Black Diamond Storm Headlamp Review

I got the Black Diamond Storm headlamp a couple of years ago after I got tired of Black Diamond Storm Headlampreplacing the duck tape holding the back of my old headlamp together. When I was looking at headlamps, I knew I wanted something relatively light, but still powerful, and I wanted it to be versatile, with a more than a couple of options for adjusting the brightness levels. The Black Diamond Storm headlamp is all of that and more.

First off, the variety of lighting options is amazing, and the headlamp helps you see what you’re doing in any situation. The main light is a QuadPower LED, with 160 Lumens, and is ridiculously powerful. The maximum distance for it is 70 meters, more than enough for most of the things one would be doing. If that’s too bright, you can switch to the two SinglePower LEDs, with 25 Lumens. While the main LED is better for looking down the trail or a distant objects, these are much better suited for up-close tasks like walking around your campsite, reading a map in the dark, and talking to someone at night without blinding them. The last set of lights is the pair of SinglePower red LEDs, which is good to use if you don’t want to kill your night vision.

Modes
So those are the lights, but what can you do with them? A lot of things! The Storm headlamp has one main button that can be used to adjust the lights to suit all of your needs.

  • Clicking the button once turns it on and off, and each time you power it off and then on again, it will switch between distance and proximity modes (the single LED and the two white LEDs).
  • While the headlamp is on, holding down the button will let you dim the light down from 160 to 25 Lumens. Just release it when you get to the desired brightness.
  • With Black Diamond’s PowerTap technology, once you dim the light, you can quickly switch between low and max brightness by tapping the housing of the headlamp.
  • Holding down on the button while the headlamp is off turns it on with the red night vision LEDs. Do the same thing to switch back to normal lighting.
  • Triple-clicking the button when the headlamp is off activates strobe mode.
  • Lastly, holding down the button for 6 seconds while the headlamp is off will lock the headlamp. (A blue light will appear in the battery power meter window, indicating it’s locked.)

This last mode is extremely useful. Locking it prevents the headlamp from powering on if the button is pressed while in your backpack, so you’ll never have to worry about accidentally running down the battery. You can check the battery level by simply turning it on, and the battery power meter on the side of the headlamp will light up for 3 seconds, letting you know how much power you have left.

Lastly, there’s the housing of the headlamp. The headlamp is waterproof up to 1m of water for 30 minutes, so basically you’ll be safe as long as you don’t take it snorkeling. I’ve used it multiple times in the rain, and it still works perfectly. Another cool feature is that the battery casing can be opened with the clip on the headband, allowing you to easily change batteries on the the trail. (Or at home, since you may not want the weight of extra batteries in your pack.)

There were a couple things I didn’t like about the Storm headlamp. At 3.9 oz, it’s heavier than some of the other headlamps I’ve used, and may take some getting used to. The battery case is also pretty cramped with 4 AAA’s, and it took some work to get the lid completely closed.

Some may find the weight and $49.95 price tag off putting, but I thought that the wide range of settings and quality construction of the Black Diamond Storm headlamp definitely made up for it. If you’re looking at headlamps, I’d definitely recommend checking this one out!

REI Half Dome 2 Plus Tent Review

Tents are arguably the most important items for camping and backpacking. This makes getting the right tent that will perfectly suit your needs very important. My family and I have stuck to tents from REI for a long time, as they are very well made and are both comfortable and durable. Currently, I have the REI Half Dome 2 Plus tent. I’ve had this tent for a couple of years now and it has held up very well both on camping and backpacking trips. I really like the design of the Half Dome 2 Plus and its features make it a very good tent.

Set Up
I really like how easy it is to set up the tent and it usually only takes a few minutes for me to REI Half Dome 2 Plus get it up by myself. The poles and the points of attachment on the tent and ground cloth are color coded, which makes determining the correct direction to lay everything out a breeze. Hooks on the side of the tent allow you to simply hook the tent onto the poles. Here’s a little extra info about the pole structure from REI:

-Advanced frame design combines DAC® Pressfit poles with a unique dual-hub architecture to provide area-wide headroom with nearly vertical side and end walls
-Exclusive Tension Truss architecture leverages bound seams to provide low-weight structural stability and to increase interior volume

Design
The tent design is very nice, as I mentioned earlier. The way that the tent attaches to the poles creates a lot of room inside the tent. The mesh windows that cover much of each side of the tent allow for maximum ventilation and the doors are built very well into the tent. There are two doors, which is great for people tenting with others because it eliminates the need for people to crawl over each other to get to their sleeping bags. The design of the doors’ shape and zippers works well, as the zippers can be used single-handedly, which makes getting in and out of the tent is very easy.

Door of TentREI has some things to say about the bottom of the tent: “Hybrid floor combines sealed seams and bathtub curves to create a waterproof floor that stays taut for easy door zipper operation and to maximize volume at end walls”. I find this to be very true and there is absolutely no leakage of water into the tent. There are also multiple areas inside the tent to store gear. There are two mesh pockets at one end of the tent and a mesh pocket on the roof of the tent. (The mesh also makes it easy to find your gear in the pockets). There are also a few loops that can be used to suspend gear from the top of the tent.

