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Without any work at all I can find myself on a crazy adventure with no service and probably by myself. For that reason I always carry a device like the SPOT GEN3 so I can message my wife, ask for non-life threatening help and bring rescuers right to my location if it all goes south.

The SPOT GEN3 primarily excels in a single area and that’s sending messages and requesting help. With the press of a button I can check it, drop a point on a map, tell my wife and family I’m ok, send a custom message (as long as I’ve set it up on the computer first), ask for help when I’m ok, and signal immediate rescue.

The GEN3 doesn’t have much of an interface on the unit. All you’ll find yourself doing with the integrated buttons are the activities above. To change features you’ll need to connect the unit to your computer and make changes while connected to the internet. It’s not the easiest solution but it keeps the cost of the device low ($150 retail) and the interface simple.

I found setup to be less than ideal and a bit confusing, requiring at least one call to tech support after the fact when it wasn’t tracking correctly. As it turned out it was tracking correctly but I didn’t have one of the settings right since it was confusing.

I actually spent multiple times on the phone with customer support in the first couple of weeks while using the device. At the end of one of the phone calls the very nice woman said, “The software isn’t very easy to use and that’s why we’re here to help. Call anytime”. While I appreciated the pleasant attitude of all the folks I spoke with, it seems like making the online interface more user friendly would be the ideal solution.

When entering phone numbers of people who want to receive text messages from you, you’ll be asked to choose their carrier. That’s an annoying step but a necessary one since they convert those messages into emails which are delivered via text, presumably to save texting charges on their end. The problem for me is that it didn’t work with Verizon. Neither my wife nor I could receive the message so I added my neighbor, also on Verizon. No luck there so I added one more friend, all at the request of SPOT. He was the first to be able to receive the message.

SPOT technical support was of no help in this department though they did try over a couple of hours any many emails with me. I eventually found part of the solution within their own support forum which it doesn’t appear they respond to very frequently. The key was to change to with a custom setting in the online app.

Another downside of the device is the plotting of your points and route to their online map where others can follow along. Again, this took a phone call to tech support for me to fully grasp.

At any given time you’re only able to show 25 points on the map. To plot another 25 points (that’s always your limit) you must scroll to the bottom, choose the next page, highlight all the points and select another button to plot only those points. I don’t think that’s super obvious and so you’ll always need to tell people that if they’re following along with you.

The SPOT GEN3 is a great device if you want a small, lightweight package that will alert others to an emergency or if you just want to check in and say you’re doing alright. I normally do all of my tracking on mobile apps even though they don’t post to an online map in real time.

SPOT Gen3 Review



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In today’s technologically ridden world, it seems that most people want to know the exact path that lies ahead. Whether you’re getting lost intentionally or unintentionally, metaphorically or literally, it’s a good idea to carry with you the Garmin GPS 64st. It won’t tell you how to get from point A to point B, but it will definitely show you where you are in the present moment. And perhaps, with the way technology seemingly takes us out of that present moment, this will inspire you to again appreciate where you are standing and not where your destination is.

There are so many features included in the 64st that if I tried to include them all, this write-up would quickly turn into a novel.  Physically, the 64st is perfect for any adventure we may find ourselves on. It is comfortable in the hand, perfectly sized for a pack or jacket pocket, and encased in durable rubber. We are huge fans of buttons rather than a touch screen, as we can use it throughout all four seasons. The screen is a good size (2.6 inches) and easy to read in any type of light without distractions from glare.


Technologically speaking, the Garmin 64st is loaded with functional, fun, and user-friendly features that make for safe and amazing adventures. One of Tyson’s favorite features is the Smart Notification. Through Bluetooth connectivity (iPhone 4s or later), you can wirelessly receive text messages, emails, or phone call notifications from your phone on your GPS. This is huge when we are mountain biking or dirt biking. Instead of cluttering the handlebars with technology, the only thing that needs to be mounted is the GPS. We don’t really need to see text messages or phone calls when we are out enjoying the outdoors but for emergency situations, this is a really neat feature.


Among other things, the Garmin 64st comes preloaded with TOPO U.S. 100K maps and includes a one-year subscription to BirdsEye satellite imagery. Most people today are probably more accustomed to finding their way with satellite imagery rather than TOPO maps. While it’s a good idea to know how to read topographic maps, BirdsEye gives the user the option to see everything with satellite imagery. The one downfall of the BirdsEye is that we feel as though it takes a while to upload mapping areas. It is an application that you download on to your computer. Once on the computer, you go in and dedicate which areas of the U.S. you want BirdsEye for. For instance, if you are taking a trip out to Moab, Utah, you can select the area that you will be exploring, download that selected area, and then upload to the GPS. You will only have satellite imagery for the selected area but it is then very easy to figure out where you are based on landmarks etc.

