Gear Review: Wicked Good Scuffs. L.L. Bean Slippers

Heck yes I’m going to do a gear a review about a pair of slippers. Especially when there are this good. How good, you ask? Wicked Good… Scuffs, that is.

These slippers came into my life late December, and my feet have been happy ever since. Whether it is running outside to get the mail or take out the trash, or lounging on the couch typing away, I’ve been pleased with the comfortable, sturdy nature of these puppies.

The slippers do seem to stretch a bit as you wear them in, so I ordered a size 10 as I tend to run about a 10.5. They were tight for about a day or two and then they molded to my tootsies perfectly.

LL Bean also has free shipping and is located in Maine, both of which are really cool things.

Cons: At $69 you could get by with a cheaper pair of slippies but they probably wouldn’t be made of sheepskin.
So let’s think about this a bit. It has been a cold winter. Your floor, if uncarpeted has not been kind to your bare feet. I haven’t read the farmer’s almanac, but being that it is still January (or, Juan-uary, if you prefer… yes, I’m keeping up with Juan Pablo’s search for love, and I’m comfortable sharing that with you), and we probably have plenty of cold months left this year, consider doing your toes a solid and looking into a nice pair of slippers. If you do, give these a thought. I have a feeling, I won’t be going back to bare feet in the winter, and LL Bean Wicked Good Scuffs will be my slipper of choice for years to come. 
*Disclosures:  I have no financial interest in LL Bean, but I do have both personal and financial interest in my wife, who bought me these Wicked Good Scuffs. 

OBN Gear: Avex Autoseal Waterbottles

The Outdoor Blogger Network has always been striving to connect people, share stories, and occasionally provide opportunity to try out new outdoor gear. A few weeks ago, another chance at sampling some new products came by as Avex donated some of their Autoseal Waterbottles and coffee mugs.

The Brazos Autoseal Waterbottle was what I found at my door step.

The bottle is quite awesome. I’ve used it out fishing once and on the treadmill many times. I find the bottle easy to use, easy to clean, and not nearly as clumsy as my other “standard” water bottles. There are no lids or wide mouths or straws to mess with when you want a drink. You just press a button, and go to town. 

Now I figure you can look at this a two ways. 

1. What’s the big deal. A bottle is a bottle. As long as it hold water, I’m good. 

Response: I agree. I don’t need a lot of bells and whistles. I need something that functions reliably and won’t break. That was my view on bottles until I got my hands on this one. The ease of use with this bottle is amazing. Not having to twist off a top, and balance a full bottle so as not to spill on your lap or face is surprisingly a nice feature. Also, My big nose isn’t hitting the rim of a wide mouth bottle that I usually drink form. 

2. I like bottles that don’t spill and are easy to use.

Response: This is one of those bottles. 

(from the Avex site)

One-handed, BPA-free plastic water bottle automatically seals between sips.

  • This BPA-free plastic water bottle has no cap to remove, no spout to open – making it perfect for one-handed use during activities.
  • This water bottle features patented AUTOSEAL® spill-proof & leak-proof technology – simply press the button to sip and release to automatically seal.  The AUTOSEAL® lid automatically seals between drinks to eliminate spills and leaks.
  • Easy transport with a convenient clip-on handle that attaches to gym bags, backpacks and gear.
  • Easily track water intake with volume markings on the bottle.
  • Spout shield covers and protects the spout from dirt and germs.
  • No plastic odors or taste with FDA-approvedBPA-free Tritan™ materials.
  • Water bottle is top-rack dishwasher-safe.
  • 25 oz. capacity.

They even have a handy “how to video.” Enjoy the extreme music and fancy graphics. 

So, in conclusion. If you are happy with your water bottle and it is working fine, I’d say stick with it.  In order to decrease excessive consumption, there is little sense buying something new when what you’ve got is working.  And if a bottle hold water without leaking, it is working. If you are in the market for a new water bottle and want to try something innovative, Avex Autoseal is a great option. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.


My views are my own. I get to keep the bottle, but I don’t know anyone at Avex, so I don’t really feel pressured to give a biased review. I try to be honest. However, since I like the product, I may be biased (but at least I’m being honest about that). Whatever you use, Avex, Nalgene, or old crinkly Avian water bottle, just drink water. It’s good for you.

I heard somewhere January was fire month….

And what a month it is. The Unlucky Hunter has been going all Carrie on the month of January burning everything in sight.

That really was a pretty dress.
But she went a little overboard on the red makeup.

It is rather fitting as January tends to be chilly.

I, with about 30 other bloggers, was lucky enough to get a pack of Lightload Outdoor Towels from a recent OBN give away.  The free swag we accumulate from being involved in this outdoor online community is pretty amazing (see here, and here, and here), and these towels are really no different.

