Category Archives: Product Reviews

My Little Tea Pot (Short and Stout)

12108017_912717752138554_4328640866283608870_nBorn into a family with southern ties and then growing up in the desert, its not any news that iced tea would often be a drink of choice. Now that I have been told by the doc that I have to drop all sodas or die, well tea has been a great substitute.

However, hot tea has really been difficult for me to adjust to. It wasn’t until I was working in Scotland and spending evenings with one of my closest friends did I grow an affinity for the stuff. The damp nights along the coast were quickly forgotten as we sat in his living room drinking tea.

Fast forward several years and I found myself creating various herbal teas with plants in the back country. Simple things for enjoyment like pine needles diced and brewed as well as a few more concoctions to draw out congestion or treat tummy aches while camping and backpacking in some of the most remote areas of Idaho, Nevada, and Oregon. All this was done on an as-needed basis in a canteen cup one serving at a time.

This last two-years however, all that started to change. As I began spending more time just sitting in a single spot for reflection, doing simple outdoor projects, or nature observation I began to really want a tea pot. It kind of consumed me. Thinking it was just a passing fad for me, I put it off all last winter. As I started working on more projects and then doing my Kamana studies I decided to pull the trigger and buy one.

I opted for the GSI Glacial Stainless Steel Kettle. For under $25 I had a decent kettle that didn’t have any rubberized handles, would’t rust, and could sit over a fire all day so I could produce several pots of hot water for any occasion. I use it to not only brew tea, but to heat water for cleaning, washing, cooking, and disinfecting. I have also used it to heat water for applying to leather when making a sheath in the field and I want to form it.

The stove might be a bit bulkier than most like, but I throw my tea bags and other drinkable items into it for storage. My next 120 project will to make a small canvas or cloth bag for it. It is definitly one of my highlights when I get back to my tarp site after tracking or collecting wild edibles.

Other than when I’m out bush crafting, I know as we enter the ski season and Abby is out on the slopes, I will be back at my Jeep with the stove cranked on high making a brew and waiting for her return.

Below are a couple of recipes I use for tea along with several pre-made teas I pack along in my kit. I did not include wild medicinals. Please seek out a professional mentor to teach you these areas. We use Weed Woman Herbals in Meridian, Idah as one of our sources of training and education in this area.

AIQ Emergency Mix (Hypothermia Treatment)

(32 ounces of H2O)

  • Two packs instant oatmeal
  • Four tablespoons sugar
  • One cup orange powder mix or
  • Four packets of hot chocolate mix

Pumkin Chai

  • Regular packet of Tazo Chai tea
  • Crushed Pumkin spice

Orange Spice

  • Two tablespoons instant orange mix
  • one teaspoon honey or packet of honey from a diner

Pine Needle Tea

  • One tablespoon fresh light green pine needle tips

Mint tea

  • Five to six mint leave (make sure you properly ID
  • One teaspoon (or to tast sugar)

Adding a tea pot has made my time in the woods and on the road much more enjoyable and forces me to slow down and simply observe.

Cheers!

12227109_912717732138556_3744610885632490830_n

That’s It

that's itI have been in the process of breaking a 35-year habit. Snickers has been a staple in my diet since before I was in the military. It was my go to bar after running track. It was my recovery bar after 5k and 10k runs. It was my post PT bar as I showered in the barracks before formation. I took them hunting and hiking with me. During the three “Hotter n’ Hell 100” bike rides I did between 2002 and 2004. I used them as breakfast before pushing my mountain bike 100 miles across Texas in 100-plus degree temps. Up until last month you could find me in most meetings with a Snickers and Coke in my hand. My bad habit had grown to almost six sodas per day and one to three Snickers per day. It had also grown my LB’s to a unhealthy 204.

It was after my doctor told me I needed to cut way back on sugar and fats and increase my fiber and fruit I made a change. It wasn’t a suggestion, he in fact said that if I wanted to see my daughter graduate high school I needed to make changes right now. So I went cold turkey. I immediately cut out all sodas and candy bars. Gone were my morning doughnuts and caramel lattes. Taco Bell, Johnny’s Pizza, and Jack in the Box Tacos died a quiet death for me. But still I needed to find a snack to get me through and sitting down to watch TV with an apple or grabbing a bowl of celery just hasn’t appealed to me yet as a full time replacement.

