Category Archives: Household Products

DeWalt 18/20V MAX Cordless/Corded Wet Dry Vacuum

DeWalt 18/20V MAX Cordless/Corded Wet Dry Vacuum

The DeWalt Cordless/Corded Wet Dry Vacuum model DCV581H uses a DeWalt 18 or 20 volt battery or the cord for powering the handy portable vacuum.

Ease of Use/Performance: 3/5
Convenience/Storage 4/5
Appearance/Design 4/5
How much I enjoy 4/5

Recommendation: 4/5

DeWalt Corded/Cordless Vacuum

The DeWalt 18/20V Wet-Dry Vacuum is a handheld corded or cordless vacuum but you do need to purchase a battery for cordless operation. The DeWalt DCV581H comes with the vacuum, hose, two attachments, filter assembly and manual but is not sold with a battery or charger.

The DeWalt DCV581H uses a decently powered motor to provide suction and has the really nice feature of being able to use either batteries or 120 volt wall power. The DCV581H can use either 18 volt or 20 volt DeWalt batteries with the 18 volt being either NiCad or lithium ion battery.

The 20 volt MAX batteries are only lithium ion so are a bit more expensive with batteries starting at about $90 for a pair of the 18 volt NiCad. I did not receive a battery or charger with the vacuum so I am not reviewing the power of the vacuum using a battery.

Whats in the Box

I checked out the functions and features of the DeWalt portable vacuum using the 120 volt corded operation and found the vacuum works very well. The ball on the inside of the tank prevents water or liquids from getting into the motor so you do need to hold the body of the vacuum somewhat level when using.

The DeWalt DCV581H has a five foot hose that attaches to both the intake and exhaust ports for both vacuum and blower use and is a common 1 1/4 inch size. The DCV581H comes with a crevice and wide nozzle tool but you can buy other tools in this common 1 1/4 inch size at stores like Menards, Home Depot and Lowes.

The DeWalt vacuum has the removable filter that can be washed for easy cleaning while a new filter will cost about $25 which is pretty common for these types of filters. The filter does a great job of keeping dust and fine particles out of the motor but you can buy new ones when it gets beyond the point of using.

Battery Connections

The DeWalt vacuum has enough power to pick up wood chips, sawdust and other smaller debris but balks at things like bolts and larger nuts. I had no problem getting up hair and dirt from a spilled plant but could not get up some of the rocks also in the plant.

The DeWalt vacuum has enough power for shop jobs like broken pieces of glass or sawdust which is what it’s made for but for larger jobs like rocks or pieces of concrete you may need to step up to a more powerful vacuum. The DeWalt vacuum does a great job around the house and in the shop for lightweight work just like my other handheld vacuums from DeWalt and Milwaukee in this same category.

The vacuum does a great job for dust bunnies and hair around the house and with its battery operation would make a great home vacuum for quick cleanups. The tank is easy to empty using the two side latches and the plastic makes it easy to wash and scrub out when really dirty.

Filter & Tank

The tank can be washed out with soapy water if you get it dirty with more than simple dirt or liquids which is a common use for a wet-dry vacuum. You can vacuum up water or other liquids but you should clean out the tank immediately to prevent the tank from getting rank or funky.

The filter also needs washing after cleaning up liquids but the fiber material used in the tank is pretty tough and can take repeated washing and vacuuming up liquids. After cleaning up liquids and rinsing or washing the filter you should let the filter and rest of the tank dry completely before reassembling the vacuum.

I really enjoy using a cordless vacuum for quick cleanups around the house and when I work on projects for a quick and easy way to keep things tidy. I was a bit disappointed when I did not receive a battery but the DeWalt vacuum works really well even when using it with a cord.

Cleaning Up Around the House

The DeWalt Wet-Dry vacuum worked well while I was trying it out for a new project building a kitchen countertop and for odds jobs all around the house. I highly recommend the DeWalt vacuum for a great corded and cordless vacuum that gives you the versatility of deciding how it’s powered.

DeWalt DCV581H @ DeWalt

DeWalt DCV581H @ Amazon

Pros

Quick and easy wet or dry pickup
Corded or cordless operation
Blower and vacuum function
Comes with common sized tools

Cons
Not as powerful as it could be
Batteries can be expensive

HuMn Wallet 2 Review

HuMn Wallet 2 Review

The HuMn Wallet 2 system is a unique credit card protection and simple wallet that uses aluminum plates or screen to protect your RFID enabled credit cards from identity theft.

Ease of Use, Performance:  3/5
Quality/Craftsmenship 2/5
Features:  3/5
How much I enjoy:  1/5

Recommendation:  2/5 Stars

HuMn Wallet 2

Identity theft by reading your RFID enabled credit cards is a possibility whether you or the credit card companies want to believe it. RFID is Radio Frequency Identification that uses a small circuit on your credit card or identification card to broadcast the cards number and other information.

