Stanley Coffee Press and Mug Review

mug and press

Sometime in the last couple of years, I ordered a new coffee press and mug from Stanley off of Amazon. Full disclosure here, I’ve never used any Stanley products before, but I needed a new travel coffee mug. A quick search brought me to the Stanley Classic One Hand 20oz Vacuum Mug.

I also enjoy pressed style coffee, so I wanted something other than a glass French press to add to my adventure gear. I initially included a glass French press in my adventure box but thought better of it. Cleaning up broken glass after bumping down the trails at the end of the day didn’t seem like any fun. Stanley released a slew of camping related items, and their Mountain Vacuum Coffee System covers me in terms of having a press.

The Coffee Mug

I’ll start with this. Never have I had a coffee mug that has kept my coffee hot (I mean hot, not lukewarm) throughout the entire day. I’ve tried other sealed mugs where the temperature of the beverage changes throughout the day. And while your hot beverage of choice might be warm-ish by the end of the day in other mugs, the Stanley Vacuum mug won’t let you down.

Stanley states that the mug will keep hot beverages hot for 9 hours, cold beverages cold for 8 hours, and iced beverages iced for 35 hours. I haven’t tried cold or iced beverages yet, but I can attest to the 9 hours for hot drinks. I would even go so far as to say that I’ve had beverages stay hot longer than the 9 hours.

The tall and slender design of this mug allows you to quickly wrap your hand around the mug for a secure hold. I purchased the 20 oz mug, which is the larger of three options, so it’s slightly more awkward to hold than the smaller sizes. The 16 oz or even the 12 oz options might be better for full hand engagement or if you have smaller hands.

This is a spill-proof mug, and that is partly due to the top automatically resealing. To drink from this mug, you have to depress and hold the button on the head. It does not lock open and closed. Most of my past coffee mugs either had this option or a lid to flip open. I prefer the locking top so getting used to pressing the button each time was a bit of a hassle, but it did prevent accidental spillage. In the end, I would highly recommend this coffee mug to anyone.

The Press and Thermos

Keeping a glass French press in your camp kit might not be a good idea. While mine hasn’t broken yet, I can see it getting smashed in the future. As I enjoy pressed coffee over traditionally made coffee, I decided to get a more camp friendly option. The Stanley Mountain Vacuum Coffee System fits the bill, with one caveat. It’s big. I decided to go with the larger 1.1-quart size as opposed to the 17 oz size. With the larger sized system, it does not fit snuggly in my adventure box like my current French press does. The Mountain Vacuum Coffee System comes with six pieces: two cups that screw together, a storage top to hold grinds, the thermos, a pot, and press screen for the pot. They all fit together nicely for storage when you’re not making coffee.

Stanley coffee press apart.
Stanley coffee press apart.

The process of making coffee with this system isn’t hard. If you’ve made coffee in a French press before you should know how to do this, heat water, add coffee, and let steep for 5-10 minutes. The nice thing about this system is the thermos top allows for coffee grinds to be stored inside it. The top holds just less than a measuring cups worth of grinds. If you’re just getting out overnight, you can load up the top and not have to carry more than what you need.

I used my stove at home to heat the water in the pot. After about 10 minutes the water was not quite boiling and was ready for the grinds. I poured in half a tops worth of grinds, stirred them up (pack something to stir with), and let the coffee sit for 10 minutes. Once the steeping has completed, you drop the press basket into the pot and carefully press down the grinds.

The one thing to be careful with is how much water to add to the pot. During my initial test, I filled the pot above where the handle resides. Once I added in my coffee and pressed it down, I ended up with a nice coffee pool on my counter. I would recommend not having water above where the handle attaches to the pot.

Pouring the coffee out into a mug was pretty easy, but I do wish the press basket locked into place. I understand it won’t work with the grinds in the bottom, but I was concerned it was going to fall out while pouring. If you’ve got a full pot of water, you should get about 6 cups of coffee out of it using the included mugs. The thermos holds an entire pot of coffee with some possibly left over depending how much water you’ve added (again, I don’t recommend filling past the grab handle).

I poured the contents of my recently made coffee into the thermos and left it on my kitchen counter for about 4 hours. This was an unusually warm day so the air conditioning was running and it was cold in my kitchen. I checked the coffee temperature every hour or so and never experienced a change in temperature. Much like the coffee mug, the thermos will keep hot drinks hot for 24 hours, cold drinks cold for 20 hours, and iced drinks iced for 100 hours. This is an absurd amount of time, but it’s good to know you could have a hot or cold beverage ready to go at the end of a long run of trails.

