Saturday, July 30, 2016

2016 ICAST Kayak Wars Part 1

2016 ICAST Kayak Wars
When attending ICAST each July, I look forward to seeing all the new fishing kayak innovations.  This year was no exception.  Before I share my 2016 ICAST experience with you, let me regress back to 2004, the year I purchased my first kayak.
Before I decided to purchase my kayak, I was a surf and pier angler.  I fished beaches and piers from South Carolina, to California, to Long Island to the Florida Keys.  As the years came and went, my sweet fishing spots became more crowded.  Today most of the good beach and pier fishing spots along the Space Coast are overcrowded on the weekends when most people fish.  So in 2004, after reading a few articles in Florida Sportsman and online about kayak fishing, I decided to get a kayak.  After I made my decision to purchase a fishing kayak I had a bigger decision to make.  What kayak should I get? Following a long and painful online fishing kayak search I decided on the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 140.  My next challenge was where I can find one to rent. You just have to try out your choice before you purchase.  I was able to rent one at Village Outfitters in Cocoa, FL.  To test out this kayak I chose the 1000 Islands Ramp Road Park which had a great kayak launching area and rest room.  After one morning on the water testing a 2004 Wilderness Systems Tarpon 140 I was hooked. One month later, I drove all the way to Jupiter Outdoor Center in Jupiter, FL to purchase my kayak.  I drove that far to get a 15% discount that brought the cost of a new 2004 Wilderness Systems Tarpon 140 to $850.00.  What a bargain at that time.
Fast forward to twelve years 20016 and ask yourself how has kayak fishing and fishing kayaks changed.  Today’s state of the art fishing kayaks all decked out with accessories from any of the major brands can run you well over $3,000 if you get peddle / Mirage drive, a full set of electronics and a Power Pole.  Most major brand paddle kayaks start around $730 going up to $1,500.  A Wilderness Systems fishing kayak comparable to my Tarpon 140 will run you about $1,500 today depending on where you buy it.    That is almost double in price in just 12 years.  If you want a peddle drive or any one of the Mirage drive Hobie Pro Angler kayaks, be prepared to shell out $2,000 - $2,500 just for the kayak without any accessories.  Because kayaks loaded with gear are too heavy for a one person lift or to be carried on the roof of your car, one will need a pickup truck or a kayak trailer to get your kayak to a launching ramp. 
By visiting or participating in any of the top kayak fishing tournaments you will see what I am talking about.  In the parking lot you will see different kinds of rigged kayaks that will help you make a decision.  To help you out, Scotty has a paddle sports catalog with kayak fishing accessories.  You can see some rigged kayaks by clicking HERE. A few years ago my fishing kayak with all my Scotty accessories use to be posted to their web page and in their catalog.
Now back to the 2016 ICAST.  This year’s show was the show of peddle drive kayaks just like it was a few years ago when it was all about the aluminum and nylon mesh seats. Many of the brands that did not show their new peddle drive kayaks had battery powered motor driven kayaks.  What makes ICAST so interesting is that you can see all the new kayaks under one roof.  Average kayak angler who is looking to purchase a new yak, has to travel to different stores to view what’s in the store. Being able to do this is such a treat.
At the 2016 ICAST these kayak brands exhibited their products.

Hobie Fishing
Wilderness Systems
Nucanoe Kayaks
Jackson Kayak
Old Town Kayaks
Native Watercraft
Eddyline Kayaks
Viking Kayaks USA
True Recreation Kayaks
Bic Sports Kayaks
Feel Free Kayaks
Crescent Kayaks
RTM Fishing Kayaks

All and all, the 2016 ICAST was filled with great fishing kayaks from all the major brands.  There are sure a lot of choices available in a price range from $600 - $2,500 for kayak anglers.  If I was purchasing my first fishing kayak I would not know where to start.
Until next time, be safe in the sun and have a great day n the great outdoors.

The New Go Sun Solar Cooker

I like to find little nuggets of outdoor information that may interest you; how about a real cool solar cooker? I know there are some of you that who are real gear junkies. Well this product is perfect if you live in or are traveling to any America’s outdoor wonders that are situated in where the sun shines almost all day long.

