Follow-Up

[Review] Hydro Flask 12 ounce coffee and tea flask

 Several years ago, I bought the 18 ounce coffee and tea flask with the flip top lid and said that it was close to perfection. One of my recommendations was for Hydro Flask to shrink it down to 12 ounces for those of us who want a smaller portion of coffee or tea. (or possibly have limited bag/backpack space to fit a bottle on your daily commute). Either way, this bottle completely answered what I wanted!

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So, after a year of use, here we go:

 I bought the white bottle because the powder coat paint job looks awesome. The little ‘hydro flask’ man logo and the hydro flask font are small enough that I think they look decent and don’t’ stick out too much. The white does, however, scuff a lot and show dirt easily (of course). Wash it regularly, though, and it’ll stay looking like new. If anything, the white forces me to keep it cleaner because I see the dirt. As for the inside, I clean it every other couple months or so to erase the coffee or tea stains that build up on the inside. Sometimes I scrub it with baking soda and a wire brush, sometimes I use some CLR (Calcium, Lime, and Rust) cleaner. With a little effort and a few grunts, you’ll have the inside of the bottle shiny and like new.

My biggest (and only) gripe with this bottle is the cap. In our family, we’ve actually had 5 of these 12 ounce bottles, and we’ve had to contact Hydro Flask warranty service because 3 of the caps either arrived faulty or broke within the first few days of use. This has me question whether Hydro Flask’s quality control is lacking. I have owned about 5 different varieties of Hydro Flask bottles and haven’t had problems with the caps until this 12 ounce version.  Another annoyance with this cap is that the small air vent always seems to get ‘clogged’ with a little bubble of liquid. This prevents your coffee or tea from flowing out freely until this clog is poked or blown out.

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All in all, I would absolutely continue to purchase from Hydro Flask. Their bottles are a bit more expensive than other brands, but they also consistently perform better (keeping cold drinks cold and hot drinks HOT) than other brands and are durably built. They also are backed with the great customer service that Hydro Flask gives. I have been fortunate enough to have been able to review 10 or so other brands of double walled, insulated bottles, and Hydro Flask is up at the top.

I give this bottle 4 out of 5 stars. It would be an easy 5 stars if I haven’t had so many problems with the caps on these.

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Buy it directly from Hydro Flask HERE. Expect to pay around $22.

[Follow-Up] thejoyfactory BubbleShield

thejoyfactory bubbleshield

thejoyfactory bubbleshield

Back in March, I received a sample pack of BubbleShields from ‘thejoyfactory’. (Click here for the review) I liked the company a lot — I’ve also reviewed a pretty cool iPad mini case made by thejoyfactory (Read that review here!) But I didn’t like the BubbleShield so much — it wrecked my Kindle Touch, after all!

If you haven’t read my first review on the BubbleShield — here is a long story short: I secured my Kindle in the shield, then put it under a light stream of tapwater to get a few pictures for my review to show that the case is truly waterproof. I did nothing differently than the woman in the photo below (which is a photo taken from thejoyfactory’s website!)

Trickery! Don't ever try this!

Trickery! Don’t ever try this!

….annnnnnd then the bottom of the shield broke open and ruined everything.

I emailed thejoyfactory’s customer service about it — they simply said something along the lines of  ‘yeah, sometimes our products have defects’. Unlucky me.

So thejoyfactory sent me another pack for my troubles. I’ve played with them a bit, trying to see the good in them. Here’s what I’ve come up with in the past couple months of having them:

Nice Handles!

Nice Handles!

They have some great features. The little loops on the sides, and the loop on the top is very handy. The package also claims these features:

  • Water and Splash Resistant
  • Heat Resistant
  • Touch Sensitive
  • No Fingerprints
  • Special Holder Ring

So, it seems to me like this is a very well thought out little tablet/device protector that could still use some more work. Why? It just feels super cheap. It feels like a one-time use protective sleeve. The plastic is all crinkly and gets little kinks and bends in it that make you not really want to use it anymore.

Too Many Crinkles !

Too Many Crinkles !

It might be a bit hard to see, but the crinkles and bends in the photo above (near the top of the kindle) were formed within the first 2 minutes of using this case, just sliding the kindle inside and securing it.

In my opinion, if they improved the plastic material they are using for these cases and sold them individually instead of in 2 or 5 packs, people would be more likely to buy them and use them day in and day out.

These however, still haven’t really been used much by me. Honestly, I’d rather just throw a couple of ZipLoc freezer bags into my backpack in case of emergencies. I trust them more than these and they’re cheaper! I will keep an eye on this company to see if they happen to come out with any updates to this product, though, because I like the idea behind it.

I STILL give the BubbleShield by thejoyfactory 1 out of 5 stars. I wouldn’t bother with them, unless you can find them for really cheap and just want something in case of emergencies.

