Sunday, August 26, 2012

Gerber Steady - Field Report

I've been having fun with this little guy now for a few months and really like it's primary function of as a mini tripod. Leave it to the engineers at Gerber to come up with a tripod that also has twelve other useful components that will come in handy on a daily basis. While the tool is full of greatness, it does have a small downside in my opinion that I will chat about later. It's pretty small compared that what I like about it.

The Gerber Steady comes with a tough nylon case with a Velcro closure on both the front strap and the belt loop as well. There really isn't a whole lot to say about the case other than it's sturdy and should stand the test of time. I do like how the Steady sits down in the case and won't move around at all when adventuring in the woods, or just walking around town.

When opening the nylon sheath, you first see the tripods suction cup in it's own little pocket. The suction cup is held in place with a strip of elastic webbing and ides some effort, I could not get the cup to pop out of the sheath.

The Steady has about twelve different tools that can make anyone's life a little easier. To start with you have larger blade that is 1/4 serrated. With the Steady closed, you can easily access and open this blade with your thumb (I'm right-handed). On the same side, you also have smaller blade with a straight edge that you can use for smaller jobs. In the middle of same handle, you have a Phillips head screwdriver bit and the suction cup mount.

Along with the needle nose pliers, that also have a wire cutter built in, you also have two more screwdrivers bit (micro flat and medium) a bottle opener, an awl, and other items that will always come in handy. Here are the basic dimensions:

  • Height: 2.10 inches
  • Weight: 7.20 Ounces
  • Length: 4.90 inches
  • Width: 2.60 inches

The special function of the Gerber Steady is what I really like a lot. The tripod legs on the Steady fold out and allow you to customize the height easily The rubber coated feet on the legs can help eliminate slipping when using the tripod function on a slick surface. 

The thing I found very surprising was how well the suction cup worked on my smartphone! I have an HTC Incredible (first gen) and the suction cup worked great on the back of this phone. I'm surprised because the back of my phone is not perfectly smooth, but the suction cup was still able to grab onto the back of my phone and hold it until I was done. The great thing about the suction cup is the attached lever that you can use to secure a smartphone. It's a great design that works and is easy to use. If you brought your digital camera with you and want to use the Gerber Steady, just use the same screw that you would have for the suction cup and you're good to go. Note that you should only use your "point and click" camera on this tripod.

The one item that stops me from completely loving the the Gerber Steady is the fact that so much of the product is made out of plastic. While this is somewhat of a turn-off, I guess what you get in return is a lighter product that is also within reason price-wise. That's not bad at all! 

The Gerber Steady is going to be in my kit when I head out and need a small tripod for quick pictures. It's very adjustable, which really makes is useful and the array of other tools you get with it doesn't hurt as well.

Thanks for reading and please let me know if you have any questions. I've always been a big fan of Gerber ingenuity and having a lifetime warranty doesn't hurt as well . Thanks and be safe!

- Bill

Sunday, August 19, 2012

First Thoughts On The Teton Outfitter XXL Quick Tent

When I'm not sleeping in a Grand Trunk hammock at night while in the woods, I will at times enjoy a peaceful sleep in a tent. When on a solo trip, I usually don't take a tent with me and tend to just go with a tarp and hammock setup due to weight and the small amount of space they take up in/on my pack. After working with the Teton Outfitter XXL Quick Tent, I have found the one tent that I can easily carry around and comes loaded with features.

First off, this little tent is only 4lbs when packed up and ready for action. Now considering it comes with a full rainfly, multiple ground stakes, attached guy-lines and integrated frame, 4lbs is well worth the tiny amount of weight you will need to carry out. The carry bag comes with an integrated handle and a drawstring closure  and full instructions that are sewn into the inside of the bag. I have to say that after a full setup and take-down of the tent one time, I will never need the instructions again...this thing is a BREEZE to work with!

One you have removed the tent from the storage bag, it's a simple matter to lay the tent out flat on the ground and set aside the rain cover and bag of stakes. With the tent laid out flat, the first thing you do is to unfold the four arms on each corner. On the two longer arms, you need to also push them together after unfolding them so that they lock into place.

Once you have all four corners out, you simply pick up the center piece of tent by cord coming out of the top of the spreader base. With one hand, you apply enough pressure to the spreader base so that it stays in place, and with your other hand, you lift of on the cord.

You will then see the entire tent form on front of you with little to no effort at all. In the end, you should have something that looks like this:

That's literally all there is to it, you now have a shelter that will keep the bugs off you and one that offers you enough room from a full size sleeping bag and any other sleeping essential you may need. The dimensions for the tent itself are 6' 9"L x 3' 3"W x 2' 6"T. This offers plenty of space for one person to stretch out and relax.

The zipper on the door seems heavier than s standard tent zipper and as always, with Teton you get their easy-to-use zipper with an attached lanyard. (Sorry for the blurry picture)

The rainfly is incredible easy to attach to the tent. Just toss the fly over the tent, ensure you have the right side up (Teton can be seen on the side) and clip the four corners to the corners of the tent itself. Pull the straps to increase tension and you're done.

For added support, you can use the provided stakes to secure each of the four corners to the ground, as well as the provided guy lines. The front of the rainfly has a full length zipper and is also reinforced with a few strips of Velco to help keep water out and away from the zipper. The two flaps that make up the can be rolled up and secured to the door frame with the provided  "hook and loop" system in place. The same method of securing the rainfly doors is also in place at the bottom of the main door, should you ever want the door to be wide open and out of the way.

Now, I'm a 6'3 guy and I hate feeling cramped. First inspection revealed that I had nothing to fear with the Outfitter XXL Quick Tent. I'm also to stretch out full on my back, as well as sit up full without touching the sides. If you have a small enough pack, it can probably fit beside you in the tent, but my Teton Outfitter 4600 pack is just too big to be in there with me. I could use it for a pillow I guess, but that's what pack pillows are for :-)

In all, I am extremely pleased with this single person tent so far and plan to give further field reports on it as I go. After one time of setup and take down, you can get this tent set up in a matter of seconds. It actually takes longer to get it out of the bag ;-) A super huge thanks goes out to Teton for allowing me to check out this tent. I'm hooked on their products because the price is great and the quality is top notch.

Here are the full specs of the Outfitter XXL Quick Tent, per Teton's website:

Dimensions: 6' 9"L x 3' 3"W x 2' 6"T
Pack Weight: 4 lbs
Capacity: 1 person
Shell: 75D Taffeta 2000MM PU
Doors: 1
Pole System: Quick–up System III
Color: Yellow–Orange

Also, this is a great company video that shows the easy setup and take-down of the Outfitter XXL.

Note that the first night spent in this tent, it rained and not a single drop got inside. The rainfly did it's job perfectly!

Thanks for reading, let me know if you have any questions and keep an eye out for more updates and pictures of this tent in action.