Here is a quick review of a simple, but effective product from Flyvines. If you read my post 7 Innovative Companies You Should Know About you know I’m a fan of Flyvines. They continue to come up with creative ways to turn old fly line into new products (check out their dog collars and coasters). While I’m an admitted gear head I do enjoy the simplification of a lanyard and this one is my favorite. My thoughts below:
Overview (From Flyvines):
Flyvines offers stylish lanyards great for all types of uses. For fly fishing a lanyard is essential for holding tippet, clippers, hemostats and gink.
Length: 40 or 50 inches
Likes: The first thing to like is the company philosophy. It’s easy to get behind folks tackling environmental challenges created by fly fishing products through recycling. Sustainability aside it’s a good looking piece of gear. The colored fly line is a refreshing divergence from the traditional beaded cord. Customizing the lanyard is easily done by selecting colors to include or avoid when ordering. Tool configuration is limitless and not dictated by predetermined clip placement. The lanyard holds tippet nicely by threading it through the spools. There is a lot of overpriced products in the fly fishing industry none worse in my opinion $40+ lanyards. Flyvines gets it right at $11.99.
Dislikes: Not much to dislike about this product, but you may want to add on a couple items to complement it. On the bright side you the price point gives you $30 to play with. I added a few s-biners, a fly patch and a couple retractors (along with standard tools).
Flyvines offers functionality in simplicity with their lanyard. This is great for those quick trips to the stream or to keep rigged in your fish-mobile for those spontaneous trips. Learn more at Flyvines.com and be sure to check out their other products while you’re there.
LOKSAK: Weatherproof Bags
Thanks to Matt at Average Hunter for passing these along for me to field test.
LOKSAK, Inc. is a US manufacturer of re-sealable bags impervious to water, dust and humidity. I had a chance to test them under field and stream conditions, but with a complete product portfolio the applications are endless. Here are my thoughts:
Product Line (From LOKSAK):
LOKSAK aLOKSAK® bags are resealable element-proof storage bags featuring a hermetic seal. That means absolutely no water, air, dust or humidity permeates the closure. They are designed for a wide range of applications and environments. The transparent bags are flexible and puncture resistant. They come in multiple sizes and can be sealed over and over again. The unique and patented materials, closure systems and manufacturing techniques used to fabricate the aLOKSAK surpass even the most rigorous testing standards.
OPSAK - Our new Odor-Proof barrier bag, OPSAK, has all of the features of the aLOKSAK plus a new-generation barrier film that is completely odor-proof. Now you can carry food and toiletries virtually undetected. Great for preventing animal intrusions at the campsite.
SHIELDSAK - Travel safely with our SHIELDSAK: a lightweight, fabric Faraday pouch that blocks all signals capable of reading your critical and personal information. Originally designed for the U.S. Military, the SHIELDSAK is proven to block Radio Frequencies (“RF”), Infrared, and Skim/Quick Scan Technology allowing you to carry your mobile devices, passports, and credit cards undetected.
SPLASHSAK - Our SPLASHSAK items are nylon or nylon and plastic carrying cases designed to carry various sizes of our aLOKSAK. SPLASHSAK items consist of waist packs, arm packs, and map and document carriers. All SPLASHSAK items come with two aLOKSAK bags.
If you ever had to put your phone in a bag of rice with the hopes of reviving it you may want to look into LOKSAK gear. It’s a minimal investment for the peace of mind. I found myself in that situation a couple years back on a fly fishing trip for migratory browns. Some light rain ended my prized smart phone which doubled as my fishing camera. $200 later I bought a water, dust, shock and freeze proof camera. Needless to say I’m tough on my gear and now every time I head to the stream I debate whether to take my phone along. So I pick a pocket high enough not to get wet while wading and buried deep enough in case of rain. Then when I need it I still fear dropping it in the stream. I could spend $90 for a “life proof” case for my phone or $8 for a 3 pack of LOKSAK bags and get the same if not better protection. One of my favorite features of the LOKSAK is I can operate my phone without removing it. Just adding the bag gives my device the same functionality as a waterproof camera including the ability to take underwater shots. This past summer we headed to the east coast for some surf fishing and beach fun. It would have been nice to take the Ipad along, but with the sand and water we decided against it. Fortunately LOKSAK comes in a variety of sizes to accommodate all your devices. While guarding gadgets is my favorite feature, it isn’t all they do. I also enjoy a cigar while streamside and the LOKSAK has become my new travel humidor…not likely a feature you’ll find on their website. With no BPA or harsh chemical these products are FDA approved. The OPSAK is also odor proof which comes in handy if you’re taking food in bear infested country. New parents? Toss one of these in the diaper bag…just in case. If you are more prone to carrying a map than a GPS, LOKSAK has you covered with their SPLASHSAK. Each SPLASHSAK is built for durability and includes multiple LOKSAK bags.
