Category Archives: Travel

Travel

Revamp your Gear!

Technology has come a long way since the first days of exploring the great outdoors! We’ve got lighter shoes, more durable gear, and better all around equipment! We are going to take a look at some new ways to use old gear and lighten up your load and improve the gear you’re already using!

First, let’s go with an easy one. Shoes. Lighten your load and upgrade to a pair of mid cut boots with synthetic uppers. I really like these low cut hiking boots. First off the lower weight of these will really save your back. The leg acts as a sort of pendulum when hiking and any extra weight can really add up. There’s a saying that’s something like a pound on your feet is 10 on your back. Don’t quote me on that though!

This one may not apply to all of you, but when I was much younger I was gifted a hatchet to go into the woods and use on all of the wood needed…carrying a hatchet in your sack though adds weight. Switch it out for a wire saw. It’s super light weight and takes up a lot less space!

Flashlights are necessary but with the help of technology, we’ve been able to get much lighter ones and save some space by investing in a headlamp! They’re much easier to use too and use much smaller batteries. Try to get ones that have a strap that goes on the top of your head otherwise they can tend to slip down the front of your face and that’s no fun when you’ve got your hands full of wood in the middle of a dark trail.

This tip is less of an old gear tip and more of a storage tip. Re-package your food. Most food comes in some durable container, but you don’t have to keep it in there. Repack the food into ziplock bags or find lightweight water bottles for liquids. This will light your load and save on packing space. This is a good tip for flights too!

Last but not least is more of a survival help tip that’s practical. Real parachute cord is rated at 550 lbs. The outer sheath is rated to 200 lbs that holds 7 interior strands which are rated at 50 lbs each. So for every 3 feet of cord you have 25 feet of rope. 3 feet is the minimum shoe lace length for shoes with 5 eyelets and most boots have more so you can tack on some extra and increase your length. That’s at least an extra 50 feet of rope right on your feet! Never be caught without rope again!

I hope that you’re able to take some of these tips and tricks and put them to use on your next adventure. Any ways that you’ve upgrade or changed your old gear? Leave a comment below.

Lazy? Just watch me summarize this post here:

Sandals Whitehouse – Jamaica

My travel reviews aren’t as frequent as I’d like but hey we can’t all travel the world every month now can we?  My most recent trip took me on a 4 night 5 day trip to Jamaica.  Living in South Florida, this was a hop, skip and we were there. First time flying on Caribbean Airlines and have to say it wasn’t too shabby, it was way better than Spirit but a cardboard box with wings has a shot to be better than Spirit.  The one great thing about Sandals is that they had a really nice room/area in the airport where people could wait for the shuttle to take them to the resorts with free drinks and snacks.

This was a special trip for myself and family, so we opted for skipping the regular shuttle and got a limo van for a few of us. This was a blessing and a curse. We got there in record time, I didn’t know VW vans could take corners that fast.  We were trying to surprise someone so this was good, the curse though was that the trip from the Montego Bay airport is at least an hour and a half with someone that has a lead foot and filled with sharp turns.  You travel up and down two mountain ranges to get to the Sandals Whitehouse resort. So we arrived feeling like we just got tossed around inside a can and spit out.

Once we were finally here we were treated incredibly well. The staff at this resort really went above and beyond for us. We were surprising my mom for her 60th birthday by showing up to surprise her (as she had flown in the day before).  I would have to say that at least half the resort knew about our plan and arrival, they made sure we were able to complete the surprise through multiple efforts.  Some of the wait staff at the restaurants weren’t enthusiastic but they also weren’t mean or rude.  I also felt that they should have had just one more bartender at the swim up pool bar in the main pool, the bartenders got swamped on some of the busier days. Even though you’re relaxing on a pool float in Jamaica people can get a little antsy waiting on their frozen drink. Speaking of drinks, they really could use some bendy, flexible straws haha. It’s not easy to drink laying down with the straight straws.

Now, not being one to just lay by a pool all day I did run into an issue I was unaware of, we had come to visit during a national holiday, I believe it was Hero’s day in Jamaica. I felt bad for the people who were working at the resort because it seemed like the whole island shut down for more than just one day. It also put a damper on my plans to do any activities off the property.  This was another issue to figure out, it seemed like the tours desk at the resort didn’t really explain why I couldn’t sign up for like 4 different excursions until I specifically asked “Why are there no tours available?”. The distance that the Sandals Whitehouse is from most of the activities also plays a part in this.  For example, it is 3 hours each way from the most popular activity, Dunns River Falls, and at least an hour to most of the other tours.  So basically you spend a whole day doing some of the activities.

