03/26/20

Goal Zero Sherpa 100 PD Review

Have you been like me and are always running out of juice on your devices? Do you do some of your work mobile away from an outlet wanting to have freedom of setting up mobile office at your favorite park or want to do some work in the mountains? Portable battery banks are all the rage these days mainly to keep small devices charged and have been around for a couple of years, but there hasn’t been too many options power hungry devices like laptops and large laptops. But more and more options are become available its hard to discern which ones are better then others. I got the 100 Sherpa PD recently after going through the features I’ll tell you why I like it as my choice for my favorite portable battery bank. 

Features

  • Airline approved, travel ready
    Lightweight, sleek design fits easily into packs, bags, and camera cases. Ideal for travel where space is limited.
  • Ditch the cables if you can
    Charge your Qi-compatible phone from the integrated Qi charging pad for an entirely wireless experience.
  • Charge quickly on the move
    Fast-charging Power Delivery gives you more power in less time. Charge USB-C laptops, phones, and tablets using the 60W USB-C Power Delivery port. 
  • No device left behind
    Two 2.4A USB ports are useful for devices with proprietary charging, such as fitness trackers, gps devices, and micro/lightning phones.

Ways to Charge 

  • Recharge from the sun by connecting a compatible solar panel. Charge time is dependent on the size of the solar panel. The Nomad 28 Plus will fully recharge the Sherpa 100PD in about 6-14 hours. NOTE: Sherpa 100PD can only be solar charged using the USB port on the Goal Zero Nomad solar panels.
  • Use included cables to recharge from a USB source in 8 – 10 hours. Fully recharges from the wall in about 3 hours using a 45 Watt USB-C Charger(not included).

What it can charge

  • POV Camera 18 Recharges
  • Smartphone 8 Recharges
  • Tablet 4 Recharges
  • USB-C Laptop 2 Recharges

Personal Experience 

I have used the Sherpa 100 PD for about a month now and have really liked it. I Mainly use it to charge my phone after a long day at the office while I am out and about running around towns. I also use it to charge my camera batteries when I am on trips.  I have also ran a usb fan all night on a trip and charge my phone and apple watch. While doing that it only went down to 50 ish percent so I was very pleased with it. I have also used it to charge my iPad and MacBook Pro. I can get about one extra charge out my MacBook Pro 15 in if you have a smaller laptop you might be able to get more charges. You don’t necessarily need a usb-c powered laptop I have an older MacBook Pro and  was able to find a Magsafe to USB-C cord on amazon. 

It has most of the ports any one would need one PD USB-C and Two USB A 2.4 A ports are all any one really needs and when you add the Qi charge pad its just killer. If you really want you can use all of these ports at once if you need to charge everything at once which is nice. I mainly use one port at a time and maybe the Qi at the same time. 

When I first got it I ran it down to zero to see how long it would take to charge from the provided USB C to USB A Cable and it took forever it really does take about 8 hours. If you are going to charge this way make sure to use your most powerful wall adapter not a small 1.0 Ah one you want something like 2.1 or 2.4 ah it will say on the adapter how powerful it is. Later I got a 45 W PD USB C wall adapter off amazon for like $9 and that charges it in about nine hours and I have really liked that. 

Likes 

  • Many charging options
  • Built quality, really nice aluminum not cheap plastic like some other power banks
  • Travel friendly can easily carry on with you at the airport, small enough to slip in a big pocket or easily in a purse or backpack
  • The included USB C cable is pretty nice
  • USB to 6mm adapter available for light a life lanterns and other GZ accessories 

Dislikes

  • Does not come with the higher power wall adapter 
  • At this time only able to charge from USB A on the solar panels so you can’t get the full potential of panel. 
  • Doesn’t come with a sleeve/case 
  • A little more on the pricy side but you get what you pay for

Overall I have had a really good experience with this so far. I recommend it any one who travels a lot, works mobile, or needs peace of mind with a backup power solution.  I recommend getting the 45 W wall adapter to charge though for sure. I hope that Goal Zero will come out with a USB C to 8mm adapter to allow for better performance for charging from their solar panels soon. 

Purchase on amazon and help us out by using this link here Retails for $199 right now

Heres the link for the 45 W wall adapter link

12/20/16

Camp Maid Charcoal Chimney (First Impressions)

Recently I acquired this new folding Charcoal Chimney.  It is the first of its kind, its very surprising that no one has made a folding chimney before. It fits in a standard 12 inch dutch oven and is very compact in comparison to its counter parts. I am going to go over the features then the experience I’ve had so far.

