Wednesday, June 27, 2012

BioLite Camp Stove - First Impressions

I just had the new BioLite camp stove delivered to my door. I ordered it several months ago, before the first run shipped out.

Normaly I wait a few months after a product is released before I buy one. The BioLite was so intresting I just had to snatch it up.

It is a stove that uses just about anything combustable for fuel. Sticks, bark, whatever. The neat thing is that it can charge electronics from this flame.

Very cool.

Give me a few days and I will do a full review. I just wanted to post a few of my first impressions.

Impression #1

Holy crap this thing is hard to unpack! Took me 5 min to get the battery out of the heat sink. It was packed in so tight I was affraid I was going to break it.

Impression #2

Holy crap this thing is heavy! It is advertised to backpackers and day hikers. It weighs over 2 pounds. I won't be lugging it arround all day!

Impression #3

Holy crap this thing is big! They compaired it to a Nalgene bottle.


It is a beast.

Impression #4

For being so heavy it sure looks delicate. Only time will tell.........

Well, I hope my first impressions are unfounded. As it stands I doubt I will be taking it with me on any dayhikes, and I haven't even fired it up!

Stay tuned for a full review.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Review - Hungry Hikers Murray's Hurried Curry

Several weeks ago I was lucky enough to win some hiking meals from Appalachia And Beyond (a great hiking blog!) One of the meals was Hungry Hikers Murray's Hurried Curry. It is one of those freeze dried, just add hot water meals.

I was excited to win these meals for several reasons, most of all because I LOVE yellow curry! I am the only one in my house that likes it, so I don't get it often.

While freeze dried meals do not sound very appetizing, most of them are very good. Generally, they work by simply adding them to boiling water and letting them sit. Once the dried food has absorbed the water, they are ready to eat. Each type of meal is different, but most take 10 -20 minutes to "cook".

The shelf life for freeze dried food is typically very long. Some last as long as 30 years. It should be noted that while old freeze dried food is safe to eat, it often looses a lot of nutritional value over time. The shelf life of Hungry Hikers Murray's Hurried Curry is relatively low, the expiration date was within one year of when it was packaged.

There are lots of considerations when choosing food to bring with you in the field. None more more important than its taste and its nutritional value. When I go out into the woods it is to have fun. Eating cruddy food is not fun. I also expend a lot of energy when I am out. I need food with a high calorie content.

I am glad to say that Hungry Hikers Murray's Hurried Curry excels in both these aspects.

The taste was very good. Not as good as from an Indian restaurant, but very good for a camp site. I ate my fill and then finished off the left overs the next day. My only complaint was that it left a strange aftertaste in my mouth. This aftertaste went away quickly.

What I was most impressed with is it nutritional content. I have never seen a freeze dried meal pack so many calories into one package! Each bag has a whopping 1080 calories! I am normaly happy to see 500 calories in most freeze dried meals. Over 1000 is amazing! It is very filling also, I could not finish the bag in one setting.

On top of everything they are priced at a reasonable $8.99 a pouch. I know that sounds expensive, but do a price comparison. Considering their high calorie content, Hungry Hikers Murray's Hurried Curry is a great buy!

I recommend this meal and intend to buy more.

No one paid me to do this review. I received the meal for free, but not in exchange for a review. I don't get paid if you buy any. It is my honest opinion.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Kayaking With My Wife and a Fishing Surprise

My wife and I purchased kayaks a couple weeks ago. I have been able to take mine out fishing, but my wife, Holly, has not. Knowing she was itching to try out her new toy, I hired a baby sitter for the afternoon and took her.

Holly and I have two very different views of the outdoors and how time should be spent outdoors. She is a long distance runner. Marathons and the like. Her goal is to get from point A to point B in as short a time as possible. I, on the other hand, am a hunter. My goal is to quietly sneak in undetected and then wait to see what I see.

Our kayaking stiles reflected this.

Once I got Holly in the boat and showed her the right way to hold the paddle, she was off! Where I paddle a few strokes and then drift for a while, looking for a good place to cast, she just paddled hard, going from place to place.

At first this was frustrating for both of us. I was looking to hook a fish, but was moving so fast to keep up with Holly, I could not make good casts. She felt held back and was literally paddling circles around me. 