Once we realized we weren’t going anywhere, it did help us to just chill out and relax a little bit more. We took advantage of the free snorkeling/glass bottom boat one day, which was a quick easy snorkel trip. Lots of small fish and some great coral were all easily spotted.  There was also free dive trips and free wake boarding or water skiing.  We were able to take out the free hobie cat sailboats, use the kayaks and the paddle boards. The hobie cats and kayaks were ok but the paddle boards were beat up. I mean there was only one board that had a fin on it, and the paddles they had wouldn’t extend.  I didn’t notice this at other Sandals I’ve been to, so unfortunately I just think sometimes the watersport equipment is hit or miss. One unfortunate thing is that the beach appears to have been eroding away. Currently they are trying to build some jetties to cut down on the erosion. The beach is quite rocky and as we dubbed it “wild”. It looks like a jungle beach with tress growing on the beach which actually provides some shade.

All this relaxing and being out side can really build up an appetite! The food here was amazing!  For lunches we ate at Neptunes (beach side) a few times and Bluefield’s (beach side but at the opposite end of the resort). If you stay in the Dutch or Italian areas try and make a trip over to Bluefield’s for lunch, the view and breeze are worth it alone! But those Jamaican beef patties they serve are to die for!  The portion sizes here aren’t that large so keep that in mind. For some reason Giuseppe’s Italian at night was sweltering inside, it was actually cooler outside! The food of course amazing. However for a solid dinner, the Filet Mignon at Eleanor’s was the best! Do not miss Jasmine’s though! Incredible asian cuisine! Oh and stop by Cafe de Paris for desserts!

After all is said and done, you retire back to a very nice room with A/C! The best part about this resort is every single room has an ocean/beach view!  Great king sized beds, jacuzzi bath tubs, spacious balconies were all nice features. The wi-fi was really weird at this resort, once you went inside it was sort of spotty so keep that in mind. The resort is huge! Not in a “Omg this is too far to walk” way like Disney, but in a spread out roomy sort of way. I was thoroughly impressed with the grounds, the fitness facilities ( I mean a separate building just for squash?), and the main plaza surrounding the main pool.

Property map of Sandals Whitehouse Jamaica

At the end of the stay, we loaded up for the drive back in a regular shuttle. Only 6 people in a big van so we grabbed the front seats to avoid as much motion sickness as possible.  Arrived at the airport with plenty of time and came home more relaxed than before. All in all this was another hit for a trip.

Mabel Mullan and Matthew Mullan at Sandals Whitehouse Jamaica

Some tips from me, if you really spend a lot of time in your room and love room service pay the extra for concierge level. Otherwise save the money and go with the basic room. If you’re going peak times would be the only time you might need the exclusive butler service for reservations and so forth.  If you don’t plan on leaving the resort then this is a great resort, but next time I’m going to stay closer to other activities. Hope some of this info helps any of those planning to go! Leave a comment if you’ve been here before with your tips.

Life Hacks for your car

Life Hacks for your Car

I haven’t yet touched on the topic of cars or trucks in this blog yet. Which stinks because it is something I really love! However I’m not a master mechanic so I try not to get in over my head when it comes to certain topics. I do want to share some simple life hacks for your car or truck that can help you out in your day to day driving life. No I’m not going to suggest things like re-routing your windshield sprayer lines into your car so you can have your drinks filled…cool thought though. No these are some simply tips and suggestions just to make your life easier in better when it comes to your car.

