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After months of rigorous testing, Outside magazine announced today the 2008 winners of the coveted Gear of the Year awards to be featured in the first-ever Winter edition of the Outside Buyer's Guide. The Buyer's Guide is available on newsstands October 2.
Saturday, 29 September 2007

North Water Sponsorship

I am very excited (and proud) to announce that North Water Paddlesports Equipment had decided to sponsor me! They recently sent me the upgraded Sea Tec Tow Line , a set of reflective deck line covers and by absolute favourite, the Guides Vest. The Tow Line is fantastic. Over the years, I have used several different types of tow systems from a waist mounted, coaming mounted and recently a deck mounted system. I love the deck mounted system. Here is an article on deck mounted tow systems. Up until now, the biggest draw back (for me) was that my tow system couldn't be passed to a different paddler unless they had a deck system already in place.  North Water has solved that problem by making their new tow line convertible. The waist loops tuck into a Velcro flap when you are towing form your rear deck. If I need to pass it to you, then you just pull out the waist straps and you are off. Smart I approached North Water because I have been using their gear for instruction as well as my own personal paddling. I have always felt they have built some of the best products on the market today for both kayakers and canoeists. North Water has products out there for the entire market, from absolute beginners floating around in rec. boats all the way up to the high end paddlers who are looking for well designed and bombproof gear. I recently posted a review of the North Water Guides vest. Look for a full review of the Sea Tec Tow Line later this fall once I have put it through some testing.
Saturday, 29 September 2007

Gear Review: North Water Guides Vest

I was very excited recently when North Water Paddlesports Equipment sent me the guides vest recently to try out. Several of my friends have been using them for a couple of seasons now so I have looking forward to actually using it for some time.  To get PFD's certified by the government, the manufacture must design it to meet specific bouncy standards. When a manufacture decides to add pockets or accessories, they also need to increase the bouncy in the jacket to compensate for the potential increased weight (water in pockets, accessories, etc.). Generally speaking, the more pockets and storage on a PFD, the bulkier and cumbersome it is.
Friday, 28 September 2007

Alcohol vs Naphyha Stoves

Trangia Stove and Pot Set Here in North America, alcohol stoves (eg. the Trangia stove) for some reason haven't caught on quite as much that the pressurized or Naphtha (MSR) stoves did. Not sure why, as they are quiet and super reliable. When I worked in a camping store, I would show people the Trangia stove and compare it to the MSR stoves and they would always ask, how long does it take to boil water? Generally speaking the MSR stoves have a higher BTU output so they will get your tea in your hands slightly quicker. I have never understood why boil time is the benchmark for stoves. To me, the reliability of a product is way more important. In the 4 years I worked in the returns and repairs department, I only saw one Trangia stove ever come back. I can't tell you the hundreds of Whisperlight and Dragonfly stoves that people tried to return because they couldn't get them working or parts broke while out on the trip. Mind you, the majority (almost all) of the retuned stoves were because the user never read the instructions before using or never pulled out the instructions with the troubleshooting tips when something went wrong. The biggest complaints I got were that they were finicky or loud. That is where Trangia stoves are different. They are simple with no moving parts. They run on alcohol so the fuel is cheap. Best advantage? They run completely silent. Yes, the BTU output isn't as high but how often do you need your water ready to go in 3 min? You are sitting around talking anyways... That doesn't mean that MSR stoves are bad, they are fantastic stoves for what they were designed for, high BTU output. I love my dragonfly because it simmers nice but man is it loud. It is designed on the same principles as a jet engine so what does it sound like? Yep, a jet engine. On a slightly different note, you can easily build your own alcohol stove using two beer cans. This is an old trick…
Big Agnes® Inc., maker of innovative sleeping bags, pads and tents, is proud to announce that its Emerald Mountain SL2 tent was awarded a gold medal in the China Outdoor Equipment Contest at the recent Asia Outdoor Trade Fair, in Nanjing, China.

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