Hammock Underquilt Showdown;

Hammock camping is no longer reserved for just warm weather.

The Paddle Junkie's - Base Layer Buyer's Guide

Prepare for the cold! We run down our picks for the best base layers around.

Pentax K30 Rugged DSLR

The world's first DSLR that can take all Mother Nature has to offer

Shell Jacket Showdown

We test the most bomber shells on the market, here are our picks...

Gear of the Year 2012

Our picks for the best gear of last year.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Holiday Gift Guide - Gear 2105

It's officially Holiday shopping season.  With people trampling each other to get their hands on Black Friday deals and giant malls overrun with junk no one needs, we thought we'd share a few of our favorite gear gifts for your special someones.

Patagonia R3 Fleece Hoody:  The warmest of the Patagonia R3 fleece options, this reversible hoody delivers in all kinds of conditions.  Warm yet breathable thanks to a Polartec High-Loft fleece material, this jacket is a perfect layering piece, or a fully capable outer layer on days where temps stay above freezing. Highly packable and weighing only 18 ounces, this fleece will quickly become someone's go-to all weather option.
MSRP: $199

Motorola Talkabout MS350R Walkie-Talkies:  Staying in contact with your crew while on the trail or in the woods has never been easier.  These Motorola Walkies are rugged waterproof and even float should you happen to drop them in the lake.  With an on-water range of 6 miles, you'll be able to find your buddies from way off.  A built in flashlight and NOAA weather channel reception keep you safe when things get nasty.  The MS350R's come with built in rechargeable NiMH battery packs and charging station, but also operate on normal AA batteries as well.   MSRP: $99

Olympia RG850 Rechargeable Flashlight:  This flashlight has taken the rank of our favorite light in the woods.  It's a beast in a little package.  The CREE LED generates 850 lumens which lights up the dark like the sun and the beam carries for nearly 400 meters.  Waterproof down to 2 meters and rechargeable via a Micro USB, you have a perfect back country torch.  MSRP: $89

Helly Hanson Verglas Hooded Down Jacket: It's no secret we are fans of Helly Hanson gear, and the Vergals Down Jacket is further proof it's for a good reason.  The Pertex ripstop nylon shell provides wind and moisture protection while the 700+ European goose down fill is far warmer than you'd expect from this light weight puffy.  Compatible with the Helly CIS system, you can pair this down hoody with a variety of Helly shells and 3-in-1 systems.  Helly delivers the goods.  MSRP: $270

ENO Sub 7 Hammock and Helios Suspensions System:  Everyone should have a hammock in their gear arsenal, EVERYONE.  The new Sub 7 from ENO lets you do that, and barely notice a change in your pack.  At only 6.5 ounces, it's the lightest hammock we've found.  Add the Helios Suspension system and you have a turn-key hammock set-up that weighs in a a total of only 11 ounces.  From an afternoon at the park to a weekend on the trail, this is our favorite gear gift money can buy.  MSRP: Sub7 $69.95  Helios $34.95

Turcom AcustoShock Bluetooth Speaker:  Music on the trail need not be a chore.  This little bluetooth speaker is water, dust and shock proof and plays for up to 10 hours.  The 3 watt speaker delivers more than enough sound to fill camp and comes with a handle bar mount for mobile tunes on your bike.  The best part, it's only $37.99.  A steal for sure.

SOG Kiku Folding Knife:  Yet another collaboration knife from SOG, this folder was designed by legendary Japanese knifemaker Kiku Matsuda.  A substantial 4" AUS-8 Stainless steel blade with a tanto tip makes short work of just about any cutting task.  The removable linen micarta handle scales provide ample grip are easy to swap out should you want to customize this knife to be all you.  Not your father's pocket knife, this blade makes a statement. MSRP: $180.

Hydroflask Bottles and Pint Glasses:  Not just for water anymore, Hydroflask brings a whole line of vessels for the beers fans on your list.  From the giant 64 ounce growler that keeps your IPA's cold for 24 hours, to the True Pint that make camp beers a pleasure.  Never get to the bottom of a pint and have to suffer thru room temp suds again.  Elevate someone's camp beer game to a whole new level.  MSRP: Growler $54.99, 32 ounce Wide Mouth $33.99, True Pint $21.99

HanWag Rotpunkt Approach Shoes:  One shoe to rule them all.  These technical approach shoes can handle everything from light bouldering to the trail hike in.  Stylish and a bit retro, they play as well with jeans around town as they do out on the trail.  Gnarly Vibram soles provide superglue like grip in all kinds of conditions.  MSRP: $180