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  • Rapidly heats charcoal for immediate outdoor cookingNo matter what kind of BBQ you use, charcoal takes too long to get hot. The Charcoal Chimney’s unique air funnel design sucks up air, which is equally effective in strong windy environments allowing you to heat charcoal anywhere outdoors. The airflow creates a quick surge of powerful hot flames contained safely in the device, allowing you to start cooking much quicker. 
  • PortableThe highly efficient design is a single lightweight piece that easily opens and snaps into place, and folds down to store inside your 12” Dutch oven. This is especially important for reducing the amount of gear you have to pack for outdoor cooking.
  • VersatileThe Charcoal Chimney can be used with any BBQ or grill, and it especially compliments the CampMaid Complete Outdoor Cooking System tools.
  • Heats 40 Charcoal BriquettesWhile the Charcoal Chimney is compact and portable, it still heats up to 40 charcoal briquettes.
  • Heat-safe HandleMany outdoor cooking products can be dangerous and cause burns so the heat-safe handle helps protect while being easy to hold, handle and manage – ultimately reducing the risk of injury around flames.
  • Cools down fastThe Charcoal Chimney cools down quickly after use allowing you to pack and store quickly

This was really easy to use. It is super portable and really well designed. I really liked the integration of the charcoal holder, this allowed it not to get any mess on the charcoal ash everywhere. Its really easy to unfold and use. This size is really great for cooking with one dutch oven, if your cooking with a few and you’re wanting to get lots of charcoals ready this might not be the best for you. But if you are looking for portability then this is a great choice.

This is being rolled out in a kickstarter campaign check it out at this link

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2081385079/campmaid-charcoal-chimney-quickest-way-to-get-bbq?ref=nav_search

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12/11/16

MSR WindPro II Remote Canister Stove

I Recently acquired the WindPro II. A long, long time ago I use to have the original WindPro and used it a lot. But more recently I have been using my MSR Pocket Rocket for backpacking trips and my main stove. I had been missing the wider stability and the more control this stove has.

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MSR_WindProII_PR

  • Inverted Liquid-Feed: Increased cold-weather and low-fuel performance with more consistent output across all fuel levels.
  • Efficient: Remote burner allows the use of a windscreen for maximum efficiency.
  • Lightweight & Compact: Weighs just 6.6 oz.; fits in a one-liter pot.
  • Versatile: Supports pots up to 10″ in diameter; compatible with bake ovens.
  • Includes: Windscreen, heat reflector, canister stand, instructions, and stuff sack.

Taken from the MSR Website

“The WindPro II camp stove combines the stability and wind protection of a remote-burner design with the convenience of canister fuel. Unlike other canister stoves the WindPro II is capable of running on liquid-feed direct from the canister. This added versatility lets you run the stove in traditional upright mode for optimal efficiency and flame control or, with a simple twist, invert the canister on the included stand to deliver liquid gas directly to the burner. This advantage allows greatly improved cold-weather and low-fuel performance, and boosts stove output significantly anytime speed really counts.”

I took this on a couple recent trips including Zion and Bryce Canyon. This thing worked like a champ. I cooked some chicken breast on it with some white sauce and pasta, I also cooked eggs, sausage, and even boiled water on it. This thing is really versatile. I was able to use a medium frying pan on in with the pot stands easily, there was no way I could cook eggs on my Pocket Rocket but because i can turn down the heat I was able to cook with ease. This stove fits really easily in my GSI Bugaboo Messkit it would fit it anything similar easily.

Back when I had the original WindPro I would invert the canister in winter and other cold weather its so nice that they added the feature of the stand and swivel. I have yet to try it in cold weather yet but I know it will perform.

Pros

  • Wide Pot Stands Supports Pots up to 10″ in diameter and bake ovens
  • Remote Canister (allowing for the use of heat shield and wind screen)
  • Light Weight 6.6 oz
  • Liquid Feed Mode for cold weather and high altitude
  • Great Range of Flame Control (a nice simmer-a jet speed boil)
  •  Uses canister fuel so no priming required
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • Not as compact as other Canister Stoves like the Pocket Rocket or Micro Rocket
  • Not the least expensive stove on the market ($99.95)
  • uses canister fuel (widely available in USA but if traveling outside not as much)

Overall I totally recommend this stove if you are looking for something to do some more gourmet cooking while backpacking or even camping, if you are looking to just boil water this stove isn’t for you I would recommend the Pocket Rocket, Micro Rocket, or the Wind Burner. If you are looking to travel out of the US I would recommend the Wisperlite Universal.

Retails for 99.95 and you can find it at most high quality sporting good stores.

12/29/15

Simblissity LevaGaiters Review

If you’ve been hiking you know the pain and suffering that can come from rocks, sand, and stickers getting into your trail shoes; blisters, chafing, and ruined socks are common maladies. However there are a great number of low-to gaiters known as scree gaiters that are designed to block all that stuff and more, keeping your precious feet intact.