Conclusions and Field Test

I got the chance to test it out “in the field” several times over a few weekends using my camp stove. I haven’t tried it out on my backpacking stove yet, but I don’t imagine I’ll ever carry it in that sort of setup. As I mentioned, it unpacks and packs up quickly enough, and the stainless steel and plastic cleans up nicely when I’m done with it. The water pot didn’t take long at all to get the water to just below boiling. I didn’t notice the handle getting excessively hot either as I did with my stove test. I used a full cap full of a Tim Horton’s roast and let it steep for about 10 minutes. The screw together integrated mugs came in handy while sitting around the morning fire.

Overall I am very impressed with this system and would recommend it to anyone who wants a French press system in their camping gear. It’s easy to use, packs up nicely, and makes a good cup of coffee. The only downside is it’s not small or light, something I can get over. If you’re a coffee drinker and you keep an adventure box in your car ready to go, you may have to rethink your storage solution, but overall this is a great product.

Mug Purchase Links: Stanley Website | Amazon

Press Purchase LInks: Stanley Website | Amazon

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Places to Go: Beaver Island

Places To Go: Beaver Island

There are a good number of islands dotted throughout the Great Lakes. The largest of these being Drummond Island and Isle Royale, both of which are respectable adventuring spots. However, one island in Lake Michigan not far off the cost from Charlevoix has a strange history. Accessible by boat or plane, Beaver Island, has now become a favorite place for finding adventure and planning a vacation.

The Places to Go series explores adventure related points of interest in the state of Michigan. We are highlighting everything from the large to small, the known to the unknown. If it’s interesting, we might cover it, and you should visit it.

A Strange History

Coming in at 13 miles long by anywhere from 3 to 6 miles wide, Beaver Island has a mostly flat and sandy make up. Its remote location doesn’t stop it from having a strange past. A self-proclaimed king, a fist fighting priest, and Tolstoy follower all make up the island’s colorful history.

Some of The First Settlers

In 1848 a group of about 300 Mormon people moved from Voree, Wisconsin to Beaver Island. Their leader, James Strang, established the island as a religious theocracy under the banner of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite). The smaller offshoot of the larger church by the same name occupied Beaver Island for approximately ten years, with Strang declaring himself as a king.

The town of St. James is named after Strang as well as the King’s Highway. Strang also managed to get himself elected to the Michigan House of Representatives where he established a county consisting of the Beaver Island archipelago and the Manitou islands to the south. Manitou county is no longer an established county.

King Strang

The strangeness freshwater in 1850 when Strang declared himself King of his religious organization. He was crowned King Strang in a ceremony with his followers, and things seemed to go downhill from there. Clashing frequently with other patrons of the island, Strang attempted to exert his “rule” over the people who did not fall into his religious group.

Of course, the forceful taking of lands and physical violence didn’t help either. Strang died in 1856 after being lured into what seems like a  trap aboard a naval vessel. After his death, his followers were driven from the island and eventually Manitou County aforementioned into Charlevoix County.

After The King’s Death

From 1856 after Strang died up until the mid-1900s, Beaver Island was a booming place. Inheriting a sizeable Irish population, the island became known for supplying the country with freshwater fish. However, by the 1900s this had changed. Fishing and logging were the island’s central economy up until the 1940s. Most of the island’s residents left at this time until tourism took hold in the 1970s.

Two other notable people inhabited the island after Strang’s death. The first was a priest who was known for getting into a fight with one of his congregation in his chapel. Feodor Protar, the other notable inhabitant, lived on the island as a recluse but also acted as the islands doctor. Both men left lasting impacts on the island and the surrounding areas.

The Modern Beaver Island

Beaver Island has become a vacation haven for anyone wishing to get away from the mainland. Don’t let its small size fool you though, even though it relies on tourism as part of its economy there are still plenty of things to do, including several restaurants, hotels, and modern amenities. Currently, the island can be gotten to by either taking a two-hour boat ride or a 20-minute plane ride.

Lakes, Trails, and Camping

Several inland lakes and nature trails make up the interior of the island. Beaver Island is also part of the aforementioned archipelago in Lake Michigan with at least three other islands accessible by private boat. These include Garden Island, Hog Island, and High Island all of which are uninhabited.

