Hydro Flask has released new sizes in their soft coolers and new bottle colors just in time for spring.
The new sized soft cooler back pack and tote in 15 L and 18 L respectfully are a more usable size down from the 22 L and 24 L sizes. The soft sided coolers are meant to offer a days worth of cooling that is easily portable. you choose if you plan to haul on your back, or as a tote.
The Unbound Series (TM) soft coolers are easy to transport, light weight, comfortable and keep items cold for up to 48 hours depending on the outside temperature. The Base of the cooler has added insulation for comfort and longer lasting cooling. The top and side pockets use leakproof zippers to keep water in and out. All the internal seams are welded and waterproof. All of this is backed with a 5 Year Warranty.
The new tote and pack come a a wide variety of colors. The new tote we tested starts at $224.95. These are very rugged 420D nylon that looks great and stands up to rough use against rocks, boats, and even kids. The additional pockets are very small and tight fitting. They work to hold wallets and keys and that’s about it.
A new line of colors for the popular cup coolers, bottles and sling just in time for spring.
The Cooler Cup has to be one of my new favorites. It works best with a 12 oz and the rubber top to hold the can secure. The rubber stabilizer can also be reversed to the bottom and the cooler used as a cup. I’ve also put a 16 oz. can in there with some additional work. It works well, not as good as a sealed Hydro Flask bottle but works surprisingly well.
If you have not tried a sling for your bottle they are a nice addition for hiking. There is a small pocket to stuff some cash or a car key. I’ve found myself using it a lot more than I though for short little hikes. It now comes in the new Maroon Brick color and a Blue Lagoon color.
The new sizes and colors from Hydro Flask are always exciting to see. If you have ever used a Hydro Flask bottle you know how well they work at keeping beverages hot or cold, if you have not, it’s time you try. We use them on a daily basis around the office and on adventure. In the winter hot chocolate and tea stay warm all day while we are skiing and snowboarding on the mountain. In the summer, they keep our water chilled while we are on the trails.
For larger excursions or more friends, the Unbound series of soft coolers make for a great portable cooler that is very comparable to the Yeti Hopper Backflip, Trooper LT or the Podster by Orca. The value, bulk and weight to cooling ratio make the Hydro Flask the perfect in between portable cooler.
You can see all the new colors in the Cooler, Bottles, and Cooler Cups in the link below:
This really is the headlamp we have been waiting for. It boast 330 Lumans, can run for 3.5 hours on high, or 40 hours on low. It cost only $49, is USB rechargeable, and has many lighting options including red flood for night expeditions.
BioLite HeadLamp 330 Review
BioLite launched a kickstarted back in September 2018. The lights are now readily available for purchase. BioLite sent us a light to test and provide our unbiased feedback.
The first, most notable, and possibly best feature of the light is the extremly low profile light. No more flopping around which makes this an excellent option for adventuring in the evening. Trail runners will love this headlamp that shifts the weight of the battery to the rear of the head strap and more evenly balances is when running. Runners will also like the SlimFit fabric that runs across the front of the headlamp, it’s soft and acts as a sweatband when worn against the forehead.
BioLite Headlamp Impressions
It’s hard to believe that such a compact and well packed light can boast run times of three and a half hours on high, and up to forty hours on low. I’ve used the headlamp a number of times around the house, on a recent camping trip to Sedona, and dawn patrolling in the Utah mountains.
The light is perfect for use around the house when re-lighting a pilot light in the water heater. While 330 Lumans can be a bit much when working on something close up, you can hold down the power button on the top of the light to infinatly dim or brighten the light.
BioLite Headlamp Modes
There are six modes for the headlamp. A red flood mode that is great for saving your adjusted eyes during the night. Bright flood mode for covering a large area, perfect for trail running. A white spot light that is great for close up working. There is also the diming function where you hold the power button and the light cycles through what feels like infinite levels of brightness. Lastly, there is a strobe function and a lock out function to prevent the light from turing on in a pack.
BioLite Headlamp Features
The light has a USB 900 mAh Lithium Ion rechargable battery. It is IPx 4 rated to be weather resistant, (Not waterproof) and weighs just 2.44 oz (69.17 g). There is a four light led that indicates the charge level of the headlamp when turned on or off.
Cons of the BioLite Headlamp
A few things we didn’t like about the new headlamp from BioLite is that its so small it can be hard to press the button with gloves on during a dawn patrol early in the morning. Additionally, the light functions can get confusing. Trying to remember if I’m suppose to double click, or hold it down to switch from one light to another had us guessing each time we tried to switch. It seems like every headlamp manufacture dose this a little different, so trying to remember usually took some time.
It may be to soon to say, but after years of using over 20 headlamps, this has to be one of the better and favorites I have used. The run times are excellent, I can leave it in my truck and top off the charge with a car USB charger. It’s a great value at $50, considering you wont be shelling out for rechargeable or alkaline AAA or AA batteries. I’ll have to see how it holds up over the years, but as for now this will be the first headlamp I grab when camping, dawn patrolling, night hiking, or just working on something around the house.
If you found our first look and review helpful, consider using the links below to purchase the headlamp from BioLite. We will get a small commission that helps us keep GearChase.com going. Also, dont forget to check out our homepage at GearChase.com for daily deals from hundreds of online outdoor retailers.
We recently had a chance to try out some Topo Designs products for the first time. In a travel fashionable category similar to GoRuck, Herschel, Fjällräven, and Tom Bihn. Topo Designs is known for their travel packs and clothing. They make very stylish travel bags as well as fashion/functional clothing. Topo Designs was started in 2008 by co-founders Jedd Rose and Mark Hansen. The idea of an alternative outdoor gear company was born. Rose began to design and sew packs in his Fort Collins, CO basement while Hansen took to the streets for partners. Focused around durability, beauty and function, Topo Designs products are as fashionable on the trail as they are in the pub. Topo Designs backpacks and clothing seem simple from first glance, but it’s the small details like hidden stash pockets, and hanging loops on travel shirts that are stand outs for Topo.
Topo Designs Reviews
There are many great reviews on the web of unbiased opinions of the quality and style of the products. Just take a look at what the Male Fashion Advice Reddit community has to say:
Topo Designs Jeans, Pants, Shirts, Sweaters and Fleece
Currently Topo Designs has many different clothing products for men, women from tops, bottoms, coats and jackets, to hats and other accessories. Their backpacks and bags range from work bags and travel bags to backpacks and hip packs.
Topo Designs Wool Long Sleeve Tee Review ($98 Retail)
I have been wearing the Wool Tee Long Sleeve for the last month or so. I’ve worn it as a simple shirt, backcountry skiing, cold weather biking, and packed it many times using the PackFast™ Packing Band to throw in a gym bag, or pack for an additional layering option. The Merino wool is very soft and with the added Spandex is a perfect layering option when active.
There have been a few reviews on Topo Designs website about the Tee shrinking after washing. I have been careful washing it on gentle with cold water and allowing to air dry and do not feel that the tee has shrunk at all. You can read all the reviews here.
The overall fit is true to size. I am 5’10” and weigh about 160 lb. I am wearing the Medium and feel that it is a perfect fit. However, if I were afraid of accidentally shrinking the Tee I would size up to a Large.
Topo Designs Tech Pants Review ($119 Retail)
The Topo Designs Tech Pants are a popular style and fit for any outdoor activity. I’ve been wearing them to the office, climbing gym, camping and hiking. The Cinch cord at the ankle make them perfect for climbing in, or for cooling off. The added DWR finish make them a great adventure pant, that resist stains and water well. The front pockets are flat and don’t hold a lot more than a phone or wallet. The rear pocket are open and fit flat as well. They are accompanied by a small zipper pocket perfect for stashing valuables.
The pants pack well, and often are included in my day pack as a light weight alternative lounge pant. The two way stretch is across the leg, not from top to bottom.
As mentioned above I am 5’10” about 160 lb. I am wearing size medium and they are a perfect fit.
Topo Designs daypacks, backpacks, pants, shirts and other clothing and accessories can be purchased directly from their website. Additionally, Topo Designs is distributed through some amazing retailers like Amazon.com, REI.com and Nordstorms.
Finding Topo Designs clothing and packs on sale are best around holidays, for example they are currently offering free US Shipping.
Topo Designs Conclusion
Topo Designs is a great fashionable alternate to the standard outdoor gear. It is backed by their MAP Guarantee™. The future for Topo Designs looks bright, have a look at their website for the complete line of clothing and travel packs.
KUIU’s new Venture 2300 day pack has quickly become my favorite pack for short day long outings when I want an internal framed pack for load support and comfort. The pack weighs in at 3 lbs 9.4 oz. It measured about 22 inch tall and 11.5 inches wide when empty. It is constructed of top quality Courdura 500D fabric to prevent wear and damage in rough rocks and branch terrain. The overall volume of the pack is 2300 cubic inches vs. the Venture 1800 version that is a little smaller. The pack comes in 2 sizes Medium and Large for different waist sizes. If you are looking for a larger pack with similar design, features and quality check out the KUIU Icon Pro 3200. Optional gun and bow holders can be attached which make for the best hunting backpack.
The Venture pack from KUIU is designed to be a larger sized capable pack for use on day trips, although when traveling light I’ve been able to use it for overnight trips as well. The pack caters to the hunter that wants comfort, versatility, and quality. The backpack offers ample internal and external pockets, compression straps, tie down points, and modularity.
Choosing the right size KUIU Backpack
Initial Out of the Box
I’ve got to use the KUIU Venture 2300 on a couple day outings in the last month that I have owned it. Some of the first things I noticed when I put the pack on was the lumbar support. After always fighting lower back pain, it felt good to have a really well fitting back panel, with the right curve to match my back. The thought that went into the entire pack; as you start using the pack you see why zippers were placed the way they were and how the pack easily opens for access, even when loaded. The hip and shoulder straps are really well made with a lot of though into the stabilization and comfort when wearing the pack.
In the field
With the pack loaded up with about 30 lb of gear, it feels stable and easy to adjustable for a typical day in the brush. I am typically one the starts and stops a lot. I remove my pack and put it back on many times through out the day. Each attachment point with adjustability had store away straps for extra webbing, which made the pack easy to attach and remove without webbing catching or tangling all over the pack. I like how the pack tapers down from top to bottom, this allows for adjusting weight more evenly, and packing the necessaries where they are more easily accessible.
The top pocket of the Venture 2300 is one I use the most for storing scopes, snacks, glasses, etc. It’s sized much larger than typical packs in this category. The size elastic pockets are perfect for water bottle storage. I do wish they were slightly angled forward to make it easier to insert and remove items without having to remove the pack. The external large vertical pocket was perfect for holding additional clothing, it was easily accessible, large volume to hold rain gear, gloves, and a down sweater. The large D-Ring zipper make is easy to open even with cold hands. The internal zipper pocket were a great addition, that a lot of packs in similar category leave out. It was great when laying the pack on the ground and opening the U shaped flap, it lays flat with access to the mesh pockets that also have large oversize zipper pulls.
