Monday, September 24, 2012

A Good Headlamp for $17? You Bet.

On the spur of the moment, we decided to go camping recently.  One of the first things I looked for was my headlamp. I have a Petzl Tikka Plus from a few years ago.  When I got, I liked what I got for the money. It didn't cost a lot, and gave me good range and good battery life. 

But I'm not the most organized person on the planet.  I figured the headlamp could be in one of 3 locations: the kitchen drawer, my son's room, or in my hunt pack.  Of course it was in none of these places.  I quickly dashed over to the store and there amongst the pricier, well-known brands was the Coast HL5 LED Headlamp.  On the package it said 175 lumens, and the price? $16.95. Immediately I was skeptical. But I figured I needed something and the price was right, so I thought I'd give it a try. 

Well, let me tell you, this lamp pumps out the lumens.  I was very surprised by the range and brightness.  While I'm not sure if this is built to last very long, it has so far and at this price I could buy several and keep some as back-ups.

I think the big boy headlamp makers should keep an eye on companies like Coast. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Buck Knives Parallex Pocket Knife Combo Set

The Buck Knives Parallex Pocket Knife Set.   My father used to carry a pocket in his front right pants pocket.  I assume it resided next to his coin purse.  Or did that go in the other pocket?  Either way, it proved invaluable on many an occasion.

You can buy them at Sun and Ski (

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Teva Verdon WP Hiking Shoe

The big fishing trip had finally come. Five days on the Snake River in Hell's Canyon fishing for Steelhead. I was excited to say the least. I mean, who doesn't want to spend those five days standing at the back of a boat, shivering in pouring rain with a rod & reel in hand waiting for some fish to bite a shiny object at the end of a rope? Sounds wonderful if you ask me. But only wonderful if you're comfortable. Comfortable translating into a good set of waterproof rain jacket and pants, a warm cap, and of course a great pair of waterproof shoes.

Well, I had two of those three. The shoes not so much. My old Nike hikers had been with me for some time and although they were supposedly GoreTex, I came to find out that Gore had left Tex many miles down the trail as these things acted more like sponges than liquid defenders. By the end of day one, I felt like I had two sacks of wet flour strapped to my feet. I could literally wring the water from these things. To make matters worse, by the end of day two, the sole had delaminated at the tip so I was walking around like a scuba diver with flippers on.

I vowed there and then to get me a pair of hikers that would stand up to this type of weather. After much research and multiple visits to the same outdoor goods store (the girl in the shoe department thought I was stalking her,) I finally decided on the Teva Verdon WP. Not only are they among the cheapest (translate: inexpensive) waterproof hiking shoes on the market, they are definitely the most comfortable. And, thanks to their undersizing technique, I felt like a much bigger man having to go with size 11 (when my normal shoe size is 10.)

With the advance of the wet fall, I've been taking every opportunity to put these shoes through their paces, trudging through puddles, six inch wet grass and standing a soccer games in an all-day rain. So far so dry. I like to be dry.

I can't wait for our next Snake River adventure so I can again stand in miserable conditions and catch no fish. At least I'll be comfortable.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Leatherman Skeletool Multitool

I just finished watching the classic horror film, "The Hollow." Okay, it's not such a classic. Actually it's pretty bad and filled with washed-up actors. Oh, I'm sorry, did I offend you Judge Reinholdt fans? Mr. Fast Times played the hero's father, an angry football coach. I feel sorry for Judge having to resort to taking bit parts in third rate slasher flicks, but a man's gotta eat.

Let's count the cliches, shall we? Popular high school cheerleader is inexplicably attracted to Loner, nerd geek boy. Jealous football player ex-boyfriend threatens to pound his brains in. Old geezer janitor warns boy to stay away from the graveyard. Boy finally believes the stories when he's attacked by headless horseman. Oh, did I forget to tell you? This academy-award winner is about the modern day decendent of Ichabod Crane, the poor fella in Sleepy Hollow. Hey, it's hard to come up with new ideas for horror movies!

