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GoPro Camera model rundown 2015

I am now on to my third GoPro camera. The first one I lost diving, and the second I took diving not realising the case had a crack in it (I think from a hard drop to cement). But both times I did not hesitate to go straight out and buy a new one, because these cameras are simply awesome.

When the camera was first released, it was amazing that a camera that size could shoot full HD, 1080p videos at 30fps, and in a case that made it close to indestructible. In 2015 those stats may seem less impressive, with modern smartphones having caught up, but GoPro has moved on since then, and are still totally worth it, whether you are an extreme sports enthusiast or just want to snap video of your kids in the pool.

With the latest incarnations, Hero, Hero+LCD, Hero4 Silver, Hero4 Black, and now the GoPro Hero4 Session, plus the previous models still selling, there are plenty of options to choose from. So which GoPro is for you? The below chart compares the current models. All but the Session come with a tough waterproof case (now up to 40m!) and a small front LCD info-screen for status and battery, menu navigation, control and changing settings.

GoPro Hero

I recently bought the GoPro Hero, which is the entry level model, and at only US$130 is great value. You get full HD video 1080p@30fps, which is fine for most people, especially when the end result is likely YouTube. There are two main pitfalls on this budget model; First, and for me the biggest downside, is the built in battery, which means you can’t swap it out with a spare, you have to charge it IN the camera between uses. However, you can still get couple hours on the battery which covers most uses, and at this price you could buy 2 or 3 for the cost of the more expensive models, and simply switch to the other when it runs out.

Second, there is no live-view LCD screen. This might sound crazy at first, “How do I know what I’m shooting?!”, but it really isn’t essential. I find the GoPro is often a ‘set and forget’ camera: Attach to your bike/helmet/car etc, hit start and let it run. Even if you have it in hand, with the wide angle lens you don’t need to be perfect, just point in the general direction. It might take a few goes but you get used it pretty quickly. Also, if you’re diving or doing something very active, its hard to look at the screen anyway. I bought the LCD backpack for the first model and after losing it I didn’t bother to replace it.

GoPro Hero+LCD

Next up in the GoPro range, the Hero+LCD comes with a live-view touchscreen LCD, as well as 1080p@60fps, 8MP stills and WiFi. Apart from being able to see what you’re shooting, this model is easier to navigate menus and change settings, using the either touchscreen or your phone over WiFi. You can also view back your footage directly on the camera or your phone straight after you’ve shot it, which is almost more beneficial than viewing it live. Still, at more than double the price, its hard to justify. If you want to save money then stick with the base model, if you’re prepared to spend a bit more, then go for the silver.

GoPro Hero4 Silver & Black

Both the Silver and Black models allow you to take timelapse photos, and add the option of Protune for video. Protune is an advanced user mode that records footage with less compression, and more natural colours. The resulting images will look more washed out and less sharp, but retain more colour information to grade them how you like in post production. The file sizes will also be larger. This setting is similar to a DSLR camera saving stills as RAW instead of JPEG (except not as extreme). The Protune video is still compressed, but it keeps more information. Protune also allows shooting at 24fps, great for cutting in with other footage shot at film rate.

Basically, if you want greater control over the look of your video and are prepared to grade every single shot you take, turn on Protune. If you need a quicker, hassle-free workflow and are happy with what the GoPro does naturally, leave it off.

Silver is probably the best all-round model. It gets the LCD touchscreen, WiFi, 2.7Kp@30fps, 1080p@60fps and 720p@120fps which you can use for great slow-motion effect, with a 4x slow down without artifacts.

The Black model goes up to an amazing 4K resolution at 30fps and a whopping 240fps at 720p, allowing for even greater slow-motion effect. This comes at the cost of the LCD screen however, seemingly due to both cost and heat generated from the increased performance. So, if you want maximum final video quality, have a system capable of editing 4K video and a final viewing platform worthy of it, (and you don’t mind losing the LCD touchscreen), then go for the Black.

