Header image  
"We Entertain When It Rains"  



Web www.rainydaymagazine.com

RainyDayMagazine's content can now be licensed for your print magazine or web site. Please contact us directly here. If you want to see something reviewed, then drop us a note with a link and we'll be happy to take a look.

NOTE: Click here to read more about our approach to product reviews.

November 14,2011-UFC on FOX...

Those of us with an interest in the martial arts have been following the rise of the UFC mixed martial arts (MMA) with great interest. We started watching MMA contests about six years ago. UFC has been the primary driver of the sport in the US for the past two decades, and while MMA fights have been around for a while, it has never broken into the mainstream. Until last Saturday's Heavyweight Championship fight between Cain Velasquez and Junion Dos Santos that is. The fight was just the first of many as Fox Sports and UFC's parent company Zuffa recently agreed to a seven-year, ten fights/year deal. If you have not heard of MMA or the UFC, you will before too long.

MMA is a full contact fighting sport that allows the participants to employ striking and grappling techniques while standing or on the ground. The "mix" in MMA is because fighters combine the most effective techniques from wrestling, boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, karate, judo, and anything else which works. When the sport first started, it was basically "two men enter, one man leaves." Over the years, rules have evolved as there was a clear need to strike a balance between "anything goes" and the health of the fighters.

MMA has exploded in popularity mainly because of the efforts of one man, Dana White. Recognizing the potential appeal of MMA as a spectator sport, White and two partners purchased the struggling UFC franchise in 2000 for $2 million and transformed it to a hugely successful enterprise. The sport has seen exponential growth in its fan base these past few years and is about to... [more] -UFC on FOX


November 1, 2011- 550 Paracord Belt...

Maybe it was the buckle with the rescue whistle. Maybe it was the idea of having quick access to 50' of rescue rope. But when we read the excellent Instructable posted by Stuwegie, a firefighter out of Edinburgh, we filed it away for a future RainyDayProject. The Instructable was how to weave a belt out of 50' of 550 Paracord. The Nor'easter which kept us inside this weekend gave us plenty of time to give the project a try.

Paracord (also parachute cord or 550 cord) is a lightweight nylon kernmantle (German for coat protected core) rope originally used in the suspension lines of US parachutes during World War II. The inside of the rope is... [more] - 550 Paracord Belt


October 5, 2011- Mithril Kevlar Jacket.

When we hear "Kevlar" we immediately think "bullet-proof vest." So when we heard that a kevlar jacket had arrived at the RainyDayMagazine office, we thought "Cool! Which intern should we shoot?" Fortunately for the interns the jacket is not for that kind of protection.

Klättermusen is a Swedish company that designs and manufactures outdoor clothing and equipment for outdoor enthusiasts. Their products are often unique, definitely not the "same old same old." The company is not just unique in its approach to product design, it also put its money where its mouth is when it comes to environmental ethics. One percent of their sales is allocated for... [more] - Klättermusen Mithril KevlaJacket FirstLook


August 31, 2011- Raen Sunglasses...

High tech materials and exotic lens coatings have taken sunglasses from just a pair of "shades" to performance "gear." The styling of sunglasses have followed suit. Oakley has developed a billion dollar business by taking it to the extreme. While not just anyone can rock the look of iridescent lenses in a X-metal frame, everyone looks great in a pair of Wayfarer. Even better if they incorporate the latest tech along with the retro styling. The interns are always on the look out for modern sunglasses with the Wayfarer sensibilities. Recently they happened upon a boutique brand that may just have us reaching for them before our Oakleys.

Raen Optics is a relatively new entrant in the eyewear market. RAEN, headquartered in Encinitas CA, was created in 2008 by the designers at Libre Design. In three short years, they have managed to... [more] - Raen Sunglasses


August 22, 2011- The Ultimate Night Vision...

Wild Planet's SpyGear line is an amazing collection of gadgets for the James Bond/Lara Croft in all of us. So we are always thrilled when a box labeled "SpyGear" shows up on our desk. While we never know what we are going to find, but if it is from Wild Planet, we know it will be fun.

