Monday, January 6, 2014

Trail Tech - Trail Tire Comparison

 I came across great article comparing some of the common tire brands for trail riding. I like this review as he is riding on a set of tires for and entire season and not just doing a one off review.

If you are in the market for new tires check it out.


Comparison: ITP TerraCross R/T, Maxxis Bighorn and Interco Reptile

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Trail Tech - Hitcase Action Camera Case

 GoPro's are awesome, they are a purpose built camera and I don't think there is any replacement for something that does such a good job at what it is intended for. But, there are a group of people who would rather use their iPhone or Android device to record their videos. In my short time of doing videos I have found that having a GoPro on my helmet is bulky and find that it is constantly getting hit with branches which is usually followed up by me reaching about my head to ensure my expensive GoPro is still there. Imagine how much worse this would be with a big iPhone or worse yet, a Samsung Galaxy. Another issue with this is how to turn the video recording on and off while it is on top of your head, an issue GoPro has overcome with the remote that is included with the "Black" edition or you can purchase as an accessory. 

I personally have a GoPro so I am not looking for a case for this purpose. My discovery of the GPS app called EveryTrail for your smartphone (see earlier post for more details) and my excitement to use it on the trails this coming season, I started thinking about just how I would use it. Keep it in my pocket? Sure that will work but I would like to use the camera for snapping pictures of my favorite parts of the trail, I'll likely be wearing waterproof pants and wearing gloves. No, I want it accessible, preferably mounted on my handlebars. And that is what got me started searching for someway to mount my phone but also keep it safe.

There are many options on the market, but you have to know how to search for them. Googling the search terms "iphone case" gets you darn near a million hits. "waterproof iphone case" narrows it down a bit and "mountable waterproof case" gets you closer but it still didn't get me where I wanted. So I searched "can I turn my iphone into a Gopro?" and then I started seeing the results I wanted. Apparently another search term that could have helped would be "iphone action camera".

Waterproof is a very important feature for my use, although I do not plan on submerging the phone I will be getting into mud and don't doubt at all that I will at some point get a big mud plop right on my phone.

After many hours of research I managed to find one locally at London Drugs, it is called iMountz. Being that is was local (returnable) and the price was actually better than most I could order online I picked it up. I was hesitant as I wasn't able to find any actual reviews on it, it was obviously Chinese made and didn't have the look of quality I was looking for but what did I have to loose. As soon as I saw it in person I was pretty sure it was not going to work the way I had hoped. 

  • The screen cover was a thick clear plastic and couldn't see any way that it was going to allow use of the touch screen, also the only button on the phone it left access to was the home button. This presents a big problem for my use as I would have to start the camera app before putting it in the case and leave it on for my entire trail ride with the LCD on which would probably kill my battery before the ride was over.
  • The screen cover had a small section just above the home button that did contact the screen and was intended to allow you to touch the area of the screen where the camera button is. This was very intermittent, it barely worked sometimes and didn't work at all other times.
I took it back to London Drugs the next day and continued looking for another solution.

Otterbox and Lifeproof both make amazing products for everyday protection of your iPhone, so another though was to buy one of these cases and then use velcro or figure out someway to attach a removable clip. This is a viable option but two things kept me from going this driection:
  • The cost. With either Otterbox or Lifeproof I would be looking at close to $100
  • I still wouldn't have the product I wanted as I would still need to adapt a mount which although it wouldn't be hard to do still presented some issues of reliability as I would adapting my own solution rather than it being purpose built
The solution

With more research I came across the Hitcase. This one looks to have it all, full access to the phone and all its functions other than charging or headphone jacks. Waterproof case, slide on mounting point, good price and the cherry on top, compatibility with all of my GoPro mounts.

I was able to read many positive reviews with the only complaint being the bulkiness of the case which is something very difficult to overcome when you are making a waterproof and shockproof case to protect your sizable smartphone investment. The price was about the same as either the Otterbox or the Lifeproof as I opted to go with the Hitcase and not the Hitcase Pro. The only difference between the two is that the Pro comes with a fish-eye lens which would be handy if you were using this as an action camera.
I will do another review later this year when I get a chance to trail test this case.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Fort a la Corne Forest Review

 Located 50km North of Melfort, North East of Gronlid. There are many entrances into the forest, the one on the map is the one we used.

(Note that maps show directions to where the trails start and are not the actual trails)

Terrain: Mostly sand and dirt trails

Tons & tons of trails all in a beautiful wooded area. Lots of wildlife, views of the river and small streams.

Some of the neat places of interest on these trails include

-The Sandberg Creek Rest Stop (located beside the river, gorgeous!)

-Dale Skiftun Memorial

-Large areas of burned out forest

 -River views

 Map of trails found at the shack at the Sandberg Creek Rest Stop

Update January 28, 2014 - I have created a GPS map to the Sandberg Creek Rest Stop from one of the forest entrances and uploaded it to EveryTrail, you can see it here.

Trail Tech - Every Trail GPS App

This is absolutley perfect!! I just found out about an iPhone app called Every Trail and got to see some examples on their website. I am so excited to try this out! It will track your trail movements and then plot them out on a Google Map that you can share with others. You can also post pictures along the way of particularly scenic spots. This is just what I have been looking for, you can check out the sad selection of Saskatchewan ATV trail maps they have posted on their website here.

Make sure you have this app with you this coming season and share your trails with us!

Quad Corral Website

In my attempt to gather information about Saskatchewan Trails I ran across this page by the Quad Corral. On this Page they list a number of places to ride and a brief description of each (although maps would be really nice too), I will be checking all of these out and hopefully posting more information soon.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Melfort Cross Country Ski Club Trails Review

Located 15 minutes North of Melfort past Gronlid, 2.5kms off highway 6

(Note that maps show directions to where the trails start and are not the actual trails)

We stopped here one summer to do a warm up ride before heading to the Fort a la Corne forest. These trails are your typical Saskatchewan wooded trail, beautiful scenery and wildlife. The trails have great tree cover during a hot afternoon. Some sandy soil and a creek which may be passable only at certain times of year.

There are not enough trails here to keep you entertained for very long. Driving at higher speeds you could cover all the trails in just a couple of hours, but if you are looking for a great nature trail this is one.

Remember: These are ski trails that are open to ATV's please respect the land as it is a privilege for us to ride here. 

Ottopasso Trails Review

Located 20 minutes South of Saskatoon on highway 219 

(Note that maps show directions to where the trails start and are not the actual trails)

Updated June 17, 2016

The Ottopasso Trails are owned by the Saskatoon Track N Trail motocross club, and is primarily used for racing during the summer. They allow any and all ATV riders in the facility for a fee. Day passes are $25 and can be purchased at Recreation Supply in Saskatoon. If you think you will be spending a lot of time here you can buy a yearly pass which gets you a key and unlimited access for around $200. Memberships and day passes must be purchased ahead of time, if you head out with out making prior arrangements you will find a locked gate.

This is the closest your going to get to California sand dunes here in Saskatchewan. Soil conditions are....sand. Very loose and constantly changing with the winds. There are many hills to climb around the perimeter of the facility and a motocross track located near the center. Many of the trails are well suited to ATV's although sxs's are too wide for most.

The only downside of Ottopasso is the size. It is a great place to spend a couple of hours but it starts to feel restrictive after a bit. This would be a great area for a first time rider to learn as there are many open spaces and the area is enclosed or to test out a recently modified ATV because you won't be too far from the trucks.

Wednesday nights is when the club does their races during the summer and the facility gets quite packed. Probably not the best time to head out.

For a Google map of the facility, click here.