By now you’ve likely heard a million times over about the dangers of drinking from plastic containers, and the last few years there’s been a shift in the popularity of inexpensive, clear, synthetic containers to stainless steel canteens. If you’ve been on the fence about switching from artificial water bottles to something slightly more hefty and practical, here are a few reasons why you should make the change now.
Keep Hots Hot and Colds Cold
<a href=”https://www.amazon.com/Hydro-Flask-Double-Insulated-Stainless/dp/B01ACAX7OS/” rel=”nofollow” title=””>Hydro Flask 18 oz Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle</a> (Hydro Flask/)
The best stainless steel canteens are not only completely BPA free, they keep hot liquids hot and cold liquids cold for extended periods of time—a valuable feature if you’ve ever been on a long hunt and craved a chilled drink at the end, only to realize the sun baked the water inside your plastic bottle.
While the cost of some stainless steel bottles and mugs dissuades some people from buying one of their own, remember they are reusable, and if properly cared for, have a seemingly never-ending shelf life. They’re also dishwasher safe and a great gift idea if you know someone that needs to make the switch from plastic.
In addition to their insulating properties and reusability, most stainless steel containers are bombproof. The lids seal tight and keep the contents from spilling, and because they’re constructed from one of the lightest and toughest metals possible, it won’t break or explode (like a plastic bottle) if accidentally knocked over or dropped.
Electric trolling motors provide many benefits to fishermen: They’re quieter, lighter in weight, and less expensive than gas-operated outboard motors. They save you the time and effort necessary to row or paddle to your destination. And these days they are quite powerful and don’t use as much battery power as their predecessors. But buying the right motor involves more than picking the most expensive one you can afford. Make sure you choose the right motor for your fishing by looking for the features outlined below.
1. A powerful, quiet motor
If you fish regularly in heavy current or lots of wind, buy a <a href=”https://www.amazon.com/Newport-Vessels-Thrust-Electric-Trolling/dp/B00VYP3R82/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ll1&tag=fsmag-20&linkId=0ca9f60ec231eb450606ad76e86219df&language=en_US” rel=”nofollow” title=””>motor with a higher thrust rating</a>. (Newport/)
A rule of thumb is to have at least 2 pounds of thrust for every 100 pounds of gross boat weight—meaning the weight of the boat itself, plus everything and everyone in it. If you have a 1000-pound boat and you’ll have about 500 pounds of gear and people in the boat, you’ll need 30 pounds of thrust at the absolute minimum. Note that the more thrust you use, the more battery you will burn, so the bigger the battery you will need.
2. A tiller you can reach and use comfortably
<a href=”https://www.amazon.com/MinnKota-Traxxis-Transom-Trolling-Thrust/dp/B002VW956A/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ll1&tag=fsmag-20&linkId=ea09a5907f25bb068725b093b184279b&language=en_US” rel=”nofollow” title=””>Trolling motors</a> with adjustable tillers let you steer small boats like canoes from a more comfortable position. (MinnKota/)
It’s one thing to sit in the stern of a boat and turn the tiller this way and that on the way to your fishing spot. It’s another to be busy fishing and have to awkwardly reach back for the tiller to make minor adjustments in location or drift. Some motors have tillers that telescope out; others tilt and extend, allowing you to position the tiller where it’s easy to reach.
3. A breakaway mount
A flexible shaft helps you navigate through fishy structure like flooded timber without breaking your <a href=”https://www.amazon.com/Minn-Kota-Freshwater-Transom-Trolling/dp/B004360NKY/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ll1&tag=fsmag-20&linkId=0997b5c1978e6b2835c1924eb75371eb&language=en_US” rel=”nofollow” title=””>trolling motor</a> on submerged logs and branches. (MinnKota/)
Fish like structure, and chances are you’ll be fishing around rocks or logs. But if your motor shaft encounters an obstruction, you may damage the trolling motor or even the boat’s transom on which it is mounted. A motor with a breakaway mount allows the shaft to lift out of the bracket and slide over whatever it hit.
If you’re shopping for a new spinning reel, you know how saturated the market is with different brands and models. How do you sort them out and decide if a reel is right for your purposes? It’s hard to tell by looks alone, so look for these three features:
1. Stainless-steel ball bearings
Better bearings mean a smoother reel. <a href=”https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074WJS5FF/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ll1&tag=fsmag-20&linkId=2ba993ff06d666efd60095b4cbfaf0f7&language=en_US” rel=”nofollow” title=””>A smoother reel</a> lets you feel taps on your lure that a rougher reel’s feel would hide. (Pflueger/)
Quality bearings are crucial because they will determine the smoothness of the reel when you crank it. Inferior bearings will wear down, impart resistance, and make noise during the crank. Not only is that annoying, it also decreases your sensory connection to the rod and line, limiting your ability to feel a fish take a lure during a retrieve.
