Read our reviews: 17 must-have gadgets for summer ’17
Odds are you’re addicted to gadgets. Well, at least one gadget. New research shows that the average American adult (18+) spends 2 hours, 51 minutes on their smartphone every day (source: Hackernoon). It’s safe to say you fall into that mix and it’s thereby safe to assume, as we’ve already asserted, that you’re addicted to gadgets. So we’re certain you’ll appreciate one or more of the 17 products listed below; we got our hands on dozens of electronics over the course of the past month and these are the items we’ve deemed worthy of your consideration. Come back and visit us again soon as we’ll be sure to highlight another big batch of gadgets in the not too distant future.
Bose SoundLink Revolve+ Bluetooth speaker
“First off, let’s talk about the gorgeous design of this portable Bluetooth speaker. The seamless machine looks like it would be right at home on the International Space Station. It looks smooth and it even feels smooth; the rubber material on its top (where the buttons are) and bottom is ultra-soft to the touch. That same material also serves you well if you drop or knock this puppy over. In another nod to durability this product is water-resistant to the point that it can withstand rainfall. It’s portable via its flexible, fabric handle and it boasts true 360-degree sound. And what a sound it is…” Read full review
LifeProof FRĒ phone case, for iPhone 6 and 6S
The FRĒ case from LifeProof is prepared to keep your phone protected no matter what your next adventure is. This low-profile case is sleek and compact while delivering the functions of other, bulkier options. For example, it’s fully waterproof (submersible up to 6.6 feet of water for an hour); dirt proof; drop proof (tested to survive being dropped from 6.6 feet); and snow proof. With the FRĒ you can confidently take your phone everywhere, from the slopes to the beach. To top it off, it’s designed so that every button and port on your phone is fully-functional; you don’t have to take the case off to charge it or bump your tunes.
Skullcandy Crusher Wireless headphones
“Skullcandy touts this headphone as offering “directional [haptic] bass you can feel,” and we’re certifying that this statement is spot-on. Thanks to an adjustable bass slider on the side of the left ear cup, you can crank these puppies to pure haptic bass bliss. When you’ve got the volume at approx’ 75 percent or above, these things truly bump. Dr. Dre’s Xxplosive is streaming as we pen these thoughts and “xxplosive” is a fitting description of the listening experience.” Read full review
Skullcandy Method Wireless headphones
“For those seeking an in-ear option, Skullcandy’s Method Wireless ($59.99) boasts many exciting attributes: A sweat-resistant around-the-neck collar and DualLock™ (read: mighty snug) ear buds allow you to focus on your spring skiing, workout, hike, bike, run, climb, etc. without fumbling with your head-gear; Bluetooth wireless connectivity (up to 33 feet) allows for cord-free listening; calls and music can be easily managed via the built-in microphone and remote integrated into the neck collar; and a nine-hour battery life ensures the beats will be flowing non-stop.” Read full review
GoPro HERO5 Black
The GoPro HERO5 Black has become a staple gadget for the FREESKIER team whenever we’re on the slopes. The small, compact camera captures ultra-high quality footage on the go (4K video and 12MP photo) all while being incredibly intuitive and easy to use. The camera is waterproof up to 33 feet without a housing (this is an upgrade from its predecessors) and has a two-inch touchscreen on the back that allows you to easily understand and control your GoPro, as well as playback your footage instantly. It also has voice control capabilities, enabling hands-free operation. To top it off, it works seamlessly with GoPro’s Capture app, which allows you to download and edit photos and videos directly from your GoPro to your phone. The tech specs go on, and on. Of course, you can mount this camera to just about anything, enabling unique camera angles and true video immersion in your activities. Already have a GoPro? Check out the GoPro Karma Grip, below, to take your game to the next level.