At hackers conferences it has been demonstrated that people can steal your credit card information with simple to buy hardware and use it to buy items or charge your credit card. While the credit card companies may want to deny that it’s this simple people have shown just how easy it is which is why I have refused to use RFID credit cards.

A layer of protection to prevent someone from electronically stealing your credit card information is a simple one, think of those guys who are afraid of aliens or governments from stealing their thoughts. A layer of aluminum whether a thin plate or a double layer of aluminum mesh will block the RFID from prying electronic eyes and protect your identity and credit.

The HuMn Wallet 2 has a customizable design where you choose the color, material and number of plates for your wallet with a good variety for all. The design of the HuMn wallet is a simple plate whether aluminum or carbon fiber with aluminum mesh and slots in the plates for an elastic band to hold things together.

Whats in the Box

The plates have a notched corner for easier prying open and a hole in the corner with notches on each side for the elastic band. The elastic band is a half inch wide elastic and works well to keep the plates together to keep your cards in your wallet.

The aluminum plate is simply a cut plate with smooth edges that is cut much like the carbon fiber plates but a slightly smaller size. The Carbon fiber is three layers of carbon fiber with two layers of aluminum mesh between them and about 2 7/8 by 3 3/4 inches.

I know the design of the carbon fiber not by seeing the edge of the plate but by seeing the insides up close and personal when mine came apart. One carbon fiber plate split apart and I was faced with either gluing it back together or just not using it at all for my wallet.

Whether RFID protection is a main concern of yours or not a tough wallet that will last is but the HuMn wallet may not be as tough as they want it to be. Tough and solidly built the HuMn wallet is supposed to be a simple plate or plates with the elastic band to hold things together.

HuMn Wallet 2 w/ Cards & Money

After using the HuMn Wallet 2 for a few months a problem developed with mine while writing up the review in both the plate coming apart and the elastic showing signs of wear. The other carbon fiber plate shows no sign of splitting and I could not find anyone else complaining about this on the internet.

I am sure if I complained the company would send me a new one but I do have the aluminum plate and the other carbon fiber plate for a wallet that works well. I also have found that the elastic strap is showing signs of wear with several of the inner rubber bands breaking which is causing the elastic to lose some of its hold.

The band will probably be good for several more months and need replacement with a new one eventually which I will probably not worry about buying a new one. You can buy new plates and elastic bands from the company at their website but I will probably just make my own elastic band if I keep using the HuMn wallet.

While I don’t mind having to buy or make my own elastic band I was kind of looking for a wallet that would last at least a year without having to buy new parts. Comparing this to other wallets I have purchased that only cost about ten dollars it will last longer but it would have also cost much more.

Elastic & Carbon Fiber Plate

The HuMn Wallet 2 with three plates and the one elastic band costs about $178 which is a high cost for a wallet and much more than I would pay. I can see paying $20 to $40 and even up to $50 but over a hundred for this wallet is a bit much it is a simple design and not very complex materials.

For that price I would expect a higher quality material in both the carbon fiber and the elastic and to not see such signs of wear so quickly. If you need the RFID protection or just like the minimalistic design the HuMn Wallet 2 is nice but I am not sold on the durability of the materials.

I have seen other slim and minimalistic wallets on the internet with the same aluminum design to protect against RFID scanning for less cost. Only once did I have a problem with cards slipping out of the wallet with a few cards falling out when I pulled the HuMn Wallet 2 out of my pocket.

I have not had a problem with cards falling out or losing any while handling the wallet at other times and am not concerned much with losing cards while using the HuMn wallet. I was concerned with the build quality of the carbon fiber plates and the elastic band as both are not going to last a year fromt he looks of them.

I just cannot recommend this costly a wallet when the quality is not up to what you are paying for and at $178 for a wallet I would expect a better quality product.

HuMn Website

Pros
RFID protection
Stylish design
Customizable colors and materials

Cons
Very Expensive
Carbon fiber plate split
Elastic band shows signs of wear and rubber strands broke

Cocoons OveRx and Clip-On Sunglasses

Cocoons OveRx and Clip-On Sunglasses

Cocoons makes a unique over prescription sunglasses as well as the more traditional clip on sunglasses for those that wear prescription glasses.

Ease of Use/Performance: 4 /5
Convenience/Storage 5/5
Appearance/Design 5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5

Total: 4/5

Cocoons OveRx and Clip-On Sunglasses

I have been wearing glasses for as long as I can remember and usually buy a pair that are tinted for sunglasses but recently after they broke I looked at add-on sunglasses. Eyeglass wearers have a few options in sunglasses with clip-ons that either have small hooks that fit over your frames or clips that hold the frame on your glasses.

