Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Happy Birthday National Parks Service

Sometimes in one's life you discover a factoid that you did not know about your birthday.  Until this week I did not know that my birthday fell on the same day the National Parks Service was created by President Woodrow Wilson 100 years ago on August 25, 1916.

For the past 100 years the National Parks Service has protected and cared for America's national treasures that belong to all Americans.  Each year over 275 million visitors pass through the gates of our National Parks System.  As part of this year's centennial  celebration, NPS has waived park entry fees August 25th through the 28th at all 59 National Parks.  So this weekend why don't you celebrate the National Parks System's 100th birthday by visiting a National Park near you.

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

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Blackburn Design Interlock Rack System & Pannier Bags

Depending in which part of the country you live in summer temperatures over 90 degrees with high humidity do not make great cycling weather.  As August comes to a close, cooler temperatures are just around the corner that make bike riding the perfect outdoor recreation past time or the right time of the year to ride your bike to work.

Getting your bike ready for the road just seems like the right thing to do. Blackburn Design has many cycling accessories that can made your ride more enjoyable and worry less.  The Blackburn Design Interlock Rack System is just the right accessory to give you piece of mind that when you lockup your bike on a sidewalk or street, your pannier will not be stolen.  Blackburn Design Interlock Rack System has
been designed around different bags that can be securely locked to the rear bike rack.  The locking system is key activated and made from high strength aluminum tubing.  Once installed the key operated a latch on the rear of the rack that allows the long silver top of the rack shown in the photo to the left to open up allowing the rider to remove any of the special bags that have been lock into place on the rack.  The Blackburn Central Shoppers Bag shown in the photo below is one of the specially designed bags that have build in clips that allow the bag to be securely attached to the rack. When not attached to the rack these clips are hidden behind a zipped flap. In addition to the Central Shoppers Bag, the Central Bag HERE for the Blackburn Design website.
Pannier has been designed to fit under the racks silver top to be locked securely in place.   If there is not a need to lock a pannier bag to the Interlock Rack, then Blackburn Design has other bags that will give the rider differ gear hauling options.  The Wayside Backpack Pannier is such a bag.  It easily attaches to the rack and can be removed and worn as a back pack.  This bag is great for students who commute to school each day on a bike.  All and all, Blackburn Design is one of the leaders in bicycle rack systems and accessories. Click HERE for the Blackburn Design website where you will find all their great cycling products.

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

Sunday, August 14, 2016

2016 ICAST Wrap Up

The 2016 ICAST put on by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) was just amazing this year.  Over 15,000 buyers, owners and media attended the show.  I wish everyone could attend. But they cannot.  It is a closed show.  But here is an idea - ASA and the ICAST team would have one day where the show would be open to the public.  The show always ends on a Friday but they could do one more day and have Saturday a public showing.  If they did that they could pack 20,000 - 30,000 visitors into the event. It would take ICAST to the next level.  I am sure that this could really jump start sales for all exhibitors where attendees could make advance purchases.  Knowing the fishing market place like I do, ASA could easily charge $50.00 a ticket and they would fill the house to maximum capacity.  If you know anything about outdoor sportsman and women, they do not just like their fishing rods, reels, guns, boats, kayaks and off road vehicles they love them.  They will go to just about any lengths to attend a show like ICAST.  Having a public day just makes great business sense.

Next year ICAST returns to the Orange County Convention Center.  The dates are from July 11th to July 14th.  Registration typically does not open until early next year so mark you calendar.  If you want to exhibit and have not already done so when you attended the 2016 show, keep visiting the ICAST registration webpage often because the show sells out.  

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

Stainless Steel Wars at 2016 ICAST

At every ICAST or Surf Expo the major brands seem to get into new product wars where one will roll out a new product that catchers the other brands off guard.  Then the brands that were caught sleeping at the wheel try to catch up.  This year I noted that stainless steel products of all kinds were making their debut at the 2016 ICAST.  Take the ice chest maker ORCA.  Not to be outdone by Yeti who rolled out their stainless steel tumblers last year, ORCA  had on display in their booth a whole line up of stainless steel drinkwear.  Drinkwear? Are you serious? Where do marketeers come up with these names. You got me.