The Go Sun Solar Cooker looks like the perfect addition to your gear, especially if you are concerned about carbon emissions for burning carbon fuels. Here are the Go Sun solar cooker specs. • Fast: Cook a meal in 20 minutes, reaching temperatures up to 550°F (290°C)

• Cooks When Cloudy: You don't have to see the Sun to cook! The GoSun is so effective, almost no day is off limits!
• Portable: Set-up in seconds and folds into a slim package. GoSun Anywhere!
• Fuel-Free: No mess. No flames. No cost.
• Versatile: Bake, Boil, Steam and Fry, Cooks Anything
• Safe to Touch: Vacuum Insulation keeps exterior surface cool
• Two Year Warranty: Durable, made of borosilicate glass (like Pyrex®)
• International Shipping Available:

The Go Sun comes in many different configurations and sizes.

• Go Sun Dogger ($59.00 Pre-Order)
• Go Sun Dogger Plus ($79.00 Pre-Order)
• Go Sun ($279.00) • Go Sun Sport Pro Pack ($359.00)
• Go Sun Grill ($599.00)
• Go Sun Commercial – Four Cooking Trays ($3,995.00)
• Go Sun Sport Cooking Tray ($39.00)

 There are so many places and different kind of trips where you can use one of these. With America’s appetite for hot dogs and link sausages, the Hot Dogger should be a no brainer to test out. If you are running an outdoor camp the Go Sun commercial just might do the trick.

Click HERE to visit the Go Sun webpage to see all the different Go Sun Solar Cookers. You can pre-order on line or go to an online storefront like Amazon to purchase a Go Sun Solar cooker.

 Until next time, be safe in the sun and have a great day in the great outdoors.

Henie Kim’s Mohenic Garages

From time to time I like to divert from my outdoor recreation genre and expose my readers and followers to something different. Just to let you know I am a prolific reader of CNN online. Today on CNN there was a article on a Korean furniture designer how has ventured into the art of automobile rebuilding. His name is Henie Kim.

 After a budding career in the Korean furniture industry during the mid-2000s he closed up shop only because cheap Chinese furniture put him out of business. He then morphed into a fashion photographer where he honed his creativity until 2012 when he rebuild his Hyundai Galloper SUV for camping. This set him up to start Mohenic Garages in 2013. From that point on Henie Kim has been using his creative side to rebuild Hyundai Galloper SUVs which are in demand in Korea today. 

He purchased used Hyundai Galloper SUVs for $2,000 - $3,000. Today his completely rejuvenated Gallopers can sell upwards to $80,000. His creations are truly a work of art.

Why I liked this article because it highlights how simple automobile and SUV designs are still in demand. Today’s automobile and SUV designers are like home builders that build the biggest most expensive house on the smallest lot to maximize profit. We need to go back to basics will less expensive vehicles like the original peoples car the VW Beetle that sold for $1,800 back in the early 1960s. Today VW is a premium car not for your average Joe. My car is a 1999 Honda CRV LX with 280,000 miles on it. I paid about $18,000 for it in California. A new 2016 CRV LX has a MSRP just north of $24,000. Since 1999 Honda designers have slowly added more and more features to the CRV lineup driving the cost up each year.

 HERE of a great article on Henie Kim and HERE to visit his web page.
Henie Kim shows that simple car designs can be just as beautiful as cars today. His work is truly art. All these photos are from Henie Kim's webpage.  He should open a Mohenic Garage here in the U.S. or make his creations using an American spec SUV like the original Toyota Land Cruiser.  If you cannot wait for Henie Kim to come to america, you can go to the Barrett Jackson auction website.  They have large collection of vintage Toyota Land Cruisers.

 Until next time, be safe in the sun and have a great day in the great outdoors.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Merrell Not Your Father’s Hiking Boots

Back in April 2014 I wrote an article about hiking boots that included a little history of hiking and mountaineering shoes and boots.  This review of the new Merrell outdoor shoes will encompass some of my same thoughts. 

