Do Your Feet a Favor

IMG_1618

For the amount of wear and tear we put on our feet in the mountains each year, it’s remarkable how frequently we fail to invest in the proper support needed to ensure maximum comfort and longevity for our most abused load bearing body parts. Purchasing quality boots is a definite step in the right direction toward happy feet, but for many of us, a well made aftermarket insole is the missing link that prevents us from achieving the utmost comfort. According to studies, an astounding 75% of the population has some sort of foot problem, with just 10% of those people using some sort of over-the-counter supportive device.

After locking in SCARPA as our boot to offer in 2015, Jason came up with the idea of adding a line of insoles to our Gear Shop and the hunt was on. I researched the top insole brands on the market and met with a number of them in Salt Lake City at Outdoor Retailer in January of 2015. After speaking with insole designers, meeting with reps, and testing an array of samples, Superfeet came out on top by a considerable margin. If you don’t want to take my word for it, Superfeet is the #1 insole worn and recommended by doctors.

Why Factory Insoles Fall Short

Boot companies specialize in the making of boots to “fit” a wide range of foot volumes and arch types. From a business and production standpoint, large scale boot manufacturers have enough on their plate in dealing with the accommodation of different foot lengths and widths. Trying to add a third dimension to the built-in fit by offering an array of arch support types would simply be unreasonable, so they slap in a cheap flat factory insole and call it good, assuming the buyer will upgrade depending on their specific needs. Whether or not the end user realizes this is not the boot makers problem. This is consistent among all boot companies, regardless of the quality of their product.

4

Why Superfeet Make a Difference

Superfeet insoles today are a product of 40+ years worth of R&D in foot biomechanics and cutting edge materials. By leaving the footwear making to the footwear makers, Superfeet has been able to focus on the fine details that matter when it comes to quality foot support. The simple answer to “Why Superfeet make a difference” is that their distinct shape mildly manipulates the structure of the foot, transferring the weight of the body onto the most supportive portions of the foot’s arch.

To relate this back to improved comfort and boot performance in the backcountry, by upgrading from factory insoles to Superfeet users will experience:

  • Better alignment of the back, knees, and ankles while standing still.
  • Decreased ankle pronation and supination (side to side flex) while side-hilling.
  • Increased shock absorption while carrying a heavy pack.
  • Decreased pressure in toe box during steep descents.
  • Decreased risk of Plantar Fasciitis: inflammation of the connective tissue in the sole of the foot caused by heavy use on hard surfaces and uneven terrain. This is one of the most common foot ailments associated with improper support in the mountains.

skeleton-superfeet

Below you can see the pronation of my knee and ankle while standing one-legged on a factory boot insole (Left). While standing one-legged on the Superfeet Green (Right), balancing was much easier and provided much better alignment in the knee and ankle. As shown in the diagram above, poor knee alignment has a direct affect on the rest of the body.

5

Styles Offered by KUIU

Superfeet insoles are now available in the Gear Shop section of the KUIU online store! While Superfeet offers a wide variety of insole types, we have narrowed it down to what we feel are the two best options for the backcountry big game hunter: Superfeet Carbon and Superfeet Green. These are both top of the line styles, and each is designed to fit a different foot shape. Not only are these great options for use in hunting boots, but they work very well in athletic type shoes as well. Take a look below to find out which insole is best for you.

If you are still unsure about which insole is best for you, feel free to call KUIU Customer Service as they have received quality training from our regional Superfeet Rep.

Carbon

Carbon_secondary_photo_2

Superfeet Carbon is designed for those with a flat foot or low arch. Furthermore, Carbon’s low profile allows extra room inside the toe box which can be a benefit for those with a higher volume foot looking for just a little more wiggle room than the factory insert provides. The structured cap on the bottom of this insole is a carbon-composite material that is incredibly light weight and durable, and also allows a small amount of flex during use (think shock absorber). A single Carbon insole for a size 11 foot weighs just 1.4 oz. Longevity for this product is rated at 12 months or 500 miles.