 

Have a large truck or just a tight space in your garage? Use half of a pool noodle and screw it to the wall where you open your door like the picture below. Save your doors, your walls, and your time from carefully opening the door each time worrying about if you’re gonna hit the wall!

life hack for your car by using a pool noodle in your garage to protect your car door

I may not speak for all the guys here but sometimes the inside of my truck can become a little RV of sorts. At all times I carry in my truck essential items like one full change of clothes, a tool kit, roadside repair bag, maybe even some non-perishable foods, and a towel/rag.  This means sometimes there can be some “debris” lets say from eating on the road or whatever I get into.  To keep the mess to a minimum it helps to have an actual garbage can by using a plastic Cereal Container like so.

life hacks for your car by using a plastic cereal container as a garbage can in your car

Aside from my truck I have a daily driver small SUV which is really more or less a CUV. This is my roadtripper vehicle, the one that I bought to get the 30+ MPG while still being able to fit 4 people and a cooler full of fish and luggage inside.  With that being said, a small vehicle makes you get creative with your storage space.  Need to fit a long item in there but can’t lay the seats down? Ran out of room in the back but have more stuff?  Use those extra few inches of headroom by either strapping bungee cords from coat hanger/oh-shit handle to the other and boom instant fishing rod holder! For the smaller items a mesh Cargo Net can be bungeed up there for added storage space.

Life hack for your car by using a bungee cord along the roof for extra storage in your car

Finding a car you like means you’ll most likely be keeping it around for a while. Some parts may not look the same as they did when it was new. For example those foggy looking headlights.  This once does require a little bit of extra scrubbing but should key word “should” get them looking new without having to pay for it.  Use a whitening toothpaste to cover the entire lens and thoroughly rub it in. Then once it has been completely covered rinse of with water.

Life hacks for your car by cleaning your plastic headlights with toothpaste

Now this next tip is for those of us with a vehicle which might be missing a part or two. Yeah so what I don’t have a shifter knob! Who needs buttons on a dashboard?! Well if you’ve somehow lost your cup holder in your car well then grab a shoe! It’s not pretty but it can get the job done and keep your big gulp from spilling fruit punch all over your “pristine” interior.

shoe-cup-holder

Now I don’t know about you but I’m not sure which spawn of satan invented the design of the keyring. But my battered fingers and finger nails will tell you that this solution is a saving grace! Use a staple remover to help you out to open the key ring for you.  Now most of you may not have a plethora of office supplies in your garage but I would maybe suggest grabbing a pair of Split Ring Pliers which I have for fishing purposes. They’re perfect for doing this job and you can bring them with you on your next fishing trip.

Life hack for your car keyring

Lastly, there is nothing more amazing in this world than a nice hot pizza! Wait how did we get to hot pizza? Heat warmers in your seat thats how! Huh? Yeah! Use your heat warmers in your passenger seat to help keep your hot pizza warm during the drive home from! Ok so its not a warming lamp or a brick oven but hey, every little bit helps so you can savor that nice melted cheese when you get home!

Life hack for your car to keep your pizza warm in your front seat

 

I hope you picked up one or two life hacks for your car that might actually help you out! Leave a comment with any life hacks for your car that you know of and share with your friends.

Men’s Travel Duffel Bag Guide

As a high school graduation gift, I was given a moderately priced leather duffel bag from some Canadian family friends. I thought to myself two things: one-this is not a usual gift from these people but they usually have a reason for why they purchase such great gifts and two- why would I want a duffel bag? I had plenty of sports bags and gym bags from my years of playing soccer and typically used those for all my travel needs…all of them!

There comes a point however, in any mans life when he needs to grow up when it comes to what you travel in.  That doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune on some crazy duffel bag. There is a duffel bag for any trip, occasion, and personality.  A men’s duffel bag is the ultimate functional luggage piece. It can handle the simple overnighter to possibly a 4-5 day trip if you know how to pack right!  They’re extremely versatile and come in a variety of style and type. Here are some of the most common types and uses of men’s duffel bags.

Casual weekender: This duffel bag type usual comes in some sort of canvas material keeping is casual in nature but still isn’t a jansport backpack or old nike gym bag. It’s built for travel not sports equipment. The outside makes it durable and long lasting. The size allows you to fit all kinds of things like laptops, shoes, and your clothes! It’s a perfect carry-on luggage piece. The canvas materials allow this type of bag to come in the most wide variety of styles. For example this is a great Retro Canvas Weekend Travel Duffel Bag with a military style sack look or this Multi-Handle Travel Duffel . Looking for something simple and have a modern style? Try this Modern Casual Canvas Weekend Bag with it’s clean lines and simplistic styling you’ll had the perfect bag for you.

