In 1932, Charles Danner started a boot company that, over the years, has become somewhat synonymous with comfortable, well-made hiking boots.
This year, inspired by the rugged and often changing terrain of the Pacific Crest Trail’s 2,650 miles, the Danner Trail 2650 was born. Touted as a lightweight hiker or trainer, this shoe is all that as well as a burly-feeling protector of your feet.
I wear a men’s 13 and this shoe fit well and was comfortable out of the box. The footwear comes with plenty of lace and the option of heel-lock lacing if your heels tend to slip (though I don’t think that will be an issue with these). (As a side note, my kids thought the shoes were good looking for a hiker, and really loved the bright red laces.)
As mentioned above, heel slippage probably won’t be a factor for most folks, as Danner has shifted the heel counter to the outside of the shoe, using a softer material for their EXO Heel System on the Trail 2650.
Eight (8) mm of heel drop and a wider forefoot should keep all but most ardent minimalists happy, with plenty of space for toes to spread out, but minimal foot bang if any due to the supportive lacing system.
A mesh liner works with a perforated leather to keep air moving and feet cool and comfortable.
A semi-gusseted tongue keeps water, gravel, and other detritus out of the shoe, but doesn’t extend all the way up to the top of the shoe, so not everything will stay out ultimately.
Danner sourced Vibram’s 460 outsole for the Trail 2650 to make footing less treacherous. The deep, multi-directional lugs shed mud and wet sand equally well, keeping traction consistent across varied terrain.
Overall, I’d say that this could become a mainstay in your closet, as its relatively lightweight makes it comfortable for a quick jaunt to the grocery store, but the support and protection it offers make it ideal for longer outings on more technical trails.
*This product was provided for editorial purposes – all opinions are my own.
Ayurvedic medicine has long been of interest to me, though it’s complex and foreign enough that I haven’t delved too deeply. That being said, an offer to test out a sample of Copper H2O‘s water bottle . piqued my interest. Call it Ayurvedic Lite.
Copper + h2o Reaction
Storing water in a copper bottle for 4-8 hours (suggestions vary) allows it to become alkaline, which has a higher pH than regular drinking water. This change, according to some, leads to a wide spectrum of benefits.
Copper Water Bottle Benefits
What kind of benefits? I’m glad you asked.
For the Ayurvedic folks, drinking water out of a copper water vessel balances the three doshas in your body, helping to restore balance to your spirit, mind, and body.
For more Western-minded seekers, benefits include aiding digestion, stimulating the brain, boosts the immune system, improves the skin, aids spleen and lover functions, and a whole bunch more.
It can also kill bacteria that is lurking in your water.
Copper Water Bottle Poisoning
What about the naysayers? Can copper water bottles make you sick? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drinking water that contains high levels of copper can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, and jaundice. Very high levels can lead to death. Scary.
But (and there’s always a but), these ideas started with people drinking Moscow Mules out of copper mugs. The low pH of Copper Mule ingredients could cause more copper to leach out into the drinks, possibly making people sick.
We’re drinking water here folks, right?
Copper Water Bottle Instructions
Take your copper water bottle, fill it with cold water, and let it sit overnight. Drink it in the morning to cleanse and detoxify your system.
Or, don’t. Leaving the water in the bottle overnight could increase the leaching of the copper overnight. Better to use it like a regular bottle.
Like all things, try it for yourself and see how you react. No two people are the same and thus will find the optimum way for them to use the copper vessel in their own life.
Hey, copper is an element that is essential for our enzyme systems, so it makes sense that adding it to your diet is okay. Maybe don’t overdo it. Or maybe you need more and your body will thank you.
For me, the testing of this CopperH2O water bottle coincided with an attempt at super-hydration – drinking a gallon of water a day. In general, I felt a lot better after a few weeks, but I can’t tell you if it was the additional water or the copper bottle.
