Grouse Hunting

| September 27, 2021
Grilled Grouse Ready To Eat
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

If you’ve spent much time in the subalpine forests of the Pacific Coast or in the Rocky Mountains, you’ve undoubtedly heard a low-sounding, “whuuump”, echoing through the trees. This distinct sound only heard in the spring, is a male grouse using a special wing beat to attract a female. On the west coast, you’re likely to run into sooty grouse, while in the Rockies it will most likely be a dusky grouse. Be sure to brush up on your grouse identification because there are actually quite a few varieties and many are managed differently than sooty and dusky grouse, particularly sage grouse, which in many places are in decline.

In my opinion, grouse are some of the tastiest game birds you can find in the Western United States. Eating a diet that largely consists of berries, their meat is mild, tender, and I think one of the best options for introducing wild game to picky eaters.

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The archery season typically starts at the end of August or early September. By that time, the grouse are done with their noisy mating rituals and are actually fairly difficult to locate. The best way to find grouse is by putting in the miles, walking through “grousy” terrain. Try early mornings and evenings in areas that have water, shade, and plenty of berries. Grouse seem to have a particular affinity for clearings with tons of deadfall in them. The downed trees and logs give them plenty of cover while they forage. Keep your ears open for soft clucking that sounds suspiciously like chickens.

I personally have a rule that when using archery equipment, I only shoot grouse that are on the ground. Your typical grouse encounter is usually sub 20 yards and even with small game tips, I often get full pass-throughs on these soft-bodied birds and grew tired of losing arrows into the trees.

Grouse are more resilient than they appear and given their natural camouflage, easily disappear in the underbrush. If you find yourself in a group of grouse that give you multiple shot opportunities, make sure you recover each grouse before taking another shot.

Whether you’re using a shotgun or bow, grouse hunting is a great reason to get out into the mountains and bring home some high-quality meat.

Grilling Grouse

Three grouse grilling nicely on the grill.

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Upgrade the Crosman 1322 for More Power

| September 24, 2021
The Core Parts of a Crosman Upgrade
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

So you bought a Crosman 1322 or 1377, and like every other 13xx owner, you want to modify it for greater power, accuracy, or performance. Fortunately, the P13xx series of air guns lend themselves to a lot of mods, and while everyone has their own take on which mods and drop-in parts work best, we’ll give you our honest take on reliably getting a stock 1322 from 460 fps to over 600 FPS.

No time to read, no problem!
This is for a 1322! Buy a steel breech, extended barrel and barrel band, Alchemy AirWerks RP Pump Valve Kit. Teardown and install all parts, be sure to lubricate parts with a silicone-based lubricant. The RP Pump Valve kit will include a bigger transfer port, and heavier hammer spring to replace the originals. Add an optic, sight in, go knock down some squirrels.

We’ve got a few articles on power mods, and even some accuracy tips, but we constantly get questions and are asked about the following topics, “Should I do a Crosman 1322 barrel upgrade?”, “What is the Crosman 1322 maximum power?”, “Is the Crosman 1322 good for hunting?”, “What power mods…?”, “14 inch barrel FPS…?”. The questions are endless, and although it feels repetitive, we put together this article with comparison photos, and even a slow motion video of the impact energy of an upgraded 1322, for those that want more power from a Crosman 1322, and don’t have a machine shop.

We focus on the Crosman 1322 because we prefer a .22 caliber for airgun hunting of small game, but our how-to guide also works the same for the Crosman 1377.

Upgrading the stock 13xx with our recommendations will add $150 in cost to the stock 13xx. At around $200 it is easy to start considering an entry-level PCP. However, the 13xx can perform like a PCP, while still remaining usable and reliable in the backcountry, or anywhere a heavy pump can’t easily go. The Crosman 13xx models of air guns have been a go-to air gun since the late seventies for good reason. They are easy to modify, they are accurate, and they are reliable. While it’s very easy to go down the rabbit hole with mods, our base recommendations will turn your stock 13xx into a very effective small game hunting air gun, or high-performance plinker. You will likely get in excess of 12 foot-pounds of energy from these upgrades. That is more than enough energy to dispatch a lot of small game, within reasonable distances. It’s also enough energy to punch holes through 1/4″ plywood, and softer 3/4″ pine boards. Check with your own city, region, state, or countries regulations to make sure you haven’t broken the law with the increased power, as many countries regulate an air gun as a firearm if it exceeds a specific threshold.