They’ve put extra attention into the durability as well. I put them through the paces and found them to be extremely resilient. It doesn’t matter how good the bag seals if it is ripped or punctured. The material used will hold up under a tremendous amount of abuse. I’m hoping they add waders to the product line. These bags are built beyond the standard of normal use. They remain pliable at -40 degrees and are shatterproof. The founder of LOKSAK is an avid scuba diver and these bags are certified waterproof to 60 meters by Scuba Schools International. Whether you're scuba diving, fishing or just sitting by the beach, they’ve got a complete product portfolio for any need.
I trust my gear in a LOKSAK bag, no longer do I need to worry about leaving my tech behind or fear ruining them streamside. The benefit of these products stretches beyond woods and water and into everyday life.
Olympus Tough TG-820 iHS
I started carrying a camera streamside years ago and while my photographic eye may not have improved, my equipment certainly has. In the early days disposable cameras were all the rage so I kept one packed in my tackle box. Later, I upgraded to an old Sony Walkman camera phone. Sony was one of the first manufacturers to put effort into their phones’ camera abilities. The Walkman also allowed for expandable memory. The pictures it took were great and served me well for a long time. Unfortunately, it wasn’t waterproof and after a float trip for migratory Great Lakes brown trout I needed to put it out to pasture. Next up was the short lived (year and a half) Fuji FinePix XP50. The XP50 had all the features you need for a fishing camera: waterproof, shockproof and held up well in cold conditions. I liked the picture quality, but it had technical glitches from the very beginning ranging from annoying to terminal. Ultimately, it viewed any memory card as locked and couldn’t be revived. Best Buy provided the final evaluation so while there I looked for its replacement. I didn’t spend much time shopping around - they had a deal on an open box Olympus Tough TG-820 iHS marked down from MSRP $249 to $169. It was categorically better than the XP50 including price. This review is meant for the outdoorsman who wants to evaluate a camera designed to stand up to the elements. If you are a hardcore photographer you already have better gear and know more than me. When I read camera reviews I get lost in the technical components so for this I’ll focus more on features. If you get stuck on the specifics, I strongly recommend CNet (http://reviews.cnet.com/) for any highly technical reviews. Here are my thoughts on the Olympus Tough TG-820 iHS.
Likes: The first thing I noticed out of the box was the screen. Not only is it bigger than my previous camera (XP50) at a full 3”, but also the on screen display was well organized. One of those things you may not recognize until compared, or appreciate until used. Icons are right justified or along the bottom and arranged intuitively. The features you need are displayed saving you the hassle of going through the menu screens. The HyperCrystal display allows viewing from a variety of angles with excellent clarity. Olympus engineered the screen to be extremely scratch resistant making it as tough as the rest of the components. The icon guide is a nice feature, providing a brief description of the icon selected so you aren’t digging in the user manual to translate symbols. It takes excellent pictures out of the box, but the range of pre-sets surprised me. With other cameras I couldn’t tell a difference between subjects shot with different settings. The Olympus Tough settings are more distinctive. One example is the Magic filter - take a look at the sample photos below.
It also takes quality pictures in the three different Macro Settings. All of the pictures on the Hammer Creek Fly Fishing – Flies page were taken with this camera. One side note, all the pictures were cropped. When shooting with the fixed focus Macro Settings, keep 10-12 inches away and crop to bring out detail. To fine tune your pictures further Olympus includes a serviceable photo editing software package. Finally, it takes Full HD 1080p movies and while a GoPro may be in my future, for now, I can take pictures and HD movies with this all in one.
Dislikes: This is an average looking camera. There are aesthetically more appealing cameras in its class namely Pentax, Nikon and even the FufiFilm. As an open box purchase I couldn't select the color (red) - perhaps I’d feel slightly different if it were black? Aside from the eye test, I didn't care for the charger it came with. I prefer a battery mounted charger rather than charging through the camera. After a photo is taken the settings are recorded which is great, unfortunately in playback mode the information takes up half the display screen. This drastically minimizes the value of a three inch screen with a one inch thumbnail when viewing pictures. Perhaps as a result of the bulk of information captured, it is slow to process, save and delete. I struggled setting the focus on this camera, especially in macro videos. My fly tying videos are recorded with this camera and at times will go in and out of focus. I tried a variety of settings with little result. The camera doesn’t perform well in lower light environments. It allows for adjusting white balance, but tends to wash out the image. Like most digital cameras it has little internal memory so plan on spending another $30-$50 to get an SD card. I recommend at least a 32GB SD card if you plan to take any video.
Overall I’m satisfied with my purchase, keeping in mind I didn't pay full retail price. I bought this camera to replace a $170 FujiFilm XP50 and feel as though I got a marginally upgraded product. Had I targeted cameras with suggested retail price of $250, I would have greater expectations. Some of my concerns relate to specialized features and are not universal. If you don’t take a lot of close up pictures and video you circumvent half of my challenges with the product. I hesitate giving my full recommendation at MSRP. These “rugged” cameras occupy an increasingly competitive space in the industry with the majority in the $125-$200 range with very comparable features.
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