Click photo for past Gear Reviews.

Scoping out a trout stream
and a good camping spot.

The first day of summer approaches when the cottonwood tree fluff flies; it is nature’s trigger before the grasshoppers hatch in the first of three stages during trout season that ends in mid-October.

Summer in my part of the world means fishing and camping, either in the mountains or along the shores of a prairie pothole lake.

If it is too hot, it is brook trout angling in the mountains; if it is too rainy, it is walleye and bass fishing on the plains.A farmer had an old electric bike sitting in a shed for years, so I bought it from him because it was a mountain bike, which I have never seen anywhere. The electric gears meshed well, and I knew it will be a great summer because of some new, fantastically designed camping and bike and fishing gear.

I like to camp AND fish and my little trout stream is perfect for both; a high pressure system means no rain, so it is rainbows in the mountains. 

Therm-a-Rest MondoKing Sleeping Pad Nautical Blue, L

Click photo for your
new MondoKing.

With the new Therm-A-Rest MondoKing mattress I can camp under a ledge or under the willows and my large frame won’t slip off into the drink because this is their largest mattress yet.  The MondoKing rolls out with 4 inches of warm foam and a woven top that is smooth to the skin.  The hefty dimensions are 25” x 77” and it weighs 4.11 pounds.  It is really an all season ground barrier, great for fishermen and boaters with an established base camp, and it is made in the USA.

During the summer I like to sleep under the Milky Way with nothing between me and the firmament but my own private thoughts.  I detest lugging a heavy tent or sleeping bag.

Therm-a-Rest Alpine Blanket: 35 Degree Down

Click photo for your
new Alpine Blanket.

For over 40 years Therm-A-Rest has manufactured camp pads, and now it is introducing its complete line of USA made Alpine Blankets that are designed to harmonize with your new MondoKing or other Therm-A-Rest mattress.  Therm-A-Rest’s light weight goose down Alpine Blanket is perfect for camping under the stars. 

The Alpine Blanket has no zippers but a series of snaps the full length of the mummy blanket.  It is wide and long at 52” x 80”. The nylon shell material keeps the blanket clean; the liner is also nylon. The Alpine Blanket only weighs 11.6 oz. and it packs into a toggle string tote sack that is breathable.  Hand wash and tumble dry - never hang your down to dry. 

The technical blanket left me with freedom of movement to stretch and roll, and it regulated perfectly to the night temperature so that I was neither too hot nor too cool. The blanket’s shaped footbox wrapped snuggly around the foot of the MondoKing, and insulated baffles kept out the drafts. The snap connectors kept the blanket secured to the mattress. The Alpine Blanket comes in regular or long sizes. Visit

I have fished my trout stream since I was a kid and after the spring rains it runs clear and cold and my system has adapted to all types of bugs and things that may lurk in its waters, so I drink directly from the creek.  This is not the case when camping and fishing the pike and perch potholes of the prairie. I would never drink from these lakes.

Platypus Big Zip SL Hydration Bladder

Click photo for the Big Zip SL.
You can buy the bladder
only or with its own pack.

The new Big Zip SL Platypus drinking bag is perfect for the lakes. I can fill it with fresh water from home and then hike the shores and stay hydrated, and when the water becomes warm I can slip it into the pond weighed down with a rock or hooked to my fish stringer jammed into the sand.

The Big Zip SL is also a nice and roomy day bag. It is not a dry bag so I don’t store an extra set of socks or clothes in it, but the 100% taste free and BPA free polyethylene inner liner does keep out the algae tasting lake water. It is easy to fill and easy to clean and the drinking tube has a secure patented SlideLock to keep it from dribbling. The bag is made in China but the three liter drinking reservoir is made in the USA.

The back panel and shoulder straps are ventilated. There is a pump sleeve and tool pocket to keep the bag in working order, along with a stretch mesh stuff pocket. There are lash points for a bike helmet or other accessories, plus zippered top and hip belt pockets. At only 1 lb. 12 oz. the Biz Zip SL is constructed of rugged ripstop nylon and it is perfect for biking, with handy flashlight loop and reflecting detailing to alert texting drivers after I have caught my daily five fish limit on my trout stream.


SaddleLite LED Bike Bag

Click photo for the Nite Ize
Saddlelite Bike Bag.

If I do get off the stream as dusk falls, Nite Ize has me covered and traffic alerted with their innovative bike Saddlelite. I can be seen and safe with the bright red LED light that looks like Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer’s nose located at one end of the bag, which I now use as a tool satchel. With Nite Ize’s patented gear ties it installs easily below the seat saddle on my electro-bike. The round light itself takes a round 2 x 2016 three volt battery that installs quickly in its slot.  The battery usually will last about 20 hours and is replaceable. Once in place the Saddlelite has both a glow and a flash mode. The bag itself is weather resistant with passive reflective trim.

Inova X2 Bike Light

Click photo for the
Nite Ize Inova X2 Bike Light

Nite Ize also manufactures a unique high powered Inova X2 Bike Light that also straps to the bike frame with its patented gear ties built right into the light that can be focused with a narrow or wide beam, with a maximum of 150 lumens. The light can be run at either a high or low mode. The two included AA batteries will only last about 70 minutes in the high mode, but over 60 hours in the low mode. Twist to turn on the light. The impact resistant light has a beam range of about 135 meters or about 400 feet, giving drivers plenty of warning. The molding is curved to fit a handlebar. It has a dual use, either on the bike or hand held as a regular camp light.

Microlight STS Swipe To Shine

Click photo for the
Nite Ize Swipe to Shine.

