Grangers Down Care Kit Review

Grangers sent me their Down Care Kit and I gave it a try in my home washing machine. This product was a breeze to use and only took one wash cycle!

Meet Wash + Repel.

For this review, I tested Grangers’ Down Care Kit on my North Face Thermoball jacket before going outdoors on a photography shoot.

USE:

⛑ This solution has been specially designed to restore loft while cleaning and proofing down insulation in your favorite outdoor garments.

PRICE:

$17.47 – includes formula and three dryer balls

MY REVIEW:

My overall experience with this Down Care Kit was a good one. As I used this product, I was reminded how much I tend to neglect cleaning my outdoor gear, especially my down jackets and sleeping bags. With Grangers’ Down 2 In 1 Kit, I now have no excuse.

The first thing I noticed about the kit were the unique dryer balls that are included in the box. They add some excitement to a seemingly dull and boring washing process. The dryer balls look cool, feel great in the hand and you can juggle them while you wait for your washer load to complete its wash cycle.

Seriously though, this kit was very simple and straight forward. After pulling the bottle and the three dryer balls out of the box, I followed the clear instructions on the back of the box. In summary, the instructions on the box are as follows:

  • 2 caps of liquid per jacket or 3 caps per sleeping bag
  • Place item into washing machine and run a 30 degree Celsius cycle (86 degrees Fahrenheit) with slow spin
  • Tumble dry on low/medium for best results

I let the washer do its job and then my wife tossed the jacket and the dryer balls into the electric dryer. Although the instructions also mention to periodically check the garment and separate the down to avoid clumping, we missed that step. The jacket still turned out just fine out of the dryer, but I could see where this would be important with a larger, outdoor product such as a sleeping bag.

Here’s a quick list of features listed on the Grangers website:

  • Specially formulated to clean all down and down-filled articles
  • Maximizes breathability
  • Powerful cleaning
  • Durable water-repellency
  • Bluesign® approved

PRO TIP:

When I last checked, this product was no longer available on the REI website. However in the United States, you can pick it up for a few dollars less on Amazon.

RATING:

👍 Easy to use with a washing machine

👍 Instructions are easy to follow.

👍 Adds water repellency to down insulated clothing

👎 A discrepancy exists between the instructions on the box and the instructions that are published on the Grangers website. This has to do with the amount of liquid to use in the washing machine. I chose to fill only one cap for this test and review which worked out great.

SPECS:

  • Volume: 10 fluid ounces
  • Sustainability: Meets Bluesign® criteria

Grangers’ Down Care Kit. An awesome way to maximize the performance of your insulated down clothing in an easy-to-use, washing machine compatible liquid. Head on over to their site  now and check ’em out.

➳ Grangers provided equipment and associated materials for this review. All photos are a courtesy of LaGuardia Adventure Photography. That’s me!

MindShift Photography Backpack Review

A big Thank You to ThinkTank Photo, makers of the MindShift line of photography bags. This was a great opportunity for me to capture some photographs and write a review for them. After reviewing these bags, I have joined up with them as an affiliate. Check out their great products here.

One thing that I have learned from this review is that I may have a fetish for photography backpacks! There’s a unique allure that draws me in every time I see a new one enter the market. I guess I just haven’t found the perfect one yet. However, this one comes very close.

Read on if you want to hear how my experience was with the MindShift BackLight 26L and 36L backpacks.

The BackLight is great for outdoor adventure photography and can be used in harsh conditions. It is a backpack that can store all of your gear while getting you comfortably to your outdoor destinations.

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USE:

🎒 Day hikes, overnight backcountry sleepovers, hut trips and just about anything else you can throw at it in the great outdoors.

PRICE:

$249.99 (26L) Available in Charcoal, Greenfield or Woodland Green

$289.99 (36L) Available in Charcoal or Woodland Green

MY REVIEW:

My overall experience with this product was an excellent one. I put the 26L to the test in the Colorado outdoors while hiking, skiing and filming some clips for my YouTube channel.

