Gray’s Best 2019

Summer Camp, by Chet Reneson


[by Mike Floyd]

Untangled Collection from Costa del Mar

Some of us remember the halcyon days before ours became an economy reliant upon an infinite demand for disposable items. Of these, the preponderance of plastics—“There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?”—indicates that Mr. McGuire was indeed correct. Plastic drinking bottles. Plastic milk cartons. Plastic bags. Plastic straws. And, yes, even plastic fishing nets. But while the transition away from paper and glass seemed a great idea at the time, a stroll today along many of the world’s beaches shows the ramifications born of living in a world that seemingly revolves around the use of petroleumbased resins.

Thankfully, Costa del Mar has teamed with Bureo (www., a pioneer in recycled fishnet products, to create the new Untangled Collection. Discarded fishing nets account for roughly 10 percent of the ocean’s plastic pollution, which is growing by an estimated 640,000 tons per year. To counter some of this impact, Bureo works directly with Chilean fishermen to purchase nets that might otherwise be discarded into our waterways.

The nets are recycled, shredded, and pelletized before being melted down and injected into molds to form new products—in this case, a collection of four stylish frame options ($199) paired with Costa’s proprietary 580 color-enhancing lens technology. Now you can fight eye fatigue and reduce glare while doing your part to help the environment. That’s a winner for everyone. www.costaldelmar/

Gerber Magniplier

There are utilitarian tools in every fisherman’s arsenal that are best defined not by specific accolades but instead by the fact they’re hardly noticed at all unless they fail to perform when you need them most. None fit this description better than the humble pliers, a key piece of gear that is simultaneously both indispensable and unappreciated.

So when Gerber chose to reinvent a tool that all of us use but most have never much contemplated in terms of functionality, it was a bold step. Take solace in knowing the manufacturer put a lot of thought into it. The Magniplier ($75) is ergonomically designed to fit perfectly in your hand to optimize power and control.

Hot-forged aluminum construction offers unrivaled strength. It’s spring-loaded to lessen hand fatigue. Jaw tips and cutters come with a high tolerance range that allows you to deal with the smallest hooks or leader sizes, while still providing enough strength to, say, cut through the barb on a treble hook that buried itself in your thigh thanks to the wayward cast of an eight-year-old fishing buddy. They’re also offset to provide a better line of vision while un – hooking a fish (or yourself). The nylon sheath with belt loop, along with a coiled lanyard that can be tethered to most anything, keeps you from misplacing them or, even worse, dropping them overboard. Reengineering complete.

HydraPak Expedition 8L with Hydrant Tube

It’s always a treat to find an exceptional product, then apply it to your own needs in a way the manufacturer likely never envisioned. Such has been our experience with the Expedition 8L, the newest and largest capacity water-storage unit from HydraPak ($90).

While it is indeed perfect when used as intended—car camping, or providing hydration for your base camp—ours proved even more valuable when paired with the Hydrant Tube and brought along in the plantation vehicle during quail season. The reservoir is lightweight, packable, and has a flexible handle for effortless carrying. It also boasts a hanging or freestanding design with dual baffles for stability. But it’s the addition of the Hydrant Tube that transforms the ample Expedition into a gravity-driven hydration system that’s a must-have for any wing shooter who needs to water his dogs between hunts, cool them off after a warm day afield, or wash their underbellies before they climb back into the kennel.

Simply install the Plug-N-Play, a 36-inch non-kinking tube, into the eight-liter reservoir, and you’ll have a handheld, easy-to-use squeeze bulb that sprays water at your command. It’s easy to refill, needs minimal storage space, fits comfortably into a cooler, and provides a fine solution when it comes to keeping your hardworking hunting companions cool, clean, and hydrated in remote locales.

Gunner G1 Series Kennel

Would you buy a Ferrari if you didn’t own a garage? No, you would not. So why bother going to the time and considerable expense of training a bird dog if you’re only going to transport him in a mediocre dog box? Instead, check out the G1 Series from Gunner Kennels, a double-walled, roto-molded workhorse that is tested to withstand 4,000 pounds of force and a 12-gauge shotgun blast at seven steps. It’s also the world’s only 5-Star Crash Test Rated pet-travel crate. That covers your peace of mind, but the G1 is equally impressive from a hunting perspective.

Clearly, this kennel has been engineered by someone who spends abundant time afield, as evidenced by attention to small details that only a hard-core hunter would appreciate. There’s a lockable paddle-latch door, just in case your dog is named Houdini, plus water-repelling window vents that help keep it dry and well ventilated during transport. Heavy-duty carry handles, an oversized drain plug, foolproof tie-down pins, all stainless steel components, skid-resistant rubber feet, and a lifetime warranty serve to round out the package.

We tested the G1 Medium ($430), but it’s also available in small, intermediate, and large sizes—all of which boast the same safety standards and stellar design that make the G1 a Gray’s Best winner.

We’ll be rolling out our entire Gray’s Best gear selection over the coming days. Stay tuned for our Vintage category selections.