REVIEW: DryGuy Force Dry DX

OK, this is a long overdue review thanks to Godaddy hosting issues (literally losing my website data after about 2014…..) so I’ll keep it short and sweet.  This is one of those pieces of gear that I’d never think to buy (because I’m cheap – put ’em on the heater!  Put some PVC pipe!) but is soooo damn nice to have.

Putting leather gloves on the heat vent only to have the leather get crunchy?  Thing of the past.

Threw your Kincos on the heater only to have the Sno Seal melt off?  Boom, no more.

Have your boots on the heater overnight but only the cuffs dried, toes are still soaked?  Not my problem brah.

Waders have that damp, muggy feeling on your second day of a searun cutt trip?  Isolated to you homey, mine are bone dry.

My initial worry upfront was the DryGuy would get too hot and either melt things put on it OR reshape heat moldable boot liners.  Welp, the smart folks there thought of that and, besides the fact that it only heats to 105 degrees, but they’ve got a non-heat mode that just blows air into your gear.  Genius!

The creators of the Force Dry DX made a simple (on, off, heat, timer) and effective product that is cheap and usable year round.  Really the only downside I can think of is that it feels like it may not withstand a drop from a decent height (but I’ve accidentally tested it from about 3′ and it held sooo….)

Verdict:  highly recommended.



If you’re looking to add a DryGuy product to your gear closet the below retailers can hook you up and get it to your doorstep.

US Outdoor Store




We’ve been in the ‘cabin in the mountains’ market for awhile now, chasing the ol’ ‘work from home while getting back to back to back pow days’ dream. Of course this plan works better when you’ve actually been able to find something, but that’s another story for another day. So, when the folks at DryGuy reached out to review their Force Dry DX glove and boot dryer (as well as their wader adapter) I thought why the hell not as it would be a great addition to the eventual mountain dwelling, and in the meantime useful around the house post-fishing or when snot nosed little heli plays in the snow this winter.

Unboxing the DryGuy is straight forward with just a touch of excessive packaging (the plastic bags over the already plastic boot arms seemed excessive to the hippie in me…).  Lightweight yet slightly bulky (this probably isn’t going in your travel kit) there are a minimum of removable/movable parts and assembly requires zero instruction.  The only assembly you’d ever need is if you want to add the boot extensions for larger boots or the wader adapter, both of which just slide over the shorter vent arms.  From there simply plug in, choose whether you want heat or not from the control panel and BOOM you’re drying.  Anyways, looking forward to getting some gear wet and seeing how well this baby operates (and with any luck not melting any of my stuff in the process….)


Nice box

Full frontal

Side view

Control panel. Plug her in, set the timer for up to 180 minutes, choose heat or no heat, and boom you’re drying.

Short vid so you can hear how loud the DryGuy is. I’d say this video actually makes it sound louder than it was in person.

REVIEW: Peak Design CapturePOV Mount

Finally got out into the great outdoors this weekend to give the Peak Design CapturePOV Mount a shakedown, bringing it out to a ‘secret’ river somewhere near Mt. Adams to fling some feathers and down some bourbon.



When I first got the package in the mail I thought damn, this is far heftier than expected.  I guess since they launched with a Kickstarter and the product is made in China I was just expecting another round of junk kicked out by crowdfunding, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.  The CapturePOV Mount is made of aluminum and glass reinforced nylon and feels substantial and every bit as rugged as you’d hope something would that you are trusting with your $400 first world adventure recorder (it’s worth noting that their CapturePRO intended for SLRs is 100% aluminum and is likely burly enough to take down a small animal when used as a throwing device).  It was also very apparent from the get go that Peak Design has put a lot of thought into the details – from the packaging to the product everything was very well done and gave off a feel of quality.



Package contents image from the PD website



In use the Peak Design CapturePOV exceeded expectations.  After a quick looksee at the instructions (I know I know, my man card was immediately revoked) to make sure I was using everything properly the PD was on my strap and capturing footage.  Getting started is easy – you mount your camera to the provided mounting plate, click it into the clip and then secure the clip by using the thumbscrew.  To remove your camera unscrew the thumb screw and click the red button.  One thing I really liked was the included J-arm as it allows you to adjust not just where your camera is aimed vertically but also laterally – and with the screen on the GoPro Silver it took all of 2 seconds to adjust aim on the move as needed.

