How to transport your bicycle with a car

In any amateur cyclist’s life, there will come a time when they want to test their strength at different places than the roads around home. They will want to try out cycling in different sceneries than the ones you are used to. But how do you make sure that your equipment gets to your destination safely? For that, you will need a bike rack to mount onto your car.

Various types of bike racks

You have a lot of choices when it comes to purchasing a bike rack but you should know that not every bike rack can be attached properly to every car. The most common types of racks for carrying bikes are hitch racks, roof racks and trunk racks.

Hitch bike racks

Hitch bike racks are a great choice if you need to carry multiple bikes and you plan on doing it regularly. They can usually carry from two to five bikes simultaneously. However, to use a hitch rack you will need a receiver hitch installed on the back of your vehicle. If your car didn’t come with one, you can get it installed by professionals for an additional fee. After that, mounting a hitch rack is a breeze.

Hitch bike racks come in various models, suitable for most budgets. The most advanced, and expensive, hitch racks will allow you to have a fully accessible trunk even if the rack is loaded. If you’re not sure what kind of rack you need, check this list of hitch bike rack reviews. Hitch racks are very sturdy so your bikes will be safe but be prepared for sway if you travel with a fully loaded rack in the back.

Roof bike racks

These racks are the most versatile because they can be used to carry not only bikes but also other types of sports equipment, such as skis or surfboards. Because the rack is on the roof, you have full access to all the car doors and trunk at all times. Most cars have space to carry up to four bikes at once. Most roof tracks are able to carry bikes with no adjustments but some will require you to take down the bike wheels first.

The main drawback of roof racks is that loading and unloading is a pretty strenuous activity. It can also hinder you if you drive in space with low-clearance – underground parking lots are not really an option.

Trunk bike racks

Trunk racks are the least expensive option for carrying bikes on your car. Similar to hitch racks, they are also mounted on the rear of your car but don’t require a separate receiver hitch. They are easy to install and easy to load and unload.

However, they are not the sturdiest racks. You probably won’t have problems with bikes falling off of it completely but they will most likely sway and maybe even touch one another while you are driving. Trunk bike racks are good if you need to transport your bikes occasionally and don’t want to spend a ton of money on additional equipment.

This is all you need to know about bike racks. Visit Be Your Car website for reviews of other car equipment.

Different kayak types – sit in vs. sit on

Kayaking is a great way of seeing beautiful natural sceneries from a different than usual perspective. Leisure kayaking is not a difficult skill to learn and most people, unless they have an inherent aversion to being on the water, are able to pick it up in no time.

However, choosing a kayak is not easy, especially for those who don’t have any experience with the sport. The two basic kayak types are sit in and sit on. In this article, we will shortly explain what those two terms entail. Both types can be used for other activities apart from simple kayaking. Kayak fishing is a popular hobby that has numerous fans.

Sit in

Sit in kayaks are the traditional type. Sit in means that your lower body is enclosed inside the hull of the kayak.

Pros

Having your legs inside the kayak keeps your warm. There is usually a spray skirt attached which protects your lower body from splashing water. You are not as affected by cold temperatures or chilly wind as you would be in a sit on kayak. They are usually lighter than sit on kayaks, making them easier to carry. They are easier to paddle with so they are better for longer excursions.

Cons

Should anything go wrong, sit in kayaks are more difficult to deal with. If you capsize you might have trouble with exiting the kayak, not to mention re-entering. And the spray skirt won’t protect the hull from becoming flooded if the kayak is fully underwater. To drain the water you will need to bring your kayak to the shore somehow.

If you plan on fishing from your kayak, take a look at this best sit in fishing kayak review.

Sit on

Sit on kayaks have a smaller hull that is sealed off. This means that water cannot get inside the kayak. Your legs are in the open and the whole kayak resembles a canoe.

Pros

Sit on kayaks are easier to enter and exit, even if you need to do it in the water for some reason. This makes them a good choice for beginners who fear they might feel claustrophobic in a traditional sit in kayak.

Cons

You will have a harder time dealing with unfavorable weather conditions, such as temperature or wind because your whole body is exposed. You will also definitely get wet from splashing or waves and will have to spend the day in damp clothing.