Shown in the photo are 64 ounce Growler @ $89.99, Chasetini @ $44.99, Beer Bottle Rocket @ $44.99, 20 ounce Chaser Cafe @ $39.99 and the Beer Can Rocket.  The Beer Can Rocket must be real new because it is not shown on the ORCA Drinkwear webpage.  Like all the Yeti stainless steel products, they will set you back a penny or two. Forty plus dollars for a container to drink out of seems a bit over the top for me.  The ORCA 27 ounce tumbler retails for $39.99.

You can find some really informative stainless steel reviews on YouTube.  HERE is a good one between the Yeti ($39.99), Arctic ($14.99) , Twin Peaks ($24.99) and Ozark Trail ($9.94).  I do not own a stainless steel tumbler but I do use a AVEX thermal mug for my coffee when I travel. I got it to test out at a Surf Expo one year ago.  It retails for $34.99 and work just fine for me.

When selecting a stainless steel tumbler, I suspect that the Yeti, ORCA, Arctic, Twin Peaks and the Ozark will all perform as designed.  It is up to you to decide if you need that high priced Logo stamped on the lid.  All things considered, if that is what turns you on, then go with the Yeti or ORCA else you can save $30.00 and get you stainless steel tumbler at Walmart for $9.97.

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

Howler Brothers at the 2016 ICAST

One of my favorite brands to visit when I attend ICAST or Surf Expo is the Howler Brothers booth.   I was not able to film them at ICAST this year. Click HERE for a short video clip of Mason giving a run down from Surf Expo.  The Howler Brothers brand of of men's apparel is  geared for any outdoor sport where style and functionality are important.  Last year they partnered with Smith Optics to create the Smith x Howler Guides and Founder sunglasses.  These sunglasses are great whether you are fly fishing or hitting the beach for a day in the sun.   I have not had the chance to try out a pair of the Smith x Howler Guides or Founder sunglasses. But I have tested a pair of Smith Optics Envoy Max sunglasses with ChromaPop lenses here along the Space Coast Beaches.  Smith makes an excellent pair of sunglasses.  The ChromaPop lenses are everything Smith claims them to be.  I have a large face and these sunglasses fit perfectly.  

The Howler Brothers brand offers, hats, shirts, pants, outdoor outerwear,  gear and accessories for those outdoor enthusiast who really want to look good.   Click HERE for their website. If you like their website, you can partly thank Matt Jones.  He is an outdoor photographer they like to use when creating some of their advertising graphics like the one shown in the photo to the left. Click HERE for Matt's website.   He is a pretty amazing guy.  Also do not forget that Howler Brothers is having a website sale where you can get 40% apparel.  The sale that ends on August 19th.  Check them out you will not be disappointed.  

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

Sunday, August 7, 2016


 Each year the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) holds the world's largest sportfishing trade show called ICAST (International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades).  The show has shifted between Las Vegas and Orlando in the past.  But for the past two years and again next year, ICAST  will be held at the Orange County Convention Center located on International Drive in Orlando, Florida.  I attended the 2008 ICAST in Las Vegas when I helped Dry-Grip Sunscreen introduce their new dry sunscreen to anglers. I have not missed one ICAST since 2008 except when it returned to Las Vegas. Having ICAST in Florida, the fishing capital of the world, only makes good business sense because you cannot fish in Las Vegas like you can at any of the lakes in Orange County, Florida.  Orlando, in my opinion is the only place to have this show.  Surf Expo has made that decision hosting two shows a year at the Orange County Convention Center in January and September.

At each ICAST I take about 200 - 500 photos of the show.  This photo essay are some of these photo that will give you an idea of how great ICAST is.  Please enjoy. Click HERE for the ICAST website.

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

Saturday, August 6, 2016

2016 ICAST Kayak Wars Part 2

Visiting all the kayak booths during the 2106 ICAST was a blast.  Here is a short summary and a few takeaways from the show about fishing kayaks.