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[Review] Marmot Aegis Rain Jacket

This review is a follow up to my previous post, in which I reviewed the Marmot PreCip Jacket. Although it was a fairly decent jacket, it just wasn’t what I was looking for, and so I broadened my search for the best lightweight rainjacket for travel and backpacking. I ended up finding a great deal on the Marmot Aegis Jacket — and since it had all the features I was looking for in a rain jacket, I went for it.

Marmot Aegis

Marmot Aegis

Although quite a bit more expensive than the PreCip, the Aegis really stands out in the quality of materials (compared to the Aegis) — you really get what you pay for with this one!

Outdoor Gear Lab chose the Aegis as their pick for the best rainjacket a couple years ago. (Click here to see the reviews!)

What’s so great about the Marmot Aegis?

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The first thing I noticed upon trying this jacket on was how great it fit. This was one of my main concerns after owning the poorly sized Marmot PreCip. The PreCip didn’t even go down past my beltline and the sleeves were a tad too short. The Aegis, however, in the same size (medium), fits perfectly. The bottom of the jacket goes just far enough to prevent my torso from getting wet. And the sleeve cuffs are tapered, allowing the top of the hands to have protection from the rain, as well.

Marmot's "DriClime" Fleece Lining.

Marmot’s “DriClime” Fleece Lining.

Another great thing about the jacket (which I didn’t even expect to take such a liking to) is the DriClime lined collar and cuffs. It’s really nice to have a rainjacket that won’t stick to you if you get a little hot and sweaty underneath your jacket. These fleece linings prevent that gross, sticky, sweaty feeling.

The jacket doesn’t actually have a layer of Gore-Tex, but it has Marmot’s version of it – “MemBrain Strata”. It effectively repels rainwater and forces it to bead and roll off. I recently took the jacket on a bike ride where I was caught in a downpour for about 10 minutes. My pants were soaked, but my jacket kept the rest of my completely dry. And when I got out of the rain, the rest of the water on the jacket shed off very quickly.

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Other things I really like about this jacket — the storm flap over the the main zipper is only one sided, but it is rigid and folds over by itself after being zipped up. It feels very durable and I wouldn’t be worried about water getting into the main zipper during a storm.

Rigid, one-sided storm flap.

Rigid, one-sided storm flap.

There are really large Pit-Zips to allow for airflow and ventilation. The Pit-Zips don’t have the water resistant zippers that the hand pockets do, but they probably aren’t as necessary in the armpits!

Big 'ol Pit Zips!

Big ‘ol Pit Zips!

 

So what could possibly be improved on this jacket?

I think this jacket is just about perfect. I’d like to see the main zipper be a water resistant zipper, just to make the jacket even more durable.

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Water Resistant Zippers (Hand Pockets Only)

 

The hood is a great size, but I didn’t fit over my bike helmet. I didn’t buy it hoping it did, though — I’m just pointing this out in case any climbers or bikers are looking into this jacket hoping to use it with a helmet. I’d much prefer to have a hood that fits well without a helmet, since that’s how I’ll use it 99% of the time. (I’ve seen descriptions of this jacket that say the hood is meant to fit over helmets, though, so just make sure you try it on and get a feel for it before you buy it).

Another small suggestion is to use an elastic cinch adjustment for the back of the hood instead of velcro. It’s easier and more convenient, in my opinion. However, I don’t adjust the hood often enough to really care, so that isn’t a make-or-break-it point for me!

Overall, I think this is a fantastic rain jacket that is suitable for a wide variety of people and activities. It’s very lightweight and packs very small (and the hood even packs into the collar!).

I give the Marmot Aegis Jacket 5 out of 5 Stars

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I hope the materials and zippers hold up over time, because I hope to own this jacket for many years!

You can buy the Aegis on Marmot.com or Amazon.com or backcountry.com. Expect to pay about $150.

[REVIEW] thejoyfactory BubbleShield

OK. So this post will follow a different format than my past reviews. Read through it, and you will see why. 

So, after I reviewed the SmartSuit Mini by thejoyfactory, they were kind enough to send me a sample of another product to try out — the BubbleShield Reusable Waterproof Shield.

At first, it seemed like the perfect product! Especially for a minimalist backpacker, since it takes up virtually no space and weighs practically nothing, yet it can literally save your phone, tablet, or eReader!

So I wrote up a review that covered what I liked and didn’t like (but mostly what I liked!) about the BubbleShield during my ~2 weeks of using it.

The First Draft of my Review...

The First Draft of my Review…

But I wanted a more complete review — something that showed just how awesome I thought the BubbleShield was, and what it is capable of. So I got out my camera and took a couple photos for the review.