I don’t really care. It’s a gorgeous product, so I’m more likely to grab it to bring water along, which is really the main benefit of drinking from this copper vessel. If I’m benefiting from it in an Ayurvedic way, so much the better.
I also love that Copper H2O works with non-profits that deal with clean drinking water. It’s an issue that threatens each and every one of us, rich and poor, some more than others. I’m lucky I have good water at the turn of the tap, but I appreciate organizations that are working to make that benefit a daily occurrence for more people around the world.
*This product provided for review purposes – all opinions are my own.
An offer to test out a sample of the Tropo Air Pump intrigued me, because paddling season is coming up and a quick way to inflate our iSUPs would be a real benefit for the Summer.
Tropo’s Indiegogo campaign advertises it as the most reliable and affordable air pump, shows it being used removing air from vacuum bags as a space-saving way to travel, as a bellows for grilling, inflating beach toys and a sleeping pad, and blowing away dirt and leaves.
This is a lightweight, pocket size air pump that can inflate or deflate items as needed. Available in blue, green, pink, or grey, it runs on 4 AA batteries (not included). Flextail Gear says a set of 4 batteries have enough juice to inflate 12 swimming rings, 8 air mattresses, and 3 inflatable beds (unless it’s one or the other or the other, hard to tell).
Tips include not using the air pump for more than 10 minutes at a time as well as not putting the pump into water for a long time. There is no waterproofness noted, so this is a bit puzzling. Another warning includes keeping your hands/fingers out of the inflation and deflation ports.
Accessories include a drawstring storage bag and 4 nozzles: large caliber nozzle for air beds; sharp nozzle for air toys; rubber air nozzle for air mattresses, and a vacuum nozzle for use with vacuum bags.
I used the Tropo air pump to inflate our smaller Moana iSUP and it worked great with the large caliber nozzle, to a point. While it inflated the paddle board to mostly full, it seemed unable to complete the full inflation to the proper pressure. A few pumps with our standard pump was all it took to finish off the inflation. Nice, much easier and I could get my kids to start and let me complete, so getting them involved would be nice.
I also took Flextail Gear’s advice and used them as a grill bellows, helping fan the flames both to get the charcoal started and then to crank the intensity while grilling some satays.
Flextail Gear Tropo Air Pump inflating iSUP
While it’s small and lightweight, the Tropo is a bit loud, so be judicious in your use around other people. The only other negative I found was its reliance on batteries, rather than being a rechargeable device – I suppose that would make it a lot more expensive.
At this time, Tropo is being offered for only $19 with free shipping, and will increase to $27 after the early bird pricing expires. Expected ship date is May 2019, so get yours while the getting’s good.
*This item was provided for editorial purposes – all opinions are my own.
This past xmas, I wanted to buy a rifle that would be good for novice shooters, for beginners of all ages, so that our whole family could join in when it came time to go shooting. And, since my budget was severely limited, it had to be inexpensive.
Based on some research, favorable reviews, and ultimately a store rep’s recommendation, I ended up buying the Marlin Model 795, which is a rimfire that shoots .22 long rifle caliber ammo.
The rifle comes with a single magazine with a ten-round capacity. It’s easy to load for anyone who doesn’t lack basic dexterity. For less than $20 you can buy a 25-Round Polymer magazine specifically made as an after-market magazine for the Model 795.
Visually, this is a smaller rifle but not child-size. It features an 18 inch blued barrel and the fiberglass-filled synthetic stock should last as long as the rifle itself does. Clip points make it easy to add a sling for ease of carrying.
The Feel of the Model 795
I like that the Marlin feels light, but still has some substance. Weight is a claimed 4.5 pounds, so even smaller folks should be able to hold and aim without too much effort. As a mix of metal and plastics, it feels nice in the hand and well-made.
Shooting the Model 795
For a beginner shooter, this is light enough for most to handle easily. A handy feature is the bolt remaining open after the magazine is empty, which reminds you that it’s time to reload. As a novice shooter, I found this to be both a reliable and accurate rifle. It was easy to walk the shots into the bullseye as we compensated for aim and wind.