Some sit on kayaks that are designed for fishing have special rod holders. You see the suggested sit on top fishing kayak here.

The sit in and sit on distinction is just one of the many ways of distinguishing different kayak types. Once you’ve decided on one you will need to pick one out of single/double, sea/river, inflatable/sturdy, and many others. If you find yourself not knowing which type would be best for your needs, it is best to consult either a professional (for example, from a rental store) or a friend who is into this hobby.

How to improve your TV experience with headphones

When we talk about improving the TV set up in the living room, we tend to think about upgrading the audio system, buying a new TV model, and so on. Not many people realize, however, that their TV watching experience can be enriched with just the use of a pair of quality headphones.

Watching TV with headphones might seem unusual to some people but it is actually a great way of fully immersing yourself in the show. Because the audio will be transmitted directly to your ears, you will be able to hear all the sounds much more clearly than if you were to use a regular surround audio. No distractions and no background noise from other rooms. You will be surprised at the number of details you will suddenly be able to pick up in each scene. And no more of that dreaded moments when the explosions sounds or the film soundtrack gets too loud and you aren’t able to hear the dialogues.

Headphones for TV are also a great solution for anyone who lives with other people or has neighbors behind thin walls. You will be able to enjoy your favorite show at any volume without disturbing other people, even during the night. To get the most out of the experience, you need quality headphones. Be mindful that headphones for listening to music don’t always work great with TVs and vice versa.

Wired or wireless

This is a no-brainer. Sure, you could get a wired pair of headphones but depending on your sofa-TV setup, that cord might need to be quite long. You also won’t be able to freely move around and the cord will easily get tangled if it goes through the center of your living room. A wireless pair will surely benefit you more. Headphones made for TVs are equipped with an RF transmitter that you connect to your TV. If your TV supports Bluetooth, you can also use regular Bluetooth headphones. They are usually cheaper and easier to set up but their range is slightly lower. You can check reviews of the best wireless headphones for your TV here.

Latency

This is an important factor that many do not think too much about. Latency refers to the delay between the audio played on TV and the audio transmitted to your headphones. A slight delay is to be expected but if it gets too bad it will be clearly noticeable as you will see characters moving their mouth before any dialogue is heard. When looking for TV headphones online, make sure to check out what other people are saying about latency.

Comfort

If you are a regular binge-watcher you need something that sits comfortably on your head for hours. The best kind of headphones when it comes to comfort is the over-ear headphones. They also provide better sound quality than earbuds. Search for something with soft padding, memory foams, and adjustable frames to make sure your new pair of TV headphones won’t hurt your ears.

A guide to hard-sided pools and pool filters

In those sun-baked summer days nothing fits better than enjoying a fresh, icy juice at the poolside, while your children are on cloud nine when splashing in the water.  Instead of searching the city for a community pool, the ones of you who own a shred of land would probably give up on the search and consider buying a hard-sided pool.

Deciding upon a hard-sided pool can be puzzling, especially when you need to deal with specific terminology. Here we are trying to give a response for any pending questions you may have regarding hard-sided pools.

 Why choose a hard-sided pool?

Above-ground hard-sided pools are a great alternative to the ones that are in-ground mainly because they cost significantly less money and some of them are just as enduring. Unlike soft-sided above-ground pools, the hard-sided ones might last for a few decades if maintained properly. Moreover, you can expect them to uphold a larger volume of water due to the sturdy metal sides.

Four main factors should come to your interest when accounting a hard-sided pool:

  • material: A hard-sided pool should be made out of hot-dipped galvanized steel, which facilitates rust-resistance and is both strong and heavy.
  • size: Hard-sided pools vary in depth and length alike. Some of them are as long as an in-ground pool, whereas the depth can go up to 50 inches.
  • shape: Circular pools are easier to assemble and uphold a greater volume of water than an oval-shaped pool with the same diameter.
  • liner: A heavy-duty liner is more enduring in time and can prevent rust and corrosion for a longer period.