One of my initial concerns with the CapturePOV was that it’s heft was going to overpower my shoulder straps but it appears as if the Peak Design crew already considered that.  Inside the package is a ‘stabilizer pad’ (seen lower left in the above photo) that you use as a backing for the capturePOV and helps add structure behind the clip in the case your backpack straps are more UL daypack and less overnight/multiday.



Another thing I wondered upfront (and the personal jury is still out on) is how the angle would be capturing snowboarding as by nature the capturePOV is always going to be offset to one side (though I guess you could mount on the sternum strap….).  It could be that it captures better on your lead shoulder vs. your rear, or it could be that it doesn’t make a difference.  The below video of flyfishing gives you a feel for the angle it captures in a typical mounting location.  You can definitely tell it’s offset, but I think with the angle the GoPro provides you can offset the offset by slightly pointing your camera’s lens towards your body centerline.


The only potential issue I noted during my time using the CapturePOV was that the screws that tighten the clip to the stabilizer pad or direct to the backpack strap seemed to come loose often.  They never were loose enough to lose the clip, but I also checked every hour or so as I lost a prior POV camera on a drunken urban snow mission a few years back.  Had I not who knows.  Worth keeping an eye on if you pick one up.

Overall I’m impressed with the Peak Design CapturePOV and think it’s a worthwhile piece of kit for if you find yourself taking your GoPro or other small camera into the backcountry often.  It’s worth the price of admission alone for splitting as it removes that additional layer of straps that the GoPro chest harness adds.  When you’ve already got a beacon and a backpack wrapped around you who needs another layer (though it does bring up the issue of electronics/beacon proximity interference…hmm…).  Anyways, check ’em out!



Sneak Peek: Peak Design Shell and Capture POV Clip

Had some goodness from Peak Design recently find it’s way into my mailbox. Will do a review on the gear once I get a chance to use it, but wanted to throw up a quick post as I’d never heard of them prior to last week and they make some pretty nice looking stuff I know some of you would dig (looking at you Rusty Old Camera)

Peak Design Shell

You know that whole “Fuck, it’s dumping, do I really want to drag my dSLR out” feeling?  The Peak Design Shell is designed to help if you’re like me and don’t have a pro level, fully sealed camera. I’ve yet to put it through it’s paces to see if it stays out of your way when you need it to but on first touch I’d say it’s better made than some of my outerwear.


Peak Design CapturePOV

The CapturePOV is another interesting piece of kit from the Peak Design crew that demonstrates they’ve put some thought into the little problems you experience as you snap pics in the great outdoors.  The CapturePOV essentially takes the place of the GoPro chest mount, opting to use something you’re likely already wearing as the mount instead of yet another piece of webbing mounted to you.  I’m interested to see if the offset nature of the product still gives a decent POV.



Also, while on their site be sure to check out their entire Peak Design Clip line of products.  I really think the Capture Pro is the real deal as I really hate carrying around my Lowe chest bag and think a Capture Pro + Shell combo would be killer.


Winter finally showed itself around here, enabling me to finally get out into predominantly gray/white conditions (aka the stuff that throws off a camera’s sensors/white balance) with the IronX Cam I can put together a final review. As most people come to this site via some form of a snowboard link I wanted to make sure I actually had a vid where you could see the quality in various snow and light conditions. After using the camera in a variety of settings over the past month or so my first impressions still hold true, with a few additions.

Jumping straight to samples, the two short vids below will give you a feel for the camera’s output when using software and hosting the average user would likely use – iMovie and Vimeo (and it should be noted that the video quality looked better than it does in those Vimeo clips due to their file downsizing and optimizing). For the most part things are in focus in the foreground and background, the field of view isn’t annoyingly wide (unlike my 1st gen GoPro), and it handled a range of light conditions on the hill admirably.

IronX Cam test from Justin H on Vimeo.