Our cafeteria at work has recently begun to stock better options for treats. This includes fruit and nut snacks. I have fallen in love with “That’s It”  fruit bars. They remind me of when I used to make fruit roll-ups with my dehydrator for a backpacking snack 25 years ago. “Treats” is a good description since they are loaded in sugars and carbs, but also have fiber.

The bars taste great and I order mine here. The only ingredients they include are fruits. The recipe is simple, FRUIT + FRUIT = THAT’S IT. They are gluten free, each runs 100 to 110 calories, all natural with no preservatives and high in fiber, which for me means I can have the sugar as a treat.

I understand its a healthier option for me and realize I can’t eat two or three of these a day. Looking back at how I used to abuse candy bars and sodas this is an option I can live with without sacrificing simple pleasures every now and then. They come in several great flavors to keep my pallet interested. We are now carrying them in our Amazon store and when you purchase them they are a little cheaper than what I have been seeing at our cafeteria, plus you help support Adventure IQ’s free workshops, camps, and seminars.

ARB Camp Chair Review

THe ARB camp chair offers hours of goofing-off time even after a long day on the trail!

THe ARB camp chair offers hours of goofing-off time even after a long day on the trail!

212

213

214
We have just completed the Adventure IQ Blue Highway Expedition, 3800 miles of dirt and back country byways in Idaho, Washington, British Columbia, and Oregon. This chair is AWESOME!

We needed chairs that were going to hold up through the abuse of a high-milage, multi-week expedition we were embarking on. We also wanted something that was going to be comfortable to rest in after hours of driving, winching, digging, and even hiking. The chair offers a sturdy platform to rest in after long days and you need some recovery time.

We were willing to trade packing size for comfort. Compared to those cheap discout chairs you find at any box store- its packing size is quite a bit bigger- it takes up 3x the space of the $9-$12 chairs you find in a grocery store–but when it comes to comfort and reliability- it cannot even compare. For those who are plus-size guys and gals- this chair is your best buddy in camp and won’t “let you down”. HIGHLY Recommend

Rampage Rear Sport Rack

Ouch! We were told a 5-day chest or ARB fridge would fit...not so

Ouch! We were told a 5-day chest or ARB fridge would fit…not so

DISCLAIMER: One of the things we pride ourselves on is HONEST feedback. It is purely based on our experience alone. I’ve lost sponsors and partnerships through honesty. My position is to give our audience what we feel are fair evaluations of gear we test. If it’s on my rig- I HIGHLY recommend it for yours.

 

We don’t usually dislike a product so quickly on this level. We are careful to select products from several weeks if not months of research. We make it a habit to talk to other users, check out the blogs, and even speak to sales or customer service reps about the product before we pull the trigger and throw it on the rig, put it in a pack, or try it on the trail.

 

With that said, we were finding little about the Rampage Products Rear Interior Sport Rack. We were looking for a way to better organize our gear in the back cargo area of our 2013 JK. The plan was to keep our 5-day ice chest under the rack along with other bulky items such as tool kit, chuck box, and Scepter 5-gallon water jug. We looked for details and dimensions from sellers, distributors and even the manufacturer. When we inquired a rep about it and relayed our expectations the response was, “Shouldn’t be a problem.”

Even one of my smaller chest would not fit. I don't know of any Jeeprs that don't throw some kind of cooler in the back for suds and grub...

Even one of my smaller chest would not fit. I don’t know of any Jeepers that don’t throw some kind of cooler in the back for suds and grub…

It was a problem. I have four ice chests and not a single one could go under the rack. Even when we put the rack into the upright position, then the ice chest could not fit in length-wise. Space wasted…
For someone who isn’t toting an ice chest and simply need a better way to organize sports gear, groceries, etc it’s a good concept. The storage rack features a fairly sturdy steel tray that mounts in the rear cargo area. Putting it together wasn’t that difficult and I did it in about an hour with no drilling required. One of the things that made it slightly difficult with my soft-top and impossible on a hard top is the tubular brackets that go on the roll bar.The Allen bolts faced outward and I had to remove the rear window on each side to get to the bolts.

