Gear Guy

Is the GSI hand-cranking blender for real?

I've noticed a strange paradox in my personality. When I go out to the woods, sitting in some remote beautiful locale I often in want of one thing: a margarita. I've often theorized different devices that I could construct to make a blender but nothing ever made sense. And then I found the GSI hand-cranking Vortex Blender. While I would never take this backpacking (OK, maybe on a day trip to be fancy in front of my exhausted friends) I would definitely be interested in it for kayak camping and car camping—so long as the ice lasts. But does the thing actually work? Or is this really a doomed fantasy of mine? I'm skeptical about the amount of effort this thing would take to crunch up ice. I'd love to pop this out and be a hero. Brian McCarthy Glendale, California

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Oh, man. You’re my kind of camper, Brian. I don’t think anything—and I mean anything—tastes as good as a Budweiser that’s been chilled in a stream or nearby snowbank and quaffed before dinner at the end of a long, hot day on the trail. Sheer bliss.

And a margarita! Well, I give you credit for having ambition. The GSI Vortex Blender is a new product that sells for $70. It looks like a regular Oster blender, but at its base it has a large hand crank that you spin to do the crushing and stirring duty. Gears inside the device increase the turning speed of the stainless steel blades, so you don’t have to spin your arm at 500 rpm to get the desired effect. At three pounds, it’s probably a bit weighty to take on a backpacking trip, although for canoeing or car camping it makes perfect sense.

Does it work? Well, I can’t speak from personal experience as I haven’t used it, but Sam Moulton, an Outside editor who worked with me on the Buyer’s Guide, sure seems to think so and I take his word for it. You can actually check out his short review in the May issue.

Also, I’ve had great experience with GSI’s stuff in the past. Two years ago I acquired the GSI Lexan Java Press (33 oz. model, $20), which is the greatest piece of camping kitchenware I’ve ever seen. It works perfectly for the best camp coffee I’ve ever had.