GoPro vs IronX Cam from Justin H on Vimeo.

Overall the IronX Cam exceeded my expectations for functionality and durability, and as you can see above the video quality was good enough for how most will use it – to relive and share their adventures online. It’s also a strong value, as you get everything shown below with your paid admission.


Now, for the question everybody wants an answer to “Would you buy the IronX Cam instead of a GoPro“? My answer: “It depends”.  If I was cash strapped and just looking to share my videos on a quality for the web, you bet.  For that Best Buy street price of ~$160 you get a package that would cost you almost double to purchase from GoPro.  However, as with anytime you purchase from a new vendor you are buying into uncertain customer service and product lifespan (that said they have updated their website to include new products and a new camera in the time that I’ve had the cam, a promising sign).  Given that uncertain product lifespan/customer service and given that these days we are accustomed to ‘disposable technology’ (aka how does the microwave we got when I was 5 last til I’m 30 but a new one lasts one year??) I would have to say that if you have the money the GoPro is still the way to go.  They just filed their S1 so it’s a safe assumption they’ll be around for awhile if you need them, plus they always have firmware updates for when they discover issues with the software.

-Great value as you get a complete package (RF remote, variety of backs for the case and mounts) for a street price of around $160 bucks (Best Buy)
-Feels of similar or higher in quality than my 1st gen GoPro HD
-Buttons easier to push than a GoPro, which is nice when you are a few hours into a tour, have horrible circulation and are wearing gloves (this can also be seen as a negative though as it makes it easy to accidentally switch modes)
-Intuitive menu navigation
-The OLED screen is very bright and who isn’t a sucker for Tron light cycle blue?

-The 1080P is a bit soft (noticeable when running via HDMI on my big screen)
-The audio is harsh at times, though this could be muffled with a poor man’s windscreen aka a bandage over the mic
-Had the OLED area of the case fog up when using on St. Helens. Not sure if my GoPro would have suffered a similar fate
-The way the camera connects to the accessories is not always solid.  I ended up losing my camera on Friday night when we were doing some ‘urban wakeboarding’ aka getting towed on our snowboards around the neighborhood.  I’m hoping it shows up when the snow melts but as we were going around a square mile or so of city I’m not bullish on my odds of finding it!  Bummer.

I’d like to thank the folks at Concept Agency and IronX for giving me the opportunity to use their camera!

First Impressions: IronX Cam

So I’m not going to lie. When The Concept Agency first reached out to me in regard to testing a wearable action cam for one of their clients my first move was to go to the client’s website, where the below was the lead photo.

Palm and face became acquainted when I saw this pic from their website

Now, I’m not really up on the stock photo market, but I’ve got to believe that Tim Zimmerman has some C-roll footage that would have been a bit less cringeworthy. They really should ditch that pic, as well as the one of the guy on the bike and just roll with the image of the guy surfing and the guy snowboarding (and maybe airbrush out those approach rollerblades on the snowshred’s back). Anyways, after judging a book by it’s cover I had to ask them if their client was REALLY trying to compete with GoPro? Given their website it seemed as if the cam was purchased separate from the accessories, which seems MASSIVELY ridiculous as to me the only way to compete against the brand GoPro (aka the Kleenex of the ‘wearable action cam’ market) has created is undercut them on price and overdeliver on value and quality. After a bit of back and forth with Stacy over there she filled me in that it actually comes with a ton of accessories, and I decided that the stream to phone feature sounded pretty rad (my GoPro being the first gen HD, pre-app/streaming) and worth checking out – especially as with Alibaba and offshoring these days it could possibly have the same guts as the

Flash forward a few bounced emails and a week or so later and a package arrived at my door. I tore it open and had immediate flashbacks to Zinka and Gotcha trunks (yeah, pre-boardshorts, the kind with the ball hammock).


COME ON GUYS, YOU’RE NOT MAKING IT EASY TO LIKE YOU! Barefoot waterskiing? Make it stop.

Anyways, after digging into the package full of accessories and turning the cam on the little blue OLED came on giving me warm fuzzies, that the IronX was of higher quality then the website and packaging would lead you to believe.