The bladder sleeve held all of our bladders from Camelback and Platypus up to 3 liter. There is a standard attachment clip inside the pack for hanging the hydration bladder. The hose can be fed through a small zipper in the middle top of the pack. On the shoulder straps there are KUIU branded loops to thread the hydration hose through to keep it out of the way when not in use.
While the KUIU Venture pack has been one of my favorites to date, it has a few things worth mentioning. The Courdoura fabric can be a bit noisy. The sizing can be a bit confusing when ordering a pack, watching the KUIU sizing video above can help a little. The compression strap dilemma, most packs suffer from having to undo the compression straps to fully open the pack. However, to be fair, KUIU Venture design with separate connecting and removable compression straps on the front of the pack as well as the side make it less annoying having to pack and unpack any gear attached to the outside of the pack.
For a quality, feature filled pack that is well worth the price tag the any of the Venture packs from KUIU are a great option. The internal frames and ample compression as well as organization and quick access pockets make it a win.
The KUIU Super Down ULTRA Hooded Jacket is a top of the line down insulated jacket with hood designed as a mid layer to be worn under a more durable shell. The KUIU ULTRA Jacket is completely packable down to a 6 inch by 6 inch pocket for super easy packability and storage once the morning chill wears off. The lightweight of the ULTRA jacket, small packable size as well as the warmth to weight ratio make it a great option for always having in a pack for inclement weather.
I am currently wearing a size large, that fits true to size for most large sized down jackets of similar weight. The lighter fill weight of the jacket makes it work well as a mid-layer. It allows you to maintain mobility when worn alone, or as an insulating layer. The sleeves fit standard for average sized, the chest and stomach fit a little larger than average. I weigh about 160lb, and would have gotten the size Medium if I was always planning to wear as a mid-layer. However, I like to wear the KUIU Ultra alone as a jacket and feel the large is a better option for this. It’s notable that there is a small Velcro latch on the back of the hood for pulling the upper portion of the hood back away from the face. When combined with the hood drawstrings, the hood can be cinched to move with your head and out of view. It’s worth noting that the Ultra jacket doesn’t have pit zips or chest pockets. These are two features some consider a necessities on a mid layer. Around the wrist is tight fitting elastic for holding the sleeves in place when adding a layer. They also work well keeping a draft out of the jacket and snow from getting in the arms. The bottom of the jacket has an elastic adjustable band for sealing out drafts. The hood also has a draw cord for reducing heat loss.
If you are looking at purchasing the KUIU Super Down ULTRA Hooded jacket you likely are at least familiar with the warmth to weight ratio of down, DWR treated down to help maintain loft and warmth when wet, fill weight and Fill power. If not here is a quick rundown of the Down used in the KUIU ULTRA Jacket. The Jacket is filled with premium 850+ goose down. 850 down is top quality down that provides really good warmth to the amount of down that is used. The Down is treated with DWR that makes the down completely waterproofs. It will remain dry, maintain loft, which continues to trap air and warmth.
KUIU Alternate to Down Filled Jacket
KUIU has a wide variety of jackets to meet many elements and climates. If you are looking for a different price range, or something that may be more suited for wet, cold, rain, etc. be sure to check out their KUIU Jacket Comparison Guide. There are many reasons to choose a down filled jacket vs a synthetic jacket for warmth. You will definitely pay more for a down filled jacket, but in my opinion the warmth to weight ratio is worth the added cost. However, the care for a synthetic insulation, cost, durability, warmth when wet, are all valid arguments for synthetic.
I always get anxiety wearing lightweight down jackets, especially with the cost of a high quality product. The lightweight material can easily catch a tree branch and tear a hole. The KUIU Super Down is made with Toray stretch fabric to reduce the risk of damage. The Toray Stunner fabric feels very similar to most down jacket with a slick lightweigh feeling. You will notice a bit more give/stretch to the coat. It’s still a little noisy, and if you are looking for something a little quieter, I would recommend the Kenai Ultra hooded jacket. It’s a synthetic jacket very similar to the Super down ultra.
One of the biggest arguments for Down in my opinion is weight and packability. It’s pretty amazing something can pack down so small, and be compressed even smaller in a pack if needed, yet provide so much warmth and protection. I always have a down jacket in my pack for emergencies. They weigh almost nothing, take up so little room and can be a real life saver in the case of an emergency. The picture below shows the jacket compressed into its stow-able pocket.
The claim is the with Pedaling Innovation Catalyst Pedal is that by moving your foot forward on the pedal and having your arch supported at both ends, you can generate more power.
The second claim by Pedaling Innovation Catalyst Pedal is that you can pedal more efficiently. By placing the foot in the middle of the pedal, stress is taken off the ankle and allows for better actuation from the hips.
Pedaling Stability and Comfort
The last claim from Pedaling Innovation about the Catalyst Pedal is that by having your foot balanced stability and comfort is improved.
James Wilson operates MTB Strenth Training Systems and after years of coaching mounting biking strength training he discovered a missing link between the rider and the bike. James discovered that similar to barefoot weight lifting movements could also be applied to biking. The translation of this to biking was the Catalyst pedal. It is a large long oversized (143 mm long, 95 mm wide, and 16 mm thick) pedal weighing in at 505 grams and costing $99. The pedals are made from heat treated 6061 T6 aluminum. They are manufactured by VP Components a trusted name in the bike industry for years. They have single DU bushing and dual sealed bearings. The spindle is a heat treated Cr-Mo standard 6 mm Allen. The pedals have a staggering 18 pins per side at each end of the pedal to connect to the shoe on each end of the arch. Additional 8 mm replacement pins are included for additional traction.
This video from Pedaling Innovation founder James Wilson explains his science behind this new pedal design and theory.
My review experience on Pedaling Innovations Catalyst Pedals
I was introduced to Pedal Innovation in early 2018 when I was demoing a bike for the day with Pedal Innovation Pedals on it. The unusual size and shape caught my attention and wanted to know more. I went over to pedaling Innovations website and researched a the theory and logic behind the oversized mountain bike pedal.
My current go to flat pedal is the crank brothers stamp 3. An already large pedal that I have grown to love. Riding smaller flat pedals just feels weird now. But the Catalyst Pedal is suppose to be more than just an oversized pedal, it’s a new idea, of getting off the balls of your feet and into the middle of the foot on the pedal.
In the box
Inside the box there are instructions on foot placement, the pedals, and extra long pins.
Having been fighting knee problems for years I can’t spend more that a couple hours on a set of clipless pedals. I’ve found the freedom and “float” offered with flats allow me to adjust my foot to different locations on the pedal to relieve stress, use different muscles, and offer a rest to other muscles. This seemed to help and allow me to go on much longer 3 to 4 hour rides without the fear of pain. Pedaling Innovations seemed like an obvious solution or at least a viable option to extend my rides, and reduce my discomfort.
I’ve now put about a hundred miles on the pedals. Climbing and descending felt much different with the pedal axis under the arch of the foot. Driving through the middle of the foot as opposed to the ball of the foot took some real getting use to. Right away I didn’t feel like I could generate as much power as I did from the ball of my foot. I did however, noticed a feeling of more stability and control when climbing and descending.
As read in other online reviews of the Pedaling Innovation Catalyst pedals I too had a problem keeping my heels down when descending. I would find when hammering through a rough section, my heels would begin to bounce off the back pins. This isn’t something I’ve experienced with my other pedals. I am going to continue working on this technique to find a placement to see if this improves overtime, and will keep this updated.
As for the claim of more power, I didn’t feel like I was generating more, but perceived power is always a hard to gauge. I don’t currently ride with a power meter on the mountain bike, but I would love to have some real data on the actual watt output when compared to conventional flat pedals.
Compared to standard pedals
In the photo below I compare the length of the Catalyst Pedal to the Crankbrothers Stamp 3 (which is a big pedal). You can see the Catalyst extends well beyond the length of the Stamps. They are approximately the same width.
I ordered the Keen Presidio II Mary Jane shoes in my normal size and the length is perfect. The heel is a little loose but then, I have a narrow heel. There doesn’t seem to be an option of ordering these in narrow, which I sometimes do to prevent a sloppy heel. I am not too worried, as the strap keeps the shoe on, even with a slightly loose heel. It also gives me the option of wearing a nice wooly sock with the shoes in colder weather.
One of my favorite features of all Keen shoes that I have tried is the internal support mechanism that provides excellent arch support. In fact, my podiatrist specifically recommends Keen shoes for this feature. This shoe did not disappoint. The ESS shank offers rigid, but lightweight stability in the mid foot. If I want, I can remove the insole and insert my custom orthotics and the shoe still fits comfortably. However, I often don’t bother wearing my orthotics in Keen shoes because the arch support in the shoes is so effective.
The upper part of the shoe is full grain leather which is supposed to be water repellent. However, if I was to wear these outside on a wet day, I would probably want to treat them with a waterproof spray to prevent stains.
The outer sole is made of non-marking rubber that leaves no skid marks on the floor. However, the tread is pretty tough looking which gives me a real feeling of stability on slick floors. The inside of the foot bed is a soft suede which makes it very comfortable to wear.
I love Keen Mary Jane shoes. They can be used to dress up or dress down. They look great with jeans, or dress pants or even a skirt. I’ve worn them with soft, wooly socks in the winter and tights with a skirt. They are really a practical, versatile shoe. When I first saw the two-tone look with black uppers and a grey lower sole, I was afraid they would look too sporty to wear with a casual skirt, however I did not get that feel when I tried it with a skirt.
When I wear my Keen Mary Jane shoes, I can almost always count of someone saying, “ cute shoes!” or “Where did you get those shoes?”.
The strap has a stylish buckle and is attached with an elastic loop to give a little more stretch in finding a comfortable fit.
The wide toe box gives lots of room for toes! Even with toes that are crooked, or have other issues will fit comfortably in these shoes. Again, the arch support makes for no pain in my foot, even after wearing the shoes all day.
I wore the shoes for the first time for 12 hours and it never felt like I was just breaking them in. They were comfortable all day long.
Again, my only complaint was the heel being a little loose, but the strap has 5 holes in it, so I just cinched it up a little tighter, on the next to the last hole, and the shoe stayed on my foot just fine.
The Keen Newport is one of the most popular adventure sandals, and for good reason. It’s been one of Keen’s staples for years. The Keen Newport H2 takes the original Keen Newport and made it water friendly. The grip of the sandal was improved for walking through rivers and wet rocks. It is arguably the most popular adventure sandal to ever hit the outdoor market.
The H2 Newport looks very similar to the ever popular Newport, however instead of leather straps, they have been replaced with neoprene and nylon for a quicker drying sandal. It’s categorized as a closed toe sandal. There are not a lot of other closed toe sandals that offer the same protection. The Teva Omnium, Ahnu Tilden Sport, Merrell All Out Blaze water shoe are a few other competitors. That you may want to look into when considering the Keen Newport H2.
I found that the Newport sandals are a great all around sandal for travel if you only want to bring one pair of shoes/sandals but want the convenience of both. The Newports are comfortable enough for long pavement walks, but when the trail ends, the sandals keep going. They easily adapt to a water shoe when hiking riverbeds, or caught in rain storms. The security of the full wrap around the foot prevents foot slip in the sandal when wet.
