By Mike Stevens
When it comes to non-fishing accessories to stash in my 'yak, I generally seek out items with a benefit that greatly exceeds the amount of space it takes up and how much it weighs. Admittedly, this comes from decades of backcountry trout fishing when wasted ounces and inches in my backpack are unacceptable.
One of the sources of the most packed-in weight is water. A gallon of water weighs eight pounds, and for a long time, I carried 100 ounces in a bladder in my pack, and 64 more in a couple Nalgene bottles on my waist. I was able to shed a lot of that weight when I discovered LifeStraw products and was at least able to stop carrying that "just in case" water. Based on the insignificance of their size and weight alone, I knew it would be a perfect back-up-plan product to stow aboard my kayak.
The original LifeStraw is a portable water filter that turns microbiologically contaminated water into water you can safely guzzle. At nine inches long, an inch in diameter, and tipping the scales at a whopping two ounces, it requires no electrical power, chemicals or replacement parts. It works just like a straw (imagine that), and as funky water is drawn up through its membrane, it removes 99.9% of bacteria (e coli, etc) and protozoa (such as the demon known as giardia), and it even aids in clearing up muddy water.
I started thinking of kayak fishing applications; maybe I paddle further than I had planned and run out of water well before I even begin my trek back. Maybe hot weather led me to drink more, or maybe, just maybe I find myself hopelessly marooned on an island after a 3-hour tour. None of these situations happen very often, and they have never happened to me, but when something the size of a Costco hot dog can bail me out of a situation like those, stashing one is a no brainer.