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Archive for January, 2017

Overnight Kayaking Trips: Tips and Life Hacks

January 24th, 2017 No comments

Ah the great outdoors. What’s better than running out of the office at 4:59pm and being in your kayak and on the river by 5:30? Knowing that you’ll be camping overnight and paddling the next morning, that’s what. Planning a multi-day overnight paddling trip is a great way to experience your fave river or creek in sections, and cover a ton of ground. There are some extra preparations needed for a multi-day quest, and planning ahead is always a smart move. The following tips and MacGyver  style camping life hacks will have you running the river and camping in comfort and style.

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The Amazing Personal Floatation Device

January 19th, 2017 No comments

Where would you be without the modern day lifejacket? Now lovingly called the personal flotation device or PFD, it literally is a life-saver. A PFD is the most important piece of equipment you have with you while on the water, besides your trusty brain. This clever device was created to keep our heads afloat and our bodies upright while submerged in water. Life jackets have come a long way through the years, with infinite styles and designs. These days PFDs not only boast higher flotation and added safety features, they’re pretty snazzy too! Let’s take a look at this unique product and its history from then until now.



Early Days

The earliest traces of PFD devices can be linked all the way back to circa 870 B.C. where stone carvings depict Assyrian King Assur-Nasir-Pal’s army using inflated animal skins to cross moats and waterways. Pretty clever! By the early 19th century, seamen had begun using cork or wood filled vests to keep themselves afloat in case a man went overboard. The invention of the modern lifejacket as we now know it can be credited to Captain Ward of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. In 1854, Ward created a cork lifejacket to be worn by crewmen for protection from weather and buoyancy. Later the cork was replaced by kapok, a vegetable fiber found in tropical tree pods that’s similar to milkweed. The kapok’s waxy coating helped to add to buoyancy. It was also much more comfortable to wear than a vest filled with your collection of wine bottle corks from that week. Many designs followed, including an inflatable lifejacket that became popular during WWII. It was nicknamed the “Mae West“, for the inflated chest similar to the physical features of the actress it would give anyone wearing it. Ooh la la!

Sucia Island Spring 2013

Modern Day PFD

We’ve come a long way from the bulky and not so fetching lifejackets from the past. Modern day PFDs offer comfort, style, and versatility with a huge range of models and sizes to choose from. Often, they are tailor-made for specific activities as well as gender and age. There are 5 main types of lifejackets with different buoyancy and categorizations. New design features reduce bulk and weight, making wearing a lifejacket an obvious choice. Now, boaters can match their lifejacket color to their other boating gear like their kayak or helmet. It’s easy and cool to be safe and stylish, a win-win!

Anatomy of a PFD

Choosing the Right PFD for Me

The most important factor when choosing your new best PFD friend is to find the one best suited for what you’ll be using it for. Different jackets are made for different types of activities, and watery environments. Fit, flotation materials and of course comfort all need to be taken into account. REI’s PFD How to Choose Guide is a great place to start. Once you know what type and flotation level you need to be looking for, the endless designs and fabulous styles make shopping fun. Remember to look for a PFD for your furry friends and your human children too! IMG_0454-576x1024

The humble and ever evolving PFD: from its early origins until now has rescued countless individuals and given peace of mind in troubled waters. Take a minute next time to you get geared up to think about all that PFD is doing for you, and as always have fun and be safe out there!


Winter Paddling Tips

January 10th, 2017 No comments

Winter is coming…with snow and ice and frigid temperatures. Actually, it’s already here and we’re inside watching John Snow with bated breath in Game of Thrones. For some paddlers, this is a time to hang up the shorts and Chacos in exchange for warmer indoor activities some involving whiskey and Cards Against Humanity. For others, winter adds just another unique obstacle and set of variables to the experience. When paddling in the winter, there are lots of additional precautions and preparations that should be taken. The winter is a beautiful time of year to explore your favorite river or creek, when the landscape may be covered in a glorious blanket of white with intricate icicles and nature’s favorite patterns frozen in time. So, bundle up and get back out there! The following tips can help ensure you’ve got the right gear and mindset to conquer the cold this season.

ice-1123948_960_720Get Dialed In

It’s not necessarily that you’re more likely to swim while paddling during the frosty season, unless some holiday pounds are weighing you down, it’s the fact that a swim in frigid temperatures can bring heavier consequences than a swim during the summer. You need to be confident in your skills before hitting the river. Taking an indoor roll clinic if you’re a kayaker, or refreshing yourself on whitewater swim techniques may come through in the clutch. No one wants to drink cold beer out of a weird water shoe when it’s 30 degrees outside…your pride has suffered enough. Hypothermia can set in more quickly than you’d think, which can affect and slow your decision making. Avoiding a long swim in extreme temperatures is always a good place to start. We all know things happen, so just be up to snuff on your skill sets before you venture out.

Ballagh Blyth (20 of 29)

Fly Gear

Who doesn’t need an excuse to buy new gear?!? With colder temperatures, the right gear is essential. From west suits to drysuits, dry tops and pants, the combinations of winter paddling gear can be as specific and unique as you are my friend! Our pals over at REI have a cold water gear guide that’s worth a look. Like most of us have experienced, the trick here is layering what works best for you so that you’re comfortable enough to move freely as well as being insulated in case of a swim or splash. H2O is approximately 25 times more efficient at drawing heat away from your body than air so you need protection to stay toasty warm. There are 4 main mechanisms of heat loss  working against your body in water vs air which explains the dire need to drop all your Christmas money from your grandma on new gear for winter.

winterkayakingmantleBe Prepared

Remember the days in Cub Scouts and the Brownies, you can never be too prepared. This is also true with winter paddling. Make sure you bring your besties along with you who are around your level of experience or higher. Let your friends sitting home watching tv know where you guys are going, when you’ll be back, contact and emergency information just in case. It’s easy to run out the door in excitement, but a few extra seconds could save your life bud, not to be too dramatic. Eat a good hearty breakfast so you have energy and bring snacks high in protein for the trip in your drybag. Honey Stinger makes delicious products to fuel your fire along the way. Check the weather, put warm dry clothes in your car for the takeout, and always wear your lifejacket…duh.

Don’t let the snow and ice keep your paddling dreams inside on the Wii. Take a few simple steps, get the right gear, and you’ll be ready for anything mother nature may throw your way. Except for maybe poisonous snakes, that’s another blog for another day. Stay warm and safe out there!