It is not an easy job to find the perfect hard-sided pool that both suits your needs and has great structural features. Thus, The Pool Advisors made a list of their top hard-sided pool choices. Their top-tier alternative is Wilbar Impressions 18-Foot Round Pool, which excels in positive reviews and high-quality components alike.

The lungs of a hard-sided pool

When we think of a well-functioning pool, we tend not to give much credit to the filter. Yet, its mechanism is vital to securing a bacteria-free pool. Thus, without a pool filter, your swimming would be abruptly ceased due to contaminated water.

By this means, choosing a reliable above-ground pool filter is highly mandatory. In the decision process, you should consider that the filter you’re buying matches the pump you’re already using.

Besides, a heavy thought should be directed to purchasing an enduring above-ground pool filter. While sand filters have the longest resistance rate, the cartridge filters are easier to maintain.

The best 2020 above-ground pool filters are enlisted on The Pool Advisers with unbiased reviews and sharp analyses. Their number one choice is the Blue Wave 12-Inch Sand Filter System which consists of both a pump and a filter. Some of its most outstanding features are the ability to pump up to 900 gallons per hour, the high-quality, corrosion-resistant material, and very quiet operation.

Get Rid of Mold for Good

Mold is Dangerous

The only thing I like seeing mold on is blue cheese! I am one of those people who completely freak out at the slightest sign of a mold infestation. And, sometimes, it’s very difficult to keep mold under control. We can only do our best to air out the house every day and use dehumidifiers to wick out the moisture from the air, but some places are a bit harder to keep a watchful eye on. Garages and bathrooms are areas where mold cultures seem to love hanging out. And once the first black, round dot appears, you can be sure it won’t stop growing until you completely nuke it out of existence. The faster we get the job done, the lesser the chances that we get to experience the nasty side effects of breathing in mold spores. At best, these spores cause bad allergic reactions or respiratory diseases, such as asthma. However, high concentrations of mold can lead to neurological issues and, in very extreme cases, death. It’s no laughing matter. We have no time to play around with watered-down solutions, as those will only get rid of the unsightly marks, leaving behind the spore culture which will bring the problem back a couple of days later. The cycle will repeat until, inevitably, some of the mold particles get on your bedsheets and on your clothes, making you and your house smell like an old, dusty attic.

How to Kill Mold

Most mold removal products on the market simply do not cut it when dealing with a stubborn fungus that doesn’t want to give up easily. It gets even more complicated when we take into account how many different types of molds exist in close proximity to us. Before you do anything else, you need to address the root of the issue: the dampness in your home. If your shower tends to get quite humid, make sure you properly ventilate the bathroom for at least a few hours every single day. If your kitchen walls get steamy, look into installing a small extractor fan or a dehumidifying machine. After you do all that, it’s time to eradicate the mold for good. Handyman’s Garage is a website that has some amazing tips on general maintenance and home improvement. Luckily for us, they’ve compiled a list of the best mold removers on the market right now. They give short, but detailed descriptions of each product, so you can assess the situation and choose the best one for you. Like I said earlier, no two mold infestations are the same. If you have a minimal problem in your home, it makes little sense to bust out the industrial-grade cleaner that will most definitely kill your houseplants along with the spore culture. However, if your situation is extremely dire, you might benefit from getting the strongest disinfectant money can buy. If you’re on the prowl for a good, reliable cleaner – or just want to be prepared in case the need arises – be sure to check out the best mold killer product according to Handyman’s Harage!

How to make your clothes last forever

Clothes go out of fashion quickly and that causes us to feel the incentive to buy new clothes almost every season if one wants to keep up with the fast-paced fashion world.

But that is really unfortunate for our planet. Lately, with the talks about sustainability and the zero waste movement being on the rise, a hot topic of how to care for the many items in our home to make them last longer has emerged. This includes clothing as well.

Many world-leading fashion companies have jumped on the bandwagon and started releasing clothes made from ‘ecological’ fabrics that are supposed to be better for the environment. The truth is, however, that no matter how sustainable these clothes are, purchasing them is never going to be better than reusing the clothes you already own.

So what can you do to make your clothes last longer? While ‘forever’ may be hard to achieve, there are some ways to get you there as close as possible.

