The Delorme inReach SE

Delorme, makers of the two-way satellite communicator, inReach have released a major update to the unit. Now called the inReach SE, the biggest change is the addition of a built-in colour screen and virtual keyboard making it even easier to send and receive messages to loved ones back home.

The biggest advantage to the new screen is that you no longer need to specifically pair the unit (via Bluetooth) to a smartphone to be able to receive texts as the old unit and now does it all by itself. That being said, you still have the ability to connect to your smartphone to manage all messages if you want.

The new inReach SE is now just under ½ the thickness as before so it will be easier to fit in your lifejacket pocket (I always felt the old version to be a little chunky).

As with the older inReach models you can use it to trigger an SOS and communicate back and forth with the search and rescue centre or set-up automatic tracking and share your current location with friends/family or social media.

The MSRP is $299 plus a minimum monthly subscription that starts at $14.95. The nice thing with Delorme's subscription plan is you can easily suspend or cancel the service during the off-season when you are realistically just going to get lost at the mall.

More info: inreachcanada.com

If you are anything like me you've always wanted to own your own pirate ship. Admit it, you have.

It's time to get yourself over to St. Louis and pick up this 50 foot houseboat. Yes it's $79,000 but think of the adventures you could have!

Pirate ship captains wheel.

Here is the ad from Craigslist:

Built on 50' 1988 Gibson houseboat. Brand new twin 454s, Kohler generator, V drives. Holds 30 people, looks like a Hollywood set! Great as a live aboard...and an AWESOME party boat! 2 bedrooms and 2 baths. Just surveyed for $110,00, will sell for $79,000 - trades considered. Call 314-***-*****.

Did you know that the mighty Colorado River used to reach the ocean but now it doesn’t due to heavy water diversion? It’s something that people have told me but never really thought about it or imagined what that could look like.

Back in 2011 a group of kayakers paddled down the Green and Colorado Rivers from source to sea and filmed the whole thing. They edited the entire 113 day journey into 3.5 minutes and called the short film, Mirror River.

Spoiler alert: it goes trickle > raging river > trickle.

 

California Kayaker Magazine is changing its name over to California Paddler Magazine starting with the Summer, 2013 issue.

By changing the name from kayaker to paddler it will allow them to branch-out into new content and cover all of paddlesports. “Canoes and rafts have somewhat limited retail markets in our geography, so likely will only be covered from time to time,” said Peter Donohue, California Kayaker Magazine’s Editor, “but with this change we do plan to have stand up paddleboard (SUP) content in each issue, reflecting its fast growth and popularity.”

More info: calkayakermag.com

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 without the windscreen installed.

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.

How did it perform?

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).

The Solo Stove

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:

  • The fuel is free and you don’t need to lug bottles or cans of camping gas throughout your trip.
  • There are no moving parts to break down or get clogged which is a pretty very common problem with white-gas stoves.
  • Except for the sweet sound of burning wood, the stove is completely silent. The roar of my beloved MSR DragonFly on camping trips drives me absolutely crazy.

Of course there are some disadvantages as well:

  • You will need to be proactive in keeping a little cache of sticks just in case you encounter wet wood. Or flip over to using the alcohol burner insert.
  • You likely won’t be allowed to use it if you are camping in an area with a fire ban as there is no on/off switch like a gas stove.
  • You will need to practice with the stove before your first trip (but that’s the same issue for every stove on the market).
  • As with any wood burning stove, your pot will blacken with soot.

Solo Stove and pot boiling water.

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.

The Solo Stove retails for $69.99 and be found at solostove.com or several online shops including Amazon.

Friday, 26 April 2013 15:15

New Rescue Technique Using a Lap Bag

I recently stumbled upon this very interesting video hosted by a buddy of mine, JF Marleau from the BC sea kayak school, SKILS.

The video demonstrates a new twist on the classic paddle float rescue by using a waterproof lap bag in place of a traditional paddle float bag. Take a look, it's really interesting:

I decided to contact JF to find out more information:

1) Tell me about yourself, what you do with Skils and how long you have done it?

That is a tough one. I am one of the main instructors at SKILS, I am also a co-owner and the guy running the office. SKILS has been in business since 2003.  I have been guiding and teaching kayaking across Canada for the past 16 years. I am also a maniac of kayak fishing.

2) In a typical year, how many days on the water are you paddling/teaching?