The first impression that I received during unboxing was pleasant. Both of the bags were lightweight and well packaged. Included on the inside of the pack was a configuration card that gave some great examples on how the inside of the bag could be configured. The card got me up and running quickly.

The inside of the bag has a modular design and contains removable sections of padded fabric that can be moved around and adhered with velcro. This makes the storage in the main compartment extremely flexible for carrying DSLR bodies, lenses, filters and a cornucopia of other tools for outdoor photography.

Accessing the inside of the bag was easily done through the rear-panel. I found the zipper on the rear panel to be a bit stiff which slowed me down a tad. It wasn’t a huge deal, but I did miss a photo of a deer while hiking because of it. The zipper got stuck around one of the corners so it delayed me as I reached for my camera. Although this happened, it is still an efficient way to use this backpack.

The bag’s shoulder straps are some of the most comfortable straps that I have ever worn. I did not experience any muscle fatigue or pain with the straps. I also attribute this to the beefy waist belt that handles the majority of the load of the pack. Also very comfy, the waist straps are easily adjustable with gloves on and have straps on the outside for attaching accessories. My only negative feedback with the waist straps is the material on the inside that rests against your body. By the end of the first day of use deep powder skiing, the material had rubbed off and was obviously very worn. I’m not sure if it was rubbing against a zipper or something on my ski jacket, but I would expect this not to happen on a new backpack with a similar use case.

The front of the pack has dedicated compartments that fit a laptop up to 15″ along with a small tablet. I was able to not only carry those items mentioned, but I was also able to stash away a base layer and a mid layer of clothing too.

The pockets are extra deep! Upon returning from a ski trip, I had put my extra battery pack below my laptop and it got pushed way to the bottom. When I returned home, I had totally forgotten where I put it, checked all the pockets in the bag and still couldn’t find it. Two weeks later, I found it deep in the bottom while reaching down there for something else that had fallen in. This backpack can serve as an all-in-one day pack and photography bag. It really has the perfect size and combination of pockets.

There are a lot of additional features too! Here’s a quick list of everything else, directly pasted from the MindShift website:

  • Daisy chain, ice axe loops and additional lash points for expanding your carry capacity
  • Includes tripod/monopod mounting system on front or side
  • Block and tackle style adjustment on the waistbelt provides 2:1 mechanical advantage
  • Flap-keeper neck strap allows you to work out of the bag, unencumbered
  • Two large water bottle pockets with cinch cord fits a 32oz Nalgene
  • Side compression straps with locking SR buckles for additional lash points
  • Air channel and lumbar support on rear-panel for all-day comfort
  • Ergonomic zipper pulls are easily gripped with gloves or frozen fingers
  • Highest quality YKK zippers, 420D Velocity and 420D high-density nylon for long lasting durability and strength
  • Front stuff pockets for trail essentials: headlamp, gloves, chargers
  • Adjustable dividers for large telephoto lenses, traditional photo gear or personal items
  • Top zippered pocket for quick access to essentials
  • Interior mesh pockets for storing filters, batteries, cables, etc.
  • Seam-sealed rain cover included
  • Compatible with the Tripod Suspension Kit, Filter Nest/Hive and Switch Case

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PRO TIP:

With the waist belt still buckled, remove the shoulder straps from your shoulders and spin the pack around your waist to your chest. Let the bag hang from your hips and access the gear from the rear panel compartment. This is the quickest way to access your photography gear without having to set the bag onto the ground. Very efficient!

RATING:

👍 Lightweight, rugged design with extreme comfort built-in.

Burly waist and shoulder straps are not only comfortable, but are fully adjustable with easy to use webbing.

Rear panel compartment allows for quick access to gear on or off your body.

Looped zipper pulls are easily put to use, even with gloves on.

Room for a 15″ laptop, small tablet and some extra clothing layers in addition to photography gear.