The island is also home to two lighthouses, something every Michigander should be familiar with. The Beaver Island harbor light is on the north end of the island in St. James. The second lighthouse, named the Beaver Island Head Light, is on the south end of the island overlooking Lake Michigan.

Iron Ore Bay on Beaver Island.
Iron Ore Bay on Beaver Island. Via Wikimedia Commons

And of course what would be a proper adventure without some camping. There are two small rustic campgrounds on the island, The Saint James Township Campground and the Bill Wagner Peaine Township Campground. Both offer easy access to Lake Michigan. There is also the Beaver Island Campground, a private campground opening in summer of 2019, that gives patrons the chance to sleep in a rather large safari-style tent.

When You Leave

Once you’ve explored all there is to explore on Beaver Island you can catch a plane or boat ride back to Charlevoix. Once there, there’s still plenty more of this city and the state to adventure in. But we’ll save that for another Places to Go.

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Lynxx Chainsaw Review

Lynxx chainsaw

When it comes to gathering wood for a fire, what’s the first thing you grab? An axe? A hand saw? Maybe it’s a high-powered 2 stroke chainsaw fit for a logger. What if I told you there was an option that can process wood as fast as that 2 stroke, but that is no louder than an idling rig. In this review we are going over the Lynxx 40 v Chainsaw ($179.99) from Harbor Freight.

Specs

  • 40 v lithium-ion battery
  • 2.5 Ah
  • 60 min charge time
  • Weight 13.35 lbs

Features

  • Chain oiler
  • Chain break that cuts power to motor
  • Tool-less chain tentioner
  • 14 inch Oregon bar and chain

Personal Thoughts

Lets get right into it. This saw is great, but like everything it has its down falls. When it comes to cutting soft and dry wood, this thing is a dream. But if you happen to cut through hard or wet wood, the battery is going to drain faster. This isn’t a problem if you have a power inverter, or a spare battery.

Something that I was a disappointed about is the lack of a proper case. A bar sheath is included, but with out a case that covers the entire saw, space inside the vehicle will be taken up to keep it safe.

I enjoy knowing that anytime I come across a downed tree on the trail, I can hop out of the truck, pop a battery in and take care of it. No tapping into my fuel reserves or fussing with mixing oils. Just pull the trigger and its instant power, that is if you haven’t hit the chain break. And the fact that it uses a Oregon chain and bar, a brand that is found in almost any hardware store, is great for that unexpected break down when you’re far from home.

Despite everything I don’t like about, this saw has become the number one tool I use when overlanding. No matter what I’m doing, where I go, however long I’m gone for, it comes with me. Because you never know what you’ll encounter when out on the trail.

Purchase Link

Brand Spotlight: Triple Aught Design (TAD)

Triple Aught Design Brand Spotlight

No good adventure should be compromised because of gear that doesn’t stand up to what it needs to. Whether it’s gear, clothing, or anything you carry with you, it needs to hold up. Triple Aught Design (TAD) checks the box when it comes to the apparel and gear you take on the road and adventure with.

Early Years

Founded in 1997, but not becoming a company until 2010, TAD has provided exceptional quality apparel in the years since. Their approach to crafting high quality, military grade apparel makes them one of the most sought after companies for adventure apparel that holds up outdoors. Materials are mostly sourced in the states and products are entirely stitched, sewn, and cut all in the United States.

Digital and Physical Presence

Along with an online presence, TAD has two storefront locations in California and Colorado. While the Boulder Outpost, as it’s known, is in an excellent position for product testing, the California HQ location is the launching point. The 4,000 square foot Dogpatch base offers more than enough storefront and real estate to launch new endeavors. One of them, CORE, was started in 2014 as a way to enhance specific skills necessary for adventure and self-protection. Courses are taught over a few days by an expert in the field and give students a skill set that becomes invaluable in certain situations.

The Overlanding Connection

While outdoor adventure has always been a part of the brand, they’ve recently branched out into some overlanding related experiences. With California as a home base, TAD has been able to provide two different types of trips, single day and multi-day events. The overlanding related adventures found them exploring in the deserts of Death Valley and the Sierra Nevadas. Each trip allowed participants to experience overlanding, learn some new skills, and have the chance to see and use new TAD gear in the field.
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