Here is a little footwear trivia. Did you know that footwear has been around for thousands of years? According to, “A complete shoe was discovered at the Areni-1 Cave in Armenia, and reported in 2010. It was a moccasin-type shoe, lacking a vamp or sole, and it has been dated to ~5500 years BP.”  And foot prints that show that the feet were covered are even older by a few more thousands of years.  In addition, Sandra Fikes, in her article “A brief History of Trail Hiking Shoes” on March 26, 2008 reports that the 1991 buying guide for Backpacker Magazine listed 24 manufacturers of lightweight hiking boots and shoes with over 250 styles available.  A short twenty-five years later, can you imagine how big the selection of outdoor recreation footwear must be today?  The number must be mind boggling.  Walking the footwear isles of Sports Authority, Cabelas, Dicks Sporting Goods, Gander Mountain, Bass Pro Shop, REI, Eastern Mountain Sports shoppers will have a broad selection of outdoor recreation footwear for all the activities these shoppers can imagine.  

So where have we come in the chronology of outdoor footwear design?  A few of more important milestones are the 1906 U.S. Rubber Keds shoes and the 1965 Timberland introduction of water proof injection molding.  Also in 1937, according to Vibram, “Vitale Bramani, Academic of the Italian Alpine Club, returned from a tragic alpine climb and had the brilliant  idea of developing rubber biking boot soles. These would be produced using the same technique used by Pirelli for the production of tires. As a result the first vulcanized rubber sole and the famous Carrarmato” design was born. This design went on to start a legacy of rubber sole designs changing footwear design forever.” Merrell has been a major player and influencer in the outdoor footwear industry since Randy Merrell and all-American Olympian Clark Matis and John Schweizer designed their first pair of hiking boots back in 1981.

I really like the quote from Merrell, “From our very first custom made hiking boots to our latest product innovations, we make all of our products with four core values in mind: Comfort, Durability, Design, and Versatility. It’s all about removing the barriers to enjoying the great outdoors.”  We know how important this is because outdoor sports shoes and boots for walking, running and climbing have evolved since the 1980s. Selecting the right footwear has become very important because picking the right shoe or boot for the type of outdoor recreation adventure you are planning can make or break your trip experience.  Merrell is one brand that has created outdoor shoe collections that cover almost all outdoor environments and terrains.

To the best of my recollection, I purchased my first pair of hiking boots during the early 1970s at Bill Jackson's in Pinellas Park, Florida.  These boots and the many other hiking and climbing boots I would purchase in the future took me to the mountain and low-Land trails in Colorado, Alaska, Washington State, California, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Maine.  I have covered my share trail miles over these past thirty plus years.  These days my outdoor adventures have taken on a more relaxed style.  Having climbed mountains like Flattop Mountain in Alaska,  Mount Holy Cross in Colorado or Thunderhead and Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains along with parts of the Appalachian Trail, leisurely walks or bike riding along many of Florida’s Rails to Trails routes suit me just fine. After logging hundreds of miles on the trail, I now have many outdoor footwear choices depending on what kind of terrain I am attempting to challenge. 
Merrell has the right show for me from leisure to rough terrain with steep inclines.  

This season, Merrell has a new sport shoe called the ‘Capra Bolt Mid Waterproof”.  Here are the Merrell shoe specifications. 

       Synthetic and mesh upper
       Metal hook and lacing closure for secure lacing
       Bellows tongue keeps debris out
       Breathable mesh lining
       Merrell M Select™ FIT.ECO blended EVA contoured foot bed with organic odor control
       Molded nylon arch shank
       Merrell air cushion in the heel absorbs shock and adds stability 
       TrailProtect™ pad offers additional protection off road
       4mm lug depth
       Weight: 1lb 15oz

This all-terrain shoe does not come in half sizes past size 10.5 and does not come in a wide width.  So it is important to try them on in a store before purchase. I wear a size 12 but the size 12 in this shoe was tight at the front of the shoe where my toes touched the nose. So I went up a size to 13.  When laced tight, the “Capra Bolt Mid Waterproof” hugs my foot giving me plenty of room in the toe area when walking down steep slopes so my toes will not bang against nose of the shoe.  That is really important because when you are doing a multiday hike on trails with steep inclines, your big toe when hitting the nose of the shoe or boot, can give you tender or black toenails and trauma to the point where you might lose your toenail.   So chose your long distance hiking shoes and boots wisely with plenty of toe room.  Merrell has the right shoe or boot for you.