Upgrading with a steel breech, new barrel, and barrel band will remove the OEM fixed sights. We recommend a low-power optic, but there are many optic and fixed sight options, with a wide range of costs. We’ll make recommendations, but it’s not the focus of the upgrades.

Step 1: Upgrade the Breech

Stock Breech and Upgraded Steel Breech

The stock Crosman 13xx breech next to an upgraded steel breech.

If you want more power and performance from your 13xx, then swapping the stock composite plastic breech with a stronger steel breech is a must. It increases strength and rigidity, and provides a more stable base for mounting optics, but also holds an upgraded barrel in place much better than you could with a stock breech.

Buy a 1377 Steel Breech

Step 2: Upgrade the Barrel and Barrel Band

Stock Barrel and 18 inch Barrel

The stock 10 inch barrel and barrel band next to an 18 inch barrel, and more rigid barrel band.

Upgrading a barrel can mean simply changing it for a high precision one, crowning it for increased accuracy, or increasing length for greater velocity, and power. Our upgrade focuses on barrel length. We upgrade the stock 10.1” barrel with an 18” barrel.

Generally speaking, every inch of increased barrel length will increase velocity 10 fps. There is a diminishing return at a certain length, and so the longest 1322 barrels are usually no more than 24 inches. To take advantage of a barrel longer than 14.5 inches, you’ll want to increase your valve volume, and transfer port size.

Buy a 1322 Barrel Band
Buy a 1322 18 inch Barrel

Buy a 1377 Barrel Band
Buy a 1377 18 inch Barrel

Step 3: Upgrade the Piston / Valve / Transfer Port

Alchemy AirWerks RP Pump

The Alchemy AirWerks RP Pump, heavier hammer spring, and larger inner diameter transfer port.

Upgrading the piston, pump, and transfer port on the 13xx series of air guns increases overall power and performance. A larger volume of air, as well as increased and more rapid airflow into the barrel, pushes a pellet with greater pressure, resulting in greater velocity and power.

We have done our own valve mods, but the easiest and most reliable all-in-one mod kit we have found and used is the AlchemyAirWerks Pump RP Valve SuperPack. It includes a Pump RP Valve, Power Hammer Spring and a Transfer Port with 25% greater airflow.

The RP Valve increases air volume, so it increases the stored energy. It does however require more pumping to fill the larger volume of air to the same pressure as a smaller volume of air. The combination of a better valve, hammer spring, and a transfer port that allows greater airflow, address the fundamentals for increasing power and performance.

The RP Valve is a great alternative to a more expensive flat-top piston mod, which only improves pumping efficiency over the power increase provided by Pump RP Valve, but if you are feeling spendy, or just really want the increased pumping efficiency,

Buy the AlchemyAirWerks Pump RP Valve SuperPack

Step 4: Add Optics

CV Life Scope and Redfield See Through Rings

a CVLife 4X32 Compact Scope and Redfield See Through Rings, are a good combination for the 1322.

Optics are a must after upgrading a steel breech, barrel, and barrel band, but the options and costs are vast. Our affordable and reliable go-to, after a lot of experimentation, is a super affordable CVLIFE 4×32 Compact Rifle Scope, and Redfield See-Thru Dovetail rings.

A lot of airgunners seem to pair their airguns with a UTG 3-9X32 BugBuster Scope, but for a more affordable variable optic, the CVLIFE 3-9×40 Compact Rifle Scope, or Pinty 2.5-10×40 Illuminated are also good options.