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 10.10.20 AM

The satellite imagery is very nice and user-friendly but what we love even more than satellite imagery is the Custom Mapping feature. We have a lot of really nice, detailed, and informational mountain biking maps of the Moab area. Instead of carrying a GPS and multiple paper maps, Garmin has come up with Custom Mapping. You can scan to your computer a paper map, overlay the paper map on the satellite imagery matching it up exactly, and uploading that layer to the GPS. This is an amazing feature that is not only efficient but you will have less to carry and instead of trying to match your GPS with your map, it is all on one device and tells you exactly where you are.

For those of you that are outdoor adventure bloggers, there is a really cool feature that allows you to invite your readers, families, and friends along for the adventure. Via Garmin Connect, your readers can track your adventure in real time. While this is a cool feature for your friends and family, it could also be helpful in an emergency situation.

The versatility of the 64st is remarkable and will make you grateful for Garmin’s forward thinking ideas. Not only can you view terrain in topographic form or satellite imagery, you can also download marine maps or road maps. Perfect for worldly travel, backcountry adventures, or everyday use, it’s easy to prove that this is the only GPS you’ll need.

It is evident that the features of the Garmin 64st are user-friendly and functional and that this is indeed a feature-packed, versatile GPS to pack with you on any adventure. Garmin has a diverse and extensive line of GPS products so be sure to check them out to make sure you get the GPS that most fits your lifestyle. If you love to explore the outdoors in a wide array of fashions (hike, bike, dirt bike, canoe, sail), the 64st will be a great companion to have out there with you.




Garmin GPS 64st

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Small and lightweight is my mantra so when a company called Aurosports approached me with an opportunity to review the 10×22 binoculars, I threw them on the motorcyle and headed out for a trip.

With 10×22 magnification you get a 10x zoom in a 22mm lens. The field of view isn’t large but you should normally be able to find and see what you like without having to carry something big and heavy to do it.

While on my trip I was also scouting new rock climbing areas. These binoculars are small enough to fit handily in my tank bag so I didn’t have to get off the bike and root through my luggage to find them. While something more powerful would be nice I also recognize that making them handy on my bike or in my backpack would be more of a challenge and I would likely find that I’d use them much less than I do now.

For a good binocular that doesn’t break the bank (currently $24 on Amazon) look to the Aurosports 10×22.


Aurosports 10×22 Binocular

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Buying a motorcycle jacket is no easy affair and with all of the options and riding styles out there you can image just how long it takes, especially since it’s a large purchase. Because they’re so expensive (Klim’s Overland Pants retail for $410) it’s nice to get just one jacket that will handle a lot of situations.

Like many adventure riders I split my time between the pavement and the dirt. Some days it’s 90% pavement to 10% dirt. Today’s ride was 85% dirt, 10% mud puddles and 5% pavement.

So I need a pair of pants that will look good on the road or when I stop into a restaurant, keep me protected on the trail from tree branches and falls, and be waterproof from rain and puddles (I swear that big puddle today looked like it was only 2 inches deep, but there I was, stuck up to the seat and trying to push it out).

Klim’s Overland Pants fit the bill for whatever I seem to put them through and at $410 retail are a nice compromise between features and price.

The fit throughout the legs is a bit on the lose end for me while the waist is snug. Nothing is uncomfortable but for someone with a 34″ inseam and 31″ waist I’d like to see less room in the legs and more in the waist. I’m wearing a Tall 32.

The Overland seems to take abuse well. From falls, hikes, wading through streams and many adventures. My kids have enjoyed hosing me off at the end of the day and the pants still look fairly new.

D3O™ T5 EVO ‘XT’ range knee and hip pieces will help protect if anything should go awry and two vents in each leg will help you keep your cool.

Klim Overland Jacket


Klim Overland Pants

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The Foidel Canyon 2 Tent by Big Agnes has everything and more that you would want in a 2-person backpacking or camping tent. This tent stands out from others because of it’s easy to use and setup design, big, accessible doors, high-quality and durable material, indispensable storage areas and endless options for add-on accessories.

The first time we used the Foidel Canyon 2 tent, we unfortunately were able to comprehensively test out the performance of the tent in consistent and relentless rain showers. With a 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating on the floor and fly and fully taped waterproof seams, there was not the slightest drop of water inside the tent. The large vestibules (10sq ft.) were also a huge benefit that we found with this tent because they proved to be a great area to store our packs and other gear that we did not want out in the rain.

