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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
“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.