Episode #8 – Justin Sparks

Justin Sparks is one of the most knowledgeable gear guys in the industry. He knows the detail of what makes gear effective and long lasting. He’s a hard core archery elk hunter raised in Idaho, and a true gear junkie.

In this pod cast you will hear Justin talk about things to consider when making gear selections depending on where you will be hunting and in what season, what bow he uses and why, what apparel he wears and why, and what boots he chooses as his go to boot. He also speaks on the 4 things that he believes changed how hunting is done today.

Justin Sparks

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Marc: OK, this is Marc Warnke with Outdoors International and I got Justin Sparks on the line today. Justin say hi to everybody.

Justin: Hey guys how you doing? How you doing Marc?

Marc: Good. I’m glad to have you Justin, because you know, you bring such a unique perspective to the podcast in terms of the hunting world and how you look at it through your eyes. I respect is as being uniquely different than kind of how other people look. I mean we all look at different things in our own way, but you look through kind of a gear, gear goggles I’ll call it, in terms of hunting and how you approach it. A lot of times, I mean you’re a ‘carry the kitchen sink on your back’ guy where I’m a tendency to be between the minimalist and you know, the giant pack. And you know it’s an interesting perspective that you bring to the hunting world. And for those of you guys that don’t know Justin out there, as an introduction I’ve known Justin myself now for boy, I think it’s about wouldn’t you say 10+ years? Justin wouldn’t you say?

Justin: Yea, it was about what 2003, 2004 right in there. Actually it was right in the end of 2003, because we met in that office over off McMillan or no, Euclid.

Mark: That’s right and we kind of hit it off right off the bat. I think you’d seen that-

Justin: Article-

Mark: Yea, that article in Trophy Hunter on the mulies and then we started talking elk and, you know, connected like two hunters can connect really quickly. Spent some time in the woods together and quickly gained respect for your elk hunting prowess and you know, then kind of went from there and have kind of always stayed on one another’s radar and Outdoor International gave us an opportunity to be closer on a daily basis. For those of you who don’t know Justin, a super, super accomplished elk hunter, lifetime archer, was raised by a dad who was flinging sticks before flinging sticks was cool. You know he’s been around the game longer than I have, you know? I didn’t start bow hunting until I was 22 and Justin you’ve been doing it knee-high to grasshoppers, so got a really neat perspective.

But at Outdoors International Justin is our gear junkie and in think he was given that title, I don’t think he – you thought of that, I think it just kind of naturally fit among us calling you a gear junkie because you are always so mindful of the research and the stuff that, the detail that I don’t pay attention to until I’m out there in the woods. I keep it simple- am I sweaty or am I not, and you know the materials and all that different stuff and you know, it’s a real asset when we’re looking at it. So Justin I guess my goal today is to kind of talk some gear but talk some hunting too and one of the things that I think is really interesting in the hunting world is that we all have people that we hunt with. And learning how to negotiate personalities in the woods. You and I are both that A type personality and learning how to hunt together is still evolving for you and I. And you’re one of those guys that when I hunt with it’s almost one of those daily agreed upon, ‘ok you’re the hunt leader today, I’m the hunt leader tomorrow.’ Because both of us naturally want to lead and we both naturally don’t want to follow.

And it was kind of fun, was it two seasons ago where we’re out there in kind of your old stomping grounds to see that and bump into each other. Didn’t you feel that as well?

Justin: Oh yea, that was actually kind of funny looking back. There were a couple days where you and I were like, ‘aah! I want to strangle you!’ but it was only because of an incredible situation. We had so many bulls and so many opportunities on elk and it was fun and when you get so intense and competitive like both Mark and I are, and our A type personalities come out and I think we all know that there are probably a hundred different type situations where you could sneak up on a bull or call a bull in every time and none of them is right and, you know, you and I definitely ran into some of that and it was – it’s kind of funny looking back, laughing at them, but at the time we were definitely working out some of the kinks for sure.

Mark: Yea, yea, no question. It’s also kind of funny to look back on that and also see you evolution. I mean if you actually watch that footage that we cut – I can’t remember what the title of that one is on our Outdoors International page but I think it’s-

Justin: The Wyoming hunters-

Mark: Yea, the DIY Wyoming elk hunt if you guys out there want to search it and that was Justin and I hunting that two seasons ago and you’ll actually notice that if you look at a picture of Justin now and you look at a picture then, how much less do you weigh than you were on that hunt?

