DPS Phantom 2.0 Review

Backcountry Skiing on DPS PHANTOM 2.0 in Rocky Mountain National Park

Permanence • Performance • Environment. That’s what DPS PHANTOM 2.0 is all about. If someone asks you about DPS PHANTOM wax, be sure and tell them that it is NOT WAX.

DPS PHANTOM 2.0 is an innovative and permanent, wax-less solution made for the base of your skis or snowboard. DPS has devised a technologically disruptive way to permanently bond their solution to any polyethylene base and create a smooth glide that lasts the life of the base. Yep, you never have to wax your boards again.

DPS has found an ingenious way to neutralize chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that contribute to ozone depletion in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. DPS PHANTOM 2.0 an environmentally friendly solution that should catch on and become widely adopted in the snow sports industry very soon.

DPS PHANTOM 2.0

Product Description from the DPS website:

PHANTOM is a permanent, one-time application, waxless base treatment that forever eliminates the need for waxing skis and snowboards.
PHANTOM’s patent-pending polymer technology offers ultimate convenience combined with great glide performance that never wanes across all snow temperatures, and for the life of a ski or snowboard’s use.

PRICE:

$99 MSRP

Ratings:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4/5) Application process

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4/5) Curing process

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5/5) Performance

Overall Rating: 4.3

Summary:

Although I was skeptical at first, DPS PHANTOM 2.0 did not disappoint. The application and curing process was fairly easy to perform at my home and performance in the backcountry was stellar. I’m completely stoked by this product and see it as one of the most innovative products to hit the snow sports industry in years. Say goodbye 👋 to traditional wax that is bad for the environment and welcome this new era of environmentally friendly, permanent base glide treatment for skis and snowboards.

MY REVIEW:

My overall experience with DPS PHANTOM 2.0 was an excellent one. However, as I applied this to the base of my DPS Alchemist Wailer 106 skis I thought to myself, “I really hope this works!” After waxing my own skis for the past 33 years I was a bit skeptical.

The first thing I noticed about DPS PHANTOM 2.0 were the package contents. The following items were in the box:

  • Packet of Part A
  • Packet of Part B
  • Rubber gloves
  • Rubber sponge
  • Cork & Roto brush tool
  • Instruction booklet

If you are the type that doesn’t like to read directions, change that right now and make sure that you read them. It is important to follow the DPS instructions step-by-step for a successful application.

Pro Tip:

Before you even begin to prepare your skis for application, take a look at the weather forecast. You must have continuous, direct sunlight during the curing process. Choose a day when you will have clear skies and direct UV exposure. Clouds are a no-go for this curing process so make sure you plan accordingly. The temperature also needs to be above 32˚ Fahrenheit.

So how did my preparation process go?

The first step was to remove any wax that existed on the bases of my skis. There are three methods that can be use to remove the wax. You can use olive oil and a roto brush if you want to put in the work or you can use a citrus based cleaner to remove it. A third and best option is to take your skis or snowboard to a shop and have them run through a stone grinder. This is the method that I chose.

*Note that I did not do any base or edge repairs for this review, but I recommend that you do so prior to applying DPS PHANTOM 2.0.

A big thanks to Carter Nuttall over at Outpost Sunsport in Fort Collins, CO for helping me with this part of the project. He ran my skis through their Wintersteiger Omega which removed the wax and provided the perfect polyethylene base surface for the DPS PHANTOM 2.0 application.

Let’s move on to my experience with the Application Process

Once I returned to my home, I setup my workbench to accommodate the skis and began the application process.

In the first step, I applied packet “A” of the permanent base glide treatment to the bases of my skis. As the instructions stated, I was careful not to drip contents onto the tip and tail so that it didn’t run off of the ski. Once the liquid part “A” was dripped onto the ski bases, I then spread it around using the included rubber sponge in a circular motion. The liquid will stain the top sheet of any ski or snowboard, so once I completed this step, I wiped down the top of the skis.

After applying Part “A”, it was time for the first curing process to begin. I found an area in my back yard that was exposed to direct sunlight. I laid the skis with their bases up toward the sky for 1 hour and let the sun’s ultraviolet rays do their bonding magic.

I knew that the skis were ready for the next step once an hour had elapsed and once the bases turned white with a chalky-like coating. The next step was to use the provided roto brush to scrape off the white coating. Once that was all scraped off of both skis, I gently wiped the bases with a microfiber cloth.

