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Northwest Overland member blogs detailing each individuals unique experience in preparing for and taking overland adventure travel with their friends and family.
So it's been a year now since I purchased this fridge and I figured I'd post up a reveiw of it. I'll start from day one
The fridge was ordered from www.compactappliance.com with free shipping. The price seems to be very fluid on these fridges and had gone down to 389.00 at one time. The fridge came quickly from the factory very well packed. You'll want to save the boxes because if you have to ship the fridge back under warranty, Edgestar wants it in the original box.
The fridge is very stout, It weighs around 40 pounds empty. It is all metal construction with the only plastic being the handles.
It comes with 2 removable plastic coated wire baskets that remove easy. My only compaint here is that the bottom of the baskets are uneven making it very difficult to put bottles staning up on. This is only really a problem when you're running low on supplies. I usually just leave the bottles in the 6 pak container. There is enough room in the fridge to stand 2 liter bottles up. While I haven't tried it yet, they claim you can hold 60 cans of soda in the fridge.
The controls on the fridge could not be any easier to use. Push and hold the set button till the display flashes, Adjust the temp to the desired setting and thats it. It cools very quickly and it went from room temp down to 35 in about 20 minutes. It also has a "flash freeze" function that when pressed it will drop the temp to 8 degrees. It has a memory in it so when you unplug it to move the fridge it will still be at the setting when you plug it back in. The fridge runs very quiet although I do have to say that in the year that I've had it, it has gotten slightly louder that when it was new.
Anyway after a year of ownership the fridge is still working as expected. I use it as a garage beer fridge, it is plugged into 110 and has been plugged in for about 10 months straight. It really saved us when the power went out for 3 days this winter as I plugged it into a 12 power pack and it kept our food frozen for that time. The longest I've left the fridge on the vehicle's battery is 3 days without starting it. The fridge will shut itself off when voltage drops below 10 or 11 volts. I was able to start the truck with no problem and the fridge turned itself back on and started cooling again.
- Well built, very sturdy
- Cools quickly and hold temp. very well
- Runs quietly
- Works as expected
- Drain plug in the floor
- Good price form a company with excellent costomer service.
- Zero aftermarket
- No tie down points
- 12 volt power cord is too short and the plug is fragile.
- Plastic handle are barely adequate. You can see them bending when carrying the empty fridge.
The only problem I've had with this fridge is the 12 volt power cord. The plug end that goes into the fridge is pretty fragile. I was able to trail fix it and make it home to fix permanatly. The other end is also wierd. it is a regular 12V ciggarette plug but has a removable red cap that comes off way to easy. I did manage to lose the cap and while it still worked it made the plug move around in the socket easy and it would loose the connection. Edgestar replaced the cord no questions asked though.
I did make a set of brackets to use as tie downs. I just used some metal I had laying around and they work fine. However if i do it again I'd use a little thicker metal as the one I have will bend slightly if the tie down points are out away from the fridge.
My wife complained when I originally bough the fridge. She said "you spent 400 bucks on a cooler?" But after a year and numerous camping trips she has come to enjoy having fresh food and no soggy mess to clean up after an outing. Plus it keeps all my beer out of the house fridge...
If anybody is on the fence about getting a 12volt fridge freezer, this is a great option. It is a cheaper altrenative to all the name brand fridges out there at about half the cost. www.sierraexpeditons.com has started selling these fridges under a different brand name. Also here is a great thread on Expedition Portal that has some great reveiws of this fridge. www.expeditionportal.com/forum/showthread.php
Update 2-6-12. The fridge has stopped working. It does not cool anymore. Set the thermostat at 50 and it will still run and run. I have contacted several service place and have hit a dead end. I guess now we are in the market for a new fridge before campong season.
Product Description and Photos
Exped DownMatsTM are one of the most compfortable mats I've ever slept on. Having hiked, biked, mountain climbed my way through different mats over the years, I thought I'd check out one of the more expensive alternatives and see if it was up to my standards.