Justin: Probably 30 pounds.

Mark: Is it only 30?

Justin: Yea, it may have been a little more, you know I’ve gained a few back in the off-season which I’ll strip down this spring and summer but total to when I originally lost it to like my lowest was 45 pounds, but I’m about 30 now, 30 less.

Mark: Wow. Well coming from somebody that struggles to even lose 10. And I mean I’ve always been, well not a skinny guy but I was never a heavy guy. I never really dealt with weight concerns but in this training process and in this Train to Hunt that we’re all engaged in and that sort of thing, trying to shed pounds – it gave me a massive reverence for people who go through big weight loss and keep it off and form the habit and I mean, it’s one of the hardest things out there to do and I could never identify with it until recent. And so I have a lot of respect for that Justin, and I think that’s super cool, but I have to say even when you were heavier back then you never missed a beat. There was never once when it was like Justin’s lagging behind, you know you were always that guy that could cover the mountains, it’s just that you can do it even better now. How does it feel being so much lighter in the woods? Do you feel more nimble?

Justin: Oh yea, I think Kenton Clairmont said it best what made me really realize, because I remember being, like I said 240, 245, and going and not training and going elk hunting and hunting just as hard, but I could only hunt hard for one day. Being in shape makes it so that I can go, like last year, to British Columbia and we hunt for 5 days, do 25,000 vertical feet and still be able to hunt and not be like, I’m going to die. So you can go longer, harder and you just feel better and you don’t have to take a 4 hours nap in the middle of the day like I used to.
Mark: Yea, yea let me ask you this because we did go on that hunt together. That is still to this day in my entire hunting life the hardest physical hunt I have ever done was that southern BC Kooteney Mountains elk hunt. Was that true for you as well?

Justin: Oh yea, It was, you know, it was crazy. And the thing was we weren’t going long distance miles, we were going straight up. I mean we averaged – I mean I didn’t track exactly from a GPS but I know I always checked where we started every day elevation and I checked at the highest point and I just kind of estimated low, and you know like when I told you you went ‘really’ and I’m like ‘yea.’ That peak right there that we all went up on and that base camp every day where we started was 5,000-6,000 feet in a day and we would go up and back each day from base camp and I saw 19 goats, how many goats did you see on that hunt?

Mark: Yea, crazy like 20-30, you know.

Justin: OK. It was crazy but-

Mark: The weirdest part was to literally side-hill across from mountain goats and see elk at the same elevation in the same type of hairy, gnarly, cliffy, stupid I can’t believe an elk is standing on that rock, cliff. Did that blow you away as much as it did me?
Justin: Oh, for sure. I mean I remember the first morning we set up and it was just starting to get daylight and we’d been hiking for 2-1/2 hours and it was pretty steep so we’d stripped down some gear and we’re kind of glassing and I look up and I don’t know how far it was still you know ¾ of a mile out on the hill straight up were all these elk and they were in the rocks, eating on the rocks these little grass shoots and that’s something I never expected to see elk in like that – is that elk? And of course when we pulled out the spotting scope and saw them there’s a big bull chasing a cow around and the cows are just coming out of the rocks. That was just crazy, I had never seen anything like it.
Mark: Yea, and then you’d get up to that stomping ground and it’s the kind of country that I mean people aren’t going to be able to see it on the video, I mean I still have to edit that, but that’s the kind of country, I was in country where I was nervous to slip at least 30% of the time. Could you identify with that as well? I mean when I’m not sure if I’ll stop when I lose my footing.

Justin: Yea, for sure there were two things I’ll share with that. One is one of my buddies that I’ve hunted with for a long time – one time I took him up there with me and he made a comment, because I brought trekking poles and Russ Meyer introduced me to trekking poles the year before on our back country mule deer hunt that will be released this year on the film tour, bow hunting film tour. But I really realized that when you’re carrying a little bit of weight you’re rolling pretty steep, it takes a lot off your legs and your back to be able to push with a trek pole. So I started with them and my buddy was making fun of me and called me a couple names and I just sort of laughed and by the end of that hunt in 5 days obviously he wanted to borrow my trek pole, which I didn’t let him have, but I burnt the full carbide tip and down in about an inch on my trek pole.

