Sunday, July 30, 2017

Friends In High And Rugged Places

So, I'm finally getting around to doing my review of the ToughTested products I received a few months ago.   Let me give you a little background.

All of the charging cords I've ever had from Apple, for my iPhone, have become destroyed in a matter of months.  The problem I continued to have was the fraying of the charging cable. I've used electrical tape and animal print duct tape to fix the problem and although it works, it looks like crap.  They always break in the same place and after a while the cable just becomes unusable.  So Ed bought me a charging cable from one of the truck stops, the braided kind that's really durable.  It was great.  I loved it.  It felt so durable and I wondered why Apple, for the kind of money one pays for their products, didn't include this kind of cable when you buy something from their product line.

But then my brand new cable stopped working and I couldn't figure out why.  It wasn't frayed, it wasn't loose, it didn't look damaged.  It just stopped charging.  So I Tweeted to ToughTested, the company who makes it, and told them in 140 characters or less about my disappointment.  They quickly responded and asked me to send my information to them via a direct message and they'd send out a new one.

I sent my information but I never got the new cord.  Sad face.  I didn't want to be a pain in the ass, and figuring they got busy and my request got lost on its way through the chain of command, I wrote it off as a lost cause.  I didn't contact them again.

Enter Wendy Parker of The George and Wendy Show.  Not a trucker but a bonafide "celebrity" in the trucking world, she travels with her trucker husband and writes a column for Overdrive Magazine from the passenger seat of their rig.  She's got a healthy following on Facebook, engages regularly on Twitter, and frequently posts on Instagram.

She also attends the major trucking industry shows - MATS and GATS - has partnered with several companies, done promo for several brands, and reviewed products and services for a number of vendors that cater to the trucking industry.  I'm telling you, she's everywhere.  Oh, and she wrote a book too.  

So when I read on Twitter that she was going to be the grand dame of the ToughTested booth at the 2017 MATS show, I sent her an email about my beloved but no longer functioning charging cord. She quickly responded telling me she'd see what she could do about scoring me a new cord.

Well.  I am here to tell you that Wendy Parker didn't just "see what she could do", she came through like a BOSS.  Not only did I get my cord replacement - really, the only thing I wanted - but shortly after the MATS show was over, I got a box in the mail containing all of the items in the photo above.  Holy mother of the big slab!

The package blew me away.  I unpacked it like a kid on Christmas morning.  And because ToughTested was so great to me, I'm going to tell you what I think about each item in the box.  Let's just say that up front, I'm totally impressed.

OK, so first let me tell you why it's taken me so long to get to this review.  The biggest reason is that I'm a colossal procrastinator (ask my mother) and when I get home from my two-day run, I seem to find all kinds of things that keep me from actually sitting down and typing.  The other part is that I wanted to be able to use the products before I made any kind of comments or did a review on them.  I got the box at the end of March, so I've had four months now to make use of them and really get a good sense of what they are and what they do.  

Let's begin.

The Durable Braided Cable ($24.99)
This is the only item I actually needed when I contacted ToughTested.  And I love it.  In the signature black and orange ToughTested colors, the braided cable is super sturdy.  It's perfect for everyday life, but it's even superior for life in the truck.  The ends have durable, flexible plastic covering at the exact spot that shreds on most regular charging cords.  The cord is protected at the weakest point and the braiding doesn't break down. No need for electrical or duct tape!  I love this thing.

Rugged, Weatherproof 8000 mAh Dual USB Battery Pack ($59.99)

This thing is pretty amazing.  I use my phone so much that I'm always out of juice.  I often carry one of those little charging units (my friend Kim gave me one from the place she works that's the size of a lipstick tube) because I hate to be out and about without power.  This one is heavy duty.  It's a little bigger than a deck of cards but a wee bit too bulky and heavy to carry in my purse with all the other stuff I have in there.  What it is perfect for is a tote bag on the beach, a backpack when I'm out and about, or to throw in the pannier bag on my bicycle.  It can fully charge my phone up to five times and it has the ability to charge more than one device at a time.  We used it while out and about in California last weekend and Ed took it when he went motorcycle riding and used it for both his phone and his GPS unit. It's perfect for those types of outings.  And if you drop it off a cliff or get it wet, it'll still work.

Rugged Wireless Speaker and Power Bank ($69.99)
Now, this thing I LOVE.  LOVE LOVE LOVE!  Just like the description says, it's a speaker and a powerbank.  You can listen to music and charge your other devices with it.  It has a 16-hour battery life, it's shockproof, waterproof, and dustproof.  It utilizes both Bluetooth technology and a 3.5mm jack to connect devices, it's not as heavy as you might imagine, and the sound is insane!

Seriously.  I'm blown away by the sound.  Amazing quality, great bass, really pleasant tones overall.  It's not cheap or tinny, and the sound doesn't change when you increase the volume, no vibrations or wobbles.  It sounds like it's coming from a speaker in a home or car system, not from a portable speaker with a wrist strap.

