No-Spill Gas Can

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This No-Spill Gas Can has a push button spout that almost completely eliminates spilling gas when you fill a small fuel tank on a lawn mower or weed whacker. The first time I tried it, I filled a chain saw to exactly the spot I wanted. Since most chain saws have small and oddly-shaped tanks, I was really impressed.

Most gas cans have an unreliable separate vent cap that you have to remember to open and close, and even worse, a leaky main cap that lets the gas vapor escape when you leave it in the sun and the tank can’t hold the pressure. The No-Spill can has a single push button that controls both pouring and venting, and the only thing to remember is to push the button with the can level to relieve the pressure. (And don’t make the mistake I did, and look into the nozzle, because you get a puff of gas fumes in your eyes. I’m lucky I wear glasses.)

No-Spill also has a line of fuel cans that meet CARB (California Air Resources Board) requirements, and that are required in many states. I live in Ohio, and had never even heard of this requirement, though I’m aware that gas cans pressurize in the sun, and I make sure to keep them in the shade.

-- Matthew Robbins  

No-Spill Gas Can
2.5-Gallons (other sizes available)
$22

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by No-Spill



The Paleo Solution

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Having been in the the CrossFit community for a few years now, I’ve heard a lot about two dietary protocols: the Zone diet and the Paleolithic diet (Paleo for short). I had tried out the Zone diet for a bit more than a year, but never found the performance or feel-good gains compelling enough to stick with it strictly for more than a week or two at a time. After reading Robb Wolf’s The Paleo Solution and trying the Paleo diet for a few weeks I became a quick convert.

Robb’s book outlines the benefits of eating Paleo, the specifics of how to follow the protocol, the evolutionary basis for it, all while providing evidence found in scientific studies. Anyone who has read books like Gary Taube’s Good Calories, Bad Calories, Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, or has seen Fathead or Food, Inc. will find that they appreciate Wolf’s explanation of the Paleo diet.

I started eating Paleo in early 2011 at the urging of folks from my CrossFit gym. My original intentions were not to lose weight or overcome any specific malady, but simply to feel and perform better. In short, it has fulfilled both of those goals extremely well.

At its core, Paleo intends to imitate an ancestral human diet, with a focus on foods that are available today including meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, roots, and nuts, while specifically excluding grains, legumes, dairy products, salts, refined sugars and processed oils.

Since switching to Paleo, I have found I have considerably more stable energy throughout the day, and am able to perform better and to my fullest capacity in demanding CrossFit workouts. I am also happier with the things I eat. While it didn’t apply to me, I have no doubt that the nutrition prescribed by the book can be a powerful tool for weight loss and fighting numerous chronic illnesses. Robb’s book and Paleo websites everywhere are chock full of folks who struggled their entire lives with ailments from diabetes to chronic fatigue and irritable bowel syndrome until they discovered this diet.

Robb Wolf isn’t the only person proffering the eating like our Paleolithic ancestors: he follows closely on the heels of Loren Cordain, author of The Paleo Diet, and Mark Sisson, author of The Primal Blueprint, but I have found his work most accessible.

– Drew Stephens

[Editor's note: I asked my friend and personal trainer Khaled Allen, who I know has had some experience with the Paleo diet, to add his perspective to this review.-- OH]

The principles behind the Paleo diet are very sound and are reflected in other lifestyles that do really promote health. Traditional (but non-caveman) diets always reflected a low starch, low sugar approach. In The 4-Hour Body, Tim Ferriss writes about his experience helping clients lose weight, and he pretty much espouses the Paleo approach, though he isn’t so hung up on specific types of foods.

I got into Paleo through Mark’s Daily Apple. Mark blogs about his version of health, called the Primal Blueprint. Technically, I was eating Primal, since I eat yogurt and butter. However, the fact that all these health movements are going in the same direction suggests that its all legit to me.

I did try strict Paleo for about a month last spring. It went well, but I found it unnecessarily cumbersome, and the stress of trying to strictly follow the diet counteracted the health benefits.

The Paleo approach is handy because it keeps things simple. There is no calorie counting, and as long as you stick within the recommend food types, you can’t mess up (usually). When you start allowing some types of grains, or some kinds of dairy, most people get messed up, which is why the strict, no dairy, no grains approach of Paleo works so well. That said, it doesn’t account at all for individual variation in diet or culture, and people have a tendency to go nuts on the bacon and steak and ignore the fact that Paleo really is mostly vegetable. It doesn’t account for raw or fermented foods, which if you’re being true to Paleolithic eating was probably more significant than the types of foods being eaten.