Mark: Yea, it was. It was crazy hard core country, no question. And on the gear side of things that was one of those hunts because of moisture, because of early morning chill, because of dark– 2 hours with a headlamp on almost every morning come on! Going out in the dark, coming in in the dark. And then being in rain gear in heavy alders for at least 3-1/2 days out of the 5, I mean I was thanking my lucky stars I had the budget to be able to have the type of gear that I had. And I’m sure you thought the same thing. I mean everybody was borrowing our stuff because you and I were the only ones that were truly equipped thanks to Kryptek, and the other side of it was you know, that particular hunting trip I was on my second season in my Kenetreks, there was so much steep climbing on that trip that was where I finally broke through the toe piece on those Kenetreks which I recently sent back and had them re-soled which is a really cool process, by the way if you haven’t done it yet. Very affordable. I mean they took a picture of each step of the process- they took 178 pictures.

Justin: Wow.

Mark: I would have never guessed there was that much work into re-soling and rehabbing a pair of Kenetreks and mine weren’t thrashed. Anyway back to the- speak to the gear and kind of the – I mean the level- I mean you guys got to understand out there. We were on a hunt where we were, there were 2 different times where I was on multi-hour, multi-hour alder crawls, right? I mean we’re talking alders that were ten feet tall, completely saturated so every time you lift your hand you get rained on off all the leaves on the alder you happen to be stepping on right now and it runs down your sleeve. I mean, wet, wet, wet, wet, soggy-doggy wet, I mean so that’s – two of the days were completely saturated like that and the third was close. So talk to the gear piece of all of that.

Justin: So I took up a bunch of gear with me just because I always, even if I’m backpacking in, I’ll take the majority of the gear I think I can continue to test. I love to try different layering systems because you know each piece can be run different ways, but I chose the Poseidon on this hunt because it’s such a lightweight piece raingear by Kryptek and it’s a pullover top and slip on bottom with a full [indiscernible] [12:07] and then I pretty much wore my merino as my upper base. I actually started with a synthetic Helio shirt and I learned a couple things on this trip. We were on the border of, what did you say Mark, 60 degrees at the high?

Mark: Uh-huh.

Justin: It didn’t ever get super, super warm but it wasn’t really super cold either.

Mark: Yea, but it was that wet cold so even if –

Justin: Yes.

Mark: -it was 35 in the morning it was that chilled, damp stuff going on, right?

Justin: Yea, and so the one thing that I chose to try the first couple of days was my simple system was I wear a really thin pair of Valhalla pants underneath my raingear just to give a – it wasn’t quite cool enough to wear my merino but my Valhalla gave me a chance so if I needed to strip my raingear off I could really easy and not have raingear on. And my top I ran a Helio shirt, a Kratos Minus vest and a Helios pullover, sorry my Poseidon pullover. So I had my raingear and my lightweight gear because it was, you know, it made it really easy to not have a ton of weight on to move up and down the mountain pretty good.
And the thing that was crazy was the first day and that by the time I got back I was dry. I had a little bit of sweat but the one thing I noticed after day 2 was wearing my synthetic as I switched to my merino on day 3, is my merino breathes so much better.

Mark: Yea. That’s my favorite layer too man, no question-

Justin: [overlapping conversation] [13:35] Yea, it was just, oh man- just learning to test different things but the merino I switched to the third day and I used my merino for the rest of the trip there because it was – and I went through 2 Helio shirts in two days because I sweat so much. But when we got back to camp the interesting thing was like you said – everybody was like ‘hey do you guys have some extra gear?’ and I gave out my extra set of Koldo. I had my buddy, you know I gave him some gear and you know I had another brand that is supposedly a good brand and he was soaked every day and so it was a great testing environment for all of our gear.

Mark: Yea. Boots, bags, everything. Packs wise you were carrying the Tenzing then as well, correct?

Justin: Yea. Actually I got to proto-test a new Tenzing bag that they haven’t come out with yet, but it had the carbon fiber frame on it with a different set of bags. And Jay Robert form Tenzing, the designer from Tenzing let me take the new bag and get out there. It was a neat pack to be able to try because the bag system I really liked and I wish that they were going to bring that to the market a little bit sooner because it was perfect for the needs that I had, then it could expand out.