At one point I wanted to hand her the camera to take a picture of me. So, I stopped, hoping she would just drift up next to me.

Nope. She was just going too fast and kept circling and making fast passes. I never got the camera over to her.

Eventually, I gave up on any serious fishing and she grew content circling me like a hungry shark.  We explored every little cove of the lake we were on and then decided to head home.

As we were leaving I decided to make one last cast.

The day before I had purchased a new 5' ultra light rod. My 7' rod made it too difficult to land a fish in my kayak. I had it rigged with 4 pound test and a small, white grub, the type used for crappie.

I made my cast and began jigging the grub back to me. About half way to my boat I hit a I thought! When the "snag" began to turn my kayak around, I knew I had a good fish!  My drag began to scream and I saw a flash and the unmistakable lateral line of a good largemouth bass deep in the water.

The fish took several hard runs, but my knots and line held and I successfully netted it.

It weighed in at a little over 4 pounds and was the largest bass I have caught in years. It was easily the largest fish I have caught on light line.

Even though it would have made a nice meal for my family, I let it go. I have trouble keeping the big ones.  Catching them provides me with so much pleasure, it just seems selfish to kill them.

Holly and I concluded a rare afternoon to ourselves by racing back to the dock. I won, but only because I knew where the dock was!

Monday, June 4, 2012

A First Kayak and A New Adventure Pt 2

I took my new kayak out fishing.

I had never been in a kayak before. So, I went online and watched a few videos on launching and paddling. It looked easy enough. My Dad was convinced that I was going to tip over at least a dozen times. He based this prediction on an old canvas kayak that he found and fixed up as a kid. Apparently no one could keep it from flipping.

Sightly torn by my Dads prediction of doom and how seemingly easy it looked online, I prepared to get wet. For this reason I did not bring my nice camera with me. I only brought my supper crappy action camera. It crapped out on me after 9 minutes 29 seconds. So, sadly, no awesome pictures this time.

One of the few pictures I got before my camera crapped out.
I went to a local lake that I know well. It had been mostly drained about three years ago when its dam broke. The city had recently reopened it and apparently restocked it. The lake has a great, shallow ramp  and is never busy. It was a perfect place to learn how to kayak.

Getting in was easy. I did it exactly how the Internet told me to. Once in, I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable I was! It was not tippy at all. The Internet wins again!

I had originally planned to spend most of my time getting used to the kayak and learning how to paddle. This was not necessary. I took to it like a duck to water.

Two seconds before the camera died.
Instead, I paddled over to my favorite fishing area on this lake. It is a shallow area with tons of stumps. I could never navigate it in my Jon boat, but it was easy with the kayak. I had my ultralight rod with 4 pound test with me. I was hoping for some crappie action. The 1 1/2" white grub didn't attract any crappie, but it sure excited the bass!

I slew the large mouth bass. It was easily the best day of bass fishing I have ever had. Almost every cast had a strike. I lost track of the 1 and 2 pound bass I landed! I know I could have limited out three times over had I chosen to keep any. I would have loved to had my good camera......

Usually, I fish for three hours and then get bored and tired. This day I truly did not want to go home.   I am hooked on kayak fishing!

Packed up and ready to go home. I love how it only takes 1 min to load and unload!
There are a few things I need to work on:

  1.  I need to add a rod holder or two.
  2.  I need to add some storage to the back of my kayak. It is too difficult to store stuff in the front. 
  3.  Landing fish in a kayak is a challenge. They were always just out of reach. Not sure what to do about this.
  4. Pictures. This is too fun not to record. I need to purchase a good, waterproof camera.
All in all I am very excited about my kayak and very pleased with how easy it is to use! I can't wait to go out next time!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Review - Wildgame Innovations AC5XC Hi-Definition Infrared Action Cam

If you look at the Wildgame Innovations AC5XC Hi-Definition Infrared Action Cam on Amazon you will find a review very similar to this one. That is because I reviewed it on Amazon a while back.

I try to be positive on this blog. It is much more fun that way. Get ready for a change of pace, here comes some negative!

I wanted to like this camera. It appeared to have great mounts, HD, and night vision. It looked simple to use and rugged. It delivered on some of the promises, but its buggy nature negated its good qualities.