Customizing the Model 795
Adjustable open sights are the first step in customizing the Marlin 795, along with adding a sling. The receiver is grooved to accept scope rings. If you don’t like the stock, replacement stocks for the 795 are available. Aluminum trigger guard and trigger kits can replace the standard plastic. Ultimately not a lot of customization options, but I’m not sure this is the rifle for that in any case.
The Model 795 has a cross-bolt safety that’s easy to find and use when ready to fire. Our rifle came with a standard trigger lock (plastic and easy to break or jimmy off), so we also use a cable lock, which prevent use of the gun by making it impossible to load and fire. Even with younger kids, these could probably be bypassed, but at least it would take some time.
I’d recommend the Marlin Model 795 to anyone looking for a good basic rifle or as something for beginners. It’s relatively inexpensive and the ammunition is readily available and affordable. This is probably not the gun to buy if you’re into customizing, though there are some options if you want.
More information on this model and others can be found at the Marlin website.
On a trip to Columbus, Ohio, I was excited to discover that the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum is only 20 minutes outside of downtown. The Hall of Fame features the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Gallery, Toys and Collectibles, and special exhibits.
It showcases people who are movers and shakers in the sport, motorcycle construction, or motorcycling in general. The Hall of Fame also displays motorcycles, riding gear, and memorabilia, some of them are part of the Hall of Fame’s permanent collection or are currently on loan.
The Museum is set up in a linear fashion, via a meandering path that takes you through the exhibits that are set up by theme. It’s pretty amazing to see all the history and cool innovations that have occurred over time.
My only complaint is that, overall, the exhibits are on the static side. While I love looking at motorcycles, at a certain point action and sound are needed to keep the initial excitement going.
That being said, it’s definitely worth a visit to see the Museum. The gift shop is also really cool.
For my Laugavegur trek in Iceland last Fall, I needed to find a backpack that could carry all my gear, yet fit as a carry-on so I wouldn’t have to check a bag. The Pacsafe Venturesafe X40 Plus Backpack seemed like a strong contender, so it was awesome to get a sample for review.
The Venturesafe X40 Plus is a backpack with features galore. It protects both from the weather and would-be thieves.
For high visibility, I went with the Hawaiian Blue, though this pack is also available in Black. It has a sleeve that will fit a 15in MacBook or a hydration bladder, which is a nice option. There is an internal divider should you need to keep clean gear and dirty or wet items separate.
The main compartment is lockable, as is the front pocket. Access is from the top and also a back panel, which is nice if you need to get into the bottom area quickly.
Because the front pocket has organizer features (carry pens, etc), this bag can work as a commuter bag, though for me it’s a bit too big for that overall. Large zippered pocket, memory card or battery pockets, a wallet D-ring and key clip – all these help keep things organized and handy.
For carrying comfort, the U-shaped aluminum frame assists with load management, to go along with the padded backpack harness and waist belt, and adjustable sternum strap. I really appreciate the thicker padded back panel, as it made carrying a full load a lot more comfortable.
Though it would be really nice if the Venturesafe X40 Plus was waterproof, it isn’t, but an included rain cover is helpful. It’s attached via strap to its storage compartment at the bottom of the backpack, so that’s not going to be lost any time soon.
Ultimately, the gear I wanted to bring on the Laugavegur trek just didn’t fit right in this bag, but that’s my fault for overpacking and not Pacsafe’s. On shorter trips, I’ve been dialing in my packing and there’s a good probability that this pack will be the one that goes to Lithuania this year. Two weeks, carry-on only – I’m ready.
The Pacsafe Venturesafe X40 Plus Backpack has organization and comfort galore and is also pretty much theft-proof, quality built, and should be an integral part of your gear and travel closet for years to come.
(*This product was provided for editorial purposes – all opinions are my own.)
