Everyday Use

[Review] WoolX Explorer 1/4 Zip Baselayer

Living in Minnesota, there are quite a few months out of the year where having a good base layer is a necessity.  I have always been a big fan of layering to stay warm (and to make it easier to stay comfortable walking in and out of buildings during the winter). Having a quality baselayer like this Merino Wool ¼ zip makes even easier than ever.

Quality: Although I had never heard of WoolX before testing out this baselayer, I can honestly say that it has a build quality that is just as good as the top outdoor brands. One of my favorite things about this shirt is that it is durable and warm enough to wear while hiking, hunting, camping, working outside, etc, yet it also looks professional and I can wear it to work. The logo is hidden near the right cuff, which is refreshingly different from the many outdoor companies that plaster their logo on the front of their clothing. The merino wool is great at staying cool and dry, even if you happen to get a bit sweaty under your jacket. Because of this, it also retains less body odor than other fabrics tend to.

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Fit: Well, it’s a baselayer. This is something I overlooked a bit when I ordered mine.  90% of the time, I am a Men’s small, especially in athletic clothing that often runs large. Occasionally, a medium will fit me perfectly. So this baselayer in a size small is a very athletic fit on me, which is not always a bad thing, as I will be wearing this in very cold temperatures and it will provide a very warm and cozy fit. In a perfect world, I would own this is a size small and medium to have one to wear strictly as a baselayer and one to wear as a shirt.

Other things to note: I learned very quickly that Merino Wool attracts dog fur like a magnet, so if you have a dog in the house, you might want to get a lightly colored baselayer (or just make sure you have lots of lint rollers on hand!).

All in all, this is a very versatile baselayer that I will wear regularly from October – March. Although it’s a bit expensive, it’s a piece of clothing that will make the cold months far more comfortable and, in turn, more enjoyable to spend outside! I give this five out of five stars.

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Price: The WoolX Explorer ¼ Zip baselayer is $89.00 and can be purchased directly from WoolX HERE. Their shipping is quick and their customer service is helpful and friendly!

 

[Review] Buddy & Co Denim Leash/Collar Set

Recently, Buddy & Co (read my previous reviews HERE!) sent me one of their newer products to try out. Being a fan of their last leash, I was happy to try it out and share my opinion. Here’s what I thought!

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First, the collar. It’s tough collar. It’s nice to find a collar that looks nice, is tough, and also complements my dog’s fur.

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This collar is unique because the buckle end goes through the ring in order to secure. Because of this, it does feel stronger and like it provides an extra layer of protection in case something were to break, tear, or snap. However, it also makes that section of the collar very bulky, as the fabric is doubled up in that section.

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Besides wanting a metal buckle (some of my favorite dog collars have this), my main suggestion is that it would be nice if there was more than one ring on the collar – a dedicated ID ring would make the collar a bit quieter (less jingling and jangling) and tidier.

Secondly, the leash. It’s a really attractive and comfortable leash. It has a padded handle to allow for a comfort grip if your dog pulls. At first, I was turned off by the red color on one side of the leash. The denim just looks so nice that I wanted both sides to be denim. But then I realized that the flashy red side allows for better visibility while walking – which is a priceless thing when walking around busy city streets.

The leash itself looks great, but it’s not the finest construction I’ve seen. After a couple of walks, the stitching seems kind of shoddy (see photo). The leash is lightweight, which means it’s best for small or medium sized dogs (or large dogs that walk well). Either way, lightweight leashes won’t stand the test of time and use and abuse like a more heavy duty leash would.

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Overall, I was expecting better quality, tougher products from Buddy & Co. When I see “denim” in a product listing, I think of the tough fabric of denim jeans. Unfortunately, the leash and collar are essentially made of red nylon with a layer of denim style fabric sewn onto the top. So it’s not quite what I expected, but of course, it still looks great, and I really think that this leash, along with the matching collar, would make a fantastic gift for a dog owner.

I give this matching leash and collar set by Buddy & Co four out of four stars.

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[Review] Dalstrong Gladiator Series Knives

You don’t realize how crappy your $15 bread knife from Wal-Mart is until you are able to wield a proper bread knife! Dalstrong’s recent releases in their gladiator series remain the same incredible quality as their other knives and will be in my collection for years and years.