Buy Redfield See-Thru Dovetail Rings
Buy a CVLIFE 4x32 Compact Rifle Scope
Buy a CVLIFE 3-9x40 Compact Rifle Scope
Buy a UTG 3-9X32 1
Buy a Pinty 2.5-10x40

Wrapping Up

A Stock 1322, Breech, Barrel, Barrel Band, and RP Valve Kit combined will set you back about two hundred dollars, but you’ll be able to reliably shoot small game with about 12 foot pounds of energy everywhere you go. You won’t need a high-pressure pump, or CO2 cartridges to use your airgun. You’ll still need to add fixed sights or an optic, which will add another thirty dollars at a minimum, but will allow you to take full advantage of the increased performance, as its max effective range on small game moves out to about 25 yards from the OEM effective range of about 10 yards. Good shot placement will even allow you to take doves, pigeons, and small pest birds at 50 yards. Don’t believe it? Check out this video. This is with a factory 10.1″ barrel, a lightly modified pump valve and transfer port, and a steel breech.

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Hane Tenkara Rod

| September 19, 2021
Hane Tenkara Rod
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.
Weight | 3.5 oz (100 g)
Collapsed Length | 15 inch (38cm)
Extended Length | 10 foot 10 inches (330cm)
Handle Length | 8 inches (20.5cm)
Segments | 12
Color | White | Matte Black
Accessories | Hard Case(tube) | Sock
Manufacturer | Tenkara USA
Warranty | Lifetime Warranty | Replacement Parts Available
Price | $160

In the interest of full disclosure, we received the Hane from Tenkara USA to produce this gear review. We remain objective, whether we buy a product, receive a product, or acquire a product at a discount. Opinions are our own.

The Hane Tenkara Rod is an ultra-compact, feather-weight rod from Tenkara USA. It was designed specifically for backpacking, high elevation mountain streams, and basically anything requiring ultra-portability. We took the Hane fishing in mountain streams, lakes, canals, and drainages. We used it primarily to fish for trout in both California and Wyoming, and tested it on everything from slow-moving water, still water, and wind chopped lakes, to heavy and fast-moving water. We caught everything from 6″ brookies to 20″+ brown trout, and really pushed the Hane to its limits.

First Impressions

The Hane is special. Right out of the package, the rod looks really sharp. Rod sections have a white coloration, with the exception of the matte black tip-set, and the rod is on par with the high quality you would expect from Tenkara USA. The foam handle is a departure from the cork typically used on Tenkara USA rods, is very ergonomic, and is long enough to fit most hands. A Tenkara USA logo imprinted in the foam also creates the perfect textured surface for placing your index finger.

Because of its size, we had some questions about the Hane. “Will the action still feel like Tenkara?”, “Is it too fast, or too rigid?”, “Will the Hane have a true Tenkara feel and action?” We were super excited to get the Hane in the field and get some answers to our questions.

In The Field

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We set up the 10ft 10 inch Hane with a 13 foot furled line, and 5 feet of 4x tippet. It might be a longer setup for a 10 foot 10 inch rod, but you could just as easily set up a shorter line if that’s your preference. We first took the Hane to a fishing hole nestled in the Eastern Sierra. On the first cast, it was immediately obvious that the Hane was a faster action Tenkara rod than a traditional 12 foot or larger rod, with a much more snappy cast.

That faster action took a tiny bit of getting used to, as it required less loitering or pausing at the top of a cast. In fact, after getting used to the faster action and the shorter rod, it became distinctly advantageous over a larger rod in a few ways.

Check out Buck getting used to the action in the above video. We slowed down the footage so you can clearly see how the rod bends, and clearly see the speed of the action.

With the shorter faster action of the Hane, it’s possible to work right in front of trees, tall vegetation, and even cliff bands. The length and action let you cast vertically, but still snap the line forward enough to get the fly to your target, without snagging behind you. This also made sideways casting easier, letting you better avoid snapping backwards into the tree line or other obstacles. Additionally, the shorter rod means that moving along a river, weaving through trees or tall vegetation, meant fewer snags, and less risk of damage while simply moving from location to location.

Over a period of a few weeks, we put a lot of mileage on the Hane. It took some pretty heavy use and abuse, and without issues. We landed everything from countless small brookies, to both wild and stocked rainbows, and even some real hogs. Check out the brown trout below, caught in a creek on lands managed by LA DWP.

