A Pocket Guide and Smart Phone App to Help You Identify Animal Tracks
Are you wondering who made all those tracks in the fresh snow? If so here's a great pocket guide to animal tracks. It shows both the track pattern (e.g. how the wildlife walks) and what the front and hind footprints look like. It even has a ruler so that you can measure the prints. It's a lot of great information on a single page.
If you want even more information about animal tracks - here's a link to the iPhone app that we use - "iTrack Wildlife Pro" by Jonah Evans. The app has detailed photos and information for 70 common mammals of North America, to include over 700 high quality track (with precise front and hind track drawings and detailed track, gait, and “similar species” descriptions for every animal), sign and animal photos with detailed captions. It even has 120 detailed skull photos for 41 of the species just in case you run across a skeleton during your adventures. The app also stores the Wikipedia page for each species so that no internet connection is required to obtain even more details about the animals.
The app allows you to search by the following criteria:
The 70 animals currently covered by the app are:
You can learn more about the app, and see more information about tracking, at the “Nature Tracking” website: http://www.naturetracking.com/
If you want to purchase this app you can get it at the Apple App Store or Google Play store. You can download the “iTrack Wildlife Lite“ app for free, the “iTrack Wildlife Basic” app for $4.99 or the “iTrack Wildlife Pro” app for $14.99. The Pro app may seem a little expensive – but if you’re serious about animal tracks you should spring for the extra cash because it's good.
Here’s the link to the Apple Store for iTrack Wildlife Pro:
Here’s the link to the Google Play Store for iTrack Wildlife Pro:
Another Good Source for Gear Reviews, Gear Checklists and Outdoor Knowledge
These days there’s lots of information related to Hiking, Camping and Shooting gear on the internet – some of it good and detailed - and some of it superficial and just plain wrong. Since we like to help our readers save time by focusing on information from good online resources (instead of wasting your time surfing all over and filtering out bad resources) we list the best sites that we find on our website under the heading of “Other Helpful Information Sources”.
Because the content on the internet is constantly changing, we also update our references when we find new ones that we like. Recently the folks at MyOpenCountry.com found our website online and reached out to us to us since we both love the Outdoors and share a common point of view. We hadn’t seen their site before so we looked it over and really liked the information that they were putting online.
We especially liked that they had a specific sections for “Hiking & Camping Gear”, “Hiking & Camping Tips & Guides" and “Trip Inspiration” – much like the content on our site.
In addition to all of their other content, the folks at My Open Country just published a great detailed article with their point of view on the gear you need for Hiking titled "What to Carry: 3 Season Hiking Gear Checklist”; they even included a downloadable checklist to make things easier for you.
Their article starts with some "Quick Tips: Do's & Don’ts" and then the covers the areas listed below in more detail:
So, if you’re searching for another great outdoor information source, you might want to take a look at, and bookmark, MyOpenCountry.com.
If you want to see our latest gear checklists you can download PDF versions of them here:
Disaster Preparedness Gear
“Rex Specs” – What Your Best Friend Might Need on Your Outdoor Adventures
For those of you with dogs - you probably take them on your outdoor adventures with you. That can involve days of hiking/camping in the outback, hours in the water or in your canoe, playing in the snow, hunting in foul weather, climbing above the tree line, or even just hanging their head out of the car window on a long drive through the mountains.
There are probably times that due to the weather conditions you wear goggles. But what about your best friend? Well here's a solution - "Rex Specs"; goggles specifically made for dogs:
Rex Specs were developed because the company’s founders (Jesse & Aiden) dogs needed eye protection. A few years ago, both of their dogs were diagnosed with harmful eye conditions made worse by extended exposure to the sun. They were told by their vet that they either had to limit their dog’s time in the sun or find some sort of dog goggle. After a failed search for a dog goggle that could handle their adventures, they created Rex Specs.
If you have a dog that you adventure with you might want to check out their website:
Slide Fire Bump Fire Stocks
If you’re looking for something that is as close to the “full auto” experience as you can get without having to spend thousands of dollars on a pre-1986 firearm and submitting ATF NFA paperwork, then you might want to look into the bump fire stocks from Slide Fire.
Since the stocks are not considered adjustable stocks or trigger manipulation devices they’ve been legally certified by the ATF. In addition, since their launch in 2010, Slide Fire has not been notified by any individual state that their products conflict with any state laws. You can even download a copy of the BATFE’s approval letter on the Slide Fire website.
To use the Slide Fire stock the operator places their finger on the stock’s trigger rest and pulls the firearm forward so that the trigger collides with the stabilized finger, firing the first round of ammunition in the chamber. The recoil force from the discharging ammunition pushes the firearm rearward so that the trigger separates from the stabilized finger and then the process starts again. The intensity of the forward activation force can be varied by the user on-the-fly to change the firing tempo.
You can check out all the details about the Slide Fire bump fire stocks here:
Klymit Sleeping Pads
These days there are lots of different sleeping pads on the market and they come in all shapes, sizes and materials. The brand that we use happened to be at the Great American Outdoor Show so we talked to them about their latest products.
As you can see from the picture Klymit’s sleeping pads look different from most of the other sleeping pads out there because of their distinctive “V shaped chambers”. The shape of these chambers minimize air movement and their ergonomic design and dynamic side rails cushion and cradle you to keep you on the pad better and increase your comfort while you are sleeping.
We like the fact that Klymit’s products come in a variety of styles to support different needs. Their standard pad is 23” wide – but they also have one that is 30” wide. They even have a pad for two that is 47” wide. Their standard pad is 72” long, but they also have a Junior pad that is 50.4” long. For extra insulation, without adding much additional weight, they have insulated pads that are filled with warm, light Klymalite™ synthetic insulation. To cut the weight in half from the standard ~20 ounces to less than 10 ounces they have skeletal frame pads. So if you are looking for a new sleeping pad you might want to check out what Klymit has on the market.
