Thermal mug by lifeventure

Equipment Review – Thermos Mug

Thermal mug by lifeventure

Thermal mug by lifeventure

Very quick equipment review to start the new year, on something I hope will help keep you warm on those cold winter shoots. Thermal mug by Lifeventure, we got ours from Cotwolds outdoor shot http://www.cotswoldoutdoor.com/lifeventure-thermal-mug-d3432028
A warm drink in a small thermos flask will serve you well to lift your spirits on a cold day and an be used in summer months to keep a drink cold.
These are small enough to fit in the water bottle holder (65 x 65 x 160mm) on our quivers holding 300ml of liquid. There are relatively inexpensive and there are other manufacturers who produce similar products. One thing I would suggest is avoiding those that come with handles as they are a bit harder to carry on a quiver belt.
We’ve been using these for a few years and found they have worked well for us and keep the drink hot for a few hours about 3-4 hours. In fact I use one for travelling into work and found it good for keeping the coffee warm while waiting on the train station.
Thermos mug

Thermos mug seal

They are pretty robust which is good as I’ve dropped the one I use foe work more than once and have a sizeable dent in the bottom, but still works. The are  made of stainless steel and of course have an insulated wall, being pretty watertight with a seal on the lid.
 I tend to have a flask with hot fruit cordial on my belt and a larger flask of spicy soup in the car when it is really cold. The advantage of having a fruit cordial is if it goes cold its still drinkable unlike cold coffee or tea.
Overall 7/10 would be good if they could keep content warm for longer but still not bad for the money. For some more advice on staying warm in the winter have a read of my earlier post here.
Thanks for reading.

Equipment review – Bear Grylls Walking Trousers

What they look like on

What they look like on

I’ve been trying these trousers out for the last 12 months for hiking and archery events so I thought it worth doing a quick review of how I’ve found them. Normally for field archery events I tend to wear old army fatigues or hiking trousers, depending on the weather. For colder or wet weather I have lined trousers, along with waterproof hiking trousers and / or over trousers for those shoots in winter months.

I’m guessing many people will have heard of Bear Grylls. He has made his name as an outdoor adventurer, with a number of TV series, Running Wild with Bear Grylls being the latest. What you might not know is he has also puts his name to a range of clothing and other outdoor equipment and the trousers I’m reviewing is part of the range.

Price

Sharon bought me a pair of these trousers as a present so I don’t know the exact price or exactly where she got them from, but doing some research on the net I think they are about £40-50 from most outlets. Where would we be without the Internet.
This makes them more expensive than the army surplus trousers I’ve used in the past, but comparable if slightly more expensive than other hiking and walking gear I have bought over the years.

Bear Grylls trousers

Bear Grylls trousers, showing different colour

Fit and comfort

I’ve found the trousers are comfortable and light weight, drying quickly if they get wet (which is highly likely in a British summer). I think this makes them a good summer months trousers where you might encounter showers whilst out walking or hiking. Though they don’t offer much thermal protection they are comfortable and not as warm as my army surplus trousers.
They aren’t tight fitting which allows for ease of movement when walking, especially useful when I was in Yosemite national park last year and scrambling up the slopes and hills. I’ve also worn them under waterproof over trousers and found them fine and work well at wicking moisture away.
I do like the double waist button and the belt loops allow for a decent belt width rather than having tinny loops suitable for narrow belts which some walking trouser manufacturers produce.

Belt loops, and zip pocket

Belt loops, and zip pocket on the right side

I’m not sure about the quality of the stitching as there are a couple of points where they look pulled having been caught on brambles. Having said that the stitching hasn’t run or needed repair.
I tend to always wear leg gators to protect my shins from brambles and this might be something to consider with these if you are hiking through undergrowth or unbroken tracks.
Pockets are a decent size, which is useful as I often carry my phone in one, and there are leg pockets on both right and left leg (This is a little thing that bugs me with some manufacturers of outdoor clothing, who seem to think you only need a leg pocket on the right leg. Not great when you are an archer and wear a quiver on your right side as it means anything you put in the pocket is firstly buried under your quiver or is being constantly knocked by it.)

A couple of the pockets are made of orange fabric which besides being the Grylls colour also could be useful in a survival situation.
How I hear you ask? If you needed to mark your trail you could use the bright coloured fabric as a marker.
There are 8 pockets, one on each leg (the left also having a zip pocket, two hip pockets with velcro fastening , two front pockets (the right one having an internal zipped pocket).
I know another archery friend of mine that has been using these style trousers and he too has found the fabric a bit thin from time to time, allowing brambles and thorns through. He’s told me how he has taken to wear them as an over trousers, as they are comfortable but not thick enough.
They are light in weight making them great for camping or travelling, packing down pretty small, something that I have found very useful. Though you will need to layer them up either with over trousers or leggings to stay warm if in cooler weather.

Product development or what I’d like to see

If the designers are reading this there are a couple of developments I’d like to see.

  1. The first development is a zip pocket on the left side like the right one.
  2. I also think I would prefer the fabric being a little thicker due to brambles and even nettles getting through. I noticed this most when kneeling drawing arrows from targets and searching for lost arrows in the undergrowth. I think this could be done without adding a great degree of weight to the trousers and would still enable them to dry quickly. So something thicker on the lower legs and knees would be ideal.

