Gear Reviews

A couple of weeks ago I found a FedEx package at my front door and opening it up I was excited to find a Motionize paddling tracker inside. It you haven’t seen it before, Motionize is a system of two sensors (one attached to your paddle and the other on the deck of your kayak) that when used in combination with your smartphone can provide instant feedback to help dramatically improve your forward stroke. The Motionize system measures a wide variety of specific items including, strokes per minute, stroke length, distance traveled per stroke, total number of strokes, all instantly displayed on your smartphone via the Motionize app. Initial setup is pretty quick and easy. After attaching the paddle sensor you need to wirelessly connect both it and the kayak sensor (this is built into the housing) to your smartphone via Bluetooth. The Motionize app itself is easy to configure as it walks you through a series of questions to get an idea of the size of your kayak and length of paddle. It also takes into account if you paddle with a wing, euro or Greenland paddle which I thought was really interesting. I will be honest with you, before using it, I was super skeptical as I wasn’t sure how accurate the data it collected was or even if it would useful. But it didn’t take to long for me to realize just how accurate the sensors were and after about 10 minutes I looked at the data and the first thing I saw was that I was pulling harder on one side and compensating by increasing my stroke length slightly longer on the other. It was subtle enough that I had no idea after all these years. Now you might be asking yourself, "but that deck housing seems super big and clunky." It is. It’s big and heavy but in the time since I received this review copy the people at Motionize released the completely redesigned unit called the Edge which replaces the big housing with a small deck sensor and a universal smartphone holder that fits…
When it comes to two-way communication in the wilderness, a satellite phone is one of the better items to have as it allows you to talk directly to the authorities during an emergency. One of the problems with sat phones is that they are expensive to purchase typically costing between $600-2000 for just the unit itself. SPOT, makers of the very popular satellite GPS messenger, have just introduced the SPOT Satellite Global Phone and with a suggested price of $499, it's one of the first sat phones aimed (and priced) for the recreational outdoor enthusiast.
Justine Curgenven, producer of the highly successful and influential, "This is the Sea" series has just released the trailer for her latest production called Fundy Fun.
A couple of weeks ago inReach Canada loaned me a new Delorme inReach SE to take along for my trip around Michipicoten Island on Lake Superior. The new SE is an update to the Delorme inReach and released to market this past spring and includes a pile of new features to make (what I feel) the best satellite communicator on the market today. Before we get into the full review, let’s look back at the evolution of backcountry satellite messengers/communicators. First on the market in 2008 was the Spot Messenger powered by the Globalstar satellite network. At the time the technology was revolutionary in that it gave paddlers the ability to send home pre-configured messages with a link to a map of their current position. This type of technology was available before of course this but it was typically associated with a $1000 satellite phone purchase. The biggest problem with messengers was that they were essentially one-way communication. That changed a couple of years ago when both Delorme and Spot both released units which allowed you to send and receive messages when paired to your smartphone via Bluetooth. The great advancement in technology now allowed people outside of cell phone coverage to communicate back and forth with home. Of course the new problem was that the while units themselves used very little power and would last a long time it was a different story with the paired smart phones request to type up the message. I don’t know about you but my Android phone seems to only last about 6 hours before it is begging me for a recharge. This brings us up present day and I believe that the inReach SE solves a large number of problems in previous versions. The biggest improvement is the addition of a small LCD colour screen and built in virtual keyboard. Now, you can gossip with the family back home without needing to depend on the limited battery life of your smartphone (though you can still pair them if you wish). Another very cool feature (that gladly I need to test) is if…
I will be the first to admit that I have a thing for stoves the same way that some women have a thing for shoes so when I heard about a new stove on the market called the Solo Stove I contacted the company to see if they could send me a sample I could try. There are several other wood burning camp stoves on the market but what makes this one unique is its double walled design which channels air in and around the flames. Solo Stove describes how it works: Designed with a double wall, the Solo Stove™ (patent pending) is a natural convection inverted downgas gasifer stove. The air intake holes on the bottom of the stove channels air to the bottom of the fire while at the same time, channels warm air up between the walls of the stove. This burst of preheated oxygen feeding back into the firebox through the smaller holes at the top of the stove causes a secondary combustion. This allows the fire to burn more complete which is why there is very little smoke during full burn. A more efficient burn also means you'll use much less wood compared to an open camp fire. The Solo Stove doesn't just burn wood. It actually cooks the smoke out of the wood and then burns the smoke not once, but twice! The Solo Stove is pretty rugged being made out of high-grade stainless steel. It’s also compact at 3.8 inches high and weighs in at only 9 ounces. The stove also has an integrated wind screen and pot stand which due to its clever design fits inside the stove when inverted enabling it to pack down. How did it perform? The quick answer is that it worked wonderfully and boiled water like it was going out of style. Throughout the morning while out walking the dog, I collected a bunch of dry twigs and small sticks at our local park (all while avoiding the weird looks I was getting by fellow dog walkers). I also made an easy fire starter using cotton balls…
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