If you’re in the Midwest, you know it was cold. So cold. Crazy cold. So what is a polar vortex?
What is a polar vortex?
I’m not a scientist, but here’s my understanding of what a polar vortex is. First off, polar vortices are nothing new. They’ve been known to exist for quite a long time.
Basically, a polar vortex is a low pressure area. It’s an area of cold air that sits in polar regions. These vortices can expand and contract, and an expansion increases the chances that the North Pole vortex can be pushed to the South.
When the cold air is displaced, it heads South, sometimes directly into the Great Plains and Midwest. Then, polar vortex = extreme weather.
Polar Vortex 2019 Lake Michigan Video
Why is a polar vortex so dangerous?
Polar vortices are dangerous mainly due to the baseline temperatures being so low. These are exacerbated by strong winds in some areas, where the real danger begin. The winds drop wind chill values, which can lead to serious implications for those not prepared.
This polar vortex had wind chill temperatures dropping down to minus 30 to minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit in parts of the Great Plains and Midwest. At such extreme temperatures, engines may not start, exposed skin can get frostbitten, and even hypothermia. These are serious issues with serious consequences.
Forecasting a polar vortex
In the old days, meteorology seemed to be as much guesswork as science. Even the next day’s forecast had to be taken with a grain of salt. However, forecasts have gotten more and more accurate over time, and this year’s polar vortex is a good example of this.
The polar vortex was forecast as much as a month in advance by some meteorologists, and then 10 days out, and then incrementally closer.
The forecasts were accurate both for the days, the temps, and the duration in general. It’s pretty amazing that we had so much warning over something that was so dangerous.
I am always on the lookout for family-friendly destinations. Even though the whole family doesn’t always travel together, I can usually count on the Little Adventurer to come along, especially if it has to do with RVs, diners, and car camping. On our trip to the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum in Elkhart, Indiana, we got to do all three.
Opened in 1972, the building was started to maintain a Hall of Fame to honor the leaders of the RV and motorhome industries. They also curate a library, which currently houses over 20,000 industry publications. The museum displays historic products, though the Hall also shows current iterations as well.
While the building and its components are interesting in general, what really got us excited were the Museum section and, of course, the gift shop. The RV Founders Hall is set up as a walk along a road depicting the history of the RV industry. From on-offs built for celebrities to pop-up campers to bus-size motorhomes (emphasis on the home), it’s fascinating to see the evolution.
This location certainly educates one on the history of RVs and motorhomes, makes you want to pull out the old checkbook, and also celebrates the industry in a way that makes you want to hit the road and explore. Grab the family and swing by if you are in the area, it’s a fun visit.
Directions to the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum:
If you’re hungry for lunch, check out the Flippin’ Cow (see my review on Zomato), a basic burger joint with great views of Simonton Lake.
If you’re a little goofy like my son and I are, head North from Flippin’ Cow and head towards the RV/MH Hall of Fame by following State Line Road East, which means houses on your left are in Michigan and houses on your right are in Indiana. Ah, the simple pleasures!
We camped at the Dunewood Campground at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, a nice blend between primitive and developed, and more privacy than most Midwest campgrounds. It also features walk-in campsites, if you want to be away from cars. We’ve had better luck camping here than at the Indiana Dunes State Park campground down the road, which definitely requires a reservation in the more popular months.
Recently I was chosen by Icebreaker to take part in a gear test through Expert Voice. (Expert Voice is a platform for brands, stores, and media to connect and also get pro discounts – if you’re in one of those groups and interested in joining, shoot me an email and I’ll send you an invite.)
Icebreaker sent me their 200 Oasis Long Sleeve Half Zip to test out. It’s 100% Merino Wool like so many of their products. A zip neck offers temperature regulation, which is great when you start heating up. A drop tail adds coverage and also keeps the top tucked in when you need it.
