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Sunday, February 5, 2012

RedRam Merino Wool Thermal Underwear Review

 RedRam Merino Wool Thermal Underwear Review!
© 2012 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
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Superlative Merino Wool Products for the Outdoorsman!

Wool, as you know, is an outdoorsman's best friend. Though it is capable of absorbing and holding one third its weight in water, its structure allows it to retain your body heat. I was invited to test a set of RedRam Merino Wool Thermal underwear, which I gladly took with me to Afghanistan for the winter.

But first, lets talk a little about RedRam, Icebreaker their parent company, and sustainability. RedRam is part of the Icebreaker family. It was in 1994, that Icebreaker pioneered the merino outdoor clothing category when its founder, Jeremy Moon, saw the opportunity to make natural performance garments when everything else around was made from synthetic fibers. Icebreaker designed and invented the world’s first merino layering system, and it was the first outdoor apparel company to source merino directly and ethically from the growers.

Sustainability has been a huge issue with me and something that I have been studying for some time. If we don't change our behavior, attitude, and our desire to desire, we will see an end to those things that we take for granted, but that are the most important things in our lives.

Luckily many companies, like Icebreaker, are taking these matters seriously and to heart.

My first impression of the RedRam Merino Wool Thermal Underwear was that it was really soft, not like my old Woolrich MacGregor tartan blanket that accompanies me everywhere. It is fine wool fiber with a softness that compares favorable to any nice fleece material.

Here is the information and specifications from their website.
  • Breathable: I want you to be perfectly warm, not hot and sweaty. That's where RedRam shines. Merino thermal underwear stays drier because it naturally absorbs perspiration from your skin and releases it into the air.
  • Natural Fibre: I like people warming, not global warming. So RedRam couldn't be more natural. The ingredients are grass, water and sunshine. I grow it and it's woven into your thermals. Unlike polyprop underwear which is made from petrochemicals.
  • Stinkiness: You can ski, hike, or fish all day, or run up and down the sideline, whatever the weather. No matter how active you get in your RedRam, it won't get smelly. Synthetic fibres stink to high heaven but Merino is far more efficient than other fibres at releasing sweat and moisture.
  • Comfort: Put on a silky smooth, super light merino garment and you'll enjoy the warmth of a heavy sweater. But you'll have none of the bulk. That's because of merino's finely crimped fibres, which create millions of air pockets to capture your body heat.
  • Sustainable: No use making men's and women's thermal underwear if there's not going to be a world left to wear it in. Fortunately RedRam merino wool is renewable and biodegradable. We merino are shorn each year, then we return to the mountains to grow more underwear. Merino is biodegradable and unlike cotton and synthetics it uses very low-energy production processes.
  • Pure Merino Wool: I am pure merino. And we merino spend our days roaming high in the spacious Southern Alps of New Zealand. Our coats are designed to naturally handle all extremes of weather. And that can mean -20 degrees Celcius in winter. 

Let me comment on the preceding. Breathability is an inherent characteristic of wool and is what makes wool such a wonderful insulator. Natural fibers, sustainable, and pure Merino wool, are all great aspects of the material and production ethics of Icebreaker and RedRam. Comfort is as comfort does, and these are comfortable. They run true to size, at least on me they did, and they are soft and warm. As to stinkiness, I didn't allow myself the privilege of testing that particular aspect of the RedRam Merino Thermals... having said that, the official socks of The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles, Darn Tough Vermont Boot Socks, are also made of Merino Wool, and are advertised as stink repellant.

Speaking of which, washing you wool garments require a bit of care if you want to make them last longer and retain their best characteristics. Use a soap product, not detergent. Use cold water. Wash them by hand or in a gentle cycle. Line dry them, do not use a drier! I of course broke every one of those rules while on base. Except the cold water rule. My socks and the RedRams have survived through it all.

Ok now for the nuts and bolts.

They are comfortable and they keep you warm. Temperatures varied between the high teens and low forties, with rain, sleet, snow, and bitingly cold clear days. My body and legs were comfortable; I never noticed the cold bothering me there. So that tells me they work, and work well. In the end, a tool that works well, is one you don't notice until its absence!

I rate the RedRam Marino Wool Thermal Underwear a definite buy.

RedRam Marino Wool Thermal Underwear
Retail prices:
Long sleeve shirt $57.99
Short sleeve $47.99
Long pants for $57.99
Boxers for $29.99.

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member:  Lakewood Ranch Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles, Albert A Rasch, Hunting in Florida

Albert Rasch,HunterThough he spends most of his time writing and keeping the world safe for democracy, Albert was actually a student of biology. Really. But after a stint as a lab tech performing repetitious and mind-numbing processes that a trained Capuchin monkey could do better, he never returned to the field. Rather he became a bartender. As he once said, "Hell, I was feeding mice all sorts of concoctions. At the club I did the same thing; except I got paid a lot better, and the rats where bigger." He has followed the science of QDM for many years, and fancies himself an aficionado. If you have any questions, or just want to get more information, reach him via TheRaschOutdoorChronicles(at)MSN(dot)com.

