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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As alot of you know, I'm a gear head and love doing pictorials. I thought I'd dedicate a thread to "in field" gear evaluations since it's the end of elk archery seasons in most states. Please feel free to chime in with your reviews of gear that was NEW TO YOU THIS YEAR. Don't include bows, arrows or broadheads, as that's endlessly debated and reviewed on here.... I'm looking for outerwear, boots, camping gear, GPS units, packs.... etc. You know, things you need for backcountry hunting.

I'll go first....

#1 - Eberlestock X2 pack (2010 model)

There are some really good points to this pack and some glaring weaknesses as well.

GoodPoints:
This pack has pretty good organization, good quality and was laid out well. I was able to put one of my 3 liter hydro bladders, filled up, in the wing pockets.... which suprised me. I also really liked how the back of it is vented and keeps air circulating around your back (ala Badlands Hypervent) to keep you cool. The yellow frame is also a nice touch as it adds alot of stiffness to the pack that you never find in daypacks. I think hauling an elk quarter in this pack would be "doable". The material the pack is made of is the standard Eberlestock material... it's not overly waterproof, but does OK... it's a relatively quiet material. The pack had several waterproof zippers on the outside of it... so that was a nice touch, even if the material surrounding it wasn't waterproof. LOL

Bad Points:
This pack had some glaring weaknesses IMO, and made me question the pack's hunting worthiness.

#1 - The pack is a "day pack", but has a frame.... this seems like a good idea, but I feel this pack is too small to actually warrant the need for the frame. The shoulder straps are SHORT. I had them extended almost all the way out (I'm 6'-1" and 240 lbs with a muscular build).... if I had been taller, or had a belly on me, the pack would not have fit me. They need LONGER shoulder straps... not just the webbing, but the shoulder pieces themselves need to be 4" longer IMO.

#2 - The hip pockets on the belt were WAAAAYYY too small IMO. They could have been much baggier so that you could get something in there of substance. About all I could fit into a hip pocket was one GPS unit or a rangefinder.

#3 - Grip #2 about the hip belt.... there is NO accomodation for attaching a pistol holster. This is a big gripe of mine... if you wanted to pack heat with this pack, you better use a drop leg thigh holster (PITA while hunting). All my other packs have some sort of open spot on the hip belts where you can at least clip a cordura holster to it. This was an annoyance, and if I had been hunting in GRIZZ country, a deal killer IMO.

#4 - The worst problem with this pack, and it makes me want to send it back to Eberlestock is that this pack is EXTREMELY NOISY!!!! It squeaks and creaks like an old wooden rocking chair. The incessant squeaking comes from the yellow frame tubing being mounted into a cordura pocket in the pack. The painted aluminum frame tube squeaks against the cordura every time you take a step. I was unable to wear the pack while still hunting through the dark timber for elk... it was that bad. My hunting buddy said he could hear me from 50 yards away in the quiet woods. I'm sure the elk could hear me from much farther away than that. The only time the pack was quiet was when is was soaking wet from a storm we got. Pretty sad IMO.

I'll probably be calling Eberlestock to see if I can return it for a credit or something. I was really disappointed in this pack... I do NOT recommend it until they fiz the squeaking/creaking issue.

-ZA
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Review #2:

Kenetrek Hardscrabble Lite hiking boots

This is short and sweet. These boots, while being expensive, are 100% worth it. I normally wear a size 12 wide in my shoes, but bought 12 regulars in these (they didn't offer wides this year). I was nervous about them b/c they were a tad tight a home while trying to break them in. This issue went away after the 2nd or 3rd day of elk hunting in them. They broke in and molded to my feet like a custom glove... they were incredible.

The K-talon soles on the bottom of these boots is insanely grippy.... I only had two slips during my entire 9 day elk hunt, and that was on loose rocks while going down some steep faces. If I was stepping on dirt, my foot wasn't moving an inch. It was awesome to have that much confidence in not slipping. They are MUCH MUCH grippier and agressive than the Lowa Tibet GTX Pro's that I also took elk hunting. One of the other nice things was that they only weighted 3.6 lbs for the pair (size 12's measured on a postal meter). These were almost a whole lb. lighter on my feet than my Lowas.

I've read where an extra 1 lb on your boot weight feels the same as an extra 10 lbs on your BACK! I believe it.

I treaked these boots with the Kenetrek brand boot/leather waterproofer and conditioner, and that made them very water resistant. They have a waterproof lining in them so your feet won't get wet, but the leather treatment is an extra layer of protection, and keeps the leather from absorbing water and getting heavier. This makes for some REALLY fast drying boots. These boots breathed VERY well, and my feet never got hot, even during long, grueling hikes during the mid-day... we put 11 miles on them in one day.