You can check out all the details about Klymit’s sleeping pads here:
CampMaid Dutch Oven Set
At the Great American Outdoor Show there was all sorts of gear for every type of backcountry camping adventure – to include tent camping, car camping, pop-up trailer camping and RV camping. Although we most often go tent camping, in some National/State Parks you have to pitch your tent close to your car. When you have this situation you can take some heavier items with you since you don’t have to backpack them in.
One of the items that falls into the category of nice to have if you don’t have to carry it very far is a Dutch Oven – especially if you want to eat better food than a freeze-dried pouch can deliver. CampMaid’s outdoor Dutch Oven combo pack allows you to really show off your cooking skills. The Dutch Oven set can function as a griddle, smoker, grill, steamer, pizza oven, frying pan, and baking pot. To make it easy to use the oven has a patented “Grab-and-Hold” design that allows you to safely remove your lid without needing gloves. The “Grab-and-Hold” also secures the lid and coals so that you can easily stir and serve while keeping the lid free from dirt and debris.
You can check out all the details about the CampMaid Dutch Oven 6 piece outdoor combo set here:
Law Tactical Folding Stock Adapter
At the Great American Outdoor Show there were lots of large firearm manufacturers and lots of aftermarket accessory manufacturers (optics, sights, rails, barrels, etc.,) – and we tried to see them all. One of the interesting items that we liked was the Law Tactical folding stock adapter. If you’re looking for a way to modify one of your AR platforms from a fixed stock to a folding stock then this might be the product for you.
This stock adapter works with direct impingement or gas piston systems and fits A2, carbine, mil-spec or commercial buffer tubes and stocks. It can be used with standard bolt carrier groups including: semi- auto and full auto, for 5.56 to .308. The rear portion of the adapter is built to the same specifications as a standard AR platform receiver to ensure maximum compatibility. The adapter is made from CNC machined 4140 steel and has a simple one-button release that folds/unfolds the stock. To use your firearm you just unfold and fire. The stock automatically locks into place and requires no fine motor skills. The adapter also has an integrated single point sling attachment point.
You can check out all the details about Law Tactical’s folding stock adapter here:
Xpocket Jacket/Storage Sling/Pack
We’ve all been there - the weather looks good so you don’t take a jacket - then the weather turns on you and you wish that you had one. Or you take a jacket only to find out that you didn’t need it and had to tie it around your waist for most of the hike. Well, if you’re looking for a potential solution to this issue you might want to look at the Xpocket; a product that starts as a jacket and converts to a sling-pack or waist pack.
The Xpocket is a lightweight, breathable, waterproof pullover rain jacket that’s good for hiking, camping and other outdoor activities. It stores your stuff in such a way that you have direct access to it in both the pack configuration and the jacket configuration without changing the stuff’s location.
The Xpocket has pockets for your hands, a storm flap, water resistant zippers, an adjustable drawstring (at the waist of the jacket configuration), elastic/non-wicking cuffs for foul weather and an adjustable 2-inch nylon pack strap for durability and comfort.
We saw the Xpocket at the Great American Outdoor Show, but you can check out all the details about the Xpocket here:
United States Concealed Carry Association (USCCA)
In addition to there being hundreds of products on display and for sale at the Great American Outdoor Show, there were also many Services for sale. Included among those were the companies that offer Legal and Insurance support for self-defense incidents. During our time at the show we talked to several of the people from these companies and were most impressed by the offerings of the United States Concealed Carry Association (USCCA) since, in our opinion, they seemed to have the most complete program and products.
To assist and support you in case you need to protect yourself or your family from the legal and financial aftermath of a self-defense action the USCCA has three levels of “Self-Defense SHIELD” support (Silver, Gold and Platinum) that range from $147 to $347 per year. Each of their products offer varying levels of support for the following items:
- Cover all weapons
- Have a 24/7/365 Critical Response Team
- Give you an immediate Attorney retainer
- Fund immediate Bail Bonding
- Provide up-front Criminal Defense
- Provide for Expert Witness coordination
- Insurance against Civil Suit defense
- Insurance against Civil Suit damages
- Provide compensation while In Civil Court
- Provide Firearm theft protection
The USCCA currently educates, trains, equips and insures over 135,000 Americans and their membership are protected by a 365-Day bulletproof Money-Back Guarantee. So, if you are thinking about getting insurance for self-defense, you might want to go through all the material that they have online.
You can check out all the details about the USCCA here:
Dry Case Waterproof Backpacks
As the warmer weather approaches – so does time near or on the water – and with that the need to make sure that you keep your gear dry. While we were at the Great American Outdoor Show we spent some time looking at products that would help in this area, and really liked the products that Dry Case has on the market. In particular we liked their backpacks.
The backpack that we liked the most has a fully waterproof main compartment capable of holding 35 liters, an internal zippered waterproof pocket to store smaller items, a front mesh pocket so you can keep wet items out the waterproof area, side water bottle holder, bungee cords that can hold you other items, a durable rubber top hold handle and lots of padding on the shoulder straps and back support.
The backpack is made out of GNARWALL™ Marine-Grade Waterproof Technology so it is 100% waterproof and, unlike many other waterproof bags, has a 2 Way purge valve (inflation/compression) that allows you to eliminate the extra air inside the bag when you seal it. The purge valve also allows you to inflate the backpack or use it as a draining tool if you want to use the pack as a shower or cooler.
You can check out all the details about Dry Case’s backpacks here:
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