We actually ended up doing a bivy a couple nights where we just threw all of our gear on our back and hiked up the mountain 4,000-5,000 vertical feet and camped out right there and the one thing that really worked well on those bags is their rainfly. You know the rainfly goes over the top of the backpacks 80% of the time and my gear was completely dry the whole time. I can’t say the same for the other two, but my gear was dry.

Having good gear, you know- let me give you a little background real quick, I guess probably why I’m such a gear junkie is you know, I grew up without very good gear. I hunted in jean material or old BDU Camo and tennis shoes or boots that were 2 sizes too big and cotton. That’s what I grew up in so-

Mark: Oh yea, hunting in Levi’s and tennis shoes, I get you dude, we were there. Both raised in poor Idaho families, yep.

Justin: Yep. And so I just learned to use what I got and it still as hard today it’s just that I’m more comfortable. I can stay out longer, I’m not sitting shivering in the middle of the day wishing I was back in camp by the fire. I got great gear and that’s where the gear side of it- I’ve been on a couple trips this year where we’ve had the opportunity to go quite a bit and be with people who don’t have good gear and it’s like, wow-

Mark: Yea.

Justin: I can’t believe how fortunate we are to have the gear that we have, but also you know I end up giving a lot of my gear away to other people. Some are outfitters and things like that because it makes a huge difference when you live in the woods to have great gear.

Mark: No, no question. My personal pieces that made the big difference on that hunt- that was the first chance I really got to try out the tag bags and was crazy impressed with that. They made a big difference, my Kenetreks made a big difference. You know I’ve been a Hoyt guy forever and it’s always hard to discount the value of your bow, but with the new set-ups on the Trophy Taker and all that different stuff it’s gone really well as well as our relationship with Black Gold. I feel like you know the equipment side of things right now and it’s really serving us as a team and it’s fun to have the elite and the right companies, the gear that we’ve been using year after year after year that we’re able to use with us in the field now.

Well, let me switch gears on you for a second, Justin, and ask you kind of for generalities sake, I mean for curiosities point I know that in my own mind that as a bow hunter I have seen there be some evolutions in the industry that have made a tremendous difference, and not only in shooting but gear. What do you see as some of the most impactful gear evolutions whether its bow equipment, whether its clothing, what are some of the most impactful things that you’ve seen happening in the industry over the last 10-15 years that have made a difference for the hunters in the woods? I mean in your opinion what are those? I mean one of the things for me was the fall away rest. That was like revolutionary in shooting, right? What are some other examples of that?

Justin: Well I mean bows in general. I mean if you look at what bows we were shooting back in the late 90s to what we’re shooting now it’s incredible. Now I watched a video, I’m not sure of the gentleman who shot a balloon at 200 and 300 yards?

Mark: 300- Yea.

Justin: I mean, I mean the technology that we have there is just no way. I remember my dad and his group of buddies were probably some of the best archers in Idaho, because growing up as kids we would go to all the archeries tournaments and they would win them. My dad’s got a stack of trophies and he’s just an amazing shot. And I remember them talking about shooting clay pigeons against muzzle loader guys at 80 yards, you know? And you’re thinking 80 yards that’s incredible hitting a clay pigeon, and now we think about 80 yards with the bows and the setups we have as nothing.

Mark: Right, right.

Justin: I mean that’s like, oh you can hit a clay pigeon at 80 yards? Well, I hope you can! And you’re shooting a bow, right? Now people are – the limitations that we have are opened up so much to be able to do things with bows and be affective at certain yardages and you know, I still don’t think I’ve heard or seen too many people be disrespectful in their hunting prowess with long ranges so it’s kind of cool that we can push the limit, but you know with the bows we have a respect for what we do with archery.

Mark: Right, right. And that brings up a whole other interesting point. I see this contingency and this is one of the bugs up my ass in the whole hunting world, and especially online where we exist so much. There’s always the troll willing to throw somebody else under the bus to look smart behind a keyboard, you know? It exists, they have nicknames like haters and everything else – it just happens, right? But the hardest thing I have is that hunters as a demographic is a small group and we have really only one another to depend on.

