Review – Fitbit Ultra

My day can be pretty active at times and after the end of one of those days it’s always nice to see what you’ve done physically (mentally is an all together different issue).  If you’ve ever used a pedometer to measure your daily activity I’m sure you’ve wished it could do more than count your steps.

Enter the FitBit.  This little piece of technology can do some pretty amazing things. Now in its 2nd generation (FitBit Ultra) the unit has worked out the quirks of the 1st generation unit and added some cool new features.  I’ve been following this product since I first heard about it 4 years ago (before it was completed and on the market)

The FitBit Ultra is a tiny, lightweight (0.4 oz), device that you wear on your body during the day to measure activity and at night to measure the lack of activity (sleep).  It’s so light you can easily forget you have it with you.

The FitBit Ultra measures the following activities:

  • Steps taken
  • Distance traveled
  • Calories burned (based on activity, height, weight)
  • Floors climbed (1 floor for every 10′ in elevation change while walking)
  • Overall progress towards the activity goals you have established online

One of the many cool features of the FitBit is that it will auto-sync with the web-based dashboard when you are in the same room as the receiver (which is plugged into a computer).  I have my receiver plugged into the home theater PC since I’m usually in that room once a day.  The receiver also functions as a charging stand, something you will need to do every 5-7 days.

Once your data is uploaded the website compiles all of the information into an easy to understand dashboard.  This dashboard shows historical data as well as averages and goals you have set up (loose 5 pounds, walk 10,000 steps a day, climb 10 flights of stairs a day, etc.).  The dashboard is also where you can enter in the food you’ve eaten to do some calorie calculations (calories consumed vs. burned).  There is a premium, subscription based, dashboard that has additional features like a trainer, more detailed analysis of your activities and food intake.

One FitBit feature that I specifically wanted to try was the sleep analyzer function.  I’ve always assumed I was getting a good nights sleep but never knew how to tell.  By clipping the FitBit on your shirt sleeve (or using the included wrist band) the device measures how many times you “wake up” during the night.

Last night I woke up (moved) 5 times during my 7-hour slumber and that worked out to an efficiency rating of 99%.  I guess I slept good last night!  I just bought the unit last weekend and I’m still getting used to everything I can do with it.

If you’re into mobile apps (and who isn’t these days?) you can access your dashboard with an iPhone, Blackberry, and Android device.

For $99 the FitBit Ultra is an interesting toy that I’m going to plan on using for the foreseeable future to measure my activity level.  Having something like this is a huge motivator and has already convinced me to take the stairs vs. the elevator today (and in the days to come).

Here’s the promotional video that does a great job explaining how the FitBit can “fit” into your lifestyle.


Daily Carry – Quark MiNi 123 Flashlight

4Sevens Quark MiniX 123

Every once in a while a product exceeds my expectations so much I have to tell the world about it.  This is the case with my latest Every Day Carry (EDC) item the “4Sevens Quark Mini 123” flashlight ($39 retail price).

Not only is this one of the smallest flashlights I have ever used it far surpasses my old standby the Surefire 6Z that I reviewed back in January 2009.  I first learned about the Quark Mini 123 while looking around on the Every Day Carry site.

The EDC site is a place for people to submit photographs of the items they carry with them every day (tactical and otherwise).  A common theme of these user submitted photos was the Quark Mini 123.

With my curiosity piqued I did some searching on the web and found several reviews on YouTube, all of which were very favorable regarding this flashlight.  That was enough for me to order one to see for myself.

123 Size Lithium Battery

I’ve included the specifications of this flashlight at the end of this review but here’s one spec you need to know.  This little light can produce 180 Lumens of light, and it only uses a single 123 sized lithium battery!  The Surefire with LED head produces 80 Lumens (and uses two 123 batteries) and I thought that was bright enough!

How bright is 180 Lumens?  Remember those AA MagLights we all had at one point or another (or still have)?  That light produces 15.2 average Lumens and a run time of 5.5 hours on alkaline batteries.  A three D cell MagLight model produces on average 76.8 Lumens with a run time of about 9 hours.

Something to note about the above comparison is that the MagLights are using incandescent light bulbs (filament inside of a vacuum).  Most “modern” flashlights are now using LED bulbs that produce an incredible amount of light given their size and power input.  I upgraded the Surefire to an LED head to get the 80 Lumens of output (it produced 65 with its incandescent bulb from the factory)

Size Comparison (AA & 123 batteries)

LED bulbs also generate a lot of heat to prolonged use can cause the light to get a little warm (hot in the case of the Surefire 6Z)  LED bulbs are not easily replaceable in the field either.  The good thing is they last a lot longer than incandescent bulbs.

To activate the Quark MiNi 123, tighten the bezel clockwise. The light will turn on when the bezel is fully tightened, and turn off when the bezel is loosened.  Turning the light on/off quickly will activate the 3 output settings (Low/Med/High).  Cycle through the output settings twice (within about 5 seconds) and you will activate the “special” settings (Strobe, SOS, High/Low Beacon).

I can’t say enough about this little light.  It’s about the size of an average thumb and easily fits in any pocket.  The included lanyard is a good way to keep track of the light because it’s easily misplaced.

I still keep my Surefire in my EDC bag but the Quark Mini 123 is my preferred light just about every time.

4Sevens Q Mini X 123 Specifications (from the site):

  •     LED: CREE XP-G R5
  •     Max Output: 180 Out-the-front (OTF) lumens
  •     Material: Type-III Hard-anodized Aircraft-grade Aluminum
  •     Lens: Optical-grade glass lens with anti-reflective coating on both sides
  •     Reflector: Light orange-peel textured
  •     Water resistance: IPX-8
  •     Battery: One lithium CR123A (3V) – do not use rechargeable RCR123As

  Seven Output Modes:

  •         Low: 3 OTF lumens, 150 hours
  •         Medium: 40 OTF lumens, 8 hours
  •         High: 180 OTF lumens, 1.2 hours
  •         Special (hidden) modes:
  •         Strobe 2.4 hours
  •         SOS 7.2 hours
  •         Beacon (Hi) 12 hours
  •         Beacon (Lo) 60 hours


  •         Length: 2.3 inches
  •         Diameter: 0.80 inches
  •         Weight: 0.62 ounces (w/o battery)

Included accessories: Lanyard, split ring for keychain attachment, spare o-ring.

The Leatherman Micra – Multi-Tool

I’ve been carrying a Leatherman Micra in my pocket for the last 8-10 years.  It’s one of those items I can’t leave the house without.  Each of the 10 tools on the Micra has a specific use and rarely do I need to dig out the full sized Leatherman from the gear bar.  The scissors are surprisingly strong and have a very smooth accurate cut.  At least with me they get the biggest workout.

1.5 inch Clip Point Knife
Extra-small Screwdriver
Medium Screwdriver
Flat Phillips Head Screwdriver
Spring-action Scissors
Nail File/Cleaner
Bottle Opener

2.5 inches long when closed
1.6 inches blade length

1.75 ounces

List Price:

If you are looking for a small, well made multi-tool you really can’t go wrong with the Leatherman Micra.


  • • 420HC Clip Point Knife.
    • Extra-small Screwdriver.
    • Medium Screwdriver.
    • Flat Phillips Head Screwdriver.
    • Spring-action Scissors.
    • Nail File/Cleaner.
    • Bottle Opener.
    • Ruler.
    • Tweezers.
  • Measurements:
    • 2.5 inches long when closed.
    • 1.6 inches blade length.