Nite Ize has many other light styles in its Inova line, such as it  S biner clip touch activated light that can be snapped to your gear or key chain or slipped into your pocket.  The key light has four functions: high power, variable dim, low power, and strobe. At high power it puts out 16 lumens, at low 2 lumens. The battery lasts 9 hours at high and 64 hours at low. The two 2032 lithium batteries are included. The microlight is the first to ever feature the Swipe to Shine technology. Just swipe your forefinger in the curved area of the module and it turns on; swipe your finger again to change to other modes. Swipe your finger in the opposite direction to turn it off. This light is now an essential in my carry-on Antler luggage.

Gear Tie Mountable Cord Organizers

Click photo for
GearTies for gear heads.

Just one last word on Nite Ize GearTies. They are totally cool. The come in different lengths with unbreakable wire on the inside and rubber on the outside so that they never corrode.  Pell off the plastic from the round end and attach them to whatever you want, and then the wire/rubber legs will wrap around whatever it is you want to stay in place.  The GearTies come in different lengths and colors, I attached a longer GearTie to my bike frame and now I can securely hold my fishing pole without rope or wire. Visit

The cumulus clouds mushroom and flatten into anvils and the hail will come soon, so I fire up my electro-bike and glide home uphill effortlessly; it will be a great summer. Visit

Wildlife photography gets better and easier with the new
Vivitar DigiCam binoculars.

Vivitar Viv-cv-1225v Digicam Binoculars - Black

Click photo for
Vivitar DigiCam.

There are many times when in the field I have lost a wildlife shot because I am fiddling with the camera zoom trying to locate the critters, which usually leap or fly away by the time I find them again in the frame. With the new Vivitar DigiCam I can now locate wildlife much easier and instantly snap, hopefully, an award winning shot.

The specs on the binoculars are 12X zoom with an 8.0 mega pixel camera. The Vivitar DigiCam has a reduced reflection coating so that wildlife are not alerted to sun glare or optical eyepiece flashes. The binoculars use 2 AA batteries (not included) and you must purchase a separate memory card (up to 8 gigs).

To shoot photos turn on the power button and flip open the small LCD screen at the front of the camera. Point the binoculars in the general direction of the subject and click the right menu button to shoot. You can also preview your shots.  Other functions can be found on the left menu button.

Once the software is easily installed on your computer (you need internet access; software is included on a CD) then you can download your photos and drag albums from site to site.  The Vivitar DigiCam binoculars are so lightweight I am certain to carry them in my luggage for my travels to Africa and other exotic locales. Once the photos are in your computer (PC or Mac compatible) you can Geotag them and share them with friends, or open them in Photoshop for resizing, etc.

So hopefully I can now take photos of rhinos, elephants, impalas, and zebras before they turn on me and give me the butt buzz offs shots that seem to crop up on all my past wildlife shots.

Costa Polarized Sunglasses

With my new
Costa Zane polarized sunglasses the cumulus nimbus clouds are more defined in the sky, my bass pond water’s glare is muted, and the trout around the fishing dock can no longer hide in the shadows. These are real angler glasses, but also great for other outdoor activities.

Zane Sunglasses; Shiny Tortoise Frames With Costa 580 Copper Plastic Lenses

Click photo for Costa
Polarized Sunglasses.

Costa lenses come in either their trademarked LightWave glass or high impact coated polycarbonate.  I opted for the copper poly lenses; the color of the lenses don’t dim nature’s true colors.  Yellow light, which occurs around 580 nanometers on the spectrum, is hard on the eyes. But Costa’s 580s lenses eliminate almost all yellow light. At the same time, the lenses boost reds, blues, and greens while reducing blur and haze.. Costa lenses bring forth better color saturation, sharper contrast, and better details.  The glass lenses are 22% lighter and 20% thinner than the competition’s glass lenses.

Zane lenses come in various colors: Gray, Blue Mirror, Copper, Green Mirror, Amber, and Silver Mirror.

Costa offers a rock solid life-time warranty on manufacturer defects, but also, for a nominal fee will replace broken glasses or lenses, replace scratched lenses, or refurbish them from normal wear and tear or misuse.

What is dynamic about all Costa Sunglasses is that they are 100% polarized, and provide 100% UV protection; they are built by hand with the best materials. They fit snugly, but I still use a croakie so that when I land that big bass with zealous excitement they don’t get knocked into the water.  How could I have ever fished with my Costa Zane polarized sunglasses? For more info log on to

The healing power of herbs has been known for centuries, even King Solomon wrote a book about desert herbs that is now lost.  Before there were pharmaceuticals there were herbologists.  When the midday doldrums strike on the fishing lake or stream and the fish aren't striking and the azimuth turns the landscape hot, reach for
Cool Off herbal towelettes.  The main ingredients are witch hazel, aloe vera, arnica, sea weed, red clover, wild yam, and other extracts.  Stay cool with Cool Off when the fishing cools off.

During the summer I live outdoors as much as possible because, after all, life is not an endless summer so I must enjoy it while it lasts.  There has been many a time while on a long hike I wanted to cool off my burning, and soon swelling feet.  Now there is a product that addresses the problems of sprains, bug bites, and tired feet and it is called

ColdFront is not just another icepack that eventually turns warm soon after withdrawing from the freezer. The patented technology in ColdFront re-cools the soft palm packets within 20 minutes after each use and you have a continuous personal cool compact compress.  ColdFront comes in a zippered hard case with a wicking cloth.  You put the entire affair in the freezer and then become the coolest person in the wilderness.  For more info

— Feature by Kriss Hammond, Editor, Jetsetters Magazine; opening photo by Dave Ovitz, Jetsetters Magazine Outdoor Photographer.