Next, I repeated the same process as above but this time with packet “B”. After dripping the liquid onto the skis and rubbing it with the rubber sponge, it was time again to set the skis outside to cure in direct sunlight. I set my timer for 1 hour and waited for the final result.

Once the second go-round of 1 hour in direct sunlight had elapsed, I noted that the bases were sticky to the touch (no white, chalky finish this time) and brought them back inside for a final scrape down.

Both skis – (bottom) with the tacky finish after curing and (top) with the final finish result

I rated the application and curing process with a 4 out of 5 stars just because of the amount of time that the skis have to sit out in the sun. This wouldn’t be possible during the winter months in some geographical locations due to many days with cloud cover and low temperatures. Alternatively, it would be possible to have a ski shop do this work for you or perform the curing process at an authorized DPS dealer that has a DPS curing station.

At the time of writing this review, there were no DPS curing stations in my area and I wanted to perform these steps from the perspective of the average DIYer to show that it is possible to do this on your own.

Now, for the best part – Performance

A few days after completing the DPS PHANTOM 2.0 application and curing process, I jumped in the 4Runner and headed up to Rocky Mountain National Park to test the finished product on a backcountry ski trip. I couldn’t wait to get onto the snow.

Applying my climbing skins to the surface of the skis proved to be no different than normal. I toured for 1.5 hours up the mountain, met some new friends along the way, transitioned from uphill to downhill and immediately noticed a smooth glide.

I had heard reports of PHANTOM being “sticky” at first when backcountry skiing but that proved to be incorrect in my testing. The second I began skiing downhill, I noticed that there was a silky smooth glide to my skis that I hadn’t experienced before.

The glide was consistent as I traversed an access road toward the area that I had planned to ski. There wasn’t much angle to the slope I traversed but my skis continued to glide quickly over the snow.

At that point, conditions were clear skies, winds out of the Northwest and the temperature outside was 32˚F. Snow conditions were hard packed with just a dusting of fresh snow from the night before.

I dropped deeper into the trees and continued to glide effortlessly through the snow while picking up speed in my turns. At this point, I did not feel any sporadic resistance from the base area of my skis like I normally do with wax. The result was again, a smooth, consistent glide.

At that point, I was stoked and ready to get after it on a steeper slope. I skied over the crest of the hill and dropped into a more challenging section. It was mostly shaded with pockets of sun, lending well to my testing.

As I picked my line, I skied both in the shade and in the sun to test how well the skis turned in crud and in softer snow. I was impressed at how well I could control my speed in difficult terrain. The glide was super consistent so I had an easy time anticipating each turn before they occurred.

As I reached the end of my run, I let my skis run out as fast as they could go and I was elated. Not only was it a great day for backcountry skiing, DPS PHANTOM 2.0 did not disappoint.

Here’s a quick list of features about DPS PHANTOM 2.0:

  • patent-pending polymer technology
  • UV light chemically bonds PHANTOM 2.0
  • faster cure time than the old 1.0 version
  • permanent, one-time application
  • wax-less base treatment that absorbs deep into the base material
  • great glide performance across all snow temperatures
  • no need to re-apply after seasonal stone grinds
  • environmentally friendly

Pros & Cons:

👍 Pros

  • Permanent, one-time application
  • Smooth, quick, and consistent glide performance
  • Does not present any long-term environmental risks

👎 Cons

  • 2 hour cure time in direct sunlight (although it is better than the 6 hour cure time with the previous 1.0 version)

DPS PHANTOM 2.0. I found out that it really does work – extremely well. Visit your local shop or order online before next ski season. This product is going to start being one of the most highly demanded products in the ski/snowboard industry. Head on over to their site now and check ’em out.

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

Morsel Spork Review

Morsel Spork sent me the mini and XL versions of their product and boy was I impressed!

One thing that I have learned from reviewing outdoor gear is that there are many great products on the market. However, I have also realized that there are some products that really stand out and provide enormous value to the consumer.

Meet Morsel Spork.

Morsel Spork is a satisfying eating instrument. Literally (I never thought I would be so positive and excited about a spork). I tested both the mini and XL versions with various types of foods while on a photography shoot for this review.

USE:

⛺️ Fork it. Spoon it. Scrape it. That’s the Morsel Spork tagline and it just about sums it up! Take Morsel Spork with you for any meal while camping, backpacking, picnicking or eating lunch while on the job.

PRICE:

$12.95 for mini, XL and XL spoon versions.