Large Brown Trout Caught on Hane

A large brown trout caught by the author on a 2-fly dry-dropper set up, with the Hane Tenkara rod.


If you are already a Tenkara fisherman and want the Tenkara experience, but with a faster action, and you want it in a feather-weight and highly portable package, then the Hane is a perfect rod choice.

With some distinct advantages of a faster action and greater portability, we’ll probably opt for using the Hane in place of the larger more traditional rods like the 13.6ft Amago or 12ft Iwana that have become customary. For most fishing in the backcountry and smaller stream fishing, the Hane will be a go-to, but we’ll probably still use our larger rods for fishing open shorelines of big lakes, and fishing from a kayak.

If you are newer to Tenkara, the Hane is a great choice, but to truly get the traditional feel of Tenkara fishing, then you may be better served by learning on a more traditionally sized rod, like the ITO, Amago, or Iwana, offered by Tenkara USA.

We worked hard to put mileage on this rod so that we could earnestly say whether we like, love, or hate the Hane. Three of our gear testers, the author being one of them, can say they were impressed with the Hane. If you get yourself a Hane, we are pretty sure you’ll love it.

Are we biased? We always try our absolute best, to remain objective. If we didn’t like the rod or enjoy using it, we’d tell you. We have nothing to lose and our readership’s confidence to gain by being honest and recommending good products while advising against the purchase of bad ones. While we received the Hane to do a gear review, we have purchased other rods out of pocket from Tenkara USA. We have also purchased multiple replacement tip sets to keep a few rods fully operational for about a decade. We’ve used rods made by other brands, and we can say while others are decent, you can not go wrong with any rod offered by Tenkara USA. Many other brands don’t offer replacement parts, and instead require shipping a product in for repairs, potentially taking you out of the field for a good chunk of the fishing season.

Tenkara USA support has always been fast and helpful for the entire decade before we arranged this review. So we can say with confidence, that they are a positive and great company when it comes to supporting their customers, they make great rods, and stand behind their products.

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Fly Tying Trout Flies

| September 17, 2021
Flies and Fly Tying Gear
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

Fly Tying Trout Flies has a few great advantages over buying ready made fishing flies. Good trout fishing flies can get pricey, and if you get hung up and lose them as any normal person does, then tying your own can get you greater mileage, at a lower price point. Tying your own trout flies also lets you create very specific patterns, and experiment with your own.

Lastly, if you hunt in addition to fish, fly tying lets you take advantage of the byproducts produced by harvesting animals. When we harvest animals, we use everything that we possibly can. This includes tying flies using the hair from deer, elk, coyotes, squirrels and rabbits, as well as feathers from the upland and waterfowl seasons. Mallard feathers and elk hair are very common materials sold for fly tying, so using what you have makes better use of animals you harvest and saves a few bucks.

There is some fairly basic equipment that you should have to start tying flies at a minimum, anything else while nice, isn’t necessary.

Basic Equipment:
Vise – A vise holds a hook still, so that materials can be added and tied on to it.
Bobbin – A Bobbin holds the thread used to secure materials to the hook.
Whip Finisher – A whip finisher is a tool used to more easily tie knots, and finish a fly.
Scissors – It’s pretty obvious what scissors do. But in regards to fly tying, a small precise pair is very helpful.
Bodkin Needle – Used to apply cements and glues, pick out dubbing, and as an all purpose tool anywhere a sharp point is needed.
Threader – Threads bobbins more easily.

While you can buy all the above tools, you’d probably be better off buying a fly tying kit, like this one. You’ll save some money, and get a few more useful fly tying tools at a great price. With a kit, you may not get the most premium tools, but you’ll be tying flies with less of an investment.

Hooks, in various sizes and shapes.
Beads, in different sizes, materials and weights.
Wire, in different colors and weights
Thread, in different colors
Hackle, Feathers, Dubbing
Foam, Foils
Cements/Glues/UV Resin
Worm Material

Red Copper John Nymph Trout Flies

A Nymphing Copper John with red wire is a favorite trout fly for some of the Sportsman’s Magazine team.

