Outdoor Adventure Show #OASToronto

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The Outdoor Adventure Show, in my opinion, is the best show to visit in the off-season if you’re a paddler or camper.  Everything that you could possibly want or need, whether it’s tripping advice from Algonquin Outfitters or a new canoe or paddle, you can find right here.  Sure it’s not every outfitter or canoe company but you are able to comparison shop in a way.  The one thing I am finding though is that the show is very repetitive.  Same exhibitors, same layout, same thing.  It’s time for the show to grow and take over more space so that more people can show off the products they have.  Otherwise you’ll start losing visitors.

This year the show added an Adventures in Paddling Stage where they had various people speak including Hap Wilson, Preston Ciere (Portageur.ca) and Kevin Callan.

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The speakers above are from the Bay of Fundy Symposium(L) and Hap Wilson (R)

 

As always they had the demo pool where this year things got a little furry!  Preston Ciere and his paddling dog Nancy were showing how to take our furry companions on canoe trips.

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Something else that they added this year was a zip line above the show floor.  There were a ton of people who took part in that.  I myself didn’t feel like waiting in that line up but I still would have done it :).  Over all it was a great day.  I got to meet up with some old friends from Algonquin Outfitters and Swift, met a new friend from Some Eventful, Gayle, and got a chance to catch up with some of the speakers from TEDxAlgonquin like Preston Ciere, Kevin Callan, and Boris from Parkbus!

For more photos check out the Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/AWalkInAlgonquinPark)

~Enjoy your Trip!

WhaSUP?

With paddle boarding (SUP) increasing popularity every season it’s a difficult market to stand out above the rest!  Yet there is a paddle board company that is starting to do just that!  We’ve all heard of BluWave or SUPLove…those names are big here Ontario.  The problem with those boards (not that it’s a big problem per say) is that they can be hard to transport.  You need a vehicle in order to carry them to and from your campground or have someone else drive you.  This is where whaSUP stands out above the rest.  Their boards are inflatable and portable!  Don’t believe me?  This is their paddle board…

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And this is their paddle board folded up….

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Yup that’s it!  It’s folds into a backpack the size of my Eureka Dry Pack!  Inside that backpack is your SUP board, your paddle, your leash, the pump, and a guage.  For those who travel by Parkbus to the Provincial Parks…this is your answer to how to transport something like this up…this will fit easily under the bus!  Live in downtown Toronto but can’t take your SUP board onto the subway to get down to the lake?  Just throw this on your back and away you go.

Don’t get me wrong…I don’t work for the company…but I know an ingenius product when I see it and I want to share it with you!  I’m looking forward to testing one this summer!  In case you’re interested…the price point is about half compared to other companies.  They are only $750 for the model that I showed you…which is a show special right now and it includes the taxes.  Plus you get everything I told you about!  If you are still set on getting a regular hard SUP board they also carry ROGUE paddle boards!

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Next week I’ll be chatting more with Scott and Peter from whaSUP about their product while at the Outdoor Adventure Show!  If you want to find out more about them visit their website: www.whasup.ca, follow them on Twitter: @whasupboards, or check them out on Facebook: www.facebook.com/whasupboards.

~Enjoy your trip!

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2014 Toronto Boat Show

Whenever the Toronto Boat Show is on, you know that the canoeing season will begin soon!  This is my second trip to the show and I must say once again I was blown away by the large amount of boats there!  The Boat Show is not necessarily the place to go for canoes, however there are always one or two companies there to represent the industry.  Swift Canoe, Clearwater Designs, and Necky Kayaks were there to represent the industry!

As far as reveals go…Swift had something to offer everyone for the 2014 season!  They unveiled their 2014 lineup at the show and as always…they did not disappoint!  Meet this years members of the Swift fleet!

1.  Keewaydin 14 Pack Canoe

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This boat is by far my favorite!  This streamlined pack canoe is extremely light and offers you enough storage space for the canoe trippers.  It can also have a traditional solo canoe seat instead of the pack seat.  Mike from Swift Canoe (and Badger Paddles) tells us more!