Click here to shop Superfeet Carbon

Green

Green_secondary_photo_2

We chose to carry Superfeet Green as a solid option for users who have a high arch and need more support than what the Carbon provides. Green uses a larger polymer cap for support and does not offer the flex of Carbon (this is necessary in providing full support for a high arch). Because of it’s higher supportive profile, Green may require a short break-in process for some users. Lastly, Green has a higher profile toward the toe, offering a slight increase in insulation over Carbon. A single Green insole for a size 11 foot weighs 1.9 oz, and has an estimated longevity of 12 months or 500 miles.

Click here to shop Superfeet Green

60-Day Guarantee

Superfeet is so confident in their product, they offer a 60-day comfort guarantee. If you are not satisfied with the performance of your KUIU bought Superfeet, you may return them to KUIU within 60 days of the original purchase for a full refund.

_________________________________________________________________________

GIVEAWAY!

UPDATE: DEWEY PRATT, YOU WERE CHOSEN FOR THE FREE PAIR! I HAVE SENT YOU AN EMAIL. THANKS TO EVERYONE ELSE WHO COMMENTED!

Everyone who Subscribes and submits a comment to this post will be entered into a drawing to win a FREE pair of Superfeet. I will pull the winning name out of a hat this Friday, March 13th at 12pm PST. The winner will get to choose between the Green and Carbon models.

Don’t worry if your comment doesn’t appear right away. I have to approve them before they show up on the public page.

Lastly, I want to thank all of the new subscribers who joined The Hunt last week in response to the KUIU newsletter. We are over the 500 subscriber mark as of today (3/10/2015). Email me at toddh@kuiu.com if you have ideas for future posts.

-Todd Harney

_________________________________________________________________________

Determining Your Arch Type (Addition to Original Post)

There were a few questions that came up in the comments on how to determine your arch type before choosing an insole. One way to do this is by wetting the bottom of your bare foot and taking one normal step onto a piece of thick paper. A “flat” foot (little to no arch) will look like the print on the right. A “normal” arch will look like the print on the left. A print that lays down even less water in the arch area than the print on the left would be considered a “high” arch. Tim, who took the step on the left, is comfortable in both the Carbon and the Green insoles.

Arch

Loading an Icon PRO

A question that frequently comes up this time of year as guys are shopping for and receiving new packs is “What’s the best way to load my pack?” Here I will thoroughly cover how I typically pack my Icon PRO 7200 for a multi-day outing. This will be quite a bit different from how I pack an Ultra bag, which I’ll cover in a future post. Let me preface by saying that there are a number of logical ways to load the Icon PRO with gear, below is simply what has proven to work best for me through trial and error.

Below is my empty and compressed 7200.

IMG_1904

What’s Going In?

For the sake of this demo, I’ll pack what I would take on a solo 4-day October high country Mule Deer rifle hunt. This will be a pretty universal gear list, as the only main differences for longer/shorter or colder/warmer hunts will be variations in the amounts of food and clothing.

Here’s what’s going into the pack:

IMG_1906

Light and Bulky to the Bottom

Let’s get the big stuff out of the way first, all of which stows inside the main compartment. My sleeping bag is the lowest item in the pack, as it provides lightweight loft to keep heavier items riding higher in the pack. Keeping the heaviest items high and tight to the body aids in making a pack not feel as heavy, compared to if the heftiest pieces are stored low and away. The sleeping bag is not an item that will need to be accessed in a rush, further qualifying it’s place at the very bottom.

IMG_1908

On top of the sleeping bag sits the rolled up tent body and fly, and on top of that is where I keep my Super Down jacket. Keeping the Super Down here serves two purposes: 1) It provides additional loft from the bottom as described above, and 2) It sits at a level where its easily accessed by opening just a small portion of the main horseshoe zipper. It’s nice to be able to grab the down jacket quickly when sitting to glass or take a break. If it’s cold out and you plan to remain stationary for a little while, you want to get insulated before any accumulated body sweat starts to freeze.