Learn how to use a sewing machine

A sewing machine is not only used by professionals. Many people keep one at home so that they can do basic clothes repairs by themselves. They are very useful machines and nowadays, they don’t even take up so much space. You can also use them to transform your old clothes into some new designs. This will make you feel much better than buying an unnecessary piece of clothing from a retail store.

For beginners, a Singer Sewing Machine is often recommended. The Singer machines are easy to learn and pretty affordable. There is a ton of online guides on the Internet that will help you become a proficient sewing machine user.

Use proper laundry settings

Check the labels on your clothes to see what laundry settings are recommended. For the temperature, always go with cold water setting, even if the label says otherwise. Hot temperature doesn’t make your clothes any cleaner but can damage the fabric by weakening the threads.

To protect your clothes when in the laundry machine, turn them inside out. This way, the side that you actually care out, the one with embellishments and prints, will stay protected from snags and other damages inside the washing machine. And always use a lingerie bag when washing your delicates.

Abandon dryers

Yes, dryers are extremely useful machines that can get your clothes ready in a short time, but they are also the main culprits behind breakage, shrinkage, and color fading of clothes.

Instead, air dry your clothes on a drying rack or hangers, preferably wooden ones. If you take care to hang your clothes carefully, you will get wrinkle-free garments.

And if you do decide to purchase some new clothes, pay attention to their quality. High-quality fabrics do not get damaged as easily and if you use the methods listed in this article, you can make them last for a surprisingly long time.

For more information, visit the French Garment Cleaners website. They have a vast amount of reviews about various tools you can use to maintain and take care of all of your fabrics.

Best mushroom night light designs

It has been stated by many people that having a source of light in your room at night really improves the quality of your sleep, as opposed to sleeping in the dark. And what better design for your night light than a glowing mushroom? On Amazon, you can find plenty of options for mushroom shaped night lights. Using such a product will give your room a fantasy forest feel, helping you relax more and feel more in touch with nature.

There are several things to consider when buying a new night light, to make sure it fits your room aesthetic and blends in with the space. For example, a lamp that fits on your nightstand is a great idea, but if you don’t have the space, then you could consider buying a plug-in led lamp as well.

Best mushroom night lights

Below, you can see what the most recommended options for a mushroom night light are on Amazon, so you can make a decision based on your preferences.

  • Ausaye LED Night Light

This night light features a cool design, of a large mushroom which can be plugged into any socket in your room. It emits a colourful light, very soft, warm and relaxing, so that you will not be bothered by it. The colours change between 7 different options, so you can choose what fits your preferences best. It can be used for any occasions, not just during your sleep: you can use it as ambiental light for your living room, for the outdoors (if you happen to have a socket somewhere), or it can be used by cafe’s to improve the atmosphere.

  • Ausaye 4-pack Night Light

This is another great product, more versatile than the first due to it coming in a pack of four silicone plug-in small lamps. Not only is it good for personal use, but you can plug them in in more than one room or, why not, even give one away as a gift. The design features smaller mushrooms and plants, reminiscent of a forest mushroom patch, giving you that forest feel in any room you use it. The lamp has very low energy consumption, even though it automatically turns on at sunset and turns off at dawn, shining a soft, colourful light for the whole duration of the night. The fact that they are very small makes them very portable, so you can take them with you on a holiday as well, if you want to keep that romantic feel.

  • In My Room Moonlight Mushroom

This design is very different from the other two, as it not a plug-in lamp but a lamp you can place on your nightstand or desk. Shaped as a mushroom, this lamp features a mushroom head designed to create an incredibly magical light show on your walls and ceiling. With 8 different colour schemes to choose from, you can have light shaped as flowers and leaves projected in your room, making you feel like you are part of a fantasy story.

There is no reason not to want to feel like a princess in your own fairy tale, and for that you can always use a mushroom night light.

5 things you must do to keep your dog well groomed

Dogs are some of the best pets anyone could ask for. Many people have dogs because of their energy, loyalty, love, and overall happiness they bring to your home. However, some people fail to understand that, just like we care for ourselves and our hygiene, we should do the same with our dogs. Dogs can be relatively clean animals, but they can’t be properly clean without some help from us as owners. There are multiple things that we should keep in mind to make sure our dog is properly sanitized, more than just giving them a shower or grooming their coat. Below, we go over five essential things every dog owner ought to do to keep them clean.