I recently tested out their Gladiator series bread knife and their Gladiator series Boning knife. They both seem limited at first – the bread knife strictly to slicing bread, and the boning knife to cutting steaks and fish fillets, but I was surprised at the versatility of both knives.

The bread knife has a nicely weighted, beautiful Pakkawood handle and a 10″ serrated blade that is great for slicing melons, bread, cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes, and more. Keep this blade sharp and clean and it’ll never let you down!

The boning knife has surprised me the most. I don’t eat much meat, but I still find plenty of uses for it. It makes eating, coring, and skinning mangoes, apples, and pears simple. The blade is just flexible enough to bend with the curves of the fruit and is sharp yet delicate. It’ll effortlessly cut your fillets and is still versatile enough to grab while slicing fruits and veggies.

I give both of these knives (as usual, with the amazing quality that Dalstrong consistently puts forth) five stars.

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[REVIEW] Blokpod Lego Sorter

With two young boys in the house, we spend a lot of hours playing Legos – and this also means a lot of hours digging through them to find pieces to go along with old manuals, cleaning up, and trying to find the elusive “specialty pieces” that have been lost for months or even years. I have looked into the Lego branded sorters, but have never been too impressed by the design or useability of them. When Blokpod offered to provide me one of their sorters/organizers for review, I was thrilled to give it a try.

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Blokpod claims that this sorter can handle up to 2400 pieces, which is a pretty large collection. Although some people use this as a container for the Legos, as well, I have found it is easier to pour them in different “sorted” containers, since it’s not so easy to dig around in these bins to look for certain pieces.

So, after a week or so of use, here are my pros and cons of the Blokpod sorter:

PROS:

The plastic is very strong and durable. I don’t foresee it cracking under normal everyday use. Oh, and Blokpod backs this up with a 15 year warranty!

The sorting is amazingly consistent. Of course, you’ll get some larger pieces that fall through the filters the ‘long way’ and make their way down, but for the most part, this sorter does exactly what you’d expect.

It’s really nice that Blokpod also includes clear pieces that can be used instead of the filters in case you’d like to use this purely as a container and not as a sorter.

CONS:

Since each level twists to lock into the other pieces, they move around a lot and unlock quite easily as you shake the Blockpod back and forth to sort. The locking mechanisms are basic, but still tough for kids to manage on their own every time without needing help.

The clear plastic bottoms are tough to remove since there is nothing to hold onto – you’ll need two sets of hands to get them off to put the filter back on.

So, at Blokpod’s selling price of $45, I’d absolutely recommend this for families with large Lego collections. If you can relate with digging through immense amounts of Legos to find that certain piece with your child, you will be absolutely amazed at how easy finding pieces and building creations becomes with the aid of the Blokpod sorter. And when you consider that many Lego sets are more expensive than two Blokpod, the $45 doesn’t seem like too much to ask for how much organization it will bring to your creativity time!

Check it out at http://www.Blokpod.com and follow their links to purchase it from Amazon.

Expect to pay around $45 – and keep an eye out for new parts and extensions for the Blokpod this year!

I give the Blokpod 5 out of 5 stars and wholeheartedly recommend it!

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[REVIEW] humangear GoBites & GoTote

I recently had the pleasure of reviewing some new products from one of my favorite travel/lifestyle brands. Humangear not only makes fantastic products, but also has awesome customer service. You can check out my past humangear reviews and posts HERE.

This time, I was able to check out their new line of “GoBites” and also their “GoTote.” Keep reading to see what I thought!

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Their GoBites are their line of tough and lightweight travel utensils. I was sent the Uno, Duo, and the Trio. The Uno is a double ended utensil that looks like this:

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The Duo is a set that includes a spoon and fork – the same utensils inluded in the Uno, except they are individual utensils instead of being conjoined. Oh, and they click together for convenient travel and storage!

And lastly, the Trio is a set that includes a fork, spoon, and knife (and a plastic toothpick!) in a nice travel case. The knife also has a bottle opener built into it!

