Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Tip #87 - Do Not Do This!

I frequently get people asking me for help with this particular issue. The way a lot of people want to remedy the problem is not safe. See below.


Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Im not your billboard Part 2

In 2018 I discussed what happens when free gear is given to outdoor educators and the perceived endorsement of said gear that creates. Yesterday I delved a little deeper into that relationship. You can watch it here or on Youtube.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

the 2019 Adventure Otaku Holiday Gear Stocking Stuffer List.

Okay, here we go. A week ago we had the full gear list, now it's time for the Stocking Stuffer List! As always, I am not sponsored by any of these companies, this is just gear I use, trust and enjoy!

The first piece fo gear I grab every time I go to teach or to play in the outdoors. A Buff ($28) that is both UV resistant as well as treated with permethrin so it keeps the bugs away too.

The Simple Guides - Backpacking, Kayaking, and Stand Up Paddle boarding ($3.99 - $5.99) Short little books, that contain everything you need to get started. From gear selection to basic strokes and skills.

The next is one of my all-time favorites. The GSI Kung Foon - A spork and Chopsticks combination that combine to make a long handled spork for eating freeze dried food.

Coffee is key. Both psychologically, and in terms of comfort. There is nothing better than a hot cup of joe on a cold morning to get you out of your tent. I have struggled with coffee makers in the back country but have finally found one I like. The Sea to Summit X-Brew. Folds flat and packs to nothing. Expands to make an awesome pour over. REALLY. GREAT. COFFEE. For an extra jolt do what I do. Use espresso! That'll wake you up.

I love maps, and charts. When I am working on a map and navigating way to adventure and excitement I use Blackwing 602 pencils. "half the pressure - twice the speed" - It seems like a simple thing, a pencil. But until you use this pencil you don't know the whole story. This pencil has a cult following. Need I say more?

The next two things on the list are medical. The first is a problem solver. So much so that I am thinking about replacing the knife on my pfd with a pair of EMS trauma shears. DO NOT FALL for the $60 trauma shears, or even $30 trauma shears. These are $6.99, work forever and will cut anything! You can't go wrong.

We get cuts and lacerations in the backcountry. When it is more than a band aid can handle this is what you need - The NOLS Wound kit (except training, see the previous list for that!) You don't want to do stitches or staples or glue in the backcountry - you want to use this kit.

Finally, with things like tick born illnesses getting more common we need to take precautions to the next level. Instead of bug repellent that goes on your skin, put this product - sawyer permethrin - on your clothing! One treatment is good for 6 weeks or 6 washings. You apply it before you go on your trip so you don't have to carry anything with you in the backcountry.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

The 2019 Adventure Otaku Holiday Gear List!

Every year I publish a list of holiday gifts for the adventurer in your life.  This year I wanted to do something a little bit different. T I wanted the list to specifically make peoples outdoor adventures better and safer. In general, my mission in life is to get people active in the outdoors. Here is this years list. Here is the accompanying video.

#1 Hydration is key. Most of the time water will suffice. But in the dog days of summer when the temperature is 102 (and the water is 86) and I still have to teach kayaking or SUP, water won't cut it. I switch to NUUN Hydration products. They taste great, they have electrolytes. They replenish what I have lost and keep me going. It isn't always that extreme, sometimes I just need a break from water. Get this variety pack for around $40 or buy them one at a time just about anywhere for $7

#2 I live my life in a wet environment. Over the years I have used every brand of dry bag made, and then one day I turned around and realized all my dry bags were made by one brand. Sea to Summit. Available in sizes from 1 liter to 60 liters, and Ultra-sil - thin to Big River thick (With Lightweight in the middle) these are my bags of choice. From compression sacks for sleeping bags to taper bags for clothes to lightweights for first aid kits and bear bags and small big rivers for deck bags, You can't go wrong. From $14.95