In early August, I will be trekking to the hills of Western North Carolina where I will be giving my new pair of Capra Bolts a good work out.  I would like to thank Merrell for providing me with my new pair of Capra Bolts.  I plan to give a Capra Bolt update when I return.

With trail running all the rage right now, take a look at all the different styles of trail running shoes Merrell is offering this season.  Click HERE to learn more about the Merrell All Out Collection of men’s and Women’s Trail Runner shoes.

So if you are in the market for a new pair of outdoor recreation shoes, boots and sandals find a Merrell retailer near you and try out a pair.  

Until next time, be safe in the sun and have a great day in the great outdoors.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Ron Presley's Outdoor Chronicles

Here is some great news. Captain Ron Presley, who was an Examiner on now has a new home.  You can find him on the online magazine called ODU Magazine.  Click HERE for the link to his new online home.

Until next time, be safe in the sun and have a great day in the great outdoors.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Changing the game in fishing! TruFishing™ by Cast Further™

At the 2016 ICAST Cast FurtherTM exhibited their new fishing data collection system where one can get exact measurements of your catch. This software and hardware development and integration project is being funded on KickStarter. 
According to TruFishing™, “The fishing data collection system digitally connects devices to a mobile app which will allow anglers to instantly measure all aspects of a catch as well as film a voice activated video while landing the fish for online sharing through social media.”
If you want to get in on the ground floor and support this project that is developing a new family fishing technology devices and software, click HERE for the KickStarter website.
Until next time, be safe in the sun and have a great day in the great outdoors.

Smith Shows Off Premium Outdoor Performance Sunglasses Collection at ICAST

What I always like about ICAST is the sunglasses wars between the major brands.  At the 2016 ICAST held at the Orange County Convention Center Smith Optics showed off two of their new premium outdoor performance frames in addition to many of their other great sunglass with their new ChromaPop lens systems.  By upgrading the Smith lens technology, they were most surely sending a message to Maui Jim, Costa, and Native and other brands that their lenses were the best.  Click HERE to learn all about the Smith ChromaPop lens systems.
The two new models were the Redmond and Wolcott.  See photos below.  Both pairs of sunglasses use the Smith proprietary lens technology.  The lens provide 100% UV protection. Each lens is crafted from Techlite TLT glass lenses which include according to Smith “Anti-scratch or ChromaPop+ and ChromaPop polarized lenses that enhance visual definition and natural color clarity in a high impact resistance lens for an upgraded experience offering instant advantage and confidence.”
The new Redmond comes in an 8 base wrap design with narrow, lightweight temples. It has a medium fit frame in 13 colorways with six ChromaPop+ lens offerings, two ChromaPop lens choices, and five Techlite glass lens options. Wow that is a lot of choices when picking a pair of new sunglasses.
The Wolcott has a small and medium fit frame in 11colorways with six ChromaPop+ lens offerings, two ChromaPop lens choices, and three Techlite glass lens options.
According to Smith, “Each Redmond or Walcott frame is designed in the US and constructed in Italy of 53% bio-based lightweight, yet durable Evolve frame material and are part of the largest eco-friendly sunglass collection in the world. Featuring premium Italian stainless steel spring hinges and the addition of hydrophilic megol nose and temple pads for a secure fit. Both models are RX compatible.”
Each of these sunglasses has a MSRP of $169-239 depending on lens selection. They are available now specialty retailers worldwide and

Until next time, be safe in the sun and have a great day in the great outdoors and do not forget to wear your sunglasses to protect your precious eyes. 

GE Opal Countertop Ice Maker

From time to time major appliance brands come up with new cutting edge products that can be used when camping.  This week GE through their new venture called “First Build” rolled out their new counter top ice making machine for your home called the “Opal”.  But this ice making machine is small enough to fit in your RV or trailer camper. You can even pack it in tent camping gear and take it along as long as your camp site has electrical power or you have a generator. I am not sure if a solar power generator can generate enough current to power the Opal.  I hope some early adapter will purchase one and try it out using solar power. 