- DownMat 9 DLX
- Retail Price - $170
- Weight - 44.4oz (1260g)
- Thickness - 3.5" (9cm)
- Length - 76" (193cm)
- Width - 26" (65cm)
- 700 fill down
- R-Value - 8
- Unique pump sack included
Also included in this review is the Exped Pump Pillow. This one of a kind pillow acts as a simple pump to help inflate the mat and then is useful for a night's rest.
The pillow is on the left and the Exped 9DLX is safely stored in its water proof drybag on the right.
A fully inflated Exped 9DLX
One of two valves used to inflate and deflate the unit.
One way valve in the bottom of the drybag used for inflating the pad.
The foam filled pillow.
An identical one way valve in the 'stem' of the pillow
When packed, the pillow is about 8" long and 3" high
A real life measurement shows the fully inflated mat to be about 4.5" thick
There are a few things to consider when deciding to switch to a down filled sleeping pad. First, you REALLY shouldn't blow into them. I realize most foam mats state this as well, but you can usually get away with it and not cause a lot of bacterial growth. But with a DownMat, you have a far greater chance of moisture being trapped in the fluff of the down and starting unwanted growth.
And that leads to the second consideration; it's going to be more work to set up this mat than just opening a foam mat and giving it a few puffs of air.
Exped has overcome the first concern by crafting a rather smart drybag. Not only does the bag keep the DownMat completely dry and dust free in transport, it has a one way valve in the bottom to aid in inflation. This is how it works:
- Lay out the DownMat as you would any other sleeping pad and open both valves. While Exped states it will regain most of its loft after being packed, I've never found this to be true. It will be about 1" thick or so after you've opened the valves and let some air in.
- Push the one way valve of the drybag onto one of the valves on the DownMat. You should feel a 'click' when you have a positive lock.
- Close the other valve.
- Fluff up the drybag from the inside. Exped has again done their homework and field testing when it comes to the drybag. Inside the side lining of the drybag there is a foam pad. This pad extends up about 9 inches on the sides and helps the drybag regain and hold its shape after each pump. This is a real nice design feature and very useful
- Roll closed the drybag and push all the air into the DownMat. You can see from the picture below that I end up using my knees to help assist.
- Once all the air is out of the drybag the one way valve will hold things in place as you go back to step 4 and repeat until the DownMat is full.
- When the DownMat is full, keep the drybag on the valve and give the valve a twist until it's closed.
- You can now remove the drybag and you're done!
The Pump Pillow works in much the same way bot on a smaller scale. Instead of fluffing it up, the foam inside will bring the unit back to full size between each inflation. With the pillow connected in the same manner as the drybag, place one hand over the open hole on top (this is the hole the air returns through) and the other next to it. Press down much like a CPR compression. Lift your hand off the inflation hole and presto! the pillow reinflates.
Filling the DownMat 9 DLX does take a bit of time. On average, it takes me 15-18 full drybags of air before the mat is ready for use. I have never timed myself, but it almost seems the pillow is a bit faster as you can get many compressions in, but you have less rest between inflations.
If you notice in the last picture there are two tabs at the top of the DownMat. There are also two closed loops on the pillow picture further up (they are orange and hard to see). Somehow the pillow is supposed to be able to attach to the DownMat so the pillow will not walk off in the middle of the night. But I have never been able to figure out how that happens and will be contacting Outdoor Research (the new owners of Exped) at some point in the future. Both the DownMat and pillow are made of a polyester material and while claiming to be 'slip-proof' in reality them both move on each other quite easily.
Lastly, the DownMat has internal baffles and a couple of thick pieces of foam at each end. These are in places to make sure the down stays evenly distributed and does not eject out the valves when air is being released.
In the field, the DownMat works as well as advertised. I have now used the mat in frozen grown, rocks, sand, dirt and snow. Without a doubt this sleeping pad did make my nights of sleep out in the field more comfortable. The picture above was taken on the Whipsaw Trail in British Columbia. The ground was near freezing and I didn't have my down sleeping bag with me. Instead, I had to rely on two thin summer bags, a bivy sack and an 'iffy' 30F bag. While I woke in the night because of heat loss from above me, I had the odd sensation of my side closest to the ground being noticably warmer. With any closed cell foam pad I've used before I always had a concern about the ground sucking away my warth. On this trip the DownMat performed as advertised and did a better job of keeping me warmer than the 4 layers of sleeping bags did.
