Category Archives: Gear

Hunting, fishing, and camping gear. Anything that doesn’t fit another category can be found in Gear.

Tecovas Boot Review “The Earl”

As with any good Texan, I own and wear boots.  Through the years I have developed a fondness for Lucchese dress boots, Ariat work boots, and Wolverine hunting boots.  I was in the market for a new pair of brown ropers and started looking at the Lucchese boots and balked at the $400 – $600 price tag.  That is when Tecovas caught my attention.  Tecovas promises, “Handmade, high-quality boots that don’t break the bank.”

What is a roper?  A roper has a lower heel and, generally, a shorter shaft than the traditional cowboy boot.   They are often described as being a bit more comfortable to wear and look great with jeans.Tecovas The Earl

Browsing through the Tecovas website, I quickly landed on The Earl.  The Earl is a calfskin roper available in four colors – bourbon, chocolate, desert, and midnight.  I really liked the bourbon, a dark brown.  Price?  $225, roughly half the price of the Luccheses.  Sold!Tecovas The Earl

Tecovas operates on the direct to consumer model.  This means I would be buying the boots on faith, without trying them on first.  No fear, Tecovas offers an excellent refund or exchange program.  They even include a special card and return postage in the box.  My other boots are size 11 D, so that is what I ordered.

There was more good news.  Tecovas are based in Austin so I would be supporting a Texas company.   And they are made in Leon, Mexico.  Now for those not familiar with Leon, it is a city in the state of Guanajuato which is my favorite part of Mexico.  I have been to Leon several times and I know it has a strong reputation for manufacturing excellent leather goods.  These are skilled craftsmen with generations of tradition.

Tecovas The Earl

I anxiously awaited delivery.  When the shipment arrived, I was impressed with the attention to detail in all areas.  You can tell the company takes pride in their products.

Tecovas keeps the price at a reasonable price point through several good business decisions.  First is the direct-to-consumer model which is gaining popularity.  Internet shopping and fast home delivery make this possible.  Second, they have streamlined the product line.  You won’t find square-toe boots or a crazy variety of models.  They focus on making a straight-forward high-quality traditional cowboy boot.  A simpler model lineup results in lower production costs.

Tecovas The Earl

Everyone comments on how “soft” the Tecovas are.  And they are.  However, I also have boots that are not quite so “soft” and yet are very comfortable.  The fine leather surely makes a great first impression but how do they fit and wear?

Unfortunately, I do have a minor complaint about the Tecovas.  There is a bar (for lack of a better description) that runs across the front part of the heel.  This is noticeable to me and detracts from an otherwise comfortable cowboy boot.  You can see this in the photo below.  I did get used to it but I still notice it.  Not a deal killer by any means but if they could improve this I would give the Tecovas an A+ rating.  Tecovas The Earl

As I wore the boots around the house on carpet, it became apparent that they were too snug, or tight, for me.  I had ordered 11D because that is what I wear in Lucchese boots and Johnston & Murphy dress shoes.  However, that was not going to work.  This is where Tecovas customer service really shines.  The exchange process was super simple, fast, and free.  I returned the old pair, along with a card explaining the problem, and quickly received a replacement pair in 11.5 D.  The new pair fit perfectly!

Tecovas The Earl

I have worn The Earl for several months now in a variety of circumstances.  Around town, out on the ranch, and to the dance hall.  I very much like the Bourbon Calf color and overall high-quality appearance.  Great looking boot!

Tecovas The Earl.  $225.

Tecovas The Earl

OLD TOWN: Radical New Topwater™ Kayak Series

Old Town® Unveils Radical New Topwater™ Fishing Kayak Series at ICAST 2018

Old Town provides kayak anglers with large fishing kayak performance in a compact, nimble format

Old Town, Maine (July 10, 2018) – Old Town is proud to unveil its all-new Topwater™ Series, which offers great Old Town performance in a compact, nimble format. A marriage of stability and performance, the Topwater—with the all-new ultra-stable DoubleU™ hull—quietly glides through any water condition while providing a stable, comfortable stand-up fishing platform. Equipped with thoughtful onboard tackle and rod management and a revolutionary universal transducer mount, even the most discriminating anglers will be impressed by the overall fishability of the new Topwater Series: paddle versions Topwater 106 and Topwater 120; and a pedal-driven model, the Topwater PDL.