Cocoons make a unique line of sunglasses that actually fit over your entire eyeglass for a protective pair of sunglasses that help block sunlight and ultraviolet. The Cocoons OveRx look much like a pair of safety glasses and also work much like them by covering the front and sides of your eyes.

The OveRx sunglasses come in a variety of polarized and even 3D glasses for watching movies and games on your favorite 3 dimensional televisions or monitor. The Cocoons OveRx sunglasses make a perfect sunglass for use over your eyeglasses so you don’t need to worry as much about fitting the shape of your eyeglasses.

The OveRx sunglasses come in several shapes and to help fitting your current eyeglasses they have a printable sizing guide. Just print the guide for whichever shape you want to see how well it will fit your glass shape and size using your real glasses.

Cocoon Sunglasses

Cocoons printable guides have a quarter matching guide on the printable page so you can tell after printing if your printer and computer alter the image size. If the quarter on the page you print is the exact same size as a regular quarter the printed image of the Cocoons is the correct size.

You can set your eyeglasses on the image to see how well the Cocoons will cover your eyeglasses for both shape and size. The printable guides work equally well for their clip-on and flip-up sunglasses for fitting as their OveRx sunglasses.

I received two pairs of sunglasses for my eyeglasses with one pair the Cocoons OveRx glasses and the Cocoons clip-ons. The Cocoon OveRx glasses have several premium features including your choice of polarized lenses, flexible temples and a variety of frame colors.

The flex temples are a very flexible over ear piece that retains its shape and allows the glasses a flexibility so you don’t break your sunglasses. The temples fit above or below your eyeglass temples and actually are very comfortable.

Cocoons OveRx Sunglasses

I was actually pretty surprised at how comfortable the Cocoon OveRx sunglasses are and they do offer a great protection from sun and the elements. The OveRx sunglasses also work well for some protection like safety glasses but are not rated for safety glass use.

I have been working a little extra from my reviewing to earn some money and have been painting a daycare building which also requires some pressure washing before painting. The OveRx sunglasses kept water out of my eyes and off my more expensive glasses protecting them and keeping my vision clear.

The Cocoons OveRx sunglasses work well for everyday use like driving and outdoor activities as they stay on well and you can choose your style with the colors and shape. The lens choice also makes a difference for clear sight or a bit of enhancement using the variety of polarization and color.

The more polarization the less glare your eyes have to endure and the variety of colors have different properties like blocking blue light. The lens choice will depend on your general use of the sunglasses so you should check out the cocoons website to see what each lens color and light transmission would benefit your activities.

The OveRx sunglasses work extremely well for general sunglasses as well as sunglasses that will cover more than your eyeglasses for overall protection. The clip-ons I received from Cocoon also offer sun protection but are less obtrusive on your eyeglasses.

Cocoons OveRx

The Clip-ons cover your eyeglasses are fitted to the shape and size of your eyeglasses using the same printable guides from Cocoon. The size is important and Cocoons offers a wide variety to fit your glasses in two lens colors and polarization.

The clip-ons do not have the same wide variety of polarization and colors as the OveRx sunglasses but you can choose from amber or gray polarized lenses. The clips-ons are a less obtrusive choice in eye protection and they are a great quality clip-on.

When comparing the Cocoon clip-ons to other brands like those you can buy at Wal-Mart the Cocoons clip-ons have a sturdy metal clips and solid joints. The Cocoon clip-ons have been a great pair of sunglasses and are very sturdy which is a major concern for clip-ons.

Using the clip-ons you have to pull to the side to fit them on your eyeglasses and sturdy joints are a must to ensure quality and durability. The Cocoon clip-ons have been going strong and showing no signs of wear since receiving them over a month ago.

Cocoons Clip-Ons

The fit is great even when I had to slightly bend the clips to fit them on my thicker lenses but they had no problem with bending using a pair of needle nose pliers. The clips are securely welded on the frames and the center spring fit is a quality part of the sunglasses.

Both the OveRx and clip-on sunglasses feature a lifetime warranty from defect and the lenses are warranted for one year to be scratch free. Of course they do not warrantee from improper use and damage from things like dropping them so care in use is part of owning Cocoons.

The Cocoons also come with an eyeglass case in a neoprene case for the OveRx sunglasses and a slim hard case for the clip-ons. The Cocoons OveRx and clip-ons make a fantastic pair of sunglasses and but they are a bit higher priced than ones you buy at Wal-Mart or drug stores.

I highly recommend the Cocoon OveRx and clip-on sunglasses for eye protection when yu already wear sunglasses and cost $50 for the OveRx and $40 for the clip-ons.

