Help Kickstart Outdoor Tech’s Turtle Shell Bluetooth speaker

If you’re like us, you want to take your music everywhere you go but sometimes, that’s easier said than done. The market is littered with all sorts of Bluetooth speakers these days, but portability, durability and sound quality are all very hit or miss. Of course, headphones are the easiest solution but not always the safest, depending on your activity and surroundings, and besides, how can you share tunes with your friends if you have headphones crammed into your ears? Don’t be selfish.

The all new Turtle Shell boom box looks like an optimal solution, the first Bluetooth-powered speaker to offer a built-in threaded tripod mount that will allow you to mount the speaker to almost anything for instant on-the-go music. You can also use the optional Turtle Claw all-purpose clamp for even more mounting options, or just attach a carabiner to the steel loop under the Turtle Shell. Check out the video above for more ideas. The durable speaker meets IP5X standards, so don’t worry about dust, grime and water, the rechargeable lithium-ion battery offers up to 10 hours of playback, and it even comes with a built-in microphone so you can use it as a speakerphone.

We haven’t had a chance to test out the Turtle Shell yet, but as soon as we have one in hand, we’ll be sure to post our review. In the meantime, you can be one of the first to own a Turtle Shell if you help fund the project by pledging via Kickstarter, and in return, the guys at Outdoor Tech are offering lots of cool gear as a thank you.

Want to read more about the Turtle Shell? Check out this review from CNET following the Turtle Shell’s debut in January at CES.

  

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SLAPPA M.A.S.K. Jedi Mind Trix Backpack Review

Just the Stats:

* Height – 20.5”

* Width – 14.0”

Depth – 12” to 14”

Made of 1680D Military Grade Ballistics Nylon that is puncture and waterproof

Customizable/interchangeable faces

A seemingly infinite amount of pockets and storage space

MSRP $139.00

In case you couldn’t gather from some of our previous reviews, the fine folks at SLAPPA have managed to win fans on this site with their high quality bags, gear and cases over the years. Now, since I’ve been using one backpack or another since my days of arranging 16-player “Halo” LAN parties in high school, when I found out that it would be my turn to review SLAPPA’s newest line of backpack, I was excited, but also curious. After all, I’ve been going through backpacks of various makes for years now, and while some have admittedly held up and performed better than others, I’ve never owned one that generates such prolific levels of praise, like the SLAPPA models seem to. I just couldn’t imagine how a simple backpack could be such a big deal. It’s appropriate, then, that this new line of backpack is called the M.A.S.K. Jedi Mind Trix, because this wasn’t the backpack I was looking for, or expecting.

No, what I got was something else entirely. To call this stylishly designed bundle that contains a mini galaxy of storage options a backpack doesn’t conjure the necessary image that you need to fully appreciate it. In fact, calling it a backpack almost insults the efforts of other, lesser manufacturers that sell a product called a backpack, because despite their well intentioned efforts, they have no way to compete with the Jedi Mind Trix.

What makes it so great? Well, first you have to start with the storage capacity. I loaded this thing up with my PlayStation 3, my laptop, all the cords and controllers for both, two bottles of water, my sunglasses, my copy of “Broom of the System,” a notebook, pens, my iPod, a set of DJ headphones, and a light jacket held by the Jedi Mind Trix’s new exterior carry straps. When I was done, I swear that the backpack laughed at me. There was still an inconceivable amount of free space left that I couldn’t imagine uses for. Even better, when I put the backpack on, I immediately found out why there is a price jump from the standard packs I had used over the years, and this one. Thanks to the design of the M.A.S.K., neither myself nor the backpack suffered from any strain due to the weight. Not only were my shoulders supported comfortably by the cushioned straps, but the padded SLAPPA logo on the back actually worked to ease my burden. Thanks to the incredible level of internal cushioning, I also took additional comfort in knowing that everything I had just put into the backpack was equally protected as well.

Besides the practical features, the SLAPPA models are also known for their incredible style, and this one is no exception. It features the same customizable face, linings and graphics options as the other models in the M.A.S.K. line, and in many respects reminds me of the wide range of customization options available for the Alienware line of computers. What I mean is, it uses its sense of style not as an excuse to raise the price point, but rather as a natural extension, or warning even, to the superior product that lies underneath.

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Improve your training with Sportiiiis

As a runner, biker or triathlete, how great would it be to have a navigator with you, offering key information like heart rate, pace, speed and cadence during your workout and letting you know when you’re slacking off or pushing too hard, all without taking your eyes off the road ahead? If you think that’s not happening unless you’re pulling a rickshaw behind you, I suggest a more practical solution: the Sportiiiis heads up display and audio feedback system. From 4iiii Innovations, this lightweight device provides athletes with the kind of performance data they need to improve their workouts and cut down their times, all with just a couple taps of their fingers.

The unit itself is small and simple: Just attach the Sportiiiis system (pronounced “Sport Eyes”) to the arm of your glasses (sunglasses, prescription specs, whatever) using the included mounting bracket, wrap the boom (containing the heads up display) around the front of your glasses, make some final adjustments and it’s all set. The only downside with the setup is that you pretty much need to leave the mounting bracket attached to the glasses you’ve chosen – even when you’re not working out – unless you want to go through the setup process again, but that may only be a minor inconvenience for some users.