The concept is awesome and installation was super easy...just a little more thought around design and beefing up some of the movanle parts and this rack would be on the top of our "buy-it" list

The concept is awesome and installation was super easy…just a little more thought around design and beefing up some of the movable parts and this rack would be on the top of our “buy-it” list

The concept of moving the tray out-of-the-way when not in use is unique in this model. On the bottom of the tray are two spring clips and a single gas strut allowing the rack to tilt forward providing easy access to gear located underneath. One problem though is the hooks don’t fully engage and a simple run around the block after installation and several attempts to adjust proved to be a waste of time. The thin bar at the bottom would create an annoying rattling on dirt roads.
I had even thought about the possibility of placing the ice chest on top of the rack and quickly dismissed the idea when I realized I would have five days of food and drinks rocketing towards all passengers in the case of an abrupt stop. The only bolt-down points are on the roll bars and it does not tie into the body or the frame at any other point.
If this was for a grocery-getter or soccer mom Jeep I wouldn’t hesitate to put it in. It does help to organize suburban adventures on Saturday morning and payday grocery runs. It does provide a bit of security and for photographers wanting to store gear out of sight it could be a benefit.
We paid $240 for our set up and thankfully the company we ordered from is going to allow us to send it back based upon the product not meeting the expectations we outlined.

Again, the concept is great, and other gear we have from Rampage has fared very well to excellent. The major disappointment here is based on the initial expectations not being met. Show me a Jeep guy that at some point doesn’t throw an ice chest full of grub and suds in his rig for a few days of fun on the trails.

 

Teraflex Tailgate Table

094The Teraflex Tailgate Table has been on my wish list since I saw Roger Mercier of Overland Frontier fixing breakfast at the Overland Expo using a drop table like this. This is the perfect accessory for any Jeep enthusiast needing a spot to make a quick sandwich, poor a glass of wine for your “glamping” companions, or even repair an RC car on. I used mine for a cooking surface for my two-burner stove, however I’m not sure I can recommend this due to the proximity of grease, fire, gas cans, and the rest of my rig. For everything else kitchen related, it is perfect!

030

Carl using a hose clamp to prevent the bit drilling too far

029 041The install took about 45 minutes. For the most part it is simply placing the pattern on the inside of the tailgate and DETAILED drilling. On my 2013 JK I had to ensure that we didn’t hit any of the spot welds and also be conscious of the degrees of metal thickness. The right side of the tailgate has more sheet metal than the left. Also our drill spot on the lower left was half thin and half double metal. This caused the drill bit to walk a bit and tried to “egg” the hole instead of a neat circle. Fortunately I had Carl helping me and being the master of machinery he is, immediately detected the problem. He finished out the last hole using a die-grinder at low-speed.

You should also be aware that if not careful- your drill bit can punch through the inside wall and leave a dent in the exterior wall. Teraflex has a highly informative video out there demonstrating how they did the install and specifically point this out. Recommend you check out their video as well. We didn’t have a tool to prevent the bit from going through- so we used a hose clamp around the bit. Worked like a charm!

065

We had to pre-crimp some of the Zert nuts to get them to grab traction on the tailgate

One issue we found on the thinner part of the tailgate wall was the Zert nuts getting enough traction to mushroom out. Zert nuts are similar to a rivet, except once installed they will accept a bolt or screw to hold an item in place. We pre-crimped the nuts so they would grab traction on the thinner part of the wall. If you do this—it is a VERY MINOR crimp. Try installing per instructions first.055

Once the nuts were in, it was just a matter of bolting the table onto the four nuts, doing some minor adjustments to the cable, and then off to make a sandwich.

Teraflex does have a cutting board available and I recommend ordering your multi-purpose table with one. I’m watching every dime right now to get ready for our Oregon/Washington/Canada trip and Washington Overland Rally trip and even though they are not expensive, I opted to not to get one and use our cutting board out of the trailer. Wishing I had bought one now and after the rally will put that on my “to-buy” list.068 072

The rack will hold a stove and as mentioned above but for me,  I’m not keen on this idea. My first real meal came Sunday afternoon in the mining country of the Boise Mountains. I was making Tri-tip burritos using my two-burner stove and cast iron. My stove is a bit odd in the way it set up with portable propane bottles, and I wasn’t comfortable with the way it sat on the rack. Not the fault of the rack, I have an odd-set up is all. Tri-tip does have a moderate level of fat on the underside. While testing I had a small grease fire and even though nothing was damaged, looking back, with fire in close proximity to my Trasharoo and Rotopax gas can, I think I will move the stove to a safer location.

096In my second testing along the Snake River on Monday, the table was perfect for dicing tomatoes and cutting lettuce for my special back-country finger sandwiches and wedge salad. It also made a great platform in the evening as I was conducting a wine tasting complete with assortments of cheese. No I have not lost the rugged edge; I was simply providing my wife and sister-in-law with a weekend of back-country luxury.

