-in-hand with what I like to do as I’m sure it does for many of you all. I camp, row boats, and hike to get to much of the fishing I do. Here are some of my recent favorites.
1. The LifeProof Fre iPhone Case
This thing is amazing. It’s truly waterproof, quite slim, and tough as nails. I’ve been using mine for about a year now. I’ve dropped my phone in the river, left it outside overnight in the pouring rain, and accidentally had it in the bottom of my raft all day with not a single problem to my phone. LifeProof has another case called the Nuud which literally has no covering on the glass and is supposed to be 100 percent waterproof. So they say… I’m in the process of checking out that case and will report back when I do.
2. The Grayl Water Filtration Cup
This is one of those “why didn’t I think of that” kind of products. If you’re someone who always brings a water filter or filter bottle on your backcountry adventures, do yourself a favor and check this thing out. The idea is simple. You scoop water into a 16-ounce cup, plunge the filter downward, open the lid and drink. No more waiting for water to filter through hoses or sucking like mad for a tiny sip of water. I cannot say enough good things about this product.
3. Sea To Summit Spark Series Sleeping Bags
Simply put, this is the most compact, lightweight sleeping bag I’ve ever had the privilege of using. I used one on a recent F&S shoot in Texas and it was a life saver in regards to space and weight. The bag I took weighs just 12.3 ounces and fits in the palm of my hand when packed in its compression sack. No joke…
4. Umpqua Feather Merchants New Leader and Tippet
Not only has this stuff been repackaged it’s all new materials too. I’ve been using the olive tinted Bass Tapered leaders for warm water creatures as they turn over big bugs with ease and have insane abrasion resistance and knot strength. I’ve also gotten a kick out of the Indicator tippet, an alternating colored piece of nylon material that allows you to see strikes without the use of a traditional indicator.
5. Swift Fly Fishing Company’s Epic Ready to Wrap Rod Kit
I’m building a 4-weight, three piece, Nude colored Epic Blank. My first… It’s fun as hell, a bit challenging, and I’ve heard the rods are simply spectacular to cast. The kit comes with everything you need to finish a rod at your kitchen table. I’ll follow up with how it fishes.
6. Nikwax Sandal Wash
Okay this is a weird one. Hear me out though. I wet wade. A lot… I basically live in my Chaco sandals during the summer. As you would imagine they can get pretty stinky. I’ve tried almost everything under the sun to get the smell to disappear and the best thing I’ve found is this product. Nikwax has a ton of great products — mostly for waterproofing — and the company is super transparent about what chemicals they use and don’t (mainly fluorocarbons, which are in many other waterproofing treatments). I also use their stuff for revitalizing my rain jackets, tents and backpacks.
7. Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 Ultralight Tent
I like ultralight and packable gear. The older I get the less I want to carry. With all the camera and fishing gear I typically take with me on trips, the extra space is great and less weight means more energy for fishing when I get to my location. The Big Agnes Fly Creek series is insanely light. My two-person tent weighs in at just over 2 pounds. While the build feels dainty, it’s pretty darn rugged. I spent four days in a remote part of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness area last summer fishing and cavorting about. It rained almost every night and the tent held up just fine.
8. Thermarest NeoAir Xlite Sleeping Pad
Noticing a trend? I like it light… Not only is Thermarest’s newest sleeping pad offering light (weighing in at 12 ounces), it’s probably one of the most comfortable ground pads I’ve ever slept on. Seriously… The one drawback is that is makes a bit of a crinkly noise that some people distain, but it hasn’t bothered me in the least.