Best Workhorse Vlogging Lens

This lens does it all for me…

This is an easy one for me. The Cannon 10-18mm lens is what is on my camera about 90% of the time I am using it.

Partly because (for photos) I’ve always been drawn to that wide angle lens look, but (for video) when it comes to vlogging it checks so many boxes.

I do wish that it was a prime lens (ie. a fixed f2.8) but that just makes me work for that good lighting.

If you are considering an “intro” vlogging lens and don’t want to spend a butt load of money…this is the way to go.

Best Bike Hitch Mount for Family of 5: Allen Sports Hitch

Takes what you can throw at it…

My kids finally got old enough to all be riding bikes. Had to find some way to carry all those bikes and this hitch mount works great!

This particular version even locks so that no one runs off with the whole thing. Although, let me tell you…this thing is super sturdy because 5 bikes are HEAVY!

Yeti 200X: The Perfect Power Station to Keep You Charged For the Weekend

Great for all your short, multi-day needs…

Goal Zero is known for it’s consumer friendly and quality solar solutions to gas generators.

I’ve been eying Goal Zero stuff for a while, and had even bought an older version of the Guide 10 Kit back in the day. As these power stations got more popular with the rise of overlanding and the #vanlife, my interested was renewed.

I really wanted to go for the Yeti 500x or even Yeti 1000…but I could not justify them for my budget…ie. my wife. 😂

As much as I dream about gearing up and knocking out a bunch of overloading trips with my family, my real world use case is still more along the lines of a long weekend trip.

Yeti 200X: Perfect for my family use cases.

In reality, I needed to be able to recharge phones, apple watches, and power some cool led light strips I bought for my car and/or campsite. The Yeti 200X actually fit the bill perfectly.

On my last camping trip, I was able to recharge phones, smart watches, headlamps, even my DSLR camera batteries for the whole weekend…and I only ever got down to 47% or so. I did buy the Goal Zero car charger, charging it for a quick jaunt to a nearby damn overlook.

Solar Panel to Go With It

image via Goal Zero

I also bought the Nomad 50 Solar Panel to go with the 200x. I wanted to buy the Nomad 100…but I wanted a solar panel that had a USB direct charger to it…and for some reason the Nomad 50 does and the Nomad 100 does not.

It can charge the Yeti 200X in about 5-10hours with full sunlight. Enough to top it off or bring it up throughout the day if you’re worried about it.

Highly recommend checking out this little powerhouse. You’re starting to see Goal Zero’s Yeti “X line” (as I call them) which has USB-C ports as well as USB-C power delivery for fast charging.

Check them all out here:

Affiliate Links versus Brand Merchandise

Having my own “brand” gear is new territory for me…

One thing I never thought I would have is a sort of brand that would lead me to sell stuff.

You may have seen some slight changes on the site here with me displaying the new PatagoniaDad storefront I created that has some fun tee-shirts, coffee mugs, hoodies, stickers and more.

I have read across the internet and heard from vloggers, is that unless you have crazy volume, affiliate links are not the best way to make money. Don’t get me wrong…I bet they’re nice as passive income…but if you guys have seen my most popular post, it’s about how I keep failing at converting Amazon Affiliate links despite my slowly increasing traffic here.

On the other hand, if I sell 1 teeshirt over at Teespring, I make more than I probably would with 40 qualifying amazon link clicks that lead to a purchase. (I still don’t know what qualifies as a qualifying purchase at Amazon)

Asking for Your Help

My Wednesday and Saturday posts tend to be my more popular posts, so I am hoping that you might be willing to throw a comment my way with what you think about the current designs I have (don’t hesitate to be honest!) or even what you might be interested in as this evolves.

As always, thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

BioLite Camping Lites Follow-Up

Got to use these a bit…

A couple weeks ago I wrote about BioLite camp lights and all of the various options they have.

I took them with me on a recent camping trip and the SiteLite Minis were a huge hit with my family. We strung them inside of our big family sized REI tent and when it was raining in the later afternoon and evening on a couple of the days, I had the Minis powered by the Base Lantern XL that I got on sale over Memorial Day weekend.

Part of what I was trying to figure out was what all we would actually use and what would end up staying in the bin of camping gear. The minis and the baselantern worked great.

