Friday, September 30, 2011

Fitbit – Easy way to track your day

This little Fitbit device gets you motivated to do just a bit more be fit.
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“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.”~ Friedrich Nietzsche
Even though I’m a “computer guy” I normally don’t go in for gadgets, It took a long time and a lot of convincing for me to even get a smart phone.  When I do get a new gadget I’m always hesitant to recommend it to others until I’ve had it quite a while.  There’s been too many times I thought something was the ‘next great thing’ and then after using a few weeks – well it wasn’t. 
So I’ve waited this long before blogging anything about the Fitbit.  I’ve had it since December 2010 – but it actually sat in it’s box until May 2011 when I got around to opening it.  I was convinced into getting it by a friend at work that has been using it for a couple of years now.  So what is it?
Essentially it is a solid state electronic pedometer.  It is such a fitbitsimple little device, the design is nearly perfect.  It measures your steps, converts them into miles and calories burned.  It wirelessly sends this information to the website to track your history.  The Fitbit has only one button.  It’s not an off/on switch – the fit bit is always on.  Each day at midnight it resets its self to zero steps (it saves the data for weeks in case for some reason it hasn’t ‘synchronized’ it’s self with the website yet.  When you press the button it tells you how many steps you have taken so far today, press again – how many miles, press again how many calories have burned, again and it shows a flower indicating how active you have been (more petals the better).  Don’t touch it for a second and it goes back to it’s normal state.
The beauty of the Fitbit is that it is so simple.  The battery is recharged when you put it on its’ base which has a USB connection your computer.  The base also acts as it’s wireless connection.  The charge lasts a LONG TIME – weeks.  This is a big advantage over using an “app” on my smartphone for a similar function.  I wear my Fitbit all the time.  It is always on.  Always tracking me.  Tiny and unobtrusive – I don’t even think about it.  It has been a tremendous help in keeping me motivated to reach certain “goals” (in # of steps), partly inspired by friendly competition with a few of my buddies that also have Fitbits.
The website that it feeds can not only be used to see your history but also to track other activities and your diet (which you need to key in what you eat if you want to track calorie intake – this is the one flaw of the Fitbit design – it has no way of knowing automatically what you are eating). 
Alright I’m not going to rehash all the information about the Fitbit that you can get from their web site.  If you are interested take a look at the site:  FitBit.com This little gadget costs $99 and and is well worth it (and BTY: if you buy it through a link on this blog BackPackBaseCamp.com will get a small commission).
While I’m being a bit commercial, I have to put a plug in for my kids (9 & 13 years old).  Last year they did a lemonade stand and it didn’t make to much money so now they got this idea to start making dog treats.  It is off to a good start, we put a simple web site together http://wilbursbiscuits.com/ and they are selling at local craft fairs.  It is top quality all natural stuff if you have a dog and are interested check it out.
One more thing: Backpackbasecamp.com is now an affiliate of Eddie Bauer; There First Ascent line is great stuff.  For the next few days they are having a 50% off sale. In addition until Oct 2nd you can get 20% off of EVERYTHING is you used code: FALL 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

A picture is a poem without words

"A picture is a poem without words." ~ Horace

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“The soul never thinks without a picture.” ~ Aristotle

I was out for a hike Sunday morning, just about a perfect morning so I thought I’d get creative with my smart phone and took this picture. 

Pyramid 7-16-11








I thought it looked nice and when I looked at it today it made me think of my friend Paula who has real talent, but is a bit to modest to realize it.

The photo below is one of her older ones. After I’ve been bugging her for a long time she has finally decide to put some of her work up for sale, and it will be available on the web hopefully soon.

Paula 7082 026-1

Paula loves to hike, you should check out her blog at:


and follow her on Twitter at: @SmokyWhisperer

Friday, May 20, 2011

The new Garmin Montana--the all-in-one GPS?

Garmin GPS units; Review: New line of dual-use touch-screen GPS. A guest post by Kevin Jordan

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“Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.”  ~Henry David Thoreau


First, there was Colorado. Then came Oregon, and after that Dakota, and now...Montana? If the my chronology seems a little out of whack, it's because I'm not talking about states here--I'm talking about Garmin GPS units. Montana GPS This week, Garmin announced the release of a new line of dual-use touch-screen GPS units. The "Montana" series, as it's called, is designed to bridge the gap between outdoor-use GPS units like those in the Oregon series, and automotive units like those in the Nuvi series. Both the Oregon and Nuvi series have been very successful and popular, and those GPS units are very good at their respective tasks. However, there has never really been a GPS unit that was a good fit for both the outdoor and automotive markets...but it looks like the Garmin Montana might just be the GPS that does that successfully.

For one thing, unlike previous outdoor-use GPS units that will just give textual turn-by-turn driving directions, the Montana GPS units will also give you voice commands. However, the speakers for the voice commands are located in the actual automotive mount, not the GPS. This way, Garmin could keep the size and weight of the GPS low enough not to be awkward for hikers and backpackers. Montana Auto Mount Another first for the Montana is that, similar to many smartphones, you can hold it vertically or horizontally. I would imagine that holding it horizontally would make it a little easier to use in the automotive mode. There are two power options for the Montana: a rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack (included with the GPS), or 3 AA batteries. Useful battery life with the AA batteries is advertised as 22 hours, which is more than most handheld GPS units currently on the market. Battery life with the lithium-ion pack is advertised as 16 hours.

All 3 units in the Montana series (the 600, 650, and 650t) include a barometric altimeter and electronic compass, have slots for microSD cards, and are compatible with all Garmin maps, BirdsEye satellite imagery, and custom maps. Montana GPS The Montana 650 also includes a 5 megapixel camera, and the 650t includes the camera and is also pre-loaded with detailed U.S. topographic maps. All in all, the Montana GPS units look pretty impressive. They're slated to hit the market in late June, so we've got a month to drool in anticipation. Until then, we can only wonder--is the Montana the elusive all-in-one GPS we've all been waiting for?


