I will be the first to admit that I have a thing for stoves the same way that some women have a thing for shoes so when I heard about a new stove on the market called the Solo Stove I contacted the company to see if they could send me a sample I could try.
There are several other wood burning camp stoves on the market but what makes this one unique is its double walled design which channels air in and around the flames. Solo Stove describes how it works:
Designed with a double wall, the Solo Stove™ (patent pending) is a natural convection inverted downgas gasifer stove. The air intake holes on the bottom of the stove channels air to the bottom of the fire while at the same time, channels warm air up between the walls of the stove. This burst of preheated oxygen feeding back into the firebox through the smaller holes at the top of the stove causes a secondary combustion. This allows the fire to burn more complete which is why there is very little smoke during full burn. A more efficient burn also means you'll use much less wood compared to an open camp fire. The Solo Stove doesn't just burn wood. It actually cooks the smoke out of the wood and then burns the smoke not once, but twice!
The Solo Stove is pretty rugged being made out of high-grade stainless steel. It’s also compact at 3.8 inches high and weighs in at only 9 ounces. The stove also has an integrated wind screen and pot stand which due to its clever design fits inside the stove when inverted enabling it to pack down.
The quick answer is that it worked wonderfully and boiled water like it was going out of style.
Throughout the morning while out walking the dog, I collected a bunch of dry twigs and small sticks at our local park (all while avoiding the weird looks I was getting by fellow dog walkers). I also made an easy fire starter using cotton balls and Vaseline (quick tip: mix them up and store in a small zip-lock bag to keep your hands clean).
After lighting and getting the fire going, I put a litre of water in a pot on the stove and started the timer. 9 minutes later the water was boiling away.
Solo Stove also sells several accessories including a small pot as well as a windscreen to help speed up boil times. For those who are worried that they will not be able to find dry wood after a serious downpour, they sell a small burner insert that quickly converts it over to an alcohol stove. This will help bring peace of mind as well as allow you to use the stove even if there is a fire-ban in your area.
There are several advantages over using a wood stove over a typical white-gas stove:
Of course there are some disadvantages as well:
So what’s the verdict? I’m going to give it a couple more lights but I’m pretty confident that it’s going to become my primary stove when out on camping trips.
I’m really excited to have a guest post today. Jason Shreder is the owner of Montana's Zoo Town Surfers and sent us in this waterproof camera round-up for 2013.
One of the best things about spending lots of time on the river is the people you meet, places you go, and all of the memories in between. Many times, it’s hard to translate how you feel or what you see through the lens of a camera, but it's sure worth trying. There are many different reasons to take photos on river trips, and I will leave that topic for you to decide.
Nowadays, there are many options for point and shoot cameras that are waterproof, dustproof, and shock resistant. Trying to find the camera that’s best for you can be frustrating, even with the big ole’ World Wide Web. Over the past ten years, I’ve tried almost every model that’s been out. Below, I’m recommending my top 5.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS4 is the best waterproof camera on the market today. Nice design, quick shutter speed, and a nice zoom make this camera a deal. With an underwater depth of 40’, ruining this camera is going to be hard. Although this camera doesn’t have as many megapixels as the others (12.1), the photos will still look good if you want to print some larger photos.
The Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-TX20 is a great all around camera as well. It’s a couple ounces lighter than the Panasonic (for all you minimalists), and has a couple more megapixels as well (16.2). The Sony only has an underwater depth of 16’, which is somewhat of disappointment. The camera is a bit more expensive, starting around $250.
I have a long relationship with Olympus cameras. When I first started boating, the Olympus Stylus Tough TG320 was one of the first waterproof cameras on the market. Well, the other folks finally caught up. This tuff camera has a better zoom than the others but doesn’t have the best shutter speed and battery life I need when taking action photos. For a $100, you can’t go wrong.
Some folks buy Canon, some buy Nikon. The Nikon CoolPix AW100 is similar to the Sony and is priced about the same as well. I have never liked the buttons on the Nikons, especially when wearing neoprene gloves. I like a camera that has a nice grip, and this one could certainly slip out of your hands.
The Kodak Easyshare Sport doesn't have the bells and whistles that the other cameras have, but if your looking for a cheap, simple, easy to use camera, this is it. This small and compact camera is great for kids to use on the river. Less than $100, you’ll be less upset if this camera disappears into the depths of the river.
