December 2015

10 of the Most Popular Products of 2015

With today being the final day of the entire year, it seems like an appropriate time to reflect on these last 365 days of the calendar (which flew by way too fast). In doing so, it’s not hard to remember some of the products that we spent the most time with . Ranging from 2-person tents to arrow points, the list below is not all-inclusive  of our most “popular”products, but when asked about last years most prevalent gear and accessories, here is what our staff had to say:


Yeti 20 oz. & 30 oz. Rambler Tumblers

The whole reason why this list was created in the first place, especially throughout the holiday season, Fin & Feather received 10+ calls a day asking the status of our Yeti 20 oz. & 30 oz. Rambler Tumblers. Sadly, just like every other retailer in the U.S. we had the same answer they did, and we long ago started a back order list. But to be sure your drinks stay cold well into 2016, don’t worry, we’re expecting more to be in the store come early next year.


Nemo Equipment Galaxy 2

Nemo Equipment

We had a lot of good tents come through the store this year, including some award-winning products from Big Agnes, MSR and Marmot, but the apple that really caught our eye (and yours) was the Galaxy 2 from Nemo Equipment. Featuring two doors, a single pole system for easy setup, and an incredibly competitive price point, don’t be surprised if you see this tent popped up the next time you visit any campgrounds.


Live BaitLive Bait

Yep, you heard it right, while it was hard to say just exactly which rod, reel, or lure was most “popular” this year, it was easy to say that live bait was a big seller. It’s no surprise though, with the freshest selection in town, our long list of live bait is only getting longer in 2016.


SmartWool Socks

Oh the glory of SmartWool socks. For those who tried them on this year, you’re familiar with the feeling of fresh wool covering your toes, the tailored fit, and the all-day comfort of Merino Wool. If you don’t already own one of the gaggles of SmartWool Socks that were bought in 2015, put these foot warmers on the top of your 2016 wish list. Featuring multiple styles for every different activity, finding the right pair for you is as easy as coming into Fin & Feather.


Precip JacketMarmot PreCip Jacket

Stylish and simple, the Marmot PreCip Jacket flew off the shelves this year and kept the consumers dry in the wettest conditions. Partly due to the NanoPro® technology which balances the delicate line between absolute waterproof-ness performance and maximum breathability, and partly due to the sleek fit and stylish design, the PreCip Jacket is sure to be a great jacket for years to come.


Easton Arrow PointsEaston Arrow Point

They might not be the most glamorous product of the bunch, but when we see Easton Arrow Points going out the door we’re happy to know people are letting their arrows fly. Featuring every fit and model, the Easton Arrow Tips are an essential aspect of your shooting experience, and for whatever arrows you’ll be using, we’re sure to have you covered.


GSI Outdoors Drinking Glasses

Stemless Glass WareWhether you are giving cheers with new friends this New Year’s Eve, or hiking with an old companion, don’t worry about chipping the fine china with the GSI line of BPA-free plastic stemware and beverage holders. Noted for their practicality and durability, GSI and Fin & Feather served up the fun this year with a full line of stem-less and nesting wine glasses, pint glasses, and even the occasional martini glass.


 Osprey’s Anti-Gravity System

Osprey really stepped up the suspension game this year with their patented Anti-Gravity Suspension System. Featured alongside some of Osprey’s most popular packs, the Anti-Gravity system disperses the weight of your heavy load seamlessly into what feels like wearing nothing at all. Try it for yourself this year and see why Osprey’s Anti-Gravity Suspension System is changing the world of backpacking.


.22 Ammo

22 ammoStraight and simple, we’ve kept our ammo selection stocked full with .22 ammo the entire year, and our favorite thing to hear was “wow, I can’t seem to find this anywhere else”. Although it’s no surprise to us that we have one the best selections in town, it should never be a surprise for you this upcoming year that we have exactly what you are looking for.


Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener

Proud owners of the Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpeners never had a dull moment in 2015, and that’s because this easy-to-use and highly efficient sharpening machine can handle any edged item you own. Sure to keep you sharp, the original Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener sold out this year, but it just gives you a chance to try the newly introduced Ken Onion Edition and Work Sharp Field Kit in 2016.



