Thursday, December 25, 2014


All too often,  it's easy to get caught up in our constant moving, fast-paced, tech-laden world.  Take time today to reflect, the actual reason we celebrate.  T.R.E.A.D. Outdoors wants to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas. 

Luke 2:15-16 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


If you have ever tried to find an affordable, durable, portable, and lightweight solar charger, then you are aware of the many varieties available on the market.  Even with all of the different choices, it is a little bit difficult to find one with all of these qualities in the same unit.  A few months ago, as a favor for a friend of a friend, and a distributor for the portable solar chargers, I was sent a unit to try out and provide some feedback. 

I must admit, when I first received the charger I was somewhat skeptical just holding it.  It felt a little on the light duty side and I was somewhat dubious if the overall performance of the battery life and charging level were going to be adequate.  After trying it out only a short while, my skepticism was no longer.  

The Solario solar charger is made of rugged, rubberized, weather resistant-type materials and is a great little unit that is very comparable to one of my well-known brand name portable solar charger, but is smaller and costs less.

When charging the unit with nearly clear or clear skies, it did take quite a while; around the 5-7 hour mark when the power level was 25%.  Charging it on a computer or using an outlet was definitely the most efficient way to go.  When fully charged, I was very impressed with its ability to hold a charge.  In my experience, it sat well over a week and still held the same power level.  It would have sat longer, but I needed to use it.  I believe it would have gone days more holding an adequate charge.

I used it to charge both my iPhone (4S) and my iPad 3. The lowest I had my iPhone battery was at 20%. I used the Solario and fully charged it in just over 3 hours and the unit still had 25% power remaining. The iPad, I only used this one time to bring the battery up a little. I did not try to fully charge the iPad since they require quite a bit more charging power than the phone.  The LED flashlight gives off a nice light and is an added bonus to the unit. I love the slim, lightweight design. Very easy to carry just about anywhere as a reliable charging unit for your mobile device.  Perfect for your purse, backpack, ATV, snowmobile, boat, motorcycle, or any other outdoor or day to day need.  I would definitely recommend it.

So if you are in the market for a very portable, rugged solar phone charger,  T.R.E.A.D. Outdoors has teamed up with SJS Direct and are offering a discount when you purchase a Solario solar charger through T.R.E.A.D. Outdoors' website.  Click on the link below and you will be directed to their product page on  When making your purchase, be sure to use the promo code "TREADFAN" and you will receive 10% off of your purchase!  
Perfect for the outdoor tech user or prepper!

The Solario solar charger.  It comes with a mini carabiner, a USB cable, and an Apple adapter.  Because the charging cord was not connected, I found it handy just to loop it in the opening of the device without hindering use.

The upper left side of the unit has a rubberized door that helps keep the weather or invasive type environments out.

Under the hinged rubber door, there is a USB and a micro USB port.

Built with rugged, rubberized type materials to endure the outdoor users lifestyle.  At 4.6 ounces and slightly larger than an iPhone (4S), it is an easy carry for great backup.

The four LED lights represent the remaining battery power.  Each light represents 25% power.  One light is 25% battery remaining.  Two lights is 50%, three lights is 75%, and all four is 100%.

The round rubberized button on the front is the power button.  Push once to indicate the amount of remaining battery power.

Double click the power button and activate the built-in LED flashlight.
The back of the case sports a rubberized honeycomb shape for extra grip.

The upper right side of the unit has a second USB port.

Because of its rugged exterior, I had no apprehensions attaching the charger to the front of my four wheeler.

The mini carabiner makes it super easy to attach to equipment or gear.

"Solar power is not about fashion, it's about survival."  --Sir Norman Foster

#solarcharger #prepper

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


Recently I have been really fortunate to have had the opportunity to review some really great gear.  One of the latest items is a reflective safety dog vest from SafetyPUP XD.

My husband and I are pretty particular about our gear and the gear we put on our dogs.  We often put our gear to the test, especially our young, very active bird dogs.  Kate, is our two year old black lab and Elsie, is our year and a half field-bred English Cocker Spaniel.

They both often object to wearing anything but their collars, but after wearing these vests for only a few minutes, they were back into their regular brush busting routine. Because both of the dogs are dark in color, with these vests on, it made really easy to find them at a glance, even in thick underbrush and low light conditions. The reflective effects are great and easily picked up with a light source. The material of the vest is lightweight but very hardy and so far very weather proof (with the moderately heavy rain fall that we experienced). They also provided a degree of warmth. The spaniel was appreciative of this after getting wet and cold during a day hike. As the weather gets colder and because of the high water resistance qualities, using a fleece undercoat with this vest on top for added warmth and protection will definitely be an alternate option.   