So how do you choose between these three sets? Well, the quality and convenience in all of these is top notch. I’d recommend the Uno for an extreme traveller (weight weenie) or someone who just needs to keep a utensil in their desk for occasional use.

The duo would be great for putting in a kid’s lunchbox, or even throwing a couple in a picnic basket.

Out of the three, I would choose the Trio. It’s a quality set of all three utensils, and if you aren’t able to wash them off after you eat – just toss them back in the container and wash them when you are able to.

I was also sent the small version of their new GoTote – a very clever zipper tote that has a piece of sold metal sewn into the top so it can ‘pop’ open and closed. I have loved using this so much that I take it to work with me everyday and keep a light lunch or a couple snacks in it. I am considering buying the large version and using it as a dog food container for my dog while we are traveling and taking road trips. It’s a really high quality bag made with a strong zipper and tough fabric, and will hold up very well to everyday use. I can’t recommend this bag enough!

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I give ALL these products five stars. I’ve been using the GoTote and at least one of the GoBites every day. You can purchase their products on their WEBSITE or on Amazon, of course.

 

 

[REVIEW] True Utility Key Accessories

I was recently sent a selection of five different products to review from a cool little company based in the UK called True Utility. They make innovative and creative keychain accessories that are meant to make your life easier and come in handy on a daily basis.

I was able to try out the BulletStash, the Locklite, the KeyTool, the FireStash, and the Twistick.

I can tell you right now that my favorite out of all of these is the KeyTool.

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The KeyTool is a low profile multi tool that wraps around one of your keys. It has eight different tools on it, and they are labeled so you can find them easily. If I only end up using this as a bottle opener 90% of the time, I will be happy to have it on my keyring. It’s lightweight and incredibly useful.

My least favorite? The Locklite.

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The pieces of metal are very cheap and flimsy, and didn’t click together well. Also, it only works with a round key! (Maybe round keys are the norm in the UK?) Anyways, it is a neat idea, but it just isn’t executed well.

As for the other items – I love the idea of the BulletStash. It allows you to carry some extra cash with you in case you forget your wallet or purse. I don’t, however, like that it’s shaped like a bullet and says “One Last Shot” on it.

The Twistick is incredibly well-designed, in my opinion. I think it would make a great gift for any wine lover or picnic enthusiasts. It’s quite a novel idea to be able to carry around a wine bottle opener in such a small package.

And lastly, the Firestash.

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Yes, this is most likely the tiniest and cutest lighter you’ll ever see. I’ve only been able to use it briefly on a camping trip this spring – enough to confirm that it works and it is easy to operate. I’ve read some reviews that seem to suggest it leaks and doesn’t seal tightly after extended usage (which I can’t comment on yet), so only time will tell.

I won’t be leaving a star rating on True Utility’s products since this post is for 5 different items – but I HIGHLY recommend the KeyTool. I will personally be purchasing more of these as gifts for some of my family and friends!

Also – each of their products comes packaged in a handy little waterproof case that can be repurposed. I use mine to carry matches while I’m camping and hiking!

[REVIEW] Bomber Barrel Duffel Bag 

 
The Bomber Barrel Duffel by Bomber & Company is a great example of a minimalist’s bag. Although it is called a duffel bag, it is a very versatile, functional bag that has far more uses than I originally thought it would. When I first purchased it, I thought I would just be using it for short weekend trips away from home occasionally bringing it with me to workout. To my surprise, though, I have found myself using this just about every day since I’ve gotten it. I had a general idea of the size of it (16” L x 10” W x 10” H) before I received it because I had done a little research. A lot of people who have bought this duffel seem to take points off immediately because it was smaller than they expected. Sure, it is smaller than a big gym duffel, but it ended up being a size that I really like. My normal everyday bag has been a “small” size Timbuk2 messenger bag. It’s just large enough to fit a couple water bottles, my lunch, some headphones, and an extra sweatshirt or light jacket. The things I’ve found that I miss out on by transferring everything to the Bomber Barrel is the rigid structure, the laptop divider, and the many pockets that the Timbuk2 bags offer. Other than that, the Bomber Barrel has been a very comfortable bag to bring back and forth to work and on some of my errands. It carries everything I need for little trips, without the extra bulk.