Things are looking up

Anyways, first impressions thus far

-Well equipped package for a street price of around $160 bucks (Best Buy)
-Feels similar in quality to my 1st gen GoPro HD
-The OLED screen is NICE

-The 1080P is soft when going direct from cam to TV (no vid converting involved)
-The audio seems a bit harsh (could be muffled with a poor man’s windscreen aka a bandage over the mic)

Below is a quick comparison of my GoPro vs. the IronX cam for you to make your own conclusions. Note that both of these looked FAR better before being saved and uploaded as supposedly HD quality.

GoPro vs IronX Cam from Justin H on Vimeo.

GoPro vs. IronX Cam video

I owe the fine folks at Concept Agency and IronX cam a (long overdue) review on this cam. Was sitting on it for awhile hoping winter would give us some full frontal as I imagine a lot of folks would like to see how the cam handles a primarily white scene, look like it’ll finally happen a bit this weekend. In the meantime put together a quick vid to show the video/audio quality difference between a 1st gen GoPro HD (720P max) and the IronX Cam. Given the Vimeo downsizing I don’t know that you can make a ton of conclusions from the vid, but I’ll let the viewer decide.

GoPro vs IronX Cam from Justin H on Vimeo.

Review: Hoo-Rag

The guys and gals at Hoo Rag hit me up a few weeks back asking me if I’d be interested in reviewing their product. Ordinarily I wouldn’t have paid any mind to their inquiry as I’m not really a buff user, but as I’d literally just finished joking with a buddy about bringing the Mambosok back I figured fuck it, it’s a sign from the blog heavens, let’s do this. Flash forward two weeks and an envelope arrived…

If you look closely you’ll see their logo incorporated into the digi camo

My first impressions upon opening the envelope was “Damn, really?” These things pack up small, really small. Not sure how much space I thought they’d take up, but I assumed at least as much as a bandana, if not more. And that envelope they sent? It had five(!) Hoo Rags in it with a note that they threw in some extras to stoke out a few readers – pretty damn generous for a newer company. Once my drone arrives from Amazon we’ll get that giveaway fired up on the tweeters.

Hoo Rag bills their product as a ‘multifunction bandana’, and suggest 8 differents ways you can wear them. While the pictures make it pretty obvious what it is and what they can do, but I think they’d do themselves a favor by mentioning that their product is also UPF 30, as their competitors aren’t shy about using that point for their own marketing.

Overall, there are only so many words you can write about about what is essentially a sonic welded (I think?) fabric tube. Since Shaun White made wearing a buff/neck gaitor cool again you’ve seen a ton of similar products on the hill, and they’ve really taken over in the flats fishing community (and rightly so with that glare). To be honest, it was something way outside of my wheelhouse and I’d never given thought to wearing one. However, after hearing they are UPF30 AND given my intense dislike of wind I’ll be keeping one of these in my camera pocket at all times, and it will definitely be making an appearance on some stealth trout stalking trips this summer. Given the Hoo Rag sells for 30-40% less than comparable UV buffs and they’ve got a ton of options (including reflective for bikers and a variety of camo patterns) I’d say give them a look if you’re in the market.

Oh yeah, and parents beware

REVIEW: Hobie Horizontal Rod Holder

My review of the Hobie horizontal rod holder and shortest review ever:  Broke while installing – hell I was just seeing if the strap would make it over the butt of my halibut rod.  Better to break in the grass than on the ocean though, would suck to lose that setup.



REVIEW: Olympus TG-820

Sometimes you’re just in the right place at the right time saying the right thing. Right after I posted Gear Lust: Waterproof Cameras I was contacted by Staples and told they wanted to send me a ‘ruggedized’ camera for some real-world testing.


I explained to them that I’m not a photographer like Tim Zimmerman and thus won’t be able (nor want) to do an in-depth, nerd out to pixels under a microscope dpreview-esque review, to which they replied they were OK with and wanted the Joe the Plumber version anyways. The deal was signed in blood and a week later an Olympus TG-820 shows up at my doorstep.