This vest is very easy to put on and the adjustable Velcro straps around the neck and chest make it versatile for many breed types.  These come in three sizes:  small, medium, and large.  Over all I was really impressed with both the quality and fantastic visibility that these vests offer.  I highly recommend them in a variety of environments and situations.

With that, I am proud to announce that SafetyPUP XD and T.R.E.A.D. Outdoors have teamed up and are offering a discount when you purchase a SafetyPUP XD vest through T.R.E.A.D. Outdoors' website.  Click on the link below and you will be directed to their product page.  When making your purchase, be sure to use the promo code "TREADFAN" and you will receive 10% off of your purchase!  This would be a great addition to Fido's Christmas stocking this year!

The SafetyPUP XD reflective dog vest.  
(Picture courtesy of Amazon)

All of the graphics are highly reflective.

Very nicely put together with quality stitching.

Adjustable Velcro strap.

Very cute graphic paw prints are on both sides on the hind end.

Very water and tear resilient 300D oxford weave fabric.

Kate in her element.

Elsie sporting her vest on the trail.

Elsie appreciated the longer length vest 
to cover her "badonkadonk".

This was taken at dusk under a thick forest canopy.

Kate on the trail at about 50 yards.

Kate on the trail at over 100 yards (small but still very visible).
(Click on picture for larger view)

This is what it feels like when I take Kate out...
in three places at once!  
(This picture was a bonus shot from Google+.  It is three pictures in one.)

My only minor concern with the vest was that the Velcro seemed somewhat lightweight and was a bit narrow to stay on more active and working type dogs.  The newest version however, has since fixed this potential issue.  The vest is now made with a wider, industrial Velcro to ensure security.  This will be especially important with active or working breeds.  As the owner of two very active bird dogs, I would highly recommend this product.

“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent.  To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring--it was peace.”   --Milan Kundera

#safetypupxd #birddogvest

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Every year, I try to challenge myself to try something new.  This year might have been my favorite new challenge thus far.  Cruising through one night, I accidentally happened to stumble upon a video from a funny redhead guy from Minnesota who calls himself, 'Shug'.  Most of his entertaining, yet informative videos concentrate on hammock camping.  I had never even heard of actually sleeping in a hammock while camping but was immediately intrigued.  

There are a few main components to hammock camping.  There are alternate set ups but the typical set up is usually the hammock with its suspension, an under quilt, a top quilt, and a tarp.  In future posts, I will further discuss and post each component in detail as well as the world of hammock camping as a whole. 

First, let's start with the top quilt.  Jack, from the cottage gear making company, Jacks R Better in Yorktown, Virginia, was very generous in allowing me to try a loaner top quilt and share my thoughts.

What is a top quilt?  Just that.  A quilt that goes on top (and around) you, but not so much underneath.  The under quilt is for your backside but I will talk about that in a future post.  The quilt is much like a sleeping bag but slightly modified.  Unlike a traditional backpack type sleeping bag, a top quilt doesn't have a zipper, it is often slightly shorter, and does not have a hood for your head.

So what are the benefits?  The top quilt is generally quite a bit lighter than your standard backpacking type bag because it does not have as much material or hardware attached.  It is very lightweight but it still keeps you very warm.  It can be compressed down to an impressively small size.  It can be used for the ground sleepers as well as the hammock hangers.

This is the Jacks 'R' Better regular length, 2.5" loft, Sierra Sniveller.  It is made of a soft, quality 1.1 oz rip-stop nylon with DWR or "Durable Water Repellent".  DWR is not an additive but rather a level of protection achieved in the weaving and production process of the material.  The filling is 800 fill power goose down that is treated with Activ-Dri; a new treatment for down that acts as a moisture repellent.  It is 52" wide from the shoulders to the hips, tapers down to 42" wide at the foot end, and is 78" long.   Its temperature rating is 25-30 degrees.

View from the hammock.  
There is not much more I love than to be snugged in on a hammock on a chilly day while being lightly rocked and listening to the sound of the wind through the trees or the rain tapping on the tarp.  I used it in temperatures ranging from 60 degrees (Fahrenheit) down to the lower to mid 20's.  I know that I was pushing the limits on the lower end, but I am confident that I would have been very comfortable even with temperatures in the mid to upper teens.
(Just a side note:  I am a very warm sleeper so if you are considering buying this type of sleeping gear, please consider your sleeping temperature type.)

The bottom of the quilt has cinch cords with cord locks to form the "foot box".  The foot box is the only part on the quilt that is fully enclosed like a regular sleeping bag.  Making this adjustable allows for temperature to be easily regulated in various types conditions or can be opened up entirely to act as a normal blanket type quilt.

