Showing posts with label Gadgets. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gadgets. Show all posts

Gear Closet: INO Weather Pro

As outdoor enthusiasts, one of the things we keep any eye on the most is the current weather conditions. The weather has a huge impact not only on our ability to do the things we love outside, but our safety as well. Which is why keeping tabs on current and future conditions is vitally important at times. Thankfully, smartphones have made this a lot easier to do than in the past, but those devices are only as good as the forecast that they are feeding us and aren't all that helpful in telling us exactly what the weather is like directly around us. On top of that, should you find yourself in the backcountry where a data network is not existent, a smartphone becomes all-but useless for tracking changing weather patterns.

Fortunately, there is a device that can fill that niche, and provide a wealth of weather data to help keep us safe wherever we go. It's called the INO Weather Pro from INO Technologies, and after putting it to the test extensively, I can attest to how handy it is to have in your pack.

Designed to fit in the palm of your hand, the Weather Pro is a gadget that comes packed with an array of sensors simply designed to monitor the conditions around us. As such, it can provide the current temperature, atmospheric pressure, relative humidity, heat index, dew point, and more. It can also use its onboard barometric sensor to detect your current altitude as well. But best of all, it can also detect lightning strikes within 40 miles of the device, and provide audio alerts if those strikes get too close.

If you spend a lot of time in the outdoors, you can probably already see how a gadget like this one would be nice to have at your disposal. Monitoring sudden shifts in atmospheric pressure and temperature could prove to be incredibly useful, if not life-saving, while knowing when lighting is moving into your area is something that anyone who is climbing or hiking in the mountains can appreciate.


While testing the Weather Pro I found it to be very accurate in most of its readings. Upon powering it up, it takes a few minutes for the device to acclimate itself to its current location, but once it does, temperature, barometric pressure, altitude, and other readings soon reflect the conditions around you. A simple touchscreen interface makes it a breeze to access that info, which is displayed on the screen in a large, easy to ready font. That screen can get a bit washed out in bright sunlight however, but the display offers solid performance without draining the rechargeable battery too quickly.

My test unit did on occasion register a few false positives when it came to lightning strikes however. It would often indicate that there had been two or three strikes near by, even though that wasn't the case. Those readings never set off any of the active alarms however, and I chalked it up to the device recording other atmospheric anomalies. Were a real thunderstorm taking place around me, it would not only indicate the number of lightning strikes in a given time period, but the Weather Pro would have also given off an alert tone indicating it was time to take shelter. That never happened, except when an actual lighting storm was taking place.

The technical specs on the Weather Pro indicate that it has a battery life of about 30 hours when fully charged, and I would say that from my testing that is fairly accurate. The rechargeable lithium-ion power cell can be powered up using a USB adapter, which is becoming a universal way of keeping most of our mobile gadgets charged these days. 30 hours may not seem like much battery life, but unless you're really keeping a close on the weather conditions, it is actually quite a bit of time. I found that I could power on the device, take a few readings, and then shut if off again until it was needed. In this way, that battery could go a very long time on a single charge.

The other limiting factor for the INO Weather Pro is its price. MSRP on the device is set at $497 (although it is currently on sale for $447), which makes it an expensive purchase for the casual user. However, this is a gadget that will likely prove indispensable for guides, as well as dedicated climbers and mountaineers. Basically, if you depend on accurate weather information to keep yourself, your friends, or your clients safe in the backcountry, this is a worthy investment indeed.

To find out more, and purchase your own INO Weather Pro, visit inotechnologies.com.

Men's Journal Gives Us 51 Last Minute Gift Ideas

Okay, if you're still looking for the perfect Christmas gift for someone on your shopping list this year, and my 10 last minute gift ideas, nor Nat Geo's 31 suggestions, and Outside's list of 20 stocking stuffers for under $20 hasn't been much help, than perhaps Men's Journal can be of assistance. The magazine has posted it's selection of last minute holiday gifts as well, and it is lengthy one, offering 51 options for procrastinators

Not all of the items on the list are specifically geared for the outdoors or travel, but there is still a lot of things that men (and women!) are going to like. For instance, some of the items that get the nod from MJ include a sweet cycling hat from Rothera, a fun daypack from Cotopaxi, a cool camera from Nikon, and a headlamp designed for runners from Nathan. You'll also find a number of interesting books, some useful gadgets, pants from Fjällräven, and a even a kayak from Perception

All in all, this is a fairly wide list of suggestions for gifts for just about anyone in your life. Obviously here at The Adventure Blog we focus more on the outdoor and adventure travel items first and foremost, but there are all kinds of other great ideas as well for just about any type of personality. If you truly are stumped, perhaps this will at least provide a few ideas to help you get just the right thing for your loved one. If not, you're probably going to have some problems, as obviously the clock is ticking on the holiday shopping season. 

