gear

Big Al’s Canoe Seats Rant

11.13.2014

Over a 35-year run, my old butt has made the acquaintance of damn near every style of canoe seat; from aluminum to roto-molded plastic, from foam pedestal to tractor seat, and from cane-laced to webbing. Some have been a pleasure to meet, others . . . notsomuch.

Rides: Marcia Seaman’s Hornbeck Ten

11.12.2014

A local guide introduced her to “pack” canoes — a unique style of compact vessel designed for the small lakes and long portages of the Adirondacks, with roots dating back over a century. Seaman rented a 10-foot solo for her first journey and was amazed at its nimble handling.

Kokatat Idol Drysuit

11.11.2014

The new Kokatat Idol has captured the Holy Grail of drysuit versatility—the two-piece suit. Thanks to an innovative 360-degree zipper system at the waist, the Idol functions as a full drysuit or as a drytop. It’s easy to get on and off, and there’s no need for a separate relief zipper.

Hole in the Wall Jacket

11.11.2014

Until 2012, sleeping under the stars felt like rolling the dice. A handful of nights each year I’d wake up freezing my ass off, because condensation had soaked into my puffy down sleeping bag and stolen its warm-making mojo.

The Gear We Love

11.11.2014

The following installments (with product photos by JP Van Swae) appeared originally in C&K’s December 2014 issue.We’ll be periodically adding our editors’ favorite gear essentials.

MEC Slogg Drybag

11.08.2014

The Slogg earned best-ever drybag status on the Northwest passage two summers ago, when Canadian adventurer Frank Wolf attempted that mythic journey in a 19-century rowboat.

Kokatat SunCore Long Sleeve

11.08.2014

The favorite thing in my paddling kit has to be my Kokatat SunCore Long Sleeve shirt. I wore this paddling shirt on my Missouri-Mississippi descent in 2012 for 117 days and on the Volga for 71 days straight. It works so bloody well that I never take it off when paddling.

Words on Paper

11.08.2014

I can feel the judgment when they spot my stack of books. Ultra-light and sanctimonious, they pass me off as a Tilley-hat type, lost to the past. Screw ‘em. I look forward all day to stretching out in the tent, warm and dry, and falling in to a bit of narrative.

Plastic spoon is good enough

11.08.2014

I’m glad you love your $10 titanium spork, but I’m all set over here with my cheap plastic spoon. It does exactly what I need it to do, which is move delicious camping food into my mouth like a tiny shovel.

Pelican 1500 Case

11.08.2014

My favorite piece of gear is a yellow Pelican 1500 case I carried everywhere during my 45-day through-paddle on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail trip. Sure, I love the peace of mind that comes with coddling my cameras in an ultra waterproof hard case.

Old School Paddling Gear

11.08.2014

The spicy aroma of spar varnish on a cedar canvas canoe pervades my days. On the river it wafts from the hull. The tang grows more pungent when I flip the canoe overhead to portage, and even when the canoe is put away for the night the scent lingers in the campsite.

PFDS that Fit

11.08.2014

When you go to buy a life jacket, you’ll hear a lot about pounds of flotation and Coast Guard safety ratings. But here’s what you really need to know: If it doesn’t fit, it won’t work. That’s reason enough to love the latest generation of comfortable, form-fitting PFDs.

Sunga on the Water

11.08.2014

They may not look sexy on his hairy bod, but sea kayak guide Paul LaPerriere doesn’t care. So when it comes to what to wear under his wetsuit, as a bathing suit, underwear on a minimalist trip and, yes, even, horseback riding attire, the choice is obvious:

Portage Carts

11.08.2014

Listen, I’ve paid my dues. For years, I shouldered 70 pounds of Royalex and trotted down the trail, only to turn right around and fetch my packs. Now I leave the hard work to somebody with more to prove. Because hoisting a canoe overhead isn’t the lark it once was, and now I don’t have to.

The Do-Everything Jacket

11.07.2014

The last thing I did before I left Maine was cash in a half-used gift card at the L.L.Bean outlet store. I was headed to the Yukon later that week and I needed a jacket. For $19, I walked away with a sharp crimson scrap of ripstop—hood, front-zip, pockets. Seven years later, it’s faded to a rusty peach and sports a mess of sutures on the shoulder seam and sleeves.

Ultra-Light Dry Throw Bag

11.07.2014

People are always amazed when they see my Ultra-Light Dry Throw Bag by Wildwasser. It makes perfect sense: The bag that holds the rope is a drybag, so you don’t have to carry the extra weight of a saturated rope.

Bug Out Tent

11.07.2014

“Ahhhhhh, go away you stupid bug!” Paige shrieks and flails her arms, lurching the canoe to one side. Then come the words I’ve dreaded since the insects began swarming at the put-in: “I want to go home!” Two hours into a five-day trip around B.C.’s Bowron Lakes and my 9-year-old daughter is already losing her mind.

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Buyer's Guide

Buyer's Guide