 

Construction:
There’s a lot that I really like about the construction of the Bomber Barrel. It’s made from ripstop nylon, which makes it tough, lightweight (0.85 lbs), and weather resistant. (I have also noticed this same ripstop nylon makes the bag crinkle and crunch when being worn or moved around). It has waterproof zippers, and the main compartment actually has two zippers that run across the top so you can meet the zippers in the middle when you zip it. The clips are heavy-duty metal, a nice step up from so many companies that issue the generic and easy-to-break plastic clips with their bags.



Here’s what I’d like to see in the construction of this bag that I don’t:
The straps are fairly thin and (seemingly) of lesser quality than the rest of the bag. I’d really like to see the strap made of nylon seat belt webbing – something really tough and heavy. I would rather have this than have a thin strap that makes the bag a bit lighter. The shoulder strap and padded grip around the handles also feel quite thin – almost like they were just put there put there out of necessity instead of for comfort.
The outside of the bag also has a side pocket (with another waterproof zipper on it). And the inside of the bag has a small zipper pouch, as well. When you receive this bag, it arrives packed INSIDE of the ‘Mini Bomber’, which is the small, travel bag that Bomber & Company makes for toiletries or other organization. I reviewed and talked about the Mini Bomber in one of my last posts. Read it HERE.



I rate this bag 4/5 stars
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Is it a great bag? Absolutely! Is it a perfect bag? Not in my opinion, but I still find an excuse to use it just about everyday.
I am a huge fan of the simple design and small, yet practical, size.

I purchased this bag directly from Bomber & Company.

You may also be able to find it on Amazon.

Expect to pay between $99-&128.

Note: I was able to buy this bag at a discounted price. This hasn’t influenced my review at all, and I haven’t been compensation for my ratings.

[Review] Ausdom MO5 Bluethooth 4.0 Headphones

This is my first experience with Bluetooth headphones, so I am made sure to use these for quite a while before posting my review so that the novelty of wireless headphones didn’t skew my review.

These headphones came packaged very nicely. A small instruction book is included, which I read over quickly. Using these instructions, I was able to pair the headphones with my phone in about 20 seconds. They did not require a passcode to pair, although it said they may.

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So I put them on and cranked up my music. The sound quality is very impressive. I can see these being great for gaming, music, and for watching videos. If anything, I would say that they lack a certain ‘crispness’ to the sound clarity that very high end headphones will be able to provide. But all in all, I feel that the cost of these is fair for what you are getting. They have three buttons by the left earpiece – a power button, and volume up and down buttons.

The headphones are listed as “Over Ear” headphones, yet I would say they are actually AROUND EAR. The ear cushions have cutouts in them, so they wrap around your ears and sit over them. My criticism of this is that if your ears are too large, they won’t fit inside these cutouts. I am lucky that my ears are juuuuuust right and I’m able to slip these over my ear lobes entirely.

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While wearing, these feel very comfortable. They don’t move around, even if I am walking around or doing tasks that require moving my head and body a lot. They have a snug fit. However, when I remove them after wearing them for a while, my left ear feels irritated, as if there has been too much pressure on it.

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The build quality is high quality and seems very durable. If anything, I’d like the ear cushions to have a softer cushion and make for a more comfortable wear for longer durations.

One of my favorite things about these headphones are the gentle little beeps it gives for notifications. If you are connected to a device, you’ll hear little beeps when you have an alert, email, text message, or call. Of course, you can also use the included headphone cord to use these as non-bluetooth headphones.

Something I noticed is that the earpieces do have a hinge above them so they can collapse and fold in, yet they are both too large to fold in together. Even so, it’s nice that they can fold in to make for easier packing.

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I am giving these 4.5 stars since I really am torn between 4 and 5 stars. However, I think the ear cushions could use a material upgrade to make them more comfortable and a little less bulky. I wear these while working around the house, while commuting, and while relaxing and watching movies. All in all, these are an absolute bargain considering the price and value!

You can find these on Amazon. They are currently $55.99.