For the record, I'm a professional river guide, not a photographer, so hopefully this helps. Floating down the river is one of the best ways to see the world, spend time with family/friends, and create memories of a lifetime. Make sure you try and capture some of those moments, so you can look back, share, and relive those awesome memories.
Jason is owner/operator of Montana's Zoo Town Surfers, a Missoula-based outfitter specializing in kayaking trips and lessons, scenic and whitewater rafting, stand-up paddleboard trips and rentals, and American Canoe Association kayaking instructor training
I recently received a couple Vapur collapsible waterbottles sent to me as a sample. I knew they were coming but I got a nice surprise when I opened the package and discovered that that the company also threw in a couple of their kids bottles after they found out that I had two girls.
Vapur wanted me to give the new designs a try and let them know that the family thought of them.
To be honest, I’ve always been hesitant about collapsible water bottles after having once a bad leak while using a cheap one but when I pulled these out of the package it felt a whole lot beefier than others I have tried before. Vapur describes material they use this way:
Vapur Anti-Bottles are BPA-free and are constructed of three layers of ultra-durable plastic. The innermost layer is made from FDA-approved polyethylene, which is then bonded to two layers of nylon for strength and durability.
Other than that, the "adult" design is a water bottle with a quick flip-up plastic lid that doesn’t leak when you give it a good hard squeeze. The flip-up lid easy to open and with a built-in hinge, you won’t lose the top on a hike. It’s pretty simple.
It’s was the kids water bottles that got my kids (and me) all excited. The Quencher is a smaller sized bottle that holds just under a ½ litre (14oz) so it’s light enough for kids to carry and manage. I can go on and on about design features but really, the best part of it is that fact that it comes with four different great monster patterns. On top of that you also get a sheet of cool plastic stickers so your kid can add the appropriate monster eyes and/or rainbow clouds as my youngest daughter said it required.
My only disappointment was that our sticker set didn’t come with unicorns running on the rainbows. Make note of that Vapur.
Any ways, they are great little water bottles that we’ve been using pretty regularly over the past couple of months and so far the stickers are still going strong (and isn’t that the important part?)
Vapur bottles range between $10-12 depending on the model. They can be purchased online at vapur.us. I also just found out that they have a great kids design-your-own-bottle mini site here so I know you will want to take a couple minutes out of your very busy workday to play with it this afternoon.
About a year ago Jill Ellis from Adanac Paddles contacted me to see if I would be interested in testing a new prototype
One of the things that I learned while visiting Adanac Paddles world headquarters was that every single paddle is custom made to order. When an order submitted, Jill contacts the buyer and asks for a variety of measurements including the arm span, elbow to wrist length, elbow to fingertip, as well as the diameter of your first finger and thumb when doing the "OK" symbol.
Though it sounds pretty precise, these follow the traditional measurements that would be taken from a
As mentioned before, the paddle that Jill made for me was a prototype model she had been working on. The overall shape of the paddle itself was similar to other traditional
One of my goals over the past year was to take the paddle out in a wide variety of conditions including large surf, rocks and ice and try to break the tip off. A year later and I’m quite pleased to say I haven’t busted it yet.
How do I like the paddle? The short answer is that I love it. The finish on the wood is a mixture of oil and wax so it’s super smooth on the hands. It will also be easy to sand out and scratches and buff up with more oil down the road.
While the new tip did add a very small amount of extra weight, the trade-off is a very strong paddle for playing in and amongst rocks. Overall I think the addition if it is well worth it considering how rough I am with all my paddling gear. For example, the photo below is one of the rough water tests I put the paddle through here in Toronto.
The first time I took the paddle out on the water I was also quite pleased to discover that there was very little blade flutter when pulling the paddle through the water. Also, when it comes to rolling, the blade sliced through the water very smoothly and since this particular one is made of Western Cedar it’s super buoyant making rolling that much less work.
When ordering, Adanac offers several different paddle models available in different wood options (from domestic to exotic) so you are going to be able to get exactly what you are looking for. If you choose to "pimp your paddle", Jill will carve a very cool graphic (of your choosing or design) into the tip. My friend Rob got this very nice design carved into his paddle when he ordered it. Did you know that Jill was a champion bird carver? Highly detailed finches were her specialty so you can be confident that the design will come out perfect.
If you already have your own Greenland Paddle and interested into building your collection of
They really are a work of art.
More info: Adanac Paddles