They look and feel like repurposed operating room towels. Very clever if you ask me as these tend to be extremely cheap since they are often bought in bulk to be used once, saturated in blood, and thrown away. However, you don’t have to saturate yours in blood, but if you do, you don’t have to throw it away. As they say on the package, you can use it as a diaper, towel, pot-holder, and (here’s where we come full circle) a fire starter. And if you don’t burn it, you can wash it and use it again.

Sara and I used ours when we went running the other night. After soaking up the sweat, I kept it in my pocket while doing some night fishing in the rain. I was nice to have to pad down my glasses and even the gopro plastic lens. I don’t know if I’d recommend as a camera lens cloth. I could see how it would be scratchy.

I let the rag dry out overnight, and this evening, tested the fire starting theory.  It worked like a gasoline soaked gem. Sara and I had some fun with the photos 🙂

comes in a nice,  palm size, water resistant package
It seems a bit odd as a disc shaped sponge.
I think it is working. 
Oh, I see, it unfolds.

Wow, that’s a nice towel.

It really gets in there and dries your face. 

It’s okay towel, you’ll be fine. I promise….

It lit without hesitation.
Happy Fire Month!!!!

Rod Review: Wild Water Fly Fishing 9/10 wt

Well, I finally did it. I bit whatever bullet people refer to when they bite bullets, and bought a saltwater fly rod. I’ve been saving a little money each month. Researching the best options for my price range. Reading reviews. Asking peers. Doing all the things you are supposed to do before making a significant purchase.

The result? I went with an outfit. The 9/10wt 9′ 4 piece Wild Water Fly Fishing Saltwater Starter Package. 

Some things you should know about me before we go any further. I’ve been fly fishing with a pretty flimsy 5wt for most of my fly fishing career. It is a rod I built myself in high school. I’ve have a pflueger reel on it and it has the same floating line on it now that it did when I first spooled it up. I know. I’m terrible. Secondly, I’ve briefly fished with a TFO, Sage and a Martin fiberglass 7-8 weight rods that give me my comparison for this review.

Who is Wild Water Fly Fishing? It is a relatively new company (founded in 2006) founded by Eric Dodds to fill a spot in the market by providing better quality rods for less money. Besides selling to individual buyers, it seems like the company is hoping to fill fly fishing guides’ rod tubes with a quality rod for the …. unpredictable fisherman 🙂

So how did this baby hold up on it’s first outing? In short, outstanding. The rod blank is listed as “slow,” which left me expecting something comparable to my 5wt or the fiberglass. Maybe that was me being naive, but this rod was much faster than I expected. The weight distribution/balance felt very natural, and, when I was able to pull off a decent double haul, the line shot like butter. Smooth.

The cork handle was durable. The reel is sturdy and easy to control. After getting used to the clicking of a pflueger, it is odd to have something so silent. But I liked it. I even dropped the reel on the cement halfway through the day without any consequences (besides just being frustrated with my own foolishness). The rod even held up to a feisty speckled trout that should make its appearance in the next few days…

When I set out to buy a new rod, I wasn’t necessarily looking for an outfit, but I was looking for a couple things in particular. I wanted a heavier weight rod. I wanted to spend less than $150 for a rod and reel. I wanted a 4 piece to make travel easier. I wanted a good warranty. I got all of those things with the Wild Water Rod. It has a lifetime warranty. No questions asked. The only stipulations are that it isn’t transferrable between buyers. You have to register the rod, and it is $35 to get a new rod when you send it in. Maybe not as good as some warranties but much better than others. $35 for a brand new rod is pretty darn sweet. Of course, I hope to avoid it all together 🙂

Was I hesitant buying a brand that wasn’t as well established as say, Redington, for example? Well, yes, a bit. But from the reviews I read, I felt safe with my decision. So far, I have no regrets, and I don’t anticipate any in the future.

Here are the specs from the website:

Complete 9/10 Fly Fishing Starter Package for Saltwater

  • Blank Action: Slow
  • Blank Color: Dark Gray
  • Blank Flex: Mid
  • Length: 9 Feet
  • Line Size: 9 or 10
  • Material: IM6 Graphite
  • Number of Sections: 4
  • Rod Case Length: 31 inches
  • Rod Weight: 6.7 ounces
  • Winding Color: Black

Lifetime Warranty on the rod – not transferrable between owners. You also have to send $35 with the rod when you want it replaced. 
Center disc drag die cast aluminum large arbor reel
Backing and weight forward floating line
9′ 0X tapered leader
Rod Case
Fly box with 3 flies (Candy Eel, Red and White Deceiver, and Swimming Crab)

I also tied several clousers for the outing. Here they are, in all their fluffy glory.