The Keen Newport H2 would be a good recommendation for someone looking to travel light and wanted the convenience of shoes and sandals. Additionally, when anticipating water crossings, or wet conditions the Newport can still provide stability of a hiking shoe with full water traction. This is ideal for rafting, and boating. The Newport H2 can also be used was an everyday sandal. With controversy, it can be worn with socks to help prevent sweating feet, and additional comfort.
The uppers are made from neoprene, nylon webbing and a Aegis microbe shield. The same elastic cord is used instead of laces. The mesh lining helps the sandals to dry out quicker when on the feet. The top of the shoe has a synthetic material to back the elastic lacing system. The sandals are easy on and off with a quick push button lacing system. The heel loop makes pulling the sandal on easy even when wet.
The sole feels a little harsh the first time wearing the Newport H2. It seemed to soften up a bit after wearing them for about a week. There is good arch support, and plenty of extra room in the toe-box as is typical in most Keen shoes. The Newport uses the classic Vibram sole rubber, which performs very well in wet and dry conditions. The sole is also siped for improved wet ground traction. The tread pattern works well in most conditions, however, in some scrambling up loose or slightly muddy the bite isn’t as aggressive as would expect from an adventure sandal. However, this also comes at the price of an all around sandal that can be worn from street to trail.
The mid-sole is not as forgiving as you would expect. The stiffer mid-sole makes walking on rocks and through riverbeds more confident. The mid sole is made from a compression molded foam, and contoured to match the arch and ball of the foot. You will notice the classic patented round toe protection. There have been other reviews online where the mid-sole has detached. I have not seen any indication of separation from the sole and mid-sole in my months of use.
The bed of the Newport sandal is closed cell foam that is coated to prevent stench from sweaty feet. Its softens over time, provides waterproof foot foundation. The foot-bed is also surprisingly stable when wet. As with a lot of sandals when they become wet they are slippery in the foot-bed. The Newport uppers and the foot-bed keep the foot in place and keep stability even when wet.
It is worth pointing out that these are sized about 1/2 size too small. I can confirm ordering up 1/2 size is highly recommended. The sandal feels as though there is a lot of additional room in the toe-box. I have smaller width, flat feet, and felt a lot of movement which allows the toes to splay out. There were a few hot spots from the sandals right out of the box for me around the ankle, but once they broke in it was less of an issue.
After spending a few months around town, a few hikes and some water walks the H2 Newport are a very comfortable sandal for the protection. Having very flat feet, I did get a hot spot under my arch, and around the ankle entry that I am still hoping will go away as they break in more. The closed toe design provides protection from stubbing toes in rocky riverbeds. The neoprene inner of the sandal dry quickly, prevent chafing from the nylon webbing, and provide stretch in the sandal.
Weight: 14.2 oz/402.6 g
Activity: Hiking, Beach, Watersports
Activities: Beach, Hiking, Paddle, Sailing
Upper: Washable polyester webbing
Lining: Hydrophobic mesh
Rubber: Non-marking rubber outsole with razor siping
Fit Tip: This style is running a 1/2 small. We suggest ordering a 1/2 size larger than your usual size!
Measurement Note: Our measurements were taken using a Men’s size 9 US (42.0 EU). Measurements may vary by size.
The Keen Newport H2 is a great shoe for someone looking for a multi-purpose sandal that can be worn around town or out for adventure. It’s a shoe that can be worn for 3 seasons. The value for the shoe is there for the right person.
The ROKA GP-1X is a larger version of the ROKA GP-1 made for full coverage and demands of long sunny and heated days on two wheels. With features like rubberized customization nose pieces and ribbed ear pieces, the light weight glasses are meant to stay in place even under the rigors of all day rides. The sunglasses are ultra light weight, have full spectrum coverage, and look pretty good too. The ear pieces and under-rim provide stability and structure to the glasses while the wide angle lens provide eye protection from both the sun and rouge debris.
ROKA – GP-1X Lens
The lens of the GP-1x cycling sunglasses are coated on both the back and front of the glasses. Coatings are applied to build up performance and transmission. A hydroleophobic coating helps keeps moisture off the lens. Additionally, an anti-scratch protective layer, an anti-reflective layer, anti-fog and mirror or polarization layers are added depending on which of the 4 lens options you choose.
The over-sized fit is something I have grown to love in riding glasses, from keeping the wind and dust out of my eyes to preventing blinding sunlight from odd angles. With a full 140mm width and 57mm height the coverage is huge, just the way I like it. At only 26 Grams (confirmed actual weight), they feel great on the face even after wearing them all day.
The GP-1X ear pieces are made from a titanium core wire and wrapped in what ROKA calls GEKO(TM) retention for keeping the glasses in place for all sports.
ROKA GP-1X Nose Piece
There are 3 optional sizes for the Removable GEKO Nose pad. The GEKO tech offers a custom fit that secures the nose glasses to most face shapes.
Here is more on the ROKA GEKO Patented Fit system
As well as a two year limited warranty against material defects or workmanship. ROKA also offers 100% satisfaction guarantee for 30 days if returned in new, unused condition for a refund or like-for-like exchange. You will have to pay the shipping for returns. Even better, is the Home Try-On program they offer. You can have 4 pair of their sunglasses sent to you for 7 days. Keep what you want, and the shipping cost is applied to the glasses.
Having tried hundres of sunglasses, and at least 30+ cycling glasses the ROKA GP-1x are very near the top of my list as my favorites. I really like the look of them, the oversized coverage, the GEKO grip, and just how light weight, flexible and comfortable they are. The lens are very much premium quality with both clarity and protection. These are a priemum cycling sunglass, and not everyone is going to spend $220 for a pare of cycling glasses, but if you are looking for the best, in performance, coverage, and weight. It’s worth checking out the ROKA GP-1x.
Otterbox has entered the game of premium coolers that was once dominated by the name Yeti. It seems now that there are a large amount of options for premium coolers that claim to keep ice for weeks. If your going to spend hundreds of dollars on a cooler, you should be expecting the best. A name notorious for phone protection has stepped up to the plate and hit a home run with their Otterbox Venture coolers. They are a beautiful looking cooler, with the Otterbox feeling to them. The construction is extremely rugged and solid. In addition to the cooler looks it also offers a modular design for adding on cutting boards, drink holders, bottle openers and dry storage.
The Venture cooler series from Otterbox has to be one of our favorite premium coolers to look at. It’s design features clean rugged look with eye catching details like the mountains on the underside of the lid, and molded handles. The color choice of white and blue are optimal for cooling and look great, but offered in a variety of colors and prints. The cooler seals tight thanks to the giant rubber ring around the lid that seals water and ice in the chest.
The inside of the Venture coolers are slightly tapered, and angled for draining water from the large drain plug. The cooler features two inches of refrigerated grade insulation foam through the cooler. There are literally hundreds of videos on youtube comparing these coolers and true ice retention, so we won’t bore you with another. If you want to spend the next 24 hours watching them you can see them all here.
One of our favorite design features is the latches on the Otterbox Venture coolers. If you have used other coolers, you know how awkward it can be to latch coolers when they are on the ground. Because the latches on the Venture coolers latch up, its much easier to open and close the cooler. They are easy enough for kids to use them, and provide a solid feel to them when closed.
There is also a small hole that continues through the latch. This provides a location to install a long lock to secure the cooler, and enhance its bear resistance.
The latch lay flat when not used to keep the cooler closed. They remain out of the way unless you have the bottle opener or another accessory installed under them. In that case the latch will rest on the accessory installed below.
It has durable rubber feet that keep it from sliding around in a boat or back of a truck. If that is not enough, Otterbox sales a retention strap (basically a tie-down) to further secure the cooler for transportation.
The handles on the Venture cooler are burly, but can get in the way when packing. Because the handles are molded into the cooler they don’t lay flat and it makes packing the cooler tight next to other objects a bit harder. Some coolers handles store away flat to the side of the cooler. If you are planning to pack the cooler tight in the back of a truck keep this in mind.
The Venture coolers are big and bulky. They usually take two people to move them. The fixed handles do make it easier and more secure when swinging the cooler in or out of a boat.
Otterbox Venture Cooler Sizes and Capacity
The Venture cooler comes in three sizes, the 25, 45 and 65 quart. These are true measurements, unlike some of the claims made by competitors. We recently saw a price drop of about $50 on the Otterbox coolers. Additionally, they have been seen on sale on GearChase.com from retailers like REI.com and CampSaver.com
A growing concern in the backcountry is bear, they smell food and come looking for it. Otterbox like other cooler brands claim the bear resistent. Having put their coolers through the test they earned the IGBC Certification No. 5155 in June 2017. You can read more about the bear testing done here.
Otterbox Cooler Accessories
Otterbox has a variety of accessories, that can be added to the cooler for modularizing the use of it. Although the accessories can be expensive, it offers a lot more variety a side from other coolers.
Here you can see the accessories all working together on the Otterbox cooler. The cutting board can be used inside the cooler or stored on the side table. The table and drink holder simply drops into the handle. It’s not super sturdy and I could see a little kid pulling on it and breaking off the mounting brackets.
Here is a list of all the accessories Otterbox offers for their coolers
It’s hard not to compare the Otterbox Venture coolers to the Yeti Tundra Coolers. They both claim keeping ice for 14 days, have great build quality, and keep stuff cold for a really long time. Both the Otterbox and Yeti coolers are bear resistant and they cost about the same. I think the Otterbox edges the Yeti out with the closure system, and overall look and design of the cooler. Honestly, they are both really great coolers, and you would be happy to have either cooler on a long trek to keep your food cold.
Otterbox Warranty and Manufacturing
Limited Lifetime Warranty
Covers defects in manufacturing, material and/or workmanship under normal use and service for the lifetime of the product.
Otterbox Coolers are manufactures in the USA. Designed in Fort Collins, CO. Made in Detroit, MI. You know this is one tough cooler.
Otterbox Venture Cooler Conclusion
The new Venture series coolers offered by Otterbox are just what we were looking for in a cooler. Not everyone needs a $300 cooler, but if you spend long over a week away from the ice box in the direct heat of the sun, it can be easy to justify the cost. We love heading to Lake Powell in Utah where we spend many days away from ice. The Otterbox Venture is exactly what we need to keep food and liquids cold for over a week while we are camping or on a house boat. The build quality is top notch, and with all the accessories the Venture is out goto cooler for longer treks. There are a few down sides to the the Otterbox a side from the price point worth noting. The Venture 45 and Venture 65 coolers are almost always a two man job to move. The Venture 65 weighs almost 30 lb with nothing in it, add ice, drinks, and food, and it’s easily over 100 lb. Also worth noting, if you order your cooler from Otterbox.com, you can get free shipping.
XX2i Optics has been know as a great value sunglasses company catering to outdoor enthusiast who enjoy running, cycling, angling, and more. We have been using the France2 sunglasses for cycling over the last couple months and really enjoyed them, but had some complaints. too. Above, you can see what is included in the box,
3 sets of lenses
3 sets of nose pieces and temple rubbers
Cleaning cloth and storage pouch for lens and glasses
Tool for changing nose piece
The sunglasses are very adjustable with the ear pieces and nose adjustment. You can bend and shape them to fit your face. I have a larger face, so i was able to open the nose piece up more to get the glasses centered around my eye. This is something I’ve always hard a hard time with glasses that don’t offer adjustability. The frames are made from hard light weight plastic that are flexible enough to easily pop the lens in and out.
