Our Auxiliary Power Supply…

Our original plan for this trip was to use a 12VDC refrigerator but bad planning on my part meant if we ordered one it would not arrive in time.

The core of this system is built upon a SOK Battery 12VDC/100A LiFePO4 battery. Yes, it is expensive, but we needed a battery that was rugged, user serviceable and had a depth of discharge that a LiFePO4 battery offers vs a standard 12VDC AGM battery. Our previous 12VDC/100A AGM battery weighed 64 pounds vs 28 pounds for the SOK battery. The SOK is encased in a steel enclosure with a built-in BMS (battery management system) and has 4 replaceable cells inside. I can’t repair a faulty AGM battery.

I chose a Milwaukee Packout Toolbox to house the battery. Below the lid is an XT60 connector so the battery can be charged via solar panels.
I added a BlueSea fuse and a Victron 75/15A MPPT solar charge controller.
This was a smaller Milwaukee Packout Toolbox I used to build a “Breakout Box” for multiple charging options.
I added a dual USB 3.0 port, a switch, another dual USB 2.0 port and a 12VDC cigarette lighter port. When driving the car, I can charge the battery via the cigarette lighter port if needed.
On the other side I added Anderson Power Pole connectors and another XT60 port for various charging options.
Inside the Breakout Box I added a BlueSea Fuse Panel to keep things neat and organized. Each port goes to a separate fuse block. It also holds various charging cables and a Voltaic Sytems USB Touchlight.
Complete unit.
The battery and breakout box are connected via an XT90 connector.

The main benefit for us was a modular approach, lightweight, user serviceable, 80-90% depth of discharge and a rugged build. Not to mention this battery has a 7 year warranty and 4000-8000 charge cycles! 12VDC AGM batteries are heavy and the depth of discharge is commonly quoted at 50% but reading the manufacturers engineering specifications, you will note that a lot of them say that 50% depth of discharge is 12.2 volts.

I am also an amateur radio operator and like to operate in parks and such so I needed the added capability of a bigger battery.

On this trip we brought a laptop to edit photos and videos, the navigation tablet, 2 cell phones and 2 GoPro’s as well as various other USB powered items. I do not like using the main vehicle starting battery to charge things unless the vehicle is being driven so it made sense to bring a separate battery for our charging needs.

We utilized 2 SunPower 50 watt, thin, flexible solar panels while in camp to keep the battery topped off.
The Victron MPPT charge controller had BlueTooth connectivity so I could easily check the charge status on my phone anytime I wanted.

We had all the power we needed or wanted for the duration of the trip. If we decide to get a 12VDC refrigerator in the future I think this battery can handle it.

The battery and breakout box ride behind the passenger seat while the solar panels ride behind the drivers seat. Just like a canoe or kayak, we try to keep the load balanced in the vehicle.

Well, that’s a snap shot of our Auxiliary Power Supply while camping. Maybe it will give you some ideas! Thanks for reading…

An Update on my Simms Boulder Flats Sneakers…

I bought these boots for wet wading back in 2018 and fished them hard for the 2018, 2019, 2020 and now the 2021 season. After countless miles the soles have started to delaminate.

Both boots are delaminating at this location.
The left boot is worse than the right one.

I have looked at buying either the Simms Flyweight boot or the Simms Freesalt boot to replace these. I have used ShoeGoo to fix the heel on the right boot before but it did not hold so I may find a local shoe repair business to see what they can do to fix these. The uppers are holding up really well and the boot is still the most comfortable I’ve worn so I don’t want to give up on these boots or waste money on another pair.

Time to use my Google-Fu and find a local cobbler!

Our Little Exploration Vehicle…

Our 2019 Subaru Forester vehicle. Why did we choose this vehicle? It gets great gas mileage yet still has some capability to it. Yes, I know it’s not 4-wheel drive, I own a Toyota FJ that we use for trips that require that! However, the Forester has decent cargo capacity and within its limits, can handle a lot of what we do.

First major upgrade was a set of Falken Wildpeak A/T tires. Everyone said to go with the BF Goodrich KO2’s but they were way too heavy for my taste. I would’ve added about 90 pounds to the vehicles unsprung weight capability and since the engine only produces 182hp I looked for a lighter tire that was still functional and wouldn’t put as much strain on the drive train. With these tires, handling was improved yet road resistance was minimally affected.

Next up was a decent set of rims. Sorry Subaru…you make ugly rims!!! We opted for the Method MR502’s since they checked all of the boxes on our wish list. These rims are rock solid and I must say, they make the Subaru look A LOT better.

Since our Subaru Forester was a base model, I had to add a 12VDC outlet and USB 3.0 ports on the rear of the center console to provide charging capabilities while we are on the road. I repurposed a Lenovo Tablet for navigation duty and paid for the GaiaGPS app. The Lenovo M10 FHD tablet stays plugged into the USB 3.0 port on the rear of the center console all the time and allows us to charge our phones from the front two USB ports on the dash.