First the good:

The included mounts are versatile. I was able to strap it to the scope of my rifle with only a little problem and it is one of the few cameras that I can mount to my double barreled 12ga. The hat clip holds securely, but makes the camera ride higher than I like.

It is the only action camera that I know of that has night vision. The night vision works well (when it works at all) out to about ten yards.

It comes with a "waterproof" case. Night vision does not work well when the camera is in the case.

Video quality is OK. Not great, but it does capture the details well. Of course, it works best on bright, sunny days.

Here is a very boring video showing the quality. Its not bad.

Now the bad:

It is terribly buggy. It will randomly  shut down and reset to factory defaults.

Once it goes into power save mode, it takes a while to come back on. Sometimes when it goes into power save mode it resets your setting back to factory defaults. I cannot figure out how to turn off power save mode.

The menu system takes forever to scroll through and lags. Once it resets to the factory defaults (this happens often) it takes 30 seconds to set everything back the way you want. A long time when you are trying to get footage of a hunt!

The back light does not stay on long at all. It does not give me enough time to change the settings before turning off. There is no way to set how long the back light stays on.

It has a "power save" mode and an "Off". When in "power save" you are supposed to be able to just press the record button and it will start recording. When "off" you have to press the record button twice, once to turn the unit on and once to start recording. There is no way to tell without looking at the LCD if the unit is in "power save" or is "off"! If you press the record button twice while in "power save" mode it does not record. If you press the button once while "off" it does not record. So I often think I am recording, when I am actually doing nothing.

Night vision drains the already poor battery life very quickly. I get about 30 min of recording in night vision. Normal recording gives me about an hour of recording time.

Oh yea, the night vision turn on automatically, but never turns off. Accidentally put your hand over the camera lens and the night vision switches on. This ruins any video shot in the daylight. You cannot manually tun off night vision.

The sound is very poor, but that is normal with this type of camera.

The mounting brackets use a lever that is very easy to undo. If you hit it the wrong way the camera falls out of its mount. I've had a branch hit the lever and disconnect the camera.

The "waterproof" case is not waterproof. I tested it by placing it in a bowel of water for five minutes. It came out about a quarter full of water. Maybe by waterproof they mean splash resistant. OK, that is better than nothing. The second problem is that the camera over heats when it is in the "waterproof' case. I get between 6 and 10 minutes of recording before is overheats, shuts down, and will not restart until it cools off. The "waterproof" case is a joke.

Waterproof? Maybe they meant waterful, because it fills with water.

Speaking of over heating, it over heats! In the winter there is no problem. In the summer, under direct sun, it consistently overheats within minutes. I'm talking two or three minutes.

I should have held out and bought a GoPro or Contour. This is THE WORST CAMERA I HAVE EVER USED! My blood pressure is up by writing this review. This camera makes me so mad! I need to go hug a kitten to feel better. Don't buy this camera. I personally don't trust anything made by this company.

Friday, June 1, 2012

A First Kayak and A New Adventure Pt 1

I bought a kayak.

I didn't mean to, it just happened. I was at Dick's Sporting Goods on Memorial Day and saw that they were on a great sale. I've been wanting one for a while. The Tidewater area is a heaven for kayakers. A kayak would give me many very good places to fish a short distance from my house.

Like I said they were on a great sale and Fathers Day is just around the corner, so I made a snap decision an bought an inexpensive sit on top. It is the Future Beach Spirit 120. I paid $220 for it.

Before the kayak experts turn up their nose to this purchasing decision, contemplate this: I have never sat in a kayak. I know nothing about them. When I made this purchase I did not even know if I would enjoy kayaking. Purchasing a cheap one made sense.

 I did have the presence of mind to Google it on my iPhone before purchasing. It got good reviews.

I took it home, broke the news to me wife, and played with it for a while. Wanting to see how stable it was, I placed it in a full kiddie pool and sat in it.

It was more fun(ny) than informative.

I'm not actually as bald as I look in this picture. Or as stupid.
And yes, My daughter is in a princess dress. That is just how we roll.
My wife sat in it and declared "I want one!". So, we went back to Dick's and bought her one in a different color. I don't know when we will both be able to break away from the children to go out together, but I'm looking forward to it!

Three days later I took it out on the water. It was an awesome adventure.....Stay tuned!

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