We have a lot of products passing through the Sporting Shooter office. Some are good, some are not so good, and some are absolute rubbish.
Very few of them end up being adopted into part of my regular shooting and outdoor kit. Here's a couple that are so good I'd actually spend my own money on them.
First, the Nomad Quadrider waterproof fleece. I hadn't come across Nomad clothing until last year when I was stalking at Gaick. The stalkers and ghillies there were all wearing what looked like regular olive fleece jackets. In the rough weather we were expecting, that seemed like sheer foolishness, so I asked.
Turned out they were Nomad fleeces, made by Nomad UK with a special fleece material that's so waterproof you can actually make waders from it. It has all the benefits of fleece - breathable, soft, durable and non-rustle - and it's as waterproof as the best hi-tech mountaineering jacket.
Then I visited the Scottish Fair at the end of June, and Nomad UK had a stand there. So I dropped in for a chat, and walked out with this Quadrider. It's a pullover-style fleece with a large hood, neck zip, drawcord waist, two side pockets and a large chest pocket that's ideal for binoculars etc.
So far I've used it for fishing and pigeon shooting, both on chilly wet days, and it's been fantastic. It just does the job, so you can forget it and get on with what you're doing. And to my mind, that's what good kit is all about.
The price is £195, so it's not cheap, but then this is not to be confused with your average fleece. See it, and the others in the range, at www.nomaduk.net.
Second item: the Stanley 'Outdoor' series vacuum mug. Unlike the cheap stainless steel vacuum flasks you see on special offer at the petrol station, Stanley have been making quality outdoor flasks since 1913. I've seen years-old Stanley flasks used by stalkers and pigeon shooters - battered and scraped, but still going strong.
This one specially appealed to me as it's the mug type with a plastic stopper. You don't have to pour out a cupful of hot liquid to balance on a straw bale, keeping one eye on the sky (if you're having a blank day, just pour a drink from your thermos - it's guaranteed to bring the birds in!).
With this flask, you just loosen the collar at the top, and drink from it like a large mug. Then screw it tight again to keep the heat in. I've had a few cheap flasks with gadgety 'pop n pour' stoppers that fell apart after a few trips. But this one is solidly made and is still going strong - plus it keeps the tea nice and hot for hours. It holds just under half a litre.
More details here. In the UK, the flask is distributed by Garlands. Call them on 01827 383300 for your local stockist, or ask at your local gunshop.