Fully loaded for our recent trip, you can see a little bit of saggy butt which is common for Subaru’s. We will address that at a future date. I installed a rear tow hitch and receiver in case we add a swing out tire carrier in the future. The roof rack looks cool but we don’t really use it other than to haul a spare tire or something. It decreases gas mileage by an estimated 3mpg so we may take it off.

The final modification was to add a 20 inch LED lightbar to the front for additional lighting. Since we were leaving our campsites really early, the lighting helped tremendously on the forest roads in the early morning.

I wish I had a legitimate E-brake rather than this push button crap but the Crosstrek was too small for our needs. The only other negative is the EyeSight Car Safety System.. it’s annoying! It feels like R2-D2 is riding along with us…beeping, chiming, chirping. Maybe we’ll get used to it. Some of the features you can turn off, others you really can’t.

Other than that, it performed really well (better than I expected) on the trip and handled some rugged, rocky forest roads with ease. We made it from the Cossatot River all the way home via the scenic route and still had a little less than half a tank of gas left.

As a parting picture…this is what the back-end looked like inside…

More to come…

My Fly Fishing Vest…

After a lot of trial and error, I decided to go back to a fly fishing vest for the times when I am fly fishing. I know it probably “isn’t cool” in 2021 but I don’t care. It works better for me than anything else I have tried.

Speaking of trial and error…I tried a hip pack but got tired of dealing with the zipper. I tried a sling pack and the result was about the same. I also tried a chest pack and it was too awkward for me. Besides, I couldn’t see well enough when I needed to watch my foot placement when crossing a stream. So, I decided a fly vest was my best option.

I chose the Patagonia Convertible Fly Fishing Vest because A) it was minimalist (I don’t need 50 pockets) and B) was mesh fabric based. And since it hits the 100’s F every summer, I opted for something a little cooler than the other options I found.

In all honesty, I haven’t fished with it enough to give my thoughts or opinions on it yet. But so far I think it will fit the bill. Stayed tuned for an update on it…

What I Carry in my Tackle Bag…

Today I thought I’d share what I carry in my bag when I go fishing. Everything in the picture should be self-explanatory other than perhaps the Meiho Versus clamshell tackle boxes on the top left. I have a blog post covering those.

But yah, that’s all the gear I carry. Nothing too fancy, just the time-tested items I rely on. The 2 yellow things in the top right, next to the yellow Magpul DAKA pouch, are plastic bags I carry to haul out trash we run across when fishing.

I prefer a modular approach so if I change bags/packs, I can pick and choose what goes inside easily. Obviously colors change with the seasons or species we are after or even what type of fishing we are doing.

As stated previously, we are trying to streamline our gear and eliminate the complexities. Simple is better; lighter weight is the goal…

Ultralight Fishing Kit…

Years ago, I was doing ultralight backpacking and thought it would be wise to incorporate an ultralight fishing kit into my setup. I found out about Zimmerbuilt through a friend of mine so I purchased a Zimmerbuilt Tenkara Strap Pack. This was designed for Tenkara fishing but I thought it would work really well for what I had in mind. It stays in my vehicle since I tend to stop at ponds and creeks a lot so I wanted something small yet handy.

This Strap Pack has quite a few mounting options. It was obviously intended to be worn on a backpack of some sort, but I just use the lanyard it came with and just sling it over my shoulder. It works perfectly for my intended purpose and is highly functional.

Here is a link to his site: (no affiliation)

https://www.zimmerbuilt.com/store/p20/Tenkara_Strap_Pack.html

MEIHO Tackle Boxes Fr0m Japan…

I stumbled across a guy on YouTube who has a channel named TSURINAN; and that is where he introduced his viewers to these boxes. I immediately decided to track these boxes down as I really liked the compact layout and functionality. I also shamelessly copied his idea to put magnet tape in each compartment to secure the contents from accidental opening of the box. The tape is a great idea from the standpoint of an angler standing in a stream and not having to worry about dropping things into the water.

The bigger box is a MEIHO VERSUS VS-388SD. If I had a chance to get another one, I would opt for the clear lids instead of the smoked lids. The smaller box is the MEIHO VERSUS VS-355SS with clear lids. Both have a clam-shell design and a beefy hinge to keep them closed. I am very impressed with MEIHO boxes and haven’t found one I didn’t like.

For those interested, I found them on Amazon.jp

Shipping was reasonable (I bought several items) and they arrived in 6 days. And did I mention that they were A LOT cheaper than using Amazon in the US!

Abu Garcia One Shoulder Waterproof Bag

The wife and I have been looking for a mid-size pack for the types of fishing we do. We currently use Patagonia Stormfront Sling Packs (20L)as well as the Yeti Panga (28L) for our all-day or multi-day outings. The Patagonia and Yeti packs are submersible whereas this pack is not, since the main zipper isn’t a true waterproof zipper like the TiZip.