Note that while YouTube does technically have some 4K videos online, most people do not yet have a monitor or internet speed capable of playing it back in full 4K glory. So if your final platform is YouTube, 2K or 1080 is perfectly fine.

GoPro Hero4 Session

This new design looks like a little cube, and is the smallest and lightest model in the GoPro range yet. It also does not require a case and is waterproof on its own, albeit only to 10m. With mid range specs and no LCD info screen or touch display (you can only control via Wifi), this camera is only for those who really need the lightest, smallest camera possible. I suspect this is only for extreme sports or professional competitive athletes where every gram and millimeter counts. The other models are small enough and this seems overkill with too much compromise for the average user.

Summary

GoPro Hero : Cheapest model, best bang-for-buck
GoPro Hero+LCD : Spend $100 more and get the Silver instead
GoPro Hero4 Silver : Best all-round model
GoPro Hero4 Black : If you really need 4K or 240fps
GoPro Hero4 Session : If you’re a professional athlete or extreme sports goer

 

Vegan Sneakers & Casual Shoes

Looking for vegan hiking boots?

Unfortunately, finding truly animal-friendly sneakers isn’t as easy as it should be, especially if you just want to walk down to your nearest shoe store and grab a pair. Finding non-leather shoes isn’t that hard, particularly with cheaper models, however there is still a question of glue and colour dye used. Even within the same model line, some colourways can be vegan and others not, as the material and dyes change based on the colour.

In contacting some of the largest shoe makers, I got similar replies, in that they cannot guarantee ANY model as vegan, because the source of glue changes per factory location and cannot be verified. As well as a very interesting reply from Vibram on their rubber shoes.

Nike

We do not have a shoe that is 100% animal [free]. The Running and Cross Training silos are great places to start, as shoes that are designed to be lightweight will usually not include full grain leather. Those would be the closest options for you.

Puma

Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that any of our shoes are completely “Vegan”. Many of the adhesives and other parts of the shoes may contain animal products.

New Balance

Most of our models are made with synthetic materials. However, we do use different types of glues depending on what is available. Some of our glues will contain animal products as many glues do. Although the shoe may be made of synthetic material we cannot guarantee that any of our styles will be completely vegan.

Skechers

Unfortunately we cannot guarantee that the vegetarian shoes are 100% vegan. the reason for this is the glue which is used.

Vibram

Some information from our chemist:

“The one ingredient that would kick us out is our Stearic Acid, which can be based on Tallow but also on vegetables. We go back and forth between the two sources (as they function the same in the compound), and pretty much all rubber formulas utilize Stearic Acid…

As for the adhesives, all of the ones that I am familiar with are based on petrochem, not animal sources.”

FINDING VEGAN SHOES

So, where CAN you get vegan sneakers?

Well, if you are only interested in whether the shoes consist of any leather parts, you can often find information on the shoe itself. Check on the tongue of the shoe for written descriptions such as “Leather upper” or “Synthetic Upper” and “Man-made materials”. Often there are only symbols listed, either on the tongue or as a sticker on the inner sole or on the base of the shoe. The following is an explanation of what these symbols mean.

shoe material

If you are looking for a truly vegan shoe however, you will have to look a little harder. There are of course a few brands who are exclusively vegan, but they are not as widely available and you may have to order online. Others have specific vegan models, and some are “accidentally vegan”.

Its a little hard to buy shoes online without trying on for size first, but it might be your best bet in finding the pair you want. Sites like zappos have a vegan shoe section, and while they do not deliver internationally, it can help at least in showing available models. Searching Amazon will give you mixed results, and I would only go for ones where “Vegan” is part of the description and or title, don’t just go by the materials listed. The guys at Vegan Kicks try to stay on top of the latest vegan shoe offerings, but sometimes include models from companies that I have listed above as “cannot confirm”, so it can boil down to the sales rep that happens to reply to your email and the information they provide.

VEGAN BRANDS

Vegetarian Shoes
Based in Brighton, UK, Vegetarian Shoes are a great brand and have quality shoes. I also recommended their hiking boots.

