Saturday, 29 September 2007 21:14

Gear Review: North Water Guides Vest

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 08:14

Alcohol vs Naphyha Stoves

Trangia Stove and Pot Set
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 that ultra light backpackers have known for years but paddlers have been slow to join in. Build your own stove for about $3 worth of material. Metacafe has a video showing you how to do it.

Here is a little primer on stove via the Wikipedia.

Big Agnes LogoBig 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.
Thursday, 27 September 2007 06:31

Dog PFD's

Do you have a dog? Do you like to take your dog out in the boat? Have you considered getting a pfd for your dog?

When I ask people that question, I always get a weird look. I'm now prepared for it.

Dog owners always have an idea that their dog is a great swimmer, that's true most dogs love the water and are very good swimmers but just like ourselves, they can get tired very easily and just like humans they can keep swimming chasing after something interesting and not realize how tired they are until it is to late.

I have personally witnessed a golden lab come within a hair's breath of drowning. The pooch was retrieving a stick from the water that the owner threw out when it saw some ducks, which were way more interesting (of course). The dog decided to swim after them but couldn't quite catch the ducks. Around and around they went with the owner frantically calling after the dog to come back to shore.

When a passing kayaker got between the dog and the ducks, the dog realised how tired he was and started to panic. Thankfully he wasn't far form shore (200 feet or so) but by the time he swam back to shore the only thing are the surface was the very top of his head and little nose breathing like mad. The dog completely collapsed on shore.

If you have a dog that likes the water, get a pfd. We used to have a dog and she loved it purely because she was lazy. It enabled her to just float on the surface of the water without having to do anything. It was very funny to watch how excited she was when she discovered she could do it.

Where do I find one? They are a little tricky to find as most shops don't see them. A couple of the larger pet food supply stores will carry them or can order one in for you. Like human PFD's, most aren't very well designed. Look for wide straps that don't cut into the dog's belly. Most have a handle along the back allowing you to easily drag your dog back into the boat. NRS sells a great one.

How did this whole thing get started? The Chicago Tribune has an article about the crazy, over-the-top rescue of Miss Pickles.

This little fun fact at the end of the article was a little sad:
At least two people lost their lives in the Chicago area over the last year and a half attempting to rescue dogs from local bodies of water.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007 13:03

New White Light LEDs Developed

LED Bulbs It looks like scientists in India have been able to make considerable steps towards developing a pure white LED. Up until now, our headlamps have only been able to pump out blue and yellowish colours.

The new LEDs are based on a new phosphor from semiconductor nanocrystals of cadmium sulfide mixed with manganese. It produces a stable shade of white light that remains constant over time and appears superior in overall performance in comparison to previous generations of white LEDs.

The practical uses to achieving a white light would be for household and office lighting systems. And yes, your headlamp so you can blind your friends while standing around talking at night...

LED Primer:
More info:
Devon BarSpend the evening with not only a renowned kayaker, but also a renowned female kayaker. Devon is the World Surf Kayak Champion, a 2-time National Freestyle Kayak Champion, a National Certified Board Educator, and the creator of Dare to Kayak.
Tuesday, 25 September 2007 16:53

Google Street View

Google's Street View Car
Google's Street View Car
Today Sean and I were walking back to work from Tim Hortans here in downtown Toronto when we saw one of the Google Street View cars drove by. It was shooting photos of Bay Street. So, when they finally release Street View for the Toronto region, you might just see us there.

We actually were walking along one of the side dead end streets when it passed us. About a block down the road, it turned around and passed us going the other way. Knowing it was going to come back, we ran over and sat on a rock in a park and tried to look like supermodels. We sat apart on purpose so it wouldn't look like we were holding hands...

What is Street View you ask? Where have you been? It is an add-on to Google Maps. Zoom into a major US city like New York or San Fran. Once you zoom into the downtown core, you will see a little Street View button appear. Click over and bring on the good times.

Looking for one of the REI's in San Fran? Here is a link. As you can see, there is plenty of parking on the other side of the street.

I found a photo of the Chevy Cobalt car that Google uses. The car we saw today had California plates so it looks like they shipped up the fleet to Toronto. Strapped to the top of the car was a funny looking 360 degree camera that is used to take the photos. You can find lots of good technical information on Gizmodo.

As you can see, we I get excited about the little things...
I couldn't be there but I have been activity reading other blog updates on the highlights of the 2007 West Coast Sea Kayak Symposium.

It seems that everybody is gaga over Dubside's new black Sterling's Kayak. It looks like a real work of art indeed!

The dates have been set for next year's symposium. Book your plane tickets now for September 19, 20 & 21, 2008!

Below is a list of links to thoughts and highlights of the weekend:

Dubside's Ice Kap - Kayak Wendy
State of the Art - The Dash Point Pirate
Fire Dance With Me - The Dash Point Pirate
Sweetwater wins the 2nd Annual IR Vacation to Hell - Kayak Journal Podcast
West Coast Sea Kayak Symposium Highlights - The Dash Point Pirate

Tuesday, 25 September 2007 06:29

Do you know this guy?

Authorities hope to identify this kayaker as part of their investigation into the disappearance of Marianne DeMartin of Evesham.
Authorities hope to identify this kayaker as part of their investigation into the disappearance of Marianne DeMartin of Evesham.
The Burlington County, NJ Prosecutor's Office released an unidentified man's photograph Monday as part of a continuing investigation into the disappearance of an Evesham woman two years ago this week.

Investigators don't feel that he is a suspect in the case but a photograph of the bearded man was downloaded into DeMartin's laptop computer a couple of weeks before she disappeared on September 23, 2005.

"Quite frankly we don't have any fresh leads in the case right now . . . but this (photograph) in no way, shape or form should be interpreted to mean this is a suspect or a person of interest," Bernardi said.

Her family recently lunched a website ( to collect information on her disappearance.

More info:
2007 Paddle for Clean WaterMembers from the Surfrider Foundation - Sebastian Inlet Chapter want to remind all watermen and women, as well beachgoers of all ages, that the annual Paddle for Clean Water is scheduled to take place this Sunday, September 23, 2007, at Jetty Park in Cape Canaveral.

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