Summary

Overall not bad for summer trousers but would rather have a slightly thicker fabric for extra protection on the knees and lower legs. Good number of pockets of good sizes.
For me, I think I will continue to wear them for hiking and walking as they are comfortable, along with archery shoots I know are pretty open. For archery where I might be tracking through undergrowth I think I will stick with old army combat trousers, just for the thicker fabric providing extra protection. For that reason I’m going to give them two scores
9/10 for hiking but only  7/10 for archery
Thanks for reading.

Equipment review – Flambeau bazuka bow case

Bazuka case in the rain

Bazuka case in the rain

I think it’s fair to say I get some ribbing about my flatbow bow case. The normal comments are   “Is that for the hard shots?” Or “Is it for the ones you don’t like?” But at the end of the day it works and protects the bow which is what I bought it for. This is also why I bought one for Sharon to house her Black Brook American flatbow.
Whilst many archers simply have a cloth case for covering their bow I wanted something more substantial especially when going camping. There are loads of different cases for takedown recurve or compound bows, but it is quite hard to find ones suitable for one piece  American flatbows. This is why I invested in a Flambeau bazuka case. For those interested I do use a cloth cover which the bow sits inside the hard plastic case.
I know other archers use these cases to transport their longbows and American flatbows especially when flying (I think Flambeau say it’s airline approved) as they provide excellent protection.
Though as Jim Grizzly Kent said when I was talking about the cases with him “I’m not sure how I would feel walking through an airport carrying something called bazuka.
It was in fact an old club member from Black Arrow who first showed me his Bazuka case some four or five years ago.
Some anglers among you may already be familiar with the case as I know it can be used for fishing rods too. I actually bought Sharon’s case from http://www.gerrysfishing.com/ an angling store who were very helpful when checking size and delivery times.

The plastic is very durable taking knocks without deformation, it’s also pretty light for it’s size.
The carrying handle is well positioned to make it easy to carry and balance in the hand. The only problem I’ve found with the handle is the moulding seem is a little rough on mine whilst Sharon’s is fine, but this is easily solved with a bit of sanding or tape.
The case opens one end allowing you to slide the bow in or out and the flap securely locks into place.
Opening flap of the case

Opening flap of the case , with my linen bow bag in the case

There are holes where you could fit a cable or padlock.

securing pin so you can extend the length of the case

securing pin so you can extend the length of the case

Mine was relatively cheap at just over £35 though this was a couple of years back. It was purchased from Merlin archery in Loughborough. I’ve added some foam padding inside the top to provide some padding at the ends .
The length is adjustable which means it can accommodate a variety of lengths of bows or fishing rods. The case comes in two sizes and the ones we have go from 63-87 inches which is the smaller one I think.

Give you an idea of the size

Give you an idea of the size

Dimensions and diameter of hole can be seen in the photo.
View of the opening of the case approx 10 cms

View of the opening of the case approx 10 cms

Being black plastic it can get warm if left in the sun or car, which is important to consider when storing or transporting your bow. Bows don’t like getting too warm. So when possible I will keep it in the shade or keep the flap open. Since it is pretty air and water tight it’s worth remembering never to put your bow away wet as the water has nowhere to evaporate.
The times I’ve found it of most use was when going camping, as I can pack the bow into the case and put it in the car without worrying about it being knocked or damaged in transit whilst buried under tent, sleeping bag etc.
Whilst you wouldn’t be able to fit a quiver in with the bow,  I think you could fit some arrows is you packed it carefully.

Overall I’ve been pretty impressed and happy with the case. I’ve been using it for about four years. When you consider the bow costs in excess of £600 I think  £35 (though that was several years ago) to keep it protected is well worth it. The case I bought Sharon was around  £50 including delivery so considering her bow was £670 again it is well worth it.
So if you are after a very durable bow case for your flatbow or longbow I’d recommend the bazuka case. 9/10
Thanks for reading.

Equipment review – Leathermans Multi-tool

Give you an idea of the size of the Leatherman

Give you an idea of the size of the Leatherman

Over the past few years I’ve owned a few different multi tools varying from the bargain basement ones that come free with a torch at a service station, to the more expensive Leathermans. In that time I  have found them a very useful addition to my archery, camping and skiing kit.
Based on my experiences a few months back I started a survey on  Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/ArcheryNeedsYou/)  as to whether Leatherman or Gerber were preferred,  for those interested in the results it is presently standing at about 50/50 split.
Anyway I thought I would review a couple of Leatherman multi tools I have, both of which can fit easy into a quiver or belt pouch.
The two I have are the  Wingman and Sidekick. Essentially the two are nearly identical,  the second one (sidekick) being purchased as I thought I’d lost the first.
The only real difference is the sidekick has a small saw blade instead of the scissors that can be found on the wingman.
Leatherman opened up

Leatherman opened up

Tools breakdown
Here is a quick break down of the tools, both are made from stainless steel, are pocket sized and covered by the Leatherman 25-year warranty.WINGMAN –  described by Leatherman as having 14 tools in one
Tools:
420HC Combo Knife
Bottle Opener
Can Opener
Medium Screwdriver
Package Opener
Phillips Screwdriver
Ruler (1 in/2.54 cm)
Small Screwdriver
Spring-action Needlenose Pliers
Spring-action Regular Pliers
Spring-action scissors
Spring-action Wire Cutters
Wire Stripper
Wood/Metal FileMeasurements:
2.6 in | 6.6 cm (blade length)
3.8 in | 9.7 cm (closed)
7 oz | 198.4 g

SIDEKICK again it has 14 tools, and mine came with a Carabiner Bottle Opener Accessory.

