Review

Coffee

Uniterra Nomad Review

There are about a thousand ways to brew a cup of coffee on the go. But espresso, specifically? That’s a little trickier, especially since multiple variables, notably pressure, need to be just right. For that reason (and because it’s one of the most unique espresso machines we’ve ever laid eyes on) we were itching to give the Kickstarter-launched Uniterra Nomad a thorough try to see how well it might fulfill our caffeine cravings both within and well outside of civilization. As it’s name hints the Nomad doesn’t rely on the electrical grid: instead you’ll need to heat some water yourself and pump its aluminum lever to get brewing. Read on for our full review.

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PhotographyReviewTech

Review: Blade Chroma Camera Drone

Whether they’re pocket sized or too large to carry without specialty bags or cases, drones are increasingly mainstream, particularly of the camera kind. We’d never flown a large quadcopter before, at least not until getting our hands on this Blade Chroma Camera Drone to review from Horizon Hobby. As you’d figure we were very excited from the get go: they sent over a Blade Chroma with Stabilized CGO3 4K Camera and ST-10+ controller, which, while a mouthful, basically translates to big drone that shoots highly stable 4K video. Our perspective is that of a layman, not a drone hobbyist, and yours probably is as well, so read on to learn more about what this drone can do.

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HomeProductivityReview

Review: InMovement Elevate Desktop DT2 Sit-To-Stand Desk

Chances are you sit too much. We undoubtedly do, and it’s always seemed to be an integral and impossible-to-avoid downside to working with a computer. But there’s hope with the advent of sit-to-stand desks in recent years, the specific benefits of which we won’t go into. These range in price from sub hundred dollar portable stands to several thousand dollar motorized desks that raise themselves at the push of a button. We got our hands on one of InMovement’s Elevate Desktop DT2 sit-to-stand desks — which lies somewhere in between at a reasonable $400 — and played slash worked on it for a few weeks to get a good idea of what it’s all about. Click on through to read more.

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GearReviewSports & Outdoors

Review: Great Eastern Cutlery Pocketknives

In a small Pennsylvania town lies an even smaller factory that’s hard at work pumping out small batches of pocket knives daily. But Victorinox these ain’t; instead, Great Eastern Cutlery focuses on recreating the traditional American pocket knife, extinct for nearly a century, using a 200+ step process combining hands-on techniques with machine manipulation. And while they’re offered in a dizzying array of colors, finishes, and blade options, we were fortunate enough to get to play with a Tidioute Ranch Hand in Antique Green Jig Bone, a two-bladed knife measuring in at just a hair under 4-inches closed.

Initial impressions go a long way, and the first thing we noticed is its not-insubstantial heft and its obvious elegant yet vintage feel. Unlike most modern knives fitted with plastic handles, this Ranch Hand employs real cow bone instead that’s both dyed and jigged in-house, resulting in a solid grip that looks as good as it performs in hand. The knife’s two blades – a clip point accompanied by a spey – both pull out using the nail knick and a bit of force, feature a half stop that adds a 90° step before full extension, all in all reassuring us that the blades won’t ever slam back on our fingers despite the absence of a lock. We found their edges to be surprisingly keen even before a good sharpening, easily outshining our battle worn Leatherman.

So are these knives for you? That probably depends. A bit more maintenance – i.e. wiping them down after use and applying oil occasionally – is required to keep the blades shiny and completely rust-free since they’re made of carbon steel and not stainless. On the upside, they’re easier to sharpen, retain their edge longer, and develop a distinct patina with time, all in all properties we embrace. From the perspective of craftsmanship and aesthetics we’ve got nothing but good things to say, these knives handily eclipsing any and all modern equivalents we’ve ever laid our hands on in the looks department. And while most don’t come packed with features like newer multitools, some do include fish descalers/degorgers, hoof picks, or a bottle opener.

Find this ranch hand at Great Eastern Cutlery, then hit up their main page to learn more – $98

GearPacksReviewTravel

Review: Osprey Farpoint 55

On a recent expedition to Southeast Asia, we had the pleasure of lugging around our gear in one of Osprey’s many Travel Trek Backpacks: The Farpoint 55. And lucky for that, because our plan B was a not-quite-ergonomic big garbage bag. As its name suggests, this pack can be crammed with about 55L of goods of which 15L are conveniently detachable through the zip-away removable daypack, lined with a zippered front slash pocket perfect for quick-access items. With heavily padded top and side carry handles, a peripheral LightWire™ alloy frame suspension, and compression straps inside and out, this pack can be comfortably carried through first class airport lounges or zip-lined across the typical jungle creek.

