Category Archives: Buy (or don’t) this Stuff

Product Review: Rugged Ridge Heat Reduction Hood

One of the biggest concerns I have had with the JK platform was under hood heat.  The engine bays (in both the 3.8 and 3.6 variants) are super cramped, and we push our Jeeps when offroading, especially in hot and dusty places like Moab or the Rubicon.

I was really excited when Rugged Ridge sent me one of their performance vented hoods to try.  This would be the perfect chance to see just what kind of a difference would be seen with a vented hood.

We push our Jeeps in some pretty hot and arid places such as Moab.

Before the Rugged Ridge hood, I considered a bunch of options. Starting with the cheaper end, I looked at hood louvers from companies like Gen Right and Poison Spider.  The biggest benefit to these, is that you do not need to paint your hood.

Continue reading Product Review: Rugged Ridge Heat Reduction Hood

Product Review: Beyond Meat’s BEAST BURGER

I have been waiting for the Beast Burger from Beyond Meat for a VERY LONG time.  Ever since my friend over there told me it was in “the works” I wanted to try it out.

As a vegan, veggie burgers are crucial.  First, they give me a staple I can relate to from my meat days.  I know to some this may sound stupid, but that’s just how this vegan rolls.  On a nice summer day, I still like tossing something on the grill other than corn and asparagus.  Or, in the winter I may crave a bacon double cheeseburger.

Beast Burger with crispy onions, pickles, and BBQ.

There are a lot of contenders in this space too.  Companies like Gardein, Field Roast, and now Beyond Meat all produce decent burgers (in addition to the Boca and other large brands).  But it seems like each one trades off something.

Gardein’s burgers are good, but plain and oily.  Field Roast’s Hand formed burgers require you to refinance your home mortgage ($7.99 for 4 small patties) and companies like Morningstar add egg whites so they are not even vegan.

All of this meant I was really stoked to finally get my paws on a brand new burger.

Awesome packaging and branding.

As always, the retail packaging was designed well and the price was good.  Two 1/4 pound patties (frozen) per $6.49 box means a premium, all vegan, non-GMO burger patty for $3 and change.

I tossed them on the grill along with some asparagus.  I decided to pair them with some vegan bacon strips from Sweet Earth and Chao regular cheese slices.

Lunch. FTW.

These burgers grill up really nicely over a well seasoned propane grill.  I applied a little spray olive oil to each side (per the instructions) to help them out a little.

Watch them grill:

Beasts on the grill.

I heated them up really well, melted some Chao cheese on ’em, dropped the bacon on and had a GREAT lunch.

My first impression was yes.  Yes to a good-tasting,  hearty as heck, well made vegan burger.  The flavor was right in the middle of the “not so meaty but still meaty enough” scale that companies like Beyond Meat must navigate carefully.

While the taste is what really excited me, it were the nutritional claims that made me look twice.  Beyond Meat claims that the Beast Burger:

  • Has more protein and iron than beef;
  • Has more omega fatty acids than salmon;
  • Is GMO free;
  • Features a “beyond nutrient blend” which apparently makes me healthier.
The claims are right on the box.

All of this poses a question I will ask myself rhetorically,

“If I can eat more protein and iron, more omegas, less cholesterol (as in zero), less fat, and less cancer-causing meat stuff, while enjoying a great texture and flavor why wouldn’t I?”

The ingredient list, while long, is all natural, basic ingredients.  I see things like pea protein, canola oil, beet juice powder, onion powder, paprika, etc.

A long ingredient list and pretty decent nutritional specs.

I mean when you look at the actual nutrient benefits of these burgers, combined with the taste and texture, relatively low cost, no worry of food-borne pathogens, ease of cooking, and a multitude of other benefits….shouldn’t’ we?

Some Chao melti-ness on my beasts.

At least one thing is for sure.  My freezer will be full of these things, and I look forward to dragging some with me to Moab and the Rubicon later this Summer.

Product Review: Rugged Ridge XHD Wheels

**UPDATED 9/2015** I have had these wheels and rings for a while now and the wheels are still in perfect condition, save a trip down the Rubicon, A week in Moab, and even a run on Crushers here at home.  While the rock rings are really torn up (that’s their job!) I will be replacing them soon.  They have kept the wheels in flawless shape.

Bent, battered, and torn - but did their job!
Bent, battered, and torn – but did their job!

I have had quite a few wheels on my Jeeps over the years.  My TJ had factory, my first JK had American Racing, and my 2012 Rubicon had MTBs.  All of these rims had one fatal flaw in my opinion – although they looked good, they were scratch and damage magnets when on the trail.

My old TJ, wheelin in Colorado with stock Jeep wheels.

I started looking at beadlocks, because I really wanted a replaceable rock ring (and of course other benefits).  The biggest downside to beadlocks for me was price and legality (many beadlocks are not approved for on road use).