I'm going to sell my Lowa Tibets and get another pair of the Kenetreks... probably the Mountain Extreme 400's for the extra ankle support and insulation for really cold days.

I'd have prefered more ankle support than the Hardscrabble Hikers had if we were packing out meat. These boots are "mid height" boots made for being light, fast, tough with medium to lite loads. If you have very weak anlkes, I'd look at the Mountain Extremes, as they are significantly taller and offer more support.

These are the best hunting boots I've ever worn, no doubt about it.

-ZA
 

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I know you said outer wear, but I have to post about my results on the UA underwear. Wow!!!!! The guys on here suggested them and I wasn't crazy about spending 20 bucks a pair. But The guys were right the UA underwear is a must have in the mountains.
 

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There are some really good points to this pack and some glaring weaknesses as well. [[U said:
Bad Points:[/U]

#4 - The worst problem with this pack, and it makes me want to send it back to Eberlestock is that this pack is EXTREMELY NOISY!!!! It squeaks and creaks like an old wooden rocking chair. The incessant squeaking comes from the yellow frame tubing being mounted into a cordura pocket in the pack. The painted aluminum frame tube squeaks against the cordura every time you take a step. I was unable to wear the pack while still hunting through the dark timber for elk... it was that bad. My hunting buddy said he could hear me from 50 yards away in the quiet woods. I'm sure the elk could hear me from much farther away than that. The only time the pack was quiet was when is was soaking wet from a storm we got. Pretty sad IMO.

I'll probably be calling Eberlestock to see if I can return it for a credit or something. I was really disappointed in this pack... I do NOT recommend it until they fiz the squeaking/creaking issue.

-ZA
Not saying this is the problem but i just ordered one and seen this new link, looks like they found the problem to the squeeks.

http://www.eberlestock.com/X2 Frame Wrap Fix.pdf
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·

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My first pack trip for the fall was 6 days in the Colorado Wilderness at 11K-12K ft.

Gear I used listed below. I've weeded out a lot of bad gear through lots of trails in the back country. I need to update my pants but for the most part the gear I use works for the style of hunting I do.


2010 Archery CO trip gear list....

Camp Items -
Badlands 4500 pack
Mtn. Hardware Clouds Rest 5deg sleeping bag
Outdoor Research Alpine Bivy Sack
Therma Rest Z lite Sleeping Pad.
Brunton Raptor Stove (mine was the backup)


Clothes/Feet-
Nike DriFit long sleeve T base layer
Under Armour (UA) Cold Gear Base Layer
UA Cold Gear vest
UA Cold Gear 1/4 zip pull over
Stika 90% jacket
Various combination of liner socks and poly socks.
Cabelas Fleece beanie
UA Cold Gear gloves camo
USMC Wool Gloves
Zamberlan 965 LHASA boots
Kings Camo Poly long sleeve desert camo
Kings Camo Poly Pants BDU
UA Heat Gear Boxers
RMEF Max 1 Camo ball cap
Cabelas Dry Plus packable ultra light rain jacket & pants


Hunting items -
Swarovski 10x42 SLC
Nikon Pro 440 Range Finder
PSE Dream Season Bow
PSE Carbon Force Pro 300 shafts w/custom 3" fusion vanes
G5 Montec 100gr broad heads
Scott Wildcat Release
A.G. Russell Featherlight knife

Food Items -
Kashi Oatmeal for breakfast
PB & Honey premixed in a tube on a bagel for lunch
Mtn House Dinners
Snacks - Wilderness Athlete (WA) bars, WA Energy gels, Cliff Builders Bars, trail mix, jerky,
WA Drink Mixes - Hydrate & Recover, Energy & Focus
WA Altitude Advantage pills (1 per day)
GNC Multi Vitamin Sport (1 per day)
Not enough Advil to make it the 6 days.

Toss in game bags, trash bags to keep inside of pack clean from blood or used as pack rain cover,
 

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Here's a good one...

