Archive for the 'Evaluations: Hiking & Camping Gear' Category

May 21 2013

The Think Tank Glass Taxi: A Camera Bag for All Reasons
A Review by Pat McKay

If you’re a “serious” photographer, you’ll probably pick up lenses like a gun dog picks up ticks. And you’ll likely find yourself taking them everywhere you go, too. Which is where camera bags come in. Lenses — and here my “tick” simile breaks down — are fragile things, easily put out of action by vibration, dust, or moisture.

So your camera bag is your (and your lenses’) first line of defense. To be honest, I’ve never had one I was entirely happy with. But TNO Contributing Photographer Pat McKay may now have found The Answer. Let’s let him tell the story:

I needed a good bag to carry [a new] lens around and settled on the Glass Taxi. It's proven to be a great camera bag. (I'm a big fan of Think Tank products. I own three of their bags.)

There are a lot of things to like about the Glass Taxi. First of all, it can be configured in any number of different ways depending upon what you want to bring with you. Second, it's very comfortable to wear even if you carry a lot of weight. And third, it doesn't scream camera bag when you're walking around or on your bike. It looks more like a daypack or hydration pack.

Currently I have the bag configured to carry the DSLR and the new telephoto with hood attached, along with several other zoom and prime lenses, as well as a flash. The bag handles all this with aplomb.

Pat’s glowing endorsement doesn’t leave much room for doubt, does it? But let’s take a closer look at some of the fine points:

Pat McKay Glass Taxi Camera Bag

The bike is Pat’s Long Haul Trucker, and he occasionally wears the Glass Taxi as a backpack on short rides. Mostly, though, he carries it when afoot in the field. Not that it wouldn’t look good on the boulevard, too. Check this out:

Pat McKay Glass Taxi Camera Bag

Of course, a pretty face isn’t everything. A backpack is only as good as its harness, after all. And here, too, the Glass Taxi comes up trumps:

Pat McKay Glass Taxi Camera Bag

Nor do the appointments disappoint:

Pat McKay Glass Taxi Camera Bag

The padded partitions can be reconfigured to accommodate just about any lens inventory, and there’s also a handy mesh pocket inside the flap to hold those essential bits and bobs that would otherwise get lost in the dark corners.

Bottom line? The Glass Taxi is ready and willing to take you (and your camera kit) almost anywhere you’d want to go, swiftly and with style. Thanks for the heads-up, Pat!


Further Reading


Questions? Comments? Just click here!

Feb 23 2013

Aches and Pains? Get the Massage!

Some days I wake up feeling as if I’d spent the night bouncing down a long drop, only to finish up at the bottom just as dawn breaks, battered and bruised but still alive.

I’m sure I’m not alone. The human frame is wonderfully robust, of course. Our muscles have all the resilience of elastic bands, stretching and rebounding countless times without complaint. But sometimes—and here I’m borrowing one of Phil Liggett’s signature lines—the elastic suddenly snaps, often without warning.

The result? Pain. Stiffness. And the unwelcome discovery that formerly simple tasks have now become impossible. In a word, misery. Among canoeists and kayakers, strenuous paddling and killer portages are probably the likeliest culprits, though they’re far from being the only offenders. Heaving heavy boats on and off racks at home or on the road can also leave us in agony, and the rigors of amphibious expeditions can lay all but athletes low, especially if the planned route involves mile after mile of “rough stuff,” towing a heavily loaded bike trailer up unmaintained jeep tracks and fire roads in search of some remote and little-frequented put-in. Occasionally, even a lazy stretch on first awakening can prove our undoing.

Youngsters and young adults usually bounce back fast. But those of us with more miles on the clock aren’t so quick to mend, and old injuries sometimes get a sort of second wind, coming back to plague us long after we thought they’d healed. This happened to me not long ago, when an ancient neck strain flared up. The original damage was done on a rain-slick portage trail, when I stumbled while carrying our 110-pound Old Town XL Tripper. The yoke slipped off my shoulders and the big boat landed squarely on my head, leaving me with a (very) stiff neck and a mighty sore noggin. In a few days, though, I was back to normal. Or so I thought. Then, years later, I lunged to grab a bag of flour that I’d knocked off a high shelf in the kitchen, only to I feel an agonizingly familiar stab of pain in my neck. The sleeping dragon had been roused.

During the following week I lurched around like Richard III, head cocked to one side, muttering curses. Then I did what I should have done immediately—made an appointment with an orthopedist. Happily, he found nothing seriously amiss, but since the pain wasn’t going away, he advised a six-week course of physical therapy. I wasn’t sure I liked the idea, to be honest. In my mind’s eye, physical therapists were muscle-bound sadists with the souls of inquisitors, who practiced their dark arts in cheerless cells filled with instruments of torture. Still, summer was fast approaching, and I was getting anxious to shake off the winter of my discontent. So I figured I’d give the doc’s prescription a try. And I’m mighty glad I did. The Terminator Therapist of my bleak imaginings turned out to be a genial triathlete whose professional skills produced almost immediate improvement. I was soon walking upright again, and by the time my six-week course of treatment had ended, my neck was its old self once more, pain-free and fully mobile. No more Richard III.

My dread of encountering a modern-day inquisitor’s rack was groundless, obviously. Instead, the time-honored, hands-on arts of massage and manual traction were the linchpins of my recovery. This got me thinking about the benefits of massage… Read more…

Getting the Massage

Questions? Comments? Just click here!

Oct 11 2012

The Far-Seeing Eye: Focusing on Monoculars

The Long View

The human eye is a wondrous thing, but it has its limitations. Just ask any birdwatcher. There’s a good reason why twitchers are almost always pictured holding binoculars. And it’s not just twitchers. Paddlers, too, frequently find that their Mark I eyeballs need a little help. Here are a few for‑instances: Is that hazy gap in the tree line a blind bay, or is it the outlet you’ve been looking for all morning? Is the clearing that’s just visible on the far shore of the lake a fire scar or the head of the portage trail? And what about that dark mass rising out of the water in the rapids ahead? Is it a boulder? Or a patient, if somewhat peckish, momma grizzly, waiting for a meal to drift her way? You’ll want to know.

In cases like these I reach for my binoculars. To be sure, if I happen to have my camera handy, and if my long telephoto lens is already fitted, I could use that to extend my eyes’ reach, instead. But I don’t often keep my camera around my neck when I’m on the water. And the camera’s little LED display is no match for the crystal‑clear image I get when I look through a good pair of binoculars.

Luckily, I own two very good pairs. The original black finish on my old Bushnell 8 x 36 Audubon binoculars may have worn away in many places, but the optics are as sharp as they ever were. And my little Bushnell 7 x 26 compacts are unequalled when it comes to bringing nearby objects even closer — something I often have to do when I’m trying to identify an elusive warbler in dense cover. I also have a dirt‑cheap pair of Tasco 8 x 21s that long occupied a berth in a PFD pocket. They couldn’t match the performance of either pair of Bushnell binoculars, however, and the Tasco’s individual focus was a perishing nuisance when I was in a hurry. But at least they wouldn’t have set me back much if I happened to go for an unplanned swim. They were also very light and wonderfully compact.

Still, I often found myself wishing for something even lighter and smaller. And the answer had been staring me in the face for quite a while: monoculars… Read more…

Questions? Comments? Just click here!

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