Knowledge from Storms Newsletter

December 2021 Wheel Book Entry
This monthly correspondence is the first Knowledge from Storms newsletter. The focus will be seasonally relevant content related to training, planning, mindset, and gear. Hunting will be a focus, but I’ll also speak to broader wilderness travel and skills.

I intend to place a sharper focus on specific technologies, systems, equipment, and why I choose certain items over others. It’s not an efficient use of time or money to use gear promoted by a brand or personality without understanding the Why.

It’s critical to understand why a person chose their kit, the environments used, and the experience level of the promoter. I use gear based on many factors to include my experience, financial constraints, brand affiliation, and appetite for continual equipment testing to broaden my knowledge.  What is more impactful than brand affiliation is choosing the gear most suitable for our needs. The best way to do that is to understand technologies, how they work in the lab, and most importantly, under realistic conditions. The approach is the unlock to better purchasing decisions and efficient time afield.

Lessons Learned
Hydration in the field has been an issue for me over the last few years. Although I know I need to hydrate, I become focused on other things and get distracted. If the day goes longer or is more demanding than expected, I’ve found myself in hydration deficits that are hard to recover from quickly.

Hydration bladders are something of a love-hate relationship. Over the years I’ve had bowstrings snagged during contorted shots, mouthpieces fail, and leaky bladders soaking clothes.

In cold weather, hoses freeze, rendering the water bladder useless. I experienced this once again last February on a ski tour in the Wasatch mountains of Utah. Before I’d climbed a half hour and started to even contemplate taking a drink, the hose became utterly frozen. Not only did I not have access to the water, but my reward for inattention was carrying the inaccessible weight of three liters of water up the mountain.

It can also be challenging to fill a hydration bladder depending on the filtration method chosen. For example, I find it inefficient and possibly unsafe to purify three liters of water in a hydration bladder with a Strei-pen.

After hitting the hydration wall again early in the year on a grueling Aoudad hunt in the Davis mountains, I committed to fixing my issue. I went back to using Nalgene bottles and testing some collapsible water bottles from Salomon and HydraPak.

Nalgene bottles don’t freeze as quickly in cold temps, especially in an insulated parka, and they’re easy to fill. In cold temps, I turn the bottle upside down in the parka. The water will begin freezing where the air gap is at the bottom of the upturned bottle leaving the water accessible at the mouth. I learned this trick years ago on a late winter climbing trip in the Alaska range.

The small collapsible bottles have proven convenient to take on stalks. They’re small and don’t make noise with sloshing water as a rigid bottle would. I’ve jammed collapsible bottles in a cargo pocket on my pants or a jacket pocket as needed. It’s just enough to keep you hydrated and focused on a hot day until you get back to your pack.

Gear Locker

I’ve used a Kogalla light on hunts for two years now at the urging of a friend. I’ve used the light to recover two bulls from steep mountain drainages and a Whitetail from a dense woodline. Initially designed for ultra-runners moving through the night, the light bar casts a bright light making it easier to move in sketchy terrain and process an animal.

I’ve found that it lessens my apprehension when shot opportunities develop near dusk, especially in grizzly country. The light bar projects a much broader and brighter light around the kill site than a headlamp, allowing some assurance that another predator won’t walk up behind you unnoticed.

The light bar connects to a rechargeable battery and features various light levels and a strobe feature. I’ve attached the light to tree limbs, low vegetation, and to antlers providing the ability to quarter an animal in the dark, almost as if it’s daylight. A secondary value is helping to illuminate the scenery for trophy photos.

I wear a headlamp while using the light allowing for more precise work when removing a back strap and walking around the site. While it weighs 8.5 ounces, I find the weight negligible for the peace of mind it provides and the ease of working in the dark.

The Closet
There are two types of insulation to understand before building a technical clothing system. Active and static insulations provide warmth within a clothing system, but their intents and applications are very different.

Active insulation works best while hiking, biking, ski touring, hanging tree stands, and setting up a field of goose decoys. Anytime we move with the possibility of sweating, we should be wearing active insulation. This type of insulation promotes body temperature regulation, allowing excess heat to escape before you overheat.

Heavyweight fleece is a basic form of active insulation but lacks durability and versatility. A fleece top absorbs moisture during light precipitation, causing you to stop and put on a rain jacket, slowing breathability. It also is not durable for moving through brushy terrain or rubbing against tree bark.

In the last few years, technology has provided us with what I call active hybrid insulation. Polartec Alpha is an example of a technical active insulation providing excellent breathability and dry time.

Garments utilizing hybrid active insulation generally have a durable, breathable, and quiet face fabric. The face fabric repels light precipitation, blocks light winds, and is more durable than standard fleece.

Active Insulated Garments:
Kelvin Active jacket & hoody
Pnuma Alpha Vertex jacket
Outdoor Research Shadow hoodie

Static insulation is for periods of inactivity or low levels of exertion. Often referred to as “the puffy layer,” the insulation is worn over all other clothing layers when stationary.

Static insulation creates a mechanical loft inside the garment, forming air pockets for body heat to become trapped. This “dead air,” is what keeps us warm in cold weather.


The shell fabrics used in static insulated garments are tightly knit to contain trapped body heat and insulation. A down jacket with the feathers poking out does not have a tight enough face fabric.

This tight-knit acts as a governor, managing how much body heat escapes, blocks wind but also cuts down on breathability. For these reasons, puffy jackets do not perform well for hiking or stalking.

No one likes to be cold. Understanding the two general types of insulation and when to apply them will allow you to get the most performance and warmth from a technical clothing system.

Static Insulated Garments:

Kelvin Aerolite jacket & vest
Kelvin Lite Down jacket and pants
Patagonia DAS Parka
Beyond Clothing Cetra K7 jacket


Podcasts –

Articles –

The Word
Wheel books are a Navy tradition that I’ve used to document Lessons Learned in my military career and have become a tremendous resource for my personal life. Evey wheel book is unique to the individual, but all share a standard collection of data and wisdom that the person deems valuable and essential to their performance.

I have wheel books dating back to 1994 when I began training for the Eco-Challenge adventure race in British Columbia and off-trail ultra-marathons. I documented my training along with the volumes of wisdom, gear selections, and failures.

I wasn’t a Student of the Game back then, but wheel books helped me develop the mindset and discipline for that next big step. I’ve found them to be indispensable to my learning and performance on my journey. I encourage you to create a wheel book this winter and begin documenting your own journey.