From the Opal website: “Opal makes the chewable, crunchable, flavor-saving nugget ice you love. Estimated Delivery Late Fall 2016.
Portability/Design: Compact countertop design plugs into any electrical outlet;
Speed/Efficiency: 15 minutes to first nugget Produces 1 lb. of ice per hour.
Capacity: Holds up to 2.5 quarts (3 lbs.)

Click HERE for the Opal web site where you can pre-order.

If it had not been for the CNN Money article today, I would not have known about “First Build” or the “Opal”.  Click HERE for the CNN Money article.  First Build sound like a great GE venture.  I am sure there will be many outdoor recreation enthusiast who will become members and submit ideas for cutting edge outdoor recreation appliances.

Until next time, be safe in the sun and have a great day in the great outdoors.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Platypus Fishing Lines Coming to America


ICAST being the show that it is, you never know who you will meet. On Friday while I was walking the rows of booths, I ran into Jason Schall.  Who is Jason Schall? Well if you are follower of the fishing industry and the IGFA you might know that the IGFA announce in 2014 that Jason Schall of Charleston, South Carolina, USA had won the 2014 IGFA-Chester H. Wolfe Outstanding Sportsmanship Award. This was quite an accomplishment.  Jason is also known for having caught over 500 different species of fish all over the world.  Jason is a competitive saltwater, freshwater, and fly fishing angler. He won the Fly Division at the 2016 Jacksonville Kayak Fishing Classic with a grand slam (Trout, Red Fish and Flounder). Click HERE for a link to one of his bio pages.

That being said, Jason was at ICAST this year with his new sponsor Platypus Fishing Lines.  Platypus Fishing Lines did not have a booth this year but Jason was at the show with Stewart McPherson, 4th Generation Family Ownership & CEO, and Mark Nightinggale, National Sales Manager, scouting the show to learn the ICAST floor layout and ideal booth locations.  After meeting and talking with Jason, Stewart, and Mark, I cannot wait to see their booth next year because they have already registered to guarantee them a spot at the big dance. 

Platypus Fishing Lines has an amazing history. The company was started by George Ross McPherson in 1898.  What is amazing about this is the fact that the company is in its 4th generation of operation with a McPherson running the company.  Click HERE to read a great article on their Australian history.  Here is a great quote from the article talking about the 4th generations.

Fish & Boat Magazine – 01/08/2015 – ICONS of the Industry - Quote: “Stewie is a different kettle of fish altogether.

Platypus Fishing Lines is based in Brisbane, Australia. Over 100 years later, Platypus remains proudly owned and operated by the same family that established the company in 1898.

So if you plan to attend the 2017 ICAST in Orlando, Florida, be sure to check out Platypus Fishing Lines.

Until next time, be safe in the sun and have a great day in the great outdoors. 

Soft Science Rocks ICAST

On Thursday, July 14th as I walked the rows of booths looking for new brands, I came upon Soft Science.  Because I am somewhat a shoe sport shoe junkie that owns many pairs of Sperry, Chaco, Merrell, and Crocs just to name a few, I just had to stop.  Well this booth was so crowded with onlookers, buyers and media; I could not wedge myself into position to speak with anyone.  So I stood on the periphery of the booth and took some great photos.   I marked Soft Science for a return visit on Friday.
Each Friday afternoon of ICAST when the show is winding down is the best time to visit booths.  The booth traffic is so slow at this time that it gives media loads of time to grip, grin, take photos and videos and talk with sales and marketing reps.  On Friday I listened to Tubby Madden, Soft Science Sales and Marketing, talk to a pro angler about selecting the right size shoe for him.  The angler was a kayaker that was looking for a better shoe to
wear when peddling his fishing kayak.  Tubby said that their shoes only came in whole sizes and that the foot bed and sole was made from a new proprietary material that was designed by one of the past designers at Crocs.  In 2013, Scott Seamans, founder and chief designer of Crocs and John Duerdan former president and CEO of Reebok got together to form Soft Science and the redesign of great comfortable shoes.
Tubby went on to say that the new formula improved upon what Crocs uses.  As I inserted myself into the conversation, I said that I had lost many a pair of Crocs in my car when the Crocs melted.  He said that the new material had corrected that problem.  The kayak angler decided on a size after trying on a pair in the booth. Tubby said that he would get a pair set out to him for testing.  Tubby then turned to me and asked if I wanted to test a pair.  I said yes and gave him my business card. 
Having intimate knowledge on Crocs, I am excited to test out a pair of these shoes.  One feature that is important to me is the tread pattern on the bottom of the shoe.  I experienced a bad fall in May of this year while covering the 2016 Jacksonville Kayak Fishing Classic. I was out early in the morning taking kayak fishing photos from shore when I, while wearing a pair of Crocs, slipped on the tidal shoreline and fell on my face.  When looking back on why I slipped and fell, the Crocs I was wearing were part of the problem.  The bottom tread had worn to the point where I was not getting good traction.  Mind you I probably should have chose better footwear, but being in a wet environment I chose a pair of Crocs instead of my other shoes.  The bottoms of Crocs tend to wear out quickly when walking on rough surfaces like concrete or asphalt.  I cannot wait to test out the Soft Science shoes to see if they perform any better than my Crocs.  
I liked all the different styles and colors that were on exhibit at ICAST especially the fishing and boat shoes.  You can purchase Soft Science shoes on their website (Click HERE). I will post an update to this article after I have had time testing the Soft Science shoes that they send me.
Until next time, be safe in the sun and have a great day in the great outdoors.