The versatility of this tent proves it’s 3-season capability. Without the fly, between two windows and two doors, the ventilation would be impeccable for hot camping days and nights. Even with the fly on, you are still able to open the vestibule fully and allow for ventilation through the doors and windows. I mentioned how amazing the large vestibules are for storing gear but what is even more amazing is the fact that the vestibules can be opened to either side. This is huge if you are in a rainstorm, windstorm, desert sand storm, or any other storm that has some addition of wind or direction along with it. Simply open the side of the vestibule that is not getting hammered by the wind/rain/snow/sand and you protect the inside of your tent from also getting pounded with the elements.

Most tents, when encapsulated by a rain fly, become extremely awkward to get in and out of. Especially at 4 am, in a shit storm, when you have to pee, and your dog has to pee, and it’s raining, and your boyfriend hates it when you get even the smallest speck of dirt inside the tent (don’t even try to bring your shoes in), and you’ve managed to lose your headlight in the 5 hours you’ve been asleep. We found that this wasn’t necessarily the case with the Foidel Canyon 2. The large doors allow for easy access during any time of the night. Oh and by the way, with all the amazing storage options included in the Foidel, you won’t lose your headlight. There are six interior mesh pockets and two internal media pockets. Not to mention gear loft loops that allow for easy install of some of Big Agnes’ tent accessories that will give you even more storage options.

Speaking of making your life easier, this tent is super fast and easy to set up. Thank you, Big Agnes, for even color-coding the webbing and buckles and making the pole structure symmetrical. Remember that shit storm I was talking about? Yeah, I’m 100% positive you could set this tent up in that.

As far as comfort goes, for a 2-person tent, Tyson and I were pretty impressed with the room. We are always skeptical of 2-person tents and usually opt for a 3-person because of Hank. We were surprised with how much extra room we felt we had. With an overall length of 92 inches, Hank was able to comfortably curl up at our feet. The width at the top of the tent (top as in where you put your head) is 10 inches wider than the width at the bottom, which really helps to make it feel like you have an ample amount of room.

If you’re looking for a feature-packed, quality made, durable 2-person 3-season tent, I would highly suggest the Foidel Canyon 2 by Big Agnes. It’s versatile, easy to set up, comfortable to get in and out of, and is made with materials that are designed for the outdoors. Once you buy this tent, it may be a long time before you need another one. Be sure to check out Big Agnes and all of their tents and sleeping bags (and more!). They have a large selection so you are sure to get exactly what you need and want.













The Foidel Canyon 2 by Big Agnes

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When Hank was a puppy, he wasn’t sure what to think of bodies of water. He still hates the rain, but he has come to love swimming and water sports. We were so surprised when he really became a water dog because he was so skeptical as a young pup. It’s fun to watch your dog learn how to swim but can be pretty scary at the same time. For the most part, Hank is a pretty strong swimmer… when he remembers he needs to be swimming.  For all the times he forgets, we’re glad he has his Ruffwear Float Coat.

Whenever we’re on a boat in deep water, canoeing across open water, or enticing hank to jump off the end of a dock to retrieve a stick, he will most likely have his Float Coat on. We have yet to take Hank rafting or SUPing but when we do, he will always have his Float Coat.

Even if your dog is an amazing swimmer, it’s still important to have a Float Coat for many reasons. I am a good swimmer as a human but I still wear a PFD when I go rafting. The same theory should apply for your dog.


For the same reason that you wouldn’t wear a PFD that would easily fall off, we highly recommend Ruffwear’s Float Coat as one of the safest out there. First of all, there is not a releasable clasp on the chest of the Float Coat. While the closure is adjustable (and garaged by a telescoping sleeve), it is permanently attached preventing any accidental unfastening or breaking which would allow your dog to slip out.


The buckles under the belly have their own garage, ensuring that they will not catch on any debris or boating gear. These are also very adjustable so you can get an accurate fit on your pup.

One of the most important features of the Float Coat is the strong handle strategically placed between the shoulders. We use this all the time whether we are trying to get Hank in the boat or hanging out with him in the deep water. I can imagine that in an emergency situation, without the handle you would be at a loss.

Ruffwear pays close attention to detail and uses high quality products to ensure that, in an emergency or daily life, this canine PFD will not fail. Reflective trim and a light and a leash loop are just a few more ways to show that Ruffwear was serious about safety and functionality when designing the Float Coat.

Hank could spend all day in his Float Coat and he can swim easily and comfortably, as the coat does not restrict any range of motion. We got the yellow color, which is great for visibility and brings out the color in Hank’s eyes.

If you and your dog are water-sports addicts or adventurers, you should definitely be able to justify spending $80 that could potentially save your dog’s life one day.  You won’t be disappointed if you pick up a Float Coat for your dog and he or she will thank you later in forms of sweet slobbery kisses.  Be sure to check out Ruffwear for sweaters, leashes, travel gear, beds, and much much more!




The Float Coat by Ruffwear

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