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There are a number of different companies that make high quality scree gaiters with similar functions but a wide variety in their designs. Most common features include an arch strap that wraps around the underside of your shoe and/or a need for a Velcro on the back of your heel to keep the gaiter down. The Simblissity LevaGaiters use neither and they work great on dirt trails and river crossings.

 

Likes:

No straps/Velcro/extra work:

LevaGaiters are slightly stretchy and constructed in a magical way that makes them lay perfectly on your shoes without any need for Velcro or straps. The only adjusting you need to do is the first time you use them with a pair of shoes you adjust the length of the lace-hook stay to get optimal tension. I used these in sand, mud, and in river crossings and they stayed put, not letting any but the most tenacious pebbles into my shoes.

If you are hiking in snow or otherwise decide you want the strap there are steel eyelets for you to run some cord under your foot or use the accessory made by Simblissity.

Water resistant:

When walking through wet grass or mud it’s pretty common to get wet socks and shoes, but these babies are unbelievably resistant, I’ve done river crossings where they came out of the water totally dry, all the water just beads off.

Lightweight:

For long distance hiking people are very worried about weight, especially on your feet since you will expend so much more energy swinging that weight each step. A pair of these weighs in at a scant  1.8 oz.

Colors:

Most gaiters are boring black, these come in several natural colors like forest green or desert tan. I like that since I’m trying to reduce the visual pollution I contribute to the landscapes I visit.

 

Dislikes:

No accessory cord:

While you can buy the cord separately from Simblissity or fashion your own I would really like to see such a low-cost item just come free with the gaiters. When using these to cross snowfields in the early spring they tend to ride up without the cord, letting in chilly snow to melt in your shoes.

 

Best uses:

Hiking, Backpacking, Thru-hiking.

Honestly, I don’t put on my hiking shoes without a pair of scree gaiters on anymore, and I am always reaching for my LevaGaiters. I don’t want to deal with attaching Velcro to my shoe or replacing straps or cords. These work all the time, look good, feel good, and do the job great. I’ve taken them on river crossings, snow fields, desert hikes, and scrambles and they work great for it all. I always have the cleanest socks in the group at the end of a dusty, dirty day.

 

Cost Analysis:

Worth it. I think all hikers need a pair of great scree gaiters and these are pretty cheap, about $30. The cheapest pairs out there are maybe 15, however they usually are not water resistant and/or require installation of Velcro patches on the outside of your shoes. For the best all-around gaiters I always recommend LevaGaiters.

12/25/15

Osprey Viva 50 L Womens Backpack

osprey viva

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Written By Cinimin

INTRO

The Osprey Viva is a women’s lightweight backpacking pack that will store 50 liters for a comfortable overnight or week long trip. This pack allows for a wide range of adjustability

Dimensions: 33’’ x 13’’ x 11’’

Gear Capacity: 50 Liter

Weight: 3lbs 8oz

Fits Torso: 14-19 inches

Fits Waist/hips: 26-42 inches

Materials: Ripstop nylon, polyester, mesh

 

Notable Features:

  • Hipbelt Pockets
  • Adjustable Hipbelt and Hipbelt Padding
  • Adjustable Torso
  • Hydration Pocket
  • Ice Axe Loops
  • Side Compression Straps
  • Sleeping Bag Compartment
  • Sleeping Pad Straps
  • Trekking Pole Storage
  • Stretch Mesh front and Side Pockets
  • Top Pocket

 

Personal Experience

I recently took this pack on a forty mile trek through Paria Canyon outside of Kanab, UT. I’ve been traveling with a Camp Trails pack I took from my parent’s 90’s gear shed for the past ten years of my life and found this pack to be absolutely glorious! I didn’t know a pack could fit so comfortably. Although this pack is only a 50 liter, I felt that I was able to pack all that I wanted and the group weight was distributed evenly throughout my crew. Below is an image of all our packs lined up in a row, mine is the one furthest to the left and although it may not look it, it is the smallest pack by 15 liters.

osprey packs

Likes

I like the hydration sleeve that is found on the outside of the pack that allows for quick and easy access, and the separate compartment and gromit hole found in the bottom of the compartment keeps your gear dry if your hydration pack were to have a small leak or to sweat. I also appreciate how comfortable and easy this pack is to fit, with plenty of gear loops, pockets and compression straps.

 

Dislikes

The mesh is really nice to be able to access gear on the outside of your pack but with only one or two trips out of my pack, I can already see the wear that’s occurring. If you brushed against trees or rock the fabric would be trashed in one outing. I’d really prefer more durable side and front pockets, even if it means adding more weight. Along with more durable pockets, what I really wish this pack had was a detachable top pocket that you can wear as a fanny pack for day trips. If I were to purchase another backpack I would look for something a little larger with the top pocket feature, pockets that will withstand time, and one that comes with it’s own raincover. 

Overall this is great pack on their entry level equipment that they’ve been adding.

