Saturday, September 10, 2016

Slyde Handboards: Wedge Envy

You all may not know, but I've been riding waves in one from or another since I was 12 years old, in some awesome places in Puerto Rico like Rincon, Isabella and Aguadilla to name a few. I moved to Florida at age 18, as it turned out Body boarding was not as welcomed as it was in P.R. (on the island its as big if not a bigger sport than surfing) so I got a longboard and took it from there (didn't hurt either to learn). Luckily I choose a career where wave riding is an important part of the job, and I not only learned to surf on surfboards, but on kayaks as well, even riding some storm surf on them. Fast forward to present day and your options for wave riding are numerous, including handboards or handplanes for body surfing.

Slyde Handboards Wedge Envy next to my Viper Surfing fins
What is a handboard? Well think of the bastard child of a food tray and a surfboard, and that's pretty much the easiest explanation (if not crude). There are many companies out there making them by hand, or machine produced, all have some merits, and like shoes, everyone has a preference on which to ride. One of the many appeals for these handboards is the little to no room they take for transport, ease of use, and relatively inexpensive compared to other forms of wave riding equipment. Another advantage of this boards is that they allow you to ride waves that are not ridable on a surfboard, or larger vessel.

Emma checking out the underside of the board

The one I'm showing you here is the Slyde Handboards Wedge Envy (I'll be reviewing the Bula at a later time). While this was not my very first handboard, it's definitely my favorite one as it allows you to ride that "lovely" S.E. Florida mush, I mean surf (lol) due in part to it's size and design. The board is on the bigger side making it perfect for smaller surf, beginners (although expert riders will love it too), and bigger riders (I'm 5'11" at 215 lbs at the moment of this post). As you can see in the short video below, I was having a blast, and riding choppy/mush waves that were about 3'.

How does it work? Well because of the surface area of the handboard being so much larger than ones hand, it gives your body more lift out of the water, which equals to less drag, which in turn means more speed down the face of the wave. So more of your body out of the water = more speed and more fun, even on smaller waves.

Another thing about bodysurfing/handboarding is that is a much more fun work out, which translates to doing it more, which turns into a healthier lifestyle, which in turn..... you get the drift. Besides the board you might want to get the bicep leash strap and definitely will need bodysurfing fins.

On a side note, it would not be right if I didn't throw in here a little "Lifeguard advice" since I'm encouraging you to go out into the ocean to practice this amazing sport, make sure you have a swimming ability that matches the conditions in which you want to go in, preferably go with a bud/friend/ other person that you tolerate (whichever the case), not only its more fun to share the moments, but also a safety thing (always swim with a buddy), and last whenever possible go to beaches with Lifeguards, not only they keep you safe and/or save your life, but can also guide you as to the best spots to enjoy.

That's it for now, so go get yourself a Slyde Handboard, some surf fins, and go bodysurf near a Lifeguard!!!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Gear: First Aid kits

Most of us that enjoy the outdoors (be it camping, paddling, or any of the other many sports/activities there are available) usually do some research on the appropriate equipment, clothing, and specific needs for said activity. 

One thing I've noticed through the years is the lack of preparedness most people have when it comes to first aid training and equipment. A typical attitude I've encountered is "there's always a nurse or paramedic in our group", which may be true sometimes, but when it comes to life-threatening injuries or sudden illness, would you be willing to gamble your life or that of someone you love on the odd chance that someone else will be there?
Part of being an outdoors person is being self-reliant and first aid kits should be at the top of your list. I'm not endorsing any particular brand, just reviewing different styles of first aid kits that may be suitable for everyday carry as well as specific activities. 

It is worth mentioning that your first aid kit is only as good as your training, so with that said, go take a class that is appropriate for your type of activity, and the location you will be at, you'll be glad you did should it ever become necessary for you to use these skills and equipment.

Below are examples of the kits I carry on different vehicles and/or ocassions. This is not an endorsement of any of the brands shown, just a reference.

The Vanquest fatpack comes in 3 sizes to accomodate different amount of equipment and is compatible with all M.O.L.L.E/PALS attachements which makes them easy to attach to a number of packs on the market.

Vanquest FAT pack 4x6

Contents: adhesive bandages, rolled gauze, sterile 4x4 gauze, hand cleaner towels, Nasopharyngeal Airway and lube, Compression bandage "bloodstopper", gloves.
Maxpedition Sitka (my around town for the day pack) and Vanquest FAT pack 4x6
Of course is not just about taking a first aid class and buying the "coolest" kit available, practice and familiarity with your equipment are as important. What I recommend to people that attend my Wilderness and Remote First Aid presentation is to check their kits every time they have their vehicle serviced, routine service that is (oil change).
What are you looking for? items that are expired, or that humidity has gotten into packages of sterile contents, gloves that need replacing, items that should be there, but have been used and not replaced, etc.
In this kit the wrapper in the sterile 4x4 gauze pads has become yellowish, but the integrity if the paper it still good, still time to replace and use those for practice.