A second test on the snow produced similar results. Although this time I had my warmest sleeping bag, I never felt the snow below me and had a very restful night's sleep. The one thing I learned from this trip is how big the DownMat 9DLX really is. In a normal 4 season 3 person mountaineering tent, the pad takes up a LOT of space. This may be a concern for some as two 9DLX's next to each other might fight for space in a 3 person tent.
Sleeping on sand and rocks was handled equally as well. The valves at the top of the unit allowed me to fine tune the air just like I could with a foam pad. And with the extra thickness of the pad, I had more room to let the pad shape over rocks while still keeping them from hitting my body in the night.
For me, the DownMat 9DLX is a keeper. Backed by quality construction and a lifetime warranty, I look forward to many more nights of comformt while on the trail or getting lost in the mountains.
As with any product, there are some downsides. These are what I've found after about a hlaf dozen uses
- Packability for hikes is odd. It doesn't just strap on like a ThermaRest does
- If the bag is lost/destroyed, how do you inflate the unit
- Not sure how to patch the pad if it gets a hole
PRODUCT DESCRIPTION AND PHOTOS
The PETT(r) Portable Toilet is a easy to use and transport comfort from home. The until is made to hold 400lbs of weight and be deployed in under a minute.
- Retail Price - $116
- Weight - 7lbs
- Dimensions - 14.25" x 5" x 19.5"
- Easy carry handle
- Folding legs
- Uses Wag Bag biodegradable disposal system
The above picture shows the unit all closed up. Note the handle at the top and please ignore the scuff marks as this unit was picked up in route to its first field test and bounced around in the back of the truck before its pictures.
The underside of the unit hides the legs.
Each leg is held in place with these clamp pieces. The legs are deployed by simply pulling up on the leg until it locks in its upright position.
With all three legs in place, you can see the underside of the mesh "basket" with a Wag Bag inside. At least three Wag Bags can fit in this area with the legs collapsed as well as a roll of toilet paper.
The unit just about ready for use.
A top view with the seat flipped up. The mesh basket helps hold things in place so all the weight isn't held by the Wag Bag.
The mesh basket can also be fully removed if you wished to simply use the unit over a hole in the ground.
The Wag Bag contains (left to right):
- Thick disosal zip-close disposal bag
- Clean wipe
- Toilet paper
- Folded Wag Bag with Poo-Powder inside
A photo of the Poo-Powder inside the bag.
A unit ready for action. The lid routinely falls off when in the up position.
Breaking down the unit requires pressing in on the holding tabs of the legs and then folding them in place.
The PETT Portable Toilet is made of a high grade plastic and feels sturdy when lifted at the comfortable handle. The unit is well balanced and easy to walk with short distances.
Using the unit is a straightforward task
- Flip the unit over and fold out the legs
- Open the seat and remove the Wag Bag
- Unfold the Wag Bag with Poo-Powder
- Place the Wag Bag in the mesh basket and close lif
- Do your business
- Lift seat and collect up Wag Bag
- Either bury the biodegradable Wag Bag or place it in its disposal bag for later landfill deposition
With the legs deployed the unit is able to hold up to 600lbs, which makes it useful, with the lid closed, as an everyday stool or step to help reach high placed objects. Amazingly comfortable to sit on, the PETT does suffer from a lack of adequate material to help hold the lid in the up position. Instead, the lid usually falls off the back of the unit leaving the user a bit more exposed than need be. It took this happening about two times before I got a clue and removed the lid altogether when using.
Not to get too gross, but the downside of operation is closing up the Wag Bag. It’s best to remove as much air as possible to help the bag fit in its disposal bag. As you can imagine, this may be odd to some users.