I have been on the water teaching and guiding between 100-175 days per year for the past 16 years. Don’t forget to add another 40 days for personal paddling and kayak fishing.

3) How did you guys get the idea of using your lapbag in place of a traditional dry bag?

Like criminals in a court of law or during an inquiry commission are saying “I do not recall'', we have been doing it for so long. Maybe because a long time ago, we used kayaks with no day hatch to guide or instruct long expeditions and we needed to keep things handy to ensure safety, efficiency and comfort. The lap bag provides a much easier, faster and stable access than the day hatch. Furthermore, you can carry more gear on longer courses or trips. You can even have make-up handy if you are from the big city like Toronto...just kidding

4) How has the response been in BC? Do other instructors use it in their lessons?

In BC, most of the kayak guides, kayak instructors and advanced paddlers carry a lap bag which is a purse for kayaker. It might be because SKILS trained most of them and they like the idea. A lap bag is very common in BC.

Watershed Ocoee Waterproof Duffel

5) Any tips or tricks you have discovered over the years using them?

During the paddle float rescue, you will notice that your lap bag does not do "a yellow or red rainbow", the weight inside the lap bag provides a counter-balance during the paddle float rescue which is more stable than a blow up one if you are athletic and you do not carry an excess of weight in your lap bag.

Using a drybag instead of a real lap bag completely sucks. It takes too much time, you are more prone to lose stuff and it tends to get wet more often.

Yellow is the best colour because the daylight makes the contents in your drybag highly visible vs the red, blue or camo. Furthermore, Yellow is a highly visible color and enhance safety

Make sure you pick a lap bag with a good seal. Watershed are the very best though Orlieb has a long lasting fabric but the seal is not as good.

Friday, 26 April 2013 15:12

Off Incest Repellent

If I was the owner of Off Bug Spray I think I would be hunting for a new ad company for my next promotional campaign.

Via: cslacker.com

Wednesday, 24 April 2013 16:09

Waterproof Cameras for 2013

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.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS4

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS4

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.

Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-TX20

Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-TX20

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.

Olympus Stylus Tough TG320

Olympus Stylus Tough TG320

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.

Nikon CoolPix AW100

Nikon CoolPix AW100

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.

Kodak Easyshare Sport

Kodak Easyshare Sport

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

Tuesday, 23 April 2013 12:19

Brutal Facts about Dragonflies

I always knew that Dragonflies were enemies to insects but I had no idea they were as cold, calculating and viscous as they actually are.

The top-10 list website, Listverse has set of 10 surprising facts about dragonflies. Here is my favourite fun-fact from the list:

Fact: They Can Isolate Their Prey in a Swarm

Dr. S.D. Wiederman discovered when he began studying the way Emerald dragonflies select their prey. Curious about the way dragonflies hunt, Dr. Wiederman and his team placed a nano-electrode inside the visual processing neuron of a dragonfly. They then positioned the "subject" in front of a TV monitor with two moving objects.

In simple nervous systems, multiple objects tend to fade out; the insect can’t handle the attention multitasking. But dragonflies have the ability to switch their attention between objects at will. Under observation, the dragonfly focused first on one object, then shifted to watch the second, then shifted back to the first again, never losing track of where they were. This selective attention span allows the dragonfly to single out one target in a swarm, then zero in on it exclusively-while remaining aware of the rest of the swarm to avoid a collision.

All I can say is thank goodness that they are not big enough to hunt us.

More dragonfly fun-facts on Listverse.

Photo credit: Dragon Fly | Flickr by meke http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_CA / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

 

I got news over the weekend that Amy and Dave Freeman finally completed their massive 3-year, 11,700 mile expedition called the North American Odyssey which included traveling by kayak, dogsled and canoe.

Back in April, 2010 they started their afternoon adventure in Bellingham, Washington paddling the entire coastline of British Columbia, then across the Yukon and eventually working their way back to Lake Superior. The last leg of the trip included kayaking to the Gulf of Saint Lawrence then down the eastern seaboard and eventually ended up at the southern tip of Florida.

The North American Odyssey route.

The expedition was a partnership with their non-profit organization, Wilderness Classroom whose mission is to “increase students' appreciation for the environment while improving core academic skills by introducing students to the wonders of exploration and wilderness travel through live, web-based expeditions and school assemblies.”

We interviewed Amy and Dave last year just before starting the final leg of their trip.

Photo credits: Bryan Hansel and Wilderness Classroom

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