Gear Reviews

Waterproof Cameras for 2013
Wednesday, 24 April 2013

I’m really excited to have a guest post today. Jason Shreder is the owner of Montana's Zoo Town Surfers and sent us in this waterproof camera round-up for 2013. One of the best things about spending lots of time on the river is the people you meet, places you go, and all of the memories in between.  Many times, it’s hard to translate how you feel or what you see through the lens of a camera, but it's sure worth trying.  There are many different reasons to take photos on river trips, and I will leave that topic for you to decide. Nowadays, there are many options for point and shoot cameras that are waterproof, dustproof, and shock resistant.  Trying to find the camera that’s best for you can be frustrating, even with the big ole’ World Wide Web.  Over the past ten years, I’ve tried almost every model that’s been out.  Below, I’m recommending my top 5. Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS4 The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS4 is the best waterproof camera on the market today.  Nice design, quick shutter speed, and a nice zoom make this camera a deal.  With an underwater depth of 40’, ruining this camera is going to be hard.  Although this camera doesn’t have as many megapixels as the others (12.1), the photos will still look good if you want to print some larger photos. Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-TX20 The Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-TX20 is a great all around camera as well.  It’s a couple ounces lighter than the Panasonic (for all you minimalists), and has a couple more megapixels as well (16.2).  The Sony only has an underwater depth of 16’, which is somewhat of disappointment.  The camera is a bit more expensive, starting around $250. Olympus Stylus Tough TG320 I have a long relationship with Olympus cameras.  When I first started boating, the Olympus Stylus Tough TG320 was one of the first waterproof cameras on the market.  Well, the other folks finally caught up.  This tuff camera has a better zoom than the others but doesn’t have the best shutter speed and battery life I need when…
I recently received a couple Vapur collapsible waterbottles sent to me as a sample. I knew they were coming but I got a nice surprise when I opened the package and discovered that that the company also threw in a couple of their kids bottles after they found out that I had two girls. Vapur wanted me to give the new designs a try and let them know that the family thought of them.To be honest, I’ve always been hesitant about collapsible water bottles after having once a bad leak while using a cheap one but when I pulled these out of the package it felt a whole lot beefier than others I have tried before. Vapur describes material they use this way:Vapur Anti-Bottles are BPA-free and are constructed of three layers of ultra-durable plastic. The innermost layer is made from FDA-approved polyethylene, which is then bonded to two layers of nylon for strength and durability.Other than that, the "adult" design is a water bottle with a quick flip-up plastic lid that doesn’t leak when you give it a good hard squeeze. The flip-up lid easy to open and with a built-in hinge, you won’t lose the top on a hike. It’s pretty simple. It’s was the kids water bottles that got my kids (and me) all excited. The Quencher is a smaller sized bottle that holds just under a ½ litre (14oz) so it’s light enough for kids to carry and manage. I can go on and on about design features but really, the best part of it is that fact that it comes with four different great monster patterns. On top of that you also get a sheet of cool plastic stickers so your kid can add the appropriate monster eyes and/or rainbow clouds as my youngest daughter said it required.My only disappointment was that our sticker set didn’t come with unicorns running on the rainbows. Make note of that Vapur.Any ways, they are great little water bottles that we’ve been using pretty regularly over the past couple of months and so far the stickers are still going…
About a year ago Jill Ellis from Adanac Paddles contacted me to see if I would be interested in testing a new prototype Greenland paddle design she was working on. I quickly yes so when the paddle was ready I was invited to come and visit her woodworking shop in the booming city of Dover Centre, Ontario (population 11 people). One of the things that I learned while visiting Adanac Paddles world headquarters was that every single paddle is custom made to order. When an order submitted, Jill contacts the buyer and asks for a variety of measurements including the arm span, elbow to wrist length, elbow to fingertip, as well as the diameter of your first finger and thumb when doing the "OK" symbol. Though it sounds pretty precise, these follow the traditional measurements that would be taken from a Greenland or Inuit paddler for a new paddle. The advantage to this is that you receive a paddle that is custom built to your size. It also ensures that the overall length isn’t too long and unwieldy, the paddle shaft (or loom) isn’t too thick and the width of the blade at the end is just wide enough for your hands to grip when rolling or paddling with an extended blade. Long sentence short, you get a paddle that just fits. As mentioned before, the paddle that Jill made for me was a prototype model she had been working on. The overall shape of the paddle itself was similar to other traditional Greenland designs but what made this Western Cedar unique was the bone like material added to the blade tip for protection from rocks and ice. At the time, Jill was testing the material as well as a new way of attaching it to the blade itself. One of my goals over the past year was to take the paddle out in a wide variety of conditions including large surf, rocks and ice and try to break the tip off. A year later and I’m quite pleased to say I haven’t busted it yet. How do I like…
Kayak gear manufacture, Kayalu recently sent me a new stern deck light system that is about to hit the market. The Kayalite Stern Light is a 360 degree white light perched on top of an 18 inch ABS plastic pole. It’s designed to allow other boats to see you while out on the water at night.Most deck lights on the market attach to the boat with either a giant suction cup or by strapping to the back of the paddler’s lifejacket. Both are good designs but they do have their flaws. The suction cup works great on fibreglass boats but doesn’t stick to plastic models at all due to the rough surface. The lifejacket light works fine but really can only been seen by other boaters if they happen to approach you from behind.What makes the Kayalite system unique is the method by which it attaches to the kayak. The design uses a bungee and hook system so it will attach to either an eyelet or bungee on the deck of your boat. Once the light is clipped on and the bungee is tightened down, the unit is held snug to the boat. The large base helps to prevent the light tipping over. In fact, other people have reported rolling their boat with the light staying put!

Gear Review: Kestrel 2500 Wind Meter
Thursday, 11 February 2010

I love weather. That’s why I was excited to finally get my hands on and review the Kestrel 2500 Wind Meter.The Kestrel 2500 is a small waterproof weather station that fits in the palm of your hand. It’s designed to accurately measure wind speed, air or water temperature, wind chill, barometric pressure including pressure trend and altitude.
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