Foot box cinch cords opened all the way.

Made in the U.S.A.

In addition to the cinch cord closure on the end of the foot box, there is also a Velcro closure with a snap.  The total length of the  generous sized foot box reaches from your feet to the upper ends of your calves.  (I am 5' 7.5" tall.  For those are over six feet tall, you should probably consider the 'long' model).

On the head end of the quilt, it also has a cinch cord along with a snap that can be fastened behind your neck to keep it in place while sleeping and to keep the drafts out.
A unique feature on this quilt is that it has a Velcro closure in the middle that can be opened and slipped over your head.


The quilt then acts like a Mexican sarape which is really warm and comfortable.  
I'm sure with the right shoes, it will complete the look!  
(Picture courtesy of Jacks R Better)

The quilt also comes with its own stuff sack

On the bottom of the stuff sack has a creatively crafted grab handle.

The top of the stuff sack closes with Velcro

The top is then rolled down while pressing out excess air.  
The compression strap is tightened around the end to compress it to about the size of a honeydew melon.

My husband and our spaniel thought they needed to try out the hammock set up too.  Less than ten minutes after I took this picture...they were sound asleep.

Be sure to check out Jacks R Better's website to see all of their great products.  This company was founded by two retired military gentlemen.  

As far as cost goes, yes initially, this might seem a little on the higher end, but, because these come out of a small shop and not mass produced, extra care goes into each one.  Not only are they made with high end materials, but the workmanship is very impressive.

Since I discovered hammock camping, I can honestly say that I have never slept better in my life.  I have grown to love it so much, I actually put one in my "woman cave" the house!  Working nights, this is where I sleep during the day.  For comfort sake, I would actually rather sleep in my $19 hammock than our expensive bed!

#hammockcamping   #topquilt   #jacksrbetter


 From T.R.E.A.D. Outdoors...have a very safe and happy Thanksgiving!

(Click on image to enlarge)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


It's no secret that I love outdoor gear.  I get excited about all of it.  New fabrics, new materials, new ideas.  I almost love packing the gear for the adventure just about as much as the adventure itself.  The downside to packing that gear, is at some point, I am most likely going to be using a bungee cord.  I love them, but I don't love them.  The biggest hang up I have with bungee cords are the open hooks.  Necessary yes, but at times, a royal pain in the you know what when more than two of them get together.

So when Jeff, owner and inventor of the LoopRope sent me a 5' LoopRope with two 3.5" LoopClip carabiners to try out, I was immediately impressed!  This is one of the most unique ideas I've seen in awhile.  I took a few months and really put this thing to the test in various environments and situations and I didn't even come close to using it to its full potential.  The best part of it is, I couldn't find a thing wrong with it, nor would I change anything about it.

Made from quality, durable materials, the LoopRope comes in several lengths in various colors.  Two LoopClip carabiners are also included with each cord. 

The five foot LoopRope with two 3.5" LoopClip carabiners.  
The cord itself is 1/4".

The 'anchor knot' is usually the basis 
for one end of the LoopRope.

These are one liter fuel bottles.  
They both stayed and road like this on 40 miles of ATV trails.

I just happened to throw this onto my pack for an outing to try it out and it was very convenient to attach things as needed.

Because of its integrated loops, it is really easy to securely
 attach just about anything of almost any shape.

It worked perfectly for holding down the parcels on the way to the post office on the shelf I built for the FJ Cruiser.  

To see how I made the storage shelf, here's the link to the post:  

The two stainless steel carabiners that come 
with the cord are very sturdy.

I understand that the 'ultralight' and 'light' crowd would cringe at the thought of taking this piece of equipment.  I however, am one that opts to bring gear that brings many uses at only 7.5 ounces.

Easy to hang the pack along with whatever else gear that 
can hang from the loops around the tree.

"The glove box"
The LoopRope even worked as a make shift leash.

The front of our utility trailer has a tie down rail.  
The LoopRope was easily attached to fasten down the seven gallon water jug.

Use it for attaching gear to your car roof rack, secure your gear in your pulk, bundle firewood and kindling and use a loop as a handle, a tool hanger, hang wet gear, hauling decoys, rod holder in a vehicle, or suspend it between two points and place your rods vertically in the loops without them falling over.  Great for your RV, snowmobile, and boat.

The uses for this thing are only limited by the imagination.  I would highly recommend this product not only for your outdoor adventures, but for your everyday needs as well. 

"I think it's very important to have a feedback loop, where you're constantly thinking about what you've done and how you could be doing it better."  --Elon Musk