Brush, brush, brush

Your dog’s hair is perhaps the most important thing you should care for, particularly if your dog has a medium or medium-long coat of hair. Your pets spend a lot of time outside, and even if you keep them indoors, they can get dirty really quickly during their routine walks. Their hair can gather dust, pollen, and dirt, so a daily brush can keep all that dirt from accumulating, as well as keeping your dog’s coat from matting.

Trim or grind your dog’s nails regularly

Not many people pay attention to their dogs’ nails. Some owners believe that the nails get naturally trimmed from friction while walking, or that it is not that big of a deal to keep them untrimmed because they don’t bother dogs. This could not be farther from the truth. Owners need to regularly check their dogs for abnormally long nails or irregularities. Take care of them with a dog nail trimmer or with a dog nail grinder if that makes it easier for both of you.

Be mindful of fleas and ticks

Not grooming and brushing your dog’s coat can quickly make them develop bad odor that can, in turn, attract bugs and pests. Among the most common ones that often follow dogs, we can find flies, fleas, and ticks. With all of them, you have to be careful not to let them get out of control, but particularly the latter two. Fleas and ticks can transmit diseases to your dog and family, reason for which you should always keep handy the best flea medicine for your dog.

Wash your dog’s teeth too!

Just like us, dogs need to take care of their teeth to make sure they don’t break or fall out. Dental hygiene is important for dogs, but luckily it is just as intuitive as it is with us. Brushing or washing their teeth regularly to some extent can be enough for them to enjoy a full set of teeth without any major issues down the line. You can use a literal brush or your finger to get to all of your dog’s teeth.

Check unsuspected parts for dirt

Last but not least, dogs are just like people, in the sense that they accumulate dirt in the most unsuspected places. Every once in a while, check your dog thoroughly for any signs of unkempt areas. The most likely parts you are neglecting during your clean-ups might be the ears and their paws. You can save your dog some great discomfort by checking their paws and ears after walks in search of any foreign objects aren’t stuck there.

Greg Lemond: Finding New Challenges At 40

With little media fanfare or reminiscence, Greg LeMond turned age 40 in June 2001. Now nearly a decade removed from the top echelon of professional cycling, LeMond and his wife Kathy and the couple’s two boys and a girl, all teenagers, maintain their long-time residence in Medina, Minnesota.

The family also spends considerable time in Montana where the LeMonds own a fishing cabin and are building a family compound in Yellowstone Ranch, near Big Sky.

Since his retirement, LeMond has remained entrenched in cycling as a businessman. Some of his ventures away from cycling have not been as successful as he hoped, but his LeMond bicycles are extremely popular. He also has several additional ventures and business relationships, including cycling accessories that bear his name, a new arrangement with StairMaster and a new partial ownership of DeFeet, an athletic sock company in California.

LeMond has been wearing DeFeet socks for nearly a decade and has joined with the company to offer a line of LeMond apparel.

Always gregarious, LeMond spent more than twice his scheduled autograph-signing time at Interbike, the cycling industry’s major trade show, in Las Vegas.

While a steady flow of trade show attendees waited for autographs, LeMond chatted with each person and gladly posed for pictures. He also chatted with actor (and athlete) Robin Williams who tapped a surprised LeMond on the shoulder. LeMond also talked with other former athletes, long-time friends, business folks and cycling fans, greeting all comers with a hearty handshake and a smile.

Eventually, the former three-time Tour de France winner (1986, ’89 and ’90) left the expo with several friends, business colleagues (and a reporter) for a long lunch at the adjoining hotel’s Chinese restaurant.

Between story-telling, jokes and various exchanges with his small entourage, LeMond answered a wide-range of questions – his rekindled relationship with his father, his exercise interests and his family life. It was all done during a hearty offering a dim-sum, one of LeMond’s favorite dining choices.

Here’s part of the two-hour, lively session with LeMond during lunch:

Question: What was it like for you to turn 40?