One more note on starting from the bottom- If the lower webbing loops on the pack aren’t occupied by a weapon holder accessory, I like to install the compression straps and cinch the bottom together- essentially raising the lowest resting point of the main compartment for a higher overall gear load (photo below).

IMG_1936

Hydration

My 3L Platypus Hoser always goes in the right side, interior vertical hydration pocket. This pocket has a hanger and convenient hose port to run the hydration to to my right shoulder strap. While the matching pocket on the left also has a hanger and hose port, I’m right handed so I like to drink from the right. For lefties, the right shoulder strap hose clip can be removed and re-attached to the left shoulder strap.

My extra (usually empty) 1L Platy Bottle and gravity filter are stored in the left-side interior vertical pocket. If using a gravity filter, keeping it inside like this adds extra protection from impact and insulation from freezing.

IMG_1909

IMG_1910

Optics, Tripod, Camera

Now that I have up to 3 Liters of water hanging on the right side of the pack, I need to balance it out- a perfect job for the tripod. My tripod always goes on the outside of the pack, on the left hand side. The feet slide into the exterior stuff-it pouch, and the upper frame to bag compression strap secures the top end with a single wrap.

IMG_1911

Optics, whether is be a spotting scope or 15×56 binos, fit nicely into the exterior vertical-zip pocket. I put my game bags underneath them, just to keep the weight sitting a hair higher.

IMG_1920

My camera typically moves back and forth between the lid and the main pack compartment. If there’s enough room in the lid with my clothes (addressed later), I prefer to have it there for fast access and to keep the weight nice and high. If there’s not space in the lid, it sits in the same area as my Super Down which still offers efficient accessibility. There have been times, usually during epic pack outs, where I’ve simply buckled the camera case into my bino harness to keep it at the ready. Whatever you do, don’t ever have your camera too deep in the pack to draw in a hurry.

Organizing with Dry Bags

While the Icon PRO offers plenty of pockets to keep items separated, I still find myself making use of dry bags in various sizes to compartmentalize. Bulk food, cookware, clothes, and small rarely used items get dry bagged. Not only is it convenient to pull out a bag of related items that are typically used together, but it’s nice to have the peace of mind that electronics, paper, and small gear won’t be easily lost or damaged due to moisture. Furthermore, in the event that maximum interior bag space is needed for meat, the dry bags and their contents can be lashed to the outside of the pack.

IMG_1914

IMG_1915

Food

My food almost always fits into a Medium roll top dry bag. This simply goes into the main bag compartment on top of everything else above that’s already in the pack. As items get eaten and trash is generated, I like to reserve the large lower mesh panel pocket as a dedicated waste location. Putting wrappers back into the food dry bag just creates a mess of confusion after a couple days, and having bits of garbage tucked “wherever” throughout the pack is just plain annoying.

IMG_1916

Cookware and Tags/Small Items

The dry bags with cookware and small items (tag, license, pen, ibuprofen, Havalon blades, moleskin, emergency headlamp, etc.) fits easily into the large mesh top panel pocket.

IMG_1918

Clothing

I’ve always liked to keep my extra clothes in the pack lid. While I don’t have a great reason for doing this, I just like to keep the bulk down in the main pack compartment. And at night a lid stuffed with clothes, removed from the pack, with a shirt around it makes a pretty nice pillow. As seen in the photo below, this dry bag of clothes only takes up one of the two large lid pockets.

The Chugach NX Jacket rides on its own in the other lid pocket for easy access in the event of an inadvertent rain or cold biting wind.