Tools:
420HC Serrated Knife
Medium Screwdriver
420HC Knife
Bottle Opener
Can Opener
Phillips Screwdriver
Ruler (1 in/2.54 cm)
Saw
Small Screwdriver
Spring-action Needlenose Pliers
Spring-action Regular Pliers
Spring-action Wire Cutters
Wood/Metal File

Measurements:
2.6 in | 6.6 cm (blade length)
3.8 in | 9.7 cm (closed)
7 oz | 198.4 g

Uses in the field
I find the pliers useful when extracting  piles after the shafts snap in the boss,3d targets or more often trees and need removing.
A sharp knife is always useful if you spend any time outdoors whether it be camping, walking or archery.
Quick note here is I wouldn’t use it to cut a wayward  arrow from a tree though, as whilst sharp I would expect the tip to snap under the pressure. I use an old flat headed screw driver that I have in my quiver for this.
I have found the crosshead screwdriver is perfect for tightening the screws on my archery tab. This being on both the sidekick and wingman.
The wingman comes with a small pair of scissors which I’ve found surprisingly useful for archery, when fitting servings etc.

Leathermans knife blade and scissors

Leathermans knife blade and scissors

The sidekick  comes with a small saw blade, which isn’t going to chop down any redwoods but I have used to saw through branches of about an inch thickness with ease. For that reason I tend to have the sidekick to hand when camping or working in the woods.

Give you an idea of the size of the Leatherman saw blade and knife blade (the knife was not fully opened and locked in place)

Give you an idea of the size of the Leatherman saw blade and knife blade (the knife was not fully opened and locked in place)

Workmanship
The workmanship is good and the pivotal joints haven’t slackened off, which I seen on cheaper multi tools.

Leathermans pllers close up

Leathermans pllers close up

The finish on the back of the sidekick  serrated blade is a little rough which you notice more when folded up but that is the only criticism I have.

Close up on the rough part of the back of theblade

Close up on the rough part of the back of the blade

The rolled metal handle makes using the pliers more cumfortable in the hand which I  noticed when compared to cheaper budget copies.
I now make a point of always carrying one of mine when out and about.

So if you are looking for a birthday present or early Christmas present I’d say they were a good buy and addition to a kit belt or pouch. If you are looking for something a bit more then have a look at what I think they call the expedition range.
Rating 9/10

N.B. I  bought one of the tools from eBay and it was supposed to come with a leather case. It didn’t, instead it had a cheap nylon one and this is not uncommon looking at reviews.
Thanks for reading.

Blogging Future and answering questions

So over the last few months I’ve had a few questions from fellow archers at shoots, many of whom are followers of this site. In response I’m going to try and answer their questions now.

Why not YouTube?

A couple of people have asked why I don’t produce video or YouTube blogs like other archery reviewers. There are quite a few UK based sites such as the Merlins archery adventures , Wolfie instinctive archery , Nathan Skyrme add to these the US sites like 3D Archery  and you can see there are quite a few.

Perfect face for radio

Perfect face for radio

The simple answer is, I have a perfect face for radio 🙂
I’m also too self conscious when in front of the camera, so prefer a written or at least typed blog.

What are your future plans for the off the arrow shelf blog?

Autumn, or Fall for my American readers, is here, making for shorter days and longer nights. It also marks the slow down in the field archery calendar with less shoots along with less time and opportunities to practice.
This will mean a slight switch in articles as I post less shoot reports. My plan is to write a few more equipment reviews on items archers might feel useful.

Timber Creek Cobra

Timber Creek Cobra

I’m presently working on one on the Bear Grylls walking trousers, Leatherman multi tools, Timber Creek Cobra, along with testing the prokill24 target faces. I am always looking for other ideas for reviews, so let me know if you have any suggestions.

Example of the Prokill target face on the practice bosses

Example of the Prokill target face on the practice bosses

The winter months give me some time to catch up on my reading so I’m looking at literature reviews along with general archery or coaching related topics, including the use of mobile apps and cameras to support archery coaching.

How many Off the arrow shelf blogs are there?

The original blog is the one on WordPress which has been going for a number of years and has over 260 articles.
I recently started a tumblr site too as I found there was quite a lot of good material on there along with reaching a larger audience.
I can also be found on instagram, which is my latest adventure into blogging.

So there you have it. I’m always happy to hear from readers and it’s even better when I actually get chance to chat with you at shoots. Please come over and say hello.
Thanks for reading.