2.  Northern Canoes

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The Northern Canoe line is the latest canoe line by Swift.  This is for the recreational canoer who wants a canoe at their cottage or campsite.  It can be used as a tripping canoe too.  These canoes come with either an aluminum or vinyl trim and they have a shoe keel as well.  The Fibreglass canoes weigh 68 lbs and the Expedition Kevlars weigh 54 lbs.

3.  Textreme Carbon Fiber Hull Design

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The Textreme Carbon Fiber Hull is pretty cool!  I love the checkerboard look to it!  These canoes are ultra-light and extremely strong.  The Textreme creates a sleek design that still gives you a remarkable strength:weight ratio.

Swift also unveiled a new Kayak model – the Kiwassa 14.  I was so blown away by the Keewadin 14 that I forgot to get pictures lol.  Check out Swift’s Blog for more information about their 2014 line up http://swiftoutdoors.blogspot.ca/2014/01/welcome-to-2014-swift-canoe-kayak-line.html

Clearwater Designs didn’t necessarily unveil a new Kayak or Canoe but they did unveil a new furniture line?  Yes you read right!  ClearWater Designs has created the ultimate recliner!  Best of all, it floats!  Made out of the same material as their recreational Kayaks, the chair and matching table are floatable.   Owner Ian is demonstrating in the picture below :).

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Of course there were the usual ski boats, yachts, and seadoos there too!

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Well that’s it for the Boat Show.  Next up is the Biannual Blogathon in a week and a half.  After that it’s the Outdoor Adventure Show.

~Enjoy your trip!

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How to Keep Track of Your Gear!

So it’s fall and with it comes the crazy business that is back to school, Thanksgiving, and Christmas preparation.  For some of us (like me) it means back to the daily grind.  Still that doesn’t mean that you have to “vacate” the camping mood.  For some of you, it could mean going for a trip this winter down south or some of you might even give winter camping a try!  The big thing is though that even in this “off-season” you should know where each piece of your gear is so that you have easy access if you quickly decide to take a trip.

This is where a gear inventory comes in handy.  This is especially important if you are like me and you have gear in two different homes.  Part of my gear is up north and the other part is here in the city.  So how do I keep track?

I write down every piece of gear I purchase on a spreadsheet.  This way every year I can check off that I have put it away or I can state that it got damaged or sold.  This makes my life so much easier!  We have a large number of tents, sleeping bags, cooking gear, and Thermarests.  Each sleeping bag is rated for a different temperature, the Thermarests vary in thickness, and our tents vary in sizes.  I want to know that I’m using the right gear at the right time of year.

How you set up your inventory is up to you.  I have it saved on my computer but I know someone who has it laminated so that they can easily write down which trip dates they took the gear.  All you need to do is make it work for you!

I apologize for being absent on the blog lately but this is always a busy time of year for me as I change my schedule from 1 day a week in the summer to 5/6 days a week during the school year.

~Enjoy your trip!

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Eureka Chrysalis Tent

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This weekend I had the chance to use my new Eureka Chrysalis Tent, which is a hammock that includes a tent sleeve.  The Chrysalis can be used as a hammock or a tent, it’s really up to you!  I originally saw the tent set up at the Sportsmen Show in Toronto.  I tried it out there and found it interesting.  I then saw it again at the Outdoor Adventure Show and decided I’d have to try it.  This tent is a DREAM!  I’m not that old (just turned 33) but I still have issues sleeping on the ground.  This tent was probably the best nights sleep I had camping in a while.  This is the inside:
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SET-UP:

So the one downfall I had was that this tent didn’t come with instructions.  Not usually a big deal as setting up a tent isn’t rocket science.  However, because this tent is not your usual tent…I did have some issues.  I ended up having to go online and downloading the pdf instructions, which on my cell phone…were not easy to read.  Once I figured it out…it was fairly easy to put up.  The nylon webbing was kind of slippery on the trees but I made it work.  The flaps on the camper sleeve easily velcro to the ridgeline so that you can have air flowing through the tent…they also attach to the bottom of the hammock if you want to keep warm.

COMFORT/SLEEPING:

This was the biggest thing for me!  I was able to put my Therma-Rest through the sleeve on the hammock.  This tent was beyond comfortable!  Like a hammock it adjusts according to your body weight.  You are able to comfortably stretch out or curl up like do.  The only issue I had, which is common with hammocks, is that your sleeping bag tends to travel to the middle of the hammock.  A little sewing could fix this or even adding velcro to a piece of flannel will stop that from happening.  As well with that flannel you could use it as a “bottom sheet” and use a blanket instead of a sleeping bag…just unvelcro it from the hammock and wash it after your trip.

