Stuff I Use: UnderArmour Primaloft(R) Ridge Reaper Hunt Beanie

Yep. I’m picky about the stuff I wear and the stuff I use when I’m fly fishing. I have very little patience for gear that doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, or makes me uncomfortable, or just generally sucks (like this awful lamp). A winter hat seems like something that’s so simple, it shouldn’t require much thought. Therein lies the beauty of the UnderArmour Primaloft Ridge Reaper Hunt Beanie: it’s warm. It’s comfortable. It does what I want it to do.

For starters, I like to wear a ball cap when I’m fishing, even in the winter. The visor keeps the sun out of my eyes and precipitation off my glasses. On those really cold days, I like to wear a ski-type hat over the ball cap. My issue with previous hats was that they were too snug or too small or not warm enough. The last thing I want to be doing out on a river when it’s 20 degrees is be futzing with my hat. So the Ridge Reaper, even though it’s one size, is stretchy and roomy but snugs down nicely around my head and ears with no fuss.

New hat: the UnderArmour Primaloft Ridge Reaper Hunt Beanie.

Cosmetically, I like that the logo is understated. I’m not a fan of high-visibility, high-contrast logos, and as an outdoors person, you can understand wanting to blend in. According to the UA website, the yarn in this hat is breathable and water resistant, and it has a double layer knit lining. Sounds perfect. Like most UA products, this is more than I’d like to pay. $40 for a hat? But, as with so many other things, my eventual cost-per-use will make me forget the price, as will the hat’s performance and comfort.

Price: $40

Rating: *****

A post-steelhead-landed victory shot, hat under the hood. A warm angler is a happy angler.

Stuff I Use: Buff Eclipse Gloves

It’s said that for every problem, there is a solution. The problem: any nighttime session with my two-handed rod quickly produced a wet handle, wet line, and wet hands — not a good combination when you’re relying on a firm grip to operate. Compounding the situation was the thin running line (the one I’m currently using is .042″). You’re holding it against the rod handle when you cast, and with any hookup over 40 feet away, you’re stripping that running line during a fight.

Clearly, needed to get a grip. Enter Buff Eclipse gloves. Partially designed for UV protection (not an issue at 1am), these gloves also feature a combination silicone dot pattern and an abrasion-resistant film on the palm that “maximizes grip while minimizing wear.” I also liked that these have three-quarter length fingers, which leaves your fingertips free. Bonus: if you’re having one of those really good nights, the gloves also minimize the red badge of courage (AKA striper thumb). I used them extensively this summer and I’m happy to report that they performed as expected. I bought my pair from Orvis.

Buff Eclipse gloves keep you grippin’ so you can give stripers a whippin’ (with apologies to Timex watches).