I’d say as long as you understand the principles behind Paleo, you should be alright. No refined sugar, minimal starches, avoid hard to digest foods (modern industrially processed grains, dairy, and legumes). With this in mind, you could get away with fermented organic dairy such as yogurt, grass-fed butter, or even brown rice (which I save for days with a lot of exercise, since it is gluten free).

With all these caveats, it does work. People lose weight because they are keeping their insulin low, and by cutting out all the processed foods and chemicals, they get a lot of health and vitality returned.

Khaled Allen

 

The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet
Robb Wolf
2010, 320 pages
$14

Available from Amazon



Cambridge SoundWorks Portable Speaker System

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This is, hands-down, the best portable audio system I have ever heard. It takes a few minutes to set-up and pack-up, and you need a power source to run it, but wow! does it have great sound! I have used it for parties, outdoor BBQs, and on vacation and it never fails to sound great. The included speakers and amplifier, the necessary cables, and your iPod, all pack into the included hard case (which also contains the subwoofer).

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My only gripe is that the connections are all clip-connections rather than banana connections, but Radio Shack and other sources sell small banana-style plugs to use with clip connections, making set-up much easier (no frayed wire ends).

I can’t recommend this enough for anyone who wants audiophile-quality music they can take with them to a cabin, condo, RV, or to their backyard as needed. The price is higher than your standard portable units, but Cambridge Sound Works constantly has sales and coupons on the net, making the price a little bit better. In any event, it’s well worth even the full list price!

There are few things I have come across that are “best of class” but this is certainly one. The only other thing I can think of that I have found to be as perfect are metal tongs for cooking; I use those more than any other piece of kitchen equipment to the point that I don’t see how I ever cooked without them.

-- Torgny Nilsson  

Cambridge SoundWorks Model 12 Portable Speaker System
$375

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Cambridge SoundWorks



Paramo Directional Clothing System

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Normal “breathable” shells have three great failings. The worst is that they’re just not that breathable, especially in rain, and extra-especially for people who carry on high-energy activities when it rains. This is because they’re based on a pored membrane that works by letting water vapour go from dryer to wetter air, so when the air outside is wet you’re stuck with living with your own sweat. Their two other failings are that repairing rips with a needle is disastrous, because water flows through the holes the needle makes in the membrane, and that getting dry once you’re soaked – whether by your own sweat or a fall in a river – takes forever. Softshells try to get around some of these problems, but at the cost of letting in moderate to heavy rain.

A company that has found the answer is Paramo with their “Directional” shell fabrics. Instead of using a membrane they use a “pump liner” that sucks water away from the inside of their shells. So sweat is still expelled in the rain, needle holes don’t matter because water trying to enter via them is pumped back, and if you get soaked under your shell when you fall out of your kayak your baselayers will dry out faster with your Paramo on, sucking water away, than if you took it off.

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In other good news: Paramo is rustle free, completely windproof (it’s a popular choice of Antarctic exploration teams), is easily washed and re-proofed in a washing machine, and the average hard-used shell seems to last about a decade.

The downside of Paramo shells has been that they combine a shell with a midlayer, making them too warm for many people except in winter, and slightly bulky to carry. However the latest Paramo Velez Light has fixed this problem with lighter insulation and excellent venting. You simply put it on a over a baselayer and work the venting (and roll up the sleeves – something you can’t comfortably do with a normal shell) as needed – the shell stays on all day. Because sweat transport and venting are so good this works in all but summer weather. The Velez Light also has an exceptionally good hood that keeps goggles and spectacles dry in the rain but provides more than adequate side vision even for cycling in traffic.

The bad news is that although discussed excitedly on ultra light-weight hiking lists from time to time, Paramo doesn’t seem to be stocked widely – if at all – in the US. However, ordering from the UK is hardly the adventure it was before the invention of the steamship and wireless telegraph.

How good is Paramo? Good enough so that I can crank a cyclocross bike at maximum speed cross country in heavy rain and ice cold wind and my torso is as warm and dry as it would be if I was cycling on a summer day wearing only a wicking tee shirt. In short, ***astoundingly*** good.

-- Jonathan Coupe  

Paramo Velez Adventure Light Smock
£180 (price varies depending on VAT)

Available from The Gorge Outdoors. (UK, but ships to the US)

Manufactured by Paramo



 

Everyday Carry Contest

The tools you have with you are the ones that are going to get used, and so it is with great pleasure that we are announcing our newest contest seeking the best everyday carry (EDC) tools.

The diversity of tools that people carry with them whether on keychains, in pockets and/or bags never ceases to astonish. From Moleskines to Leathermen, and flashlights to Buffs, the shear number of tools we have to choose from is overwhelming. That’s where you come in.