This time, the SpyGear box contained a pair of Ultimate Night Vision (UNV) binoculars. Unlike the Wild Planet SpyVision goggles we've looked at previously, these use infrared to (invisibly) light up the scene. The box states that these binoculars are the ultimate in... [more] - SpyGear: The Ultimate Night Vision


August 15, 2011- SodaStream: Fizz...

It has been years since we purchased commercial soft drinks like Coke and Pepsi. The reason is SodaStream. Having a SodaSteam machine in the office has changed the way we think about soda. Soda is something we make when we want it, not something we buy when we run out.

The only time we can't make soda is when we run of CO2 in the gas cartridge. This is not a big deal as a quick call will get a fresh bottle delivered the next day. However, to keep even that from catching its customers by surprise, SodaStream has created a new machine called the FIZZ. This new machine has a... [more] - SodaStream: Fizz FirstLook


August 3, 2011- LifeProof iPhone4 Case...

No matter how careful you are with your mobile gadgets sooner or later you WILL drop them. If you believe Plaxo, a full 19% of you will drop them into the toilet. Whether you believe Plaxo or not, the fact is that most gadgets do not bounce well. When dropped, it is likely that there will be damage...a scratch, a cracked case, or in some instances a broken LCD screen.

We have looked at a lot of protective cases for all different kinds of gear (camera, iPad, etc.) over the years. With our recent upgrade to the iPhone4, we have been busy checking out cases for it. A few of them (Otterbox, InnoPocket, etc.) have even made it through our selection process and received FirstLook/FirstUse reviews. If you really want your iPhone to survive a drop, you need to... [more] - LifeProof iPhone Case: FirstLook


July 29, 2011- ThermaCELL FirstLook...

Mosquitos and other biting insects are just a part of Summer. Some years are better than others. Depending on the amount of rain the number of mosquitos buzzing around ranges from annoying to intolerable, especially for those of us who seem to be tastier to these pests than the average Joe.

N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide or DEET is the ingredient of choice for many mosquito repellent products. DEET was developed by the US Army for use in jungle warfare in WWII. Its effectiveness in repelling mosquito is undisputed. However, as DEET also blocks the activities of acetylcholinesterase (an enzyme which is involved in muscle activities), it can have adverse health effects with prolong exposure. Besides, anything which can dissolve some plastics, rayon, spandex, other synthetic fabrics can't be all that good for the body. This was one of the reasons why we were excited to check out the ThermaCELL...it does not use DEET as the repellent. Instead, the active ingredient is an EPA approved synthetic copy of... [more] - ThermaCELL FirstLook


July 28, 2011- Keen Taos Update...

When we started RainyDayMagazine, we knew we didn't want to just post press releases of products and call them "reviews." So we decided we would only talk about gear we actually have in house. Our goal is to use the gear, see if the features live up to the hype, and report back on how they perform in real life. Little did we realize that some of our reviews would span six years :-)

We first reviewed the Keen Taos in June of 2005. Keen had just launched its radically new trail shoe which combined the best features of a sandal and a light-hiker. After a few outings, we reported back with our FirstUse experiences. A year later we posted our InTheWild update. The Taos earned high marks for... [more] - Keen Taos Update


July 27, 2011- Vermont: The Shopping...

When we set out for our Vermont Summer Outing, we had no idea of the beauty of the state. Our base was the Inn at Sawmill Farm in West Dover. From there we ventured up Route 100 then onto Route 30 around the edge of the Green Mountains to Manchester. Our goal was to then go down 7 or 7A and loop back to the Inn via Route 9.

Shopping was the goal of the day and we found plenty of places to stop, wander around, and into which to poke our heads. We knew we would find a lot of antique stores (and we did), but we were impressed with the amount of high-end crafts (glass workers, furniture makers, sculptors, artists) we came across on the trip. In retrospect, it should not have been surprising as... [more] - Vermont: The Shopping


July 20, 2011- Otterbox Install...

We took a FirstLook of the iPad2 version of the Otterbox Defender case on Monday. Many of you were eager in seeing how this version stacked up to the first iPad Defender. The short of it is that the Otterbox folks clearly took all they learned from making the first one and all the feedback they received about it and went back to the drawing board. What came out was one awesome heavy-duty iPad2 case.