Greg LeMond: It wasn’t like I had a middle-age crisis, but I did realize that I’m not young anymore.

Q: How much to do have a chance to exercise these days? You look good. You’ve lost weight?

GL: No, I haven’t lost any weight. I’ve seen photos when I say to myself, ‘Do I look that bad?’ I “porked out” a little bit this past summer, so maybe I’ve lost five pounds since then. But I’ve pretty much been the same weight the past few years, about 195 pounds (LeMond is 5-foot-9). I’m a lot more muscular than I was. When you are racing, if you know anything about exercise, you’re always breaking down muscle. You never have any muscle mass. In the three years after I stopped racing, even without any weight training, I gained about 30 pounds of muscle mass. But I’ve just starting running (about 45 minutes), so I can exercise while traveling. I’ve hated running forever. But in the last couple of weeks I’ve actually liked it. It feels less painful now than it did when I was racing. In the winter I cross-country ski five days a week and last year I did 45 days of downhill skiing. And in the summer, I still ride three days a week.

Q: For several years you and your father didn’t speak. But you’re back on good terms, right?

GL: I think why our relationship went sour is that because for the real fundamental part of my career, my dad never told me what to do. I was always independent. He advised me, and I asked him for advice. But he was never one to say, ‘You have to do this or that.’ As things got more important and my life became more businesslike, with the money and more responsibility, I think he got over concerned and all of a sudden our relationship dynamics changed and I wanted for him to be more like my dad than a businessman. But now we’ve been on very good terms for the past two years (after a four-year break). He likes to hike and he’s doing well in real estate (in Reno, Nevada). That time was brutal and it’s not something anyone should go through. But it’s much better and my dad is very affectionate.

Q: Do you watch cycling and are you still involved with competitive cycling in any way?

GL: It’s so hard to be involved in the sport unless you’re involved with a team or in television commentating, that’s about it. And I have no interest in commentating. I did want to get involved with sponsoring a professional team, but it didn’t work out Mercury. But we are still working toward that. But there are a lot issues in cycling right now that I don’t want to be associated with. But the sport will continue to thrive, and eventually I would like to get back into cycling.

Q: Do you look at the (cycling) results in the newspaper?

GL: Occasionally. But this summer we (the LeMond family) were in Montana. We had no television, no TV. So I couldn’t follow it. But I do like watching the Classics. Those are the races I think are incredibly exciting, the one-day events. It’s on OLN (Outdoor Life Network) and that’s going to help the sport a lot. But I’m just not a guy who watches TV. I never have been. I don’t watch other sports at all, well the only sports I watch occasionally are the winter sports in the Olympics – skiing.

Q: What has it been like for you since your career ended?

GL: “I did a lot of promotional stuff with my bicycles. I visit a lot of retail dealers and other stuff by businesses But this past year it’s been kind of calm. I was involved with the Mercury Cycling and that kind of fell apart for multiple reasons. I thought I was going to be spending time at the Tour de France and going to World Cup races, but that went by the wayside.

Q: A few years ago, you did television commentary at the Ironman in Hawaii. Do you have anymore plans for TV work?

GL: No. I didn’t care for it. I just didn’t care for the way they did cycling. Now, with the Outdoor Life Network, it might be a little bit better now that it’s live. But usually during the Ironman, you get about 11 seconds to say something intelligent, and it’s pretty hard to do it. It’s always that you say these stupid little comments. It’s not really commentary. I’m not into that, but I might do it again as I get older.

Q: Different guys react differently when they cross the line in victory. Did you ever plan how you were going to react, particularly your famous finish at the World Championships in Chambery, France?

GL: Usually, if you’re solo and on a long breakaway, maybe you could think about what you want to do. But I’ve never been so arrogant to think . . . well I don’t know. My reactions have always been spontaneous. Oh, my God, the sprint in Chambery! I was just watching Sean Kelly’s wheel. You don’t really know where the line is. I was just trying to keep him away. I looked up at the last second and said, ‘Wow! I beat Kelly. I won the sprint. I won the Worlds. He beat me in Milan San Remo and at Lombardy, both times for potentially my first Classics win. I remember I felt lousy the whole race (in Chambery) then the last two laps I felt invisible.”