IMG_1921

Quick Access

Small frequent use items always ride in the top outside horizontal zip pocket. With a built in zip divider, this compartment is actually two pockets in one. The innermost pocket has a key clip, making it a safe place for… you guessed it, keys. Being that it takes opening two zippers to reach, it’s also a safe location to keep a wallet if you don’t like keeping your wallet at the trailhead.

IMG_1922

In the larger outer portion of this pocket are my headlamp, tripod head with bino adapter, Merino beanie and neck gaiter, Merino gloves, Havalon knife, snacks, and extra shells (rubberbanded to eliminate noise). Because it’s so common to end up using the pack as a shooting rest, keeping extra shells here is a smart move for fast access during the heat of the moment.

IMG_1923

Hip belt pouches are another excellent place to store frequently used odds and ends. Here I typically keep my chapstick (Scarpa makes really good chapstick by the way), wind indicator bottle, cell phone, bundle of three extra shells, and handheld GPS if using one.

IMG_1929

Rifle

Just the same as the tripod on the left side, I make use of the stuff-it pocket and frame compression strap to securely attach my rifle. By running the compression strap between the scope bell and barrel, a firm downward pull is achieved which really locks the gun into place. In the event that extra protection for the scope and action is desired, the side vertical pocket can be opened and strapped over the outside of the gun.

For inquiring minds, this is a Weatherby Mark V Ultra Lightweight RC in .270 WBY Mag. The scope is a Nightforce NXS Compact 2.5-10×42 with IR and ZeroStop, mounted in Seekins Precision bases on a Talley 20MOA base.

IMG_1935

Fully Loaded, How Much Room is Left?

Below you see the pack loaded with everything that’s gone in up to this point. While it looks pretty full, there’s still plenty of space to add even more gear, and/or pack out a large load of meat.

  • The back pocket of the lid is only 1/3 full.
  • The left inside vertical pocket only has two small items in it.
  • The lower inside panel pocket is empty.
  • Both large exterior side vertical pockets are empty.
  • The exterior back vertical zip pocket is only half full.
  • Gear in the main compartment has plenty of room around it.
  • Gear in the main compartment stops well below the snow collar.
  • Extending the snow collar would add at least 2,000 cubic inches.
  • Load Sling mode would provide yet another 2,500 cubic inches.
  • If push came to shove, dry bags could easily be strapped to the outside.

IMG_1933

 

I hope this has helped answer some of your questions. If nothing else, it’s always fun to see someone else’s kit and a few pack photos. If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to post in the comments section below.

Lastly, we’ve added a Subscribe option for The Hunt. Scroll up to the first photo in this post and you’ll see it on the right. Please subscribe!

-Todd Harney

 

 

 

 

The Bino Adapter, Your Next Secret Weapon

IMG_1697

Over the years the hunting market has become inundated with the “latest and greatest” of products that are high on promise and low on delivery. The ads are everywhere, repeating the same phrases like a broken record. “Harvest more game with this!” “Never again take to the field without that!”

I know I’m writing to a crowd here that likely sees right through the gimmicks, but there are a few under the radar gadgets out there that I truly believe lead to an increase in success. The product that I want to highlight here is the Outdoorsmans Binocular Adapter. While glassing with binoculars mounted to a tripod isn’t necessarily uncommon, it amazes me that more people still haven’t caught on; especially with the simple and light weight mounting options that are readily available on the market.

We all know the significance in having a rock solid foundation when glassing with a spotting scope, yet it’s often ignored when the time comes to sit down for a glassing session with binos. Because binoculars have a much larger field of view than spotting scopes, we get a false sense that we can hold them steady enough by hand to pick out small details at relatively long distances. In reality, the small details we’re looking for not only appear even smaller through binos than through a scope, but there’s more to see and be distracted by due to the larger field of view.

I began using the Outdoorsmans Bino Adapter last Fall (2014) after using the Vortex Uni-Daptor mount in previous seasons. While the Uni-Daptor is a good product that performs well for the price point, the Outdoorsmans adapter is in a league of its own.