I love my JetBoil cooking system and I have had it for 6+ years without doing anything to it or having a malfunction, but this year I got my hunting partner and best friend the Primus EtaSolo system since it seemed to be an all around improvement on the same design. (What better birthday present? lol)

See link for product: http://www.moontrail.com/primus-eta-solo.php

Well, it turned out to be a large improvement in my eyes after watching it in use every day. The stove boils the same 2 cups of water as a JetBoil about 90 seconds to 240 seconds faster! This obviously greatly reduces fuel consumption since it actually has been measured as being more fuel efficient anyways. Don't ask me why the thing varied so much in cooking time but my Jetboil is just flat SLOWER! LOL. The first test we did yielded the 90 second difference at 7000 ft. and the next two tests both had the 240 or so second difference. I got a little crap for my weeny stove. The fuel in the canister may have been about 50% full (for the JetBoil) but so was the Primus after 6 days of constant use, and the flame seemed adjusted the same on both. This factor alone makes the $89.00 stove worth it over the now $10 cheaper JetBoil.

The Primus is a few ounces lighter and 10% smaller packed weight. Nice plus.

The Primus lower cooking base "clips" into the boiling cup. This seemed hooky at first glance but it held up with zero problems. I still like how the JetBoil "locks" in with a turn by using "threads." Also, the Primus doesn't come with a fuel canister stand which is very useful in my mind. But you can always purchase the JetBoil model separately for about $10 and the thing will fit in your Primus stove just like the Jetboil.

The Primus can be hung from anything that will hold it. It comes with a metal chain that will keep it off the ground. I'm sure there some obvious reason for this but it wasn't useful for us, since there was no snow or ice.

In summary. Anyone buying a JetBoil should reconsider their decision if they care about weight, reducing cooking time or fuel efficiency. I will be buying a Primus EtaSolo in the off-season for next year.

Good thread by the way ZA! So did you kill anything? I have been completely out of the loop for 30 days.
 

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I have been fine-tuning my gear for years. Seems after 30 years of elk hunting that I'd have it all finalized. But, every year I seem to make a few changes to what I wear, what I take in my pack, and my camping gear.

This year my biggest change was to add a 30,000 BTU Thermoheat propane heater to my wall tent. It hooks up to a 20lb or larger protane tank, and has two 15k BTU burners. I have always been a little leery about this kind of thing in a tent, both for carbon monoxide emissions and just the fumes. I have asthma and wear soft contacts. I could feel both my eyes and my lungs being affected with this heater, however, it works so well at taking that morning chill out of the tent, that I could live with the other issues.

Everything else pretty much stayed the same as previous years.
 

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i tried out 2 new biggies, the badlands 2200 pack. now its the best ive ever used. big enough for me to backpack for 4 days and have everything, and room left over. super comfy hauling meat. nothing but good to say, some of the best money ive ever spent.
the other biggie was the alaska gtx hanwag boots from lathrop and sons. heard of em in eastmans. worth every penny. best boot ive ever owned.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Not saying this is the problem but i just ordered one and seen this new link, looks like they found the problem to the squeeks.

http://www.eberlestock.com/X2 Frame Wrap Fix.pdf
I tried this out today and it had ZERO effect on the X2's squeaking. This is a major design flaw of this pack and I'll be recommending everyone that's interested in it to stay away unless you don't mind it squeaking like crazy. Like I said before, it's the painted tube frame rubbing up on the Cordura backing and the webbing that makes the creaking/squeaking noise. It drives me insane.

-ZA
 

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I'm with ya on the X2. I loved the layout and design. Felt like it was the best daypack I'd used until I got it in the field. I'm 6-3 and the waist belt always rode way up high on me. Just couldnt get it to ride very well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Here is review #3....

Kenetrek Hunting Gaiters:






I decided to try out the Kenetrek hunting gaiters b/c on previous elk hunts, my boots (whatever I wore, not just one brand) ALWAYS got sopping wet if I ever had to cross a larger meadow in the morning and it had alot of dew. This happens b/c the dew soaks the bottom of your pants leg, which in turn soaks the top of the boot and your socks, which in turn wicks the water down into the boot.... and before you know it... sopping wet boots (on the inside). Drying boots on an elk hunt is ALWAYS a PITA, so it's best to prevent this from happening.

This is also how alot of boots get wet when crossing streams.... the water comes in from the top.

Gaiters prevent these problems and also keep snow out of your pants leg/socks/boot tops as well. The Kenetrek gaiters were VERY high quality, very waterproof, very quiet, stayed put once adjusted, and ket my legs warm when hoofing it through some snow at 12,000 feet at 5:30 AM in the dark.

Like most things made by Kenetrek, they are very well thought out, tough as nails, are a good value. I'll also add that they are the only ones I was able to find that came in various sizes. Most are "one size fits all".... and if you have big calfs like I do, this can be an issue. I used the XL versions and they fit PERFECT!

I highly recommend these if you think there is a possibility of encountering snow during your hunts or if you have issues with wet boots.