Second to us is people who don’t hunt but we’re hoping they’ll understand why we do, right? We need them to vote on our behalf because we’re not a big enough group to vote in our right by ourselves. So when hunters throw other hunters, publically, under the bus or have these disgruntlements, you know these little poke, job crap that goes on especially online. It really drives me nuts. One of the ones people will do that with is archers throwing other archers under the bus for long range shooting.

Now you and I are raised out west. I personally have shot 4 deer, over 200 with my bow – the closest one of those 4 was shot at 55 yards. Right? Now that’s the closest. Now I haven’t shot any animals over 80, but I’ve shot animals in the 70s. There are a lot of people right now, that if I told that to, would gulp and think or say out loud, that I was an unethical archers to take that shot. And I disagree and I know you do too because we practice at those ranges, we practice at 60, 70 and 80. My argument is to be completely frank, way more apt to miss at 20 myself personally mostly because I’m so rattled.

I get a bull who comes all stomping in and it’s been a long hard-fought battle and he’s stamping in and is finally there and I’m all out of shape- I’m still susceptible. I’ve shot over 20 elk with a bow and I still poop down both legs when they come running in, I just do. And if I didn’t maybe I would quit, but I’m so much more business-like and so much more well-thought and so much more organized and it takes different things to be an elite shooter at longer ranges than I am close. I have a hard time controlling my emotions at 20, 30 and 40. I make dumb choices but 50+ which I do not shoot unless I’ve lazered that target, then I’m really business-like I’m squeezing the trigger. I’m checking my anchors points, I’m looking at my level. I’m doing all those things that I’d never do at 20. Do you identify with that Justin? What’s your opinion on that as well?

Justin: Oh sure, I mean, I personally would never taken an animal over 45. Now I’ve been fortunate and have I taken a second shot at 60 and 70 and 80? Yea, you bet. I’ve just been lucky enough to not have to shoot any first arrows with that. And you’re right when they come in and get rattled they are more apt to jump the string. I mean that optimal 30-50 range you know, you can shoot and not even really know you’re there. But back to the point of taking shots at well 60, 70, 80 the point is we practiced a lot of that and what it boils down to is your personal ability and what you believe you can shoot and what you practice at. I mean there are guys out there I guarantee you that can take animals consistently. In the right conditions at 90-100 yards. Because they shoot consistently every day, and will they publicize that? No. Do they do that, no. They want to shoot them at 20 and at 30 and at 50 and at 15 and at 40 but the ability to be able to do that has increased the effectiveness of our hunt range.

Mark: Yea because the bows have the least [indiscernible] [23:28] it’s not a question of its ability to carry the kinetic energy and be lethal at those kind of ranges, it’s just a question of accuracy. And bow hunters as a general rule have a tendency to be the elite next. It’s the fly fishing of hunting, it just is. And as a result you’re going to get – and I’m not throwing rifle hunters under the bus, there is a high level of sophistication in rifle hunting, but we’re bow hunters and we’re talking bow hunting so generally as a rule you’re going to get some really ethical, choice bow hunters. And they’re not going to shoot beyond their comfort zone. Every year my comfort zone is a different yardage. It just is. I’m always clear out to 80. Or I’m always out to 90. It seems kind of like to trend in one year.

Some years I’d go out to hunting season super confident, and others you know honestly my confidence get rocked. And I’m saying I’m not going to shoot anything beyond 60 this year. I make those choices out of responsibility for the critters and I know all the other bow hunters I’m involved with do the same, so yea I don’t know. What’s another piece though? OK so we talked bows – what’s an apparel piece that you think has been revolutionary in the hunting industry?

Justin: I was going to break it out in 4 basic categories for you Mark and while you were talking I jotted down some notes. And the bow that we talked about which with bows it would be the new removal sights. Arrows, broad heads, that’s kind of your actual equipment that you use to take your animal in and obviously dive into each.

The categories would be the weapons and the net one for me I think has been revolutionized is boots. I know you all use Kenetrek on our team, but, and I must have gone through 10 or 12 different brands of boots in a short period of time and you know Kenetrek is where I landed and I am grateful we are with them as a team and I had them the year before we landed with them. I couldn’t imagine going with anything else.
Mark: Yea they are hard core bad dads, there is no question. I mean if I have any beef with them it’s the legitimate, I mean a guy’s got to know. For me it was a 50 miles break in. For some guys it’s 20 some guys 15. I’ve heard guys going out day one – I don’t know how in the hell they did that, because those boots took me a legit 50 miles to be comfortable, broke-in, not creating hot spots. Once they were, holy mackerel they were units. So what was your break-in time frame? I heard it varies based on weight and you know generally I’m lighter that you so I don’t know what your break in was.