Rainfly
The rainfly is very easy to put on the tent and when staked in to the ground with guy lines, it becomes very taut. This diverts rain very nicely. Additionally, the rainfly is resistant to UV degradation. Finally, there are four ceiling vents on the rainfly. These have Velcro on them and can easily be opened or closed to control ventilation for camping in hotter weather.

Additional Parts
The Half Dome 2 Plus comes with guy lines and stakes, which are used to secure the tent. There is also a pole straightener tube that allows you to fix any bent poles. The poles, ground cloth, and stakes all have their own bags (the guy lines are stored with the stakes) which makes organizing the tent materials and packing/unpacking the tent a lot easier.

Now, you may be wondering what the difference is between the Half Dome 2 and the Half Dome 2 Plus tent. The Half Dome 2 Plus is in fact 10 inches longer and 4 inches wider than the Half Dome 2, which makes it a better choice for people over 6 feet tall. Otherwise, the extra 10 inches is great for extra storage room for gear you don’t want to leave under the rainfly outside. The extra 4 inches on the width (although not a big difference) make the tent more comfortable for 2 or 3 people.

REI Half Dome 2 Plus OutsideI have never had any problems with the Half Dome 2 Plus tent and it has been a great tent for both camping and short backpacking trips. I few friends of mine also have the Half Dome 2 Plus and they have also been very happy with it. If you’re looking for a good tent for multiple uses and all weather camping, definitely take a look at this tent. It may be the one for you, too!

Thoughts on Crocs

When I first got my crocs a few years ago, I wasn’t to keen on them. When compared to my sneakers and hiking shoes, they just seemed so weird. However, since then I have been a lot happier with my crocs, mainly due to their wide range of uses and how comfortable they can be.

Crocs are great for casual water sports. I’ve used them when I went small boat sailing last summer, and they worked very well then. I have also used them in the past when I’ve gone kayaking and canoeing. They have been especially useful in canoeing. Aside from being great to wear in the water when pushing the canoe off of the beach, crocs are very useful when used as pads to kneel on when canoeing solo or as the man in the stern (back) of the canoe. (They’ve saved my knees multiple times!) Furthermore, crocs have been great when I’ve used them as water shoes while inner tubing or crossing rivers on hikes and backpacking trips. The only problem I’ve ever had with them occurred when the piece that holds on the heel strap popped off and I couldn’t find it. Because crocs are completely rubber, if put under stress this part could come off. However, you can easily get a replacement piece for a few cents.

Crocs certainly have their limitations, however, for the things you can use them for, they work pretty darn well!

Coleman Perfectflow 2-Burner Propane Stove Review

For the past few years I have been using the Coleman Perfectflow 2-Burner Stove for cooking meals when out camping. You could say its my go-to stove for camping. For me, it has worked flawlessly, which is exactly what everyone wants from their gear, aside from a good price (and this stove is amazing for its relatively cheap price). After all, gear that doesn’t work well doesn’t really help anyone, does it?

As displayed in the name, the Coleman Perfectflow 2-Burner Propane Stove has two burners. I would say that for general camping this would be a lot more beneficial than a single burner stove. Two burners allow you to cook multiple things at once, such as pancakes and bacon (if car camping ), or allows you to simultaneously make food and boil water (for cleaning dishes, for oatmeal or for hot drinks). As in the Coleman description, the stove uses a Pressure-Control System that basically means that the heat on both burners, which are both 10,000 BTU burners, will be consistent. Additionally, the Coleman Perfectflow stove uses PerfectHeat™ Technology, which allows the burners to be fuel efficient.

Important parts of the Coleman Perfectflow 2-Burner Stove include the wind shields on either side of the stove. Displayed as a WindBlock™ wind shielding system by Coleman, these handy little parts prevent wind from taking heat away from the burners and from blowing the flames out. That can certainly be very irksome.

The other part of the stove that I like is the stove top/cook top. (That’s the aluminum contraption that you put over the burners and that pots and pans rest on). All you have to do to take it off is lift it out of the holes that hold it in place. This makes it very easy to clean.

The Coleman stove is powered by propane. This fuel is easily accessible and can be bought at almost any recreational sports store like Sport Chalet, Sports Authority, or REI. You can even find fuel canisters at places such as Von’s or Ralph’s. I always get the smaller Coleman propane canisters (they are easy to store and transport and each one has approximately 1hour of burn time on high, or 4.5 hours on low), but there are other options as well. For example, it is possible to use a larger fuel tank and connect it to the stove with a special hose. (I believe Coleman sells these).

The stove has a small opening on the right side that is used to screw in the pipe that connects to the propane canister. This pipe is bent at each end so when cooking, the fuel canister is tilted towards the pipe opening. (Tip: If the fuel canister is has very little fuel left and won’t sustain a medium size flame, try turning the connector pipe and canister so the canister is resting upside down.) There is also a simple locking button mechanism that keeps the stove closed when it’s on its side. Just press the lock button in and lift the stove lid to open it.

Just to clarify, the Coleman 2-Burner Stove is definitely not for backpacking. It weighs ~10lbs. 13oz. and it’s dimensions (when closed) are: 14.75 in. x 23.25 in. x 5.5 in. I would imagine it wouldn’t be that fun hauling that thing around on backcountry trails! However, for car camping or camping with a group, I would highly recommend taking a look at the Coleman Perfectflow 2-Burner Propane Stove.