GoPro Karma Grip
“The first thing you’ll notice when using the Karma Grip is how insanely smooth and stable it makes your video footage look. Whether you’re skiing, running, biking or participating in any other kind of active movement, when using the Karma Grip your video will look as though it was captured by an top-level pro cinematographer. The shake-free footage is just one amazing feature of the Karma Grip. What truly sets the product apart from its competitors is how perfectly compatible it is with a GoPro camera. When you have your camera locked into the gimbal, you can turn it on and off, switch between modes, mark clips, start and stop recording and more, all by using the controls on the Karma Grip. It is a true extension of the camera.” Read full review
Originally funded through Kickstarter, GNARBOX is essentially a waterproof, shockproof, dustproof, miniature computer that allows you to process, edit and share footage on the go. You insert your memory card or USB into the device, then connect to the GNARBOX through an app on your phone. From there, you can upload up to 128 GB of full resolution footage to edit via the app—you can even edit 4K and .RAW files. How is this all possible? The GNARBOX works as an external hard drive of sorts, that turns into a WiFi hotspot for your phone to connect to. You can then use the app’s intuitive platform to edit both video and photos, finally exporting them to your phone for instant sharing.
Outdoor Tech Kodiak Mini 2.0 power bank
If you have ever used your phone while spending time in the snow, you’ve likely experienced this problem first hand: batteries do not like the cold and die very quickly. Womp, womp. This this portable power bank (2600 mAh lithium polymer) is waterproof, shockproof, super durable and carries enough charge to fire up a phone and other electronics. To top it off, it has a 5-LED flashlight built in with 100-lumen high, 65-lumen low and emergency strobe modes. And at just 3.2 oz and measuring 3.16 x 2.20 x 0.61 inches, this baby fits nicely in any pocket and you’ll hardly notice it’s there. Need more juice? The Kodium Plus 2.0 ($79.95) packs a whopping 10,000 mAh. Keep in mind, it’s bulkier than the Mini.
Outdoor Tech Turtle Shell 3.0
This third iteration of the FREESKIER-favorite speaker is 20% louder than its predecessor. Not only does it play louder, it also plays for longer (20 hours) and from further away from your music source (up to 32 feet). It’s waterproof and it also floats, making this an ideal pool party companion. A built-in microphone allows you to take and make calls and sync with the likes of Siri. Plus, it doubles as a portable power bank. And in case you’re not feeling the Bluetooth vibes, the speaker features a 3.5 mm audio jack. You can also link 3.0 to another Turtle Shell up to 15 feet away to amplify your sound. Finally, if you’re looking for a gift item for multiple people, the “Turtle Two Pack” includes two of these suckers in one package for just $179.95.
Backcountry Access BC Link Radio
“Communication is one of, if not the most important aspect of successful days in the backcountry and the BC Link Radio is a very effective tool in aiding group conversation. Your pack houses the base unit, while the microphone clips onto your shoulder strap (it’s compatible with all backcountry packs, but works particularly well with the BCA Stash Packs). The base unit utilizes a rechargeable lithium ion battery, is waterproof and compatible with all standard FRS/GMRS radios. The microphone unit features glove-friendly controls including a push-to-talk button, power switch, volume control and channel selection.” Read full review
UCLEAR HBC150+ Bluetooth Helmet Audio System
“When you’re booting up a 40-plus-degree couloir—your hands occupied by an ice axe and ski pole—with a heavy pack containing all of your essentials (including your skis), minor conveniences can become major. Like hands-free communication, for example, something we experienced with the UCLEAR HBC150 Plus Bluetooth Audio System this past weekend while climbing and skiing the Shit For Brains couloir in Colorado. The system is made up of a radio unit that clips to your backpack strap as well as ear-buds that run from the unit to your ears. Dual microphones attached to each ear bud cord allows for communication with your partner(s). The private group intercom function—connected via Bluetooth—allows you to quickly and easily talk back and forth with your partner both on the ascent and descent.” Read full review
JBL Everest Elite 300
This Bluetooth-enabled, noise-canceling headphone allows you to control the amount of outside noise that reaches your ear, allowing you to balance awareness of your surroundings with the listening experience. This comes in especially handy when you need to instantly phase out of listening to your favorite Odesza track in order to catch every word of whatever it is your boss is yapping about. They deliver 10 hours of listening via a rechargeable battery; a built-in mic for easy access to calls; sound calibration; and a smooth fit. Keep in mind, the Everest Elite 300 is an on-ear vs. around-the-ear offering; it’s all about personal preference when it comes to choosing one style over the other. All in all, it’s a sleek package combined with the power of noise canceling, all for a mighty fair price.