Check out the entire list at MensJournal.com

Gear Closet: Solartab Portable Solar Charger

Now days it is not uncommon to travel into the backcountry with an array of electronic devices. Most of us will take a smartphone and sometimes even a tablet. We carry rechargeable headlamps, GoPro cameras, GPS devices, and a variety of other gear. The problem is, it isn't always easy to keep the batteries in all of those gadgets charged up, and without power they mostly become dead weight. But, thankfully there are some handy methods to carry extra power with us wherever we go, and improvements in the efficiency of solar panels has made them a viable option too. Which is why the Solartab portable charger was so intriguing to me as an option for backcountry power. Recently, I had the chance to put the device to the test, and came away fairly impressed.

At its core, the Solartab is a 5.5 watt solar panel that covers the front of the device. That panel is paired with a 13,000 mAh batter that can store the power collected from the sun for future use. That's a sizable battery in its own right, and enough to recharge an iPhone six times over, with power to spare, or fully recharge an iPad with enough juice for a smartphone too. When you pair that with the built-in solar panel, you have a  way to keep your gadgets running indefinitely, at least in theory.

The Solartab – which is roughly the size of a standard model iPad – also comes equipped with a custom made case that not only protects the solar panel, but also allows the user to adjust its angle to ensure that it is always drawing the most power possible from the sun. A handy light on the side of the device even tells you when it is actually generating energy, which is automatically stored in the battery pack.

Two 2.1 amp USB ports can then be used to transmit that power to any gadget capable of recharging via USB. That includes just about any small electronic device today, including headlamps, action cameras, GPS devices, UV water purifiers, and so on. A micro-USB port on the Solartab can be used to charge up the internal battery from AC wall outlet before you leave home, ensuring that you always have enough power on the go. Indicator lights on the side of the panel are a handy indicator to let you know just how much juice is in the Solartab at any given time.

The two USB ports are actually quite fast, although when a device is plugged into both ports you'll see a drop in speed. Still, an iPhone 6S can be powered up in about an hour and a half, and my iPad Mini was restored to full strength in under three hours. That's about on par with plugging those devices into the wall.

As with most small solar panels, the Solartab can be a bit of a mixed bag at times. In direct sunlight it can charge fairly quickly, and since you have the ability to turn it to face the sun, and shift the angle to get the most exposure, it works well on clear, sunny days. But, when the clouds come out its ability to draw a charge can be severely hampered. The designers of the device say that under the best of conditions it can take about 12 hours to fully recharge the device's battery, but don't expect those conditions to come around all that often.


Still, I was fairly impressed with how the Solartab performed in reference to similar devices from the competition. The issues with collecting power from the sun aren't an issue that this charger faces on its own, as pretty much every small solar panel that I've tested has performed similarly, with some not even doing as well as the Solartab. In other words, this is about par for the course for this type of solar panel, so set your expectations accordingly.

One area that the Solartab shines is build quality. Taking it out of the package I found myself pleasantly surprised with how well constructed this product is. The device is very durable, and feels substantial in your hand. Even the integrated case has a high quality feel to it, as does all of the included accessories, which range from a USB charging cable and AC adapter, to a soft cloth for keeping the solar panel clean.

All in all, the combination solar panel and battery pack is a nifty design, and comes in handy when traveling. But, the main problem I have with the Solartab is that it is a bit heavy to carry around, especially if you're someone who likes to travel light. The charger will definitely add some bulk to your pack, which makes deciding to take it with you a challenge sometimes. On the one hand, it is a handy product for when you want to stay charged on the road. On the other, it is heavier than I'd like.

Another issue to be aware of with the Solartab is that there is no easy way to affix it to a backpack for charging while you hike. This is somewhat common for a solar panel like the Goal Zero Nomad 7, but due to its size and bulk, it really isn't a possibility here. Instead, it is mean to be set up at your campsite to gather power all day, but if you're moving around a lot that isn't necessarily an option. This won't be a deal breaker for everyone of course, but it is something to be aware of.

When it was first released, the Solartab carried a price tag of $129, which I found pricey but still worth it for the right person. It is currently selling on the Solartab website for just $89, which makes it a lot easier to recommend. I've seen solar panel and large battery packs that cost that much on their own, so getting them integrated into one device is truly a bargain.

If you need portable power to keep your gadgets functioning on the go, the Solartab is a good option. It is sleek, well made, and efficient. Yes, it does add some weight to your pack, but if you can put up with that, you'll literally have a portable power station that you can take with you just about anywhere. That alone makes it a viable solution for those of us who are routinely on the go. I just hope in the next model they can find a way to cut some weight a bit and thin it down some. At that point, this would be a nearly perfect product.