Gear Review: Montana Fly Company River Camo Tying Tools

As mentioned before, I got my package of goodies from Montana Fly Company (MFC) earlier this February. I’ve been biding my time, waiting for the right moment to bust these bad boys out.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve begun planning an early April trip to fish the Big Horn River in Montana. How could this get any better? Armed with MFC’s double ceramic tipped bobbin, all-purpose scissors, stacker, and fly box (all with MFC’s signature River Camo designs) as well as three varieties of tying thread, I was ready to begin stocking up my basic flies for the trip. After some online research, I decided I would start with scuds to get the ball rolling. I had a free afternoon earlier this week and got started.

Let me just get this out of the way; I am confident that the quality of my flies, in no way, reflects the quality of MFC’s equipment. So go easy on me.
Right off the bat, I could tell the difference between my generic, bottom-of-the-barrel, bobbin and the MFC bobbin. The MFC thread rolled off the bobbin easily and slid nicely on the ceramic tips. It had a very natural weight in my hand allowing a novice like myself to feel more confident at the vice. And just like anything else, confidence when trying something new is HUGE.
I tied a variety of scuds. Orange, grey, silver, peacock, with and with out beads. After looking at some examples online, I think I should have used a bit more dubbing to really get those thick, hairy legs on the underside of the hook shank, but they might be fine. The MFC thread is definitely high quality. I have only used a couple other brand names, but I think the 8/0 (orange), 6/0 (brown), and 3/0 (black) I was sent held up beautifully. No break-offs, shredding, or knot issues. I tied all size 14 hooks. Might be a tad on the big side, but only time will tell.

After tying 7 scuds, I was done. All I needed was someplace to store them. Fancy that! MFC sent me a River Camo Aluminum Fly Box with a Brown Trout pattern. Needless to say, my scuds looked great in the box that resembles the fish I am aiming to catch.

Today, I had another Cornhusker Fly Fisher’s tie-in. I dedicated the time to midge pupa’s and Griffith’s gnats. The scissors got plenty of use today, and, just like the bobbin, I was suprised at how comfortable the felt in my hand. Great weight. Flashy design. Sharp as can be. And, the serrated edge on the all-purpose scissors did every job I asked of it and did it well. 6 Griffiths and 7 midges later, I was spent. My box was filling up. This was also when I noticed a venting system in on the sides of the box to prevent your flies from being completely locked in with their moisture should you forget to set them out after a day on the water. Touche, MFC.

With regard to the hair stacker, made of what I think is cast aluminum and colored with a Rainbow Trout River Camo design, I didn’t actually tie any flies with it, but I did give it a go. A cork-padded base saved my bench from getting dinged up when I slammed the hair down. The top half easily slides off to allow easy pick up of your deer or, in my case, moose hair. If I were tying a deer hair caddis, this baby would have done the job beautifully.

Overall, there are three important things I believe these Montana Fly Company products offer the consumer:
1. The tying materials and equipment are all high quality.
2. The signature River Camo is a gorgeous reminder of what you are working towards. On hard days, every little bit helps to keep the goal in mind.
3. This is a company made by people who love the same things we do. Dependable equipment and successful fishing. This is by far, the most important to me.
I personally like to have a latch or locking system on my fly boxes, just in case, but this box closes snuggly, so I’m not worried about me doing something stupid. Plus, MFC does have locking fly boxes as well (scroll down and check out all the designs! they are pretty awesome.). As for the equipment, I almost feel guilty to have such good stuff to work with from now on. I feel like I haven’t paid my dues to have such sturdy tools. I know I will be using them for a long time and they will hold up. I can just tell.

As a quick reminder, the Outdoor Blogger Network (OBN) facilitates opportunities to review various types of donated outdoor equipment. Montana Fly Company gave three bloggers the opportunity to use and review a package of their equipment. I have no disclosures regarding financial interests with MFC or OBN. My review is my own opinion and based off my personal experience with the equipment. The photos were taken by yours truly.
*Thank you MFC for the goodies, OBN for the opportunity, and Vampire Weekend and Kanye West for my tying tunes.

The goodies are in!

Remember back when Montana Fly Company teamed up with OBN for a an awesome gear opportunity? (I know, happened more than once, and will probably happen again. The crowd at MFC are very generous.) Well, I was fortunate enough to be selected to try out the goods and give my thoughts. In yesterday’s mail, the goods came. And man, are they good.

Pictured above are MFC’s double ceramic tipped bobbin, all-purpose scissors, stacker, and fly box (all with their signature, stunning River Camo) as well as three varieties of tying thread.

Now, I happen to be a bit busy this coming week, so I’m calling this my “planning week.” I have a trip in April to the Big Horn River in Montana and I’ll need to fill the box, best I can, with the basics for that trip.

I’ve settled on BWOs, scuds, and midges. Now I need recipes. If you have any suggestions on sizes, or variations in color for the scuds, I’d love to hear the suggestions.

After the planning, I’ll get to tying and give you all my official review including more details on the equipment.

My first impression is pretty straight forward: This is high quality tying gear with a stunning design that reminds you what you are working towards.

Talk soon.