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Topwater PDL (Color: Photic)

“The growth and popularity of kayak fishing has brought many new companies into the marketplace but unfortunately we have seen a glut of poorly-made and engineered boats in the sub $1000 category,” says David Hadden, Brand Director, Johnson Outdoors Watercraft. “Our goal with the Topwater™ Series was to engineer a boat that gave a great on the water fishing experience, which would allow anglers to catch more fish and be more comfortable. We also wanted it to outperform other kayaks when not on the water and made it smaller in size and weight for easy transportation and storage. Too many of today’s stable fishing kayaks need a trailer to transport to your local boat launch. The small size and reduced weight of all models in the Topwater Series make car-topping realistic and negate the need for a kayak trailer.” Continue reading OLD TOWN: Radical New Topwater™ Kayak Series

Polaris Ranger SuperATV LED Light Bar

Installation of SuperATV 6″ LED Combination Spot / Flood Light Bar on 2017 Polaris Ranger XP 1000.

This project kicked off because I wanted to add a cargo bed light to my Polaris Ranger.  My initial thought was of a modest solution that would provide just enough light to see what I was doing at night.  I’m frequently out at night on the ranch.  As I started looking at possible solutions, it quickly became apparent that what I really wanted was not a minimal bed light but a robust work light that could illuminate a camp.

It didn’t take long to settle on the SuperATV 6″ LED light bar.

  • Combination Flood / Spot.
  • Kit comes complete with rocker switch and wiring harness.
  • 12 CREE LED bulbs.
  • 2880 Lumens.
  • IP67 Water resistant
  • MSRP $135.

    SuperATV 6" LED Light Bar
    SuperATV 6″ LED Light Bar

I could have pieced together even cheaper options but SuperATV has a great reputation in the UTV community.

As with many projects, this took me longer to complete than anticipated.  That is mostly because I am a “measure twice, cut once” kind of guy.  I also wanted a clean installation.  From beginning to end I spent about 2.5 hours on the job but it could easily be done in half that time (or less).  For instance, I had to get the volt meter and confirm the busbar operation.

My first step was to mount the light bar.  Easy enough.  The kit did not include locking washers so I added those.  I did not want anything above the roof line so I made sure to position it in a sleek profile.

SuperATV 6" LED Light Bar
SuperATV 6″ LED Light Bar

Next was to install the rocker switch.  I simply used a utility knife and gradually cut away the opening large enough for the rocker switch to snap into place.

SuperATV 6" LED Light Bar
SuperATV 6″ LED Light Bar

I then removed the bottom two screws from the center panel and pulled it down,  then out to get at the wiring.  I ran the wire through the firewall and made the connections.  Bolted it back up.

SuperATV 6" LED Light Bar
SuperATV 6″ LED Light Bar
SuperATV 6" LED Light Bar
SuperATV 6″ LED Light Bar
SuperATV 6" LED Light Bar
SuperATV 6″ LED Light Bar

My 2017 Polaris Ranger XP 1000 Hunter Edition comes with a factory installed winch.  The side benefit is that means the under hood busbar is already wired hot.  Using a volt meter, I determined that the posts were Hot – Ground – Switched Hot (left to right).  I mounted the relay to the frame.  Black wire to Ground and Red wire to the Switched Hot.

SuperATV 6" LED Light Bar
SuperATV 6″ LED Light Bar

My biggest concern was how to run the harness from the hood to the light bar.  Ideally I wanted to run it inside the frame but then determined I could make a fairly neat installation by running the wire under the windshield and inside the metal roof.  Zip tied everything up neat and tight and installed the windshield.

All in all, very pleased with the installation.  The light is fantastic and is exactly what I want.

SuperATV 6" LED Light Bar
SuperATV 6″ LED Light Bar
SuperATV 6" LED Light Bar
SuperATV 6″ LED Light Bar

SuperATV 6″ Light Bar

 

Leupold LTO Tracker HD Thermal Viewer

The new Leupold LTO Tracker HD is their second generation thermal viewer.  Designed to detect heat signatures up to 750 yards away it should be an essential part of everyone’s kit.  From tracking downed game to finding your way back to camp a small handheld thermal is a worthwhile investment.  Handheld thermals around this price point are a hot market.

First impressions are of a high-quality aluminum flashlight, complete with crenelated bezel.  It feels substantial and solid in hand.