The lens were very easy to swap out and felt very secure once a new set was “clicked” in. I didn’t anticipate how often I would be swapping out the lenses. I end up riding a lot around dusk and typically bring a light with me. I will take all three sets of lens with me. Riding the darker lens when I start my ride, switching to the medium lens at dusk, then the clear lens for night.
The nose piece is attached by two small screws. Even with the small tool provided, it took longer than expected to switch the nose piece color. It’s not something I plan on doing very often so it wasn’t a huge complaint. The lens were high quality and offered a clear view and protection from the sun.
My biggest complaint about the glasses comes around the size. These are considered a larger frame set of sunglasses, but they are still too small for my face. I like to have my sunglasses provide a substantial amount of wind and sun blocking. The glasses while adjustable still allowed for a lot of air to enter under the lens into my eyes. Additionally, riding at dusk parallel to the sun I noticed that the glasses didn’t extend far enough to the outside of my face, and the sun shone directly into the corner of my eye.
The case is another great value for these sunglasses. Its something I can throw in a bike bag, or even the back pocket of a jersey. Sunglasses costing twice as much don’t come with cases this nice.
I think the number one most stand our feature of these sunglasses is their warranty. “Lifetime Warranty! No questions asked, you break or scratch them, send them back to be replaced for a nominal shipping and handling fee! ” and their return policy “XX2i orders have a 365 day return policy! If you are not happy for any reason, simply send your order back with a copy of the invoice and we’ll credit you in full. (less any shipping and handling fees, please note you would like full credit on your invoice)”
Overall these are an exceptional value for the price. With their return policy, you can try them out for just the cost of shipping and handling. If you can’t swallow paying over $200 for a set of sunglasses that always seem to end up getting scratched, broken, or lost then XX2i are a great option for you.
I have been riding the Gore Wear all mountain short about 10 times over the last month. They are a unique style not commonly seen in the states with a long slender Euro cut to them, and a high waist ut took some getting use to. An all mountain biking short from a name like Gore, you know is going to be a quality build with all the bells and whistles. While this bike short doesn’t come with a chamois, it’s fairly reasonably priced at about $150 retail for what you are getting.
2 Way front zipper vent
Tough enough for laps in the park, but comfortable enough for all day rides
Long 14 inch inseam for better coverage
Zipper pockets on both sides
Ventilation zippers for heat management and room for pads
Stretch panel in hips and rear for comfort
Adjustable waistband with velcro
The front of the short takes some innovation from the top of the line road kits with a multi panel construction. The dark black close to the inside hip is a breathable mesh that still is holding up strong. The inner legs have a silky smooth abrasion resistant feel to them. The material slides very smoothly when peddling. The grey panels of the shorts have a semi stretch to them in a material similar to a tough swim suit, and overall feel very durable.
The back side of the C5 mountain bike shorts are made of an abrasive resistant material that has been standing up well to the 50+ hours I’ve had them against the saddle.
There is a unique venting zipper that can be opened from the top or bottom of the zipper. Also, shown is a oversize pocket on the side, big enough to hold even large cell phones.
When opening from the top it keeps the shorts tight against the leg while allowing venting to the rest of the shorts. The dark black you see through the mesh is my chamois.
When opening the shorts from the bottom you get a bit more flair out of the shorts. I like to ride knee pads most of the time and have found that I need to leave a couple inches unzipped just to get the shorts over my pads, because of the long slender fit.
There is a waist Velcro adjustment and show are the other zippers on the shorts. These are defiantly a premium short made with 95% Polyamide and 5% Elastane on the outer shell. The internal is soft Polyester. They are machine washable, and have held up well in the washer and dryer.
We had a chance to try out the Brazil Matt Tortoise sunglasses with polarized lens from XX2i recently and wanted to share our take on this classic design.
XX2i offers some really great glasses at a great value. They are miles a head of the cheap gas station sunglasses you buy, but are paying the huge premium for some of the big names in the optics industry. With all the same features including polarized lenses, UVA and UVB blocking, color popping view, and a really nice semi-hard case, these are a really good value for the price.
In the photo, you can see how the lens really add a dramatic effect to the view. The leaves look greener, and colors pop.
The glasses are a medium fit. I have a bigger head, and like a bigger set of sunglasses. These were a little right behind the ears for me. The fixed nose piece was very comfortable, and they stayed in place, even with sunscreen and sweat on the nose.
The lens are really great on these glasses if you like that sort of faux reality. Hiking seems to come life, behind these lens. They also look great with the tortoise color frames and blue mirror lenses.
XX2i offers a no question asked warranty. Seriously, scratch them, sit on them, just pay shipping and handling to get a replacement!
Additionally, they offer 365 days to try them out. Again, seriously take a year to try them in all conditions if you dont like them send them back for a full refund minus shipping and handling.
These are on sale right now for $34.99, really good value for that price.
The hooded waterproof jacket is made for all outdoor activities you might get caught in the rain, or need some quick protection. The Gore-Tex material offers superior waterproofing and breathability while still providing wind blocking. Gore Wear offers top of the line waterproofing for athletes that need a strong, breathable, functional all around jacket.
There is a front pocket that looks small, but held our oversizeds smartphone without issue. The pocket is also mesh on the inside so you don’t end up fogged up camera. This is the only pocket on the jacket.
As you can see the jacket doesn’t sit as low on the back as a cycling specific jacket, but offers just enough protection to keep your top half dry. The wrist are highlighted with yellow reflective strips. I was riding a size large jacket and like the extra room to move around in the jacket. The Gore Active Jacket has also become my mountain bike go to jacket. It packs down so small, I can throw it in a waist pack and take it with me whenever dark clouds are in the sky.
The selves are nice and long and I didn’t feel any pulling in the shoulders or across the back.
The jacket fits tight around the waist and did ride up on the waist a little when peddling, this is just a sacrifice for having a dual purpose jacket. There is a slight drop in the tail but very minimal.
The Gore Gore-tex (I know it’s confusing) keeps you dry. In our testing we went out in full on downpour. Shoes were filled with water, chamois, knee warmers and socks were soaked, but everything under the jacket was dry and protected. The Gore C5 Active hood jacket is very thin, but still provides some protection from the wind. By the end of an hour ride in the heavy rain and about 60 degree Fahrenheit weather was pretty cold with just a jersey on underneath. The Gore-Tex kept my jersey, phone, wallet all dry.
You can really see just how well the water beads up on the Gore-Tex fabric. The outer fabric is treated with DWR for waterproof and windproofing. Also, the inside of the jacket is coated with a Gore-Tex membrane for additional protection.
It’s worth pointing out if you are buying this for a biking specific jacket, it barely covered the back of our jersey. It however works very well as an all around waterproof jacket for multiple sports.
GORE C5 Hood
It’s worth pointing out is the hood on the C5 Active jacket is not meant to fit over helmets. However, it can be worn under a helmet in an emergency.
After a ride with the helmet on top of the hood, you can see it kind of pushes water into the fabric and through the DWR Gore-Tex coating. However, on the underside the jacket stayed dry.
It’s not a cheap jacket at $279 retail price but as for superior waterproof and breathable jacket for both cycling and running, it’s hard to beat. It’s super light weight, easily packable to bring along if rain is in the forecast. I’ve tested quite a few waterproof jackets over the years, and as for weight, waterproofing and breathability it’s hard to beat the Gore Active Jacket. Some of the downsides are the lack of pockets. I feel like I need to wear a jersey everytime I ride with this jacket just for additional pockets. The slightly dropped tail in the back could be just a tiny bit longer. You really are paying for the best of the best, in craftsmanship, durability, and waterproofing. It’s an investment, but should last you for many years to come, just keep your wheels upright, and stay away from sharp tree branches. To view more information about Gore Jackets, you can visit their site here. Or feel free to jump over to GearChase.com and see what deals we might have found on Gore Gear.
Blendtec Blenders are some of the strongest and toughest blenders on the market today. There are three categories of Blendtec blenders. The Classic Series, blenders that have made Blendtec a household name, and often sold in stores like Costco and online. They are the simple all in one blenders. The Designer Series offers more power and additional features than the Classic Series, and beautiful designed elements. Lastly, The Professional Series combines commercial power, new innovation and sound control. In addition to the three categories of blenders, Blendtec also offers a variety of jars and accessories for each.
We have been using the Blendtec Designer 725 for many months now, it is by far the most powerful blender we have ever used. In addition to the overload of power, it is loaded with features, and has a super solid and stable feel. Blending and food prep time is reduced with this advanced blender.
We used the classic stainless steel model that blends (no pun intended) into most kitchens, and is designed to fit under most cabinets.
Blendtec blenders have been the goto blender for athletes and shake enthusiast. They fit right into our lifestyle for both healthy eating and quick smoothies on the go. At GearChase.com we also LOVE awesome deals on gear, so when we heard that you can get Blendtec blenders refurbished at a nice discount as well, see the pricing below.
We have always loved watching the “Will it Blend” videos too, so we were ready to put this blender to the test.
We at GearChase are passionate about the outdoors, gear, deals, and feeding our body to keep doing what we love as long as we can. Blendtec promises to make it easier to do this.
For some hard data, we looked to research that has been done on the topic rather than just regurgitating what others simply hear or read from a non-research method. A study was done in 2014 and published in the US National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4103735/) on the effectiveness of blending vs juicing on the phytochemical (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phytochemical) and antioxidants (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antioxidant). The results were as expected, juice products containing fruit peels, seeds, etc. contained higher total antioxidants that the juiced fruit. Additionally, the research suggest that the blended fruit contained larger amounts of phenolic compounds and ascorbic acid. The phytochemical content of the fruit were significantly affected by the juicing method as opposed to the blending method.
Feeding our bodies after destroying them on the trail, snow, mountains, pavement, etc. is necessary for survival. Our bodies need recovery, and there really isn’t a better way that consuming a blended shake or smoothie to get the essential nutrients in the quantity and speed that our bodies need.
Another positive we experienced during our use was the reduction in stomach irritability. Typically after a hard workout, food tends to upset our stomach. By blending these fruits and vegetables together, we were able to get the nutrients that we had starved from our body back to it, without feeling the sickness of eating a meal after a workout. It’s the perfect way to mix up a recovery shake.
The Deal with Refurbished Blenders
You have all seen the amazing “Will It Blend” videos that made Blendtec a household name. But they are expensive! There is a great option, the refurbished models offer a great savings over the retail version, and are often even more reliable than the retail version.
The majority of the blenders that are sent back to Blendtec are from Sam’s Club or Costco. Because of the many Blendtec blenders that are sold from these warehouse stores and their lenient return policy. Most blenders returned have less that 15 blends on the blender and rarely because there was an issue with the blender itself.