Fish Monkey at ICAST

At the 2016 ICAST when I was in the Chums booth greeting old ICAST friends, I got into a discussion about other brands when it came to light that the past owners of MOJO sportswear started a new fishing and marine product line called fish Monkey and that I had to visit their booth.  So I was directed to the Fish Monkey booth a few booths over and this is what I learned. 
Fish Monkey! What is a Fish monkey? Fisch affe ist ein handschuh.   James Rath and Tim Mossberg started Fish Monkey which is a full lineup of different types and styles of performance fishing and marine gloves.  At the booth I met Tim Mossberg, president. As I started talking to Tim, I was thinking fishing gloves are not new.  I can get them at many different places.  But the more we chatted it became clear to me that they were onto something.   So here is a question.  How many different pairs of fishing gloves do you have? One pair of fingerless kayaking full fingered for offshore, cleaning fish, and how about Nitrile Disposable gloves.  Typically to purchase each of these gloves you have to shop at many different places.  That is where Fish Monkey comes in.  Fish monkey is a full line up of all the different kinds of fishing and marine gloves all in one place. 
As I started to leave the booth, James Rath and I continued the conversation about their marketing plan and how they were going to penetrate the market.  After honing their skills making MOJO the brand it is today, James said that they have worked hard to make the purchase of fishing and marine gloves easy with a price point that will not break the bank.  Because all the samples that were being exhibited at ICAST were pre-production models retailers will not start to stock their shelves until later in year. 
Sometimes in the Sportfishing market place there are product gaps that need to be filled with a solution.  In this case Fish Monkey has done just that. Click HERE for their website and catalog.

Until next time, be safe in the sun and have a great day in the great outdoors. 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Bass Pro NRA Freedom Days

July 16, 2016 – Melbourne, Florida
In the mail this week I received my Bass Pro sale mailer.  Before I opened it I was expecting the typical sale add that I get throughout the year when Bass Pro wants to promote some of their seasonal products.  I sure was prized to open an advertisement promoting the NRA, hand and long guns and ammo.   What strikes me about this is that it is American Free Enterprise at work.  No matter which side you are on regarding the 2nd Amendment or gun control, you have to appreciate the tenacity of the gun industry and their major re-sellers like Walmart and Bass Pro for making money.  Is not that what capitalism is all about? Take advantage of market trends to develop sales and marketing campaigns that resonate with American outdoor sports and recreation buying public is just artful.  I can tell you from experience shopping at my local Bass Pro in Palm Bay, Florida, that during this sale, if you are not at the store when it opens each day, you will either have to wait in long gun counter lines or not get the hand gun, rifle or ammo you came to the store to purchase. 
As I looked through the flyer, I could not help but notice the cost of gun and ammo.  With the prices I am seeing, the gun industry is extremely profitable.  If you or your 401K is not investing in gun industry stock, your retirement plan is missing out. 
How about a little gun nostalgia? Remember back in the day when you could go into Sears, Kmart or your local hunting store and find a barrel full of old military rifles for about $10.00 - $20.00 each?  Or kids could purchase gun if they had the money without their parents. Boy has times changed.  Check out some of the sale prices in the NRA Freedom Days’ sale add.  The sale started yesterday and ends on July 31st
Until next time, be safe in the sun and have a great day in the great outdoors.