BioLite Headlamps

Before the trip, I broke down and bought my kids new rechargeable headlamps from BioLite too. I was tired of the batteries in their cheap headlamps running out and having to buy new batteries.

These were another hit with the family as my kids loved having their own headlamps …and I didn’t have to worry about them running out of juice since I could just recharge them from the BaseLantern XL.

Win win.

Overall Impressions

I like them.

They’re a super fun addition to the campsite, not completely necessary (except headlamps in my opinion) but they are nice to have.

I liked having the BaseLantern XL as that also serves as a powerbrick should I need to recharge basically anything…plus the light it puts off is great.

If you’re looking for a fun campsite addition to your gear box…I would recommend these lights for sure.

image via BioLite

Best Around the House Bluetooth Speaker

You can’t beat this quality…

I owned the first version of the Bose SoundLink Mini for almost a decade before it finally gave out.

Think about that.

For almost 10 years I had this little speaker in various offices of mine across the country, playing podcasts, ambient music, the most recent album I found on iTunes. People tend to buy new TVs more often than that!

Bose is known for its quality and you normally pay a premium for their high quality products that produce higher quality sound.

However, if you want a great bluetooth speaker that you can move around the house or just keep in your office like I do…look no further.

Bose SoundLink Mini II Limited Edition Bluetooth Speaker

Best (all) Brass Fountain Pen

When I came to my current job, I was in the mood for a “fancy” pen.

I had never owned a fountain pen so I did some research on what was out there. There are A LOT of options for those looking for anything from plastic to a few hundred dollar Mont Blanc.

My taste for quality did not quite get me to the high end stuff. However, I found that I gravitated towards a smaller selection of pens like this brass Kaweco SUPRA. The all brass construction really appealed to me and let me tell you…it feels really good to write with.

I don’t use this as my daily driver per se, but whenever I journal, this is what I am writing with. They’re selling for a good deal over on Amazon right now too.

Some Stories: Lessons from the Edge of Business and Sport

Climbing and business CAN go together…

Bought this book a while back because I have always enjoyed reading about the adventures of Yvon Chouinard and his fellow climbers. This book sprinkles in a bit of business and it’s neat to see how lessons learned on a mountain can apply in the office too.

Lessons from the Edge of Business and Sport

Best All-Around Smart Lights: Philips Hue

I love these…

There are a lot of smart light systems on the market.

However, when I moved to Pennsylvania and in to a larger house, I thought it was time for me to jump on the smart home light train. Part of this was driven by the fact that our new house has about a million light switches that we can’t remember what turns what on.

Perfect time for a home technology upgrade!!

Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels.com

The Options

Multi-color or standard dimming: I knew that I didn’t really want (rather need) to turn my living room a lovely shade of purple at dinner time, so I stuck with the more basic (and less expensive) option.

Most of these two-tone dimming bulbs give you the bright to warm option that you get with normal light bulbs.

Hub vs No-Hub: This one may depend on how big your house is or how many smart light bulbs you plan on purchasing.

I was moving in to a bigger house and had a bunch of lights I was going to be upgrading, so I went with the Hub option. From what I have read, this puts less traffic on your home wifi-router as well as all the smart lights access your internet via the hub rather than directly.

Also, since going with the hub system normally keeps the brand all the same, it’s easier to keep them all up to date. (from what I’ve seen)

Homekit vs Google Home vs Etc.: What system the smart bulbs are compatible with didn’t really matter to me since I already had a Google Home and Apple products.

Best choice is to get a smart bulb system that works with both…which is what I did.

Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels.com

My Choice

Philips Hue smart bulbs.

Getting the starter pack gives you the hub and a few bulbs, and they are incredibly easy to set up. You can use Google Home or Apple Home Kit, I use both…which I really like.

I’ve got them set up with multiple rooms, both upstairs and downstairs. One of my favorite features (easiest to set up with Home Kit from what I can see) is timing downstairs lights to come on before I wake up and turning off all lights at midnight incase we forget to turn them off.

Also, Home Kit has a location aware setting where the smart lights will turn off if both my wife and I leave the house and turn on again when one of us returns.

All that to say…the name brand company is sure to stick around, is available almost everywhere, and I never have to fear they will go by the wayside.

If you’re curious, you can check them out over at Amazon.