#3 The best bang for your buck headlamp on the market, the Black Diamond Spot 325 - to be fair, there are a lot of good headlamps out there. But dollars for lumens, this is the best deal, and I love the adjustability and waterproofness. You may get tempted by rechargeable headlamps, but the batteries don't last. Just buy yourself some rechargeable triple A batteries and use those. $39.95

#4 I have bought Map and Compass Navigation for over 20 years, and been practicing nav for 30. Use one compass, the Suunto M3 - it has everything you need and nothing you don't. I use it on land, at sea and in the class room. $44.00

#5 I use them for everything. Class notes, lesson plans, and brilliant ideas. The Field Notes books are inexpensive and waterproof (some versions) $12.95 for a pack of three.

#6 Required reading if you work in the outdoors. Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzalez. Who lives, who dies and why. The science of survival. Learn why others died so you can avoid their mistakes. The other books I mentioned in this part of the video are my own, links are in the sidebar, as well as The Spirt of St. Louis, and Endurance. Both great adventure reads. $varied depending on format

#7 Required gear and people don't like spending their money on this, so it makes a great gift. I like these because they are easy to work out of. You can see how I set up first aid kits here. $23.95 and up.

#8 Even more important than a first aid kit is knowing how to use one. Take a WFA course. Reach out to me if you want to take one with me as your instructor. I teach bout 12 of them a year.  $245 to $300.

#9 My new favorite tent. The Passage one. Simple. Easy to set up. Roomy for one. I wish it had two doors but that is true of all one person tents. An amazing kayaking tent and not bad for backpacking.

#10 I don't know why people struggle with this, but I see it all the time. Wear. Base. Layers. It is that simple. Once the temp drops to the mid 40's I am in them full time. It is the foundation for everything else. A lot of people skip this, and it is a simple mistake. Currently I am using the REI lightweight and midweight bottoms and tops, but if you want the best of the best try the smartwool merino's.

Need more inspiration, here is the 2018 List.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Kayak Instructor life: Part 2

A coupe of days ago a friend - who is also a student - wanted to get some more experience in high wind. Fortunately the weather cooperated. This is slightly more dangerous than the normal instruction  I do but it was a lot of fun.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Kayak Instructor Life: Skills day

Every wonder what the life of a kayak instructor is like after paddling season? It looks like this. Paddling in bad weather to work on skills. I will paddle as much as I can between now and next season to make sure my skills stay sharp.


Monday, November 4, 2019

Do you know how to fit a backpack?

I am guessing you don't. In the past 13 years I estimate that I have fit 9 to 12 thousand backpacks on people. All kinds of people. New backpackers, experienced backpackers, you name it.

Here is the thing, most people think they know how to wear a backpack. The problem is, they don't. If you have never been fitted for a backpack by a professional then I can almost guarantee you are wearing a backpack too low on your hips. Similarly, if you have never taken a kayaking lesson I can almost guarantee you are paddling wrong. I've written about this before, it is one of my pet peeves. Someone walks into a store, takes a pack off the wall and puts it on. They don't check size on a pack, they don't make any adjustments, they don't put any weight in the pack, and then they proudly proclaim "this feels great!" Well, guess what? Every pack feels great when there is no weight in it. You need to have your torso measured, which is hard to do without a sizing tool, and you need to have weight in the pack to really tell what it is going to feel like.

This was the driving reason behind writing "The Simple Guide to Backpacking." Pack fitting and pack selection are both covered along with a lot of other things.

I work in the outdoor industry as an instructor, and I teach all sorts of things, from backpacking and navigation to kayaking and stand up paddle boarding. I do it because my primary goal is to get people active in the outdoors, safely and comfortably. I see too many people working too hard and not having fun. You need to be having fun. With the the right gear and the right knowledge you can have fun even on bad days, when the weather is bad and the pack is heavy.