The Poo-Powder does a good job of both congealing liquid ‘deposits’ and keeping smell to a minimum. On the test run with this unit, 4 uses of ‘#1’ in the same bag still resulted in a congealed result, which helps greatly to reduce spills or leaks. So unless required, one Wag Bag can be used multiple times in camp if desired.
The disposal bag is made of a strong plastic as well and gives you assuredness of protection against simple punctures or explosions. One such bag was carried 60 miles on the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands National Park and another bag carried about 15 miles of rough off-road driving in Arches National Park in the confines of a normal camping garbage bag. No leakage to contamination was noted. The bags can then be thrown out with the rest of your trash.
Beyond the need for an improved lid design, I rate this device 5 out 5…ummmm….somethings. It fulfilled my needs and can make Nature’s Call easier on any camper.
There is also a privacy tent available for the unit that has not been tested.
Product Description and Photos
The Powerfilm F15-1200 20W Solar Charger is a compact unit constructed of 12 panels adheared to a nylon fabric. When folded the unit measures 10.5"x6.5"x.6" (267mmx167mmx15mm) and weighs .9 pounds (.43kg).
- Retail Price - $500
- Weight - .9lbs (.4kg)
When folded, the Powerfilm makes a fairly compact unit. The model seen here has already been field tested and will show some signs of wear. Attached to the outside is a clear label indicating which model you have and a power connector. More on that in a minute.
Lift the velcro strap and you start to see how this unit is not as hard as a map to put back together.
Fully unfolded the unit consists of 12 panel in 3 columns and 4 rows.
The connector for the unit has a gasket to help keep out water. Why the custom connector and not just a simple cigarette lighter conneciton? My guess: it helps keep the unit compact and extendable. Powerfilm also sells a daisy chain cable to connect multiple units and this is more easily accomplished with a small connector. The unit comes with a standard cigarette lighter female end that connects to this adapter.
Here I have connected a Merkury Universal Canon Battery Charger via the cigarette lighter. With a reverse blocking diode in the Powerfilm unit, you don't have to worry about batteries draining into the panel when the sun goes away.
Grommets in each corner make tethering the unit to the side of a vehicle or some other object easy.
The Powerfilm F15-1200 has many uses and can charge any device with a 12V cigarette adapter. It is shown here charging a Xantrex Powerpack.
You'll get two opinions on use of the Powerfilm in this review section. The first is by Peter, who's used the unit around the house to test and the second is by Kim, who used the unit on a 3 week trek through the Khumbu Himal region of Nepal.
I have found the unit very easy to transport and set up. Weighing less than a pound makes it an option for longer hiking trips when battery life might be an issue. It's easy packability also makes it easy to include in an Emergency Preparedness kit in between trips. One drawback of the light weight is the tendency of the unit to act like a kite. The grommets work well in this regard and make it easy to get the most out of the unit by facing it towards the sun more directly.
To give an idea of power output, on a bright, full sun day in January in the Puget Sound region of Washington State, the unit is able to put out 19V laid flat as you see in the pictures above. This equates to aproximately 1 amp of DC power. This is with a soalr index of 425W/m2 at the time. Higher W/m2 values accomplished in summer have yielded around 1.6 amps of output but I do not have hard numbers at this time.
So, what can you do with it? Well, first, charge just about any small device. It will charge a laptop, camera battery or just AAs for your headlamp. As mentioned before, it can charge A Xantrex Powerpack as well as a normal car battery while you are camping for the day. Also, the unit can power an Engel 45 freezer/fridge when kept out in direct sunlight, even in winter. You need to keep adjusting the angle of the panel to track with the sun for optimal power, but I was able to keep the fridge below 40F with some effort. I could, however, hear the motor or the Engel strain to keep an even tempo if the panel caught too much shade.
Some considerations are in order. First, after my wife's trip I noticed some of the panels had started to become unstuck. This is due to the high heat generated from all the black surfaces. Some air bubbles started to form under the panels but these were easily squished out. Simply pressing down on the panels got them stuck back in place. At no time were any in danger of actually coming completely off the nylon fabric, just corners and air bubbles here and there. Second, at least 4 bungee cords are highly suggested. To keep the panel at an optimal angle to the sun requires usually mounting closer to vertical in the winter, while a horizontal orientation is needed in summer. As mentioned previously, the lightweight means the unit can be picked up by a 8PMH wind.