Xtrainer Cheeta spider

   
Keep
All of Keep’s products are vegan, and produced in ethical working conditions.

   
VEGAN MODELS
These companies also sell leather shoes, but have dedicated vegan models and are labelled as such.

   

Montrail

Thank you for contacting Montrail. All of our current models are vegan except the Badrock Outdry.

That’s great news from Montrail, as they have a good range of trail shoes! Including the Mountain Masochist II for Men and Women.

   

Etnies
Etnies has a large range of vegan models and each vegan model on their site is clearly marked with their “holy cow!” symbol. Etnies are more common in stores too.

   

Toms
Famous for their “one-for-one” donation scheme, where for every pair of Toms shoes purchased, a child in need will also receive a pair of shoes, free. This is a great charity and lets you help others while treating yourself. Similarly, if you buy a pair of Toms Eye wear, you are helping restore sight for someone. Toms has a selection of Vegan & Sustainable models. You might be able to find these in stores.

   

Emerica
Small range of Vegan models from Emerica, also might be easier to find in stores.

   
Macbeth
Macbeth Sneakers are actually quite widely available, you just have to check for the vegan models, which are labelled on the shoe itself. Personally, I had a pair of Macbeth Elliot’s once and they didn’t last very long. However I think their other models are more durable and I know people who like and own them.

   

Saucony
There are two vegan branded models from Saucony, the “Bullet Vegan” and “Jazz Low Pro Vegan”.

   

Merrell

There are two vegan friendly trail runners from Merrell, the Men’s Trail Glove Barefoot and the Women’s Glove Swift Barefoot.

ACCIDENTALLY VEGAN
Shoes that happen to be vegan, but are not labelled as such or even intentionally vegan, they just happen to be, and only discovered after checking with sales reps.

Onitsuka Tiger (By Asics)

Thank you for contacting ASICS America Corporation. When it comes to
non-leather vegan shoe options, a great place to start looking would be in
our Onitsuka Tiger line. There are many styles and versions made annually,
but below are a few of our most popular models that I know are considered
vegan.

– Ultimate 81
– Rio Runner
– Sakurada
– Mexico 66 Slip-On
– Mexico 66 Paraty

OK, that’s the official response from Asics, however it is only certain colourways within these models that are vegan. Finding out which ones are isn’t that easy, and it changes each season, but you can use the tips above to find out using Zappos and Vegan Kicks.

I am currently on my second pair of Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate 81s, and bought a pair of the Mexico 66 Paraty at the same time. I like these sneakers and the low profile is quite comfortable.

Vegan Hiking Boots – Updated!

Looking for vegan sneakers?

There are some great Vegan Hiking boots available, but it’s not as easy as just grabbing a pair of non-leather boots. Even Gore-Tex models may contain animal based glues or dyes. Salomon and Hi-Tec for example cannot confirm any fully vegan models because of glues used in production.

Salomon

Regarding your inquiry about the composition of our shoes we regret to inform you that it’s not possible for us to tell you whether or not our glues and dyes contain animal products.

Hi-Tec

We do have footwear with textile and leather free uppers and the soles on our footwear are manmade. However unfortunately we cannot guarantee that the glues used on our products, do not contain animal products in them. As I’m afraid this is not part of our manufacturing requirements.

Garmont

Garmont used to have a model called Nagevi (“I vegan” backwards) which was a great boot. Mine took a couple years of punishment before they were stolen! However unfortunately, since then, Garmont has only sporadically released vegan models with new seasons. Keep an eye out for future vegan models, if they do it’s bound to be awesome.

  

Vegetarian Shoes

The Snowdon by Vegetarian Shoes, which I currently own, are great boots. As the name suggests, these things are designed to handle snow, and believe me they handle it well. I am Australian and these boots helped me endure a Canadian winter with temperatures dropping to -16°C! They list the boots as water resistant, but I would say they are fully waterproof. The only way water is getting in these boots is through the top!