WEATHER:

We didn’t have any violent weather so I’m unable to fully comment on this however we did have rain and I was extremely dry even with the flaps up.

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

Overall I’m glad I have that tent!  There were a few issues like set up and it slipping down the tree trunk during the night…but those can be fixed with a little bit of ingenuity.  Had there been instructions with the tent, it would have been up in a flash but that is a minor detail.  If you get motion sickness I would not consider this tent.  We didn’t have any wind so I don’t know how much it would have moved but when you switch positions or when you first get into the tent you do sway quite a bit.  The nylon straps are durable but very slippery.  If a person who was new to camping and unsure of their knots were to put this tent up..the chances of them falling in the night are pretty good.  Originally the tent came with clips for tie up…unfortunately it doesn’t now.

My final score: 9/10 – the instructions and nylon straps are what lost the point for me.

If you are interested in the Chrysalis Tent then visit your local Eureka Dealer or go to www.eurekatent.com

~Enjoy your Trip!

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Trip Planning Part 4

Back in January I did a 3 part series on how to pre-plan for you next trip to Algonquin Park.  Today I’m revisiting that with the next part.

In just under a month I’ll be embarking on a 3 day trip into Algonquin.  I’ve already gone through the Ontario Parks website and booked my site in Kearney Campground.  (I know it says unavailable but that’s because I booked it haha)

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I’ve picked this site based on a few different criteria.

  1. Privacy – The site is surrounded by trees
  2. Water Access – The lake is right there :) which means some really amazing photos and quiet paddles
  3. One of my readers and friend Katie stayed there last summer and I loved it so I wanted to stay there :)

Now that I’ve picked my site and my dates I need to start my planning phase.  Remember that checklist I put on on here last year?  Those have made it to my computer desktop and are being edited away.  Planning ahead like this makes your trip alot easier to deal with.  As well it allows you to enjoy it more as you already have meals planned so all you need to do is prepare them!

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This year I have a bit of a dilemma that I’m facing and something you may face if you are planning on travelling to the park by transportation other than a car.  I’m going up via Parkbus this year and this means I need to plan extra carefully as I need to take up space on the Go Bus and TTC to get there.  Everything I take has to be able to fit in 2 bags…a cooler and my big dry bag.  Luckily for me my kitchen set (cutlery, knives, and cooking utensils) all fit in one travel bathroom bag.

If you are facing the same dilemma as I am then you will have to cut down on the amount of stuff you take.  For instance, you may need to cut down on the camping “luxuries” that you want to take.  Do you really need that camp stove or are you willing to cook on an open campfire?  Do you need to take those down pillows or are you ok with either a small travel pillow or inflatable pillow?  Remember that inventory I told you to take?  This is where it comes in handy.  You will be able to look at all you have and decide what you need to take based on how much room you truly have.

Other than equipment now is the time to plan my menu as well.  As I said, I have to carry a cooler bag with me…which limits how much weight I can carry realistically.  The question posed to me right now is do I want to take fresh/frozen foods with me or dehydrated meals.  I’m leaning towards a mix of both but because I only have 2 breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 2 dinners to worry about I’m thinking I’ll be ok with all freshly frozen foods like burgers, chicken, and hot dogs.  The menu below is what I made last year and I’m considering doing it again as it was very tasty!

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On the next post I’m going to walk you through my inventory and take pictures for you that way you can see one of the many ways that you can organize your equipment.

~Enjoy your trip!

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Creating Your Camp Kitchen

We’re halfway through April and still wondering when the ice will go out.  Especially since over the weekend the Algonquin area got another 2 inches of snow.  I’ve been keeping myself busy by working out my paddling muscles while painting my house.  I’m now starting to think about getting gear organized and ready so that when I get the chance I can just grab it and go for a weekend.  One thing that I’m constantly re-organizing every year is my camp kitchen for both base camp and canoe tripping.  Yes you read that right….I have 2 camp kitchen sets.  Today I’m here to help you create your own camp kitchen sets for your next trip (unless of course you are getting a complete outfitting package in which case this is for future reference).