$25.90 for combo packs

Available in blue, red, green, midnight and grey

MY REVIEW:

My overall experience with Morsel Spork was out of this world. As I used this product, I was reminded of how my father-in-law scrapes every last bit of sauce from his spaghetti bowl using a piece of bread. I was always impressed by this skill but could never achieve the level of cleanliness that he could. He made me feel like the bowl could go right back on the shelf for the next meal without needing a trip to the dishwasher. With Morsel Spork, I now have a fighting chance.

The first thing I noticed about Morsel Spork was the unique rubbery edge that hugs the entire outer edge of the spoon’s surface and extends most of the way down the handle. It has a grippy feel and acts like a spatula, scraping those last little bits of food from a bowl. I was impressed how well I could scrape up all of the yogurt out of a popular yogurt manufacturer’s container.

The shape of the spoon on Morsel Spork is also very unique. The designer thought of everything, incorporating every angle that you could possibly encounter when spooning or scraping food. It helps the user get into tight corners, while also enabling clean scraping on lip edges, flat edges and odd shapes.

The spoon has a feel like no other when eating from it. The rubber is soft to the touch and both the concave and convex sides of the spoon are comfortable in the mouth. The concave side holds just the right amount of food, delivering the perfect bite.

The fork side gives you a pretty standard feel that a normal fork has. However, you can use the rough edges of the fork to also cut some stubborn food items while out on the trail.

To set your mind at ease regarding cleaning, Morsel Spork is dishwasher and boiling water safe as well as BPA free.

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

  • Made in the USA
  • Designed to last a lifetime
  • For both right and left handers
  • Constructed of hard and polypropylene plastics with FDA food safe elastomer
  • Resists scratching, staining and tearing
  • 5-in-1 design – spoon, fork, scrape, cut and stir

PRO TIP:

When eating with the spoon, you will feel a sort-of exit point on the straight edge side. If you rotate the handle toward your cheek while eating, it gives your bite the perfect finish. It seemed strange to write that but I’m that excited about getting you to try a Morsel Spork. You won’t believe how great it truly is until you give it a try.

RATING:

👍 Genius design that solves an old spork problem and enhances the user experience.

👎 I have nothing constructive to add here. This is a brilliant product!

SPECS:

  • Length: 10.5 Inches or 265mm
  • Weight: 0.8 Ounces or about 23 Grams

The Morsel Spork. Take it on your next backpacking trip or use it over lunch at work. The choice is yours, but you just might want to incorporate this product into your everyday life! Head on over to their site now and check ’em out.

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

OtterBox Soft Cooler Review – Trooper LT30

📸: John LaGuardia

A shout out to Otter Products, makers of the OtterBox outdoor line of coolers. They sent me the Trooper LT30 for this review and I’m proud to also say that I am an #otterboxambassador and #otterboxemployee. I do my best to get past any biases I have toward Otter Products brands in these reviews and I also write reviews for other outdoor brands.

Before using this soft cooler, I had purchased the Venture 45 hard cooler and used two different hard cooler samples on my outdoor adventures. One thing that I have learned from this review is that the OtterBox soft coolers truly are the bomb! They are burly and have the quality built in that you would expect from their products while being much lighter than hard-side coolers. 

Read on if you want to hear how my experience was with the Trooper LT30 soft cooler.

The Trooper is great for outdoor microadventures and can be used along the trail in all sorts of weather that mother nature can throw at you. It is a soft cooler that can be carried on your back and can be used to keep your food and drink cool while enjoying the great outdoors. 

USE:

⛺️ Lunch hikes, picnics at the park, quick outdoor overnights, family sporting events, fishing trips and road trips.

PRICE:

$299.99 (30 quart) Available in Hazy Harbor (tested) and Alpine Ascent.  

$349.99 (30 quart) Alternate colors and price point in Forest Edge (Realtree), Shoreside and Desert Oasis.

MY REVIEW:

My overall experience with the Trooper LT30 was a good one. I put this cooler to the test on a picnic in the Colorado outdoors and during multiple road trips into the higher elevations of the Rocky Mountains. 

The first impression that I received during unboxing was a great one. I was impressed with how light the Trooper was in comparison to the Venture hard coolers. It was also impressive to see how the shoulder and backpack straps were integrated together and fully adjustable. Some great engineering went into this design. Included on the inside of the cooler was a bottle opener attachment, information on the basic features and instructions on how to use the adjustable strap system.  

