A blender is a kitchen utensil most don't pack for a camping trip. They're typically large and heavy, and most importantly, they require power; something that is rather scarce in the outdoors. But what if you didn't need power? And what if it was light weight, and relatively easy to pack? Would it be worth bringing? Yes, and the GSI Vortex Blender is the answer.
The GSI Vortex Hand-crank blender sets up in less than two minutes. Only six pieces need put together and electricity isn't needed. The base is held down firmly to a bench, counter, or picnic table with a C-clamp locking the 1.5-liter pitcher and a two-piece lid. The folks at GSI were extra clever in the design of the lid's cap. It doubles as a 1fl. oz shot glass.
The most impressive piece is the blender's crank. I placed the crank in the upper chamber for a low power practice spin, and the blades came to life. The test was a banana pineapple and rum daiquiri. Just because you're "roughing it" doesn't mean you can't enjoy a cold beverage. Three cups of ice were placed inside the pitcher, followed by a whole banana, a cup of pineapple juice, and an generous pour of white rum.
It's easy to think you've just wasted a perfectly good banana and several shots of rum from looking inside the vessel. It's hard to believe the Vortex Blender could stand a chance against all that ice. Those worries were soon put to rest as the crank was placed in the upper chamber and the first revolution was performed. The banana disappeared in a slushy mess of smaller chunks of ice.
Dislodging the crank takes a good yank. The crank was then placed into the lower chamber for high power. I gave the crank a spin, and a new and stronger sound emanated from the blades. The "chunky" slush began to whirlpool deeper and deeper. Chunks of ice were pulverized against the fast moving blades. After another 45 seconds of cranking, my arm began to wear out.
I unlocked and lifted the pitcher from the secured stainless steel base, and began pouring the silky slush into several glasses. My fellow campers took the role of recruited "drinking buddies" and we begin to sip the icy slush drink. Smiles were exchanged, and a burst of laughter erupted. When does anyone have the opportunity to drink Tropical resort-styled drinks in the middle of the Canadian wilderness? The blender did fantastic work, and not a single chunk of ice was left intact.
Cleanup is fairly simple with only two pieces to rinse. Packing the entire blender is surprisingly easy and relatively compact. The base fits perfectly inside the 1.5 L pitcher, so all left to pack is the C-clamp and the crank.
While the GSI Vortex Blender is relatively compact, it would be hard to justify taking it on any rugged camping trips in the wild. However, if your plans involve a weekend trip to a campsite with friends, the Vortex Blender could be a welcome surprise for the entire group and a great way of using up that extra bag of ice before it melts. (MSRP $99.95)
Corbin Fraser's iBackpackCanada fills-in backpackers on Canadian culture, food, drinks, nightlife, adventures, sightseeing, history, and wildlife.
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