Since I have been interested in JDM gear lately, I looked around to see what was available for that market. That’s where we ran across these Abu Garcia One Shoulder Bags. For some reason these aren’t available to the US market which I find rather odd. I think they would be really popular for anyone fishing a stream.

The specs show that it is 7L but it seems bigger than that. It has one, 2-way zippered, main compartment as well as an outside zippered pocket that is the width of the bag. There are no internal dividers or key fob thingies. It does have external lash points, a rod holder sleeve, a Daisy-chain strip with D-rings and a web strip to hold a net and another to hold a pair of pliers (velcro keeper seen on the right of the pic.)

The material is thinner than a Sealine Dry Bag, but for no bigger than it is, it should hold up well. Also, it is for LEFT shoulder carry only, if that might be an issue. My only concern is the shoulder strap. It is not padded at all but does have a 2 inch quick release buckle to secure it around your person. We will see if it chafes the neck or not.

For those interested in purchasing this bag…we found them on Amazon.jp which had the cheapest price we could find. It took 5 days to get here so that was a plus! The color selections were: Grey, White or Black.

I’m really looking forward to testing this bag out. It fills a niche in our quest to lighten our gear for 2021….

My Wading Belt…

I usually wear this belt when I’m actually wearing a set of waders, but occasionally I wear it when I’m bank fishing for catfish because I tend to walk the sandy shoreline.

It consists of a nylon webbing belt with a “cobra buckle.” On it I carry a carabiner, a pair of aluminum pliers, my homemade belt pouch prototype as well a Leatherman Wave multi-tool.

I try to stick with utilitarian items that I use frequently and prefer to have them readily accessible. The last thing I want is unnecessary weight or to look like Batman!

My Wet Wading Footwear…

This is my wet wading footwear setup for stream fishing. I have tried everything from sandals to water shoes before settling on this system.

At the core, it consists of a pair of 2019 Simms Flats Sneakers. 2021 will be their third season and so far, after approximately 200 miles on them, they have held up well.

Coupled with the boots are a pair of Simms 2.5mm Neoprene socks and a set of gravel guards that velcro around the sock/boot. The guards really help by keeping the micro gravel out of my boot.

The Flats Sneakers are very comfortable, especially after walking over rocks, boulders and gravel all day. Not having any metal components helps alleviate any worries about rusting hardware.

The wife opted for the same boot but she went with the Simms Guide Guard sock (3.5mm Neoprene) because of the built-in gravel guards.

To date: this is the best footwear system for us. All day comfort and support! Before, we would stop about every half hour to empty painful debris from our water shoes.

My Package From Digitaka Arrived!

A week ago I placed an order with Digitaka because I wanted to try some different styles of jig heads as well as a couple of spoons.

Left to Right:

-Decoy JIG HEAD SV-52 ROUND MAGIC 2.5 grams- #6 hook

-Owner Cultiva JIG HEAD JH-83 MEBARU DAMA 2.0 grams- #6 hook

-Owner Cultiva JIG HEAD JH-84 AJI DAMA 2.3 grams- #5 hook

-Owner Cultiva JIG HEAD JH-85 NAGARE DAMA 2.2 grams- #7 hook

-ODZ JIG HEAD RUSH HEAD 2.0 grams- L#2 hook

Also, I picked up 2 spoons and a few packages of #00 Quick Snaps.

Left to Right:

-Timon Trout Spoon T-GROVEL in 3.4 grams Color# 138 KGP MATSUBA

-Timon Trout Spoon APEED 3.3 grams Colo# 145 KAMI SILVER

-Owner Cultiva SILENT Quick Snaps Size# 00/8.9kg P-15

I am especially interested in trying the Cultiva JH-85 as well as the JH-84 and ODZ Rush Heads. Nothing ventured…nothing gained!

JDM Spinners…

And finally, a look at JDM in-line spinners.

-Palms SpinWalk Clevis 3 gram Spinner in Yellow, Green, Gold and Black

-Daiwa Silver Creek Spinner 4 gram in Silver and Gold

Both of these brands are made in China. From what I can tell, in-line spinners are not popular in Japan because they are considered to be too easy to catch fish with. If you look close, you can see that these come with a swivel built into the wire frame. I haven’t run across that before but its a nice addition. The off-center body is interesting and I’m guessing it acts somewhat like a keel to keep these running straighter and hopefully prevent line twist.

I opted for the heavier gram weight versions because I’ll be fishing some current and also because it’s always windy here in Oklahoma.

The spoons and spinners were purchased from Chris Stewart at http://www.finesse-fishing.com. Chris is an awesome guy and is definitely an asset to the USA based JDM enthusiast. Very knowledgeable and helpful with any questions you may have.

Until next time…stay safe and stay warm!