Also on the inside of the cooler was a unique yellow liner with a fill line for ice. Since the soft cooler folds when opening and closing, I had to be careful not to fill ice past the fill line. Otherwise, it would not close properly.   

Accessing the inside of the cooler was a bit tricky. I found the compound latch mechanism on the top of the cooler to be a bit confusing at first. The trick was to line up the notches on both sides in the closing grove before trying to snap it closed. Opening this latch proved to be a breeze, even with one hand.

The cooler’s 2″ wide shoulder straps were very comfortable even with a heavier load. I did not experience any muscle fatigue or pain with the straps. The straps have an ingenious design where they can be converted back and forth between shoulder carry and backpack carry configurations. As I was testing this product, my preference was the backpack carry configuration. 

The only disappointment that I had with this cooler was that I found myself wanting additional space. An extra 5 – 10L of space would be amazing.

The front of the cooler has two zippered, waterproof pockets and a unique mounting system that can be used for carrying accessories. The pockets are just the right size for small items like a wallet or car keys.

Here’s a few highlights: 

  • 30 qt capacity with food-grade liner
  • Quickly convert from shoulder carry to backpack carry
  • Wide opening for easy access
  • Leakproof seal secures contents
  • Accessory mounting system
  • Water resistant exterior pockets
  • Premium grade thermal insulation
  • Keeps ice up to 3+ days
  • Solid, heavy-duty base

PRO TIP:

At the time of writing this article, the cooler only came with a side attached bottle opener. Currently on the OtterBox website, they are including a carabiner style, bottle opener accessory.

RATING:

👍 Lightweight, rugged design.

👍 Reliable cold storage for 3+ days.

👎 Latch is a little tricky to close.

SPECS:

Dimensions:

21.00” L x 17.00” W x 11.00” D

Weight: 6.69 lb / 3.04 kg

The OtterBox Trooper LT30 Soft Cooler. You may have just found your perfect adventure cooler! Head on over to their site now and check ’em out. 

➳ 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.

Outdoor Research Highcamp 3-finger Gloves

The Bottom Line: As an avid skier and one who has always worn five-fingered gloves, Outdoor Research Highcamp 3-Finger Gloves keep my hands warmer than traditional leather racing gloves. With a use for every sport—alpine or backcountry skiing, winter fat biking, snowshoeing, or other cold weather activities—I came away from this review asking myself, “Why have I never tried mittens before?”

Read more of this review published on outdoorproject.com

OtterBox Elevation 64 Growler Review

Otter Products gave me the Elevation 64 Growler for this review and I’m also disclosing up front that I am a part of #TeamOtterBox and am an #OtterBoxEmployee. I do my best to get past any biases I have toward Otter Products brands in these reviews and I also write reviews for other outdoor brands.

One thing that I have learned from this particular review is that I should always have extra water with me in the car, on the field and out in the wilderness. I often have neglected having extra water with me due to weight in my bag or just due to sheer laziness. I will no longer head out for an adventure without extra water.

Read on if you want to hear how my experience was with the Elevation 64 Growler.

The Elevation 64 Growler is great for carrying extra water during long excursions and keeps it ice cold for a long period of time. The same would be true for keeping hot drinks hot, all day long. However, I only tested cold water in the Growler for this review.

USE:

⛺️ Outdoor overnights, car camping, sporting events and cross-country road trips. Oh yea, I almost forgot –  take it to your local pub and get it filled up with your favorite beer!

PRICE:

$69.99 (64 ounce) Available in stainless steel

MY REVIEW:

My overall experience with this rugged OtterBox Growler was a great one. I put this growler to the test on a four hour hike in the Colorado outdoors and during multiple lacrosse games as a bottle re-filler for my son’s team. I guess you could call me the team water boy.

The first impression that I received during unboxing was good. The packaging was simple, yet stylish and the directions were easy to follow. Honestly, it’s a growler, so the most helpful instructions were how to keep it clean.

The growler came with their basic screw-in lid and has a plastic loop on the top. I found that even upside down in my bag for an extended period of time, the lid did not leak at all.

On the outside, the stainless steel finish glistens in the sun and looks pretty cool. However, I would prefer some additional color options because I can’t stand how stainless shows fingerprints. This is just a personal preference.

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

  • 100% stainless steel for years of use and abuse
  • Internal copper lining maintains ideal temp
  • Screw-on, leak-proof lid — not a drop is lost
  • Sweat-resistant design, leaves no rings
  • Keeps liquids cold up to 7 days
  • Backed by OtterBox Limited Lifetime Warranty

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

PRO TIP:

Get rid of those ugly fingerprints by periodically rubbing a light coat of Orange Glo furniture polish on the outside of the growler. This works great for preparing it for pictures. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to do this before the photographs I captured.

