First, let’s talk Magellan GPS. I’m sure I’ll find some issues with their units once I dig in, but on the surface I’m impressed. First off, their Triton outdoor GPS series offers 4 units. That’s it. A quad of well thought out handheld GPSs, three of which are the typical form factor you see in something like a Garmin Etrex, and one, Triton 2000, with a larger 2.7″ LCD touchscreen.
Downsides? A dismal 10 hours of battery life (presumably with alkaline, meaning a set of lithiums will get you significantly past that, albeit expensively). Computer link cable has a proprietary end instead of mini USB, huge bummer but not a deal breaker (yep, one more cable to remember and carry, dang). Of more concern, one of their test units at the show crashed while I was panning the map. That simply should not happen so I have to admit it made me wonder how viable these Magellan units are for real-world use instead of playing games with geocaching and such. Ho hum, nothing is perfect, I can’t wait to test one anyway.
Enough of my GPS geekasm, moving along…
My wife Lisa is becoming quite the bikie, what with a beautiful 13-mile bike path shooting her straight to work every morning, and a classic Ibis mountain bike waiting for weekend fun. Problem is, our Jeep doesn’t have a bike rack. Makes me look bad, since ‘Rumble Bee’ does have every other feature known to man and the gods. Not to worry. Next stop, Yakima. Sure enough, they’ve added a spare tire hitch rack to their line.
Yakima’s basic but beefy “Sparetime” includes the adapter plate you need to mount the rack on your rear mounted SUV spare, and will even offset from side to side in case your spare isn’t centered. While using this means we have to shed the rally rack from our Jeep, it’ll work for most trips, so on the list it goes.
Noontime is rolling around now, my feet hurt, so time for food testing. Yesterday, Cache Lake Camping Food challenged me to taste their dried eggs (after cooking, of course). As most of you know, powdered eggs are more something you add to baked goods for texture, not “food” you mix up and scramble for breakfast. Sure, various backpack food companies make a stab at providing egg dishes, but they vary in quality and taste to the point where one tends to avoid them.
The guys at Cache told me in no uncertain terms that “our eggs taste great.” So there I was, watching a friendly lady mix me up a batch like we were back home on the farm. Yep, they tasted great!
Story is that commercial egg production is in the Cache Lake family, so they had the opportunity to experiment and tweak the vacuum drying process until the taste was right. It worked. I’ll be acquiring a stash of these for camping trips. Ma mixed them in bowl with a wisk, they probably would have had even better texture if they’d been shake mixed in a water bottle to add some fluff. If you want to vary your backpack breakfast menu a bit, give these eggs a shot. Cache Lake’s other foods are excellent as well. Website here.
No OR show is complete without some book signings and stuff like that. Problem with books is lugging them around all day, so I tend to avoid those types of events. Instead, I noticed Outdoor Research was sponsoring a Cascades/Forbidden Peak print signing by climber/artist Jeremy Collins.
Somehow I got number 1 of 100, it’ll probably be worth millons someday, but for now, just a cool reminder of what’s out there waiting for a visit.
While walking the isles I refreshingly came across sport and vitamin drink company Ola Loa. These guys are an alternative to the ubiquitous Emergen-C that lots of us gulp as regular as coffee. Looked at your Emergen-C label lateley? Turns out that stuff (other than their light and sugar free versions) has grams and grams of sugar, so when you prepare it you’re basically drinking vitamin laced sugar water. Yuk. Ola Loa has some sugar as well, though much less, and also uses fructose, stevia and natural fruit juice flavors so it tastes adequately sweet without loads of sucrose (be it sucrose from cane juice or whatever).
More, Ola is made in the US, while Emergen-C is made in China. Feel a little queasy after that hit of Emergen-C? Try an alternative that’s made in the USA with the FDA (at least occasionally) looking over their shoulder, instead of one or two steps removed in a country that’s becoming known for contaminated consumables. Good stuff, check it out.
Lastly, how about some wool products? Smartwood continues to build clothing that is way beyond their basic roots. If you’re looking for thin wool baselayer tops and truly nice ski socks, keep them on your radar. Likewise, keep your shopping eyes on I/O Bio Merino. These guys have one of the largest wool producers in the world behind them, and have a proprietary process of making yarn that’s said to be the least scratchy of all wools. Their garments do feel remarkably soft, and are nicely styled as well. Website here.
That’s all for now. Over the next weeks I’ll get into some specific product reviews, especially the GPS units and perhaps backpack/camp foods. In all, a good show that demonstrated the continued positive energy of the outdoor industry, despite our current economic situation.