CamelBak Arc 4 Hydration Belt – Product Review

CamelBak Arc 4 Hydration Belt
CamelBak Arc 4 Hydration Belt

Iv’e been running pretty regularly since early January and I’ve used the waist mounted bottle system from CamelBak called the Arc 4 Hydration Belt about a dozen times since then. The Arc 4 features four convenient 8 oz. snap-in bottles that are easy to remove and replace while maintaining pace. The ‘baskets’ that hold the bottles in place are very intuitive as well as secure. They are also removable, so if four bottles are too many, you can remove the unwanted ones. The back band of the belt has a small zipper pocket that will fit keys, a few gels or other small snacks.

As I was choosing the correct size belt, I initially chose the one that was within the range of my waist size as determined by the pants I wear. As I was trying them on I realized that I would prefer to wear this lower on my hips causing me to have to go up one size for the proper fit.  Make sure that you measure your ‘waist’ where you are actually going to wear this since the adjustability within each size is somewhat limited. Once I started using the belt, I decided that I felt a bit awkward when using it with four bottles attached so I removed the two front baskets, leaving me with 16 oz. of fluid capacity. There is something  about having the extra weight on the front of my waist that I just don’t care for, but for longer runs I am glad I have the option of adding the baskets back on.

The Pros:

  • The waistband is comfortable and the hook and loops closure allows easy adjustment
  • Limited stretch in the material means it stays in place
  • Breathes well and dries relatively fast
  • Bottles are easy to insert and remove from the ‘baskets’ without losing stride or having to look at them

The Cons:

  • The waistband is sized S,M,L and there is limited adjustability
  • Limited stretch in the material means smaller fit ranges
  • Pocket is small and harder to access in the back of the belt, would like to see a pocket in the front or some way to secure gels up front

Overall I really like this system and would recommend it for anyone looking for a comfortable solution for hydration on the go, keeping in mind that additional storage is limited. As the weather warms and my water requirements increase I will try added the other two bottles back to the belt to see if I can get used to them.

-Steve @ ACK

Featured Guest Blogger/Partner: YakAngler.com

We’d like to take a moment to introduce another guest blogger/partner, or in this case a group of bloggers to our loyal readers, YakAngler.com. We’ve recently formed a partnership with them to republish some of their articles on our blog but we also plan to have some of their pro staffers review some of the products we sell. Why YakAngler? We encourage you to visit their site and you’ll see what we are talking about. So many articles, resources, product reviews by their very own pro staffers and so much more. Help us welcome these good folks!

10 Minutes

Our Customer Service Department takes immense pride in our ability to assist our customers. For those loyal customers, you know that we have a speedy response time to the emails we receive so I am happy to announce that we have broken our previous monthly average record response time to less than 10 minutes! In a world where customer service seems to have fallen by the wayside, we are striving to give the best customer service possible, always keeping YOU (the awesome customers that you are) in mind.

On a different note, it may be easy for some companies to brush off customer complaints or bad reviews, however we take these very seriously. It is of the utmost importance to us that our customers are happy with our service and the products they receive. When I have a bad customer service experience with a company that I choose to shop with and my complaints go unnoticed, it will keep me from ever shopping with them again. This is why we have implemented a way for us to respond to your reviews and comments so that we can make your shopping experience a pleasurable one.

So don’t be surprised when you get a phone call or email about a review you have left. We truly appreciate the time you take to review our products and our services, as well as your continued business. With all that said, it does make us happy knowing that we get many more compliments than complaints and of course, we appreciate those too!

Now don’t get discouraged if you don’t have a response to your email in less than 10 minutes. Be assured that we are working on your questions or concerns and we will respond as soon as we have answers.

From all of us in the ACK Customer Service department, Kyle, Blair, Daniel & Kate, we wish you all a happy and safe holiday season!

Kate Corgill
ACK Customer Service Manager

Press Release: Outdoor Retailer, Austin Canoe and Kayak, 
Announces the AustinKayak.com Mobile Website

ACK’s paddling and outdoor gear eCommerce website 
is now available in a mobile optimized format.

Austin, Texas (March 7th, 2011) – Austin Canoe and Kayak (ACK), today announced the launch of a mobile optimized website located at www.AustinKayak.com. The website, which auto detects if the user is on a mobile device, has been developed to provide a more accessible and convenient shopping experience for ACK’s ever growing customer base.