RATING:

👍 Lightweight, rugged design.

It is amazing how long it keeps water ice cold!

👎 One color.  The stainless steel color is nice,  but it shows those ugly fingerprints. It would be better in some trendy, powder coated colors. Realtree camo would also be a hit in the outdoor market (hint, hint).

SPECS:

  • Height:
    11 Inches
  • Volume:
    64 Ounce

The OtterBox Elevation Growler. Fill it up and enjoy cold or hot drinks for days! Head on over to their site now and check ’em out.

➳ 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.

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

JohnLaGuardia.com-20180311-17-33-46

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.

Phoozy Thermal Capsule™ Review

A big shout out to eXclaim IP, LLC, makers of Phoozy, for allowing me to capture some photographs and write a review for this space age, mobile phone product. Is it a case or a sleeve or both? You decide.

Read on if you would like to hear what I think… 

Over the past few years, I have been continually frustrated with my iPhone batteries dying in the cold while alpine skiing, ski touring or on outdoor photography adventures. In the past, I would literally take my phone out of my pocket and it would die immediately after taking a picture or video. This would put a damper on my day because I prefer to rock out to my music playlists while charging down the mountain. The only way to get it to turn back on was to plug it into a charger – something you can’t do on a chairlift or while tree skiing.

Overheating iPhone batteries have also been a problem in the summer time, especially at the neighborhood pool and on the patio at my favorite pub.

The Phoozy has come to my rescue and if you struggle with these same issues, it will enhance your outdoor, mobile phone experience as well.

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USE:

Outdoors while exposed to extreme cold or direct sunlight and generally anytime you need to ensure that your phone battery doesn’t discharge from the cold or shut down due to overheating.

Available for iPhone, Samsung, Google, Huawei and other mainstream mobile phones.

PRICE:

$29.99 Silver with other color options coming soon. Gold is now available in select retail stores and on Phoozy’s Amazon page.

Online reports rumor a new XP3 series with Realtree Edge™ and Realtree Fishing™ camo colors. These are expected to become available Spring 2018. That’s right around the corner!

I am sending vibes to Phoozy in hopes that they will also send a few of these new designs my way for a follow up review. If they do, I will setup some giveaway contests so that you can benefit from this product too. 🙏

MY REVIEW:

My overall experience with this product was a good one. I put it to the test in the Colorado mountains skiing and on a local outdoor photography excursion in the late afternoon sun.

The first impression that this product gave me when I opened the box was one of intrigue. I pulled it out of the box and noticed that it is extremely light. The reflective material caught my eye in a good way and their marketing material was an interesting read too. I like the clever marketing play on space suit technology and how they have adapted that into their product. However, this product isn’t just for astronauts.

Build quality on this product seems to be good. Stitching is solid and burly while both the outer and inner materials are excellent. Two sewn in tabs at the top make it very easy to open and close the Phoozy, even with gloves on. The velcro just inside the opening at the top is strong and grippy as you would expect.

As far as drop protection goes, I did accidentally drop the product with a phone inside from a height of about 3 feet. However, it was difficult to tell how protective it really was because my phone already had a case on it, inside the Phoozy. There was absolutely no damage to the phone or the Phoozy when I dropped it.

I did not get a chance to float their claim of the capsule being buoyant in water. This could be a benefit if using it while boating in the summertime or while at the neighborhood pool, but I would recommend having a thin, waterproof case on the phone in addition to the Phoozy. The Phoozy is not fully waterproof, only water resistant, so be aware of that.

Overall, I would highly recommend this product for outdoor, winter activities in the cold.

I would also like to see a larger Phoozy produced for storing up to 5 DJI Mavic Air drone batteries. This would be a huge benefit during the winter in the backcountry.

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PRO TIP:

In a pinch, when your phone is not inside the Thermal Capsule™, place your phone camera face down on top of the padded Phoozy to protect the camera lens. It can double as a comfy little bed for your mobile phone while at your desk.

RATING:

👍 Lightweight, padded design at an affordable price.

Definitely extends the life of the phone battery in extreme cold and keeps the device from overheating in direct sun.

Thin to medium thick phone case can also be on your phone while using the Phoozy.

Tabs are great for ease of use and it has just the right amount of padding on the inside to protect your screen.