Monday, October 17, 2011

RVing and Fishing Florida's Campgrounds

Fish and camp Florida's Historic Forts!

Fishing Florida's Historic Forts: An RV Itinerary

Try as we may, we can't all raise families who share our obsessions. Fortunately, for the fisherman who can't bear a day away from the water (but whose spouse or kids might favor other pursuits), Florida doesn't require much of a compromise for anglers. Down here, it's easy to balance a vacation between water time and family fun.

For a road trip that will please every member along for the ride, it's hard to beat a tour of Florida's historic forts. Beyond the obvious historical draw, many of the state's military landmarks are now protected within the State and National Park system. That means plenty of hiking, camping, and just-plain-relaxing along the way. And best of all? Florida's strategic forts also happen to harbor some of the state's best fishing spots, from land and boat.

For a taste of the entire state, start in Pensacola and slowly make your way to Key West. On Pensacola Beach, make your first stop at Fort Pickens, part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore (http://www.nps.gov/guis/planyourvisit/fort-pickens.htm). In addition to this well-preserved landmark's importance during the Civil War, it's also home to a short but deep-water fishing pier. It's a great place to keep your line singing -- use cut mullet for bait, and you'll likely be helping the kids pull in small sharks and even Spanish mackerel. The grass flats to the east of the Pickens pier are a great place to stalk tailing redfish.

Fort Pickens includes a National Park campground, with plenty of amenities offered at just $20/night (http://www.nps.gov/guis/planyourvisit/campground-openings-in-florida-and-mississippi-districts.htm). And, of course, there's all the fun to be had on Pensacola Beach as well, where the 'whitest sands on earth' have (luckily) survived serious damage from last year's oil spill. It's such a nice spot to park your RV that you'll be tempted to stay, but there's a whole state left to explore.

Head east down I-10 toward Jacksonville, to Fort Clinch State Park, one of the best-preserved 19th century forts in the nation (http://www.floridastateparks.org/fortclinch/) Six miles of nature trails wind through the beautiful peninsula, bordered by the Amelia River to the west, Cumberland Sound (and Georgia) to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean on the east. 53 campsites offer both privacy and proximity to the entire park, which includes a half-mile long pier on the ocean side, making deep water fishing possible without a boat. With Egans Creek curving through the park's marsh, jetties to the north, the pier, and the option of surf casting on the beach a short walk from your RV, it's hard to beat Fort Clinch as an all-around saltwater fishing destination.

Next, head southwest toward Inverness, home of Fort Cooper State Park. Take the scenic route through beautiful Ocala National Forest, a part of Florida most visitors never experience (http://fs.usda.gov/ocala). The dense forests of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings classic book, The Yearling, are still alive and thriving here in the north-central swampy woodlands.

Arriving at spring-fed Lake Holathlikaha, the azure water looks much as it did in the 1830s, when U.S. soldiers rested here at Fort Cooper, between skirmishes with the Seminole Indians. Due to low water levels, fishing and swimming were temporarily restricted during early summer 2011, but with rain, that could change at any time. Paddleboats and canoes are available at the park. This is the spot to paddle out with your toddler and drop worms for bream and largemouth bass.

Although Fort Cooper offers primitive camping, to park your RV, try nearby Riverside Lodge along the Withlacoochee River (http://www.riversidelodgerv.com/). The campground includes free canoe rentals, so after a day at Fort Cooper you can still get in an evening session along the river.

From here, head down the coast to Fort De Soto Park, situated on a truly stunning spit of land south of Tampa (http://www.fortdesoto.com/). Five interconnected keys make up De Soto, the largest park within the Pinellas County park system. Despite boasting 238 camping sites, it's a good idea to make reservations here -- this beach won Trip Advisor's Top Beach in America prize in 2009, and over 2.7 million visitors flock here each year. Still, with 1,136 acres, it's easy to find some alone time.

De Soto has two fishing piers, on both the Gulf and the bay sides, and each sells bait. There's a two-mile canoe trail, and a ferry to remote Egmont Key. Whatever your target species is, it's easy to find a superb fishing spot among these crystalline waters, where the Tocobaga Indians once harvested their own seafood bounties.

If time allows for a full tour of Florida, you'd be missing out not to journey through the Keys, arguably one of the prettiest drives in America. Fort Zachary Taylor allowed the Union to control the sea at Florida's southern tip, and has been impressively preserved as a state park (Try to visit near Halloween, when the fort is transformed into a Civil War-themed haunted house; http://www.fortzacharytaylor.com/home.html)

It's hard to beat the view when fishing from the fort, at the entrance to Key West Harbor. It's the finest place to watch a sunset in town, and you might just bring home dinner to an RV full happy, sun-kissed campers.

About the Author

Joe Laing is the Marketing Director for El Monte RV Rentals. Be sure to check out their new Professional Football (NFL) Tailgating and RV Tailgating to College Football Games pages in preparation for the upcoming seasons.