Thursday, June 30, 2011

Gear Review for the OBN! Coleman Lantern and Other Gadgets

I’m a member of a blogging network called the Outdoor Blogger Network that does a lot of cool things for outdoor bloggers. One thing in particular is, they have great giveaways each week that run from Wednesday to Sunday. Most of time, the items up for grabs are pretty high end and expensive, so there are usually quite a few entries for them. The only real stipulation is that you have to use the item and review it on your blog in a timely manner. There are other rules too (click here), but this is the main one.

Back in March, I was very lucky and won a few items from Coleman. Of course, we're now in July and I’m just getting around to the review. So, it's safe to say that I failed on the “timely manner” portion of this. Since we had a baby recently, I’m going to go ahead and blame my lack of time on that!

Boxed Coleman items that I won!

The package I won contained a CPX6 4D High Tech LED Lantern, CPX6 Energy Pack and a CPX6 Rechargeable Battery Pack. After getting over the shock of winning such a great package of items, I quickly thought to myself, “I don’t see myself camping this year with a new born on the way”. So, I contacted the OBN and asked if I should really be reviewing this product. I do have other Coleman lanterns, which I have used for camping; however, I use them mostly for power outages. The OBN told me to go ahead and use the product in a way that I would typically use it, regardless of if it is for camping or not and write a review…so that is what I’m doing.

All items and accessories that were included

Now, if you live in New Hampshire, you know as well as I do that every year or two, we have a major state of emergency where the power is out for days, sometimes over a week at a time. We see flooding, wind storms, ice storms, blizzards, you name it! A few that come to mind that have affected us significantly are the ice storm of 1998, where we lost power for five days, the ice storm of 2008, where my parents lost power for eight days, and just this past year, a wind storm which caused us to lose power for five days. During these long periods without power, it is so important to have equipment that allows you to function in the dark. Lanterns and power packs are key equipment for these types of situations. So, in the interest of using this product the way I would typically use it, I’ve simulated a good old, nighttime, New Hampshire power outage!

Interchangeable battery carriers and rechargeable battery pack

Rechargeable battery pack charging up for the first time

Before I go much further, let me describe these items in a bit more detail. The items I received from Coleman were boxed nicely and shipped to me very quickly. The lantern is mostly plastic, which helps keep the weight down. It also has a variable light switch which controls the brightness of the lantern, similar to an old style dimmer switch from the 70’s. In the bottom, where the batteries go, there is a removable carrier in which you install the batteries. When you remove this carrier, you can install the rechargeable battery pack, which I also received. This way, you don’t have to keep replacing D batteries in the unit, if you have a method of recharging them (wall outlet or car outlet). However, in the event of a power outage, the option to use D batteries is essential. The power pack was also included and had the same exact D battery carrier or rechargeable battery pack option. So now I have two pieces of useful equipment that has interchangeable battery packs…awesome! The power pack has both a DC5V and a USB output for running or charging an iPod, cell phone or other small device. For more detail on these products, visit the OBN contest description here, or Colman’s website regarding each product here: Lantern, Power Pack, Rechargeable Battery.

So, close your eyes (not really, because you won’t be able to read on) and pretend it is a cold New Hampshire night. It’s been raining over an already snow covered landscape, just below freezing. The sun is going down and the wind is picking up. Soon, it’s dark and the temperature plummets. Radial ice builds on many trees and power lines and they are too week to support the weight. Like dominoes, trees fall and take power lines with them, leaving the State of New Hampshire without power…I know, a little dramatic, but that’s what we live with up here! I love this state!

Pizza by candle...I mean Coleman lantern light!

The first thing you do is grab flashlights and a trusty Coleman lantern. This lantern threw out quite a bit of light in the dark house. It made it easy to eat our pizza (which always seems to be our choice of dinner with no electricity). I liked the fact that you could easily turn the light intensity down to a candle light level, most likely saving battery juice, while not having to strain your eyes on a bright light on the table.

On my way to the hot water heater, I stop at my generator...my latest purchase after the last power outing :)

After eating dinner, I headed down to the dark, cold basement. Okay, so it wasn’t cold because it is July, but remember, we’re pretending this is a cold, winter night. I turned the lantern up to its highest level and walked through the basement freely, being able to see everything without issue. I passed by my generator (a purchase I made after the last five day outage, of which I would have pulled out if this were a real power outage) and headed into the hot water heater room. This is important during power outages because I use the fifteen gallons in the tank for water to flush the toilets. It’s necessary thing during long breaks of power. I need a lot of light here because I have to hook up the hose, use valves, fill buckets, etc. This lantern would be the perfect tool for this throwing plenty of light for the job at hand.

The lantern lit up the hot water heater well!

After checking out the lighting in the basement, I headed upstairs to check my cell phone and listen to my iPod. Wouldn’t you know it, they were both dead (for this pretend state of emergency). Both of these devices charge using a USB port connection. I easily switched the rechargeable battery pack out of the lantern and into the power pack. This took me all of five seconds. I plugged my cell phone into the charger and the lightning bolt icon quickly came on showing it was charged. After this, I plugged the iPod in and the same thing happened. I was able to use both devices while they were hooked up to the battery pack.

