Gear Reviews

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…
Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Waterproof Cameras for 2013

I’m really excited to have a guest post today. Jason Shreder is the owner of Montana's Zoo Town Surfers and sent us in this waterproof camera round-up for 2013. One of the best things about spending lots of time on the river is the people you meet, places you go, and all of the memories in between.  Many times, it’s hard to translate how you feel or what you see through the lens of a camera, but it's sure worth trying.  There are many different reasons to take photos on river trips, and I will leave that topic for you to decide. Nowadays, there are many options for point and shoot cameras that are waterproof, dustproof, and shock resistant.  Trying to find the camera that’s best for you can be frustrating, even with the big ole’ World Wide Web.  Over the past ten years, I’ve tried almost every model that’s been out.  Below, I’m recommending my top 5. Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS4 The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS4 is the best waterproof camera on the market today.  Nice design, quick shutter speed, and a nice zoom make this camera a deal.  With an underwater depth of 40’, ruining this camera is going to be hard.  Although this camera doesn’t have as many megapixels as the others (12.1), the photos will still look good if you want to print some larger photos. Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-TX20 The Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-TX20 is a great all around camera as well.  It’s a couple ounces lighter than the Panasonic (for all you minimalists), and has a couple more megapixels as well (16.2).  The Sony only has an underwater depth of 16’, which is somewhat of disappointment.  The camera is a bit more expensive, starting around $250. Olympus Stylus Tough TG320 I have a long relationship with Olympus cameras.  When I first started boating, the Olympus Stylus Tough TG320 was one of the first waterproof cameras on the market.  Well, the other folks finally caught up.  This tuff camera has a better zoom than the others but doesn’t have the best shutter speed and battery life I need when…
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