"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn." ~ John Muir

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Gear Review: Halo Belt

I was contacted by a company called Halo Belt to try out a product that contained neon colored, bright LED’s. The purpose of the belt was to maintain visibility while engaging in night time activity on the street. Since I live on a pretty dark road with no street lights, I thought this would be a great product to test in the evening hours after the sun goes down.

I requested two belts so that I could cross them on my chest, over my shoulders to create almost an LED x-vest. They arrived and were packaged nicely. I received a red one and a neon yellow one. Right away, I noticed they were rechargeable and used a detachable USB port which makes them pretty universal.


I tried to cross them over my shoulders to create an “X” on my chest and back as mentioned above but found the belts weren’t long enough to cross down to my waste. Unfortunately, by crossing them over my shoulders, I found they dug into my armpit too much for comfort, especially since I was going running. I think if you were short and petite, these belts would probably cross over the way I had expected. This was no big deal however, and I decided to just wear one as a belt. Another thing I noticed was that the LED coverage was only long enough to cross your front or back region while used as a belt. When running, you want visibility in both directions so I saw this as a negative. To be fair, the portion of the belt that doesn’t have LEDs does have a reflector screening on it.


Functionally, the belts were bright. They had two settings, one which was constant illumination and one where the illumination turned off and on causing a blinking affect. I used this setting as I figured it would be more effective for drivers to notice. The belt was light in weight and at its loosest setting, it fit around my waste. I can imagine this belt would be tight if you have a larger midsection.

The unit worked well for what it’s intended to do. I wore it so the LED’s were facing to the rear of me and I didn’t get hit, so I assume the belt helped create awareness to passing motorists. I was hoping the unit would be more versatile, having a longer reach and a longer LED section so that it could be worn in a different way than a belt, comfortably. Because it was missing this versatility, other products need to compliment the function to make sure you’re visible from all directions. But, all in all, it’s a good product and does the job! 

Note: Halo Belt sent me samples for an unbiased review. All views in this post are the unbiased opinion of myself. 

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Gear Review: Dorcy Headlamp

Dorcy gave me the opportunity to review two of their headlamps on this blog. They sent me an LED headlamp with a 48m distance broad beam which was 120 lumens and one that was 118m distance spot beam which was 134 lumens. Both came with three triple A batteries and stated a 12 hour life. Both headlamps had the same housing, which was very light weight and was held on your head by and adjustable head band. Both also claimed to have a 50 degree swivel for the light beam, however, it seemed to be more than this. I would say the adjustability was almost 90 degrees. Both also claimed water resistance but I did not test this feature to date.


A rubber button at the top of the light allows you to toggle through different light settings. It started with a fully bright beam, then down to a less intense beam and then to a flicker or blinking setting. After adjusting the elastic head band, I placed it on my head and was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable it was. My standard headlamp I typically run with gives me a headache after a while and if I loosen it anymore, it won’t stay in place.

Showing the max adjustment of the beam. I would say it's more than 50 degrees.

I brought the Dorcy headlamp for a 3 mile run in the evening after sunset and found it to be a great headlamp. The beam lit up the road well and made me confident that oncoming cars noticed me from a distance. It also allowed me to dodge any rocks or potholes in the dark. It didn’t give me a headache like my current headlamp either.

These headlamps retail for about $25 on Dorcy’s website which I think is a great deal. You can also purchase from the larger retailers like Amazon for a discounted prices as well. I would highly recommend this headlamp for hiking or running. It’s pretty lightweight so it would be a great survival kit lamp.

Note: Dorcy sent me samples for an unbiased review. All views in this post are the unbiased opinion of myself.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Where Was It Wednesday!

Okay, here's a tough one. Where was this photo taken from. Hint: What you're looking at is the "South Cliffs" of a New Hampshire mountain with a lot of history!



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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Turtle Highway Is Out Of Control!!!

The Turtle Highway in my backyard is out of control!!! We saw a turtle one afternoon last week and then we saw THREE turtles on Saturday alone! Below are some shots of them. I'll keep you posted if we see anymore.

This Painted Turtle was from one evening last week.

 This is one from earlier on Saturday.
 
This one I spotted out the window of my second floor making a run across my neighbors yard.


Finally, we saw this one out the window of my truck as we were driving out of the driveway.

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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Miles for Gear!