My favorite scene is where Boy makes cheerleader girlfriend hide in a boarded-up shack in the middle of the graveyard. Yeah, what a good idea! No need to check whether there are any dead bodies in there. (ah, yes, there are.) Cheerleader realizes this after she's locked herself in and has used her super-human cheerleader strength to tear the door knob off. She proceeds to scream and yell for help. What she really could have used is a Leatherman Skeletool Multitool.  She could have used its universal bit driver locking blade to reattach the door knob. Or she could have used the wire cutters to cut through the chicken wire covering the windows. I didn't actually see any chicken wire, but I just KNOW its there. Or she could have used the good ol' stainless steel blade to take care of her Loner, Nerd Boyfriend when he comes back for her.

The only problem with this movie was that almost all the stars lived. What kind of horror movie is that? I give "The Hollow" 1 star, and that's only because during the commercial breaks of the football game I had something to watch. I highly recommend this movie, er, multitool.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Garmin Colorado 300 Personal Navigator

Trip to Sunny Lake

A Travelogue by Alex Smith

Day 1 - 6:30 am: What a glorious morning! An absolutely perfect day to go camping. I am so stoked! For the record, it's going to be me, my girlfriend Freda, our friend Mike and his son Luke. Our plan is to is drive to the Sunny Lake Wilderness Area, unload our gear and hike the 10 miles into Sunny Lake. Everyone is in good spirits.

Day 1 - 8:30 am: Made it to Sunny Lake Wilderness Area. It took a little longer than expected due to a minor delay. As we were driving, Freda swore that a small rodent of some kind--she thinks an opossum--ran in front of our car. She was sure we hit it, so we pulled over and inspected the front of the vehicle. As no animal was found, Freda began to search the tall grass along the road for the injured creature. After no such road kill was found, we resumed our trip. And we're here! Let's get going!

Day 1 - 10:30 am: Halfway to Sunny Lake! Getting this far took longer than expected, since Mike and Freda had to keep switching off helping me portage the canoe. (I really wish I had gone with the Kevlar model.) Luke was no help at all even though he was perfectly capable. I don't know why Mike puts up with that attitude. Freda humming the theme to "Deliverance" is also starting to grate on me just a tad. But no just a short while we'll be at beautiful Sunny Lake!

Day 1 - 12:30 pm: We should be there by now, but it started to rain about an hour ago and everyone just HAD to get their rain gear on. What's the big friggin' deal about a little rain? And Luke is such a whiner - "I'm cold!" "I'm wet!" "I'm hungry!" I don't think he's got the camping bug yet. We'll get him turned around as soon as he sees how great Sunny Lake is!

Day 1 - 2:15 pm: We must have taken a wrong turn a while back because I can't see Sunny Lake anywhere. Mike was SO adamant about taking that left fork a few miles ago. I told him the path clearly went to the right, but no, Mike ALWAYS has to have his way. I sure hate the fact that he's so selfish. He must drive his wife mad. I'm glad Freda isn't like that. Now Luke is just sitting on the ground listening to his I-pod. What a little Sh**. I'm sure we're not more than a half-mile to Sunny Lake. I can feel it!

Day 1 - 3:45 pm: We've retraced our steps but can't seem to find where the fork in the path was. Freda is complaining that she wants to give up and go home. I KNEW she didn't like camping! What a fraud her Facebook profile was with all that "I really love camping" stuff. Yeah, camping in her bedroom eating bon-bons! I little exercise wouldn't hurt that XL ass of hers either. Mike says his shoulders are getting tired from carrying the canoe. He suggests we leave it and come back for it tomorrow. Yeah right! I'm not leaving my $2500 canoe out here for any numskull to take!

Day 1 - 4:15 pm: Mike, Luke and Freda are all headed back to the car. A bunch of jerks if you ask me! All I wanted to do was show them how GREAT camping is, and how beautiful Sunny Lake is at dusk. That's just fine. I DO NOT NEED THEM AT ALL! The joke is on them though. I've got the keys to the car!