The Otterbox iPad2 Defender case is a four layer protection system for tablet. You can choose the right amount of protection desired depending on the "threat level" of your typical operating conditions. If your iPad is expecting knocks, bumps, and an occasional tussle (with possibly a kerfuffle thrown in), then the hard plastic frame/rubber skin combo may be sufficient. If you plan to travel with the iPad and want a... [more] - iPad2: Otterbox Install


July 19, 2011- Gumdrop Install...

Yesterday we gave a FirstLook of the heavy-duty iPad cases from Gumdrop and Otterbox. Today and tomorrow we are going install the iPad2 in those cases and take them for a FirstUse.

Gumdrop gear may be new to some, but we think we are going to hear a lot about them from now on. They make a number of silicone cases for the iPhones, iPads, and other mobile devices. The Drop Tech Series is the most... [more] - iPad2: Gumdrop Install


July 18, 2011- iPad2: Heavy Duty Protection...

While the new iPad2 is thinner, faster, and lighter than its older brother, it is NOT any tougher. We don't mean to imply that iPads are not rugged. The screen is very scratch resistant, the frame is carved from a solid piece of aluminum, and the data storage is based on solid state flash memory. If dropped, as long as the screen does not hit a sharp/hard object, it will likely survive. Still, none of us would really care to find out. To that end, most users treat their iPads with kid gloves: we put on screen covers, wipe off fingerprints, and gently place the tablet in a stand when not used.

We all know that the tablet will not play nice with water and will definitely not bounce when dropped, but there are users (photographers, scientists, etc...) who need to take their iPads out in the wild. No matter how careful they are, it is inevitable that an iPad will take an occassional... [more] - iPad2: Heavy Duty Protection


June 22, 2011- Sigma Zoom...

Last year (almost to the day) we went with our bird watching /photographers friends Candy and Andy to a spit of rock to get a look at the heron rookery at Manchester-by-the-Sea. The camera gear we took with us last year was adequate for the outing, but the D90 body/Sigma lens combo was pushing the limits of the TrekPod from a stability perspective. Since we knew we would not have to trek very far with a tripod, we took a beefier unit with us this time. In the year since we had been out there, we had acquired a slightly bigger Sigma lens. It seemed appropriate to bring it and see how it would perform under similar conditions.

Bringing the bigger tripod was definitely the right decision. Even though the terrain was uneven, we were able to set up the rig and had confidence that it wouldn't tip over. The older 80-400mm Sigma lens had built-in optical stablization (OS), but our newer 50-500mm lens did not. However, since Sigma recommends switching off the OS feature when the lens is mounted on a tripod, not having the OS capability did not hamper us in any way. In fact, when we... [more]- Sigma Zoom: Manchester By The Sea


June 20, 2011- Visionary Lenses: Summer Colors...

Tomorrow is the first day of Summer. We have been getting things in place for the day. We have cleaned and vacuumed the convertible, put on the Summer tires, and did the basic checks (oil, transmission, etc...). The iPod has been loaded with new songs (Lady Gaga, Roger Penrose, etc...). There are still a few more tasks left on our PrepForSummer list, but we are amost there.

We completed one more on the list late this weekend...swapping new lenses into the Oakleys. We got some fresh new colors from Visionary Lenses and have been looking forward to giving them a try. The tough part is to pick a color. After a bit of discussion, we decided to go with the green and the purple. The high contrast yellow lenses were excellent for those... [more]- Visionary Lenses: Summer Colors


June 7, 2011- Orvis: Fly Fishing...

To some fly-fishing is a sport; to others it'is a way of life. To the folks at Orvis it is a passion. Founded by Charles F. Orvis in Manchester, Vermont in 1856, The Orvis Company specializes in fine quality fly-fishing tackle, outdoor clothing, and sporting arms. As the country's oldest mail-order company, Orvis pre-dates Sears and is the oldest fishing rod manufacturer in the world. When some of us expressed an interest in learning more about fly-fishing, we could think of no better place to start than at our local Orvis store. The basic equipment for fly fishing is pretty simple (rod, reel, line, flies), but the variety of these components can be dizzying. Fortunately for us, the folks at Orvis are experts and were happy to help us sort it out.