The mobile website is a fully capable eCommerce platform for purchasing any product currently offered by ACK. Whether the user is shopping for a simple repair part, an accessory item or a complete kayak package, customers can expect to find the same full-featured eCommerce functionally they would experience on the non-mobile website.

“Our goal was to bring the same level of experience our customers have come to expect from our current website but in a convenient mobile friendly format. Our current website already gets more visitors than we had ever imagined so it’s exciting to see how reaching a broader audience, those that aren’t close enough to visit one of our stores, and a new generation of smart phone mobile users that are getting rid of their computers will increase our sales.” said Peter Messana, Austin Canoe and Kayak CEO. “With the exponential growth of mobile shopping and the fact that many of our customers would rather be outside than in front of a computer — we knew this mobile website would be a big hit!”

Aside from full eCommerce functionality and detailed product information, users can read customer reviews, access physical store contact information and maps, save items to a wish list and create and manage their accounts. Additionally, mobile users can still choose to access the non-mobile site.

To experience the recently launched mobile website, visit www.AustinKayak.com with any mobile browser enabled device.

About Austin Canoe and Kayak

Founded over 20 years ago, Austin Canoe and Kayak (ACK) is an award-winning paddlesports and outdoor retailer based out of central Texas dedicated to providing exceptional customer service and the widest selection of paddlesports and outdoor equipment. ACK operates three physical retail shops in Austin, San Marcos and Houston, Texas and an online store at: www.AustinKayak.com.

# # #

For more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Austin Canoe and Kayak, please call Roland Jimenez at 512.687.3010 or email pr@austinkayak.com.

Relax – The Hammock Way

Eno Kyle
Kyle relaxing in his Eno Hammock during a lunch break.

I’ve personally enjoyed the art of relaxing for pretty much all my life and discovered that one of best ways to fully appreciate this great pastime is with the help of a hammock. There is nothing like relaxing to the sounds of nature while enjoying the cool breeze in the great outdoors.

I particularly enjoy using hammocks like the one’s we carry by Eagles Nest Outfitters aka “ENO”. The main reason is that they are extremely compact and can be taken just about anywhere. With their packed size being smaller than that of a football, it makes it extremely easy to keep the hammock in your car, backpack, kayak/canoe, office, home…you get the point. As you can see in the photograph, I really do enjoy the portability of hammocks. Yep, that’s me taking it easy on my lunch break just outside our office.

Hammocks are great for camping, festivals, sporting events, fishing, hiking, biking and any other outdoor activity where you may need a quick rest or a good night’s sleep. In addition to their portability, they take less than 30 seconds to set up and put away. All you need to do is find a couple trees (or similar setup) that are about 10-15 feet apart, set the Slap Straps by looping them around the trunks. Once you’ve done this, simply take the carabiner end of the hammock and attach it to one of the six points on each Slap Strap — easy. After that, get in and good luck fighting consciousness as you’ll undoubtedly slip off into a warm dreamland filled with gumdrops and lollipops.

Protect yourself from the elements.

If you want to take your relaxation to a whole other dimension, check out the Kelty Camp and Luxury Camp Pillows. Their portability also provides a convenient anywhere/anytime use pillow. Whether you are traveling, camping or everything in between, Kelty Camp Pillows are the essence of convenient comfort. Couple these with the Single or Double Nest ENO hammocks and you’ve got yourself a  match made in heaven.

Share it with your dog!

Lastly, don’t let inclement weather deter you from breaking out the hammock and getting a snooze in. Consider an ENO Fast Fly Rain Tarp. This product compliments all ENO hammocks and can also be used independently to shade and protect you and your gear.

Kyle
ACK HQ

7,000

Seven thousand reviews. That’s a big number when you consider the time it takes a person to write a few sentences about a product they’ve purchased. For the sake of entertainment, let’s just say it takes a person an average of 5 minutes to submit a product review — that would equate to a total of 35,000 minutes or just over 583 hours. Yep, big numbers no matter how you look at it.

The reality is, it’s not so much about the big numbers. It’s about the fact that you, our customer, is helping us shape our product offering to provide a better shopping experience for everyone.