👎 Slick finish. I didn’t like the insecurity that I felt on the ski lift as I pulled it out of my pocket to change the music on my phone. The case felt like it was going to slide right out of my hand and fall out of bounds on the slope below.

SPECS:

  • Dimensions:  7″ x 4″
  • Materials:  Chromium shell™. This shell provides military grade protection from heat, cold and solar radiation. The Impactor Core Layer™ provides military grade drop protection and buoyancy in water. A Space Penetration Layer™ gives the shell durability and the Softtouch Protective Liner™ keeps your touch screen from getting scratched inside the capsule.
  • Protection:  Reflects more than 90% of the sun’s energy with military grade (810G 516.6) protection from solar radiation. Rated from 200°F to -32°F.
  • Note: This is not a phone cooler or heater. It prevents overheating in the sun and extends battery life in cold temperatures.

The Phoozy. I recommend you take one on your next outdoor adventure so that you get the optimal battery life out of your mobile phone.

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

How To Layer Clothing For Your Next Outdoor Adventure

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📸 ©johnlaguardia – Patagonia Nine Trails LS shirt. 100% Polyester spun jersey with Polygiene® permanent odor control.

ver the years, I have experimented with various fabrics on my adventures and have learned a lot along the way. I am no expert on this subject and I have to admit that it wasn’t until recently that this all started coming together for me. I thought I would write a quick article about how to layer clothing in hopes that it adds value to your life.

I have worn everything from Merino wool to cotton T-shirts to heavy fleece, in search of the ultimate comfort while running, hiking, biking and skiing. The fact is that in each of these situations, layering clothing and the weather’s elements may vary. However, the concept that I am sharing with you today can be applied to any sport in any climate. Here goes…

The Concept

If you think about it, this topic has a lot in common with the true originators of layering. How did we as humans originally learn about layering? It was by observing things in our natural world. Observing Marino sheep has been one way. I really like the following picture taken from the Icebreaker.com website because it really gets the point across on what an effective layering system consists of. In short, it is a base layer next to your skin, a mid-layer for warmth and an outer layer for breaking the elements (wind, rain, snow).

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📸 Icebreaker.com – Merino sheep, Austrailia

Layer #1 – Base Layer

This next-to-your-skin layer is normally where most people go wrong. We are all very accustomed to wearing cotton T-shirts in most, daily situations. However, the cardinal sin in layering clothes is using a cotton T-shirt as your base layer. Don’t do it!

Cotton tends to get soaked with sweat and takes a long time to dry. Therefore, if you use cotton as your base layer, once it gets wet with sweat, you are in for a long, cold day in winter or a wet and clammy day in  the summer.

Your base layer needs to be made out of a fabric that wicks sweat from your body as you perspire and disperses that sweat to the outer layers so it can evaporate. This will keep your body dry so that you stay cool in the summer months and avoid hyperthermia during outside activities in the winter.

Some examples of excellent base layer fabric are merino wool or synthetic fabrics such as polyester. There are some great brands on the market today such as Icebreaker, SmartWool, Polartec PowerDry® and Patagonia Capiline®.

Layer #2 – Mid Layer

The mid layer acts as your insulation and traps heat in the air molecules close to your body. It is best to use  goose down, wool or fleece for this layer and it is worn over the base layer.

So which one do you choose for your mid layer? It depends. If you know you will be in a dry, cold climate, your best bet would be goose down like a down pullover sweater or full zip jacket. However, goose down doesn’t like damp, wet climates. In that type of climate, it would be best to go with Merino wool or fleece which are both reliably warm and even when damp or wet.

Fleece is a common option and is what you will find in just about every outdoor enthusiast’s closet. Fleece comes in 3 different weights – Light-weight, Mid-weight and Expedition-weight. One disadvantage to fleece is that the wind tends to go right through it. However, it is an excellent choice as a mid-layer if your outer layer can combat any wind that Mother Nature throws at it.

Layer #3 – Outer Layer

The outer layer is sometimes referred to as the “shell”. This is the layer that will be exposed to the elements such as wind, rain or snow on the outside and the layer that is breathable from the inside to let any sweat moisture escape. Make sure you purchase an outer layer that is big enough to allow room for your base and mid-layers.

There are many types of outer layers to choose from. Some are completely waterproof, making water bead up and run off the fabric. Others can be semi-waterproof or “soft”, meaning highly breathable and stretchy. Insulated shells can have fleece sewn into the inside of the jacket for added warmth.