These refurbished blenders have been used, but don’t expect to see green smoothie stuck in the buttons or corner of the wildside jar? Everything from a returned and refurbished blender is replaced. The jars are not reused, they are sent back for recycling as well as the base of the blender. Really, the only part of the blender that is reused is some circuitry, the motor, and the power cable. Everything else is brand new. You will get a new base, new blender jar, so there are no concerns that you might be reusing someone else’s dirty blender.
The blenders go through a series of vigorous test both physical cycles and electronic analysis to ensure that the blender is working properly before it leaves packaged up. The packaging of a refurbished blender is basically the same that would be expected from the retail version. Included is the jar, base, recipe, other instructions as well as packing material.
you are basically getting a new blender with a motor that may have a few dozen blends on it. It’s definitely worth noting that while a new Blendtec blender comes with an 8 year warrantee, the refurbished blenders still come with a 7 year warrantee! That’s a huge piece of mind to feel covered in the case of a failure.
In full disclosure, Blendtec sent us the Designer 725 unit to try out for a few months and provide our feedback on the unit. Although Blendtec sent us the blender it in no way influenced our reviews or outlook on the unit.
If you can afford the upgrade to the Designer 725 it’s well worth the extra money. It’s clean look, and touch digital buttons make cleaning it and looking at it a lot easier. We tend to think the other blenders like the Classic 575 or the Total Blender tend to look too industrial sitting on the counter. However, the Designer 625 and 725 have a beautiful appearance.
The Designer 725 is really in a league of it’s own as far as speed, power and capacity. With it’s 100 touch point blending control, 3.8 peak horsepower motor at 1,725 watts it can handle anything you can shove in there. The sliding control is very useful to just place your finger on and slide up and down as you hear the blender start chopping, or when the presets aren’t quite doing their job.
The user interface was very friendly and easy to use. With five preset blending cycles as well as a cleaning cycle there is just about everything you need to create Smoothies, Juices, Soups, Salsa, Ice Cream, and don’t forget the self clean option that works pretty good for normal uses.
In addition to the 100 Speed touch sensor, there is also a multi-speed pulse button that you can hold down and let go to pulse the blender blade as desired.
On of our favorite designs of the 725 was the sleek modern touchscreen. It’s flat and smooth and cleans off with one wipe. No more using the corner of a rag to scrub around little buttons on the blender.
3.8 peak horsepower motor
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Illuminated Touch Screen
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6 Pre-Programmed Cycles
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100 Speed Touch Slider
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Add 10 Seconds
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7 Year Refurbished Warranty
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The BlendTec wildside 5 sided jar is dishwasher safe and allows for higher volumes and a lower counter height. The “Wild Side” a fifth sided corner helps to turn the contents and redirect them back to the blade. The jar is impact-resistant, and BPA-free copolyester. These jars are all dishwasher safe. The height of the jars is also specifically designed to fit under your cabinet.
There are also smaller 2 qt (64 OZ) containers as well as a Twist Jaw that is used for creating ultra thick recipes like peanut butter.
The Twister jar works really well to agitate the ingredients and help insure a smooth blend of something so difficult like almonds or peanuts.
Below we were using it to make a chocolate almond butter. It starts off slowly smashing and grinding the almonds. We weren’t too careful while using the twist lid and made a bit of a mess, so be sure to hold the lid down tight as you are turning counter-clockwise. It’s incredible how much heat is created when girding the almonds, just touching the side of the twist jar it was fairly hot.
You can also see by the photos, using the Spectacula™ spatula it’s very easy to get the entire contents out of the jar not wasting any of those expensive almonds. It’s not as easy to clean the large jar by just running a cycle of soapy water. We did have to get out the scrub brush and clean well around the blade. The scraper comes completely apart which made cleaning it very easy. Even the top cap pops in and out for cleaning.
One complaint we had with the twister jar is that it seemed to fit more loosely on the base, so we felt like we needed to babysit it more that the other jars. It wasn’t too big of a deal since you are holding and twisting the jar during use. Another complaint was that after a few uses of the twist jar, it began to show signs of use on the bottom gasket. Not sure how long these would hold up, but it’s good to know the jars are covered by a 3 year warranty. It’s also worth mentioning, the customer service with Blendtec is above and beyond. As we had questions about the blender, and the jars we sent emails and called into Blendtec to get quick answers. They were always very polite responded very quickly, and made sure I had exactly the information I needed. I’ve heard of many others with the exact same experience so I can’t assume they were just being nice to us.
It’s nice to see some real world photos, and not just the cleaned up manufacture photos of what it actually looks like to blend nuts. As you can see it’s pretty clean and does the trick. We couldn’t have been more pleased with the results. By the way, if you like Nutella, you have to try the chocolate almond butter from one of these twister jars.
The blade is very unique on the BlendTec blenders jars. It’s not sharp like you might expect. It’s somewhat blunt edge however pulverizes by ripping and shredding it’s contents with it’s hardened steel. I was told that there is quite a process that goes into making the blades to keep them somewhat flexible on one side and strong and hard on the other for the perfect crushing machine.
The lid was far better than any other lid we have used as far as sealing the top of the jar. However it did leave us with some concerns and wishes. The lid seals amazingly well if you have it pressed tightly around all sides of the jar. The vented top was a little hard to remove when trying to add contents during blending, but not too bad. Washing the lid can be a little tricky, or you might just feel spoiled that the Jar is so easy to clean, and you might actually have to scrub the lid.
While the videos of the Blendtec always seemed to be perfect we did have a few issues with contents getting stuck in the top and sides of the blender. If we tossed in a half apples, it sometimes would just float around in the jar. We learned what can and can’t get away with using the Blender. For example just tossing in entire celery stalks didn’t always get caught by the blade, and we had to cut them up into smaller pieces. Basically, just cut or keep your contents small enough to be moved around in the blender from the start. Also, make sure you have enough liquid for the blending purpose, and you will be fine.
Juicing, Soups, Ice Cream
Juicing with the blenders huge motor was amazing. It was fun to just throw whole fruit into the machine and let it do it’s magic. It literally pulverized everything and anything we put in it. It was easy to drink more fruits and vegetables knowing that you were going to be left with a gritty fibery mess. It blended everything from frozen strawberries and pineapple to broccoli and celery.
It’s incredible to think that you can warm up soup with a blender. But the 3.8 horsepower motor had no problems warming up a soup using just the blender. There are a bunch of healthy and not so healthy soups listed on blendtec website, one of our favorite was teh creamy taco soup.
One of our favorite treats was blending frozen bananas. It matches the consistency of ice cream and with a little chocolate syrup it even taste similar.
A super nice feature of Blndtec blenders is the clean up. Just add a small drop of dish soap to the jar, and a cup of water and touch the “Clean” cycle. It does a really good job after making something like a smoothy to clean the jar up.
The Designer 725 comes with blending rewards (https://www.blendtec.com/rewards) built into the blender. The program is designed to reward you for eating healthy. There are certain milestones build into the blender that display a code when reached. You can then redeem your codes for recipe books, gift cards, product discounts, kitchen supplies and more.
For example, we hit 100 blends and got a Spoonula. Of course you will still need to pay for the shipping, but still a great benefit. Additionally, we hit 100 blends relatively fast. Also, we noticed you get blend rewards for cleaning too.
While there were a few nitpicky issue we had with the blender, the one that really stands out is just how loud the blender is. If you can opt for the commercial grade blender with the cover it’s very quite. But without this cover this thing is loud. Not just kinda loud, like wake up the kids the house is on fire loud. It’s amazing, running the blender without the jar on this’ fairly quiet. But you load up the blender and turn it on, the sound is very loud. Luckily it’s short, and once the large bulky items in the blender are broken down it does get a little quieter.
If you have been brought down by cheap, under powered blenders for years and years (like we have been) Blendtec blenders are like experiencing what you expected blenders to do when you were a little kid. Anything edible we dared to throw in the blender was handled with little to know agitation. These blenders are expensive, and the refurbished models help a little. We can honestly say, these blenders can change your life. Over our time testing, we ate much healthier meals, and consumed more fruits and vegetables than prior eating habits. It’s easy to drink these healthy smoothies, and feel full throughout the day.
The build quality is top notch. A lot of detail that goes into each part, from machining little caps inside the jars to meticulously testing each and every motor.
Check out the link below to view all the refurbished deals on Blendtec Blenders today.
Do you really need a $160 pump to be able to mount your tubless tires anywhere? There are currently about 10 different pumps or DIY methods for inflating a tubless tire on the go without electricity or the use of a compressor. They range in price from the cheap 2 litter bottle hack. The pumps range in price from about $70 USD to $180 USD. One of the favorites we have used is the Topeak Joeblow. The pump can be used like a regular floor pump when the switch is turned to “Inflate”, or charged like an air compressor when switched to “Charge” mode. The pump can store upto 160 PSI (11 BAR). Dealing with a compressor in addition to presta valves and the other obvious inconvenience make having a portable tubeless pump almost a necessity with most high end bikes being set up tubeless. The topeak pump also includes a super long hose that nicely stores securely around the pump. It includes two air release or bleed buttons for letting reducing pressure in the tire or charger.
Preparing the Tire for Use of the Topeak JoeBlow Pump
In our testing and use over the last few months with the Topeak JoeBlow pump and our initial review of the pump we replaced a rear tire. After removing the old tire. Sealant should be refreshed every few months in tires, and it’s easy to just break the bead, and add a couple ounces to keep it blocking flats. There is the option to remove the valve core, and add sealent through the valve, but we found it just as easy if not easier to just pop the bead add the sealant and use the JoeBlow pump to reseat the bead and inflate the tire.
Here we have the new tire already installed back on the rim. We cleaned up any dirt and residue with a quick wipe down before placing the new tire on.
The Maxxis DHR 2.4 was tubless ready tire, the Stans recommendation was to add about 3 or 4 oz for a new tire.
With the tire completely seated inside the rim with only a small opening at the bottom we added the sealant and pushed the rest of the tire into the rim without spilling any of the sealant out.
Charging the Topeak JoeBlow Pump
With the tire installed with sealant to the rim, we charged the pump by rotating the top nob to “Charge” and taking about 50 strokes of the pump to reach 160 PSI. The pump consistently took 50 full strokes of the pump to reach full charge. We could have gotten away with less than 160 PSI to seat the tire, but always went to 160 just in case.
Topeak Smart Head
One of our favorite features about the JoeBlow and other Topeak floor pumps is the smart head. The smart head works with presta and schrader valves the long lever on the head makes it easy to lock on to the valve. It has a convenient bleed button on the head to reduce pressure in the tire during filling. It has been one of the best multi use heads I have ever used. It’s easy to know when it’s seated properly on the valve, and the long leverage on the locking lever makes it easy to secure without busing a knuckle on a spoke, or breaking a valve stem.
The additional bleed valve is located on the charge tank to discharge the floor pump.
This pump couldn’t be any easier to use, It’s heavy duty, and heavy, which I like for it’s use it gives it a solid platform for pumping. It’s still portable enough to bring to the trail and on trips. We have had a 100% success rate with the pump, as long as you take a few minutes to check the tire and valve are property prepared. Using the pump as a standard pump works well, however not as fast as other larger volume pumps. Even with a compressor in the garage, I reach for the JoeBlow pump to seat my tubeless tires.