Your satisfaction is key to the success of our business and we sincerely want to know your opinions about the products we sell. There is no sense is keeping inventory that you don’t enjoy and it also helps us determine what products are better fit for our customers. It also gives us an opportunity to relay information to the manufacturers because just like us, they are always looking to improve their product offering. While we try our best to demo our own products, it’s always the customers that puts them through the true test.

For those of you that are not sure how to submit your own review, simply select the product (example) of choice, click the “Customer Reviews” tab at the bottom of the page and click the “Write a Review” button.

We can’t thank you enough for contributions.

Roland Jimenez
ACK HQ

New Hobie Island Tandem Kayak

Hobie Mirage Island Adventure Kayak

I’m a sailor.  Before my 7 year old son John was born I owned and raced a 23 foot class boat at our local yacht club.  As a pilot I appreciate the wind and its effect on a vessel.   I also like the sense of freedom  I get listening to a crisp sail crackle when the wind fills it.

So when our local rep set up two Hobie Mirage Adventure Island kayaks with Hobie MirageDrive and a sail at our 2010 Demo Day I was quick to grab a PFD and hit the water.

My cheeks hurt from smiling.  If you’ve ever driven a go-cart, you know how 30 miles an hour, three inches off the ground seems like 70!  Well, the Hobie Island Adventure gives you that same sensation.  Pick a point in the distance, trim the main sail and the acceleration is inspiring.

The only problem was there was no one there to hear my hoots and I immediately thought, “Wow, Hobie really needs a Mirage Adventure Island Tandem so the fun can be shared.  That would rock.”

Well the Hobie Mirage Island Tandem is finally here!   These beautiful 18’- 6” kayaks sit like ICBM missiles in our warehouse, big beautiful fun factories.  And so far it appears that others share my enthusiasm as the boats continue to move out the door to new happy owners.

Here is what I appreciated about the Hobie Mirage Adventure Island Kayak.

Hobie MirageDrive – Learning to dock a sailboat takes practice, navigating to the right spot and dropping the sail with enough speed to make it in not crash the beach/dock is an art.  Not so with the Hobie MirageDrive…you simply release the sail while on the water and it furls (rolls up) around the mast and you pedal your way home.

Furling sail – the ability to get the sail out of the way quickly removes much of the intimidation from learning to sail.  Too much wind?  Release the sail and enjoy the day using your muscles.

Did I say MirageDrive? – I’ve spent some long hours sitting in the afternoon doldrums waiting for enough breeze to get a sailboat back home.  Being able to cruise at 3 – 5 miles an hour under MirageDrive is really a nice backup to a breeze.

Tacking – learning to turn a sailboat takes some practice but since the Hobie Mirage Adventure Island kayaks have the drive system, a few leg pumps and even the worst tack can look graceful.

Kick-up center board – I’ve taco-ed a center board or two in shallow water before.  The Hobie centerboard solves that problem by folding up when it hits the ground.

Fun – Whether you pull the trimaran kit off, grab a paddle and go for a traditional kayak outing or fully rig it for some high speed action, the Hobie Mirage Adventure Island Single and Hobie Mirage Adventure Island Tandem are first class tickets out of life’s doldrums.

Why ACK? Product Reviews

This past weekend I was attending a conference with small business leaders and I was asked repeatedly why someone would shop at ACK as opposed to any other larger retailer.   This question is easy to answer, Customer Service.  But it really got me thinking.  Why do people love ACK?  Customer Service is definitely it but what goes into Customer Service that makes us so much different.

So, I set out pondering how/why we are so different and one item that came to mind instantly was our product reviews.   While I write this we are advertising 1,506 products on our website, that isn’t really a secret, you can see a counter here: http://www.austinkayak.com/ourselection.php

So what, we have 1,506 products, that isn’t all that unique.  But what is unique is that we have 4,673 reviews, that means we have close to 3.1 reviews for every product (that is an average of course).   This really does make me proud!  This isn’t something that ACK is doing, this is what you, the customer is doing for our customers.

So, if you step back and ask, “Why ACK?”, well, it is really our customers that make us, us.  You shop with us, you share your experiences and thus make the shopping that much better.  So, from all of us at ACK, this is a great big thanks for all those that have click the product follow email links and wrote a product review!

Since I was so excited to see how many reviews we have we have added a counter to our home page.

— Peter