👎 Rear panel compartment zipper is not fluid and smooth when trying to quickly access gear. It seems to get hung up a bit around the corners of its rectangular path.

After a full day skiing deep powder and accessing the pack multiple times, I noticed that the material on the inside of the waist straps was very worn on one side.

SPECS:

  • Exterior Dimensions:
    11.4” W x 20.3” H x 7.9” D
    (29 x 51.5 x 20 cm)
  • Interior Dimensions:
    10.2” W x 19.3” H x 5.9” D
    (26 x 49 x 15 cm)
  • Laptop:
    10” W x 15.3” H x 1”D
    (25.5 x 38.8 x 2.5 cm)
  • Tablet:
    9.3” W x 10.2” H x 0.6” D
    (23.5 x 26 x 1.5 cm)
  • Weight:
    3.9lb (1.8kg)
  • Volume:
    26 Liters

The MindShift BackLight. You may have just found your perfect outdoor photography backpack! Head on over to their site now and check ’em out.

➳ MindShift provided equipment and associated materials for this review. All photos are a courtesy of LaGuardia Adventure Photography.

OtterBox Dry Box 3250 Review

Look no further. The OtterBox Dry Box 3250 has been redesigned with a more modern look, better functionality and up-to-date colors. This is the go anywhere box that will keep your stuff safe and dry in the outdoors.

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Use:

Great for traveling, hiking, backpacking, hunting, fishing and outdoor photography.

Price:

$39.99

My Review:

My overall experience with the OtterBox Dry Box 3250 was an excellent one. I put it to the test both in my photography studio and on an outdoor micro adventure.

In the studio, I found the dry box to be just the perfect size for stowing all of my laptop adapters, memory cards, batteries and miscellaneous photography accessories. It allowed for quick access during a recent product photography shoot and when I dropped it on the concrete floor, there wasn’t even a noticeable scratch on the dry box.

On adventure, I carried some small photography accessories, car keys, wallet and a mobile phone safely inside the case. It was also the perfect size to stow away in my daypack. Opening the latches each time I reached for my gear was effortless, unlike past dry box models from OtterBox and their competitors. I want to emphasize here that the new design comes with thumb-saving latches. Yes!

The only thing that I found lacking was the fact that it had side loops without a real place to clip a carabiner and did not include a loop of paracord or rubber to secure a carabiner to it. Paracord would be a nice addition to the design in the future.

Although I didn’t get a chance to review flotation in water on this adventure, I tested this functionality at home and it passed with flying colors, keeping my stuff dry and floating at the top of the water. You would have to place something extremely heavy inside the case in order to completely submerge it, if that is even possible. After re-opening the box, I found that there was very minimal water beading around the seal and no water entered the inside compartment.

The OtterBox Dry Box 3250 is a killer design that not only exceeded my expectations, but looked cool doing it too. It’s available in Hudson (white/blue) which is my personal favorite, Ridgeline (tan/green), Black (black/black) and Trail Side (RealTree camo).

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ProTip:

If you stow your mobile device and keys in the dry box together, protect your device’s screen by first wrapping it in a small microfiber cloth so it doesn’t get scratched.

Rating:

👍 size, easy open latches, durability, waterproof design, weight and great color choices

👎 side loops are too narrow for a carabiner and require a loop of paracord or rope (not included)

Specs:

  • Waterproof & stackable with 55 cubic inches of storage space.
  • Can be submerged up to 90 feet deep for 30 minutes.
  • Ultra durable polycarbonate construction.
  • Stainless steel hinge and latch pins.
  • Lock holes for security.
  • Lined with polyethylene foam.
  • Backed by an iron clad, one year guarantee.

The OtterBox Dry Box 3250. I strongly recommend you take it on your next adventure!

➳ Otter Products, LLC provided equipment and associated materials for this review. John LaGuardia is an employee of Otter Products. All photos are a courtesy of LaGuardia Adventure Photography.