Justin: Yea, I think it does but also I think that you – you know their boots have changed –they changed a little bit of the construction and things over the last couple of years. I actually did a test because you had said Russ usually carries moleskin with him pretty much in his pack all the time. Because he loves his boots but every once in a while he gets in a situation especially when he’s breaking them in. But I wrote an article and I think you can search for it- Kenetrek boots on our site. But it was 2 years ago I bought, I purposely bought a brand new pair of non-insulated Kenetrek mountain extremes. And I believe they came 3 weeks before archery season, elk, and I started wearing them. And my break-in period, what I wanted to do was wear them around town, wear them to mow the lawn in, wear them in my office. I didn’t want to hike in them, I don’t think one day.

And I hunted in them for 23 days out of September, that was the only pair of boots I used and I was blown away. Really, I mean my break in period was then. The only time I ever had any problems was, Mark, one day with you and I on that hunt, if you remember 2 years ago on that elk hunt, it was hot like 85-90 degrees and we were hiking back to that truck on that old trail coming back and it was a hard trail and I could feel a hotspot on the back of my heel and we were probably ¾ of a mile from the truck and I was like, ‘you know what? I’m OK. I don’t need to switch my socks, they’re soaking wet. I’ll get there.’ And sure enough when I got back to the truck I had a big old blister and I knew it and I could have swapped it but I only had one other blister that season and then they were both preventable and it was the same type of situation. I was walking on hard ground, above 80 degrees and my feet were wet from sweating and so you created that hotspot.

So I didn’t have much of a break-in period on them. That was a thing that I’ve directed a lot of guys over the last 2 years, going to Alaska, going to Canada you know? Even hunting in the states, even some of the hard scrabble hikers in the desert boots that Kenetrek comes out with from Texas and things like that. You know that it’s a break-in period based off of your feet style, because everybody’s – some people-

Mark: Yea.

Justin: – their feet are harder and softer and flat footed and arched. So if you look at the Kenetrek site they say 50 mile break-in.

Mark: Yea.

Justin: That’s what they recommend. So you put 50 hard miles on your boots before you take them with you in the back country. I believe it does come down to a personal preference. I wouldn’t recommend anybody to go out and buy a brand new pair of boots and go hunt in them like I did. I just wanted to test it and see and I was – and I can tell you if I had got blisters in the first one or two days elk hunting I wouldn’t have continued to do it but they were so comfortable and worked so well I would just use them for the whole season and they broke in great.

Mark: Yea.

Justin: The one thing to talk, well you sent your boots back. This last fall I got mine too close to the fire and melted them and so I sent that pair of boots back too so I’ll be interested to see how well they come back and that process as well.
Mark: It’s interesting to hear you say that because I’ve been waiting to comment on that as one of the critical points because I actually got to talk to the tech that did the work and took the pictures and works on all the boots in the boot repair department on Kenetrek. And he said that 40% of the boots they get back have shrunken toes from campfires. 40%, yea-

Justin: Yea,

Mark: -my thing was partially and I was getting some toe bump at the end but he said the rule you got to remember is that if it’s too hot for your skin it’s too hot for your boots. Because leather shrinks, so? It’s interesting.
Justin: Yea, we have that tendency to want to dry them out quicker.

Mark: Well, also too, I don’t know about you but when I’m freezing my you know whatever’s off I’m snuggled in close to a camp fire and always what’s closest is my feet. I just happen to still have those boots on. Though it will make me more diligent you know, it really will, but – um, Justin I’ve enjoyed talking with you huge- you said you had two other break out points. I think what we need to do is just kind of mention those in short and then we need to close her up because you know the blessing about you and me is we’re both chatty Cathy’s and so it lets us go into this stuff but also to be conscientious of time and the people listening.

What were your other two?