Alternatives To Tying
Fly shops sell flies that are marked up quite a bit, often priced at $2.50 per fly or more. Buying in bulk from a supplier closer to the source, or even just an importer can get you flies for as low as 60 cents per piece. Buy Flies in Bulk

Tying flies can be an enjoyable pastime or just a thing to do to have your favorite flies readily available.

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Firearms and Fly Rods

| September 17, 2021
Not A Scene from Dune
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

The majority of national forests in California have been closed, so you have to work with what you’ve got. For us, in the eastern sierra, we’ve got the century-old monopoly on California’s water supply, the good ‘ole LADWP, and the lands they ‘manage’ to hunt and fish on, as well as some BLM land still accessible.

The mix of irrigation canals and dry creek beds, tall bushes, small trees, surprisingly deep watering holes amidst small creeks, confluences of springs and streams, barbed wire fences, cheatgrass, and sagebrush, offer a fun opportunity to cast for trout and blast for doves, while everything else is closed.

In a parallel dimension, one where the best California Sage Grouse and Antelope habitat hasn’t been turned into cattle land, with creeks full thriving nitrogen-fueled algal blooms racing through cow patty filled grassland and sagebrush, we’d be gunning for sage grouse and speed goats too. Unfortunately, we live in the mismanaged dimension, but at least we can shoot doves and catch non-native brown trout.

My digs at a century of California’s terrible land and fire management aside, during the closure, I was able to fish for brown trout, and take a crack at the occasional dove with my Benelli Montefeltro as I moved along different creeks and streams.

Doves Down

The author’s small mourning dove bounty, on top of an Eberlestock G1 Little Brother pack, next to a Benelli Montefeltro.

I occasionally flushed a few Sage Grouse, unfortunately, there is no season in California for them. Their leks are fragile environments, their food sources overgrazed at critical times of the year, and their nests even more fragile and easily destroyed by trampling, so while they aren’t thriving, it is nice to see they exist.

Although I found some success shooting a small number of doves and hooking up some decent trout, the national forests are open again, at least for now. Both the deer and bear seasons are just around the corner, so I’ll take up scouting where I had left off, and work on filling the freezer.

Also, before every cowboy out there loses their shit, I will acknowledge there are some studies, usually sponsored by the pro-cattle lobby, that indicate that careful rotation of grazing cattle during different times of the year can possibly benefit the greater sage grouse. That’s great if it is true, but there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of evidence of that sort of management happening in California. So you can form your own opinions.

If you are interested in being able to switch quickly between a firearm and a fishing rod, consider my pack and gear setup. It’s the tactical weapon carrier, and an NCStar/Vism 25 Shot Shell carrier connected externally via MOLLE/PALS. In the pack I’ve got a Hane Tenkara Rod, a Sawyer Squeeze water filter, a few snacks, first aid kit, and other odds and ends. The setup is the easiest combination of things I’ve used, to stay super mobile while hunting and fishing, and wish I had my gear set up this way for years. It’s easy to swap a weapon, for upland game, big game, or wing shooting.

Also, if you are going to wander around miles from any sort of sun relief, don’t forget eye protection and skin protection, STNGR polarized ballistic glasses are great, and so is a sun shirt. Your skin and eyes will thank you.

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The Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter

| September 13, 2021
Sawyer Squeeze Filter and Squeeze Bag
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.
Filter Size | .1 micron
Bacteria Removal | 99.99999%
Protozoa Removal | 99.99999%
Micro Plastic Removal | 100%
Filter Material | Hollow Fiber
Weight | 3 Ounces
Brand | Sawyer
Warranty | Lifetime
Price | $29.99
Includes | Backwash Plunger, Inline Adapter, 2 reusable 32-oz, BPA-free collapsible pouches

We decided to get on board with the modern backpacking movement, and pick up super small and light Sawyer Squeeze water filter. We’ve used a old MSR pump style filter for about two decades, so when it came to replacing a filter, yet again, we started looking at more modern filter solutions that were the same price or significantly cheaper, than a replacement MSR filter cartridge.