Day 1 - 6:50 pm: Not quite sure where I am. It's getting pretty dark out though and this damn canoe is so friggin' heavy. WHY DID I BRING A CANOE? I've decided to leave the canoe here and come back for it later after I've set up camp at Sunny Lake.

Day 1 - 8:30 pm: It's pitch black out here. My headlamp batteries are dead. It's been pouring rain for 2 hours. The trail I've been following seems to have dead-ended. Where's that F***ing lake? Why didn't I buy that Garmin Colorado 300 Personal Navigator like Freda had suggested? I'd be out of this jam already. That thing has got everything--color screen, high-sensitivity receiver, barometric altimeter, electronic compass. I could have set 50 routes, 1000 waypoints and 20 tracks! I AM SO STUPID! I am definitely buying that if I ever get out of this mess!

Day 2 - 6:30 am: I had a miserable night last night. Tried to set up the tent but lost the poles in the darkness. Ended up just throwing it over me and sitting down. Woke up in a deep puddle with leaches all over me and a rash from something else. It's all Mike's fault. What a horrible friend. I miss Freda. She was the best thing I ever had.

Hang on...I hear voices...

It's Freda! I'm SAVED!

Day 2 - 6:35 am: This is Freda. Alex is an idiot. After I get him out of here with my Garmin Colorado 300 Personal Navigator, I'm breaking up with him. And what's with this stupid travelogue?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Black Diamond Lightsabre Bivy

I have a friend, his name is Smitty. Smitty really likes his bivy.

What's a bivy you may ask?

A bivy is a tent, only smaller by contrast.

Smitty likes to camp all alone. He doesn't even bring a phone.

We ask him why he takes no one, and all he says is, "One is much more fun!"

He has no need for other folks, 'cause then he'd have to share his smokes.

So off he goes all light and giddy, into the woods with his little bivy.

No more rhymes, we promise, okay? Here's the description without further delay. ('s just so much fun.)

The Black Diamond Lightsabre is a super-light bivy for the gram-counting minimalist concerned with comfort. The Lightsabre combines the Bibler Tripod Bivy design with ultralight, highly packable EPIC water-repellent, breathable canopy fabric and a waterproof SilNylon floor. Three DAC Featherlite aluminum poles lift the canopy off your sleeping bag and away from your head and feet. The Lightsabre has a large zippered entry with a mesh window above your head and a mini-mesh vent under the foot-box awning to keep the critters out and allow fresh air in. Stuff sack included. Visit for more details.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Thinksport Bottles

I'll admit. I drink a lot of water. Did you know that you're supposed to get 8 - 8 oz. glasses of water a day? I'm not exactly sure what happens if you don't, but it probably has something to do with proper bladder function. Or perhaps you turn into a raisin. But let's face it, with all the sweet, sugary drinks out there, plain water is kind of...plain. In my amped up, thrill-driven, kinetic life, good ol' H2O just won't fly. So I have developed an affinity for the new flavored waters. I'll try any of the new flavors -- berry, kiwi, watermelon, even pineapple.

So when I heard about some new flavors coming out I was stoked. However, I had to admit I never heard of these new flavors -- with names like BPA, Phthalates, Cadmium, PVC, and Lead. These didn't sound too appetizing. So I got on a little thing we call the Internet and did me some searching around. Turns out these aren't flavors at all! These are just some wonderful added ingredients that come with drinking bottled water that comes in polycarbonate-based bottles. And it turns out they're not too good for you. Well, unless you like irreversible neurological damage, birth defects, cancer, or pulmonary emphysema. I'm trying to avoid these things myself.

So imagine my delight when I chanced into finding these cool Thinksport Bottles. They are free of all the aforementioned nasties and are instead made from stainless steel. Nothing wrong with stainless steel as far as I know. If it's good enough for surgeons it's good enough for me. The Thinksport bottles are double walled and vacuum sealed to keep your liquids (read: flavored water) cold or hot without sweating. (Never let your bottle sweat.) AND it comes with a drinking spout and internal screen to hold in ice or tea leaves while drinking. So kind of those folks to think of that.