Wednesday’s Featured Product: Sonic Boom Exploding Targets

Add a little excitement to your day with this week’s featured product, Sonic Boom Exploding Targets. The perfect way to be sure you got your shot, Sonic Boom Exploding targets provides a safe and legal way to make a big explosion at the firing range. Available for a wide variety of calibers including long-range rifles and handguns, it is very important to follow the included instructions that come with each ready-to-mix container, and when you do, you’ll be sure to have a blast the next time you go sport shooting.

We are stocked and loaded at Fin & Feather, so no matter what you’ll be using to make the big bang, we’ll have the right Sonic Boom exploding target that works for you. If you have any questions as to what exploding target you are looking for, or any questions as to where you can shoot these exploding spectacles, be sure to ask someone in our firearms department and they can get you aiming in the right direction.


Sonic Boom is not only a fun way to add a little extra enjoyment to your sport shooting hobby, but it can also aid in reassuring your accuracy on the long-range shots, but like anything we sell in the firearms department, all caution should be used when implementing this product. Sonic Boom carefully and purposefully packs its product by separating the catalyst and oxidizer in two separate sealed  bags, making it legal in all 50 states to sell and transport. Once the consumer mixes the two, the product now becomes an explosive, which has much stricter regulations on travel and resale, so quick use at a designated firing range is not only recommended, but nearly mandatory. Read all instructions, have fun, be safe, and use Sonic Boom at your own discretion.

Get a Grip this Winter with Yaktrax & ICEtrekkers

It may have felt like Winter was off to a slow start in the past couple of months, but in true Iowa and Midwest fashion, the forecasts have blessed us with a confusing radar to watch. With blowing winds and precipitation that blends the line between snow and rain, the good news is that the true start to winter, and the beginning of longer days, began with the Winter Solstice last Tuesday, December 22nd. The better news, thanks to the product line from Yaktrax and ICEtrekkers (available at Fin & Feather), you don’t have to worry about slipping on the ice as Old Man Winter finally wakes up this year:

(photos courtesy of


Yak Trax Walk SpinningYaktrax Walk

The Walk Series from Yaktrax is the original design that the rest of the product line is based upon. Featuring spikeless and lightweight utility,  Yaktrax are a transportable traction device that slips on and off your shoes with ease. Not designed for rugged hikes up a mountain, but rather stretches of sidewalks and ice-strewn asphalt, these affordable ice accessories can cover all your basic winter commute challenges.


Yak Trax Pro PictureYaktrax Pro

Bump it up a notch with the Pro Series featuring thicker rubber and stronger coils to  expand your winter capabilities. Built for the more active trekkers, it’s easy to go beyond the mailbox with the YakTrax Pro Series and resume your normal walking route regardless of the weather conditions. With a performance strap for optimal fit, slipping in and out of Yaktrax Pros is also a snap with the pull tab on the heel.


Yak Trax Run PictureYaktrax Run

For those seasoned athletes that don’t let winter weather stop them in their tracks, the Yaktrax Run Series features the same coil strength as the Yaktrax Pro and a beefed-up rubber, in addition to a toe plate  set with replaceable carbide steel spikes. That means you can run with confidence this winter, and with a temperature rating of -46⁰,  nothing short of a deep-freeze will keep you away from your running routine.


Icetrekkers ChainsICEtrekkers Chains

ICEtrekker chains are simply tire chains for your feet. Where tire chains are meant to keep your wheels on the road, ICEtrekkers Chains are meant to keep you off your hiney as you make your way down the sidewalk. Made of individually welded links of hardened steel, just slip on the rubber harness holding the steel over your boot (temperature rated for below-zero conditions), and see for yourself the traction a few chains can provide on packed snow and ice.


Icetrekkers Diamond GripICEtrekkers Diamond Grip

Perhaps the most burly of traction devices available, the ICEtrekkers Diamond Grips consists of a patented Diamond Bead design made of hardened alloy steel, strung on an aircraft cable, with 100’s of biting edges that grip and rotate independently. What this gives you is the ability to transition onto gravel and rock without worry,  navigate rugged terrain, and go all day without cleaning the self-clearing rotational Diamond Beads.


Yaktrax and ICEtrekkers products work best on shoes and boots that have a lip, and all perform best with the right fit. Come one down to Fin & Feather and find the right size for you!

Happy Holidays from Fin & Feather

We here at Fin & Feather wish you and your family a safe and celebratory holiday season. Amidst the present unwrapping and eggnog drinking, we are hoping to take a moment to thank you for all of your kind support and business over the last year. By support and business, we are referencing the price-tags stuck to the favorite products that we’ve seen leave the store over the past month, but just as important, if not more, we are also thankful for you allowing us to be a part of the Iowa City community that we love.