PRODUCT DESCRIPTION AND PHOTOS
The Yamaha EF1000IS is a handy little generator for loads up to 900Watts. It's touted as a super quite unit with very little fuel demand. This review will be an ongoing test of the claims and includes some video near the end to hear how loud the unit is. But first, some photos and description.
- Retail Price - $700
- Weight (dry) - 27.9 lbs (12.65kg)
- AC Rated output - 900Watts
- AC Max output - 1000Watts
- DC Rated output - 12V 8amps
- Decible rating - 47-57dBA
- Fuel capacity - .66 gallons (2.5L)
- Run time at 25% load - 12 hours
- Displacement/HP - 50cc/2.2HP
We'll call this the front of the unit since it has the control panel. Everything you need to know about the health and happiness of the generator/inverter is right here.
The right side is where the exhaust comes out. Nothing special, just a warning sticker and the muffler over the end of the pipe.
The back has an access panel for adding oil and a secondary shut off valve for the fuel tank. Also noted near the bottom are two blow by tubes for making sure excess oil or fuel is expelled from the unit.
The left side is pretty boring.
The top is where the fuel goes as well as an access panel for the spark plug. Instructions on starting the unit are printed on a heavy duty mylar sticker for hopeful long lasting use. Also on the top are the emissions ratings with this unit scoring a 3 out of 10 (1 being the best emissions).
A close up of the sparkplug access. Notice the rubber seal on the door to help keep out water and dust.
The control panel consists of(generally left to right, top to bottom):
- Overload light
- AC Ready light
- Low Oil light
- Choke pull
- Fuel cock dial
- 2 120V 60Hz 1Phase AC outlets
- Main on/off switch
- Ground connection
- 12V 8amp DC power outlet
- DC reset switch
- Economy Switch
The hand pull, when new, is very easy to grasp and use with rubber located at the top of the cavity to reduce it getting broken on retraction.
The unit is shipped without oil which is filled in this location in the rear (more on that in a moment).
Along with the generator/inverter you get some useful items. On the left are the DC charging cables. The special plug fits in the DC outlet on the front of the unit and aligator clips grab on to your battery terminals. The double ended socket fits the spark plug and I'm not sure what else. The wrench works with teh socket so no additional tools are required to remove teh spark plug. The oil pan fill bucket is a well thought out addition that makes a world of difference.
My initial review is a traditional "out of the box" look at the unit when it arrived brand new.
Packaging: This unit thankfully comes with a minimal amount of wasted packaging. Only two pieces of interior cardboard help keep the unit in place and damage free when shipped.
Appearance: As you can see from the pictures, the unit is a cobalt blue color with a tint of purple in the right type of light. The pieces are all fit well and nothing rattled or seemed out of place. Wrapped in plastic for shipping, the unit was clean and free of any signs of handling. Not a drop of oil was seen.
Directions: The owner's manual is written well enough and easy to understand without being too simple. Some warnings are repeated more than they need to be, but all in all, it's a very useful, thin manual and should be read before using the unit. Here is a link to the manual, see for yourself.
First use: Now's the fun part. I've read the manual (it takes maybe 15 minutes) and understand hwo to start it. First task is to fill it with oil. The manual suggests 10W-30 SAE be used.
1. Remove the oil filler cap. they made the cap rubberized and easy to grasp.
2. Now slide in that little oil tray I mentioned before. It fits well but can be bumped out if you aren't careful.
3. Pour in the oil. This part takes some patience as you can quickly exceed the capacity of the oil tray if you pour too fast. The manual states .34 US quarts as a capacity and this should be just up to the bottom of the hole. There are two problems with this: 1. It's dark in there. 2. New oil is pretty clear. I had to use a flashlight to help tell the level and even then, I spilled some from over filling.