Justin: The other two would be packs and clothes and I’ll just touch on them really quick on the main features. The evolution of packs has come a long way – lighter weight, better weight distribution, better belt systems, better shoulder harnesses all the way around and then a wide variety. Mark you know, you and I and our team we have a bunch of different packs and we use them for quick day hikes, you know we use the Tenzing 1250 which is awesome when you’re not too far from the truck, all the way up to we may use Eberlystocks J34 and Tenzings 1000, 5000, 6000, Kafaru. You know we try a lot of different ones that have the ability to go really big and the technology there has been huge and the other thing-

Mark: Yea, and it’s definitely a specialty pack deal, like a quiver of packs now is what a guy has, especially out west because we have so many different applications.

Justin: Sure, I mean I grew up with pretty much one pack for 9 years,

Mark: Me too.

Justin: It was the old plastic framed white shoe- one of the best packs in its day and Tenzing has kind of re-resurrected parts of that and that is the pack I took to BC but when I think about my hunt I think OK, how heavy am I going? Which pack do I want? Do I need to take a pack where I can expand it and bring my meat out with me or can I get back to the truck quickly?

Mark: Right, right, I hear you. So what’s the other one? Oh the apparel.

Justin: The other one is clothes. Yea and just like I talked earlier you and I both grew up in cotton and tennis shoes and what you get now, the things we use like merino wool and high tech synthetics that dry quick and things that have Lycra and Spandex in them so that they’re articulated for your knees. Just the comfort and the usability of our gear in the clothing side. And going for great raingear lightweight for minimalists all the way to a heavy duty ‘I’m going to be in a torrential downpour, I’m going to hover down.’ Koldo type system. The clothing market.

So those would be the main 4, you know. Your weapon, equipment, boots, your packs and you clothing. I mean the technology that has driven those 4 is incredible and has really helped us be able to hunt longer, stay out longer, go further and be more comfortable really is the biggest key.

Because I mean we all hunted and just as hard, back then but now we can be more comfortable doing it and actually enjoy it a little bit more.

Mark: Yea. Well and too the evolution in gear has been really started. Well, there was APX that came out in the day that was kind of that next level. I had a lot of money back in the day and was bowing all over the world and so buying whatever gear was just always a choice for me. It was the only thing I ever spent money on. And so when they started coming out finally with next level gear- fleeces and those sorts of things where I knew that they were kind of materials borrowed from the mountaineering industry and then Sitka hit the market and really came out and developed a whole next level brand of mountaineer oriented gear that you know you had QU in the market, and Kryptek and those are kind of the big 3 in my opinion and in looking at those 3 and kind of comparing them, the reason the alliance we chose with Kryptek was based on 2 factors for me.

It was that all 3 of those brands are premium excellent gear, excellent, well-constructed, well worth the money next level gear. The reason Kryptek stood out for me was value because it was one of the best values of the 3 and number two was the unbelievable camouflage.

Justin: Yea,

Mark: So those two factors alone just kind of hands-down Kryptek’s who we go with. We also got to know the inside of that company, and the inside of that company is worthy of our attention as well. The character and the heart and the kind of people who are involved in that program. So there was really 3 factors for me in that decision. Do you think there’s another reason I left out there Justin? Where are you with that?

Justin: No I think you’re pretty close, you’re pretty spot-on on that.

Mark: OK. Well, you know Justin out of time and all that good stuff. You know I just want to thank you for being here today and thank you guys that are out there listening. And if you have any questions for anything to do with the gear Justin is Outdoor International’s gear junkie and he can be found on the site or his number is available. You can call him directly. Same with me. I’m one of the lead hunting consultants and so global hunting and whatever you’re looking for and elk and deer are our specialty. It’s what we’re known for and we do have access on about 16 and a half million private acres across the west and growing every year. So, really fun Justin, thanks a lot for the time and I appreciate it. Anything, any last words there Justin?

Justin: No, I just appreciate the time and letting me talk about things I love to do and I love gear so you know, it’s a great opportunity to be able to get a little bit more information back and you know, please feel free to contact me. I talk to everybody every day, different people every day and try to make sure that they’re getting the right education because that makes a difference, especially if you’re new to the market.

Mark: Yea,

Justin: You know and you’re trying to find something that you’ve never done before.

Mark: You bet. Alright man, good stuff. Thanks so much guys, hope you enjoyed it. Take care, God bless. Outdoors International signing out.

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