2. A quality drag
<a href=”https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LDYJ5X0/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ll1&tag=fsmag-20&linkId=56aa8acffd55c8cf929de1bc770618c8&language=en_US” rel=”nofollow” title=””>Carbon fiber drag washers</a> release line smoothly and without the stop-and-go action of inferior drags, increasing the risk of breaking off the fish. (Penn/)
A drag does two important things: It allows a fish to take line off of the reel before the fish’s weight or resistance overcomes the strength of the fishing line, breaking it. And it prevents a fish from taking too much line out, decreasing your control of the fish and your chances of landing it.
3. An even line lay
<a href=”https://www.amazon.com/Daiwa-BG-BG5000-Spinning-Reel/dp/B01JH8FHQM/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ll1&tag=fsmag-20&linkId=0a2732d7377c20bfced728d41f0738cb&language=en_US” rel=”nofollow” title=””>Some reels</a> come with extra plastic washers that slide onto the reel shaft, allowing you to fine-tune the height of the spool so that your line lays evenly on the reel during your retrieve. (Daiwa/)
As you turn a spinning reel crank, the line is wrapped around the spool via a line roller on the bail as the spool simultaneously moves up and down on the main shaft, distributing line evenly. That’s how it’s supposed to work. If your reel doesn’t distribute line evenly, you’ll get a belly of line on the top or bottom of the spool, severely limiting casting distance and the amount of line the spool will hold.
The Marlin 1895 is one of a handful of iconic lever guns from around the turn of the last century. (Turnbull Restoration/)
They are turning up by the scores in used-gun racks, their wooden stocks battered and once-blued steel worn silver. The grandfathers who used them are afield in happier hunting grounds, and the grandkids who would have gotten them either don’t hunt or prefer something tactical.
The time of the lever as the Number One Gun has passed.
But from 1861 to 1918—from the Civil War to World War I—we were a lever-action nation. Lever rifles took us from the era of the muzzleloader to the modern bolt-action. Nor have we forgotten that. There is still no shortage of people to whom “deer rifle” means “lever action.”
Cowboy Action Shooters are behind Winchester’s re-introduction of the Model 1873. Marlin offers no fewer than 10 variations of the Model 1895, or you can go to any number of custom shops who will build you a hot-rodded 1895 for a great deal of money. Lever-action guns can shoot at long range, drop elephants, and print minute-of-angle groups. Doug Turnbull has transformed them into an art form with his magnificent restorations. And if you want an original gun, scars and all, you need only look to that used-gun rack.
The best lever guns are neither gone nor forgotten. Here are the greatest models from the lever’s Golden Age.
The Henry Repeating Rifle
A fine example of a vintage Henry Repeating Rifle, made in 1863. (Turnbull Restorations/)
It arrived in time for the Civil War, and introduced the concept of fire superiority to the battlefield. In the hands of a skilled soldier, a Springfield Rifle Musket could get off three rounds per minute. The Henry, which held 15 copper (later brass) cartridges in a tubular magazine, could be fired 24 times in 60 seconds. It was to the rifle musket as an M4 is to an ’03 Springfield.
The Henry was not robust, nor was it very powerful. It used a .44 rimfire cartridge whose realistic maximum range was perhaps 150 yards. But the Henry could pour out the lead, and of the 8,000 or so that served in the Union Army, many were private purchase. The gun cost $40. A Union corporal made $13 a month. But the Boys in Blue were glad to spend the money. They had seen fire superiority at work.
The Winchester Model 1866
Winchester’s current-production Model 1866 Short Rifle. (Winchester/)
The Model 1866 is the first Winchester lever-action, courtesy of Oliver F. Winchester, who took over the New Haven Arms Company during the Civil War and changed its name to Winchester Repeating Arms in 1866.
The 1866 was a 14-shot .44 rimfire with a distinctive brass-alloy frame. Mechanically, it was much improved over the Henry with a loading port added to the receiver and the tubular magazine reinforced by a wooden fore-end.