Of note, every Farpoint zips open wide like a carry-on, meaning it’s a cinch to get at your stuff inside without much digging. And like a carry-on, we were able to sneak it onto every flight cabin by popping off the day pack, both cutting down wait time and the risk of lost baggage en route to every destination even though it doesn’t technically meet the TSA’s size requirements. But should you decide to check it instead, a zip-up cover protects its straps from conveyors and careless baggage handlers. Else, its resilient 210D double ripstrop nylon construction, 3.7 pound weight, and forty pound capacity just add to its versatility as an ideal backpacking adventure companion. So spin the globe to a far point and see where the wind (and a lot of jet fuel) takes you.

Grab one at Amazon or learn more at Osprey – $180

BikeReviewSports & Outdoors

Review: Quad Lock Bike Mount

In our experience, there are two kinds of smartphone bike mounts on the market. The first type accommodates one particular phone model in a fixed-size case, the second, phones of varying sizes, albeit with disadvantages such as screen obstruction or having to place the phone in a large, sloppy pouch. Quad Lock is a pure example of the former, giving us – at least on paper – everything we’d wanted in a bike mount, at the cost of slightly reduced versatility (more on that later). Naturally, we ran one through the ringer to see how it performed in real life, so read on for our full analysis.

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AppleGearPhonesReview

Review: AL13 iPhone Bumper

Covering your iPhone’s sleek industrial lines with unseemly cases is borderline blasphemous, but unfortunately the device’s vulnerability to scratches, dings, and shattered glass forces our hand. We’re not about to wrap our device in one of Apple’s minimal but flimsy plastic bumpers either, and fortunately other options exist, notably designed by m’s enticing AL13 Aluminum iPhone Bumper. We put one through the wringer over the last 50 days to see how it would hold up against everyday abuse, so click on through to read our full impressions.

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GearReviewVices

Review: Ploom Pax

Ploom’s Pax, easily the sleekest loose-leaf vaporizer on the market, is more than a little intriguing. Of course, photogenicity does not always entail functionality, so we put it through some use to get a feel for this elegant, compact vaporizer, and broke it down into categories for simplicity. Click on through to read more.

Design: A hair longer than 4 inches, Pax’s smooth anodized aluminum shell is durable and discreet, aided by the lack of any visible buttons, and sports a single, tasteful X-shaped LED indicator on one side. The oven lid sits flush with the device’s base and is secured in place thanks to two cleverly placed magnets, though it’s easily removed by pushing on one side.
Conclusion: less garage-door-opener-from-the-’80s (we’re hardly exaggerating), more premium smartphone.

Usage: Pax has 2 buttons – how’s that for easy? While neither is visible at first glance, Pax’s on switch is its mouthpiece. Press it down to pop it out and fire up the oven; press it back in to turn it off. The second button is hidden below the mouthpiece (remove it for access), and cycles through temperature settings, indicating the selected mode on the LED indicator (low/yellow = 370° F, medium/orange = 390° F, high/red = 410° F). Also worth mentioning is that setting the device down for more than 20 seconds turns it into standby mode, i.e. lower heat, and eventually, off, preserving battery life. While we’re on the topic, this vape’s internal li-ion battery is good for a handful of sessions, charges in an hour or two by placing it top-down on the included dock, and can’t be accidentally overcharged. If you must override standby, roll Pax between your hands like a tube of dough to kick it into Party mode, indicated by dazzling, rapidly changing colors on the indicator.To take you through a typical use start to finish, it all starts off by packing the oven – more for more people/duration – then clicking down the mouthpiece to turn it on. In roughly 30-60 seconds, a thick, soft cloud awaits, indicated by the LED changing to green. Once you’re done and Pax has cooled down, dump the remains, which are not ash but rather heavily toasted leaves. Obviously, packing it at home and enjoying it on the road is totally doable (and totally recommended) – though not behind the wheel, depending on what you’ve got in there. In our experience, we found that packing the oven to one-third capacity did the trick efficiency-wise, though it really comes down to preference.

Maintenance: If you’re planning to fire Pax up often, maintenance is crucial, though not particularly demanding (we’ve also scanned through their cleaning guide so you won’t have to). A thorough cleaning, recommended roughly once per dozen uses, involves pulling out the mouthpiece and oven lid, then pushing a pipe cleaner moistened with isopropyl alcohol through the stainless steel vapor tube until the oven screen pops out. Floss the pipe until it’s clean, then rub most everything else down with isopropyl (save the temperature toggle), wait until dry, and reassemble. And, if your mouthpiece action gets a little sticky, the kit includes a food-safe, water-soluble lubricant to apply (propylene glycol, if you were wondering), though we haven’t had the need.

Wrap-up: Basically, Ploom’s sleek, pocketable device is here to stay, sets the bar for portable vaporizers (hell, it sets it for other, smoking-unrelated electronic devices, too), plus is discreet enough to see some serious use in the field. Find it at Pax – $250