The well entertained ladies in the back country– Good lunch, warm fire, and me performing survival tricks!

139

The Tailgate Table allowed me to prep all kinds of snacks and meals for these ladies in the back country…including a wine tasting! Now I just need a rack and awning for some shade!

This is a well thought-out product and a must have for any Jeeper. Contact Teraflex.com or Quadratec.com to order yours!

 

 

 

Little Red Camp Fire – Product Review

20140113-083856.jpg

We picked up the Little Red Camp Fire specifically for our trip to Reno in early December. We knew temps were going to be in the mid-teens and wanted a way to keep warm in an area we couldn’t have a wood fire.

I had been looking to test one of these for several months. This last year, fire ravaged our beautiful Idaho back country and burn bans were rightly in place to protect us from all the morons who don’t know how to properly control a camp fire in dry conditions. I love hanging with the family around a camp fire, good conversations often result around open flame.

My immediate expectations were not met with this unit. Pre-trip testing showed that you had to stand practically on top of the unit to stay warm in 38 degree temps with 50% humidity. I decided to supplement the unit with lava rock to help retain and radiate heat.

In operational temps ranging from 9 to 22 degrees and 20% humidity, the unit was useless. Even with the lava rock, there was little or no useful heat from the unit.

I also found the unit to be indecisive on ignition and adjustment. The regulator and controls are poorly constructed. I had to fiddle with the control knob to get a steady flame and trying to just get the thing lit was a complex operation due to the cheap regulator.

I had read several reviews from other campers enjoying their unit in spite of the loud hissing noise. To me it is a non-concern. Yes it is loud, but really no worse than lanterns hanging around a camp site.

It comes with what I think are ceramic logs and ceramic ash. Used for the dual purpose of radiating heat and esthetics, they attempt to make the fire a bit more realistic. I found they are also cheaply made. When we unpacked it on our trip, the logs had cracked in half. At this point, I have not found a replacement.

Housing for the unit keeps it compact and protected, well except for the fake logs, I found the clamps that keep it secure to be difficult to manipulate when closing. Getting two on was no issue, but that third one was a pain. It was even more painful when closing the unit in 20 degree temps when your fingers are numb.

I would recommend the unit for summer campers who are in a burn ban and just need to knock the chill out of the air or who want a nice camp fire to chat around. Packing a single gas cylinder from my BBQ pit was nice and I didn’t have to factor in the variance that packing wood causes. For more serious back country camping in the late fall or winter, I cannot recommend this unit. At this point if you are just looking for warmth, there are other propane option I would look into. For what I spent on this unit, I will stick with my Volcano, and just add lava rock to the propane unit of it.

This was really disappointing and I hope to get better use of it this summer when the burn bans hit. Until then, I will keep it packed away,

iPad Apps for the Business Side of Adventure

I wanted to put together a quick article on apps I use when on the go– mostly for international travel and not so much in my rig.  Having apps on the iPad really helps when negotiating a  price on a gift, finding a hotel, or just finding where you are. While there are productivity apps I use such as BossJock for the podcast and GeoCaching for well…geocaching, these are more to keep my business life going well so I can enjoy my adventure time. So here is a brief breakdown of whats on my pad whether I’m doing a workshop in Asia or meeting a client in Europe.

Concur

Concur

I suck at numbers and every admin I have ever had hates the way I keep track of expenses. This tool keeps me organized and even helps me set up AMEX payments. Now I can manage expenses as they occur on trips and in the field. I can even photograph and upload my receipts using the iPad camera and itemize charges to expedite the expense reporting process.

Maps

Maps

First, I miss Google Maps. Stuck with this on the iPad though, it works as a navigational tool, using GPS location to help map routes on highways and mass transit systems. nearby, saving time in the field.

Urban Spoon

Urbanspoonr

This has been more successful in the US and I honestly have not tried it abroad (yet). The app  searches the area for restaurants, cafes and other eateries. It leverages a ranking system and list  results by distance and price. I found I can even look for specific types of food as well as to rate and socialy share suggestions.

Currency

Currency

A must for international travel. It provides up-to-date currency exchange rate information for most common currencies.

Gate Guru

GateGuru

Remember O.J. running through the airport trying to catch a plane? That was before he was fleeing in a white Bronco or breaking into hotel rooms. GateGuru provides real-time flight status information including up-to-date information on security lines, just what I need…another reason to stress.