Let me preface this blog article with the following disclaimer:
I am not an outdoorsy type of guy. I NEVER go camping, much less by myself and I am what people might refer to as an “avid indoorsman”. My idea of roughing it is a hotel with no room service.
Which is why I am perfectly qualified to review this tent. If an outdoor novice like me can use it, then anyone can use it. Also, down below I have a video showing me putting it up and taking it down so you can see how easy it is. There is also a link to purchase the tent if you like it. (That link opens up to Amazon and is an affiliate link, meaning I will get paid a small commission if you make a purchase. Purchasing through my link doesn’t cost you anything additional and you absolutely do not have to purchase from my link if you don’t want to.)
For whatever reason, I got a hankering to go camping a few weeks ago. Maybe it was because I feel like I am cooped up working from home all the time or just wanted to get up into the mountains and chill a bit, but whatever the reason, I made the decision to go. We have a tent, but it sleeps 6, is an absolute nightmare to put up and take down, and just wouldn’t be a good fit for what I wanted to do.
(As an aside, I don’t know who the sick bastards are that created the tent and tent bag, but was it really necessary to make the tent bag much smaller than the rolled up tent itself? This seems contraindicated in my opinion and causes me no small amount of grief as I wrestle with the tent, trying to shove it back into ridiculously small tent bag while my family watches me sweat and curse. Anyway, back to the review…)
So, I went online to search for a tent that would do the trick. I wanted a small, 2-person tent that was easy to set up and take down, would keep me dry, and was high quality but not too expensive.
Out of all the choices I found, I decided to go with the ABCOSport Pop Up Tent. I was a little worried about it being high enough quality and sturdy enough for my needs, but the reviews were good and it was only $69.99 so I decided to roll the dice.
My first impressions were that it came packaged up kind of weird. I guess I expected it to be rolled up, but it came packaged flat and round. After extracting it from the packaging, it made sense why. The tent poles are built into the tent itself and are collapsible so that you can fold it up easily.
When I took it out of the package it was contained in a zippered pouch with straps for carrying it. It is extremely lightweight and easy to handle, if a bit awkward. But, it fit in my car fine.
At the campsite I unzipped the pouch and pulled the tent out. You are supposed to simply fling it in the air and it “pops” open, fully assembled. As I let go of the tent it did indeed pop open just as a gust of wind came in through the campsite. That gust threatened to carry my tent away with it as I scrambled to grab it before it went heading down the side of the mountain leaving yours truly in a bit of a pickle, so to speak.
Anyway, after that bit of excitement, I was able to get it all staked down and secured. The inside was surprisingly roomy and seemed bigger than it was. It can fit 2 people easily.
The inside has some sort of UV coating that reflects heat and keeps the inside at a pleasant temperature. Two mesh windows on either side allow for a cross breeze if needed.
As I bedded down for the night, it got really cold up in the mountains, but the UV coating played its part and keep it relatively warm inside. In fact, I had brought an extra blanket in case I got cold, but didn’t end up needing it at all. It was surprisingly comfortable inside.
The next morning I awoke, expecting to be damp from the dew, but it was dry as a bone inside. No problems whatsoever. It was also a testament to how well the tent retained my heat, because stepping outside the next morning it was a good 10-15 degrees cooler outside than inside.
Taking the tent down was almost as easy as putting it up. With just 5 simple folds, I got the tent collapsed and put back into its pouch with minimal effort. It was actually enjoyable to go camping this time without having to worry about the tent situation.
Overall, I was very pleased with the functionality of the tent as well as how easy it was to setup and take down. If you are looking for a reliable, sturdy, inexpensive tent that you can manage easily by yourself, give this one a shot.
To see it in action, check out the video below…
I’m such a sucker for compelling advertising. I can’t seem to get enough of it. I mean, as a kid on vacation with my family down in Florida I would often stay up in the hotel room, watching infomercials instead of going down to the beach with my brother and sisters. I collect junk mail. I watch the Super Bowl for the ads…and this is from an avid football fan.
Anyway, a little while back, while scrolling my Facebook feed, I saw an ad to invest in a distillery down in Utah. Being REALLY into whiskey and an ad nerd, it caught my attention right away. The minimum investment was just $250 so I thought, “Hey what the heck, I’ll do that and then I can say I am part owner of a distillery.” I thought it would be kind of a fun thing to do and be a part of.
As an “investor” I am on their mailing list which keeps me up to date on what those guys are up, news about the distillery, product releases, and more. A few weeks ago I got an email letting me know that they were opening the distillery up for tours and tastings. I signed on right away.
This past weekend my brother-in-law and I made the 5-1/2 hour drive down to Clear Water Distilling Co. in Pleasant Grove, Utah to do the tour. We arrived Friday afternoon and had the tour scheduled for 6pm that evening. The distillery is located in a warehouse in a group of warehouses that look relatively newly built. As we walked in, the distinct smell of distilled spirits gently wafted through our olfactory system. It was a very pleasant smell.
