Product Review
September 18th - 20th, 1997
The Thousand Mile March

To Fleece or Not to Fleece
Pick of the IFTD Show

by WebAngler

Here I am, in Denver two days before the exhibition floor opens. NWFly and I have arrived on Tuesday so we can be at the Convention Center for the seminars which begin Wednesday morning.

Our hotel is only 3 blocks from downtown so we walk to Denver's 16th Street Mall. This is a street which has been closed off to traffic and is dedicated to us, pedestrians. The street's middle strip has tables, benches and cement blocks to sit on. The sidewalks are wide and clean; they are also cement . . . feet killers.

NWFly and I walk down 16th street looking for a place to eat . . . the length of about 15 long city blocks. We find a nice sports bar with multiple televisions hanging from the ceiling that display 3 different sports channels. I'm getting dizzy trying to keep track of the three different events, at one time (No, it isn't the beer making me dizzy). Afterward, we walk back to the hotel.

Wednesday morning, the first Band-Aids go on my poor feet. We take a nice leisurely walk to Starbuck's for coffee. Then, we to walk the mile to the convention center for the first seminar. We walk back to the hotel.

After lunch, we walk to the center for the second seminar, then completing this... we walk back to the hotel, again. For an opening reception, we walk to the Marriott's. We walk back to Lady and Castwell's hotel room. We walk to our room. The show hasn't even started and I've walked more in these last 24 hours than I have in a year!

Thursday morning I run out of Band-Aids for blisters on feet . . .yikes! We join Lady and Castwell for yet another walk to the Convention Center . . . and the walk goes on!

On the first day, by the time I get to the door of the Exhibition Hall.. I'm hobbling, like a 90 year old . . .What a whimpy guy? Do I spend too much time at the computer? I ask myself.

Now... what does one do in an exhibition hall...? WALK!!! The four of us quickly become separated when I lagged behind. For a few hours, I'm lost in awe looking at all the fabulous booths. It's like a state fair but all about fly fishing.

Then, it happened. Eureka!! My eyes, catch sight of colorful, soft-looking fleece socks hanging from hooks in one of the booths. I'm mesmerized . . . My feet ache. I stand motionless in the pathway, in awe for the longest time. People have to walk around me. Finally, I hobble slowly to touch them and shamelessly drool over them. These, I am told, are for demonstration purposes only . . . NOT for sale until after the show. But, I continue to touch and obcess over these wonderful socks, anyway.

During the remainder of our time there, my sore feet keep taking me back to these nifty looking demo socks (my socks) again, and again. And, when, for the sake of my work, I must be elsewhere . . . I find myself looking for socks in EVERY booth in the show.

Letting my feet do the thinking, none of the other clothing booths encountered, look as attractive as the fleece ones. The most attractive of these fleece clothing booths is Black Mountain Outdoor Gear, a company from Pinellas Park, Florida. I spoke with the company's representative, Jay Wenzel, about this line. Their products have the greatest range of thickness, colors and designs displayed at the show. Jay tells me that his outdoor wear is available nationally, as well as, in Europe and Japan.

Black Mountain sells high-quality products made from the lightest materials, available. These extremely comfortable thermal materials are made into everything from socks to jac kets. There are also pants, vests, hoods, hats, mittens etc . . . all, sturdy outdoor items for the fly fisherman. In addition to these choices, there's a range of thickness the company offers along with a wide variety of colors and designs which include solids, prints and plaids. The plaid line is one that "Al Borland" (of the TV show "Tool Time") would die for! Finally, there's a camouflage line in 6 different color tones. I love the softness and obvious quality, as well as, the broad array of choices.

A few hours before the show officially ends, on Saturday afternoon, I finally get fleece socks to cover my feet (which by now also wear Band-Aids on Band-Aids). My new fleece socks do a great job of getting me through the last 10 hours of our walkathon!

In addition to the soothing socks, I got lucky with a coat from Jay's line at the Black Mountain Outdoor Gear booth, to use in my upcoming Chum Salmon fishing adventure. The one I chose has nylon on the shoulders for extra wind protection. I've never owned a jacket that's so light and warm, at the same time. I'm really looking forward to using it on future fishing outings, especially since the chilly fall weather in the Pacific Northwest is here to stay for awhile.

Have YOU had any good experiences with fleece wear? I'd be pleased to hear from you if you've got any thoughts on the subject. Just get back to me by posting a message on the Bulletin Board or catch me in the Chat Room.

Look for Their Logo When You're Out There!

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