About Kevin Jordan  I’m an avid hiker, Kevin's Picturebackpacker, climber, and lover of the outdoors. I’ve been backpacking and climbing all around the world including trips to New Zealand and Chile. I currently run a business selling new and pre-owned handheld GPS units, as well as providing GPS units for rent. I love teaching people how to use GPS technology to take their outdoor adventures to the next level.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Hiking in the Rain & Fog

The pleasures of hiking in the rain and fog

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“He who would travel happily must travel light." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

So it was raining this weekend and looks like rain all this week. I just took the dog out for a walk in the drizzle and it reminded me I wanted to write a short blog post about my hike yesterday in the rain.

When I don’t have time for a full day hike I often hike at a very nice county park near me. It’s a wonderful park with many nice trails up to views of New York City and flatter trails along a reservoir.  The only down side being it sometimes gets a bit “crowded” (meaning you can spot some other people there from time to time).

149 rainy

So yesterday I figured it was a good place to go, cause “Sunday” hikers don’t normally hike in the rain.  Thinking I would have the place to myself, I drive into the lot and find a troop of cub scouts.  They seem to be standing around debating if they should hike in rain or not and appear to be inclined against it.  They ignore me as I walk past them.

Fortunately they were the only other people in the park and I walk for a mile or two before seeing anyone else.  When I get to the top I think about turning around – the fog and clouds are making it feel kind of spooky and I’m getting a little creeped out – but I decide to go ahead and do a long loop.  Just as I walk into a normally dark part of the woods (now really spooky) I meet a young lady and her dog walking the other way.  I recognize her as someone else who often haunts these woods and we exchange a smile as we pass; this makes me forget how creepy the woods is this day.

The rain has stopped now and the woods are so quiet. There is just the stillness of the hanging fog in the air and the dripping of water from the leaves.  A peacefulness that is hard to describe. It’s like a vacuum that sucks the tension and stress out of my body. My daydreams, worries and thoughts evaporate into the mist and all that remains is that peaceful feeling.  The quietness. The solitude.

A short while passes as I near the end of my loop and I hear the ear-piercing noises of cub scouts coming toward me.  That’s OK too. It’s nice to see the kids out in the rain.  They ignore me as they walk past.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Platypus Gravityworks Water Filter

Camping or hiking with a group? This gravity water filter does 4 liters in 2.5 minutes with out any pumping…

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“I walk slowly, but I never walk backward.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

If you are backpacking, camping or hiking with a group, share this Platypus Gravtyworks water filter.  As a group you save weight and platypusthere is no need to do any pumping.   Just hang this from a tree and Isaac Newton does the work.  It will filter 4 liters of water in 2.5 minutes with out any pumping.  It has a flow rate of 1.75 liters per minute. 

The system weighs 10.6 ounces and filters to 0.2 microns.

click rei from purchase to here

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Kickboards & Scooter Luggage

You no longer have to drag your hand luggage and yourself through the airport!

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“I don't know who my grandfather was; I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Bored with dragging your hand luggage and yourself through the airport? Micro luggage is designed for the frequent flyer who needs to move quickly and effortlessly. Instead of pulling your luggage, how about riding on it to the gate? Micro luggage is a specially designed Samsonite case with a built-in Micro scooter allowing you to move quickly and easily. When folded, it fits in standard size overhead bins. When you are done scooting, the scooter folds up turning it into conventional wheeled luggage. The handlebar also retracts for carrying or placing in the overhead bin.


Saturday, April 2, 2011

End of Winter Gear Review

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“All that is gold does not glitter; not all those that wander are lost.”~J.R.R. Tolkien

So winter is finally over, although here (in New Jersey USA) yesterday April 1st we had a bit of a snow storm.  Still, I’m putting away my winter stuff.  So I’ll make a few comments about things I liked the most.  I came across a few new interesting things:

Somehow out of the blue Columbia Sportswear ask my wife and I to test a couple of jackets from their new Omni Heat line.  I’m sure by now you all have seen this stuff, jackets with a silvery metallic lining on the inside, said to increase warmth by about 20%.  It does actually do this.  The technology reminds me very much of the New Balance FUGU jacket I reviewed on this blog long ago (here is that post).

The Columbia Omni Heat line is nice, although so far I don’t see any jackets in that line particularly designed to be light-weight and so not so good for backpacking. jacket                

My wife tested the women’s Heat Elite Jacket Omni Heat Jacket. She liked it very much but did find the sizing to be a little tight considering it’s main use other than day-to-day wear would be as a ski jacket.  The jacket is a soft shell; wind resistant, breathable.  Nicely soft to the touch.

They sent me a Grade Max Full-Zip Sweater. The thing is extremely warm comfortable and I find myself wearing it quite often.  I don’t 220think I would take it backpacking simply because of it’s weight and it wouldn’t pack down well.  I have used it on several day hikes and it breaths well.

Gloves is an area where I’ve seen some improvement but you have to search carefully. Ideally I would like a glove that is warm, water-proof, but not to bulky so that you loss finger dexterity.  I found two sets that fit this: The Serious Xtreme all weather – these are top quality and really are warm (done to very low temps) and water-proof.  uagloveThe other set of gloves I like for not so cold weather (not below 20 degrees F) is the UA Extreme Coldgear running glove. They say it is “water-proof” by I would say it is more like “water- resistant” so long as you don’t' get them to wet.  The fit – “like a glove”; extremely comfortable and give you great dexterity.



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