2016 ICAST Video Clips

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

It Pays to Careful

Photo Provided By
CNN - "Colleen Burns, 35, was hiking along the trails of the Arizona tourist destination on Friday when friends say she fell about 400 feet."  Sad news that Colleen Burns fell while hiking at the Grand Canyon.  This is just a stark reminder that even the safest places to hike outdoors can turn deadly.  Always be prepared when venturing into the great outdoors.  There are a lot of good books on this subject.  Mountaineers Books is a good website to get your mountaineering books along with Amazon.  
CNN article link click HERE.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Tenba Black Shootout Action Pack Ready for Action

Over the long 4th of July weekend I traveled to Sedona, Arizona for a quick visit and a photo shoot of the Sedona red rocks.  On this trip I had to decide which of my four cameras to take.  Being that I need the capability to shoot scenic images at great distances, I chose my Lumix GH3 with a Lumix G Vario 100-300 lens. For close-up work I chose my Lumix Gx1 with the Lumix Vario 14-45 lens.  Because I also have a JVC HD movie camera and GoPro Black 3+, it took a while for me to decide whether or not to take them along.  What governed my decision was the baggage restrictions placed on all travelers by the airlines.  I decided to leave my JVC HD movie camera and GoPro Black 3 at home.
Now that I made the decision on what camera gear to take, what camera bag would I use? Before the trip I did not have a backpack camera bag that I wanted to take.  All my camera lenses and camera bodies were stored in a medium Pelican Storm Case, this case was way too heavy for me use as a carry on and I did not want to check it as luggage. 
A week before I was planning to leave, Kristin Robinson, PR Manager for Pitch Public Relations, contacted me about writing about the new Tenba Shootout Action Pack 14L – Black GoPro camera bag.  I immediately emailed her back and said if you can get me one before I fly out, I will test it out for you. The bag arrived in two days and my problem was solved.

Because this bag is designed specifically for GoPro type cameras, I had to think how I would use the all the different compartments and sleeves.  All the outside side pockets worked great to carry my water bottles, cell phones and IPad Mini.  The four inside clear plastic pockets that were designed for the GoPro accessories would be the challenge to pack because my Lumix cameras and lens were much larger than the GoPro 4 camera and accessories.  After thinking it through, I decided on a course of action.  My GH3 body was placed in one pocket. The GX1 in another pocket along with the Lumix Vario 14-45 lens. In the padded pocket which can hold four (4) GoPro style cameras I was able to place the Lumix Vario 100-300 lens. In the fourth pocket I was able to bring along my JVC HD camera which I never used on the trip.  This was not a good choice.  I did not have to strap my mono-pod to the bag because it was packed in my suitcase.  All in all the Tenba Shootout Action Pack 14L – Black GoPro camera bag packed with my Panasonic 4/3 cameras and lens did the trick. 
During the Delta flights to and from Arizona, the Tenba Shootout Action Pack 14L – Black GoPro camera bag fit perfectly in the overhead compartment.  Throughout the trip I was able to carry the Shootout Action Pack easily.  When I got to Arizona my son, who is in the U.S. Army, tried out the Shootout Action Pack. He said that he liked how the pack the fit and was easy to carry.  He is modeling the bag in the photos.
For the average person, the bag does everything it was designed to do and then some.  But because if you are a really big person like me, the shoulder straps could have been a little bit longer and the waist strap at it maximum length do not fit my Santa sized belly.  Also when I wore the bag the strap that connected the two shoulder straps in the front was not usable because of my chest size.  This was because the shoulder straps were probably designed for human factors 50% percentile average sized person. My son was able to connect the front strap with ease.  All in all without the waist and front straps not fastened, I was able to comfortably carry the bag while traveling to and from Arizona and while hiking the red rocks of Sedona. 
 All that being said, the Shootout 14L Action Pack with your camera gear, like most backpack camera bags do not have room for your jacket, lunch or other hiking gear.  You might do better with a larger size bag from the Shootout Collection where you can remove some of the divider inserts to give you room for other stuff.   If I had it to do all over again, the Shootout Backpack 32L just might have been a better choice.  But if you plan to do a photo shoot where you bring along GoPro gear and a DSLR camera and a few lenses the Shootout 14L Action Pack just might do the trick. There is also another solution to the backpack space dilemma.  Tenba has a solution.  They make an entire line of padded camera bag inserts.  All you have to do is select the right sized insert or inserts and use your standard backpack to carry you camera gear and all your other hiking or mountaineering gear and equipment.  Problem solved.
You can carry up to 4 GoPro cameras or similar sized action cameras, plus all you GoPro camera accessories. The bag has self-sealing zippers and a rain cover. One of the bags strongest features is with the waist strap fastened; you can turn the bag around while wearing it to change lenses or other camera gear.   To review all the other great features and watch a video, you can click HERE for their website. This backpack is really multi-functional.  It can carry both GoPro and other camera gear that can save you money because you do not need to purchase two specialty bags, one for the GoPro and one for DSLR cameras and gear.  All you need to do is to purchase one of Tenba’s tool boxes that will fit in the Shootout 14L Action Pack for your DSLR cameras and lens.    
When selecting a new or your first camera backpack, give the Shootout 14L Action Pack or any of the other Tenba camera backpacks and tool boxes a hard look. 