First I had my Samsung Galaxy Note phone in the BubbleShield to test how the sound played through the BubbleShield while watching videos (Very Well!) and the usefulness of using the touch screen capababilites of a device through the case (not so great — it’s kind of like… well… using trying to type on your device while it’s in a ziploc bag).

The Kindle Touch fits nicely  in the BubbleShield and is easy to navigate through menus.

The Kindle Touch fits nicely in the BubbleShield and is easy to navigate through menus.

Then I put my Kindle Touch inside the BubbleShield. It worked much better, because there isn’t much need for the touch screen — just a touch here and there to turn pages. And then I wanted a few final pictures to show that the BubbleShield actually IS WATERPROOF! So to the sink I went…

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Wow, look at that incredible waterproof-ness !!

Looks good, right? Like it’s doing exactly what it’s made for? YES! It did, for about 20 seconds. And then, I heard a little *poof* sound. It sounded like air was escaping from somewhere. I immediately turned off the water and checked that double seals on top were both pressed together tightly. They were. Then I checked the rest of the case. Here’s what I found:

A large gash formed in the bottom of the shield. It was not under any stress, and this is the first time I used this particular shield.

A large gash formed in the bottom of the shield. It was not under any stress, and this is the first time I used this particular shield.

In the time that large rip happened, air escaped and water flowed in. The water that came into the BubbleShield immediately ruined my Kindle Touch. 

I still can’t understand how the BubbleShield so suddenly split open. The Kindle wasn’t submerged — I was just holding it under the sink water. Was it merely from the weight of the tap water running over the top of the BubbleShield? If so, how can they expect it to hold up in a rain storm? As frustrated as I was with the failed waterproof test, I was happy that I didn’t run the test with my Galaxy Note inside of the BubbleShield.

Another thing to note — thejoyfactory had sent me 2 BubbleShields to test (as they are made to be reusable, but also disposable). I had used one of them for the 2 weeks prior to taking these photos, but the one used for the water test was COMPLETELY BRAND NEW at the time. I had just taken it out of the box 10 minutes before the product failed and self destructed. 

So, what is thejoyfactory’s comment on all this? 

This happened on March 13th. I emailed them immediately to let them know. It is now the 17th, and I still have not heard back from them. I will update this review if, by chance, they respond to my email. They had previously shown good customer service and I have no reason to expect anything less this time, especially since it involves a huge manufacturing flaw of their product.

I give the thejoyfactory’s BubbleShield 1 out of 5 stars:

1star_1

I’ll give it one free star because I love the idea behind it. But… since it wrecked my Kindle Touch, I highly recommend against buying this product. I hope this is an aberration in thejoyfactory’s product line. I guess this review just goes to prove something we already knew — that all bubbles pop sometimes! (even ‘bubbleshields’!)

Update: 

On March 18th, I received a very cordial and polite reply from thejoyfactory. They said “Thank you once again for testing our BubbleShield. We are sorry to hear that you have run into problems with the sample unit we sent, and that you attempted to contact us but did not get a prompt response.  It looks as if you may have received a defective BubbleShield, which is very rare. We would be happy to send you another BubbleShield to replace the one that was damaged.”

Well, it’s safe to say that I’ve learned my lesson from my first trial run with the BubbleShields. I will definitely have another go at them when the new review units come in, but I won’t be placing too much trust in them, and I surely won’t let them be my only line of defense in a rainstorm (other people have mentioned to me that they use ZipLoc brand freezer bags sealed tightly.

I’ve also heard other people highly recommend “Aquapac” products. (Check out their website HERE).

So, the search for the perfect waterproof sleeve/case continues! Leave a comment below (and subscribe!) if you have one to recommend!

[UPDATE] humangear customer service

I had mentioned in a previous posting, in which I reviewed the “GoToob Travel Bottles” by human gear, (click to read the review) that I needed to contact their customer service to see about replacing a broken cap on one of the bottles.

Well, I sent an email to humangear’s customer service [ service@humangear.com ]. Within one day, they replied, asking for my address to send out the replacement cap. They didn’t even ask to provide proof that the cap was broken — or ask me to send it back. I was very pleased with the prompt and professional nature in which it was handled.

And then I got the replacement in the mail. Wow! Just take a look at the photo.

With Love, from humangear.

With Love, from humangear.

Now THAT’S customer service! A handwritten note, a couple extra caps in case any more happen to break, and even another little freebie from humangear, the GoTubb (which I will review soon).

It’s nice to have a successful customer service experience with a company, and it’s even better to have one where you are treated like a real human being, instead of getting the feeling that you just had a conversation with a robot, whether it be on the other end of the phone line or through email.

Humangear, you have a customer for life! Never change!

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I give humangear’s customer service 5 out of 5 stars!