12/20/15

MSR Dragonfly Stove

The dragonfly is a top-shelf stove meant for some narrow applications that it does exceed at. I have owned my MSR Dragonfly for about 18 months now and I’ve used it on all kinds of trips: backpacking in the Wasatch, bike touring in northern Utah, canoeing the Green river, and car camping all over Utah and Colorado. I’m quite pleased with the stove but I have become aware of some serious shortcomings.

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With a unique burner system and a highly variable burner control the MSR Dragonfly was designed and built for the backcountry gourmet. With a proper setup the stove can provide highly variable heat levels to allow simmering, boiling, and baking while using any of a wide variety of liquid fuels. The Dragonfly suffers from an inclination to burn food, higher weight, and a noise that sounds like a crop dusting plane flying over your campsite.

Dragonfly_stove

Features (from the MSR website)

  • Unrivaled Flame Control: We pioneered the dual-valve design of the Dragonfly stove, enabling it to deliver precision, simmer-to-boil control.
  • Extra Wide Pot Supports: Wide pot supports hold up to 10″ maximum diameter pots or fry pans for group cooking
  • Multi-Fuel: Burns white gas, kerosene, unleaded auto fuel, diesel, and jet fuel.
  • Compact: Folds to 1/3 of its working size and fits in a two-liter MSR pot for easy storage.
  • Efficient: Suspended burner cup enables the stove to burn hot and strong while reducing heat lost to the ground
  • Field Maintainable: Shaker Jet™ technology and smart engineering allow complete cleaning and maintenance in the field.
  • Includes: Fuel pump, windscreen, heat reflector, small-parts kit, instructions, and stuff sack. (Fuel bottle not included.)
  • Pack Weight: 1 lb 2 oz
  • Made In USA: Made in Cascade Designs Seattle Factories

Personal Experience

I took the dragonfly most recently on a four-day canoeing trip down the Labarynth Canyon section of the Green River. It was my first time on a multi-day river trip and I absolutely recommend it to anyone who hasn’t tried it. The Dragonfly performed admirably every morning to boil water in a flash and fry up hash browns and eggs. At camp each night the variable flame made simmering sauces and heating up meals simple. A few times we seriously burned food on despite frequent stirring and low heat. This was apparently from the stove’s tendency to focus heat on dime-sized points arranged in a circle around the burner cup [insert picture].

I am a confident backcountry chef with no qualms about bringing a bag of staples like flour, lentils, cheese, and spices to simply figure it out as I go. However, my cook group preferred the WhisperLite stove we had on hand for the reduced noise and better heat distribution. This was an option for them because their meals were simple enough to not require simmering, aka dirtbag meals.

At the end, no one but myself and the trip leader, an accomplished river runner, wanted to use the dragonfly. My conclusion is pretty simple: the dragonfly isn’t for everyone.

Likes

This stove gives control and pot stability unlike any other that we have tested. The flame can be adjusted from the size of a pilot light to a thundering fire that is hot enough to warp steel pans if left unattended. This wide range allows for a chef to make sauces that require simmering for a long time, as well as the ability to just boil water quickly for a quick breakfast. The boil times are a touch slower than the nearly ubiquitous Whisperlite by a matter of seconds. Best of all, when if paired with a heat diffuser the stove can do a marvelous job baking because pan rotation is so easy on such a stable platform.

The stove is also capable of burning just about any liquid fuel you’re likely to find in your travels: diesel fuel, jet fuel, kerosene, white gas, and good old unleaded gasoline. Very handy for disaster preparation as well as traveling in foreign countries.

Dislikes

Easily the worst part of this stove is the noise. It’s awful, it’s loud, it makes conversation hard even outside. If cooking under shelter you may need to use hand signals it gets so loud. The stove also concentrates its heat in a small circle and can easily burn food that is not stirred often. For a reference point: the heat is so focused on a small area that when we boiled a gallon of water the steel pan was permanently warped.

Another thing that’s really annoying is how short and stiff the fuel line is. The line is packed solid with some substance that presumably allows all those various fuels it can burn to pass through. The problem is that the fuel line is very stiff from that substance. This stiffness, combined with being so short, makes the fuel bottle tend to hug the burner in an annoying way.

Best Use

The Dragonfly is a touch heavier, 4 oz, than a Whisperlite so backpackers may want to think about how much flame control they need on a trip before taking it on any multi-day routes. Also consider that you may want to bring a heat diffuser so the weight grows further. The stove is absolutely suited for places where weight is a lesser concern: river trips, bike touring, horse-packing, base camps, and big groups.

Cost analysis

As of this writing the Dragonfly runs about $130. That is nearly double the cost of a basic backpacking stove. The benefits gained, heat control, are worth the cost for some few people. Most consumers, however, would be better served by a basic stove.

Purchase the stove here at Backcounty, Campsaver REI