Hobie Fishing Kayaks: This year Hobie exhibited their updated 180 Mirage Drive System that now has a reverse.  Other than that the lineup of Pro Angler kayaks remained unchanged from last year.  Did you know that the Hobie Mirage Drive system has been around since its inception in 1997? Hobie has been the leader of the pack in innovating fishing kayaks since the start.  Look how long it has taken the other major brands to come up their own drive systems.  This new propulsion system will give the angler full power in both directions and it will be available on all 2017 model year Mirage kayaks.  Click HERE for the Hobie website.

Wilderness Systems Kayaks:  This  brand went all out this year at ICAST with a new kayak and a new pilot prototype pedal drive system.  The new Advanced Tactical Angling Kayak, (A.T.A.K.) 120 gives the kayak angler all the features of the A.T.A.K. 140 but at a shorter length.  The introduction of the pilot prototype pedal drive system shows how important that Wilderness Systems keeps up with the Jones as they compete head-to-head with Hobie and the other major brands for market share. Click HERE for the Wilderness Systems website.

Nucanoe Kayaks: With a short visit to the Nucanoe booth it was clear that they did not have any new kayaks or pedal drives to offer.  The Nucanoe Pursuit fishing kayak from last year remains a hot seller and a very stable kayak for the pedaling crowd. Click HERE for the Nucanoe website.

Jackson Fishing Kayaks: This year Jackson added a new kayak, the Cuda HD, to their stable of great fishing kayaks.  The Cuda HD is longer and more stable than the basic Cuda. Being a big guy, I liked the 32.5" width of this kayak.  The extra width makes yak really stable for a guy like me.  Jackson has one of the biggest lineups of fishing kayaks of any brand.  The new Cuda HD fits nicely between the Cuda 12.0 and the Big Rig.  Click HERE for their website.

Old Town Fishing Kayaks:  At the 2016 ICAST the new Old Town Predator Kayak with pedal drive was presented with a 2016 ICAST "Best of Show" in the "Best Boat" category.  Best in Show awards are selected by voting media and buyers who attend the show.

Accoding to Old Town, "The Old Town PDL Drive is a brilliant piece of engineering founded on proven technologies in the lifecycle market.  The result is an easy to carry, operate and stow system that efficiently converts modest pedaling into maximum propulsion. A 10.3:1 gear ratio means that anglers can reach speeds up to 5.5 mph to reach fishing spots fast and efficiently.  Additionally, Pedal Drive allows smooth forward and reverse and a small turn radius allow for the ultimate in boat control via one-handed rudder control on the boat itself."  This new kayak is a great addition to the Predator lineup of fishing kayaks. Click HERE for the Old Town website.

Native Watercraft: With this year being the year of the pedal drive, Native Watercraft rolled out their new prototype Manta Ray Propel fishing kayak. Native designed this boat to appeal to more kayak buyers because they planned to bring this yak to market at a lower MSRP than other kayaks with pedal drive. It will compete head-to-head with other brands who are introducing their own pedal drive systems this year. Only time will tell what the final Manta Ray Propel fishing kayak configuration will look like.  No date has been set when the kayak will ship to re-sellers.  Click HERE for their website.

Eddyline Fishing Kayaks: Eddyline was the 2015 ICAST Best in Show Boat.  This year they returned with their entire lineup that won that honor last year.  The Eddyline Fishing Kayaks are by far the prettiest kayaks at the show with their shinning hull and top deck. Click HERE for their website.

After visiting a few kayak booths you might just start to see how close the fishing kayak  brands seem to mirror what their competitors are doing.  It is just like the 4 for 4 at Micky Ds.  Once the bundling of sandwiches, fries, and a drink for one price started, every fast food brand has jumped on the band wagon.   This year it is the pedal drive.  Last year it was seats.  What will it be next year?   Who know. That is what makes coming to ICAST fun.