Snowpeak Ti-Double 450 Mug:  The last camp mug you'll ever buy.  Titanium, double walled, folding handles and big enough to use for coffee or oatmeal, what more could you ever need?  Super light and nearly indestructible, it has everything your old beat up mug doesn't.  This is one piece of gear your grand kids will end up using.  MSRP: $49.95

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Keen - Uneek - Gear Review

It seems like just yesterday we were all rocking shorts and sandals to run errands. Unfortunately for us those days are over but that doesn't mean I still can't wear my Uneeks around town. The Paddle Junkie has been rocking Keens from the beginning, I myself testing out a few pair. For an all around shoe I think these have been my favorite so far,

This being the second iteration of the Uneek they have totally revamped the show and turned it into something special. Removing pinch points and redesigning the strap along the back of the foot, the new design is damn near perfect. At least four days a week these shoes have been on my feet, whether I'm hanging out in the office or trouncing around outdoors these shoes have surpassed all my expectations. Of course when at the office I throw a pair of black socks on, most people can't tell they are nothing more then two ropes and a sole. Weighing in at only 11.1 oz per shoe I honestly can't even tell I have shoes on. These are the perfect for that gorgeous day at the water park or hanging out with the kids at the local beach. I enjoy challenging the status quo and wearing these out on the town. They just happened to be the finishing touch on my Halloween costume.

Made almost entirely of 550 para-cord these shoes have the uncanny ability to stretch with your foot, so maneuvering over rough terrain there is little to no resistance from the shoes. This is a huge deal when your feet are size 13 and your hiking with sandals on. With and internal support system anatomically engineered to provide excellent support and cradle the natural contours of the foot.

I fully plan wearing these deep into the winter months. Throw on a pair of thick wool socks and I'll be set. I'm not going hiking in the winter with sandals on but running to my car to get to work is more than acceptable. Keen makes shoes / boots for any and all terrain. These Uneeks are one of my all time favorite shoes. Extremely comfortable and with enough traction to overcome any obstacle I throw at it, Uneek should become a part of your collection. With Christmas rapidly approaching it's something to add to your list.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Sunglasses Buyer's Guide - Summer/Fall 2015

Sunglasses are sunglasses right? Well technically speaking, yes but there are some serious differences between and the old cheapo's you buy at the gas station and a pair that are designed and manufactured for that specific purpose. Don't get me wrong, in a pinch any pair will do for the day but you definitely want a quality pair of shades.

All of the sunglasses in this buyers guide are in my opinion are quality shades. The biggest difference between quality and cheapo shades are the lenses. Buying my first pair of "quality" shades I got ridiculed constantly from the significant other on why would I spend that much until she tried them on, instantly it all stopped.

There are so many styles, colors and accessories that it's hard to determine the best pair for you, hopefully this will help. For me it's less about style and more about the quality of the lens and having the correct shade for the environment.

The first pair I got my hands on were a pair of Hoven shades, the Monix, the newest line from the Argonaut series. We met these guys out at the trade show in Salt Lake City and we couldn't be happier to work together. With the wrap around design and their ability to float, 100% UV protection and impact resistant polycarbonate lenses these are the perfect shades for any outdoor activity.  I began to wear them as a necklace on almost any occasion which allowed for easy access to an amazing pair of shades. The polarized lens was perfect for almost any occasion. I did find them a little dark when it began to get cloudy outside but that's to be expected. My lenses took a beating over time but they still kick some serious ass.

I also got my hands on a couple pair of Breath Of Life Apparel solid zebra wood shades called the Contrast. These shades weighed almost nothing and with the amber colored UV protection lenses they are perfect for any day. I did however find my self wearing them on the way home when it was overcast and raining out. It allowed for an almost enhanced view of the road ahead of me. With a laser engraved logo on the side it's nice to let people know where the shades came from. I recently found these guys through some friends that I went to college with. Located in the Chippewa Valley it;s nice to support local business and with a tree planted for every order it's nice to know people care about the world and how they leave it.

Over the years we have gotten our fair share of Maui Jim sunglasses. These have almost never disappointed. With so many styles to chose from it's hard to pick out a favorite. If I had to pick one I would choose the aviators style over all others. With the PolarizedPlus2 lens technology the glasses allow for some of the most vibrant viewing experience on the market. They say Maui is one of the most colorful places on earth and with the right shades you can see the colors hidden by the intense sun. I couldn't agree more.

And now that fall is setting in, it's never to late to pick yourself up a nice pair of shades. Don't be afraid to change it up and get a couple pair because it makes a perfect accessory to your killer new fall outfit. Thanks to Hoven and Breath of Life for really hooking up this summer and if you get the chance, snag a pair of shades. You will not be disappointed.