The interior was bright and clean. One room leading to the warehouse serves as a tasting room and the interior design is reminiscent of an old school apothecary. Plush chairs, velvet on the walls, and ornate furniture made the room feel cozy and inviting.
The distillery area itself was also clean and antiseptic. That they cared a great deal about contaminations was reassuring. The equipment they had purchased was second-hand, but gleamingly clean and bright. It looked brand new except for a few dents here and there that indicated some age. It was modern and well-maintained though.
Nick and James, two of Clear Water’s employees, led us on the tour with Nick doing most of the heavy lifting in describing their process for distilling spirits. The company motto is “Be Defiantly Different” and it is clear they mean just what they say with the spirits they are distilling. Their “icon” line features a unique array of spirits that don’t quite fit into any established category. Each one is named after important - though lesser known - historical figures that you have probably never heard of, but should know.
This spirit is their eau de vie and is a veritable blend of different fruits, molasses, and wine, then aged lightly in toasted oak barrels. It was surprisingly refreshing, with notes of apple, pear, and honeysuckle. I’m a fan of brandy and cognac, and this spirit was every bit as good as some of the best stuff I’ve had.
It was affectionately named after Josephine Baker, a world-renowned entertainer, World War II spy, and civil rights activist. The spirit Josephine is just as layered and intricate as her namesake.
Named for famed Danish explorer, Lorenz Freuchen, this crafted spirit is just as bold in both form and function. It was described to us as a “cinnamon rum” although because of how it is distilled, cannot legally be called a rum. Through the distillation process it is processed through both cinnamon and vanilla which gives it a decidedly dessert-like flavor, reminiscent of homemade apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
I’m not generally a fan of flavored spirits, but the Lorenz was so artfully done that I would definitely make space for it in my liquor cabinet.
Rene is the newest release and not much about it is found on their website as of yet. I should have paid more attention to Nick’s explanation about who it is named after, but what I did pay attention to was the flavor and taste of Rene.
It is a blend of rye whiskey and Armagnac brandy and was absolutely delicious. I never would have dreamed those two flavors combined would produce something so unique and tasty, but they did. It was a perfect marriage of the spiciness from the rye and the sweetness from the Armagnac.
In addition to the Icon line, Clear Water is also bottling some sourced offerings, such as their 14-year light whiskey and a delicious 5-year old rye. I’m 99.99% sure that the rye is being sourced MGP (the label on the bottle says, “Distilled in Indiana…” which is a dead giveaway.)
I have no issues with that, however. Some purists may, but the number rule in my book is simply whether I like it or not and I genuinely like both of those. In fact, I liked the rye so much that I bought a bottle to bring home with me.
Anyway, the weekend was a great success and we had a blast. Nick and James were perfect hosts (James even drove us to the restaurant we were going to so we’d save the Uber fare) and couldn’t have made our experience any better.
In full disclosure, as I mentioned at the beginning of this review, I own stock in the company and have a vested interest in its success. My enthusiasm for what they are doing is genuine, however. To be perfectly frank, I went into this with really low expectations. I wasn’t expecting their spirits to be as good as they are. I hope that Matt and the team can forgive me for this, because after having a taste, my opinion is firmly in the camp of “This stuff is delicious!”
Give them a try if you can and let me know what you think.
A couple years ago, I was sitting up in my home office, watching YouTube on my TV. I wasn’t watching anything in particular, just scrolling through my suggested feed and watching whatever interested me.
There’s a channel that I subscribe to which is run by a guy named Jeremy Siers that I particularly enjoy. I think he’s about my age (maybe a little younger) and I really love his videos. So, when I saw one of his new ones show up in my feed I clicked on it. In it, he was reviewing his top 5 whiskey picks that were all under $50.
I’m fairly certain this was the video…
Having grown up in a very strict religious household, alcohol of any kind was strictly prohibited. So, I had never really had anything to drink before then, but his video captivated me. I had recently left the religion and was open to exploring different things at that point. I had just gotten into cigars and was digging into that hobby as well. There was something about the handcrafted nature of it all that intrigued me.
Whiskey making really isn’t that much different. It takes a lot of time, resources, and patience to produce a consistently good product. I became enamored with the process of producing bourbon, scotch, Japanese, Irish, and other types of distilled spirits. While I enjoy all kinds of whisk(e)y, my first love is bourbon. There’s something about that delicious nectar of the Gods that I particularly enjoy.
I began learning everything I could about bourbon. How to nose it, how it was distilled, how the charred barrel levels affected its taste, how long different distilleries aged it, how some would finish it in port or sherry or other wine barrels, what distinguished it from scotch and other whisky, and of course, how to drink it.
To say I became obsessed would be a massive understatement. I tried as many new expressions as I could. If it had the word whisk(e)y in it, I was game to try it. (Except for Dickel’s Tabasco finished whiskey or Whicked Pickle whiskey…those I just can’t get my head around)
As my obsession grew, so did my collection.