A good quality flashlight is something everyone needs. They are useful when camping, power-outages, emergencies and just around the house. One of the biggest complaints I’ve had about flashlights is never knowing what kind of charge the battery has. This means I usually end of bringing an extra set of batteries every time I go out. The just released Fenix UC52 feature on board battery status. A digital display of the estimated run-time for the battery. Additionally, the light charges via micro-USB so if I need to quickly top it off I can do so from a solar panel, power pack, car charger, or phone charger.
The light is wrapped in a solid and ridged metal construction that fits very well in hand with it’s contoured shape. You can carry the flashlight with the lanyard, or the included holster.
A lanyard can be attached to the back of the flashlight to wraparound your wrist when walking with the flashlight in hand. The unique shape of the Fenix UC52 fits feels very comfortable when toting around or balanced in hand. The two flat sides make it easy to rest on an uneven surface without it rolling away.
Out of the Box
A standard nylon case, belt loop, D-ring, and Velcro closure holds the Fenix UC52. With the wrist strap on, it’s a little cumbersome to get in and out of the case, but still usable. Pushing buttons out of the box, revelied that the top button displays the current percent of battery remaining for a couple seconds and turns off. The bottom button did nothing until I held it down for a few second or so. Next pushing and holding both buttons displayed a lock icon in the LCD, and flashed the light a couple times. This seemed to lock the light from turning on. One really nice feature is that when the light is locked, if you push a button it flashes a couple times and displays the lock icon, to indicate the light is locked. I’ve used other lights that lock and you have no idea why it’s not turning on until you remember the secret button combination to unlock it. For the UC52, to unlock the light you hold both buttons together for a couple seconds, the light comes on and displays the run-time. I really like that feature.
Once the light is on there are many functions, the top button will cycle from strobe to SOS. The bottom button cycles through 5 brightness settings. Run-time is from around 82 hours to 42 min depending on the setting. The throw is from 253 meters on high to 18 meters on low. Meets many FL 1 Standards for 3100 Lumens, 1 Meter drop, and 2 Meter submersion in water.
Below are the different brightness’s taken with the same aperture and exposure to get a feeling of the intensity between levels. The flashlight was pointed at a wall about 4 feet away.
This has become my go to light. It’s capable for all situations. The light isn’t so large it’s cumbersome, but packs enough power to meet long times between charging and high output in emergency use. Around the house and campsite I find myself using Level 1 and Level 2 as indicated on the LCD. Running temperatures stay low, there is plenty of light for small projects, and battery impact is minimal. On Level 5, the light does get pretty hot to the touch.
As an avid biker and explorer, it’s nice to have the option to light up the place with 3100 Lumans just for the fun of it. I tried mounting the light with a few different options when hiking and biking. With velcro straps, and two flat sides, the light is much more capiable of being mounted to a bike frame, or other surface. The light is well balanced, and stayed in place fairly well. With the larger batteries, the light wants to move around a bit, but could be used in a crunch as a bike light.
Aside from the weight of the larger batteries, the light feels comfortable in hand. When running the light on Level 5 (3100 Lumans) it gets pretty warm really quick.
Charging the light couldn’t be easier, a micro USB can be plugged into many sources and charged a lot faster that expected from a good power source.
Max output of 3100 Lumens (Blinding)
OLED Screen display battery run-time and mode
Micro USB Charging
Heavy duty construction
15 (82 hours) to 3100 (40 Minutes) Lumen Range
Waterproof up to two meters (IP68 Rated))
6″ x 1.7 ” x 1″
9.7 oz with battery
The UC52 by Fenix uses a XHP70 Cree LED light to deliver it’s maximum range of light output. The battery is a 7.2 V/3500mAh Li-ion battery that is sealed inside. Fenix also offers a 2 year free repair.
Micro USB Charging Cable
Head over to Fenix to see the entire line-up of Flashlights, Tactical Flashlights, Headlamps, Bike Lights and Lanterns.
The new Biolite SolarHome 620 is a Solar station for small scale, emergency preparation, comfort camping, van life or small house or cabin electronics kit. It includes a radio, MP3 (do people still refer to them as MP3’s) player, USB device charger, living individual switched daisy chained lighting, all powered by a small solar panel, and on-board battery. BioLite is a company based out of Brooklyn New York and has been providing alternative products for creating power and light in the outdoors. Their products are distributed all over the world to help aid those regions that may not have direct access to electricity. The new SolarHome 620 is a huge leap for these homes that often time don’t have access to light or power.
The kit includes a base station that can be mounted to the wall permanently or hung temporarily. It contains a 6V 3,3300mAh battery that is charged by the solar panel and is enough to last through the night when fully charged. It has a long antennae for the internal radio that can be strung around for better reception. The base station also has a speaker and buttons for functions.
There are three lights with switches that can also be mounted permanently or hung temporarily. The light can be mounted by connecting one to another for further reach from the base station. Lastly, there is the 6W solar panel which provides the power input to charge the base station. It also can be mounted permanently or propped up for temporary use.
The package is affordable at just $150. The three overhead lights offer 100 lumens each.
The base unit has it’s own light on top, and a lite LED panel for display. There is a tiny shelf under the base unit. It hardly holds a phone, or is much use other than tiny storage.
The control box includes battery reading that shows the available power, as well as charging information. It displays radio stations, and can play your own mp3 via the SD card. One of the lights is motion sensor activated.
A tiny SD card slot is located on the left side of the base unit of the Solar Home 620. You can play your own music from the SD card. The speaker is not anything to even mention other than it works. Don’t expect any superior sound quality from it.
On the right side of the base unit there are two USB charging ports. They can be used as standard USB to charge phones, flashlights, etc. There is also a DIN port that lets you charge the base unit from an external source that is compatible.
There are many uses for the SolarHome 620. Using it for a camper van, in a small cabin, on a back porch, even at the camp site. The 4 total lights chained together provide a lot of light and reduce the need for headlamps and flashlights. We found it particularly handy when cooking in the dark.
The mounting option from the dome lights offer a hook that can easily be attached to a number of objects. We found it easiest to string a line where we planned to temporally mount the lights. Then just hang the lights where we needed them and could easily adjust them.
The switches can be attached to a wall with a couple screws, they are easy to push and feel for in the dark. However, we never really found a good way to work with the switches in a temporary mounting situation.
The Polycrystalline solar panel offers 6W max output power. It’s a rigid panel that can be mounted, or just propped up facing the sun to collect power. It’s not the most efficient solar panel I’ve used, it’s on the smaller side, and in partial sunlight never charged the battery fully during the day. However, in optimal conditions, and direct sunlight I think it could charge the unit in a single day. A nice feature on the base station is the charging status to see how long until the unit is charged. It’s also worth pointing out that the base station did not need to be fully charged to be used during the evening and typically the power we collected during the day was enough to use that evening.
The solar panel is weather proof for permanent installations. The overall design of the SolarHome 620 is simple and offers enough features to please most users, at a very affordable price. In the backcountry, small cabins, campsites, or vans it’s a great option that is light weight and easy to install.
The Static V2 is built with welded seams and a welded in large air valve. The air valve is pretty similar to most we have used on a lot of pads. It requires a twist to close and open. The sleeping pad is 72 inches long and 23 inches wide. It comes with a small patch kit in the storage bag so it’s always with you.
Klymit has used a unique desire for the majority of their sleeping pads. There are large baffles angled that provide a soft sleep, for back or belly sleepers. It’s one of the better side sleeping pads I have used. It also has smaller baffle around the exterior. This give a little more support around the edge and prevents the rolling off effect.
The sleeping pad is light weight and offers a lot of comfort for the size and weight (about 1lb). It packs down into a small pouch about 6 inch by 4 inch.
The V2 inflates fairly quickly, we could do it with our mouth in about a minute (without passing out) took us 12 breaths. It stays inflated through the night, but we typically would top it off before each night.
It is a comfortable pad, with the larger baffles, I liked it better than some of the flat more compact pads. It kept me elevated off the ground and while not an insulated pad, still provides some warmth against the cold ground. The baffles seem to provide a softer sleep, and isolation from roots and rocks underneath. The pad stayed in place very well too. I think this is due to the design of the higher more firm baffles around the exterior of the Klymit V2. The V2 is fairly quiet to sleep on as well.
What is different from the Klymit Static V2 and Static V?
The Static V2 uses a new 30D polyester top layer and a 75D (stronger) layer on the bottom. This cut down on the weight of the V2. It weighs about 2 oz less than the V. Also, the Static V is about $10 cheaper at $55. Both great options.
Oxbow recently sent up a bike light to try out and review on GearChase. We spend a lot of time riding with bike lights both on and off the trail. The Oxbow may look very familiar to other lights you may have seen on other websites. The value add from Oxbow is that it comes with GoPro mounts and a new caring case. As well as a domestic support system and warranty. The GoPro mount work a whole lot better than the standard included elastic band. If you plan on doing any riding off road this is a must. The Oxbow light claimed 2300 lumens for under $75 bucks. When you compare that to other headlamps on the market for the same form factor and lumens they cost upwards of $300. There are some differences, I think are worth pointing out, but for the average weekend warrior the Oxbow headlamp is a really good value to extend your play time.
The light has three Cree lights in side of it, with a single screw to swap out the GoPro or handlebar mount, some venting to keep it cool, and a green button/light on the back to cycle through the beam (low, medium, high, strobe, off). I could not locate anywhere where these lights are manufactured, but I would assume china as a lot of the parts look similar to other lights sold from China.
Using the Light
I have been using the Oxbow light now for a few months. I taken it biking, snowboarding, and used as a flashlight around the house.
The light claims to be 2300 lumens, while I don’t have a way of testing that claim, I did compare it to a expensive bike of a 2000 lumen headlamp. The expensive headlamp was brighter, but I paid almost $400 for it a few years ago. The Oxbow light wasn’t too far off, and still provided plenty of light for night rides.
The peripheral and throw of the light again were not as good as my $400 light. And there was a bit of a hot spot in the center of the light path, however most wouldn’t complain for a light that cost $70.
One of my complaints that has been resolved was that there are a lot of pieces that come with the light, and when it was shipped, it came in a cardboard box. Oxbow now includes a zipper pouch to hold all the pieces like the charger, extra mounts etc.
The light isn’t to bad for wearing on your head. It’s not too heavy and doesn’t cause the helmet to shift around as much as other bulkier lights.
The light has four settings, low, medium, high, and strobe. I like to use the low and medium settings when peddling up in the dark. Then saving the battery for the high setting for descending. The beam has a definable hot spot as you can see in the photos below. When on a bike it’s not as noticeable as it is using the light close up. The throw and peripheral are adequate and pretty comparable to more expensive lights in the market. Plenty of light off the side as well as in front of you to run this as your only light. This is nice, as dealing with multiple lights on handle bars and helmets with wires gets pretty old.