I travel for my job once in a while. I probably don’t travel as much as some, but enough that it wears me down sometimes. Also, when I do travel, it’s typically to Southeast Asian countries that are very difficult to get to. In some instances, I’ve traveled for 45 hours straight (one way) due to layovers and delays. My standard trip however, is approximately 32 hours one way…and I usually make that journey on the weekend so that I can fit in a full work week. Well, I finally found a way to use that time I spend on an airplane to benefit my hiking and outdoor hobbies. I learned that I can use my United Airline Miles to purchase some nice pieces of equipment!

The other day, I drained my mileage account to purchase three items:


The first item I redeemed miles for was a Garmin Montana 650t Waterproof Hiking GPS with TOPO US 100K and 5 Megapixel Camera. Now, I’ve never used a GPS unit before as I stay on pretty well known and published trails. However, I figured if I wanted a GPS, this is probably one of the better ones to get since it retails on Amazon for around $600. I’ve always dabbled with the idea of Geocaching too, so this may solidify my entry into that hobby as well. My time sitting on a jet at 40,000 feet was well used here!


The second item I redeemed miles for was a set of Cobra Electronics CXT545 28-Mile Two Way Radios. I’ve wanted to get a two way radio for my pack for while in the event of a survival situation in the wilderness. It’s my understanding that it’s another possible means to communicate with a rescue team if needed, although not always affective. This set wasn’t didn't take many redeemable miles and retails for about $60 on Amazon. This set has a lot of cool features including an LED flashlight which shines out of the bottom of the radio and a button which alerts you of the current weather conditions. I’m not sure if I’ll be happy with them or not, but I’ll let you know.


The last item I redeemed miles for was a set of Bushnell Off Trail 10x28 Binoculars. I had a set of smaller binoculars that I used to keep in my pack but somehow lost them. These ones looked pretty nice and compact, so with the few miles I had left, I decided to give them a try. They retail for about $80 on Amazon.

Once I get around to trying all of these items out, I will do reviews on each of them. Hope you come back to see what I think!

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Five Facts Friday - National Trails Day

Have you ever heard of National Trails Day? It's the country's largest, collective celebration for trails. That doesn't necessarily mean hiking trails, but could mean mountain bike trails, etc.as well. Anyone can host an event on this day each year. They do obvious events like hikes and bike rides, but also do events like gear demonstrations, bird watching and stewardship programs. Here are Five Facts on Friday regarding National Trails Day!
Image from the American Hiking Society website
 
1. What is National Trials Day?

• “National Trails Day encourages all Americans to connect with local outdoor clubs, businesses, community groups, and parks and recreation departments as well as federal land managing agencies to experience, appreciate, and share the natural places we cherish. Started in 1993 by the American Hiking Society, it is centered on the idea that for one day each year we should come together outdoors and give back to our favorite trails.” (Quote from Source)

2. When is National Trails Day (2014)?

• The official date of National Trails Day® is always the first Saturday in June. This year, National Trails Day will be held on Saturday, June 7, 2014.

3. What are examples of common National Trails Day Events?

• “Examples include all non-motorized activities related to trail-recreation such as hikes, bike rides, trail maintenance, health fairs, educational workshops, children’s programs, horseback rides, backpacking trips, river and paddling excursions, wildlife viewing, photography clinics, gear demonstrations, etc.” (Quote from Source)

4. How do you find an event near you?

• Visit http://www.americanhiking.org/ntd-events/. Also, many local towns also hold events, so be sure to check your town’s website for more information.

5. What should you look forward too or plan for?

• National Trails Day for 2015 will be on June 6, 2015, so plan ahead :0

All information for this post was taken from the following source: http://www.americanhiking.org/national-trails-day/host-information/
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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Where Was It Wednesday!

Where Was It Wednesday!!! What mountain (or trail) was this photo taken from. In the picture is Mount Passaconaway with the old Passaconaway Slide or Downs Brook Slide visible (now closed I believe, and has been for many years).