Send us reviews of your everyday carry tools, and explain why they have made the cut. There is no limit to how many you can include, and feel free to submit EDC tools from specific situations like camping or biking. Just remember every tool should be reviewed with the following five parts in mind:

1) a succinct description of what the tool is,
2) how it changed your behavior,
3) why Cool Tools should run the item,
4) why it is superior to other things, and
5) why we should believe you.

Submissions will be accepted until Tuesday, April 19th. As usual, the author of the most publishable review gets to select a prize from the Prize Pool and will be published the following week. So tell us all about the tools you have with you when it counts!

For inspiration, here are some previously reviewed EDC Cool Tools:
Split-Pea Lighter
Credit Card Survival Tool
Fisher Bullet Space Pen
Nite Ize S-Biner
Utili-Key

Good Luck!

– Oliver Hulland, Editor, Cool Tools

 



Baladeo 22g and 34g Knife

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I love my Leatherman, and I would carry it in my pocket all the time if it didn’t feel like a lead brick was trying to pants me every time I took a step. Given that gravity is, for the most part, unavoidable, I have been searching for a slim, lightweight knife I could keep in my pocket on an everyday basis.

Over the past year I picked up a Kershaw Vapor II that weighed 4.5-oz and a CRKT M16-10KZ 3-inch folding knife that weighed almost the same. Both were too bulky, and even at around 4.5-oz too heavy (not to mention I abhorred both locking mechanisms). After a while I started carrying around a disposable utility knife, but after nearly cutting myself for the third or fourth time I was ready to call it quits. That’s why I was thrilled when I heard about the Baladeo 22g and 34g knives on Backpacking Light.

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The 22g and 34g (their weight in grams) are minimalist folding knives. Like the previously reviewed lighter but still too-heavy Leatherman Skeletool, the Baladeos have skeletonized handles that leave just enough material to provide protection when the blade is closed. The blade itself has only a single edge so that it lays flat against the steel to prevent any accidental cuts when grabbing it in your pocket. The handle itself is designed with a surprisingly sturdy lock that I have found safe and easy to use. The only downside to the handle’s design is that if you put too much pressure (read: significantly more than is required for most day-to-day activities) the lock can sometimes slip, causing the knife to unlock and shift which can be dangerous. It only happened once during my artificial tests, and when it did the blade stayed far away from my fingers.

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While I wouldn’t use this blade for serious carving or any job that required a ton of force, it has found a welcome home in my pocket. The slim design of both knives coupled with their minuscule weights (.77-oz and 1.2-oz respectively) means that I hardly know they’re there. With that being said, I know there are those out there who would advocate for a similarly light-weight full-tang knife like the previously reviewed Bird & Trout Knife, but I find the hassle and extra bulk of a sheath to be less desirable.

In the end, I have found that while both the 22g and 34g perform admirably, the 22g is the better investment. It is lighter, cheaper, and in almost every instance just as functional, all while taking up less space in my pocket.

-- Oliver Hulland  

Baladeo 34g Knife
4.5-inch blade
$42
Available from Amazon

Baladeo 22g Knife
3.5-inch blade
$33 (temporarily OOS)
Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Baladeo



Dero Track Rack

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I bought this hanging bike storage system on a recommendation from a bike junkie friend who owned 8 or more bicycles. Tandems, single speed, mountain bikes, road bikes: you name it, he had one, and he stored it on his track rack.

My friend did the heavy work with the research and ultimately recommended the Dero Track Rack when I asked him how to solve my bicycle storage problem. The track went into the basement ceiling with no problem at all: lag bolts into the overhead joists. The track is super strong. The rollers that install in the track look like they are machined to aircraft standards. In short the whole getup is first rate.
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The track has rollers that glide along the track and suspended beneath are a number of “S-hooks” from which you hang the wheel of a bike. What is amazing is how you can move the bikes along the track much the same way you slide shirts in your closet…only easier. The Track Rack has been a lifesaver for me, and now all my bikes are neatly organized and hang from the ceiling.
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They are secured so there is absolutely no chance they will be knocked over by anybody. The Track Rack has moved from the basement to the garage, and when I sold the house I made sure to take the Dero Track Rack with me. I can’t see ever parting ways with my Dero Track Rack. It is THAT cool.

-- Bruce Tunno  

Dero Track Rack
$259-539 (price varies based on dimension, call for a quote)

Available from and manufactured by Dero Bike Racks



Wild Fermentation

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Yogurt, bread, beer, kimchi, wine, cheese, miso, kraut, and vinegar are among the many foods produced with the aid of microorganisms. Those are living beasties of a type that we ordinarily try to remove from what we eat. This cookbook is full of fermentation recipes. It presents a unified theory of “live-culture foods,” a way of connecting their different methods in order to understand why fermentation is a Good Thing, and why there should be more of it.