Cocoons Website

Pros
Durable and good looking
OveRx have flexible temples
Variety of colors and UV protection

Cons
A bit expensive

JBL Charge Portable Speaker and USB Charger

The JBL Charge is a great portable speaker with a USB outlet for charging smartphones or tablets from the internal 6000 mAh Li-ion battery.

Ease of Use, Performance:  5/5
Look & Feel:  5/5
Features:  5/5
How much I enjoy:  5/5

Recommendation:  5/5 Stars

JBL Charge

The JBL Charge is a fantastic portable speaker that has a trick underneath its cylindrical hood in a 6000 mAh lithium ion battery. The internal battery allows the JBL Charge not only to keep playing music for a long time but can be used for charging USB devices like smartphones and tablets.

The JBL Charge is a two speaker system with a side facing bass tube with the two 5 watt speakers supplying the majority of your sound. The inch and a half speaker’s supply the sound while the bass comes from the side port but I am not sure what is behind that small side screen supplying bass.

Whats in the Box

Bass is usually from a separate speaker but I am not sure how the bass is coming out the side speaker on the JBL Charge as I have not been able to get it open. The battery is under the back grill but that was all I could get open so I am not sure what else is under the hood of the Charge.

The small size of the Charge at 7 inches long and 2 and 3/4 inch wide is a good size for decent sound but it does not deliver just decent sound. The JBL Charge is a great sounding speaker and so far the best I have heard from a speaker this size for music and movies as well as gaming.

jbl charge controls

The JBL Charge along with the closely released Flip are both excellent speakers and sound equally great for music and movies but also work well for gaming. I have used the Charge as a regular speaker for watching movies and gaming on my computer and for music from tablets and my MP3 player.

The JBL Charge connects to your audio player using either Bluetooth or the rear 3.5 mm stereo connection with Bluetooth working flawlessly between all the devices I have tried. The rear stereo connection is right by the micro USB connection that is used to charge the portable speaker.

USB Charging Connection

The JBL Charge has three led lights near the power button to show power levels when using the portable battery and when charging the internal battery. The blue LED around the power button indicates on, pairing and connected with the Bluetooth so you have all you need to know with the two sets of indicators.

The JBL Charge comes with a wall power adapter for the included micro USB cable and a stereo cable for connecting the Charge to your media player. The Charge also comes with a handy and nice plush carry case that fits the speaker and its cables but not the power adapter.

Rear Connections

The JBL speaker sounds great and is definitely worth the higher price if you need a stereo speaker that also doubles as a USB charger for handheld devices. I have charged not only my smartphone and MP3 player but have topped off my Nexus 7 and Playbook tablets using the Charge.

The JBL Charge is available at sites like Amazon and Newegg for about $150 and comes in blue, black or green and really does have a high end sound quality. I highly recommend the JBL Charge for a high end portable speaker that is small in size but big on great sound that also can charge devices with its built-in USB connected battery.

JBL Charge @ JBL Website

JBL Charge @ Amazon

Pros

Bluetooth or 3.5mm stereo connection
6000 mAh Li-ion battery powers speaker and charges devices
Bass and two speakers sound great

Cons
None

JBL J55 On-ear Headphones

JBL J55 On-ear Headphones

The JBL J55 headphones make a great portable headphone for listening to music and movies when you want to keep the sound to yourself.

Ease of Use, Performance:  5/5
Look & Feel:  4/5
Features:  4/5
How much I enjoy:  5/5

Recommendation:  4.5/5 Stars

JBL J55 On-ear Headphones

The JBL J55 headphones are a smaller sized on-ear headset that has a few unique features including rotating ear pieces and a removable cable. The JBL J55 has two 1 5/8 inch premium drivers for great quality sound and a 4 foot cable to connect to your devices.

The 3.5 mm cable has both the head phone audio and the microphone on the same connection but it can be sued in both regular audio and combined audio devices. Each ear piece can rotate 180 degrees for either storage or for using one of the ear pieces in what they call DJ style with only one of the ear pieces on.

Whats in the Box

Bass is nicely deep while high notes and mids are clear and sound great even when listening to a variety of music and movies. The JBL J55 comes in black, white and combined orange and white for a good variety of colors while the carry case is black.

The J55 comes with the headset and a carry pouch along with the detachable cable that connects to the headset with a locking end that also has a microphone and inline volume control. The J55 headphones work well for both listening to music as well as communication like gaming and for general voice over IP.

JBL J55 w/ Carry Case

The inline microphone and volume control is about four inches from the connection to the headphones and works pretty well but at times the sound is not quite as good probably due to positioning of the microphone. The microphone uses a small hole in one side of the small control so you need to make sure this hole is out away from you for best reception of the microphone.

The volume controls work well and the head set has a clarity and quality that is up to the JBL standards but this does have smaller sized ear pieces. I prefer my headsets to have plenty of room over my ears but the JBL set does sound great and is plenty comfortable to wear for hours on end.