Native Americans called it “Yellow Boy,” because of the frame. The Sioux and Cheyenne had a fair number of them at the Little Big Horn, and they proved superior to the far more powerful .45/70 Model 1873 Springfield cavalry carbine.
The Model 1866 had a long run. It was produced until 1899, and 720,000 were made. How many lives it saved will never be known. If you had Yellow Boy in your saddle scabbard, you had a chance of emerging alive from whatever you got yourself into.
The Winchester Model 1873
A fine antique Model 73 (circa 1888) with 24-inch octagon barrel and Lyman tang sight. (Turnbull Restoration/)
Winchester Repeating Arms has long billed the Model 1873 as “the gun that won the West,” and in this case, they may just be right. When the West really was wild, the Model 73 was the go-to rifle.
It was the direct offspring of the Yellow Boy, but the brass frame was replaced by a much stronger iron one, and the anemic .44 rimfire cartridge was succeeded by the more powerful centerfire .44/40. The .44/40 was a pistol cartridge, but that meant that you could carry both a Model 1873 and a revolver in that caliber and swap ammo without a care in the world.
In 1875, Winchester began the practice of selecting its most accurate Model 73 barrels and building guns around them with set triggers, extra-nice finish, and the engraved legend, “One of One Thousand.” These special editions sold for $100, which is the equivalent of $2,300 today. In 1950, an A-list Hollywood western starring Jimmy Stewart was made entitled “Winchester 73.”
Over 720,000 Model 73s were made between its introduction and 1923, when it was finally discontinued.
The Winchester Model 1886
A Winchester Model 1886 made in 1891 and restored in 1980 by Turnbull Restoration. (Turnbull Restoration/)
The Model 1886 is a John M. Browning design, and it’s been called the American version of the British express rifle—a heavy, powerful gun designed to deliver crushing blows fast.
It’s also a prime example of the way firearms used to be made. Its mechanism has a glassy smoothness that you can find only in other firearms of the time and in hardly any modern ones at all. Although it came from a factory, the Winchester 86 was a handmade rifle.
Originally chambered in .45/70, .45/90, .40/82, and the .50/110 Express, the Model 86 later transitioned to smokeless cartridges, most notably the .33 WCF. The locking-block action was more than strong enough; all that was needed was a nickel-steel barrel.
The Model 86 stayed in production from 1886 to 1935; 160,000 were made. Teddy Roosevelt owned one and loved it. So did a lot of other people.
The Winchester Model 1894
A vintage Model 94. Winchester still offers more than half a dozen versions of this classic lever gun. (Winchester/)
Here is a rifle of superlatives. “Model 94” is practically synonymous with “deer rifle.” Another John M. Browning design, it was originally intended as a black-powder gun, but when it came into production in 1895, it was chambered for the brand-new smokeless .30 WCF (later called the .30/30), and the two became synonymous.
The Model 94 was short, handy, light for its time, carried nicely in the hand, snaked in and out of a saddle scabbard, fired fast, was dead reliable, and kicked very little. It was not all that accurate, but in those times, no one cared. Nor could it accept a scope; but this was in the era before scopes.
So popular was the Model 94 that it was the first commercial sporting rifle whose sales exceeded 7 million. Winchester produced it until 2006. Fitted with good iron sights, it’s still a terror to deer everywhere.
The Savage Model 99
This Savage 99, in .300 Savage, was made in 1936. (Turnbull Restoration/)
If ever there was a rifle that was ahead of its time, it’s Arthur Savage’s hammerless masterpiece. Because of its rotating-spool magazine (later changed to a detachable box), it could use spitzer bullets rather than flat-points, greatly extending its range. It had enough strength to handle modern, high-intensity cartridges. It had a good trigger. It ejected to the side, not up, so you could mount a scope on it. It was dead reliable and, for a lever gun, accurate.
The 99 was chambered for a wide variety of cartridges, and I’d guess that most rifles were sold in .300 Savage, which is very similar to the .308. However, the round that brought the 99 to glory was the .250/3000 Savage, which fired an 87-grain bullet at the then-unheard-of velocity of 3,000 fps.
The 99 had a long and glorious run, lasting from 1899 to 1998. Today, they’re becoming available in all calibers, models, and conditions. If it were me, I’d look for a rotary-magazine model in nice shape, chambered for the .250/3000. It was a jewel when it was made, and it’s still a gem among rifles.