So you you’ve got the fully charged Sportiiiiis strapped to your glasses. How does this thing work? Well, you’ll need to put in some study time before hitting the road to fully understand all the bells and whistles. The Sportiiiis synchs with any ANT+ device – like a heart rate monitor, a foot pod or a bike sensor, all of which you can buy from 4iiii Innovations or separately from other manufacturers – to give you the information you want to track during your workout. Just download the user guide and configuration software, set up your profile and determine which “Zones” (heart rate, pace, cadence, etc.) you want the Sportiiiis tracking in conjunction with whichever ANT+ device(s) you’ll be using.

You’re not quite ready yet, though. You’ll cycle through the various settings and readings using a series of touches and taps on the side of the unit. It’s not overly complicated but you won’t just be able to figure it all out on the fly. For example, pressing the power button once starts and stops your session; holding the power button for two beeps turns the unit off; holding it for three beeps switches to bike or run mode; double-tapping the side switches between the paired sensors you’re using. Be sure to put the Sportiiiis through some test runs before taking to the road.

Once you’ve done the homework, though, you’ll see firsthand just how useful this device can be. The display is made up of a series of seven LED lights that indicate where you are in the particular zone you’re tracking. For example, if you’re hitting your target heart rate, the LED blinks green. Fall above or below that mark and different lights flash to let you know it’s time to slow down or pick up the pace. This system is programmable by color and position so you can tweak it to best suit your needs. Additionally, the audio function announces when you’ve successfully switched between zones or modes and can tell you when you’re on target, or above/below, via the tiny speaker at the back of the unit. It’s all pretty cool and, once you get the hang of it, pretty easy to use.

The one drawback is a personal one that will vary from one athlete to the next, since some simply don’t like wearing glasses while they work out. Bikers probably don’t mind at all, but as a runner, I’ve never been a huge fan of wearing shades on the road – all that bouncing around can get on my nerves. The Sportiiiis, however, may very well make me reconsider that stance, particularly during an important training run. I’d probably leave the unit at home for simple maintenance runs, but for those who like to have all of their metrics available to them on the go, there may not be a better solution than the Sportiiiis.

  

Passenger Protection: Icon has the gear needed to keep the person on the back of the bike safe

The dream of motorcycling is an open road, a rumbling exhaust, and a supermodel on the back with flowing blonde hair. With this image in mind, you buy a bike and then go on the lookout for a companion for the back. Often times, you may be successful, but although your girl’s high heels and dress may be suitable for a night out, they aren’t for riding a bike. So, what’s a person to do? Icon has the solution. They make the gear that your girlfriend will not only want to wear, but will keep her safe too.

There is extra pressure when someone is your passenger, but that’s no excuse not to include them. Riding pillion opens your significant other to the why behind the ride. They can experience for themselves the rush of riding a bike. We don’t just buy bikes because they are good to look at, but others don’t understand how fun they can be if they don’t experience it for themselves. Plus, once your passenger is comfortable, there will be no need to take the car out. They’ll be begging for the bike. But first, make sure they’re properly geared up.

Helmets for Her

For helmets, they have a variety of liveries and designs with females in mind. For this test, we used an Alliance helmet. You may recognize this piece from the last article we did, reason being is that it is a perfect all-around helmet for street use. It’s cheap, it’s protective and it’s light. This time around, we picked an Alliance helmet that has been slathered in Barbie pink from front to back.

The design is Chrysalis, but from my girlfriend’s reaction, they should call it OMG PINK!!! If your girlfriend is the glitter and pink type, get the helmet. It’s Disney princess approved and offers the same protection and comfort as the helmet on your head too.

Plus, the design will make her want to wear a full-face helmet. No complaints about their hair getting messed up, or how hot it may be. Get a design they like, pink or not, and they will want to wear the lid. Girlfriend’s not a pink fan? Have her pick out a design from the dozen of choices Icon has.

Suit Her Up

Icon’s jacket choices take their female options past just making it pink, however. Case in point: the One Thousand Federal Jacket. Part of the One Thousand collection, this jacket leaves off flashy graphics and logos for a subdued, vintage vibe. All leather, this jacket is more Black Widow than Disney Princess. The best part is that the jacket has D3O armor in the shoulders, elbows and back.

For those unfamiliar, D3O is a special type of foam that is soft when at rest, but upon impact, firms up. Because of the dual nature of the material, the armor can be slimmer and more comfortable – just another example of form and function combining at last.

Remember to get you girlfriend involved in the decision process, though. For as much as I loved the jacket, my girlfriend found it heavy and ungainly. Forgetting that she isn’t used to motorcycle gear, it will take her some time to adjust, but comfort is a top priority in order to keep your passengers to feel confident on the bike. That’s why she loves her Contra jacket that is lighter, made of fabric, but does not offer the D3O.

The One Thousand Federal is a premier motorcycle jacket with a cost to match, but you don’t need to spend a lot to make your girlfriend happy. She’ll be happy with the gear she chooses rather than the choice you give her.

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A new surfing record

This video is amazing. 44-year old Hawaii surfer Garrett McNamara broke the world record for the largest wave ever surfed. The Guinness Book of World Records has confirmed the record saying it was officially 78 feet, beating the old record by about 1 foot. Spicoli would be proud . . .

  

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