Ear Piece JBL J55

I have used the headset plenty for gaming and the sound quality is excellent along with great voice for in game chatting and communication. The JBL J55 makes a great all around headset for both computers and for regular music connected to an MP3 player or a tablet.

I have done a little experimenting with the JBL J55 and a program from Razer that allows surround sound in any headset and this also sounds fantastic. Razer has released a program for Windows 7 and Windows 8 that changes a stereo headphone into a surround sound headphone.

j55 connection

Surround sound on the JBL J55 sounds fantastic and gaming is that much better with it as it really does help with hearing where people are at in first person shooters. 7.1 surround sound does help in gaming but for most movies 5.1 is plenty and with the Razer Surround Sound program you get as many speakers as the movie or game will let you.

7.1 movies are interesting but I really don’t know if all those speakers are necessary but 5.1 is just right for both gaming and movies. The JBL J55 did great with the Razer program which is free from Razer, I have a link to the free surround sound program below.

The JBL J55 on-ear headset is a great sounding headset and comfortable enough even though the ear pieces are small but they fit. I highly recommend the JBL J55 for exceptional sound and good audio using the inline microphone and volume control that works very well even without the surround sound.

J55 @ JBL

Razer Surround Sound for Windows

Pros
Comfortable on-ear headset with excellent quality
Inline microphone works well
Cable locks onto headset
Earpieces rotate for storage and to use one earpiece DJ style

Cons
3.5mm connection has microphone and stereo audio on same tip

JBL Flip Portable Bluetooth Speaker

JBL Flip Portable Bluetooth Speaker

The JBL Flip is a small Bluetooth portable speaker with big sound, although this may sound like the first line of an advertisement it is true and then some.

Ease of Use, Performance:  5/5
Look & Feel:  5/5
Features:  4/5
How much I enjoy:  5/5

Recommendation:  5/5 Stars

JBL Flip Portable Bluetooth Speaker

The JBL Flip is the second product I received in a pleasantly unexpected package from JBL that sounds much bigger than its size indicates. The JBL Flip like the closely related Charge is a portable speaker that connects to your Bluetooth enable device.

The JBL Flip has two 5 watt speakers inside for your sound while behind the same grill is a small microphone for smartphone speaker calls. The Flip is 6.25 inches wide with a 2.5 inch diameter to its almost round shape and has rubber feet on the bottom and a round rubber foot on one end.

The portable speaker has a power adapter for charging while the other connection on the rear of the speaker is a 3.5mm stereo audio connection. The JBL Flip can last about 5 hours for playback without being plugged into the wall and takes about 3 hours for a full charge when completely drained according to the JBL specs.

whats in the box

The Bluetooth connectivity has worked perfectly and can be used at decent distances like most Bluetooth connected devices out to about thirty feet. I have had no problems using the speaker twenty or so feet away but of course with numerous walls in the way reception can be limited.

The JBL Flip has recently made a new home on my wife’s desk to play music and movies, mostly TV shows, but is going to stay there for a while. The Flip is great as a regular speaker for movies and TV but especially for TV when most of them are in stereo anyway.

I have used the Flip with my computers, MP3 players and both a PlayBook and Nexus 7 tablet with great results but also with a Samsung smartphone for both listening and for calling. The JBL Flip has a phone button on the side that allows you to connect and make calls with the speaker and included microphone.

Rear Connections JBL Flip

While you can use the Flip for calling and speaker phone use it is good but not great, the sound quality is alright on both ends but the microphone does pick up a lot. The call quality was not the best but it did work fine and making a few calls with the speaker phone went fine and was audible on both sides.

The JBL Flip comes with a neoprene carry case but this case does not hold the power adapter so on the road you will need another place to store the power adapter. The speaker transports easily and really does make a great portable speaker or smaller desk speaker with great sound.

The Flip has clear and crisp sound and even at the highest volume does not distort audio or music for an excellent choice in a portable speaker. Battery life is the only real down mark for the Flip but with the Bluetooth connectivity and excellent audio quality a little trade off is alright.

JBL Flip Controls

I highly recommend the JBL Flip for a fantastic portable speaker that costs about $100 and is available from JBL, Amazon and Newegg as well as a variety of local stores like Best Buy.

Flip @ JBL

Flip @ Newegg

Pros
Small package with big sound
Excellent Sound quality
Easy Bluetooth connection
Works as phone speaker

Cons
Five hour battery life

CamelBak Cloud Walker Day Pack

CamelBak Cloud Walker Day Pack

The CamelBak Cloud Walker is not only your typical hydration pack but includes room for food, books or other essentials in the two main pockets with room to spare in the front pocket and side pockets.