4. Yamaha thought ahead in case of slobs like me. You'll notice the extra oil ran into this little tub in the bottom. That tub actually comes off the bottom (second picture), is made of rubberized material and is used to help DRAIN oil when changing. I don't have a picture of this set up, but basically that unit fits around the fill hole and acts as a funnel. You then tip the unit and that rubber piece will help funnel the oil into a proper drain pan, making oil changes hopefully very clean.
Put the fill cap back on and you're done with the oil!! For me, even with the slight overfill, it was a very clean process. A rag was needed to wipe out the fill funnel but other than that, I can't complain. As the oil becomes dirtier, I suspect it'll be easier to check the level before operating.
Next up is the gas fill.
That red collar on the inside is the fill line. Below that is a screen to help keep out large particles and that whole unit is easily removed in case something drops in while filling. The fuel capacity is .66 US gallons so a smaller canister works better. The generator is advertised to run for 4 hours at 100% output an 12 hours at 25% output, or about 225 watts of output. With the fuel hole being straight up and down, I needed to be more careful about the fill rate so extra splashing didn't occur. Some patience is needed here to not make a mess.
Gas and oil in: CHECK! We're now ready to start the generator! Yamaha kept all the controls you need close together on the control panel
To start the unit (these are the instructions on the top of the unit):
1. Check that no loads are connected
2. Make sure the Economy Switch is turned off (and clip your fingernails if you are going to be taking pictures of them )
3. Turn the air vent on the top of the fuel fill cap one full turn counterclockwise
4. Turn the fuel cock dial to ON (this dial restricts fuel from the tank to the engine)
5. Switch the main power ON
6. Pull the chock out all the way
7. And then give 'er some yanks with the handle!!
It took me quite a few pulls before I realized I wasn't pulling the cord ALL the way out. That last 6 inches or so of pull is what gets the unit to kick over. Once I realized that, the unit sputtered to life!! Within 10 seconds I was able to slowly put the choke back in and the unit settled down to a revving kind of rhythm. The generator will warm itself up if cold and keep the RPMs high while it does this, so don't be surprised if it seems loud at first.
After the unit calmed down I started playing with Economy mode and hooking things to it. WOW does the unit go quite when you turn that mode on! Not silent, and it still makes a revving noise, but compared to anything else on the market, it has a GREAT idle speed and sound. The most logical things I believe I'd use this for on a trail are fridge and laptop, among others. I'd also use it for things like portable blenders, LED string lights and other general goofy, non essential items I might take.
The unit handled the additional load of the laptop and Engel on Economy mode without making any noticable increase in speed or noise output. I was really impressed by the seemingly total lack of draw from these two items that had previous run my Powerpack to the ground in 2 hours.
The most important need we have for a generator is the frequent power outages at our home. While it'd be nice to power the whole house, the cost, noise, fuel consumption and fuel storage to fill those needs didn't fit in with most of our plans. This little unit will be enough to run our house refrigerator, computer and internet connection. All the things a house needs. When hooked up it did make more noise and ran higher than with just the laptop and Engel, but it had no problem with starting the 7.5amp AC fridge and keeping it going which was one of the main goals we had when purchasing it.
Now then, on to the demonstration videos!!
The first video is an attempt to show the noise output when the unit is idling, then with the Economy Switch turned on. Some loads from an Engel 45 fridge/freezer and Dell 620 laptop are attached. You will note there is very little, if any, noticeable increase in engine speed and noise output. Lastly I backed up 8 feet from the unit to give you an idea of how noise drops off when you walk away from the unit.
That video is located here. (3.7MB)
Next, I plugged the unit into our house fridge. The noise is increased but when inside the house with the fridge running, the noise is barely noticeable over the fridge's compressor.
Video of the unit running under this load can be found here. (.8MB)
Lastly, this video is shot around the corner from generator running the fridge. This is approximately 12 feet from the unit with the muffler facing the horse barn you see. I am standing right around the corner to give an idea of how it sounds.
That video can be seen here. (.8MB)
From now, that's all I have. I'm happy with the unit so far but have yet to take it on a trail or give it a test by fire. When those times come, I'll append this review.