IMG_1887

The Outdoorsmans takes pride in the quality of their product, which is apparent upon initial inspection of their Bino Adapter. Machined in Payson, AZ, all parts are made out of light weight yet incredibly strong 6061-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum. This is an item that requires zero babying in the backcountry.

The OBA is a two part system. The 1.9 oz adapter (which attaches to the tripod plate) is purchased separately from the stud (which threads into the binoculars). It’s important to note that the adapter comes in either a Tall or Short version; the only difference being that the Tall adapter provides extra clearance to keep large (56mm) objective barrels from hitting the tripod head when squeezed together (see photo below). The Tall adapter is also recommended for use with the Swarovski EL Range due to its over-sized electronics housing on the underside of the barrels.

IMG_1368

The small stud portion is a make/model specific piece that securely threads into the existing hinge threads on the binoculars. Weighing less than half of an ounce, there are zero drawbacks to having the stud become a permanent fixture your binoculars. Because they are sold separately, it’s easy to purchase a stud for each pair of binos in your arsenal to be used with the single adapter. I find myself frequently switching back and forth between my 10×42 and 15×56 during glassing sessions. Both pairs have their own stud attached which makes for a quick and simple transition depending on which pair I want mounted in a given situation. Lastly regarding the bino stud, The Outdoorsmans is the only company authorized to install a stud in the Swarovski EL without voiding the warranty. The EL series must be sent to Outdoorsmans for installation, whereas all other studs are easily installed at home by the user.

IMG_1895

Mounting the binos for use is a quick and simple action. Simply press and hold down the knurled top button to open the locking mechanism inside the mounting hole on the adapter. Slide the stud into the hole and release the button. Lastly, twist the knurled button to the right to lock the latch. At this point, the binoulars will not come out of the mount until the button is once again unscrewed and pressed in. The entire process of inserting/removing and locking/unlocking takes less than 5 seconds. I’ve found that having the binos fixed securely to the mount is a huge benefit when quickly changing glassing positions over short distances. Many times I’ve found myself standing up and moving with my binos and tripod hanging from my neck as I walk. This keeps both hands available for carrying a weapon, pack, etc. Once I sit back down, I can get right back to glassing.

IMG_1901

Once locked into the adapter, the binoculars still have some rotational play. This allows the binos to be leveled for comfortable viewing, even if the tripod is not completely level. Because of the precision machining, center of view remains the same even as the binos are canted side to side.

Don’t assume that you need to invest in high powered, 12x-15x optics to benefit from mounting binos on a tripod. I became a believer back when I began using this method with nothing but my 10x42s, as it lead to my first 30″ mule deer in 2012. Three of us were glassing a distant basin on an early October afternoon. We had yet to turn up a deer for size reference at that distance, which made the glassing tough (it’s always easier once you know the size of parts to look for, isn’t it?). I had my field of view locked in place on a small quaky patch at the base of a granite face. Just as I was about to scan to the left, I saw a wide-framed buck move quickly through an opening in the top right corner of my picture before disappearing back into the trees. His body was much smaller than I thought it would be at that distance, and there’s no way I would have seen him had I been free-handing the binos. To make a long story short, I made it up into the basin and killed him just as daylight faded. Without catching that first quick glimpse, I would have never made it up there in time- let alone known he was up there at all.

IMG_1206

If you’re looking to adopt new tactics or upgrade gear this year, you simply will not be disappointed by picking up an Outdoorsmans Bino Adapter. It will last forever, you’ll increase your odds at success, and you’ll soon be out-glassing your hunting partner. This unit is priced at about $59 for the post and right in the $20 ballpark for each stud. For those on a tighter budget the Vortex Uni-Daptor, while not as refined and stable, will still provide a serious boost in glassing effectiveness at around half the cost.

For a limited time, mention this article when ordering a Bino Adapter from The Outdoorsmans for special pricing. They can be reached by calling 1-800-291-8065.