So when I first saw Rugged Ridge’s XHD wheels at Jeep Beach, I was really excited.  These wheels feature an optional, replaceable rock ring that does an awesome job protecting the rim.  And the price is a lot cheaper than beadlocks.

Continue reading Product Review: Rugged Ridge XHD Wheels

What is the Best Phone for Off-roading?

I have always been a gadget guy, interested in the latest mobile devices.  I had the iPhone 3G, 3GS, HTC Evo, Samsung Galaxy S3, and most recently the Note 3.

All of these devices have their own set of pros and cons.

Recently, it was time for me to upgrade so I wanted to look at my top 3 priorities in a phone:

Continue reading What is the Best Phone for Off-roading?

Product Review: Gardein Fishless Filets

Tonight I had some MAJOR deja vu.  I was eating dinner, and was magically brought back in time to eating fried fish and chips with my family at Ronnie’s Seafood on the side of Route 20 in Auburn, Massachusetts.

The only difference?  Instead of deep fried haddock I was enjoying an amazing, easy vegan meal in my own home.

The vegan meat industry is rapidly crowding with the latest in burger analogs and hot dog fake outs.  But the vegan fish space seems to be pretty vacant.

Tartar sauce, fries, and fish? All vegan!!???

Enter Gardein’s Fishless FIlets.  And they are absolutely amazing.

Continue reading Product Review: Gardein Fishless Filets

Product Review: Goodyear Duratrac Tires

It’s often hard to find a tire that is good at everything, typically you have to make some sacrifices.  However, I found the Goodyear Duratracs to be some of the best options on the market.

Duratracs clung to the grippy slick rock of Moab.

There are 4 key conditions and factors I always consider when choosing a tire:

Continue reading Product Review: Goodyear Duratrac Tires

Product Review: Factor 55 Flatlink

If you Jeep anywhere worth Jeeping, you know the feeling:  You’re stuck, and grab the hook on the end of your winch line, running it out to whatever anchor point you need to use.  And you have a hook.

What the heck are you supposed to do with a hook!?

Enter the product line of winching accessories from Factor 55.

I was interested in their Prolink “thimble” that acted as a quick attachment point for the end of the winch line.  After the install, I noticed it protruded out quite a bit, and I worried about that first careless person that nosed into the parking spot a little too far.

Continue reading Product Review: Factor 55 Flatlink

Product Review: ARB 50QT. Fridge/Freezer (aka ‘The Vegan Savior’)

There are many cases today that the adage “you get what you pay for” really applies.  However, it seems the only time that logic applies is when you are contemplating a pretty expensive purchase.  Hence this review of the ARB 50 quart Fridge Freezer.

As a Jeeper, I must say that having an actual refrigerator (or freezer) has been “offroad life changing.”  I am no longer running out to get extra ice, or dealing with soggy food, or having water sloshing in the back of the Jeep.

As a vegan, however, my actual life has in fact been really changed by this amazing fridge.

Continue reading Product Review: ARB 50QT. Fridge/Freezer (aka ‘The Vegan Savior’)

Product Review: Ace Engineering’s Lava Jacket!

Living in rural Oregon has many advantages: beautiful mountains, rainforest streams, and a lot of wildlife.  The downside?  Longer commutes and chilly mornings.

What is a doorless and topless Jeeper to do?

Previously, I would pack layers of clothing and bundle up, slowly removing layers as the temp rose.  I would start my day looking like Randy from A Christmas Story.

Many Jeepers start their summertime morning commutes just like this.
Many Jeepers start their summertime morning commutes just like this.

Enter the ACE Engineering Lava Jacket!

Continue reading Product Review: Ace Engineering’s Lava Jacket!

Product Review: Jeep’s Badge of Honor Program

UPDATE 3/25/2015: Jeep has been in contact with me (per the comments) regarding changes and fixes they have been making on this program.  I downloaded the new version from Google Play this week, and so far the app looks like a total redesign and it seems nice.  Time will tell when I attempt trail logins and other activities on the site, if I decide to give this another shot (I did notice my previous achievements are still missing in the big browser version).  Check back here and I will update my review!

I suppose by the featured image you can guess what I think about Jeep’s “Badge of Honor” program.

In principle, it’s brilliant.  The program has Jeep owners create a profile (linked to their Jeep’s VIN) and perform certain tasks to rank up among fellow Jeep owners.

A well-branded, well-intended failure.
A well-branded, well-intended failure.

If you upload a photo from the trail you get 15 points, you can give a virtual Jeep wave for 5, or comment on a thread for 5 points.  You also get 10 points for each day you log into the system. But the real points come rolling in when you check in at a trail for some Jeeping with a whopping 200 points per check in. Continue reading Product Review: Jeep’s Badge of Honor Program