-ZA
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I know you said outer wear, but I have to post about my results on the UA underwear. Wow!!!!! The guys on here suggested them and I wasn't crazy about spending 20 bucks a pair. But The guys were right the UA underwear is a must have in the mountains.
YUP. Glad to see nother Boxer Jock covert. You'll soo be using them as your "daily" underwear.... trust me.:wink:

-ZA
 

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SOLE INSERTS:
I suffered through plantar fasciitis this year, having tearing in the ligament in the arch of the foot. I ended up purchasing SOLE insoles for my boots, they were pricy at $56 shipped, but they absolutely saved my hunting season. I figured to be a crippled person by day 3, but these allowed me to keep hunting day in and day out. I haver Superfeet insoles, and another set of "athletic" insoles from a shoe store that cost close to $75, but SOLE has by far been the best. I have also tried anything you can get at regular stores......for the best arch support ( I have high arches) these SOLE inserts/footbeds are awesome.

Not so good combo:
Fruit punch gatorade, hot dogs wrapped in a tortilla and tin cup pass road..........not a pretty picture, and ask Jake about the sound........:pukey:
Can you say projectile vomiting?......I can!:mg::shade:

Sitka Ascent Pants:
The absolute best pants I have ever worn for elk season. Flexible and durable, they felt like they were a second skin on me. If colder I wore simple polypro long underwear, either way these did the trick. I also had the 90% pants, did not need them this season....

Russell mesh tops;
picked these up at Academy outdoors as a base layer, performed excellently for me and the carry them in big sizes, something not available in a lot of items....
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Review #4....

UnderArmour EVOLUTION Coldgear Baselayers:

Other than the UA Boxerjocks, I haven't used any of the UA base layers for hunting. This year, I decided to get a set of "thermals" to wear under my MicroTex shirt and pants b/c I knew it was gonna get cold during the hunt (last week of CO archery elk @ 12,000+ ft elevations).

I picked up the UA EVOLUTION baselayers at my local Bass Pro (had a coupon and it was a tax free weekend... nice!). These are "compression" style garments, so if you want to be a little more comfortable, I suggest getting a size larger. I got the XXL top and the XL bottoms (the XL bottoms fit good... I didn't need to go up a size IMO).

Here is a link to the UA site and the Evolution stuff....

http://www.underarmour.com/shop/us/...s-UA-Evolution-Camo-ColdGear-Crew/1203066-340

The fit and finish on these items was fantastic, and everything youd expect from UA at this price point. They are alot different compared to the other ColdGear series in that they are compression (like the HeatGear), but they have a brushed/lofted backside that holds heat, while still wicking.

One of the downsides I had read about synthetic baselayers is that they get a "funk" and start stinking quick.

This was NOT the case with the UA EVOLUTION top and bottoms. I wore them for 3.5 days straight, never taking them off (and not showering/bathing). I smelled like a GOAT! (all elk hunters know this smell) When I finally pulled off all my clothes, I took a shower and came back in, un-funked, and inspected what I had been wearing. The Boxerjocks were RANK (I wore them under the UA EVOLUTION bottoms), b/c well..... of thier location and proximity to an orifice for 3.5 days straight. My MicroTex (awesome clothing from Cabelas) had developed a funky odor in the crotch and in the armpits, as expected.

However, the UA Evolution baselayers were basically odor free. Yea.... that's right... they didn't smell at all and they were touching my armpits, and were between my pants and the boxerjocks.

They kept me warm, but not too warm. They were just right for cold mornings with alot of physical exertion, then stopping and cooling down. They did their job wicking away sweat while keeping me warm on the cool-down.

I really couldn't ask for more from a set of baselayers. If you are in need of a set for elk hunting, I HIGHLY recommend them. They may be some baselayers that are better suited for STAND hunting in very cold temps, but if you are moving alot, and possibly breaking a sweat in cold weather, these puppies are GREAT!

-ZA
 

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Here's a good one...

I love my JetBoil cooking system and I have had it for 6+ years without doing anything to it or having a malfunction, but this year I got my hunting partner and best friend the Primus EtaSolo system since it seemed to be an all around improvement on the same design. (What better birthday present? lol)

See link for product: http://www.moontrail.com/primus-eta-solo.php

Well, it turned out to be a large improvement in my eyes after watching it in use every day. The stove boils the same 2 cups of water as a JetBoil about 90 seconds to 240 seconds faster! This obviously greatly reduces fuel consumption since it actually has been measured as being more fuel efficient anyways. Don't ask me why the thing varied so much in cooking time but my Jetboil is just flat SLOWER! LOL. The first test we did yielded the 90 second difference at 7000 ft. and the next two tests both had the 240 or so second difference. I got a little crap for my weeny stove. The fuel in the canister may have been about 50% full (for the JetBoil) but so was the Primus after 6 days of constant use, and the flame seemed adjusted the same on both. This factor alone makes the $89.00 stove worth it over the now $10 cheaper JetBoil.