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[REVIEW] Bomber & Company

I recently stumbled upon a cool little company called Bomber & Company. A Kickstarter funded company, they gained popularity for their “Bomber Barrel”, which has been called the Best Duffel Bag made for modern, everyday use. They make their products with a clean, refreshing, minimalist design that really appeals to me. I was lucky enough to be able to try out a few of their products to share my experience with you! Read on to see what I thought.

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I haven’t gotten my hands on the duffel bag yet, but I have been able to try out the dopp kit they make, which resembles the duffel in style and form.

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This dopp bag is extremely lightweight. It’s listed as 78 grams. I am replacing a heavy duty Calvin Klein dopp bag, which weighs about 3x the Bomber and Company, with this one. This dopp bag by Bomber & Company fits well with my active lifestyle. The construction is high quality, yet it’s so light you’ll forget it’s in your bag! My only complaint is there are only two pockets – the side pocket on the outside and the main inner pocket. It would be nice if the large compartment had one or two small zipper pockets on the sides. It’s not a deal breaker, though. There’s a certain charm in having a very simple, yet functional, little bag. The paracord zipper pulls are a great touch, and the carry handle on the outside is functional and strong. Also, because of how lightweight it is, it does not maintain its shape. It might not look perfect when it sits next to your bathroom sink because of this, but it does mean that it will pack easier.

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I have been using this while traveling for my toiletries, but I also plan to use it for other uses as they come up – carrying cameras, Bluetooth speakers, camping equipment, etc.

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I was also able to check out a few of their paracord items – both the bracelet and the keychain.

I have purchased paracord bracelets from other brands because I like the look of them, but I didn’t find any of them to have a comfortable fit and have never worn them. When I first put the Bomber and Company bracelet on, it was far too big (I have rather small wrists for a guy), but then I figured out how to loop a small piece of the end over one more time to create a more snug fit. Ever since I figured this out, I have been wearing it happily and comfortably.

For the amount of paracord in here, it still maintains a sleek profile and looks a bit more classy than other paracord bracelets. The nice “Bomber & Company” logo is a nice addition to it.

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As far as the keychain goes, it boasts 60 inches of 550lb paracord on it that would be very easy to remove and use in an emergency. This keychain also gives you the resources to start a fire. While this keychain is larger than I usually use, I have attached all my camper keys to it so that I always have it with me when I am most likely to need it – in the woods. The clip is very strong and I don’t worry that it will ever come undone from something.

All in all, I am extremely impressed by the products I’ve been able to test out from Bomber & Company. These three products are all found on amazon – find them HERE. The dopp kit, especially, is a great deal for such a durable and tough little bag. I expect to be using it for years and years to come!

I give all three of these items a solid 5/5 stars. Please check back here, as I hope to purchase their Bomber Duffel  and make it my go-to travel bag for the summer!

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[Review] YogiMall Two Layers Premium Travel Yoga Mat

When you open this, the first thing you notice is that it has no unpleasant smell that most cheap yoga mats have. It’s 100% PVC free and contains no rubber or toxins. This is a huge thing for me, because I want to know that I am exercising on something safe, especially if it’s something I use everyday.

  

The mat itself has a nice wide base and is more than long enough for what I need. It’s soft and supportive – it has just the right amount of give to it and is not too squishy.

  

It only weighs 2.4 pounds, so it’s light enough that I can throw it in my carry on luggage to bring along on vacations or getaways. It also includes a nice carry strap to make transporting it even more convenient.

  
Last but not least, I really like the color combination they chose. It’s calming, yet isn’t too bright or vivid to be faced with when I do early morning yoga.

  

I like this mat better than the previous mat I reviewed from YogiMall. This mat has a better, more cushioned feel to it. To be honest, the other mat does have a more unique look and feels a bit more boutique. The jute woven into the mat really stands out and makes it look nice. If you’re just looking for a comfortable yoga experience with no chemicals and a high quality mat, this Two Layer Premium Mat is the one for you!

You can purchase it from their website HERE. Expect to spend about $35. You can also purchase it on Amazon, if you prefer, for about the same price.

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Note: I was provided this mat from YogiMall at a discount in exchange for my honest review. I have not been compensated in any way for sharing my opinion using this yoga mat!