Don't Get Racked: Heads Up Alert System
Published on 07/17/2012
By Peter Reese
Most of your extreme sports gear travels on the racks, roof and bumpers of your car. Protecting those expensive items doesn´t end with the garage or carport -- particularly when the shelter itself creates risks while coming and going.
The night before the Steamboat Springs, Colorado triathlon, he was walking tall and proud. Accompanied by a much younger woman, the bronzed warrior was confident in his performance tomorrow. That was before they went to dinner at one of the ski resort’s plush restaurants.
Fast-forward only a few hours to the condo’s parking lot at about 9AM. We were heading out to breakfast. He was already back at the condo and I marveled at his stellar race time based upon an early return to the parking lot.
Our amazement turned to shock when he took us over to his parked luxury rental car – and the seat post-less carbon fiber tri bike flown in from over 1,000 miles away. With stray filaments sailing in the wind, his story was short and sour.
Dinner turned to disaster as the resort’s parking ramp had a low overhead entrance, stepped lower when the car dipped and then rose on the concrete apron. With an integrated aero seat post (measured and cut to order), slapping a stock part on the wounded bike wasn’t a workable pre-race option.
Perhaps Mr. Cry at the Tri can be excused as an adrenaline-amped athlete on unfamiliar turf. Yet this scenario comes home to roost among adventure athletes rolling into garages and carports from Anchorage to Albany.
HEADS UP decided to stop cars from stripping bikes, kayaks, skis, roof bins and errant goats off during the reentry process. Harnessing mysterious rays and putting flashing panels on garage walls, they set out to stop the world from “getting racked.”
At the center of the system tested by Active Junky was a clip-in car alerter and gear tags attached to topside toys. In theory, any approach to home base would send the AC-powered LED banshees into a screaming frenzy and turn the alerter into an obnoxious squawk box. All at up to 100 feet from the L.Z.
Here’s the testers’ summary: HEADS UP didn’t deliver max range but chirped up within 40 to 60 feet, enough time to put down the caramel soy latte and pay attention. Both audio and visual prompts told the driver and crew to get in the game while the garage door opener completed its mission.
Requiring tags on each piece of elevation-seeking gear is a sticking point even though they price out at under $30 per boat/bike/bundle strapped to the roof. Because simply attaching them to the rack would prompt a warning every time, a collection of two to six tags is ideal for mating with seasonal, onboard cargo.
Likewise, the in-car alerter takes watch batteries as do the tags. Active Junky would like to see common AA battery power on the alerter to cut the cost of keeping the wave-catching mojo at peak freshness: Dead battery spells gear turbulence of a most heinous variety.
Testers recommend HEADS UP if there are multiple multi-sport athletes in the house, condo or teepee encampment. Sharing the cost of the base unit – and having each person cover and maintain their own alerter and tags – is a workable scenario, particularly when battery power is the difference between plush and crush.
Connecting brain to gear to the laws of physics seems semi-obvious when Class V looms and launching 60 feet for GoPro posterity are on the checklist. In the same way most wilderness medical emergencies clock in between 3 and 5 PM due to wandering minds and hungry bellies, so to do rack disasters have their prime times.
Active Junky recommends taking a responsible view of risk. In the case of homebound gear, we’d rather pay HEADS UP than pony up for Allstate’s deductible. Even if being in good hands sounds oh so cozy in their television commercials.