For folks who are just getting started, Orvis can get them into the action with a complete kit for less than $200. This is probably a great way to go for anyone who wants to get out on the water the same day. For those of us who like to look at all the gear and ask a ton of questions before deciding, the process can take a little longer :-) The folks at Orvis were very low-key about it. They assisted when asked and left us alone when we just wanted to wander. We spent the morning... [more]- Orvis:Fly Fishing


May 11, 2011- Aikido Kids Program...

The art of Aikido stresses both compassion and cooperation while helping to improve one's well-being and fitness. Some of us started our Aikido study in our early 40s. At that age, the body and the mind are less flexible. It takes longer to warm up and even longer to recover. Oh, what we would give to have begun our study when we were just kids! For some, that wish can come true. Shobu Aikido of Boston's Kids Classes will be starting on June 1st.

Kids Aikido classes (ages 8-11 yrs old) will be held on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 4:15pm. Wednesday's one-hour class will be led by Mark Hardcastle and Thursday's class by Gordon Fontaine. The dojo is light-filled, beautiful, easy to get to, and has plenty of parking. The cost is just $75 a month and siblings are 1/2 price (sliding-scale is available); parents can participate for free! Registration maybe done online or in person. The program is expected to fill up fast and space is limited. [Permalink] -Shobu Aikiko of Boston: Kids program


Apr 29, 2011- Kryptonite: Bike ID Kit...

Now that Spring is here, many are getting their bicycles tuned-up for another season of pedaling. With the ever increasing gas prices, the incentive to get on the bike for short trips is higher now then ever before. Bicycling is a great way to keep in shape, save some money, and does not add more pollutants to the air we breath. Unfortunately, according Kryptonite, it can take as little as forty-three seconds to steal a bike and it happens twenty five times every hour! Fortunately, there are things we can do to make it harder for thieves to ride off with our bikes:

  • Join and register the bike with the Bike Revolution
  • Tag the bike for extra protection
  • Lock the bike properly

Registered bikes statistically have a greater recovery rate...or at least not be sold by the local police at auction for pennies on the dollar. Kryptonite, the bike lock people, and Bike Revolution, a UK based global bicycle registration provider, partnered up last Fall to tackle the theft problem. They are providing cyclists with a FREE... [more]- Kryptonite: Bike ID Kit


Apr 7, 2011- InnoPocket:Waterproof iPhone case...

There are dozens of companies which make protective cases for the iPhone. We have reviewed many of the better ones over the years. However, of all of the ones we've looked at, NONE of them were designed to be waterproof. For those looking for a case which will protect the iPhone when submerged, there are a few options out there. Some use the "zip-lock" bag approach. Others have adopted a "vault" design. They all seem functional, but everyone of them have a similar problem: bulk. The "zip-lock" bags were the least form-fitting. The "vaults" were better, but still turned the swevlt iPhone into a hulk.

InnoPocket looked at the problem and came up with a cleaner solution. While their Amphibian waterproof case for the iPhone4 is thicker than a typical case, it is much thinner than everything else on the market. Their approach is to... [more]- InnoPocket: Amphibian iPhone4 case


Apr 5, 2011- Sigma 50-500mm FirsttUse...

Yesterday's "Macro at the Mall" write-up got us thinking: wouldn't it be interesting to follow the macro piece with something from the other end of the spectrum: images brought in close from a super telephoto lens. Some readers might remember that we snagged a little-used Sigma 50-500mm zoom (Bigma) lens via Craigslist a few weeks ago. We were going to do a side-by-side shoot off with that and the Sigma 80-400mm, but the 80-400mm has found a new home.

A week ago, we got an offer for the 80-400 from a local photographer that we just could not refuse. Money changed hands, and so the planned comparison article has been permanently shelved. Still, we thought it was time we took Bigma out for a spin. Our favorite testing ground is Memorial Drive in Cambridge. Foot traffic on weekdays is generally pretty low and the stretch lets us... [more]- Sigma 50-500mm zoom FirstUse


Mar 18, 2011- CRKT Flux...

Growing up, some of us always had our trusty Swiss Army knife in our pocket...just in case. As we got older, the Swiss Army knife was replaced by a Leatherman multi-tool. Today our pockets tend to have a few more items. The desire to be boyscout-prepared (flashlight, compass, magnesium shavings) vs being practical and unencumbered (cellphone, keys) are in constant and dynamic tension. "Everyday carry (EDC)" is a phrase often heard around the RainyDayMagazine office. It refers to the must-have items (phone, money/credit cards, etc...) many of us take with us when we step out of our our ivory-tower and into the real world. Today, we would like to introduce readers to a few new items from CRKT for EDC consideration.