This is my older Coleman lantern I keep down stairs and use for all my power outings (and camping!)

Cell phone charging by way of the Coleman Energy Pack

I must say, I really like these items. I think they were very useful in my simulated state of emergency situation, and will have them readily available when the real thing hits New Hampshire...again. I think the best feature of these products is the flexibility with power. The rechargeable feature is extremely useful and would come in handy while camping as you can continually reuse the battery pack and not have waste money on throw away batteries. However, in a situation where you have no way to recharge your battery pack, you always have the option of using D batteries. The fact that you can easily switch the batteries out from one device to the other in a matter of seconds was great. I give these products two thumbs up! I hope this review was worth the wait and I apologize to the OBN and Coleman for my lateness in posting! Thanks again to both organizations!

Disclaimer: The OBN suggests I use a disclaimer, so here goes...Coleman sent me these products free of charge and I am in no way affiliated with Coleman. All views and opinions in this blog post are mine, honest and unbiased. Thanks!


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Blog Promoting: The Adventures of Tom & Atticus

Being a new daddy, I won't be spending as much time on the trails this summer as I have the past couple years. So, I figured it would be a good time to give back to some of my favorite blogs and tell my readers why the blogs on my blogroll are so great!

The blog I want to talk about in this post is The Adventures of Tom & Atticus. I've been reading this blog for quite a while, well before I had my own blog. The author is Tom Ryan and he tells his faithful readers of the adventures he and his companion, a miniature schnauzer named Atticus M. Finch, had moving to the White Mountains, hiking the 48 - 4,000 footers (multiple times) as well as many other peaks. On any given day, Tom shares with his readers snippets of their life in Jackson, NH. Some that come to mind are their backyard visits with neighborly black bears, Atticus hanging out with the Wizard of Oz pumpkin people and even encounters with the occasional moose. It is always a fun visit to this site.

Some exciting stuff is also revolving around Tom & Atticus' blog. Tom recently had a book published, which is his story of their adventures. I can't tell you how excited I am to get my copy of this book as well as bring it to a book signing for their signatures (well, signature and paw print). Tom's book will be available on September 20th of this year and can be pre-ordered on Amazon and Barnes & Noble for a killer deal. However, I recommend you do what I plan to do and buy it at a local bookstore to support small business in NH (if you live in NH that is)...either way, go get a copy when it is available.

Tom has a great Facebook Page as well. One thing that I enjoy is that he is very active with his followers on Facebook. He is always posting great photos and interacting with the people who share comments. Twice, he has had great giveaway contests which have been big hits on Facebook. Tomorrow (Wednesday, June 22), at 10am, there will be a video trailer shared on his Facebook page and I encourage everyone to log on to watch.

Tom is also on Twitter @TomandAtticus. Look him up and follow him there as well!

Finally, I just want to finish by saying Tom is a great guy. Though, I have never met him in person (yet), I reached out to him soon after starting my blog and shared with him why I write my blog. I told him that his blog helped inspire me to share my adventures in the Whites too. He quickly came back with kind words and was nice enough to list my blog on his blogroll, which I was very excited about. His blog is always a wonderful read and will always be one of my favorites!


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Parenthood and a Good Quote

I haven't been posting much lately because parenthood is certainly taking a toll on my time these days. I must say, though, I love it. My daughter is perfect and changing everyday. I'm also so impressed with my wife who has transitioned into the perfect mother so quickly. Lylah is so lucky to have such a great mom. Today, we purchased a Dr. Sears Balboa Baby sling which we feel will be useful for some local, short hikes as well as other types of trips.

For now, I'll leave you with a quote that I found the other day from Earl Hamner Jr., which I thought was very nice:

"Some men are drawn to oceans, they cannot breathe unless the air is scented with a salty mist. Others are drawn to land that is flat, and the air is sullen and is leaden as August. My people were drawn to mountains. They came when the country was young and they settled in the upland country of Virginia that is still misted with a haze of blue which gives those mountains their name."

Of course, my ancestors did not settle in the mountains here, nor do I adore the Blue Ridge Mountains as much as I do the White Mountains of New Hampshire. But I share this quote because Jill and I are drawn to the mountains as he describes. I hope to one day buy a small piece of land up north, in the Town of Jackson, New Hampshire. Jill and I will sit on our front porch in the evenings overlooking the Presidentials and raise our children against a beautiful backdrop. It will be absolutely wonderful!


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Winners of the Haunted Hikes of New Hampshire Giveaway

I know, I know, I’m very delinquent in posting the winners of the contest for the five copies of Haunted Hikes of New Hampshire. I’ve been pretty tied up with other matters, which I will post about shortly. I have notified the winners via Facebook and/or email and have heard back from most of them. Without further delay, here are the winners:

Timothy Bird – Author of the great blog, Appalachia and Beyond

Mark Truman – Author of the great blog, Ramblings

Grant Ritter – Author of the great blog, New England Outside

Mandy Hussey – Good friend of mine and New Hampshire resident

BFBushcrafter – Author of the great blog, Black Forest Bushcraft

Congratulations to all the winners! If you haven’t already sent me your address, please do so via Facebook message or email (karl.m.searl AT gmail DOT com). I’ll get these books out to you just as soon as I can.