Drink Up With Hydration Systems

One day in the early 1990s, a cyclist named Michael Edison was participating in the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred, a Texas endurance event at which the heat can reach triple digits and where participants’ suffering is commonplace.

Edison, a former paramedic, was a novice rider at the time. As his ride progressed, he noted that while negotiating his way through the field of 1,000 riders, he constantly bumped others while repeatedly reaching for his water bottles.

When Edison returned home to Northern California, he began various experiments to discover a more efficient way to drink fluids.

Using the tools of his former occupation, Edison attached medical tubing to an I.V. bag, stuffed the bag into a sock and then sewed the sock onto the back of a T-shirt.

He called his invention a “camel back,” for its hump-like shape on his bike. And thus, hydration systems Camelbak, the hydration system industry’s leading company, began. At least, according to the manufacturer’s web site.

Little more than a decade later, numerous manufacturers offer hydration systems, all many generations removed from the original container Edison crafted out of medical supplies, an old T-shirt and basic sewing skills.

With larger holding areas (bladders), accompanying storage areas and ease of use, more exercise enthusiasts who were once long-time water bottle users have switched to hydration systems.

Here’s a sampling of the hydration systems available at the 2002 Interbike trade show in Las Vegas.

Camelbak Products, Inc.1310 Redwood Way, Suite C, Petaluma, CA 94954. Tel: 800-767-8725; web site: http://www.camelbak.com.

As the first company to offer hydration systems, Camelbak took the risk and suffered accordingly. Its prototype bladders leaked as did its early drinking tubes and shut-off systems.

But the company now offers more than 75 styles and promotes its line for recreation, industrial and military use.

For runners, popular styles are the Day Trekker, FlashFlo, Rim Runner and Lobo ($65), the manufacturer’s largest capacity (70 ounces) that includes the external fill option. Its has myriad side compartments and features, including a pump port, sternum strap and removable waist belt, and it’s promoted as machine washable.

Camelbak has also expanded and has promoted heavily its kids’ line. It includes the Skeeter and Scout, two 35-ounce packs that feature extra cargo areas for kids’ outerwear and other items.

Like its competitors,Camelbak’s line now also has new pastel color options, geared toward the women’s market.

* Hydrapak, 2991 Shattuck Ave. #202, Berkeley, CA 94705. Tel. 510-549-0559; E-mail: info@hydra-pak.com; web site: http://www.hydra-pak.com.

Comfort is key component of hydration systems. Does a pack fit properly andare discomfort or irritation problems during long workouts kept to minimum? Correspondingly, is the mouthpiece easy and efficient to use?

Last fall, Hydrapak introduced its “Air Scoop” technology and EasyFlo Shutoff valve.

The Air Scoop Technology pack, geared toward cyclists, features a firm back support and space “pods” or cushions, according company literature. The pads are designed to keep the pack shaped in ergonomic curve and spaced about 3/4 inches off the user’s back.

The EasyFlo Shut-Off Valve, standard on the company’s 2003 line, features a bite-activated valve introduced nearly two years ago. But it has the addition of a push-pull shut off feature similar to a sports water bottle top. Hydrapak’s current line includes 16 packs ranging in price from $30 to $125.

* Ultimate Direction, 1255 Powell Street, Emeryville, CA 94608. Tel. 800-426-7229. web site: http://www.ultimatedirection.com

Like its competitors, Ultimate Direction has vast offerings, including its new styles specifically designed for women in pastel colors and featuring smaller company logos.

The walkabout, for example, is available in black but also in two-tone options of slate/blue and lemon/blue. Its features a 20-ounce bottle and two large main access compartments for equipment, clothing, food, etc.

It has a single adjust waist belt with an offset buckle and “shockcord” system on the bottom of the pack for gloves, hat or a parka as well as additional key and waist belt pockets. It weighs 13.9 ounces and is priced at $40.

Ultimate Direction also offers a wide variety of women-designed water vests and other hydration options that include “double-barreled” valves promoted as having “18 percent greater flow than other valves on the market.”