Mildenstein Family PictureIowa City has grown over the last 48 years we’ve been in business, and if we could have one thing on the top of our holiday wish list this year, it’s that we can unwrap another 48 years of unbeatable customer service, a wide selection of all your outdoor needs, and you, yes you, to continue your local shopping experience with us as we pave our way into the future. It’s a long road, this adventure we call life, and we couldn’t have done it without you, so once again, thank you for stopping in and saying hello.

We hope that everyone received what they wanted this holiday season, and now that the 25th has come and gone, Fin & Feather is resuming regular hours to assist in any exchanges, additions, or ways to use those gift cards you may have received next to the coal in your holiday stockings. If you have any questions about any of the products we have, or the services that we offer, be sure to ask, we are always happy to help, and one last time, from our family to yours, thanks again for making this holiday season so special.

The Fabled Origin of Holiday Stockings by the Fireplace

Year after year, December upon December, something in our self-consciousness hits auto-drive and we assume yearly activities better known as traditions. Adorning a tree in the corner of the living room, stringing sparkling lights on the gutters, having a year’s dose of eggnog in one sitting, all these things we are familiar with, but how often have you stopped to wonder where these intrinsic traditions come from? Just before the holiday season hits its peak, here for you today, a brief history of a garment-inspired tradition; the Christmas Stocking.

Xmas Stocking Add 1918 - Smithsonian
Christmas Stocking Ad – 1918 – from the Smithsonian 

Sure, you had them as a kid, and now you have them for your kids, but did you know that the Stocking above the fireplace can be dated way back before your colorful socks could even be stuffed? One of the earliest recorded occurrences of the Christmas Stockings can be dated back to the 1823 publication of Twas the Night Before Christmas, where the stockings were hung next to the chimney with care, but anything before that, the true origin of this still relevant Christmas tradition fades from the history books and onto the pages of fantasy:




On the eve before Christmas morning, a recent widow paced around the fireplace of his small hut located in the middle of town, not feeling the warmth of the flames but heated by the worry of the upcoming holiday. With his wife recently passing, all the man had left was three beautiful daughters nearly at an age where they would be expected to marry soon. As if his wife passing wasn’t reason to pace enough, the man was also very concerned with the family’s financial capabilities of attracting suitable suitors for his daughters’ hands in marriage. Without the financial means, his daughters would never marry, and without marriage, in that time and age, the man worried feverishly about the long-term happiness of the only women left in his heart. He went to bed that night, worried about the uncertainties of tomorrow, and his worries, all known by the fellow townsfolk, followed him into his dreams.

In town, Saint Nicholas, the same man who would later become the modern day Santa Claus, heard of the man’s troubles from the village friends. With a slyness and perhaps small breach of privacy allowed for legends of old, Saint Nick, in the dark of night, snuck down the man’s chimney to spread the holiday cheer. Once inside the home, Saint Nick found the stockings that hung above the chimney, drying from the day before, and as to not insult the villager’s humility, he hid three presents for the daughters to find the next day. The legend varies with what Saint Nick hid in those stockings, but everyone seems to agree that gold in some form was involved, enough gold for the three daughters to live comfortably, find someone deserving of their love, and of course, live happily ever after unknowingly as the origin of a timeless tradition.


Whether you tell this tale next to the crackling fireplace, or think of its message as you stuff someone’s stocking, hopefully it can be one of those little things that make your holiday season a little bit more meaningful.


Good tidings from your friends at Fin & Feather.

Wednesday’s Featured Article: Shimano Aldebaran Baitcasting Reel

AlderbaranCast out a strong line with this week’s featured product, the Aldebaran Baitcasting Reel from Shimano. Coming in at a smooth 4.7 ounces, don’t let the incredible light weight of this reel detract you from its durability, and with a magnesium frame and specialty crafted side-plate construction, this rod delivers even on your biggest catches. In addition to the light weight, the Aldebaran also comes fully equipped with both X-Shift gear construction for precision gear alignment and an SVS Infinity braking system that lets you control every inch of your line.