Charging the battery consistently took just over 7.5 hours. There is a red LED light on the back of the charger that turns green once the charge is completed. The charger connects to the battery by a simple plug. This is a little different that what we have seen with the smaller rechargeable head lamps and lights. They seem to be moving to a USB type charging. It’s not a big deal, but you do need to remember to bring the charging cord with you, as you can’t use another cord to charge in an emergency. This also means you can’t charge from resources like a power bank, car charger, or solar pack.
You may have heard the comments about these cheaper lights catching fire. In the Oxbow included instructions there are some precautions and warnings. When I was testing the light and battery, I never noticed the battery pack getting hot when charging, or in use. Some pointers are when the battery pack is discharged completely, it should be charged again shortly after. The pack should be charged above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The battery should not be exposed to water, especially salt water. Do not try to charge a damaged battery. Only use the specific charger included.
The battery should be charged in a fire-safe area, and at a temperature above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. You should inspect the battery for any damage or bulging before trying to charge it. If the battery ever gets hot, discontinue using it.
Lastly to improve the life of the battery, it should be stored at room temperature or around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Whenever possible store the battery charged at 40 to 70% charged for long periods of time.
The primary mounting option for the light is using a GoPro mount. The light comes with an additional option to mount to a handle bar with some elastic bands, and by removing the GoPro bracket. In my opinion, it’s worth the money to just buy a GoPro handlebar mount for the light if that is the way you intend to use it. The rubber band mounts work OXif the terrain is not to bad, for example road cycling. But for mountain biking I would a GoPro handlebar mount or even better mount it to a helmet. Oxbow recommends using lock tight on screws when riding in rough terrain to prevent the light from loosening.
When mounting to your handlebars the cord must be run to the battery pack that you will likely have to find a spot on your frame to attach it to. The battery is fairly small when compared to other lights in similar class. Its pretty easy to find a spot with the Velcro pouch (included) to attach it to a bike. My favorite way of wearing the light is to mount it to a helmet, and have the battery in a back or waist pack. The cord can run behind your helmet and down your back staying out of the way.
Seth Bike Hack has a pretty good video on these style of lights. Although this is not the same light, a lot of the comparisons are very similar. And as you can tell by the battery pack they look almost identical.
Run Time for the Oxbow Apache 2400 Helmet
Light on High: 2:50 Hours
Light on Medium: 4:45 Hours
Light on Low: 14 Hours
Light on Flash: 3:40 Hours
Charging the light almost always took 7 and a half hours.
Oxbow offers a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee, if you are not satisfied for any reason you can return it within 30 days. The light and battery are covered from manufacturing defect forever.
Oxbow real value is in their included GoPro mounts and travel case. These are cheaper inexpensive lights but provide great value. For someone looking to do a few night rides a year these are perfect. The light provides plenty of light for most riding styles. The battery last long enough for most any trail we ride after work, or on a weekend adventure.
To check out Oxbow light head over to Oxbowgear.com. They currently have two lights, the Apache (shown above) and the Voyager which is a little brighter and marketed more toward dirt bike riders.
Finding a great present for a cyclist is hard to do. Beginner cyclist are somewhat easier to shop for, but their garage and tool bag quickly fill up with their new love of the sport. Seasoned bike riders are even harder to shop for. They seem to have 2 or 3 of the essentials, bikes included and at least 1 of the non-essentials. So how do you shop for someone that loves bicycling? Here is a great gift that likely any experienced cyclist wants, but typically won’t buy for themselves. Because a torque wrench is not a necessity it often get’s passed up by other more fun bike tools and toys. Also, bicyclist can get by with the “that feels about right” torque. I know because I’ve been doing it for years. It wasn’t until I had a real torque wrench that I realized how off my “feeling” was.
Torque wrenches are used to ensure that a bolt is tightened just enough to hold the part, but not so hard that you damage a carbon part or bike frame. Typical use are to tighten down headset caps, handle bar stems, seat post, pivot bearings. Here is a quick video to show you one in action.
The D-Torq wrench range from 1Nm to 20Nm. This will cover most of the parts on your bike. However, there are some high torque bolts that you may need the larger torque wrench for, these may include suspension bolts and larger bearings.
The wrench has a direction lever, however it should not be used as a regular wrench. To use you should hand tighten the bolt and only use the torque wrench to fine tune the tighness. There are some simple functions with the digital wrench to fine tune the torque spec. Also, there are adjustments to save the torque when the beep is reached. Another important point when using the wrench is to hold the handle in the middle to get an accurate reading. Once you have used the wrench a few times it becomes second nature. It runs off a single AAA battery that is included. So far mine has last me many months with average use. Using the menu button, you can cycle through Nm, In-lb, Ft-lb, and kg-cm. Most specs on my bikes are in Nm so I just leave my wrench in that setting most of the time, however in other countries you may see the need to change this more frequently. To set the max torque simply use the up arrow to increase the torque value. The wrench will go to sleep after no buttons are pressed for 2 minutes.
With a new wrench, the bits get stuck in pretty tight, but after repeated use they come in and out much easier. Overall it’s a pretty nice tool to have and easy to use. I prefer the digital readout and beep much more than the click and manual adjustments
Each year we hate hearing about the more and more bike that are being stolen. Every type of cyclist seems to suffer from the potential of a bike gone missing. From childrens bikes left in the front yard and commuter bikes in a down town setting to mountain bikes and dare I say eBikes on racks attached to vehicles. With professional bike thieves out there and tools just for beating bike locks, it’s not so much about if they can get through a lock, but how hard can you make it on them. There are more and more extremely durable locks coming out on the market that slow down these bike thieves, hopefully enough to detour them from stealing your precious bicycle.
One of our favorite locks that we use daily is the OnGuard 8000. We opted for the larger U lock because of the different lock applications. The Brute Series from OnGuard is their toughest locks with the highest security rating. These locks are heavy, but great for locking bikes up in a garage, or on a rack if you get creative. The OnGuard 8000 LS measures 4.5 inches wide and 10.2 inches long. Comes with 4 standard keys and 1 key with a light, which is nice, but I didn’t care for the added bulk of the key size. I suppose a nightly commuter could really benefit from this key, on the dark streets not fumbling around with feeling for the key hole. Some additional features of this lock are the added rubber bumpers around the U shape. It’s a little softer plastic that reduces the chatter against a bike frame.
We found ourself getting pretty creative trying to lock a road bike up to a Kuat rack. This defiantly isn’t secure, but it would have slowed down someone enough that we had time to run into a store to grab some food. These locks are pretty intimidating looking as well, which I would hope would scare off some of thiefs.
We used the lock primarily to lock the bike up in a garage, and don’t carry it around much. It was great piece of mind when the garage door is open knowing that someone isn’t going to walk away very easily with the bike from my garage.
The video below is another great review on YouTube that talks a bit more about the lock, and it’s features. It also talks about the benefits and downsides such as the cracked plastic casing.
The double rubber coatin gon the cross bar takes away some of the worry when constently rubbing up against a carbon frame. It’s soft and giving to the touch but hard enough to last for years.
The OnGuard U Lock comes with a mounting bracket, but this lock just seemed too heavy for it. For someone that casually rides a beach cruiser it might be a good option, but I like to have too much fun when I ride bikes, which usually involves jumping a few curbs. Don’t put too much faith in it, or look at some of the Chrome bike packs and clothing that are designed to hold a U lock against the body.
The design of the 8000 Brute U lock, and most other OnGuard U locks is that it has a “Quattro” bolt locking system. The lock engages on 4 sides of the U lock. This prevents a lot of the common attacks such as twisting with a crowbar, car jacks, etc.
You can see below the lock engaged on the left and right side of the hole.
Here is a better angle of how the lock engages on both sides of the U lock.
With the lock open the two locking pins retract back into the lock.
The OnGuard U locks are some of the best on the market. While it’s scary leaving thousands of dollars of bikes strapped to the back of an RV when heading to Moab, Utah. The use of a good lock provides some good piece of mind. OnGuard also offers an Anti-Theft program where you can cover your bicycle up to $5001 for a nominal fee. The keys also come with a code that you should keep in a safe spot. They can send you new keys if you have the code in the event you ever loose all 5 keys. Overall, one of the best U locks we have used, it’s easy to open and close, and offers some great piece of mind.
With hunting season in full effect, and temperatures dropping a good all around glove that can insulate and protect as well as articulate movement is a necessity. There are so many options for gloves, we have see it all, from mechanic gloves to ski gloves. It’s time to upgrade. A technical glove with moisture wicking properties, grip, durability as well as flexibility are all worth keeping in mind when looking for a more advanced glove to meet your needs.
KUIU from the basis of Sitka is a direct to consumer ultra-light apparel company. If you love Sitka clothing apparel and clothing, you are really going to like KUIU. The direct to consumer business model allows a superior products at a cheaper price, it’s simple math.
The Guide Glove from KUIU
We had the chance to reveiw the KUIU Guide glove for a couple months in temperatures from 70 degrees Fahrenheit to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, in damp and dry conditions. Bottom line was that this is a great all around glove for fall and late fall outdoor activities.
The KUIU Guide Glove has a tough soft shell that is much more comfortable that a simple shop glove, it’s also got an adjustable velcro strap and pull tab for getting them on and off easier when hands are sweaty.
The palm of the KUIU Glove is similar to many of the other gloves like the Tiburon, Ykon and Northstar glove. It’s very grippy and the grip dosen’t wear off quickly like we have seen with other gloves. The material is called Pittards, it’s a leather that prevents moisture and repels perspiration. It’s almost like a durable grippy suede feeling.
The outside of the glove is extremely flexible thanks to a material called Primeflex from TORAY. It’s soft, stretchy, resistant to alkaline and acid, abrasion resistant, an overall comfortable fit and movement.
The inside of the gloves are a soft fleece material. They work well at maintaining warmth when the glove is wet or damp. The outside is treated with DWR, which allows the hand to breath. The inside soft low profile innards make the glove compact enough to do many outdoor task without removing the glove.
On complaint we had about the glove is that we have smaller hands, and there is some larger stitching around the fingers. This created some bulk in the fingers because our fingers weren’t large enough to fill the hand print.
A KUIU Glove with 100% polyester shell made of Primeflex by Toray. Soft stretchy technical glove that works well it most hunting conditions. Even snow filled days will love the Guide glove. It fits high enough on the wrist to keep snow out while still allowing you to assemble a scope or bino without removing the glove. Retailing for $69.99 but typically you can find a sale, or discount through signing up for KUIU newsletter. Guaranteed to work better than the gloves you bought from your auto parts store.
There are literally hundreds of mini tools that can be used for a bike. You can get them anywhere from your grocery store to high end bike shops. They cost any where from $1.99 at Harbor Freight (with a coupon) to $99+ for some of the Lezyne Carbon Tools. We have owned a few too many mini tools in our life time. It always seems that they get traded around with friends. An new one appears in my truck from falling out of someones bag, then I loose one, and buy another only to find the lost one. I have enough now to keep one in everyone of my riding bags, as well in all my vehicles. These are a few of my favorites.
Topeak Mini 9 Mini Bike Tool (Retail $16.95)
The Topeak Mini 9 Bike tool has the perfect essentials and nothing more. It is super compact while still large enough to get leverage on those stubborn bolts.
