The Real 2012 Outdoor News From CES?

The coolest news for paddlers and other outdoor enthusiasts may have come not from Outdoor Retailer’s 2012 Winter Market, but from the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show where new nano-technology was introduced that may soon bring us all waterproof smart phones and tablets. It’s hard to imagine another innovation that has such potential to actually change how we do what we do when it comes to exploring our wild outdoors.

Let’s face it, most of us are getting pretty tech savvy these days and our electronic gizmos are becoming an important part of our outdoor experience. Like it or not, we’ve followed the curve from paper maps, charts & compasses to GPS to smart phones and tablets without much of a hitch.  We also know that when it comes to navigation, charts, weather and even photography these days, there’s gizmo and an app out there just perfect for our needs.  The problem is that it’s pretty risky taking a smart phone or tablet out in inclement weather, let alone on our kayak! Experience has taught us that even electronics designed and advertised as “water proof” rarely are, no matter what they say on the box.  Dry bags work, but are not a great solution either. They often just get in the way, either being too bulky or too thick for our sensitive touch screens to work properly.  Well, things might be about to change.

At the recently held Consumer Electronics Show a company called HzO demonstrated its new “WaterBlock” system that basically covers every part of your electronic gadget in a thin, waterproof nano-coating. At the show they demonstrated how treated iPhones and Android devices will still function when under water. (See the video above) How cool is that?  This may be the first step toward a world where we can bring our smart phones and tablets out into our watery world with out a second thought…. Well, that is until we realize we can’t get a signal… Keep your compass handy!



I took my lanes to the sea
we had just pressed the shells into our bones
and we saw the queen in the sky
gently revealing the treasures of her crowns
– bat for lashes

Tech-head paddlers have all talked about waterproof phones and cameras for some time now. Heck, even I’m guilty of fanning sick fantasies of playing with our iPods, iPads, Androids and every other sort of gizmo out on the water. I even encourage paddlers to listen to music when they practice their kayak rolling.  Personally I’ve been listening to Pink Floyd, Radiohead, or Bat For Lashes during pool sessions for years.  If you’re into taking your toys on (or in) the water, there’s no end to the number of waterproof cases and headphones to choose from these days. Where things get sticky, is when you start looking for ways to talk.  Continue reading

Pentax Optio – (insert curse here)

Is something wrong, she said – Well of course there is
You’re still alive, she said – Oh, and do I deserve to be
Is that the question?
pearl jam

Is not the Optio by Pentax the biggest shaft ever put to a paddlers hide?  I’m on my 3rd.  The W60 is the first one that actually stayed working for more than one season. Working, just long enough for the lens to do it’s impersonation of the record from Monty Python’s Hungarian phrasebook sketch. “I will not buy this camera, It is scratched.”  Of course it is.  There’s no freaking lens cap!  Great plan for a camera that’s supposed to put up with what outdoor folks can throw at it.. Seems obvious doesn’t it? (insert curse here) Continue reading