“Dunk it, Drop it, Freeze it, Crush it! True worry-free shooting regardless of the situation. Whether you’re diving, hiking, skiing, biking or climbing, Olympus’ Lifeproof technologies give you the freedom to capture your adventures from a whole new perspective.”

Full features and specs can be found here.

Blue TG-820 in all her beauty

DAMN, this thing is heavier than I expected. Nice looking piece of kit, between the brushed and anodized blue case and large screen on back.
As most consumers looking at this camera will likely be using it as a phonecam replacement my testing criteria was simple: bring the camera with me for a week and snap photos using it when I’d usually reach for the iPhone (or in places I wouldn’t want to bring the iPhone). Genius, right? Took me hours to come up with that.
All shots are straight out of the camera, no sharpening or other post-processing. The first shot I took as I was in the backyard was a quick P&S of the dog and was impressed with the output. After a few more shots in full light I was stoked. The TG-820 definitely takes great photos in fully lit situations, and zooming in on Jasmine’s schnozzle you can see it captures a decent amount of detail.

I’ll see that rope again…


Cheers at Oregon Brew Fest. The light was a bit odd in the tent and I’d say the camera captured it relatively accurately.

Group shot. Definitely a touch soft (part of which can be attributed to Photobucket’s hosting, the two above are on Flickr), and the details (especially darker/shade) are a bit grainy at full size.

The ladies getting wet

I hatehatehate (yes, that’s hate^3) all the ‘special’ (aka instragram/hipstamatic type crap) modes that most consumer P&S cameras have built in but I AM a sucker for macro shots, the only mode I played with. When I heard the TG-820’s super macro mode had a 1cm minimum focus distance I was stoked to give ‘er a go. For the below I simply chose the mode, stuck my hand into a tomato plant and clicked the shutter. The full-size image shows a surprising amount of detail.

Tomato plant shot using macro mode


Zoom (but not full size crop)

Shooting video with the TG-820 is easy, just push the orange button on the back and you’re recording. When the focus nails it the video quality is good enough for the web (aka 99.99% of all uses this camera will see), but the focus does tend to wander a bit in video mode. Also the camera does pick up quite a bit of camera noise and hand holding noise, most likely due to the microphone placement. I found that some of the vids I shot were unlistenable due to the sound of my hand holding it scraping against the mic area. Like with old school DV cams can probably just put a band-aid over it to ‘soften’ the noise it picks up. The vid below is just a quick dunk in the Pacific to give an idea of the output.

Kelp Vid from Justin H on Vimeo.

One downside I noticed is that after submerging the camera the lens doesn’t shed water, often resulting in pictures with ‘blobs’ from the water on the lens. I also had a few issues where the lens was fogged after using it in the water, putting it in my pocket, than taking it out awhile later to snap a pic. The high-end Olympus TG-1 has a water-repellent coating on the lens and monitor, something I think Olympus should apply to ANY camera billed as waterproof.

No, this is not a failed attempt at a fake tilt-shift image


One of the features I found innovative was the Olympus TG-820’s ‘Tap Control’. Tap Control let’s you scroll through the menu using taps on the sides of the camera as opposed to the pencil eraser sized D-pad. It’s simple and intuitive to use – tap on the top of the camera to move down on the menu, tap on the left or right sides of the camera to scroll left and right on the menu, and tap on the bottom of the camera to scroll back up – and will come in handy with gloved hands.

The Olympus TG-820 is a camera that is easy to live with day-to-day and makes a great, rugged replacement for your smartphone. If all you are doing is snapping photos/vids for the web you can buy this and be immediately stoked. That being said, it’s not without it’s downsides – of course if you are just looking for a rugged smartphone camera replacement you’d be dealing with the same downsides on your phone so it’s a wash.

Great picture quality in fully lit situations
High resolution rear screen
Costs less than a replacement phone

Focus struggles in certain situations
Some noise in darker areas of images
The double locking mechanism sometimes unlocks one of two locks on it’s own (never had the camera door open though)
Battery life felt shorter than expected (no hard stat to back this claim up other than shot ~100 photos and ~5 minutes of video and it was already blinking)

I’d like to thank Staples for giving me the camera post-review. Siiiiiick.