Ease of Use, Performance:  5/5
Look & Feel:  5/5
Features:  5/5
How much I enjoy:  5/5

Recommendation:  5/5 Stars

CamelBak Cloud Walker

The CamelBak Cloud Walker I received is an exclusive from TevaSphere that includes TevaSphere stitched on front but other than that is the same as the Cloud Walker you can buy at Camelback. The Cloud Walker is a daypack hydration pack with the removable Antidote reservoir that can be left in for quick sips or taken out to use the pack just for your stuff.

The Cloud Walker is about a foot and a half tall and nine inches wide with the main pocket being able to stretch to about four inches deep. The pack can hold a good amount of stuff like clothes, rain gear and lunch or electronics like a small laptop or a tablet in a case.

The main pocket on the Cloud Walker can easily fit your clothes, books or other objects while the hydration reservoir pocket is a thinner version of the main pocket. The Cloud Walker also has a smaller front pocket that can fit a tablet like my Nexus 7 or other items like a shirt, raincoat or pocket book.

Cloud Walker w/ Reservoir

The two side pockets are mesh and perfect for water bottles or rain gear like a seat cover for your bike which is what my wife has been using the daypack for. Since receiving the Cloud Walker my wife has been using it more for a bike pack almost daily when she rides home from work.

Using the rear pocket for a bike lock and cable instead of the hydration pack works well and the main pocket is perfect for her daily stuff. The front pocket fits her pocket book and keys while the side mesh pocket holds a rain cover for her bike seat that is actually a rain cover from one of my numerous camera bags.

The pack has the really comfortable shoulder straps with a center chest strap to keep the pack centered on your back and in place during heavy work like biking and jogging. The straps do a great job of keeping the pack on and are very comfortable with the chest strap being adjustable up and down on the shoulder straps.

The Antidote Hydration pack has the 2 liter hydration reservoir that has the wide mouth opening for easy cleaning and the well-designed bite valve. The CamelBak bite valves use a silicone rubber that is BPA free and very good at closing after you bite the valve to open it for your drink.

The bite valve also has an on off valve behind it to close the drinking tube when you want to so no water comes out whatsoever like when you’re traveling to your hiking or biking start point. Both valves ensure you have a way to quickly drink from the hydration pack and keep the drink tube closed when you don’t need it quickly.

The hydration pack is easy to fill and clean with the large three and a half inch opening but you may need to clean out the drinking tube and the hydration pack with more than just clean warm water. CamelBak has a cleaning solution and a cleaning kit if you use your CamelBak often and need a good cleaning or just mild dish soap and good rinsing works.

Back of Cloud Walker

The Cloud Walker pack itself is a quality material with very good stitching so the pack should last a good long time even with extended use. This is no low quality pack that will be falling apart soon and CamelBak has the Got Your Bak Guarantee where they will repair or replacement any manufacturer defects.

The CamelBak Cloud Walker makes a great smaller day pack that I really like much more for quick trips where I need a pack but don’t have lots of stuff. Most times when going to the library, a local meeting or just to work when my wife is planning to bike home a smaller pack works better.

Those large backpacks sold at big box stores for school just are too big for quick trips and the Cloud Walker is perfect for day trips to the park or wildlife refuge. The CamelBak Cloud Walker makes a great hydration pack that includes enough space for extras like lunch or clothing and has the usual great quality CamelBak is famous for.

Cloud Walker @ CamelBak

TevaSphere Website

Pros
Large enough for day trips and hydration
Bite Valve works very well
2 liter hydration reservoir holds plenty of water
Day pack works very well as a smaller backpack

Cons
None

Battleship Gray Mission Belt Review

Battleship Gray Mission Belt Review

The Mission Belt Company uses a unique no holes design with a latch and tooth system to keep the belt at the desired size with adjustments every quarter of an inch.

Ease of Use/Performance: 5/5
Convenience/Storage 5/5
Appearance/Design 5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5
Total: 5/5

Mission Belt

The Mission Belt Company does something unique with both their belts and their company as they give a dollar from each sale to charity. The Mission Belt Company donates to Kiva.org where they give money to help fight poverty through loans on a small scale called micro-lending.

The great effort they are making is worthy of a look but my review is all about the belt itself so to the Battleship Gray Mission Belt. The first thing you notice about the mission belt is that it has no holes but I have seen this before in the military.

Buckles that use clamps to hold onto the belt wear down the belt right where it clamps on but the Mission Belt does not use a clamp. It uses a latch and tooth system much like those teeth and latch systems on hand winches but this is on your belt.

Battleship Gray Mission Belt

The buckle has the latch and the belt itself has a flat set of teeth that run the length of a section where it does the most good near the end. The toothed section is 7.5 inches long so the belt has that much adjustment for weight gain and loss.

You can buy the belts in a variety of sizes and simply cut the end off near the buckle to get it sized right for your waist. Simply order the belt that fits you with a little extra to spare like I did and you will be fine as you can always cut off some of the belt.