When choosing an outer layer for your layering system, take a look at your base and mid layers then consider the type of climate you will be in along with the activity you will be participating in. For some instances, you may want a lightweight, packable layer just for rainy climates while hiking in the Summer and Fall. On the other hand, you might require a more durable, waterproof and breathable outer shell for mountaineering use in extreme environments.

Conclusion

This layering concept is not new for most, but a lot of people get it wrong and regret it when they get outdoors. At the end of the trail, be sure to have worn a combination of layers that is just right for your body’s comfort, the climate and the activity.

Experiment with your layers to find what works best for you while doing the activities you enjoy. I would also encourage you to purchase from reputable outdoor companies that engage in practices that minimize their impact on the environment. I’ll have to follow this article up with something about that in the future, but until then, live adventurously!

You might also like my base layer review which you can find here.

5 Lessons I Am Thankful I Learned This Year

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I would like to take a time-out and reflect on some things that I learned this past year. As I sit back in my comfy chair and look out the back porch at Mount Werner in Steamboat Springs, I realize that I have a lot to be thankful for. As you read this, take a step back too and think of the things you have been blessed with this year. Here are 5 lessons I am thankful I learned this year…

Just Start.

This concept revolutionized the way I think about things, especially in my photography business. For so long I had been putzing around taking some pictures and never sharing them with the world. I had some ideas about how I could sell prints and share images on social media, but I just never got around to getting them posted. I also had a desire to fly drones and create some cool videos, but I had stories in my head where I told myself that I didn’t have enough experience or training to produce good content.

This all changed when I decided to put myself out there and do it. I started being more intentional about getting outside and taking photographs. I learned that the more I would get out and shoot, the better I got. I started posting my images on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I took on a couple of photography jobs that were totally outside of my comfort zone and I nailed them. I made enough money from those jobs that I was able to purchase a drone and then I learned how to fly. Once I learned how to fly, I looked into ways that I could make money with my drone. I learned that I needed an FAA Part 107 certificate in order to do that, so what did I do? I studied, sat for the exam and aced it. Now I do drone work for all kinds of businesses.

The key was that I never thought twice about all of these things. I just started, took baby steps, celebrated the successes, learned from mistakes and kept moving toward goals throughout the process.

If you have something that you have been wanting to do, but keep putting it off, just start and see what happens. You will never get anywhere with it unless you put in the effort to get moving.

Be Kind.

I have had people tell me that to get anywhere in life, you do anything it takes to get there, including stomping on others along the way. That is complete B.S. and the worst advice anyone could give.

Pay it forward. Be nice to others and give back. You will get so much more satisfaction in life.

Take the time to care for others around you and I don’t just mean family and friends you already know. Help someone on the street corner. Hold the door open for another. Be kind and strike up a conversation with the person bagging your groceries at the grocery store. Buy a beer for the ski tech that tunes your skis this season. Give your mail person and your milk delivery person a gift card for Christmas. Do you get the idea?

Go out of your way to be nice to someone, even when you are having a bad day. That brings me to the next one…

Have Fun.

“Quit telling yourself that Mondays suck and make them better.”

It’s up to you and it is a choice. The way we act and the attitude we have is a personal choice. We can choose to be grumpy and synical or we can choose to be happy and have fun with the situations we experience in life. I’m not saying everything is peachy keen all the time. Rather, it is up to you to choose joy in the things that life throws at you.

Stop looking at the dark side. Stop bringing others around you down because of your negitivity. Just plain stop.

I learned this concept In San Diego at High 5 Leadership and it has completely changed my life. If you are looking to better yourself next year, I highly recommend you invest in this course. It will change your life in many ways and bring you immense value. I will link to their website in the comments below, but for now, keep on reading. We are almost to the end of this article.

Be Yourself.

As I look back on my life, I see times when I tried to do things that I really didn’t enjoy because I thought those things would make me successful. It turns out that those things were just a waste of time and I could have been using that time for other life fulfilling activities.

The best version of yourself is you.

Don’t try and impress others by being something you are not. People see right through that.

Be you. Do you. Share what you are passionate about. Go all out! 

Get Outdoors.

Last, but definitely not least, is that I have learned to get outside more. I have found that the more I do this simple thing, the better I feel.

Getting outside forces our bodies to move and with movement comes better health.