I'm not one to camp - although I have a feeling that may change in the future - and can see this speaker perched on a rock belting out tunes to a crowd.  It has power!  For me, knowing that I can drop it and it's not going to conk out on me is a real plus.  As Ed can attest, I have a tendency to be a little butterfingered when it comes to gadgets.  I'm surprised my iPhone has lasted as long as it has without me breaking the screen on it since I drop it all. the. time.  I seriously don't know how they pack such serious sound into something so small, but the consumer in this scenario is definitely the one benefitting from the technology in this little baby.

Power Share Pro USB Wall Charger with InstaSense ($24.99)
Every device we buy comes with a charger.  The iPhone has that little cube, Ed's Samsung has a bulky wall charger, and we have power strips and outlets that have USB ports in them because we use them so often.  It never hurts to have an extra charger.  What I love about this one is that it has three USB ports, it does a fast 30-minute charge, and the prongs that plug into the wall can be used in an 180° or 90° position, which allows it to sit flat against the wall if needed (good for behind furniture, or in tight spaces).  And like all the other items, the construction is rugged.  I'm definitely not breaking any of this stuff anytime soon.

Pro-Comm Neckband Bluetooth with 10x Noise Canceling and Speaker mode  ($79.99)
This Bluetooth headset is badass.  It's a neckband style, with speakers in the neckband so you can wear it with or without the earbuds in and still hear what's coming through.  The cable is Kevlar reinforced (say what?!) with a braided nylon cover to prevent tangles.  The earbuds on this thing not only block out noise, but they're comfortable, which is often hard to find.  As awesome as these things are, I have to be honest and say that this is the only item I passed on to someone else.  I have tried many headsets and earbuds in my technology-driven life and I've settled on a brand that I love and have used since Ed bought me my first iPod over 10 years ago.  I don't like wireless (Bluetooth). I like to be hooked up, without having to worry about charging my ears in the middle of an audiobook marathon.  They went to a very appreciative family member.

Tech Gear Bag for Mobile Accessories  ($24.99)
I am a bag freak.  Purses, tote bags, cosmetic bags, backpacks, mesh envelopes, zippered cases, pencil holders, even plastic Ziploc bags.  Most people know this about me.  In fact, my friends bought me gifts from Bangkok one year that I still use on a regular basis to this day.  So, of course, I love this ToughTested gadget bag.  This past weekend when Ed and I went away, I stored all the ToughTested gadgets in it and threw it in our travel bag.  It's got a hard molded exterior and a carabiner so I can just clip it to the D-ring on my bag.  I'm very happy with it.

Last but not least, there was a baseball cap in the box.  Now, I'm not a baseball cap kind of girl, and Ed rarely wears them anymore, so if any of you out there would like a brand new, ToughTested cap with a Mid-America Truck Show patch on one side and 2017 stitched on the other, send me an email and I'll be happy to mail it out to you.  Put "Tough Tested Hat" in the subject line and then tell me how you found my blog and how long you've been reading - I don't care if you're a newcomer or a longtime fan - the very first email I receive at will be the first person to get the baseball cap.

This is what ToughTested says about their products:

"Tough Tested products are built to meet the demands of professionals; 10-hour work shifts, noisy trucks, unpaved roads, extreme conditions, continuous use. ToughTested is designed to go to work with you. Our products work longer hours and withstand the extensive stress of rigorous use. We engineer our products to exceed performance standards and we back them up with a 5-year warranty. You can expect more robust features built into Tough Tested products; longer and heavier cords, higher amperage, longer battery life, more durable materials, extreme temperature tolerant components, higher grade plastics and hardware. Whether you’re off road on the job or on a hike, you want your gear to be ToughTested."

That about sums it up.  Damn.  I could have just written that.

I'd like to thank Wendy Parker for reaching out to ToughTested on my behalf, and I'd like to thank the folks at Mizco International and ToughTested for coming through in such a HUGE way.  They asked if I would share my experience with their products after I had a chance to use them.  I was more than happy to oblige, writing a review is a small price to pay to show my appreciation for such a generous box of swag.

“This is a sponsored blog post. While the views expressed here were genuinely mine, consideration was paid to me by Mizco International to review this product.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2016: No Middle Ground
2015: Check Out These Links Before The Big One Hits
2014: In Six Months, They'll Know Right Where To Put It
2013: Musical Parking Spots
2012: Me And The Thunder
2011: Her Cup Overfloweth With Idiocy
2010: Dear Arizona,
2009: Come Sit In Our Cab For A Spel And Let Us Take You On The Road!
2008: How Well Do You Know Your Stringed Instruments?
2007: Meat. The Old Fashioned Way.
2006: Kicking The Hell Out Of Texas
2005: Look, Mary!

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