It’s not the incredible light weight of this reel that will really grab your attention however, or the extreme reactiveness of your line, but what really makes this reel out-spin the rest is the Shimano Stable Spool Design, better known as the Silent Tune, that is incorporated into every Aldebaran reel. This staple feature of this featured reel allows anglers to cast and reel with the smoothness of a spider spinning web, and can aid in those monster casts to catch the monster fish. A true pleasure to admire online and look at beneath the case, the reason behind all the fancy technology and terminology is only best represented when you hold it in your hands:

Alderbaran picedited

Come into Fin & Feather and check out the Aldebaran reel, as well as the many other Shimano reels we have in stock today.


Meet Your Local Land Trust: An Interview With Tammy Wright, Executive Director – Bur Oak Land Trust

The Bur Oak Land Trust, formerly known as the Johnson County Heritage Trust, has deep roots in the Iowa City community and its influences can be historically dated back to 1978. First created by a lost opportunity on land acquisition and subsequent missed addition to Hickory Hill Park, the Johnson County Heritage Trust was formed by pioneering community members, including the late Nancy Seiberling, and has continued to grow alongside Iowa City for nearly 40 years. To give everyone a little insight as to what a land trust is, and why it’s important to Iowa City and the surrounding communities (as well as why they changed their name), Tammy Wright, current Executive Director of the Bur Oak Land Trust was happy to give the inside scoop on why the Bur Oak Land Trust is here for the long haul:

Tammy Wright Profile Pic

Tammy Wright has been working with the Bur Oak Land Trust for 10 years and first started her conservation career with the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. She is currently the Executive of the Bur Oak Land Trust.


Fin & Feather: Put simply, what is a land trust and what is the Bur Oak Land Trust’s role within the community?

Bur Oak PropertiesTammy Wright
:There is some major definition of land trust that you can google, but in my mind, I say we are a non-profit land preservation organization. That’s what I describe us in a nutshell. We own nine properties and hold conservation easements* on 14 others, and our goal as an organization is to protect the properties that we already own.

*Editor’s Note: Conservation Easement Definition – “A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values. Landowners retain many of their rights, including the right to own and use the land, sell it and  pass it on to their heirs.” – Land Trust


F&F: You mention that a goal of the organization is to protect properties you already own, what are some of the considerations you take in regards to obtaining new property?

T.W.: If somebody wants to donate their property to us, we need to make sure  it is property that we have the capacity to take care of. There’s this big discussion about once you get land, you have to protect it, you have to take care of it, you can’t let it just be wild. So it’s this thing that if we don’t protect new land, even though we might not have the resources to take care of it right now, and it becomes asphalt, then it will never be protected. There’s this whole battle of do we just accept the land and wait until we have the resources to take care of it, or do we limit ourselves and let the property slip by because we can’t necessarily take care of today the way it needs to be taken care of.


F&F: In 2014, you changed your name from the Johnson County Heritage Trust to the Bur Oak Land Trust, would you care to elaborate on this name change?

T.W.: Johnson County Heritage Trust was a very confusing name. With Johnson County in our title, people not only thought we were limited by county boundaries, but it also made people think we were government-funded and a government entity, and why would they give money to a government entity?  With Heritage we had people thinking we were a historical society and we would get calls asking if we were interested in little treasures found in grandma’s attic. And Trust, because we didn’t have the word land with it, people thought we were a bank, so it was confusing in all kinds of areas and every place we went, nobody knew who we were and what we did.


F&F: So how did the organization decide on the name Bur Oak Land Trust?

Bur Oak Land Trust ImageT.W.: When we were talking about what to rename our land trust, we discussed a lot of different things, and landed on Bur Oak Land Trust. We thought it be the perfect name not only because the Bur Oak is the only tree native to all 99 counties in Iowa, but also because Bur Oaks are strong and mightyful , they have deep roots and its branches are far reaching, it was just the perfect visual that we wanted our organization to represent.


F&F: What are some of the ways people can volunteer with the Bur Oak Land Trust?

T.W.: First of all, we have excellent, very excellent, dedicated, hard-working and passionate volunteers, who without them we couldn’t do even half of what we do. That being said, probably the thing that we have the most need for is actually being out on the land, whether its pulling garlic mustard or coming out for the workdays, and with all the work that needs to be done, it really takes a team of people. Anytime we can get a group of people out on the property, it’s great, and we really need both leaders of the group and people to be in the group.I always try and ask people who are interested in volunteering, what do you like to do?– Because if you like what are you doing it will make them want to come back.