Here are a few more benefits that scientists say we realize when we get out into the great outdoors:

  • Reduced stress
  • Increased weight loss
  • Stronger immune system
  • Improved quality of sleep
  • Increase in Vitamin D intake
  • Better memory and attention span
  • Improved self-esteem

When you embark on an outdoor activity, you automatically embrace adventure. You don’t have to be on a multi-day trip in the wilderness or on a mountaineering trip to Mount Everest.

Getting outside can be as simple as walking in the park, visiting a waterfall or doing some light trail running.

For more tips on this topic, check out my article, 5 Excuses That Keep You From Getting Outdoors

You can also get more great outdoor advice, tips on how to get better photos and reviews on stylin’ outdoor gear by signing up to receive my monthly email called LaGuardia’s Outdoor Dispatch

Are there things that you learned this past year? What are you thankful for? Share your comments with us below. It will help us all grow together!

How To Get Ready For Ski Season

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So you are a little behind this year on training your body to handle all of the strains that ski season puts on your core, legs, knees and feet. Don’t worry. It is not too late!

I’m using the term “ski season” generically here, so all of you snowboarders out there, don’t be offended. This article is for you too!

Here are some suggestions that will help you get ready to shred the gnar at your favorite resort or in the backcountry.

Mind Over Matter

The most important piece of advice that I can give you is to train your mind. You’ve got to get out of bed in the morning and start working on your body, consistently. If you are not a morning person, put your exercise routine on your schedule. If you don’t, other things in life will take precedence and it won’t happen. Be intentional with your training and I promise, you will see great benefits!

Exercise

Cardio – You’ve got to take your cardio game to the next level. Doing activities that increase your heart rate and push your body to its limits are essential here.

  • Go for a long run or winter bike ride – 2x/week
  • Workout at your local Cycle Bar – they will push and motivate you – 2x/week
  • Do burpees and super set them with jumping jacks – 3 reps of 60 seconds, 3x/week

Core & Strength – Here are some exercises you can do at home to get in shape for ski season.

  • Monday
    • Complete 3 cycles of the activities below, each at 30 sec
    • Jog in place for active rest in-between each exercise below
    • Alternating side lunge and core rotations
    • On your back bicycles
    • Alternating squat kicks
    • 3 punch and high-knee pulls
    • Burpees with no jumping
  • Tuesday
    • Complete 3 cycles of the activities below, each for 12 reps
    • Jog in place for active rest in-between each exercise below – 30 sec
    • Dumbbell row push-ups
    • Alternating dumbbell lunges with bicep curls
    • Standing dumbbell presses
    • Leaning dumbbell rows
    • Standing dumbbell tricep extensions
    • Dumbbell ab twists
  • Wednesday
    • Complete 5 cycles of the activities below, each for 20 seconds
    • Superset – jumping jacks and prison squats
    • Superset – high knee taps and chair step ups
    • Superset – commando planks and reverse crunches
  • Thursday
    • Complete 5 cycles of the activities below, each at 10 reps with 10 standing knee to elbow crunches in-between each activity.
    • Lateral lunges
    • Decline push-ups
    • Reverse plank kicks
    • Bench dips
    • Shoulder touch planks
  • Friday
    • Complete 3 cycles of the following, each at 10 reps
    • Superset – floor dumbbell flys and floor dumbbell presses
    • Superset – standing shoulder presses and lateral dumbbell raises until failure
    • Superset – dumbbell tricep kick backs and overhead tricep extensions
  • Saturday
    • Complete 3 cycles of the following, each at 10 reps
    • Superset – alternating side leg lifts with dumbbells and then sumo squats
    • Superset – glute bridges with dumbbells and then chair squats
    • Superset – calf raises and reverse dumbbell lunges
  • Sunday – take the day off so your body can rest and recuperate!

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Equipment

If your equipment is not in tip-top shape, you are in for a lousy season. Get some tuning gear and learn how to tune your skis, snowboard or split board. If you don’t have the extra time to devote to ski tuning each year, let your local professional ski shop take care of your tuning for you.

Transportation

Be sure that you have a safe, reliable means of transportation into the mountains. Check your tires each season to make sure you have enough tread. I highly recommend spending the extra money for a set of winter snow tires. They make a big difference over all-season tires for driving on icy and snow packed roads.

In addition, stock your car with essentials you might need along the snowy roadways. Make sure you have an emergency kit in your car at all times, along with a shovel, cooler of food/water and a sleeping bag for each passenger.

Anything else?

What have I missed? Tell us in the comments below and help others prepare for a great ski season this winter!