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Friday, May 30, 2014

Five Facts Friday - Hike Safe Card...NH House Bill 256

The New Hampshire legislature is in the process of moving forward with House Bill 256 which includes the creation of a New Hampshire “Hike Safe” card which would protect hikers that require emergency support during a hike, against fees associated with the rescue mission. Here are five things you need to know, as of today, regarding this proposal…please note that the bill is in flux and the facts may change in the future.
  1. The “Hike Safe” card is totally voluntary. In no way are hikers required to purchase this card to hike on New Hampshire trails. The goal is to promote this card as a piece of equipment that a responsible hiker will obtain in an effort to give back to NH Fish & Game, in an effort to counteract the emergency response budget (which apparently always is exceeded).
  2. The cost of this card was last published to be $25 for an individual or $35 for a family. Based on what I’ve read, a majority of this amount will go directly into the NH Fish & Game emergency response budget, with a small portion going toward administrative fees (i.e. $3 or so, not sure of the exact amount).
  3. From everything I’ve read the card will relinquish you of any rescue fees that may be incurred, regardless of how your emergency arose. That means, even if you were negligent and/or stupid (started hiking the Bonds at 2pm, with shorts and a cotton tee-shirt in November, with nothing but a cell phone, and decided to bushwhack off the trail and got lost) resulting in a rescue, all you have to do is present this card and it’s a “get out of jail free” card for you. It’s not clear yet if situations where circumstances may not be the hiker’s fault and a hiker can’t present a card, if they’ll be liable for the fees.
  4. If you already have a valid (current) New Hampshire hunting or fishing license, a New Hampshire boat registration or New Hampshire Snowmobile/ATV registration, you can present one of these in lieu of a Hike Safe card in the event you need to be rescued. I believe the logic behind this is that a portion of the cost of each of these items is already contributed to the emergency response budget so you’ve already contributed your part as an outdoor enthusiast and makes you exempt from having to purchase a Hike Safe card.
  5. Based on some numbers I saw on nhliberty.org, I’ve estimated that the average spend (before fees are collected) on NH Fish & Game rescues (including hikers, hunters, snowmobilers, etc.) is approximately $133,000 per year. (Note, there are approximately 35 rescues per year over $1,500…I wasn’t sure how to quantify this, so I used $2,000. This number may be much higher which would bump the overall number.) Currently, the person being rescued is charged a flat fee depending on the cost of the rescue (it’s a range typically) and I believe it is a bit dependent on the circumstances and fault. Often, however, it’s published that these fees go unpaid, which is crazy (opinion, not fact)!!! Also, rescue costs have gone up recently as the New Hampshire National Guard used to deploy a rescue helicopter free of charge and called them training missions when needed…however, they now charge us and there are NO free helicopters!!!
My Opinion: I think it’s a good idea. As a hiker, I always think of ways to give back. If this is one way I can help the New Hampshire Fish & Game and possibly fellow hikers, I think it’s a small price to pay. Also, when looking at the fact that the hunters, ATV riders, etc. are funding these emergency response activities, and hikers are a large percentage of the persons rescued annually, I think it’s only fair that hikers contribute too. All that being said, I don’t agree with it being a 100% get out of jail free card. I strongly believe that if you’ve put yourself or others in a dangerous situation negligently or recklessly by being unprepared for the conditions you’re trekking into, shame on you, and you should incur the cost of the rescue! What are your thoughts? 

Image from NH Fish and Game Website

Sources of Information for this Post:
The Conway Daily Sun 
The Union Leader 
New Hampshire Liberty Alliance
House Bill 256 Contents
New Hampshire Fish and Game (Image/Logo)


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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Where Was It Wednesday!!!

Hi Everyone - I wanted to try a new thing for Wednesdays. I may not get this up every Wednesday, but I'll try. I'll post a picture and you need to guess where (in most cases, what mountain) it was taken from. The first one is below...let the guessing begin!



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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Turtle Highway!


Every year, my backyard turns into a highway…a turtle highway that is! So far, I’ve only seen painted turtles crossing from the brook to the laying grounds of their choice, but I’m sure other types of turtles, such as snapping turtles, also use that path. So, between the months of May and July, I do my best not to hit them with the lawn mower. The good thing is they are pretty fast…for turtles. When I see one with the lawn mower, I make a loop around the house and when I go by them again, they’re usually safely at the edge of my lawn.



Along the same lines, my community was chosen to be the pilot for new Turtle Crossing signs setup by the New Hampshire Fish and Game, which may rollout to all of New Hampshire soon. On the NH Fish and Game Facebook Page, they mentioned that Newmarket was chosen due to the fact that blanding and spotted turtles have been observed in the community. I have to say I think these signs are great! Please remember, if you do see a turtle and want to help them cross the dangerous street, please move them to side of the road they are pointed!

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