Leupold LTO HD
Leupold LTO HD
Leupold LTO HD
Leupold LTO HD

Unlike many thermals, there is no rubber eyepiece like on the FLIR Scout line.  Instead, you simply hold the LTO Tracker HD out 8-10 inches within your line of sight.  I find this to be a more natural viewing experience and  less tiring than pressing against an eyepiece.   The one downside is that it therefore produces more of a visible light signature – which generally isn’t any big deal but would be a consideration in a security or home defense environment.

Leupold LTO HD
Leupold LTO HD

Continue reading Leupold LTO Tracker HD Thermal Viewer

Aimpoint Announces The ACRO Series

Malmö, Sweden – June 2018 – Aimpoint, the originator and worldwide leader in red dot sighting technology, is proud to introduce their new line of red dot sights, the Aimpoint® ACRO™ (Advanced Compact Reflex Optic) Series. The unique small sight design of the Aimpoint® ACRO series electronic red-dot sight was developed for use on pistols and other weapon platforms.

For many years, end users have requested a small enclosed red dot sight to fit on handguns. Utilizing Aimpoint’s advanced sight technology, Aimpoint is proud to launch the first of its kind to the market. The Acro P-1, offers an enclosed system that is much more durable than those with open systems. It is also the only sight in its size category fully tested for shock, vibration, temperature span and other environmental stress.

The Acro P-1 optic can perform under tough conditions while adding negligible size and weight to the equipment. Tested with a minimum of 20,000 rounds on a .40 cal pistol slide, this small optic has proven itself in its size category as the leader in ruggedness and reliability.

Designed for direct integration onto pistol slides, the Aimpoint Acro P-1 sight can also be used as a backup sight for magnifying scopes, personal defense weapons, and on any system where a small red dot is applicable.

The Acro P-1 sight is a 1X (non-magnifying) parallax-free optic that features a 3.5 minute of angle (MOA) red dot for fast target acquisition. It is fully submersible to 25 meters and allows continuous operation for over 1 year on a single CR1225 battery. Dot intensity is adjusted with side push buttons.

“The development of the Acro P-1 sight sets a new standard for compact pistol mounted reflex optics,” said Aimpoint AB President Lennart Ljungfelt. “The commitment we make to our customers is to develop the highest performing red-dot sights available. The Acro P-1 optic fulfills that commitment by providing the lightest and most rugged enclosed red-dot sight in its size category on the market.”

About Aimpoint

All Aimpoint products are manufactured in Sweden, and Aimpoint AB is headquartered in Malmö, Sweden. For more information on Aimpoint or other Aimpoint products, please visit our webpage at www.aimpoint.com

Kolpin Stronghold Gun Boot XL Transport

Our 2017 Polaris Ranger XP 1000 Hunter Edition came equipped with the factory rack-mounted gun boots.  Great concept except for the fact that the boots are not large enough to accommodate many of the guns we hunt with.  For example, I am currently running a suppressed Bergara HMR 6.5 Creedmoor with a Nightforce NXS scope.  It simply will not fit in the standard Polaris boot.

Our hunting lease south of San Antonio is in the “Sand Hills.”  It is very dry and dusty and the dust gets into everything.  It is a necessity to have your rifle cased when driving, otherwise the rifle and optics get coated in this fine dust.

The good folks at Kolpin were kind enough to send me their extra-large Stronghold Gun Boot featuring the Transport soft case.  They also included both the Polaris Lock & Ride and Universal Auto Latch mounts.

Kolpin Stronghold Transport
Kolpin Stronghold Transport

Continue reading Kolpin Stronghold Gun Boot XL Transport

Polaris and Honey Brake Lodge

Texas Outdoors Network is headed out to Honey Brake Lodge to test drive the new Polaris Ranger XP 1000!  Scheduled events include hard-core testing of the new Polaris line up, skeet shooting, teal hunting, and hog hunting with dogs!

Polaris is the undisputed leader in All Terrain Vehicles.  We have a long-term 2017 Ranger XP 1000 out on demo and it is fantastic!  Smooth, powerful, and fast.  The new 2018 is even better.

https://texasoutdoorsnetwork.com/2017-polaris-ranger-xp-1000-long-term-test-drive/

Honey Brake Lodge:  “Honey Brake, located on 20,000 acres of the old Louisiana Delta Plantation and nestled on the banks of beautiful Larto Lake and its tributaries, offers the avid outdoorsman a unique array of outdoor recreational opportunities all on one property.  Louisiana’s premier duck and waterfowl hunting lodge has year round outdoor experiences.”

Special thanks to Donna with Polaris for inviting us on this awesome adventure!  Stay tuned for a full report.  2018 Polaris Ranger