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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.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

My Last Weekend Teaching Kayaking

Recently I taught my last paddle classes for the season, and maybe for quite a while. Head over to YouTube to find out why.


Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Another solo sail, this time....

....This time with Mr. Blue Sky.

Seriously though a really nice day on the water building skills and comfort. Learning on a lake I have realized the wind is super changeable or as I like to think of it "swirly." You are cruising along having a great time, and a huge gust from another direction scares the heck out of ya.


Wednesday, September 18, 2019

A quick look at a WFA class

Once a month I travel to teach a NOLS Wilderness First Aid class. This is one of the more difficult things I teach, as there are many topics crammed into two days with very tight time constraints. It is also one of the more important things I teach, because at some point I am going to find out that someone in one of these classes saved a life.

I decided to shoot short snippets of this class, and see what it looked like. I will do more detailed coverage as I continue to create content for youtube.



Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Airstream Madness

A few weeks ago I had two really cool classes back to back. They were both cancelled because of downed power lines in the marina. So to sooth our aching soles, the instructors all went to look at - and dream about - Airstream Travel Trailers. Here is the video from that.

And yes, there is a lot going on over on Youtube. Please head over there, and give it a try. Like and subscribe. I am having fun working in video - though it is a lot of work. Still very active on Instagram, so head over there too!