JBL Pulse 2 portable Bluetooth speaker
“The Pulse 2, by JBL, boasts voice assistant integration, syncing with Siri and Google Now; offers wireless Bluetooth streaming; takes calls with the touch of a button; fills a room with crisp, clean and loud sound; is splash-proof (you can clean it under running tap water, for example, just don’t submerge it) and does all of this while boosting the mood and spicing up the atmosphere via its ambient lighting. There are 12 different light shows in all.” Read full review
Suunto Ambit3 Peak (HR)
This GPS-enabled watch boasts a heart rate monitoring system, weather functions and mobile connection, among countless other features. For those who are perpetually striving for new summits the Ambit3 Peak (HR) is your pal from trailhead to finish. With this smartwatch you can map altitude profiles of your ascents and descents in real-time; track pace, cadence, heart rate, power (watt output), distance, cardinal direction and altitude; program route navigation and track back; check the weather and also discover your suggested activity-based recovery time. You can adjust settings on the go and social-share visually compelling adventure profiles in almost real-time via Suunto’s free app. You can also see calls, messages and push notifications on the watch. It’s also possible to select from a multitude of pre-programmed sports to track performance over time. Languages include: EN, CS, DA, DE, ES, FI, FR, IT, JA, KO, NL, NO, PL, PT, RU, SV and ZH. The Ambit3 Peak (HR) features a 30h battery with 5 sec-GPS accuracy. And that doesn’t even cover it all. For those who are serious about tracking performance, this piece comes highly recommended.
LifeProof AQ9 portable, wireless speaker
The sleek and small AQ9 is designed to fit in your pocket and is ideal for solo missions. With a convenient carabiner feature it’s also easily clipped to a pack, bike, etc. It boasts a 16-hour battery and crisp sound for its size. And like all LifeProof products it’s “WaterProof, DirtProof, SnowProof and DropProof to go where eagles dare.” Specifically, it’s submersible up to 1 meter for 30 minutes; sealed from dust, dirt and snow; and survives drops from just over three feet, every time. A built-in mic allows for speakerphone use and it’s capable of pairing with eight devices via Bluetooth. Note: The larger AQ10 and AQ11 models pack more sound and float for easy water retrieval.
Bose QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones
“These headphones are so light and comfortable you’ll hardly notice them on your head. The QC35’s airy nature and plush fit cannot be overstated; this luxe character is immensely appreciated during long travel days or extended listening sessions at the office, at home, wherever. Pair that pillow-like feeling with noise-canceling technology and you’re talking about something darn special…” Read full review
Skullcandy Barricade Mini portable, wireless speaker
The most compact and affordable of Skullcandy’s wireless speaker line-up (including the Barricade, $76.99, and Barricade XL, $169.99), the Barricade Mini delivers portability, “stash-ability” and rugged performance above all else. Both impact and water resistant, this little guy (3.8 x 3.6 inches, 1.8 oz) stands tall in the face of abuse. It also delivers powerful, crisp sound for its compact size. Furthermore, a six-hour rechargeable battery and Bluetooth® connectivity allow you to easily share music on the go. You can play and pause tunes, skip tracks and adjust volume up to 33 feet from your phone with the built-in remote buttons. We love to use the Barricade Mini outdoors more often than not (a convenient attachment loop allows you to clip it to a backpack, bike, etc.), yet its sleek design makes it a great addition to any room in your home, too. At the end of the day, though, we circle back to that word, “portability” … this thing is ideal for music lovers who are constantly in motion.