Product Review: SpiderWebShade for JKU

There are few things in life, than a hot Summer day in a Jeep, topless, and doorless.  I swear it is the best form of therapy available. But, there are days where the thermometer is in the triples where I have been stuck in traffic and have been roasting.

But there was never a middle ground.  It was either run the top as a bikini, or run topless and roast on those peak Summer days.

The fine mesh is really well made and is available in a lot of different colors.

Enter SpiderWebShade, the middle ground.

SpiderWebShade claims to block up to 90% of the sun’s rays while also allowing enough air for the topless feeling.  While roaming around Jeep Beach, I met the crew from SWS and they hooked me up with a free shade.  Once I returned to the hot and sunny Oregon Summer, I was eager to install it.

Installation was easy and the instructions provided were clear and straightforward.  A new shade did require some sun to help soften the material and there was some strong arming here and there.

SpiderWebShade time!

First impressions were really positive.  The shade did in fact block a lot of the sun’s rays and I soon lost the signature tan line from my sunglasses – good news for the skin cancer prone that drive Jeeps.  The only downside was that I found myself actually chillier more than before.

Those sun rays also bring along heat with them, so when you block most of them you also block most of the heat.  In more humid climates, this is probably not as much of a concern.

I was super stoked to try out the 4DR JK SpiderWebShade in the oven of a Moab Summer.  So last June I installed a new blue shade and my crew rolled down 84 toward the Utah desert.

Rocking the SWS in a hot tub in Moab, Hell’s Revenge.

Just as I thought, the shade was absolutely invaluable.  As the temperatures approached 110, we were relatively comfortable running topless in the shade-free areas of Moab.  As the nights dipped the temps, the shade seemed to also reduce some of the wind associated with running a topless Jeep.

Overall, the SpiderWebShade is an essential piece of kit for any Jeeper than runs topless.  With an easy installation, I might reserve it for those wheeling trips that take us into warmer climates, and those couple of weeks of peak Summer in Oregon.

**FULL DISCLOSURE: Both shades were provided to me at no cost for the purposes of this review.  It in no way affects the outcome of my review.

Vegan in Bend, Oregon

Bend is one of my favorite cities to visit.  It has the high desert weather, some amazing wilderness, amazing beers, and a pretty decent vegan scene to boot.  Also, Cline Butte OHV area has some nice options for wheeling.  Only thing is, you need to know where to go.

Hopefully this guide will help for your next trip.

Continue reading Vegan in Bend, Oregon

Product Review: Gardein Porkless Bites

While roaming our local New Seasons today, something caught me eye in the rainbow of colors in the Gardein freezer section. It seriously is starting to look like Rainbow Brite puked Skittles all over the place.

Anyway, the pink highlight color on the bag drew my eye and I snagged the last bag in the freezer.

The bag promises it contains a packet of awesome sauce.  So with that, we planned on making it part of tonight’s dinner.

Pardon the messy stove but these splattered a little!

As with all of Gardein’s fake meats, these were simple to make.  Simply toss the frozen bites into a skillet with some oil and cook thoroughly.  Toss in the awesome sauce, and serve over a bed of whatever starchy goodness you want.  We went with some sticky rice.

Continue reading Product Review: Gardein Porkless Bites

Trail Review: Crushers [OREGON]

I always laugh at the often obscure names given to trails in our area.  Some, I am sure have a backstory (Stick in the Nose is an actual trail name) while others I think are a lame attempt at sounding intimidating.  But Crushers has always had that scary spot in my mind.

Not just due to the name, but due to the massive boulder field that is the trail.  It is probably the ultimate rock crawling trail in this area.

The trail begins with a common filter that has a pretty easy line even though it looks menacing.

My Jeep on the filter. Photo (c) Matthew Duffy

After the filter, the trail meanders through a short section of forest where tight trees and tippy rocks test the hard and soft tops of the crew.  But with a little road building to offset the lean, we all came through unscathed (although I taco’d my tie rod pretty bad).

Mike spots Matt through the last of the tight forest.

Once out of the woods, the trail opens into a wide boulder field.  It is pretty much open play, with no real determined trail.  You will see above the exit from “upper crushers” and the trail for “lower crushers” clearly stays at the lower end of the boulder field.

Vu tackling a nice line on lower crushers.

This is a really great trail.  I ended up turning around about mid way through though, as my tie rod was bent bad and I had very limited driver steering.  I plan on going back soon though to finish the whole run.

Duffy on an upper section of the boulders.

A good spotter (read: experienced) is a must on Crushers, as is some good articulation and undercarriage armor.  I would also highly recommend a winch and good recovery gear.

Product Review: Daiya Cheddar Style Cheezy Mac

I didn’t feel like dinner.  I felt like some vegan sin food.  And I was longing for those old school, bad-for-you velveeta experiences.

While roaming the aisles tonight at Food Fight, I decided to try the new Daiya Cheezy Mac and grabbed a box.

Continue reading Product Review: Daiya Cheddar Style Cheezy Mac

Product Install: Rugged Ridge Spartan Grille

I was one of the early adopters of the “bedlined grille” look.  My OEM paint was chipping from winter road debris, and I just thought it made sense to have a durable, easy to repaint grille coating on the front of the Jeep.  However, when it came to repaint it this Summer I got the great idea to use a new, polyurethane liner and totally messed it up.

So it was time to find a new grille.

And, while this is not a review, I have been really happy with my new Spartan Grille from Rugged Ridge.

I hope this install writeup will help anyone that comes across a couple of the trickier parts of this install. Check out my unboxing video for the Spartan Grille!

Continue reading Product Install: Rugged Ridge Spartan Grille

Product Install: Artec Aluminum 4 Door Bellypan Armor Kit

This is a VERY involved install that will require exhaust configurations, trips to the tool store, modifications, Jeep friends, and beer.  This is NOT a quick “bolt-up” installation as I thought it would be.  Understand that – you may require multiple days to get it done right.

This was one of the most significant installs I have done on my Jeep.

Continue reading Product Install: Artec Aluminum 4 Door Bellypan Armor Kit

On the Gay Confederacy

A lot of surprising, ground shaking history was made this week, with the Supreme Court deciding that gay marriage is protected by the US constitution, and struck down all state-level bans.  This is a huge victory for millions of gay couples that can now celebrate their relationship with equality, and a victory for a society that bills itself as free.  And, many of my friends know I am a HUGE supporter of marriage equality.

But I feel a pang of irony in the celebratory news, as we also force the removal of the confederate flag from our collective psyche.

Continue reading On the Gay Confederacy

It is About the Goddamn Animals

The Yulin dog and cat meat festival in China is gaining a lot of social and even mainstream media attention this week. And that is hopefully good news, as it shines a bright light on a pretty horrific “festival” that needs to end. These types of events, have been socially protected under the guise of “culture,’ yet now, with the news of the Chinese Government allowing the dialogue, that protection may come to an end.

Continue reading It is About the Goddamn Animals


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