The adventure duffel: Perhaps your trips usually find their fair share of adventure which comes with you and your luggage braving the elements and getting a little scuffed up.  The duffel for you would come with waterproofing, extra durable materials, and still sophisticated enough to let people know you’re not just a lacrosse player going to a tourney.

You need something as tough as you and your trip are going to be. This Foldable Lightweight Waterproof Bag  checks almost all of the boxes and more! It’s durable enough to handle a few rock scrapes, the waterproofing will help shield you and your clothes from a sudden rain storm, and the fact that it’s foldable to stow away is just a great added bonus for your adventure lifestyle!

The business tripper: This bag is for the professional who needs a bag to match him weather he is in jeans and a button down or his power suit and tie! This bag would more than likely be in a leather material and doesn’t have 15 handles and zippers.  Keep things upscale but durable so that after a few trips, your bag doesn’t look like a ratty mess. Add some nice stitching and great design and you’ve got yourself a classic bag to last you years. Keep in mind though just as your suit doesn’t cost as little as your Levi’s…this bag may be the most expensive and for good reason. Take for example this Italian Calfskin Leather Travel Bag complete with brass hardware not just around the handles but on the bottom as well and you’ll find a nicely lined interior to protect your fine clothing.

 

There are plenty of other “types” of men’s duffel bags but these 3 should do the trick for you and allow you to have the right bag at the right time for the right occasion! Leave comment with you favorite duffel bag!

 

Case Coolie Product Review

When I came across the Case Coolie, I was in shock and disbelief to be quite honest.  The claim that really caught my attention wasn’t the fact that it would keep your drinks cold for 10+ hours, it was the fact that it could do this with NO ice! Being in South Florida we unfortunately don’t have cases of beer that come in the size that this was designed for. I know right? Why don’t they sell 30 racks in Florida?! Anyways I wasn’t going to let that stop me from giving this a solid review!

First I’ll tell you a little bit about the bag/cooler/partypack carrying awesome box that is the Case Coolie. The one we received thanks to Case Coolie, was a nice solid red! It has an outer later that I can only compare to a wet suit material like a Neoprene. This adds to its durability and as a bonus it doesn’t slide all over like a regular plastic cooler does. It has one end that encloses the case with multiple long velcro strips so it doesn’t pop open when carrying. The case is wrapped with straps to carry and has a short handle and a strap as well. The inside is lined with an aluminum lining that reflects and does the majority of the cooling work for the Case Coolie.

Here are some pictures of the Case Coolie we received for this review:

Side to open:

case coolie product review to keep beer cold without ice

 

Right side:

case coolie cooler outdoors

Left Side:

Case Coolie Gear Guide for Men Tailgating Cooler

Interior:

Inside case coolie cooler for 30 pack of beer

Now to test this cooler since I didn’t have exact sized box of beer that this was designed for I wanted to at least see if it could keep 24 beers cold and handle the weight. I packed this cooler and headed out on my Ocean Kayak. In the hot south florida sun I was half expecting my beer to arrive at my destination island luke-warm at best. However, after a few hours of paddling and the beer being pounded by the hot florida sun, I was surprised to find all of the beers were very cold! We didn’t get to test the full 10+ hours but 6-8 hours in the Florida sun is about 10 if you ask me!

With Football season quite a few months away you still have time to order one and get it early because this is the ultimate Tailgating cooler! No ice! No leaky mess or water after? Keep 30 beers cold and be able to carry it on your shoulder! No too shabby if you ask me!

If you would like you’re very own Case Coolie and live in the US, just share this post and tag @GearGuideforMen and #CaseCoolie on twitter or Facebook to enter. We will draw a winner at random to win this!

 

Hiking with Lifestraw drinking water out of a puddle

LifeStraw is a Life Saver!

Let’s face it water is essential to living, the human body can last for a month of more without food, but can’t last more than a week without water! Our bodies are made up of over 60% water and we need it to function.  Many of Gear Guide for Men‘s readers find themselves away from city water that’s been treated and often are surrounded by non-drinkable water supply. I remember myself going camping growing up and having to cart in the fresh water supply we need for the few days we would be in the woods or having to boil water in order to make it clean. Those days are gone thanks to the LifeStraw.