Anyway, during my quest to learn as much as I could, I found a Certified Bourbon Steward program offered through the Stave & Thief Society. I thought it would be really fun to add that certification to my “resume” so to speak, so I enrolled in the program.
As part of the training, they include a nosing kit so that you can train your olfactory system to identify the different flavors of bourbon. A lot of people who are new to bourbon have a hard time getting past the alcohol smell and taste or think that all bourbon tastes the same. Once you can train your nose and palate to get under the alcohol, a whole new world of smell and taste open up.
Their program was really fun to do. Honestly, because I had been so steeped in the culture and history of bourbon along with developing my nose and palate on my own, the test to become certified was pretty easy for me. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I already knew much of what was being taught and even scored a 100% on the test.
All in all, it was a really great experience and if you are into bourbon at all you should highly consider becoming a Certified Bourbon Steward like me. And if you are not into bourbon, what are you waiting for!?
In late February of 2021 I went to the doctor for an annual check up and was diagnosed with Type II diabetes. This was a huge blow for me. I knew I was severely overweight and unhealthy, but up to that moment was never really inclined to take care of myself.
Sure, I had lost some weight in the past, but it was always with an attitude of “If I can just hit my goal weight, I will be happy.” I linked weighing a certain amount to happiness and when I hit that goal weight and was still unhappy, I thought, so what’s the point of losing weight if it won’t make me happy.
This is an idiotic line of thinking of course. But there we were.
After my diabetes diagnosis it dawned on me that I was literally killing myself with food, so I decided to make some changes to my diet. I read a book called The Obesity Code (that link will take you to Amazon if you wish to purchase the book) and it really helped me change the way I thought about how I eat and fuel my body.
His basic premise is that if you can control how many times you instigate an insulin response in your body (i.e. every time you consume calories, pretty much regardless of what kinds of calories they are, your body produces insulin…for a Type II diabetic this over production of insulin causes all sorts of problem, not the least of which is weight gain) you can control your weight more effectively.
His advice is to use Intermittent Fasting as a means to achieve this.
For the uninitiated, IF is exactly what it sounds like. You go without consuming calories for longer periods each day and only eat or drink during specific windows of time. When I started, I used a fasting schedule of 16/8 which meant that I would fast for 16 hours and eat 2-3 small meals during an 8-hour window of time.
This worked incredibly well. I lost weight very rapidly in the first 3 weeks, going from 231lbs to 214lbs during that time. Seventeen pounds in 3 weeks is no joke!
So, because the fasting window was very easy to comply with, I decided to start expanding my fasting window and shorten my eating window. From a 16/8 fast I started doing an 18/6 fast, then a 20/4 fast, until now I essentially only eat one meal a day during about a 20-30 minute window of time.
I have seen incredible results from using this tool, losing over 60lbs in less than 90 days and although I do get hungry late at night, it’s not overwhelming and is manageable. This is something I can do forever.
This is true for me, but intermittent fasting isn’t right for everyone. My wife, for example, doesn’t see the same benefits with fasting as I do…when she fasts over a period of several weeks her weight stays pretty consistent and she doesn’t really lose much (she’s also pretty fit, so there isn’t much to lose anyway). But, when she eats several small meals a day her results come.
But, if you are struggling with your weight, I would highly consider starting an intermittent fasting regimen, at least for a few weeks to see if it works for your body. To get the best results, I use an app called Fastic.
When I first began my fasting journey, I knew I would need something to help me manage it. So, I downloaded a nifty little app called Fastic.
The reason I love Fastic is that a) the free version is perfect for my needs, b) it is simple and easy to use, c) it gamifies my experience, making it fun and engaging, and d) it helps me maintain consistency.
When you create an account you set your fasting window and the dashboard will show you your real time progress and track your fasting. When you end your fast it keeps track of that as well and will prompt you to start your fasting window at the appropriate time. It awards you flames, frosties, and stars for hitting goals (and even though I have no idea what those are for, I still love getting rewarded haha) and makes it fun.
For me personally, seeing those progress bars throughout the day is extremely motivating and useful. It helps keep the willpower needed to a minimum because it has systemizes everything for me.
Other features that I enjoy and use are the weight tracker and the water consumption tracker. When fasting, it is crucial to consume lots of water. This does a couple things. First, it helps keep you satiated and eases hunger pangs. Second, it flushes out all the crap in your body that breaks down while you are in your fasting phase.
I log into Fastic at least 5-6 times per day or more. It is a tool that I constantly use to track progress and stay on track. If you are interested in trying Intermittent Fasting, I would highly recommend giving Fastic a try. It might just change your life.
P.S. Oh, and my diabetes? On my last A1c check I had completely reversed any sign of it and had my blood sugar completely under control. Intermittent Fasting may have literally saved my life.