First Impressions

We weren’t sure what to expect from a filter that costs less than another brand’s replacement filter cartridge, so we were pleasantly surprised when we pulled the Squeeze out of the packaging. The Sawyer Squeeze is small, lightweight at only 3 ounces, and stupidly simple, the way you want outdoor and backpacking gear to be.

We’ve all seen modern filtration systems, used and abused, hanging from a PCTer, ATer, or CDTer’s pack, but they are easy to overlook until you are in the market for one. And why would you be in the market if your ole’ trusty MSR pump filter has served you well for about two-thirds of the average age of those PCT thru-hikers with their fancy ultra-light equipment?

In The Field

It’s really nice to have a filter that is 1/6th the weight, and also a fraction of the size of our old filter, as it doesn’t take much space in a pack, or can just as easily live on top of a water bottle.

The Sawyer Squeeze, as mentioned before, is stupidly simple. The inline filter design means there are no pump handles, and really nothing mechanical to speak of. There are also no annoying pre-filters, dirty water hoses, clean water hoses, floats, or food-grade lubricants to worry about.

The ease of use of modern inline water filtration feels like cheating, compared to the old way. It’s so simple, even Y.1 Millenials and Gen Zers can probably operate it without a phone and video tutorial. The only thing to be careful of, which should be obvious, is keeping a dirty bottle or water bag for dirty water, separate from a clean one designated for clean water.

You wouldn’t want to make an idiocracy-style exam moment out of bottle management, where the consequence is potentially giardia. All joking aside, the Sawyer Squeeze is the easiest thing to use. Fill a bottle or squeeze bag with dirty water, thread on the filter, turn over and squeeze water into a clean water bottle. Or squeeze while drinking directly from an inline bite valve.

During use, we did run into an issue that is apparently very prevalent in the community of Sawyer Squeeze users. The OEM O-ring/gasket that creates a seal between the squeeze bag and the filter is quite soft, and with little use, can stick to the bag versus remain retained by the filter, or deform and leak. We experienced this first hand. Our O-ring stuck to the squeeze bag on removal. It’s suggested by other users to buy extra O-rings and travel with them, but there is the option of buying a Bibb Gasket intended for faucets that has a harder durometer and does not deform or fall out as easily. Aside from the O-ring issue, we didn’t have any other issues with the Sawyer Squeeze. Whether we used the supplied BPA free Squeeze bags, or a Vitamin Water bottle, the filter worked flawlessly.

Sawyer Squeeze Loose Gasket Issue

The Sawyer Squeeze O-ring can easily come loose, and get lost, whereas it should be retained by the filter.


The Sawyer Squeeze gets the job done, and it’s hard to find something to complain about besides the aforementioned O-ring issue. For the O-ring issue, we docked the quality score, since it seems like a design or quality issue, that should have been easy to mitigate, but was overlooked by Sawyer. We also docked the Ease of Use score for the O-ring issue, because we don’t feel like you should have to be mindful f losing an O-ring every time you disconnect a water bottle or squeeze bag.

The Squeeze is small, it’s lightweight, and it’s incredibly affordable. It makes more economical sense than buying replacement filter cartridges for what are now antiquated, bulky, and heavy, water filtration systems. It doesn’t cut any corners on filtration either, you get .1 micron filtration that will remove 99.99999% of bacteria and protozoa, and 100% of microplastics. The filter has a lifetime warranty and includes a backwash plunger if you ever need it, an inline adapter, and 2 reusable 32-oz BPA-free collapsible pouches.

If our filtration choice were just a question of economics and an MSR replacement cartridge was cheaper than the Squeeze, we’d probably still be using our MSR, and still just think some backpackers were a bit overzealous about the ultralight gear rage. However, now that we use one, we love it. While there are competitors to the Squeeze, with even smaller, or gravity-fed systems, the is a great all-around choice for most, and a superb choice for the size and weight conscious backpacker.



Ease Of Use




Sawyer Squeeze Easy To Go Kit

The Sawyer Squeeze is easy to set up and stuff in a day pack, for use as a hydration bladder.

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