Camping Equipment Reviews

Camping gear reviews and commentary on today's latest and greatest camping gear!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Elowah Falls, Oregon

In this day and age when anyone can snap a pretty good photo, there is still a difference between those photos and a photo taken by a professional. I've always wanted to take pictures like this. My mind sees it, but I can't make the camera do what I want! Richard Bitonti has figured it out. He's a photographer in the Pacific Northwest, and takes fantastic photos of places like Elowah Falls, which is in Oregon along the Columbia Gorge east of Portland.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Zondo Self-Heating Gloves

As a man that loves the outdoors, I have to admit I'm somewhat of a wimp. I get cold really easily, especially at my extremities, the fingers and toes.

Zondo Self Heating Gloves
Of course I would never admit this to anyone. Instead I would make excuses to come off the mountain. "Hey, let's go grab a beer!" Or, "did you see Donald Trump just going into the lodge? Let's go see if his hair is real!"

I've tried a million different types of gloves and boots, none of which helped. Remember Thinsulate?

And thanks to our obsession with naming previously common conditions for which there needed no name, I now know I have "Raynaud's Disease," which is a syndrome that causes some areas of the body to feel numb and cool in response to cold temperatures or emotional stress. It was first described in 1862 by Maurice Raynaud (1834 - 1881), a French physician.

I can picture it now. Maurice was at the top of the Eiffel Tower in January, wearing paper thin, silk gloves, and he thought to himself, Mon Dieu, Je suis froid! (My God, I'm cold.) He clearly thought he was the first person to have ever experienced this condition. And, being the attention hound that he was, decided to name it after himself.

Now instead of screaming, "I'm freezing!" I can scream, "I've got Raynaud's Disease!"

Finally, someone has used a bit of science to solve this problem. Zondo has teamed with Astec to produce a Self-Heating Gloves and Insoles.  These products contain a unique fleece fabric which draws energy and reflects body heat in order to raise and maintain your natural body temperature. The polymer metal coated fibers create an excellent circulation of warmth. There are no batteries and the fabric lasts for the life of the product, so no replacing heating elements.

The gloves are touchscreen sensitive too, and come with a nice zippered pocket to hold valuables.

This is another gem I found on kickstarter, and they are reasonably priced at $55 USD with a projected delivery date of November 2015. Just in time for ski/snowboarding season!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Clear Lake Oregon - Global Warming Has Hit

My son and I took a trip up to Mt. Hood yesterday to explore. We love getting into the car and heading to a trail or lake that we've never seen.

Clear Lake - Mt. Hood, OregonWhen we got to the lake it was a huge disappointment. What once once an obviously beautiful lake is now a shallow pond surrounded by fetid, decaying ground with flies buzzing all around. The graveyard of tree stumps and long lost bottles litter the lake shore.
Clear Lake - Mt. Hood, Oregon
I felt like we were at Chernobyl or someplace where a nuclear accident had happened.

The lack of snowfall this past winter and over the last 10 years, led to this lake drying up to almost non-existence. Of course I have no way to prove it's because of global warming, but the evidence does point in that direction.

Maybe Obama can bring about some action when he speaks at the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas today.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sprongs Camp Utensils

Did you know there are 13 types of forks? Dinner, Fish, Lunch, Lobster, Fruit, Salad, Dessert, Ice Cream, Pastry, Seafood, Strawberry, Snail, and Oyster. My favorite has to be the Ice Cream Fork. How does that work?

There are also 14 types of spoons: Iced-Beverage, Oval Soup, Dessert, Place, Cream Soup, Teaspoon, Five-O'Clock, Ice Cream, Citrus, Bouillon, After Dinner Coffee, Chocolate, Demitasse, and Salt. The most interesting would be the Five-O'Clock. It was made for an era when afternoon tea was taken at five o'clock.

Sprongs camp utensils
Sprongs Camp Utensils
There have been Sporks and Foons, but finally someone invented Sprongs. A brilliant, yet simple design that turns the fork and spoon into a third, desperately needed camping utensil--tongs.

The Sprongs are made from durable, light-weight nylon 66. They are food safe and will not melt. The spoon and fork lock together for easy storage. They have a lanyard hole so you can hang them from your pack or around your neck. They are approximately 8.5 inches long which allows you to reach the bottom of dehydrated meal pouches easily. The spoon is actually exactly 1 tablespoon in volume so it doubles as a measuring tool. The fork has a bail hook for lifting hot lid handles without burning yourself.

As with much of my finds, this one comes from kickstarter. You can pre-order a set for only $10. I "Sprongly" suggest you get a set. You see what I did there? Pretty good, huh?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Cacoon Hammock - Alien Spacecraft or Pleasure Craft?


Cannon Beach, OR - At approximately 2:30 AM PST, an alien craft was spotted over the Oregon coast near the town of Cannon Beach. Witnesses were able to take a photo of this strange orb as it approached the coastline.