Viking Fishing Kayaks: Viking is an Aussie brand that brought their Profish Reload premium kayak to the show.  The Profish Reload kayak is their fastest kayak. Viking still has not upgraded their seats to match what other brands have done. This is not necessarily a bad because the molded-in seat does not add additional cost and weight to the kayak that an aluminum and nylon mesh seat would do. Click HERE for their website.

True Recreation Kayak: True Recreation brought the most innovative basic kayak to the show with the DFP with its integrated pontoon system. This kayak has been in development for the past five years.  The DFP has a long list of features. The DFP is 13 feet long and 32 inches wide with pontoons inboard.  With the pontoons extended the width is 96 inches.  This is a heavy kayak at 90 pounds and has the capacity to carry a weight of 500 pounds.  This makes the DFP a great choice for really big anglers who weigh 250- 300 pounds. Click HERE for their website where you can read about all the other features of this kayak.

Bic Sports Fishing Kayaks: Bic Sports exhibited two of their fishing kayaks the Java and the Boreno.  These kayaks are made in France. These kayaks just do not seem to be on the same level of the other kayaks at the show when it came to accessories.  These tow kayaks are bare bones.  That being said, the quality of the molded kayak finish was extremely high.  Bic kayaks come with a few features that the other brands do not have like the rigid front nose handle and the real wheel that makes the kayak easy to move from the parking lot to the water. I suspect that Bic fishing kayaks suffer from the fact that Bic Sports focuses more on their surfing, wind surfing and SUP products which have a much stronger market presence. If you have ever attended  Surf Expo and you will see what I am talking about.  If not click HERE for their website as you will see how Bic Sports markets all their products. In the surf, wind surfing and SUP world, Bic Spots rocks. In September check out my fall Surf Expo  article where you can read about the new Bic Sports products for next year.

Crescent Kayaks: This brand is more focused on recreational than fishing kayaks.  Their Fish Xtreme I and Fish Xtreme II kayaks were bare bones.  These kayaks had molded in foot rests and two rod holders behind the molded seat There were no accessory rails or tracks.  The Xtreme I has a price point of $649.99 and the Xtreme II at $699.99.  The price point for each kayak might be the perfect fit if you are on a tight budget or you do not want to spend a lot of money to try out a new sport with out making a big investment. Click HERE for their website.

Feel Free Kayaks: Feel Free has a full lineup of fishing kayaks.  They were exhibiting their Lure 11.5 fishing kayak with their fully padded raised aluminum seat and the new Overdrive motor pedal drive system.  The motor runs on a 12 volt battery and is bout the size of liter of Coke.  The Overdrive system lets the angler switch between motor and pedal power.  This is a very interesting concept. I wonder how all the kayak fishing tournaments will treat this kind of propulsion system with a combination of motor and pedal drive.  I ask this question because pedal and Mirage drive kayaks are allowed where motor powered are not.   Looks like this kind of powered kayak will give tournament organizers something to think about.  All Feel Free kayaks are quality build and have similar standard and optional features many of the other brands offer. Click HERE for their website.

RTM Fishing Kayaks: I never made it to the RTM booth but I was able to grab a photo of their kayaks from one of the catwalks that joined two of the convention halls buildings at the Orange county Convention Center.  RTM is one of two kayak brands made in France exhibiting at the show.  One of the kayaks shown in the photo is the RYTMO Angler kayak.  It is the second one down from the top.  According to the RTM website, " This is a streamlined, performance kayak allowing the paddler fast access to his favorite fishing areas.  Long and stable with several storage spaces: front hatch with removable basin, 2 central storage areas - 1 rectangular with a rectangular hatch and 1 with a round hatch cover, rear storage area for a case." This kayak comes an installed rudder cable system to make a tiller installation very easy.  Last year RTM teamed up with  Torqeedo, a German Company, to add a battery powered motor drive system to their Abaco fishing kayak. Click HERE for their website.

All and all the 2016 ICAST was filled with great fishing kayaks from all the major brands.  There are sure a lot of kayak choices available in the $600 - $2,500 price range.  If I were to purchase a new kayak today I would not know here to start.

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