Allen Wrenches 2 / 2.5 / 3 / 4 /5 / 6 / 8 mm
Extruded aluminum body
Size 6.6 x 3.1 x 2 cm / 2.6” x 1.2” x 0.8”
TORX® Wrench T 25
Weight 92 g / 3.24 oz
Topeak Mini 9 Pro Carbon Mini Bike Tool (Retail $44.95)
The Topeak Mini 9 in carbon ads tire lever ans sheds some weight. It’s really nice having an attached tire lever. They are always floating around in bags and falling out. Having an emergency one attached to a tool it highly recommended.
Allen Wrenches 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5 mm
Air release button
Size 7.6 x 2.6 x 1.6 cm / 3” x 1” x 0.6”
WEIGHT 73 g / 2.57 oz
TORX® Wrench 25
Carbon fiber body
Parks Tool I-Beam Mini Bike Tool (Retail $16.95)
The Park Tool IB-2 has a unique I shape handle with a mix of hex and Torx wrenches. It’s a great all around durable tool for the necessities.
1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8mm hex wrenches
T25 Torx® compatible driver
Flat blade screwdriver
Dimensions: 75mm x 40mm x 18mm (2.87″ x 1.57″ x 0.71″)
Weight: 108g (3.8 ounces)
Crank Brothers Multi Bicycle Tool M10 (Retail $19.99)
For style points the Crank Brothers M10 come in a few different colors. It features the necessities that the above offer as well as a phillips #2 head. It weighs a little more, but it pretty bullet proof.
Hex wrenches: #2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8
Screwdrivers: phillips #2, flat #2
Length: 89mm, Weight: 124 grams
Crank Brothers Multi Bicycle Tool F10 (Retail $29.99)
A step of from the M10 is the F10 from Crank Brothers. It’s a little more compact, and more attention to detail which is why it cost almost twice as much. It also includes a spoke wrench that is missing from most compact tools.
Hex wrenches: 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8,
Screwdrivers: Phillips #2, flathead #1,
Spoke wrenches: 0, 1, 2, 3
Lezyne RAP-6 Mini Bike Tool (Retail $14.99)
The Lezyne RAP-6 is 7075 aluminium, black anodized side plates with forged and drawn chrome vanadium tool bits. It offers less tools that some of the others in a similar size, but still gets the basics done.
• Centre-pivot, wrapped bit design
• 3, 4, 5, 6mm Allen, Torx T25, and Philips bits
• Weight – 74g
• Size – 18mm x 27mm x 78mm
Lezyne Blox 23 Mini Bike Tool (Retail $34.99)
The Lezyne BLOX is steping almosts outside of the mini tool, featuing 23 tools, and weighing a lot more than other mini tools. However, for the size, weight, and cost if you are looking for just a little bit more, the Lezyne BLOX is a great upgrade for a little more out of a tool.
Open-end 10mm, 8mm T25, T30
Phillips & flat heads
Hex 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 mm
l-allen 2, 2.5, 3 mm
A good multi-tool should give you just what you need for trail/street side repairs or in the workshop. A good well made multi-tool should not flex, and have tightly machined edges to ensure your not rounding out bolts.
A multi-tool for bicycles should be with you on each ride, a small one like the tools listed above make it easier than ever to do that. Also, it’s worth reviewing your bike and making sure the tools provided match the components on your bike.
Features to look for in a bicycle multi-tool:
Durability: The tools should be strong, there are many very cheap, plastic handled tools out there that will only let you down when you need them most. Spend a few extra dollars and get a tool that will work and last.
Versatile: We find our self using multi-tools to adjust seats, brakes, handle bars. There is also the occasional peddle fix, or something else that needs repaired just to limp back to the car. A good multi-tool should help you accomplish any of this.
Be Practical: Don’t buy the biggest multi-tool out there if most of the tools are never going to be used. It will only get in the way, and weigh you down. Find a good mix that will meet the majority of your bikes needs.
You can always search on GearChase.com for deals on hundreds of multi-tools just click below
Electric snowboard goggles, sunglasses and lifestyle brand is a brand we grew up with fixated on snowboarding, surfing, skateboarding. Started back in 2000, there have been many chapters that have lead to Electric’s current offering. Now associated with music, motorcycles, and not caring, Electric is a brand that resonates with a broad audience of people.
We have owned many Electric sunglasses and snowboard goggles over the past decade. From skinny sunglasses in the nineties, and over sized glasses and goggles to now. Electric has always been on the front of innovative new styles, while maintaining and putting their own spin on modern classics. One of our favorites are The Knoxville.
We took a close look at the Knoxville XL S. Having a slightly larger face and head, we felt that the XL would fit our face better. They have a slightly larger lens size (just a few millimeters) and the Sport upgrades. We planed to wear the sunglasses while biking, and playing outdoors, so the added protection and rubber pieces on the glasses made sense.
The details of the Knoxville XL S are the rubber ear pieces that are very flexible and keep the glasses on your face. In combination with the rubber nose pieces that keep them from sliding down your face when sweaty.
Featuring an OHM Plasma Chrome lens (Optical Health Through Melanin). Melanin infused lenses that block harmful UV & HEV blue light. This allows your eye to relax while providing stunning crisp, clear, vivid , haze free viewing.
The OHM Polar Blue lens
The Knoxville glasses come in a wide variety of lens options that alter the price of the glasses. The polarized blue lenses were our first choice. They provide a vivid pop of color and clarity while not blocking out too much sun but enough to relax your eyes on a bright day.
Why choose polarized lens? Light reflecting off snow and water can create glare and reflection. Without polarized lens, the light is not exiting the lens in the same direction, fatigue and headaches can happen. Polarized lens reduce the glare. You can see into the water, and across the snow. Electric uses an injection process rather than a cheap laminated layer.
The subtle branding on the hinge looks great, not too big and not to small. The hinges on the Knoxville XL S are beefed up a bit, without looking overbearing.
The XL version of the Knoxville measure 51mm tall, 147mm wide, and 158mm long. This is in contrast to the Knoxville S that measure 49mm tall, 139mm wide, and 159mm long. For a slightly larger look on the face, or for a little added protection the XL make a nice option. Having a fairly large head, we prefer the XL S. But you may choose the smaller Knoxville S for a smaller face. They are a fairly flat sunglass. There is room on the sides for air and breathability. Never had a problem with them fogging when biking or running.
What is the Sports Upgrade?
Electric optics S-Line take the standard sunglasses models and add a few performance pieces to help them work better in active lifestyles. The main points are a plasticam hinge that is more durable yet reduces weight of a standard hinge. Rubber nose grips are added, yet still conscious that prevent the sunglasses from sliding down during sweating and rigors activities. Also, grips are added to the temple of the sunglasses for assistance in keeping them glued to your head. Overall, the S line has been constructed with a stronger and reinforced areas that might be more vulnerable to failure. The frame and temple ear pieces are flexible and light weight for long wear comfort. The S Line also features the OHM Lens for clarity, UV protection, and beautiful stunning optics.
Cleaning the glasses should only be done with mile soap and water. We usually wet the glasses first to let the mud and dirt soften up. Then rinse off by hand, and use the micro fiber cloth to dry. The glasses should be stored in the provided bag, to reduce the chance of scratching them.
The Electric Knoxville is one of our favorite all around glasses offered by Electric. The stylish design as well as the many different option, frame colors, lens, make it a great all around option for anything from cycling and boating to every day drivers. They are offered in a number of price points depending on the colors but typically around $120 to $220 USD. You can view the entire Electric Sunglasses lineup here
I have been using the Rokform Rugged case on my Samsung Galaxy S8+ for the last couple months and wanted to share my thoughts an opinion on the rugged case that caters to the outdoor enthusiast and everyday users.
The case is made of a hard plastic (polycarbonate) similar to other hard cases on the market for drop protection. The edges are beefed up a bit more and raised to give the case more drop protection, but the sides remain minimal for a thin feel when the case is in hand. The cut outs work well for all the headphone, and charging cables we used with the phone. Speaker works great through the cutout as well as the microphone.
The buttons for power, volume up/down, and biskby all work well and maintain the “clickly” feeling after they are broken in a bit. When the case was new, it was a little harder to know if you had actually clicked the button underneath. But after a month of used, they have softened up a bit and feel much better. Also the raised markings make it nice when feeling for the case buttons to know what direction it is in hand, and what button is being pressed.
You can see the magnetic backing on the phone, more on this later. Also worth noting is the enlarged corners that keep the phone off the screen when placed screen down. This is a nice feature even with the new beveled edge of the Galaxy S phones.
The case has an opening for the camera, flash, fingerprint reader. It’s open enough to work well when reading fingerprints, as well as using the heart rate monitor. You can also see the cutout for the bicycle and other attachable mounts.
The two small incisions are for threading a lanyard to the phone case when it’s attached to a bike mount. It’s works well for what it’s for, but a little annoying to have to add and remove the lanyard all the time. More on this below.
Rokform Case Magnet
The standout for the Rokform is definatly the magnet. It sets their case apart from the huge competition out there. A super strong magnet can be added or removed from the inside of the case. It’s used to attach to a few different mounts like the vent mount in a car.
The magnet is removable if not wanted. There are many times when I find my pocket has picked up paperclips or it’s being sucked to my car door when in my pocket. I’ve actually found myself using this all the time around the garage. When working on bikes or cars I’ll attach my phone to a metal cabinet to keep it visible or accessible.
Rokform Car Vent Mount
The vent mount has to be one of our favorites. It’s got a duck beak that clips on most vents. Obviously the downside is warm days it blocks the cold air. This means you either move it to a vent less used, but may be less visibility. However, for cooler days when your not running air out of the vent it’s a great option.
The mount always come out when you remove the phone, and it’s a bit of a bugger to get clipped back into the vent some times, but still our favorite mount. The mount is high quality metal, and rubber coated that keeps it from slipping around in the vent.
Rokform Bike Mount
We had mixed feelings about the bike mount. There is a low profile minimalist mount that didn’t work with our medium rise stem. Additionally, it requires you to drop your bars enough to stack it on top. I anticipate the mount would work on a large number of bikes, so just be sure you check to know it will work with your bike first.
The alternate was an adjustable mount. These things are built high quality and really adjustable. It mounts directly to your stem cap, and allows for adjustable angles.
Having used many bike computers and phone mounts, I really loved the adjustable and quality of the mount. The downside I had with it is that it’s only about 1/8 turn to attach the phone. However, the magnet adds some reassurance, as well as being able to add a lanyard to the case to ensure you won’t be dumping your phone on the ground when you hit the first set of cobblestone.
The lanyard offers piece of mind, but is annoying to always be taking off and on when riding the bike.
Once mounted, the phone case works great and is easily adjustable to get the right angle.
You can see in the photo above that, it only takes a slight turn to remove the phone. I wish this was a quarter turn, I would feel a lot more comfortable on rugged rides that my phone is going to stay with me. The magnet does help provide some additional security.
The lanyard attaches to the back of the phone for keeping the phone case with you. However, it’s a little annoying adding and removing it when unneeded. We do like the added security and comfort of having it.