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Battle for the Paddle

18 Jun

At the recent Battle for the Paddle at Doheny State Beach I ran across three new products that I thought would make great surf gifts. Check them out in the video above.

The Best Lightweight Portable Headphones

24 May

My friends at Gizmodo just posted a very well written blog on the best lightweight portable headphones.  Lots of surfers like to get amped for a sesh before they go out.  A good pair of portable headphones that can be stashed in a backpack would make a killer gift that would get lots of use.  And the best gifts are the ones that get used. Check out the review here, just pick up the winner of the review below the break.

Gizmodo Best Lightweight Headphone Review

We, the smartphone-and-MP3-addicted people, wear headphones from dusk till dawn. That means they’ve got to be comfortable for hours on end. Forget the bulk of fashion-forward full-sized cans and the irritation of earbuds—for headphones that go the distance, three qualities trump everything else: comfort, durability, practicality.

We tested five pairs of on-ear headphones, all weighing less than three ounces and costing less than $105 on Amazon. Sound quality is always important, but like the slick gadgets you plug them into, headphones should fit effortlessly into your life. If you’re going to take these everywhere and wear them constantly, they’ve got to look good and stow away easily. Of course, these headphones all borrow something of the Walkman-chic style of the 1980s, so if they’re aesthetically covetable, we’re not going to complain. Read more…

Check the price now at at this link.  Sennheiser PX 100-II On Ear Miniheadphone (Black)

GoPro vs ContourHD

20 Feb

While GoPro invented the genre of a surfboard mountable surf cam, they’re no longer the only company to manufacture wave-worthy cameras.  While I have an early model GoPro, which I really like (with a handful of notable exceptions), we’ll be reviewing a couple of possible options for you.

Mountable cams are not just for expert surfers who want to brag about their biq-wave prowess.  They actually make great (and humbling) training tools.  When I first went checked out the video I shot with my GoPro, I was appalled at how bad my foot work was.  It got me instantly focused on foot placement and improved my surfing immediately.

I’ve since gotten some fun videos of myself in waves ranging from knee high to scary overhead.  It’s fun to post them on Facebook, and you can get awesome screen grabs of still shots without needing a floating photographer in the water, or hiring a helicopter, or being Laird Hamilton.

Both the cams listed here are available with a waterproof housing and surfboard mounts.  They all come with other mounts as well, that allow you to use the cam in all kinds of activities like skydiving, rock climbing, snowboarding, mountain biking…you name it.

First off, either of these cameras, equipped with the right mounts, will make your surfer happy.  I can pretty much assure you of that.  It’s also the type of gift most surfers won’t buy for themselves, unless they’re flush.  So you’ll be doing your favorite surfer a favor by getting him or her something they truly want, will use, but likely didn’t want to buy for themselves. This is the type of gift that says you care about their passion; it’s thoughtful and even a bit romantic.

The GoPro and Contour, while essentially fulfilling the same function, are very different products.  Even their look is different.  The Go Pro is a box and the Contour is a cylinder.  They seem to have gone out of their way to differentiate.  The video quality is fantastic on both.  They both come with waterproof housings that are safe to at least 60 meters.  Any surfboards go that deep and nobody’s thinking about their video footage.    The Contour has two big advantages in its mount over the GoPro.

The Contour swivels up to 180 degrees.  This means when you are in the water, and a pod of dolphins swims by, you can swivel the cam to capture the front view.  This has happened to me a couple of times with the GoPro and I had to get off the board, rotate the board and try to aim while floating in the water.  Needless to say I got squat when it came to dolphin footage.

The second feature is the laser line.  Yeah, the Contour has lasers, which beyond just being cool, allow you to accurately aim the camera for the correct height.  Both cameras have identical very wide angle lens so it’s not really necessary, but lasers are always nice to have.

The Contour has a magnetic slide on/off switch, while the GoPro has a big button.  The GoPro gets the heads up in really cold water if your surfer is wearing gloves, as its going to be easier to push the button than slide the switch with your hands buried in 3MM neoprene.

Neither cam has a built in LCD screen to view your footage, but the GoPro has both an adapter for hooking up directly to a TV monitor, and an accessory LCD that snaps on the back of the camera.  The Contour offers neither of these options.

Both cameras sport fullHD resolution @ 1080P.  The GoPro uses standard SD cards for memory, where the smaller Contour requires microSD, which are a little more expensive and a little harder to come by in a pinch, like when you’re in Bali on that surf trip and forgot your memory card.

So which camera gets the nod?  It’s a close race, and you really can’t go wrong with either one.  But I am going with the Contour.  I love the fact that the mount swivels.  Most people are going to view footage on their computers, so the available (and expensive) LCD screen for the GoPro winds up being moot.  And the microSD cards are so small, I’ll just pack a couple extra in my bag when I go to Bali next time.  

As of this posting, the ContourHD ROAM sells for $265 when you total up the camera, waterproof housing and the surfboard mount.

The GoPro HD Surf Hero is $195 with free shipping, including everything needed to mount and get wet.

There is a new GoPro model out now (Hero2) but the features just don’t justify the extra $100 in my opinion.

Below are links to the best online pricing at

ContourROAM Hands-free HD Camcorder (Newest Model)

Contour 3330 Waterproof Case for ContourROAM

Contour 3555 Surfboard Mount

GoPro HD Surf Hero

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