CRKT, an innovative knife company from Oregon, has redefined the multi-tool with the addition of the FLUX System to their I.D.Works line. The idea is simple yet brilliant. There are five different... [more]- CRKT: Flux FirstLook


Mar 16, 2011- PockeTweez...

Every once in a while, we come across a gadget so ingenious that, if it weren't for our editors, we could easily spend a week talking about it. PockeTweez is such a gadget. PockeTweez is a pair of tweezers, but they are no ordinary tweezers. PockeTweez is a precision stainless steel instrument that leaves ordinary tweezers in the dust with regard to performance, durability, and looks.

PockeTweez is manufactured in the USA by Precision Metalsmiths, Inc. using investment casting, a process often used in jewelry making. The 416 stainless steel is heat-treated by Stack Metallurgical Services for durability and hardness. The ingenious and elegant design enables the tweezers to... [more]- PockeTweez FirstLook


Mar 11, 2011- Flip Video Underwater...

Wow, this could not be easier: a video camera the size of my cell phone, and very clear instructions for its assembly and use! We were going on vacation in the Caribbean so we easily packed and transported it. Also provided was an underwater housing so we were able to take it with us on our dives. Andy is an underwater still photographer and I would never dream of carrying all the equipment necessary for that (two 60 gallon coolers full of cameras, housings, flashes, and lots more) but this little mini marvel could be fun.

After a little practice on dry land filming the locals and some of the guests at the bar and in the pool, I realize that this is way, way beyond easy. There is on-off, start-stop, zoom in- zoom out and... [more]- By Candace Storm


Mar 4, 2011- "Bigma" 50-500mm zoom...

A long zoom lens is helpful when you can't, don't want to, or are otherwise legally restricted from getting too close to your subject. The zoom lens we use on a daily basis is the Nikkor 18-200mm with vibration reduction (VR). Getting REALLY close to a hawk, especially when you can't fly, was made easier with our Sigma 80-400mm zoom. The Sigma 80-400mm zoom has optical stabilization (OS) which makes handheld shooting with the big heavy lens possible. However, after a few outings, what we learned was that while OS is a great feature, a big lens like the Sigma 80-400mm really needs to be on a tripod.

So, when Sigma upgraded their 50-500mm zoom with onboard OS, we kept our eye out for used non-OS units on Craigslist. After a few months of diligent scouring, we finally scored. We picked this unit up from a local photographer. He originally purchased it for... [more]- "Bigma" FirstLook


Feb 15, 2011- Visionary Lenses...

The X-Men movies made the Oakley Juliet with the ruby red lenses into an icon. Deep ruby-red lenses are very difficult to find. Most of the aftermarket lenses are yellow with hints of red at certain angles. Visionary Lenses have come the closest in achieving the the deep red many have sought for the Oakley sunglasses. We looked at a set from them last September.

Last week, we received some new lenses from the folks at VL. Included was a set of lenses with a MUCH deeper red color. There is still a little hint of gold at the edges, but these are the darkest and richest ruby-red lenses we have seen from any vendor. Along with the ruby-red lenses were a set of... [more]- Visionary Lenses: Red and Purple


Jan 21, 2011- Snow Day Puzzler...

We used to have contests, puzzlers, and in general gave away a lot of stuff. We stopped doing them mostly because they took up quite a bit of time, of which we already had too little. However, since we are getting smacked with another snow storm and will be working out of our home office, we decided to do something fun...not that playing with and reviewing gear and gadgets for a living is NOT "fun" :-)

Some of us at RainyDayMagazine are aikidokia and have been studying at Shobu Aikido of Boston for a while. The dojo has moved a few times, but the spirit and energy have remained consistently high. Shobu Aikido moved to its current location in Somerville in 2008 and the space is just awesome. In order to help spread the word and to assist in promoting this amazing "martial art of peace," we would like to give away a few... [more]- Snow Day Puzzler



Rainy Day Magazine is a Publication of Rainy Day Entertainment© 2006