LifeStraw product review

The LifeStraw is basically a big straw that you stick right into any water source; a bottle, a river or even a puddle and it converts the bacteria filled water into clean drinkable water.  It does this by using advanced hollow fiber membrane technology to filter out 99.9% of waterborne bacteria including E. Coli and Salmonella. Plus 99.9% of waterborne protozoa, including Giardia and Cryptosporidium. The LifeStraw doesn’t use any chemicals to treat the water either, so there is no after taste and its BPA free!

This is an incredible tool to have whether you’re going camping, hiking, fishing, or even building an apocalypse bomb shelter and want to be able to drink water into the future! Each LifeStraw can filter up to a 1000 liters of water. So keep that in mind if you’re trying to stock up for life off the grid! You can grab them here for about $20 which isn’t bad considering how great and vital this little straw can be!

This only weighs 2 ounces and is easy to carry with you at 9 inches long and 1 inch in diameter. It meets US drinking water standards so you can trust that when you stick it into that puddle or stream you can be sure you’re getting fresh, clean, great tasting drinking water. With no moving parts to break and ease of use for everyone this is the perfect fresh water system for the outdoor enthusiast!

Daiwa mini system mini reel fishing rod and reel combo for travel with hard case review

Daiwa MiniSpin Travel Fishing Rod

For a short time I worked in outside sales and drove around so much I had to downsize from a Full size pick up truck with a V8 to a cross over SUV with a 4 cylinder engine. Needless to say this mean my “gear” didn’t fit in my new vehicle. Living in South Florida and getting the itch to do some fishing, I almost always had a fishing rod with me. My new vehicle meant things had to change.

Change can be scary. I had never owned a travel fishing rod, but after being caught too many times without one I had to get one. I chose the Daiwa Mini System Minispin fishing rod and reel because I liked the case it came in and had a pretty good reputation. Now this isn’t a rod to be fighting the big fish with, but if you’re looking to hook up with some decent size light fish then this is perfect!

Here is what you get when you buy a Daiwa MiniSpin: A hard case to travel with, which is important when hiking or basically any travel that could bang up your luggage.  The reel is ultralight and smooth, with ball bearings and multi-disc drag as well. The term ultralight just in case you were wondering is intended really to be for the size fish you’re going after. It has a 5:1 to 1 retrieve ratio. The rod itself comes in 5 pieces and is built to handle 2-6 lb test line and lures from 1/16 oz. to 1/4 oz weights.

It fits right under my car seat and is an easy grab for me to put together and throw a line in when I’m stalking some bass in the canals near my house. The size of the case is 14 x 7.8 x 2.5 and doesn’t weigh much for those considering packing issues in your hiking pack or airline luggage. I’ve used it to catch a few 1-2lb large mouth bass here in South Florida and it does the trick. Actually makes the fight a little bit more exciting if you ask me! Sometimes I have a tough time deciding between using my standard rods or this when I’m at home.

Credit Card knife perfect to fit into a wallet as the ultimate travel accessory for men

Tool Logic – Credit Card Companion

Remember that credit card company slogan “Don’t leave home without it”? The Tool Logic Credit Card Companion really should have adopted that slogan. This multi-tool, credit card thin, must have is perfect for those of us who can’t always have our trusty Leatherman multi-tool on us at all times. We all have our favorite handy dandy pocket knife we try to grab before we leave the house, but you can leave that at home and just grab your wallet with this gadget tucked inside it!  Some may call it the guardian angel…because you’ll hardly realize you’re carrying it, but when you need it, it pulls more than its weight!

tool logic credit card companion multi-tool pocketknife

This amazing wallet tool box comes with a razor sharp, 2″ stainless steel blade with serrated edge, a can/bottle opener, awl, 8x power lens, a compass, toothpick, tweezers, small/large screwdrivers, and inch and cm rulers thrown on the back. Somehow they packed all of this into one card that only weighs 1.3 oz. For those of us who like to travel light but never be caught unprepared this couldn’t be better!

All tool logic products come with a lifetime warranty too! So don’t be afraid to bust out this tiny yet powerful tool when you need to! The knife can easily cut through rope, rubber hose, and of course cardboard along with almost anything else you can throw at it.  Some of the other accessories will wear out long before this blade will let you down. You will probably use the blade more than anything but you’ll be surprised how many times you pull out the screwdrivers to tighten things or make adjustments.