Editors Note: Tammy was quick to mention a long list of ways people can and do volunteer with the Bur Oak Land Trust, including office work and promotional materials. Whether it’s designing brochures or organizing a time or place for people to speak to a crowd on behalf of the Bur Oak Land Trust, Tammy made sure to point out that the options are nearly endless when it comes to volunteer opportunities.

Bur Oak Land Trust Volunteers


F&F: With another year nearly wrapping up this month, what’s in the future forecast for the Bur Oak Land Trust?

T.W.: Always a big consideration for the future is building our endowment, and that is important because of what makes us different than a lot of other non-profits. Our mission and our goal is to be here forever, perpetuity, and almost all other non-profits have a mission that is hopefully a shorter term. Once they achieve their mission, they’re done, and ideally there is no longer a need for their organization. I think that’s what every non-profit hopes to achieve, is that they’re no longer needed.

For the Bur Oak Land Trust, we have conservation easements that go on forever, and the property that we own, we are aiming to keep and steward forever. So we need to be able to build an endowment that is going to allow us to do that. It’s that long-term mission that I believe makes our organization special and unique.

 Editor’s Note: For more information on how to become a supporter of the Bur Oak Land Trust, and more information on the current properties they help protect, be sure to head on over to Bur Oak Land 




Pass on the Plastic Bag, Fin & Feather Donates a Nickel

No Plastic Bag ImageDitch the plastic disposable shopping bags this holiday season and help give back to the Iowa City community. That’s because for every plastic bag that goes unused at Fin & Feather, we donate 5 cents from the register to the Iowa City Hospice. We know what you’re thinking though, 5 cents? You can’t do much with 5 cents these days, but like the single speckle of dirt packed into the mountain, a little bit can add up to a lot.

Nickel 1Wrapping up the finals days of 2015, Fin & Feather had a record year of bag-less transactions, accumulating over $800 to donate to Hospice this holiday season. For the mathematicians out there, that’s roughly 16,000 nickels collected, which also means that’s roughly 16,000 plastic bags that never got used. Not too bad for a nickel at a time. So as you;re out and about, perusing all the amazing outdoor products at our store for the rest of the holiday season and all of 2016, remember to bring your own bag and we’ll see if we can’t set a new record next year.


IowaCityHospice_logoIowa City Hospice serves Johnson and six surrounding counties, and provides services of comfort, peace, and dignity to patients with incurable diseases, as well as support for their families. As a community-orientated, not-for-profit organization, Iowa City Hospice strives to offer services to everyone regardless of their financial background, and while they do rely and receive sizable community donations to keep their services running, every little bit of support helps, even one nickel at a time.

Wednesday’s Featured Product: the Skogsӧ Jacket

fjallraven skogsoAdaptability is the name of the game for this week’s featured product, the Skogsӧ Jacket from Fjӓllrӓven. That’s because this stylish jacket doesn’t only look good, but thanks to the innovative and exclusive G-1000 material that it’s made of, you can wear this jacket for any weather conditions you might encounter. Unlike many other winter jackets, the Skogsӧ Jacket and G-1000 material is made up of a strong cotton base, and despite what you might have heard about the dangers of cotton apparel on your adventures, it’s this cotton that makes the Skogsӧ jacket so versatile.


greenland waxG-1000 is made to be used in conjuction with Greenland Wax, and much like your downhill or cross country skis, that wax can be applied directly to the Skogsӧ Jacket depending on the weather conditions you are expecting. If it’s going to be wet and cold, apply more wax to add more weather proofing to your jacket, and if it’s going to be a sunny adventure with no wind to contend with, use the wax more sparingly to let the cotton breath and increase ventilation. This brilliantly simple and extraordinary comfortable solution to waterproofing cotton will change the way you think about your winter attire.

To learn more about G-1000, you can check out this short video from Fjӓllrӓven:




Brian Mildenstein Approved

Fjällräven, which means Arctic Fox in Swedish, was born in the mountains of Northern Sweden in a little town by the name of Örnsköldsvik. It all started in the 1950’s when 14 year-old Åke Nordin recognized the inefficiencies of modern backpacks. Built from a desire to travel further, Fjällräven became one of the first companies to commercially produce and distribute framed backpacks. The rest—as they probably say in Sweden—is history, and Fjällräven has continued to grow over the years to offer much more than just backpacks without ever forgetting why they make the products in the first place: to explore further.

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