The Primus is a few ounces lighter and 10% smaller packed weight. Nice plus.

The Primus lower cooking base "clips" into the boiling cup. This seemed hooky at first glance but it held up with zero problems. I still like how the JetBoil "locks" in with a turn by using "threads." Also, the Primus doesn't come with a fuel canister stand which is very useful in my mind. But you can always purchase the JetBoil model separately for about $10 and the thing will fit in your Primus stove just like the Jetboil.

The Primus can be hung from anything that will hold it. It comes with a metal chain that will keep it off the ground. I'm sure there some obvious reason for this but it wasn't useful for us, since there was no snow or ice.

In summary. Anyone buying a JetBoil should reconsider their decision if they care about weight, reducing cooking time or fuel efficiency. I will be buying a Primus EtaSolo in the off-season for next year.

Good thread by the way ZA! So did you kill anything? I have been completely out of the loop for 30 days.
How is the ignitor system on the Primus? I have had the jetboil for 6 years and love it but the ignitor system sucks! I would switch just for that reason alone as it is completely unreliable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I also had some First Lite base layers that I took on my elk hunt, but I never got to wear them. I'd loved to have been able to do a review on them. Oh well... there is always next year. I'm not 100% sure, but that may be been all of the "new" gear that I used this year.

Anyone else have any reviews they'd like to share on new gear they tried out?

-ZA
 

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I did take the First Lite Chamas, Llano and Springer vest for a week at 9,000 feet and loved them for everything but standing around in the dark at camp without a fire. They just didn't provide the level of warmth once I stopped moving and while not advertised as a wind barrier, I found myself putting on my lightweight raincoat to keep warm, especially with wind. They worked great once I was starting in on a hike (even in the cold morning) and the heat of the mid-day. Easy to adjust layers and took up little space/weight in the pack. Didn't hear my buddy complaining of any odor after 6 days and they quickly dried when damp. I'ld give them a pretty good thumbs up except for the price and wanting something a bit warmer when standing around.
 

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That's odd. I have had my JetBoil for at least 6 years and I have never had to rebuild the ignition, nor have I pushed the thing in more then twice to start the stove. It may seem hard to believe but it's never failed me regardless of the conditions. I must be lucky. Now the thing is buried in the ground in a hidden location in MT, along with a bunch of my other gear. lol. Maybe I should bring a rebuild kit the next time I go in.

In terms of the ignition... They seem to use the same or similar ignition systems. But I never looked at it closely, so it could be a totally different part. They both have the same red button, push start style. Sorry I couldn't be more help.
 

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I also had some First Lite base layers that I took on my elk hunt, but I never got to wear them. I'd loved to have been able to do a review on them. Oh well... there is always next year. I'm not 100% sure, but that may be been all of the "new" gear that I used this year.

Anyone else have any reviews they'd like to share on new gear they tried out?

-ZA
I bought 4 complete sets of SmartWool Merino Wool Microweight base layers. The 2 crew tops I chose had the 1/4 length zipper, 2 didn't.

This is basically the thinnest merino wool base layer you can find. I was worried about the garments not being long enough since nobody makes long/tall. They fit perfectly before they were washed and shrunk a little when washed on cold cycle and dried with no heat. They still fit far better then most regular large shirts would on me. They seem to be more of an athletic / fitted fit, which I am happy with.

Obviously, I wore them right on my skin, which I was a little worried about. That was no problem as the material feels very close to cotton.

After 6 days of wearing the same shirt in MT I figured I should change it out. But honestly the shirt or pants had basically no odor. (And I didn't wear boxers). The pants provided very good support for the troops and they felt like I was wearing boxer/briefs.

This stuff is 100% what it's cracked up to be. When it's cold it's under a button up Microtex lite shirt and maybe a thin coat. And when I'm hot I just hunt in shirts by themselves. The thinnest stuff will probably not last forever, but it's worth the money for sure. Either way it wicks moisture well, dries quickly and it's very warm for it's weight. Plus, when it's hot it's seems to be just as cool as my UA loose gear.

Here's a pic with my WA bull and me wearing the stuff. In MT I was just a mamer.

 
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