This make a great gift but also gives you some reassurance that you’ll almost always have something to get the job done right in your pocket! Right now you can save %50 if you get it here:

 

shark valley national park

Shark Valley National Park

When visiting south florida and looking for something active to do we recommend the Shark Valley National Park bike loop! There are no other places like this, dare we say, in the world! This 15 mile loop gives you unobstructed access to all of the wildlife that the Everglades has to offer. You’ll see all kinds of birds, snakes, lizards, fish, and of course alligators! Now we don’t mean maybe you’ll come across one or two if you’re lucky, we mean you may have to swerve around alligators laying across your bike path. Don’t worry just use caution when you encounter them, they’re very docile and don’t seem to react much to people. As you can see by these pictures, all taken during our last visit.

Alligator basking in the sun  in Florida's shark valley national park in the Everglades

Shark Valley is located on the border between Collier and Miami-Dade county in the heart of the everglades right across from the Miccosukee Indian’s restaurant.  It is a national park and current admission is $10 (they encourage use of credit cards). Most of us don’t travel with our bikes so don’t worry they offer rentals for $9/hr, but be warned they are beach cruiser style.  If you’re lucky enough to have your own bike in this area bring it, as a 15 mile beach cruiser ride is no walk in the park (although you can walk in this park instead of bike). The parks name is funny and often gets asked “Why is it called Shark Valley”?  The everglades (and Florida in general) is very very flat and this location happens to be lower lying than its surroundings, plus it happens to be near Shark River, hence Shark Valley. Not because one part of the trail is windy like a sharks fin (seriously we heard this).

A view of the bike trail in Miami's Shark Valley park from the observation tower

At the park you’ll find a large amount of educational signs and tours. There is the common tram tours, but the more unique tour is the everglades walking tour. This tour guides you into and through the muddy waters of the everglades to really get up close and personal with the wildlife. Half way down the the 15 mile path is the 65 foot observation tower offering an amazing 360 degree view and a nice break with restrooms at the bottom.  The initial road and tower were originally built by an oil company, but the oil they extracted was too loaded with impurities to be cleaned with the older technology so they left it to become a park.

An aerial view of Florida's native North American Alligator in the Everglades

Helpful hints for those who go. If you have the luxury of timing your trip in the year, to observe the most wildlife we suggest going in the “dry” season of South Florida.  Meaning if you can go between November and March the water levels will be lower and the temperature cooler.  This means that the birds will be around, Alligators sunning, and mosquitos almost non existent!  Even though it is completely flat don’t mistake how powerful a steady wind can be on the curvy section of the path so bring plenty of water to stay hydrated. The bike ride will take about 2 1/2-3 hours to complete depending on speed and how often you stop to say “oh look a gator!”

Polaroid cube camera fish eyed angle of an Alligator hiding in the water in the Everglades

This photo taken with my Polaroid Cube camera

An alligator basking next to the bike trail in Shark Valley National Park

This photo taken with my polaroid cube camera

 

The park is located at 36000 SW 8th St., Miami, FL 33194 and is quite easy to get to with any GPS system so next time you’re looking for a way to explore South Florida, get close to nature, and be active go check it out!

 

The original nomad, portable hot tub

Hot Tub To Go: The Original Nomad

There is nothing better after a long day or hiking, fishing, mountain biking, or most anything outdoors than a nice soak in a hot tub! However most of us don’t always travel with this fine luxury! Unless we are going glamping many of us tend to rough it out and don’t get to enjoy the ultimate relaxation technique of the hot tub soak. Ingenuity and creativity have now blessed us with The Original Nomad and blessed us with the worlds first portable hot tub!!

the original nomad portable hot tub

What you need to know: Now this isn’t necessarily a plug and play type of operation. However, it is relatively simple enough to operate. They do recommend filling with the aid of a water pump if not camping near a water source. The actual system however doesn’t require anything except for a good old fashioned fire (or propane). The system uses something called thermo-syphoning to pump the water heated from the coils into the hot tub. It will take between 2-3 hours to heat up to about 105 degrees Farenheit so keep that in mind when planning on using this.

So now all you have to do is figure out where you’d going to test this amazing hot tub out at! Looks like it’s time to plan that next adventure! It’s made of durable vinyl and sets up relatively easily. Seems like The Original Nomad portable hot tub is a new must have when camping!