Courtesy of thetoolman on Instructables.com

Courtesy of thetoolman on Instructables.com

The first thing you are going to need is something to store your camp kitchen set.  For base camp you could simply use a Rubbermaid tote or I use wooden boxes called wanigan’s that my dad made years ago.  They are just square boxes made of plywood with a lid and webbed handle.  I’m in the process of designing and building a Chuck Box or camp kitchen.  This is a box that has some shelves, drawers, and opens up to create a work space.  There are some Instructables out there on how to make a chuck box.  The ones I like are:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Chuck-Box-Camp-Kitchen (pictured)
http://www.instructables.com/id/Ultimate-Camp-Box/

Once you have your box or storage solution for your base camp kitchen you need to choose what will be a part of your kitchen set.  Here are my necessary items that everyone needs:

  1. Utensils: No brainer…we need to cook and eat with something.  You could pay for expensive items or you could do as I do and go grab what you need from the dollar store or thrift store.  I have 2 flippers, 1 slotted spoon, a whisk, vegetable peeler, paring knife, can opener, cheese grater, 4 complete sets of eating utensils, a funnel, a spatula, and cutting board.  For your cooking/eating utensils may I suggest a travel pouch or pencil case that is long enough?  
  2. Spices: This is up to you…some people cook extremely gourmet while camping.  We had friends that made a curry every summer in Pog Lake.  The only thing I suggest is to find a way to carry only what you need.  There are some tutorials on how to store spices…some involve straws and tape, others involve pill containers.  I typically take them in the containers they come in however you may want a space saving solution.
  3. Pots and Pans: You should have probably 3/4 pots and 2/3 skillets (frying pans).  If you have a stove top griddle you can include that as well.  The reason I say 3/4 pots is that you should always have one extra that is solely used as a water pot for dishes.  You should also have a kettle and stove-top coffee maker/percolator.
  4. Plates/Bowls/Serving Trays: Take 1 set per camper and some extras for serving or in case you want to only do dishes once a day.  You can take paper or plastic if you wish…just keep in mind when buying them that they should be environmentally safe.
  5. Foil/Saran Wrap/Ziplock Bags/tupperware: The foil can be used for cooking or storing leftovers.  Saran Wrap, ziplock bags,  and tupperware are great for storing items.
  6. Towels/rags/sponge: Again this is pretty obvious.  I have dollar store towels and dish clothes that I use
  7. Dish soap: I use campsuds for my dishes.  It’s biodegradable and the lavender scent is quite nice.
  8. Mugs/Cups:  Because you can’t drink coffee straight from the pot :)
  9. Juice mixes/Coffee/Tea:  Tang is my go to drink of choice while camping.  I never take frozen juices.  Sometimes I will grab the 4 pack of Tropicana orange juices that are like drinking boxes for the mornings…but typically I drink tang/water.  I store them in plastic storage containers with the instructions laminated and taped to the lid.  Coffee/tea are also stored in air tight containers.
  10. Stove:  Last but certainly not least is your stove.  Most of the time my stove is stored separately as its a little too big.  However if you have a big enough storage bin then you may be able to fit it in.

Our Site

If you are going on a canoe trip your camp kitchen is going to consist of the same basics only on a smaller/compact scale.  For example, you could always get a set of pots that fit inside of each other but now you can get a couple of different nesting cooking sets from GSI.  I like the Bugaboo Camper set:

The Bugaboo set includes everything you need for cooking and eating except for the utensils.  Everything nests and locks together so that it can fit in the bottom of someones back easily.   Check out your local outdoors store to see what GSI products that they carry as they offer a wide variety or check out the website link above.  Everything you take with you is going to be downsized to save weight and space but you can still have gourmet meals while out on a canoe trip :).  For your coffee needs you can get a drip coffee maker that you pour hot water through as it sits on top of your mug.  The spices can still be stored the same way as well as your powdered juices.  you do need to keep in mind though that unless you are doing all your cooking on a campfire (like me), you’ll need to have a single burner stove.  Again talk to your local outfitter for their suggestions.

I hope this helps you as you start planning for the summer camping trips!  Feel free to email your questions!

~Enjoy your trip!

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