Until next time, be safe in the sun and have a great day in the great outdoors. 

North St. Clinton Backpack

From time to time I get the opportunity to field test outdoor gear.  Over the first weekend in July I traveled to Sedona, Arizona for a long short visit.  On this trip North St. Bags provided me with one of their “Clinton” backpacks to test.  Along with the backpack I received a set of three nylon travel pouches and a sleeve that would hold a full size IPad.  I found that the “Clinton” backpack performed as designed. 
With all the baggage restrictions the airlines place on airline travelers one has to choose the right travel bags to maximize all the clothing and gear you take on trips.  The North St. “Clinton” backpack is a good pick as carry-on luggage because when fully packed to its maximum size of 7" x 11" x 16"it fits easily in the overhead or under one’s seat.
When you arrive at your destination the “Clinton” backpack is rugged enough to take it into the great outdoors.  It has a water proof lining, an internal laptop sleeve pocket and a unique roll down top closure. The shoulder straps are constructed of vented foam making it comfortable to carry. The backpack is handmade from made in the USA materials.  The backpack has an easy access external pockets and internal Velcro rows enable adding or swapping out pockets as needed.  All and all it is a great travel backpack.  If you want to expand the “Clinton” backpack capability, you can purchase a Shockproof, Waterproof, Partitioned, and Padded Camera Insert for your camera equipment that will easily slip into the “Clinton” backpack. F-Stop Gear sells a very nice Internal Camera Unit. Click HERE for their website
I started using a backpack back in the 1970s.  Over the years past 30 plus years, I have to be honest, my weight and size are not the same as when I was in my 20s.  With all the different body types, it has to be difficult to design outdoor gear to fit everyone. For outdoor gear designers that is just not possible.  As I aged and my body type changes, packs I could once use we too small for me. Because the typical design of day packs, hiking and mountaineering backpacks are designed for the 50% Human Factors Percentile, they do not fit very small and very large individuals. In the case of the “Clinton” backpack, because I have an endomorphic body type with very wide shoulders and a big chest, the “Clinton” backpack does not ride very well on my frame because the shoulder straps are too short.  But the backpack fit perfectly on my wife and my son who tried it out on the Sedona trip.
Today the designs of backpacks have changed as new materials have become available to designers and manufacturers. Some brands today have adjustable shoulder and waist straps. What this means is that when you are purchasing a backpack you need to try it on to be sure it fits your body type and torso length.  Keep in mind that when you purchase online you take a risk that the day pack or backpack that will not fit. Click HERE for a link on how to pick the right size day pack or backpack.
So if you are in the market for a new backpack, check out the “Clinton” backpack.   You will not be disappointed.
Click HERE for the North St. web page.