They aren’t quite as comfortable as the Garmont’s I owned, but they are definitely warmer and better for snow-treks, but for summer forest hikes they can be a little heavy and your feet will sweat. My only other problem with these boots is the lace hoop clips. I would prefer closed rings (like on the Garmont) because the laces can slip out of the clips too easily. Get a pair of longer, flat laces, that can wrap around the boot. Oh, and watch thisTED talk on how to tie your shoes correctly!

The Trekker MK IV is similar but has some style differences and the added benefit of a Waterproof Windtex lining. If you’re deciding between these or the Snowdown boots, I’d just pick the ones you think look better!

  
Vegan Wares

A range of boots from Vegan Wares, the Hamilton Boot, Hiker Boot, Max 12 & Swamp Boots.

  
Wicked Hemp

A few Vegan boots from Wicked Hemp, utilising a durable hemp upper. Alton, Wicked Trail, Women’s Wicked Trail.

  
Dr. Martens
While not exactly a typical “hiking boot”, the 1460 is a vegan version of Dr Martens iconic boot. Available in both men & womens sizes and a few colour options.

  
Sanuk

The Sanuk Skyline has a Waxed Canvas Upper with a rubber lug outsole. I’m not sure how durable these are for serious hiking but they look comfortable and great for casual use.

Reusable Water Bottles

 

Everyone should have a reusable Water bottle, whether they are hiking to Machu Pichu or sitting behind a desk. There are countless environmental problems caused by the use and discard of plastic water bottles, (taking 1000+years to bio degrade and releasing toxins into the soil, huge carbon footprint from production and shipping etc), not to mention the cost per bottle over tap water and potential health risk as toxins can leak from the bottle into the water. View “The Story of Bottled Water” for more information.

BPA Free Stainless Steel canteens and reusable plastic bottles are a great solution. They are rugged, stylish, often come with carabiner clip to hang on your backpack, be fitted to bikes etc. Filling these with tap water will save you money, help the environment, and will not leak toxins into your water.

Klean Kanteen & Glogg Stainless Steal bottles and Nalgene Plastic Bottles are all great brands. SIGG are now BPA free too. There are also a wide range of designs and colours beyond the classic look. Take your pick, just make sure its BPA free check screw threads are about 2-3 turns. A one-turn screw thread may open too easily, and too many turns just gets annoying every time you want a drink.

If the tap water really is not drinkable in your location, think about buying a water filter system, or try to refill from a water cooler. If you must purchase bottled water, try larger bottles from a company that reuses the containers, and when disposing, always recycle.

Travel / Motion Sickness Wrist Bands

sea bands

When I was young I used to get motion / travel sickness very easily. It wasn’t fun. Thankfully I grew out of it, but its still a problem for many people, and as a backpacker I have taken some serious nightmare trips on buses, boats & planes.

Sea-Bands work via acupressure, to relieve nausea and travel / motion sickness, making them a great, cheap and drug-free alternative to pills. As I don’t require them I haven’t tried them, but have been told good things by various people, including my travel-sickness-prone sister who said they worked on trains, planes, and a 2 week cruise!

Give them a try for your next would-be-vomit-inducing trip!

Water Proof / Dry Bags

dry bag

These Dry Bags are pure gold if you are heading anywhere near water or sand. Made from 600D PVC Tarpaulin and electronically welded, with a top folding safety seal system, they are completely waterproof. The material is tough enough to handle rough usage, but flexible enough to allow you to roll it up when not in use and save space. If you close it properly and be careful not to allow water/sand in when you are opening or closing it (check your hands!) it is rock solid. And if you close it with enough air inside it can even float!

Most of the colour options are bright, and it should be so it will stand out if it gets away from you and is floating down a river. They are so cheap and so useful, everyone should have one. I can’t recommend these enough! Sizes go from 5 to 20 litres. A 5 litre is enough for small items like a camera, wallet, small towel etc. If you want to carry a full beach towel, spare shirt etc get the 12 litre. I wouldn’t suggest anything bigger because, as shoulder bags, they aren’t very comfortable with a lot of weight. This is meant for the beach, river rafting, rain, sand dunes, swimming etc.
Available at Amazon.