Todd Harney

 

Expanding the Comfort Zone

IMG_1256

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will not accomplish anything in life.”

-Muhammad Ali

Preface: This topic is a fitting one for my first post to The Hunt. It’s not easy publishing thoughts and advice for the public. What if they don’t like the way it reads? What if it’s not useful for anyone? These are the questions that went through my head as I sat down to begin writing. I soon realized that I was simply having a hard time leaving my comfort zone, which I’ve also experienced and been able to overcome throughout my development in the outdoors. In posting this content I have left my comfort zone. What will you do next to leave yours?

When you take a moment to sit back and reflect on past hunts, which experiences initially come to mind? Do you think about the times you took a quick road hunt and shot something close to the truck? Or does your memory take you back to a time when you were in over your head and ready to give up, but somehow stayed in the game and found success? Thinking back on my own experiences, the hunts that stand out the most are those where a lot of time was spent outside of my comfort zone. Not by coincidence, these were also the hunts that were the most successful.

Because hunting is such an individual sport, one can easily sail through a hunt while selling themselves short on effort and production. The hunter answers only to themselves so there are no repercussions for slacking. At the same time, again because hunting is such an individual sport, one can go all in and shoot for the stars and there are no repercussions for failure. If you’re one to have found the drive to step outside your comfort zone in the mountains each year, hats off to you. But for those of you who find yourselves staying within the bounds of your hunting comfort zone, read on.

Getting outside the comfort zone requires a specific mental approach- one that’s comfortable with risk, even if an immediate reward is not likely. If a filled tag was guaranteed every time someone decided to backpack hunt alone, go a mile further than they’ve gone before, or not return to camp for a night to stay in position for the morning, everyone would be doing it. These are just a few examples of the many situations which might require one to leave their comfort zone for an extended period of time without the promise of bounty as a reward. While immediate success won’t always be a direct result of getting out of the zone, the long term benefits are well worth the effort. The beauty of the comfort zone is that each time it’s left behind, it gets bigger for the future. Slowly but surely, the unknown becomes the new norm.

Aside from staying aware the risk-reward mental aspect, there are a number of things you can do to extend your boundaries next season. Below are a few recommendations for starters.

Visit New Country

Simply hunting a new area is one way to force yourself into the unknown. We all have those places we’ve looked at on Google Earth over and over or frequently driven by on the way to our favorite spots- but never taken the time to put true effort into. Is your comfort zone stopping you from loading up a pack and checking it out?

Refine Your Kit

No matter how obsessive you are or aren’t about the weight of your pack, there’s almost always room to get by with less. Evaluate your “comfort” items, and leave something you’ve always thought was nice to have behind for a hunt.

Hunt With Someone More Accomplished

This may be easier said than done depending on who you are or who you know. But, if you can find someone to go on a hunt with who will drive you outside of your comfort zone, take advantage of it. Let them know beforehand what your goals are, and specifically ask them to push you.

Plan a Trip Like Never Before

Again, easier said than done depending on what you’ve accomplished, but it can be done. Even if you need to plan now for a hunt next year or even later, put something together that you know will be tough. The more preparation, planning, and anxiety involved, the better!

Hunt Alone

Nothing forces you to be more honest with yourself about your feelings and abilities than spending days on end alone in the backcountry. Everything is on you, and you will either leave knowing you left it all on the line, or if you sold yourself short. Either way, this one will surely make your comfort zone grow.

Now is a great time of year to be setting goals for the 2015 hunting seasons. To get the most out of yourself, consciously set goals that will require leaving your comfort zone to fulfill. Leaving the comfort zone isn’t about getting things right the first time, it’s about building blocks to grow upon. While it’s not easy, slowly expanding your comfort zone will be a long term investment in your hunting abilities. Manoj Arora said it best in From the Rat Race to Financial Freedom: “Comfort is your biggest trap and coming out of comfort is your biggest challenge.”

Todd Harney