The 200 Oasis Leggings were also part of the test. Once again, 100% Merino Wool. The elastic waistband is wide enough to stay in place and comfortable to wear. General fit is close to the body, but with enough give to allow for comfort and mobility.
The two pieces together provide an unassailable layer of warmth. Even wearing the leggings under a pair of denim jeans was comfortable, and if you know how little insulation jeans provide, you’ll understand the benefit. We’ve had crazy cold weather here (-11 degrees Fahrenheit for the high, anyone?) and I’m happy to have had these in my closet.
One of the best things about Icebreaker’s products is that they are comfortable for all-day wear. You can’t say that about many of their competitors.
As with previous reviews, it’s hard to find a negative with Icebreaker products. Some people complain about the prices, but I only just got rid of the earlier mentioned products – almost 8 years of wearing not just through the Winter, but at other times of the year as well. That’s a good return on investment.
(*Items provided for review purposes – all opinions are my own.)
Much like the outdoorsman’s 10 Essentials, it’s important to have a winter car emergency kit checklist for driving during the Winter. Weather can change without warning and keeping these items in your car could be the difference between safety and much worse for you or someone you are trying to help out.
Jumper cables are a must, either for yourself or to help someone else. Flares and a reflective triangle are also essentials in the best winter emergency car kit. If you don’t want to carry jumper cables, consider the myCharge AdventureJumpStart, which doubles as a power bank.
myCharge AdventureJumpStart jumper cables
A working flashlight with extra batteries should be part of every winter emergency kit for autos. One like the TerraLUX LightStar 80 would work, or maybe one that can be recharged, so extra batteries are not needed.
Snacks and fresh water should be kept in the car not just for your winter safety kit, but at most times. Make sure to remove the water if you’re going to leave your car outside in freezing temps for some time. There are plenty of snacks to choose from, from biltong to energy balls to all kinds of trail snacks. Think protein for long lasting effects.
A sleeping bag and extra clothing can keep you comfortable while you wait for help or, in a true emergency, keep you alive while you hunker down overnight. I recently slept in my car with the temps in the low teens and was just fine in my Mountain Hardwear Lamina Z Flame Sleeping Bag – rated to 22 degrees, it kept me warm and cozy all night.
Sand or kitty litter are usually included in the best winter car kits, as they could be the difference between driving out of a slippery spot, or having to wait for a tow truck. The added weight can also help with winter driving in general.
An ice scraper is definitely part of the essential winter car kit – it’s surprising how often people don’t think of this one. While one on a pole with a brush is helpful, they are often no match for thick ice. A portable option that gets through everything is the Better Ice Scraper – its shape shifting technology allows the scraper to more closely mimic the curve of the car’s glass. It’s also ergonomic, so more comfortable to use. The only negative in my mind is that it’s small size makes it harder to reach to the middle of the car.
Don’t rely on your cellphone – keep a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio in your winter driving emergency kit. These will keep you informed in case you are stranded somewhere and need information. Alternately, you can use an item like the Motorola Talkabout T460, a walkie-talkie that also features an emergency button, a flashlight (a flashlight!), and a weather feature, and lets you call out if your phone is unavailable.
A shovel in the car is a handy addition to a survival kit list. Not only can you dig out your car from a snow bank, it can be used in place of sand or kitty litter to provide some traction under your car’s tires. I recommend a sturdy and compact shovel, something like the DMOS Collective Stealth Shovel – it easily moves snow and breaks down into a relatively small size.
Hopefully it’s already in your car, but if not, make sure you have a first aid kit in your winter car emergency kit. Pain reliever, bandages, a sling – bring them along!
You never know what to expect when you walk out the door and get in your car during the Winter. Hopefully you’ve checked the forecast and have plenty of gas (don’t get too low or parts can freeze). With all the above gear, your trunk may seem cluttered, but it only takes one emergency involving you or someone you help to make you realize how important each piece is.
(*Some items in this list were provided for editorial purposes – all opinions are my own.)