Fermentation is fairly easy to do. It can self-correct many beginner’s errors. It is definitely a slow-food process, but at the same time, a low-effort process since the bugs do most of the work. The recipes here are starter ones, broad in scope, easy to do, just to get you going. The appendix contains a good roundup of sources for a large variety of live cultures. You can find deeper more complex recipes in specific books, but here in one slim volume is a great introduction to how to ferment. At least once, you should make your own yogurt, bread, beer, kimchi, wine, cheese, miso, kraut, and vinegar. Find what you do well and make more of it.

More importantly, ferment something new.

-- KK  

Wild Fermentation
Sandor Ellix Katz
2003, 200 pages
$16

Available from Amazon

Sample Excerpts:

By eating a variety of live fermented foods, you promote diversity among microbial cultures in your body.

*

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*

I know of no food that is without some tradition of fermentation.

*
Hamid Dirar has identified eighty distinct fermentation processes in The Indigenous Fermented Food of the Sudan, a book describing an incredible array of ferments that result in consumption of every bit of animal flesh and bone.




Permethrin

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Permethrin is a man-made version of an insect repellent found in chrysanthemum plants. The molecule repels a variety of biting insects including flies, ants, chiggers, mosquitoes, ticks, etc. The company Insect Shield partners with manufacturers of work and recreational outdoor clothing to produce bug repellant gear: LL Bean, Buff, Carolina Manufacturing (bandanas), Eagle’s Nest Outfitters, ExOfficio, Outdoor Research, and REI.

Since deer populations have been exploding in many parts of the country, we have seen a corresponding explosion in the tick population. Some diseases carried by ticks can send you to bed for at least a week and may even have permanent effects (Lyme disease for example). Permethrin seems to be the best alternative for dealing with these pests and is a vastly superior alternative to DEET.

We were clued into this permethrin clothing treatment last year by Rob, a local farmer. He was finding about a dozen ticks a day after working in the fields. Rob started wearing permethrin treated socks, long pants secured at the ankle, long-sleeved shirts and a bandana; he stopped picking up ticks. I have shorts, an ExOfficio Bugsaway t-shirt, and several pairs of treated socks, and that seems to do the trick for me. There are also sprays for applying permethrin to your own clothing and camping gear (please read the warning labels carefully before using them) though I personally prefer pretreated clothing.

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My favorite non-clothing use of permethrin is the Perky-Pet Ant Guard. It’s a small canister with hooks at both ends for hanging a hummingbird feeder. The canister separates into two parts held together with a central line; that central line is the only thing that’s treated with permethrin. Ants must crawl on the line to get to the feeder, thus minimizing any bird feeders over run by insects. Besides minimizing exposure to the environment, the treatment is protected from both sun and rain by the canister.

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One thing to consider before using permethrin is that, as the Wikipedia article notes, permethrin is toxic to fish and aquatic life in general. This is why I dislike the use of permethrin backyard sprays as they seem like overkill, while any runoff can inadvertently damage local water life.

-- Phil Earnhardt  

Permethrin Products

Insect Shield Clothing (various)
Available from Amazon
Manufactured by Insect Shield

ExOfficio Men’s Bugsaway Chas’R Tee Shirt
$18
Available from Amazon
Manufactured by ExOfficio

Permethrin Clothing Repellent
24-ounce spray bottle
$11
Available from Amazon
Manufactured by Sawyer

Perky Pet Ant Guard for Bird Feeders
$7
Available from Amazon
Manufactured by Perky Pet



Totobobo Mask

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This is a new design of respirator which has advantages for mass distribution, emergency preparedness, and multi-ethnic populations. I’ve been using/testing it for 5 or 6 years in the Unorganized Borough in Alaska.

The respirator can be cut with scissors to fit faces properly. Because they are clear, fit is easily ascertained. A clear respirator may mean they are more acceptable culturally (the face is not hidden).

The filters are replaceable. They allow a lot of air to pass through so can be useful in bike riding and outdoor work. They also allow moisture to pass through; I haven’t found the exhaled moisture to be a problem except in subzero temperatures (quite a bit of condensation then).

Instead of storing respirators of every size, only one size needs to be stored for emergency use. One doesn’t need to check sizes before distributing the respirators. Respirators can be cleaned and re-used by the individual (replace filters). I have seen them be used for pandemics, volcanoes, dust, woodworking, and cycling, and I am hoping to continue testing them in Alaska where we have faces from many different populations.

– Pamela Bumsted

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These filters show the build up of particulate in the mask’s filters after a bike ride through the various cities. — OH

 

Totobobo Respirator
$23

Available from Totobobo