The thing that surprises me the most is how hard it is to get people to let you help them. People are so hung up on looking like they "know" what they are doing, they don't ever get the chance to know what they are doing. It gets in the way of having a good experience. If you do anything in the outdoors you should let me help you. You can reach me here, or on Instagram, and my Youtube channel is starting to get some heft in terms of content.

Look me up. Let me help.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Outdoor Tip #324 - The Ziplock Mistake!

Another in a long line of outdoor tip videos - are you making "The Ziploc Mistake?"

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Big boats versus little boats

Recently a friend sent me a link to the new Oru Kayak - the Inlet. Which is their newest and smallest folding kayak. He asked what It thought. Here is the video that accompanies the boat on Kickstarter.

First I would argue that their points "where do you find the time, where do you find the space?" Are fallacies driven by capitalism run a muck. Yes, it may be hard for some people to find the time to paddle or follow other outdoor pursuits, but that isn't a problem that should be fixed by buying something. It is a problem that is fixed by getting your priorities straight, but that isn't what my friend was asking.

He asked, what I thought of this kayak, and even that has some problems with it. Was he asking what did I think of folding kayaks? What did I think of this particular type of folding kayak or what did I think of this specific Oru folding kayak. Again, it comes down to priorities.

If your priority is a boat that packs small and stores easily I think this is a great boat. It weighs a mere 20 pounds and according to Oru assemblies in 3 to 5 minutes. I would add, that is 3 to 5 minutes when you know how to do it. The first time I set one up it was close to 30. But at the end of that 3 to 5 minutes you are still paddling a ten foot long, 30 inch wide kayak. If you are okay with that, then its a great boat, but I am not okay with that.

You see everything in kayaking - or the outdoors, or life for that matter - is about trade-offs. So what am I giving up by paddling a boat that is 10 feet long by 30 inches wide? For reference, I currently paddle a boat that is 17 feet long by 22.5 inches wide. So how does that effect my paddling?

When boats are long, they do two things really well. They go in a straight line (which we call tracking), and they go fast. Which means this 10 foot long boat is going to be slow, and harder to paddle in a straight line.

When boats are shorter we say they don't track well, which means they don't want to go in a straight line, but they do turn really well, which is why white water kayaks are shorter. But when a boat gets shorter it also gets wider and that width does two things. It makes the boat far more stable, and it also contributes to the boat being slower.

Let's talk about the slower aspect first. When a boat is moving through the water the boats bow slices the water and forces the apart as it moves down both sides of the hull. The longer the boat is, the more time it has to do that, so the less pressure is exerted on each square inch of the bow and the hull of the boat. A wider boat has to push that water further apart, increasing the pressure on the hull, and in turn slowing the boat more - or requiring more effort to propel the boat forward. So a short wide boat is really slow. I could add that a flexible hull like on a folding kayak will also have a harder time pushing through the water, but let's save that conversation for another day.

Let's talk about the added stability. That's a good thing right? Well, yes and no. Yes, if you are a novice kayaker, you may want a more stable boat, but there are a lot of factors that play into stability and I would bet if the Oru kayak was 22.5 inches wide it would still be pretty stable. But for me, That added stability is a hindrance to making a boat perform even better. I want my boat to be a little unstable. Instability is in fact a good thing - to a point.

The reduced stability - and my boat is actually still pretty stable - gives me the ability to edge my boat through turns and roll my kayak. I use that instability as an advantage, the same way a fighter jet is inherently unstable. I want it to be easy for my boat to get tippy, it makes everything else I do in my kayak better and easier. But you have to be comfortable with that.

You see, I started this by saying everything is a trade-off. You have to decide where your priority is. My priority is a high performance boat. If your priority is a boat that packs easily, and can store under your desk - with the limitations that imposes, This may be the boat for you.

But if you are that person in the video, who somehow equates a kayak that fits under their desk with their life somehow making more sense. I would say take some time off work, and spend a couple of weeks paddling a real kayak in an amazing place. You may realize that the problem in your life isn't storing your kayak.