The Marlin Model 1895
A made-to-order Turnbull Finished Marlin 1895 in .45/70. (Turnbull Restoration/)
Is there a stranger story than that of the Model 1895, the Rifle that Will Not Die? I doubt it. This one has had three incarnations: The first, which appeared three years before the turn of the 19th century, was a good, solid rifle that never really caught on. It ran for only 22 years and only 18,000 were made. Incarnation Number Two came in 1972, when Marlin reintroduced a version based on the Model 336 frame, and chambered in .45/70. This coincided with a resurgence of interest in the ancient cartridge. People were discovering that it could drop deer with dispatch and very little recoil, or you could load it up to near-.458 levels. In 2006, Hornady came out with its plastic-tipped LEVERevolution ammo that enabled you to use spitzer bullets in a tubular magazine, and turned a 150-yard rifle into a 300-yarder.
Then came the customized 1895s, of which there are currently 10 in the Marlin line. Marlin has its own custom shop which will turn out something really fancy for you, and there are a number of independent custom gunsmiths who specialize in turning Model 1895s into objects of wonder.
The Marlin Model 39A
Marlin’s custom-shop Model 39A Fancy. (Marlin Firearms/)
This paragon among .22 rimfires has hell of a credential: It’s the oldest and longest continuously produced shoulder firearm in the world. It began as the Model 1891, which was used by Annie Oakley, and thereby got a compelling endorsement. It then morphed into the Model 1892, and then to the Model 1897, and then to the Model 39A, and finally to the Model 39A Golden, which is a Marlin Custom Shop proposition.
There are 2.2 million of them out there, and they’re essentially the same gun: a firearm of lovely balance, handsome lines, infallible performance, excellent accuracy, and the ability to use Short, Long, or Long Rifle ammo interchangeably.
Good 39As do not come cheap, and the really nice, or rare, ones cost serious money. Is there such a thing as a perfect firearm? No, but this one comes pretty close.
Some of you might remember It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, the animated Halloween cartoon that featured Linus, Snoopy, Lucy, Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang. One particular line out of that classic 1966 TV show still rings true. When the kids asked him how he’d done trick-or-treating, poor Charlie Brown, who was wearing his sad-sack, many-holed Ghost costume, answered, “I got a rock.”
Hiking is a great way to exercise, see wildlife or scenery, and enjoy time with friends of family. Whether you’re departing from a trailhead or simply navigating a short loop on a trail outside town, it’s smart to carry a few supplies like food, water, a first-aid kit, and possibly extra clothes, just in case, and you’ll need a good pack to haul it all. But the best packs aren’t always the largest. In fact, you should try to get away with the smallest, lightest model you can. Here are a few other features you’ll want to consider.
A Big Back Pocket
<a href=”https://www.amazon.com/Osprey-Packs-Daylite-Plus-Daypack/dp/B07CV65HVV/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&th=1&linkCode=ll1&tag=fsmag-20&linkId=a77c78a7daa73061948e80263d68fb63&language=en_US” rel=”nofollow” title=””>Osprey Packs Daylite Plus Daypack</a> (Osprey Packs/)
If you’re carrying a canteen, food, extra clothes, or additional gear, a pack with a large main compartment will serve you well. It makes it easier to not only stash and protect big cargo, it’s a quick-and-convenient way to access items, like camera gear, you might need in a hurry.
Tough as Nails
<a href=”https://www.amazon.com/North-Face-Borealis-Outdoor-Backpack/dp/B01NBYP217/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ll1&tag=fsmag-20&linkId=383cad443447aa4c75a2e87fad863302&language=en_US” rel=”nofollow” title=””>The North Face Borealis Men’s Outdoor Backpack</a> (North Face/)
Look close at a pack’s materials and construction. Make sure it’s durable enough to suit your needs, and assembled in a way that won’t fail you when you’re far from home. A good backpack will be light, but not at the sacrifice of security. It’s important to not only know you’re getting a product that will last, but will also protect whatever contents you slip inside.
A good backpack should feel comfortable. If it isn’t, you could be setting yourself up for one miserable trek. If it has a waist belt, make sure it’s padded and comfortable, and if there are load-lifting straps, make sure they work—when activated, there should actually be space under the strap itself and the weight should shift off your shoulders and onto your hips.
Aside from having a large main compartment, examine the rest of the pack’s design to make sure it has the zippers, straps, pockets, and compartments you need to contain whatever you plan to carry. Mesh water-bottle pockets are great to have, and small spaces for things like sunglasses, smartphones, and car keys can come in handy and protect the from being damaged by anything else you might be hauling along.