The mission belts have a good looking buckle in a variety of colors with the plastic coated ones having a nice clear coat on the buckle. The front of the buckle and the belt loop has the thick clear coat with the base of battleship gray underneath.

mission buckle and teeth

The rest of the buckle is chrome covered steel for a great looking buckle but the no holes part really makes this belt stand out. The Mission Belt has one feature that does make it different and that is the no holes to prevent wear and tear on the belt.

Military belts I have used have a small bar that presses against the webbed belt that wear line but it’s those belts with holes that are the worst. The Mission Belt will last much longer because there is no high stress points like holes in the belt and the buckle uses a latch to hold your belt in place.

The belt and buckle have no points that are rubbing in the same spot to cause one spot to wear over others so the belt and buckle will last. The leather belt itself will wear over time but with much less strain on any single point like traditional belts.

Misson Belt

Just how long it will last is something I am going to find out and will get back to you in the months and years to come. I have been wearing the Mission Belt for a couple months and it looks as good as the first day I unboxed it with no signs of wear at all.

I bought and started wearing a leather belt the same week I received the Mission Belt and the leather belt has wear around the holes already. The leather belt is already showing much more wear than the Mission Belt which is just what the holeless belt is made for.

I highly recommend the Mission Belt a as high quality and great looking belt that uses a hole less design to prevent wear and tear.

Mission Belt Co.

Pros
Real Leather Belt
No hole design prevents wear on the belt
Buckle is solid steel with chrome plating
A dollar of the purchase price goes to charity

Cons
None

Coleman NXT 200 Grill Review

Coleman NXT 200 Grill

The Coleman NXT 200 Grill is a quick set up portable grill for home, tail gating and camping that uses either propane cylinders or propane tanks for fuel.

Ease of Use/Performance: 5/5
Convenience/Storage 4/5
Appearance/Design 5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5

Total: 5/5

Coleman NXT 200 Grill

The Coleman NXT 200 grill uses a unique scissor leg setup that really does make it a portable grill using either one pound propane cylinders or a 20 pound tank. Once setup you have the sturdy design and stable base for a great grill whether you’re in the backyard, the parking lot or the campground.

The Coleman NXT 200 grill uses either one pound propane cylinders or a 20 pound propane tank but it does not come with a hose for the larger tank. The Coleman NXT 200 comes with a regular porcelain coated cast iron grill grate and some assembly is required.

Assembly is easy and only needs a Philips screwdriver along with the included nut driver tools to put the grill together. It only took me about a half hour to assemble the grill and the instructions are pretty easy to follow as well as handy for setting up the grill and troubleshooting if necessary.

Whats in the Box

The NXT 200 weighs about 50 pounds so a little care when lifting is needed but it does transport well in a car trunk or back of a van or pickup. The two grill grates do fit snuggly into the grill and the two latches when closed ensure the grates do not move when transporting the grill.

Folding up the grill takes a bit of practice because you lift on the side handle of the grill to open the grill after releasing the locking latch. Closing the grill is the opposite with lifting the handle to pull the legs out of the clips that hold it when open.

The NXT 200 can use a griddle top or stovetop grate but the grill grate works well for backyard barbeques and general grilling. I have grilled fish, chicken, brats, steaks and even some treats like peaches on the grill with great success.

Grilled Peaches

Grilling is almost an art form but cooking on the NXT 200 is easy as long as you keep an eye on your food and practice a bit. The grill does go pretty high with the heat so I was usually around half to the lower end on both the burner knobs when grilling meats.

The lid has a temperature gauge on it that reads the internal temperature for a great way to tell how hot the grill is when its on but you have to remember that the gauge is reading the temperature at the lid. The burners may be a bit hotter than the reading you have on the lid gauge so you need to take that into consideration when cooking.

I easily fit eight large hamburgers on the grill and as you can see by my pictures four one pound steaks would fit as well when grilling for a family. You can get about ten to twelve large burgers on the grill and I had no problem getting ten brats and a couple hot dogs on for my family get together.

Coleman NXT 200 Grilling Steaks

The grill does allow you to cook on one side and keep the other side off or use one as a warmer but you can also do something I saw on Americas Test Kitchen. Sear a roast or pork roast on medium high and then use one side of the grill on low with the meat on the other side to slowly roast.

Tender and juicy pork roast was easy and the Coleman grill does clean up easily as well with a simple wash of the grill and spraying out the inside. The instructions say to clean the grill with tools but a simple spray with mild soap and the garden hose worked very well as long as you’re careful.

I was careful not to get water in the propane parts and directed the water toward the sides but cleaning the grill is easy with a wipe as well. You can removing the grill grate and clean that in the sink or tub with soap and water for an easy time at cleaning the burnt on food.