Eyewitness Clem Mayhill happened to have his Kodak pocket camera handy and snapped the grainy photo seen here.

"Me and the Mrs. were out for an evening stroll along the shoreline, when we dang near got hit by a freakin UFO! I was too flabbergasted to do anything, but the wife slapped me and shouted, "Take a picture, Clem" and I whipped out the camera and took a shot. I didn't know if I had gotten anything until we developed the photos this morning."

Mrs. Mayhill commented that the object hung in the air for what seemed to be 5 or 10 seconds then shot away from them at light speed.

"I could swear I saw two beings inside the craft," said Mrs. Mayhill. "They seemed very comfortable and relaxed, almost like they were on vacation and looking for a place on the beach."

She went on to say that she imagined herself inside the cozy-looking nest and said that it wouldn't take her more than a few minutes to fall asleep inside the cacoon-shaped vessel.

Other witnesses mentioned it's uncanny resemblance to a new product called just that - The Cacoon. The Cacoon is a hammock-type enclosure that can be hung from any strong branch or other suitable support. It's safe and strong, small enough to carry yet big enough to share. Its weather-proof fabric is resistant to all the elements. It’s been tested and hung in all types of environments – in the garden, on a hike, in the woods, by the coast, in the office, in sports and leisure centers, in bedrooms and dens, in hotels and adventure playgrounds – inside and out, just hanging out and giving people a lot of fun.

The Cacoon comes in three sizes, Single, Double, and Bonsai (for one child.) You can get your Cacoon Hammock by visiting

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sleeping Bag Hammock | Bison Bag G2 By Clayborne Outdoor

One of my favorite shows growing up was Gilligan's Island. Well, maybe it wasn't my favorite show, but it was the only decent one of the three available when I got home from school (it was the 70s.) In fact, the show frustrated the heck out of me. After one or two times of Gilligan sabotaging their chance to get off the island, I would have made sure Gilligan didn't get off the island if you get my drift.

But I did like how they lived. Those cool grass huts were really decked out. And Gilligan and the Skipper had hammocks to sleep in. I begged my mom to replace my bed with a hammock. Of course, she did not, so my dreams were dashed.

My dream was reignited when I saw what could very possibly be the perfect hammock. Why is it perfect? Because it's not only a hammock, it's a sleeping bag too! It's one of those inventions that make you say, "Why didn't I think of that?"

Sleeping Bag Hammock | Bison Bag G2 By Clayborne Outdoor

The Bison Bag G2 by Claybourne Outdoor is an improved version of their G1. The G2 has a polyester design featuring triple layer insulation to ensure that minimal body heat escapes during sleep in the great outdoors. The G2 is rated to 55 degrees Fahrenheit but can be used in lower temperatures if using a sleeping bag pad. An included sleeping bag sack allows you to carry the sleeping bag, hammock, carabiners and rope.

Here are the stats:
  • Size:  Sleeping Bag 190X 100cm/rectangle 
  • Size:  Hammock 98cmX280cm
  • Material: 170T polyester
  • Filling: polyester microfiber 220gsm 
  • Zipper: #5 double head 
  • Weight Limit: 215 Lbs
I am so looking forward to camping without being trapped in a tent. To be able to wake up and the first thing you see is a beautiful lake, the tops of the trees swaying in the wind and the smell of dew on the ground. Not the stale recirculated air in a stuffy tent.

The Bison Bag G2 is part of a kickstarter campaign where you can be one of the first to get your hands on this hammock. You can also find out more information at their website,

Friday, May 29, 2015

StowAway Hitch Cargo Carrier

Stowaway Hitch Cargo Carrier
Last weekend our family went for a trip to the coast. We rented a small beach house that had everything we would need for an enjoyable stay. But my wife packed our vehicle like we were moving in permanently.

"You never know," she said. "They may not have comfortable mattresses, so we should bring the sleeping bags" and "what if they don't have a fireplace poker? We should bring ours just in case."

And the kids were no better. "What is there to do at the beach, dad? We better bring the Wii and some games."

Luckily, we had just purchased our StowAway Hitch Cargo Carrier. The Max version holds a whopping 16 cubic feet of stuff. That's considerably larger than the competitors. We were able to get 4 suitcases, the espresso machine, a hammock(?), and the coveted Wii console in it. My wife may have a hoarding problem.

The StowAway Hitch Cargo Carrier has a swing-away feature that lets me get easy access to the trunk contents. It also comes pre-wired with tail lights that hook up to your car's electrical system and it even has a license plate holder. They thought of everything!

Well, the weekend was a success. 9/10th's of the stuff we brought didn't get touched. But as my wife was quick to point out, "Luck favors the prepared." By that reasoning we must be the luckiest family in the world.