This is a quick deploy kit I keep in my jeep and what I would bring as a personal kit on hikes prior to the smaller FAT packs
How do you stay proficient on something you may not do very regularly? Truth is if your job does not include providing emergency medical attention to people, chances are you don't get to practice after your original class/training, so the answer is the same as for trained professional rescuers, PRACTICE, PRACTICE and MORE PRACTICE. On the upside is that most First Aid certifications have an expiration date, so you get to train or re-train your skills, and learn new things as science changes field care. Re-reading your first aid manual should be done before heading on a trip as well, as a a quick re-fresher.

Another thing to keep in mind when making or purchasing a first aid is the activity you will be participating in  and number of people in your group. Different activities will have different emergencies participants could suffer, for example, will you be hiking up a mountain? then altitude sickness should be something you should be prepared for. Are you going four wheeling? Soft tissue (cuts, bleeding, sprains, etc.) and bone injuries (fractures) could happen if a vehicle overturns or during recovery efforts.
At the end of the day I hope I (or you) never have to use these skills or equipment, but when things do happen I'm glad its there, and you will too. If you have any questions regarding anything in this post please feel free to reach out to me, I'll be glad to point you in the right direction if I don't have the answer.
In the meantime, like always go outside and play and leave only your footprints!!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Road Shower 2

Back in September 2015 I purchased a Road Shower 2 to take to Overland Expo 2015, however the weather at the expo was not conducive to taking outdoor showers next to the trailer, you know something about 45 degrees with 20 + mph sustained winds just didn't feel inviting, lol. Instead I opted for the heated showers offered inside the "bathhouse" tents by the event. Fast forward to present day and life has decided I'm not able to go on as many adventures as I used to up to last year, or for that matter as long since I can still enjoy the outdoors, just on a local level and for no more than 4 hours at a time. Lucky for me 21 years ago I decided to move to "the Venice of America", Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and while at the southeast part of this very long state, it is loaded with outdoor opportunities, so might as well take advantage of what's here.

So back to the post at hand, the Road Shower 2, what is the Road Shower 2? The short answer is a pressurized/solar hot water shower system for your vehicle or trailer. As you can see it has a black powder coating, and for safety reasons has a thermometer on the side so you can see how hot the water inside is. Also on top it has a tire air plug so that a tire air pump can pressurize the shower, overall a very simple concept/system.

RoadShower2 mounted just below the tent on the trailer, this location allows some light to warm the water without it becoming too hot to use in in Florida.

I've had the roadshower2 mounted temporarily on the trailer, but recently moved it to Big Bertha (second part of making of a beach van coming soon) since she is the go to my day job/go paddling/ go body surfing/hang out by the beach vehicle and it makes plenty of sense to have a shower on such vehicle.

RoadShower2 mounted on Big Bertha and still plenty of room for paddleboards on the stock cargo rack
What do I use it for? Simple wash off my paddle board, rinsing off my gear, rinsing myself off but only in the morning or early evening since it gets really hot down here.

all mounting hardware is included

easily pressurize the tank with any tire pump

water filling cap is tethered via chain to the tank

thermometer on the side so you may see how hot the water is in the tank

How much water does it keep? 5 gallons and it takes approximately 3 pumps at 18 psi to get them all out. For pressurization I use a tire inflator that connects to the 12v electric of the van (formerly known as the cigarette lighter).

Pressurizing the road shower, when doing so pay attention to the pressure. Here I did a 20 second count.

Filling the road shower using the garden hose

I can honestly say I'm satisfied with this product and would recommend it, however like most outdoor products there are considerations to keep in mind such as weather extremes, you now places where water freezes, and very hot places, so do your homework and always follow the safety guidelines on the product.

The hose nozzle can be adjusted for different streams

Once done rinsing the paddleboard, nothing wrong with rinsing Big Bertha out too.

For now hope you enjoyed this review, and go on an adventure even if for an hour, you'll be glad you did. To order your Road Shower just click on the link here and tell them I sent you! And remember to please leave only your foot prints!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Survivor Filter Hydration backpack

The people from Survivor Filter have been very kind to me for sometime now, providing me and Derek with personal water filters as well as their Pro Filter. Recently they launched their first hydration back pack and before I knew it they had sent me one to test and review.

Survivor Filter attaches to water bottles

Survivor Filter Pro is the perfect companion for groups or to fill up bottles on the go
Survivor Filter Hydration tactical backpack
Upon arrival the bag resembled another bag I've seen/have, however with improvements. The bag looks solidly made with wide shoulder straps, chest and waist straps, and the water bladder looks very sturdy with a wide cap that makes it easy to clean.

I've been using it now for over a month on my Saturday bike rides and it carries my essentials like a first aid kit, spare inner tube, knife, wallet, a hat, flashlight and my keys. The bag has enough room for a 1 (maybe 2) night hammock camping trip and the water bladder holds 2.5 litters of water. As far as comfort goes this bag can be carried all day with minimum fatigue and it does not sway from side to side even on leaning turns.

Two main compartments and 2 outside pockets make organizing all your gear easy.
As far an initial impressions go this bag looks and feels like the perfect outdoor daypack and I am really looking forward to more usage out of it and long term testing, for now would I recommend it? Absolutely! You can pick yours up on their website at