Chicken on the NXT 200

You can also just scrub them off with a brush after you cook but usually you want to sit down and enjoy your food and even a day later I had no problem cleaning out the grill. The NXT 200 is portable and only takes a few minutes to disconnect the propane cylinder or tank and fold it up for travel.

I took the grill over to my son’s home when my family came for a visit and had a fun time grilling brats and hot dogs with plenty of room for the three families. I did buy a propane tank and hose which cost about $80 at Menards and did get the hose without the regulator as the grill does already have that built in.

Lighting the grill is easy with the built in Instastart button that uses a piezo electric starter or you can use a match or other safe lighter. The two burners do burn independently and work well with enough flame to boil water in a pot if you want or need to.

Grilling Pork Cops

I did find a great cover that fits it well but it has a logo on the side that I should probably paint over one of these days, Weber. The smaller rectangle grill cover that Wal-Mart sells for about $10 would probably have fit but I wanted a better cover for a great grill.

I bought the better Weber Standard Q100/200 Cover that fits the Coleman grill but you need to push the retractable side tray in. The Coleman grill has one side table that is permanent and another that pushes in and pulls out for convenience when traveling.

I had no problems with the Coleman NXT 200 and do highly recommend it for a great travel grill that is very quick to set up and very easy to use. The NXT 200 grill is available at Coleman, Amazon and several local sporting goods stores for about $200.

NXT 200 @ Coleman

Pros
Easy to use and setup
Very Portable
Uses either 1 pound or 20 pound LP tanks
Can use three different grates

Cons
Does not come with LP tank Hose
Only comes with Grill Grates

Xero Shoes Do-It-Yourself & Custom Made Shoes

Xero Shoes Do-It-Yourself & Custom Made Shoes

Xero Shoes are a barefoot sandal that comes as either a do-it-yourself kit or as a custom made pair of sandals that are fit for your own foot.

Ease of Use/Performance: 4/5
Convenience/Storage 4/5
Appearance/Design 4/5
How much I enjoy 4/5

Total: 4/5

Xero Shoes Custom Sandals

While I really don’t think sandals are for running if you want to run in these sandals the sole and polypropylene laces will not let you down. The Xero sandals are a simple design but made from quality materials starting with a tough rubber sole.

For the custom made sandals you get the right fit to your foot and the sole is both made to the size of your foot and slightly contoured. The arch has a bit of an upward bend while the toes and heel are slanted upward as well to give a better fit.

The polypropylene laces make a nice smooth feel for holding your sandals on your feet and using a variety of tying styles they do stay on your feet well. The soles have a hole on each side for both the do-it-yourself kit and the custom made sandals.

Xero Shoes Custom Kit

The hole for the toe on both sandal kits are not yet made which is the first thing you need to do when getting your Xero shoes. Both kits come with a hole punch and instructions to get the toe hole just right on your soles which is actually pretty easy to do.

The Custom kit comes cut to your foot by drawing your foot on a piece of paper and scanning it or mailing it to the company. The do-it-yourself kit comes with a sole that is larger than your foot and ready for you to cut using household scissors.

I used my own foot for the custom kit while I cut and helped my wife with the do-it-yourself kit I received for reviewing. You can choose the color and thickness of the soles as well as the color of the laces for a variety to your shoes.

Xero Shoes DIY Kit

The DIY kit needs to be cut and a good pair of medium duty scissors will handle the soles easily and you can cut them to fit. My wife and I cut them out but we made sure we outlined her foot and cut them with a little room to spare around her whole foot.

Using the Xero Shoes website we tied them using a couple different styles for a good fit which is also very comfortable. We have both been using them around the house and for short walks as well as doing yard work without any problems in the soles or the laces.

The sandals fit well and are comfortable as well as durable but running in them is just not for me as I think tripping is a real hazard. The sandals are durable but they are just sandals and I really don’t like the idea of tripping on the toes or the front of the sandals.

Cutting the DIY Xero Shoes

I have seen others that have used the sandals while running and that is just fine but I don’t think I would as they don’t offer enough protection for my feet. The Xero Shoes are a good sandal and well worth the $20 to $40 dollars you pay for either the custom kit or the DIY kit.

The price varies on the sole thickness as well as the custom shoes being a bit more in price but that is a good price. The Xero Shoes are a very durable and tough sole and the laces are easily replaceable if you do wear them down some.

I highly recommend the Xero Shoes for an excellent pair of sandals for daily use or for running if you want to try that out for the closest thing to barefoot running with some protection.

Do-It Yourself Xero Shoes

Xero Shoes Website

Pros

Tough sole from durable rubber

Polypropylene laces are tough and good looking
Choice of custom made or do-it-yourself kit

Cons
May not offer enough protection for running