Wednesday, October 3, 2007
For me last weekends Voyageur trip was likely my last weekend in my tent until next season. Bowhunting begins in earnest this weekend and I've volunteered to mentor a soon to be 14 year old who just got his Hunter Safety Certificate and is as pumped as humanly possible. I recall that feeling like it was yesterday. We'll see how long he lasts up in the tree. Some good gear made its debut this year in my boat. First and foremost is the Cooke Custom Sewing Lean 3 Plus tarp, affectionately christened The Bat Cave. It has dozens of sturdy tie points, is strong, light, and quick drying, and has the much needed bug netting to keep you sane on Lake Superior when those offshore winds bring the biblical style plague of stable flies. I bring lots of line and stakes in a small mesh bag and a 1/4' climbing style rope for a ridgeline. You can configure it in dozens of ways and rig it high enough so even 6'4" guys like me can wander in and out without getting garroted by the support lines.
Another fine piece of gear is the Kelly Kettle or volcano kettle as its sometimes known.This rig boils a liter of water in under 5 minutes. Normally I like gear that does more than one thing but this unit reduces the amount of fuel you need to carry significantly, can burn dang near anything, and is just plain fun for us pyromaniac types to play with. Coffee water, dish water, luxurious washing or sun shower water all are easy with the Kelly. I've glued some D rings under my deck and just bungee the kettle in there, out of the way. Another little piece of gear for the Kelly or your campfire is the small piece of plastic tubing with a brass reduction nozzle on the end. You can get your fire roaring with just a couple breaths as the ManFromSnowyLegs discovered. This is also great sport for the pyro types among us.
The Sagebrush dry bag is another outstanding piece of gear. I use it on my deck to keep my digital SLR and its spare lenses safe and dry. I don't like a deck bag since the tend to interfere with my Greenland paddle stroke but this one can be pushed forward and then slid back when needed. This also gives you room for your map case. Since I'm not naturally a trusting soul I stuffed the thing full of paper toweling and rolled the boat 3 or 4 times. Dry as a bone. It has a dry suit style zipper, is made of Hypalon (the same material as the deck of my Feathercraft), and comes with a simple back pack attachment so it can be used in the woods also.
The stylish bandanna around my neck is to dry my hands before grabbing the camera and is in no way to be construed as a fashion statement.
The Kelsyus beach chair is the item for which I've been most maligned but once people sit in it they change their tune. Its small, light, comfy (note my 'resting' shot at the top of my blog) and has a mesh bottom so it dries quickly. I bungee it on my back deck which seems to work just fine. It also serves the added purpose of being a de facto breathalyzer test. If you have to lurch forward on to your knees to stand up rather than rising straight up from the chair, its likely that you have been overserved and should leave the fire for your tent.
Last but not least the simple dish dryer. Get some plastic screen mesh and clothes pins at the hardware store. Hang em on a line and and air dry em. It gets them out of the way and saves you the onerous task of drying dishes. You still need to wash em however.
Any camping hints from blog readers will be greatly appreciated. Enjoy the upcoming season.