Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Guys need gear!

After a long hiatus, we had the opportunity to paddle with my buddy, MrEngineerGear, in the Apostles last weekend. Fatherhood had dry docked him a bit last year and his only appearance on the water was a cameo at the Two Harbors Kayak Festival. Mama and Junior headed south for a family visit this weekend and he was ready to get the QCC hull wet. Of course after a years break new pieces of gear for camping comfort and efficiency had to be hauled out and demo'ed.

One piece of gear that I don't leave home without is the Kelsyus beach chair. This little baby folds down and fits nicely on your back deck. While some say a chair is extravagant I would argue that sitting on logs, rocks, and the ground is detrimental to your paddling posture and your hind end. Like the chair systems that use your sleeping pad these are multifunctional also. TheKingOfIronwoodIsland discovered that the chair also serves as a de facto Breathalyzer; if you need to fall forward to get up and out of the chair its probably time to lay off the wine and hit the tent. The picture of me resting my eyes on this blog masthead also proves the hypnotic nap quality of this piece of gear. As MrEngineerGear remarked, "Wow. Better not sit in this chair unless you plan on buying one". This is true because I've personally picked up 6 chairs for new fans.

Next to the chair, occupied in the photo above by a mysterious and exotic Vince Flynn fan, is a collapsible bucket and hose running to a Katadyn water filter. This filter system allows one to haul water out of the lake, in that handy collapsible blue bucket, and fill up a 2.5 gallon water cube in about the same time it takes to fill a liter Nalgene bottle with a regular pump filter. One of the keys to this efficiency is that it has a setting for clean as well as dirtier water. For years I carried a cup on my deck and if I was more than 400 meters offshore would just dip the cup in Gitchee Gumee and have a drink (don't try this at home, kids!) so the clean water setting can be readily used in the Apostles. I'm sure that before the next trip I'll need to go to the wallet and acquire one of these revolutionary pieces of equipment.

Finally in the Great Lakes region we have our old friends the insects, that come to visit in full force this time of year. Fortunately you're usually only bitten by one type of vermin at a time because a concerted attack by mosquito's, black flies, noseeums, deer flies, and other biting insects might make a person suicidal. In addition to the famous Bat Cave ( Cooke LeanPlus screened tarp) a person needs some good walking around protection. Slathering yourself with DEET is the tried and true but the odor and greasy feel are less than inviting. I would also guess that, like the insidious Radon gas, cyclemates, and polycarb Nalgene bottles, they will discover that giving rats 4,000 times the normal exposure of DEET may increase the risk of cancer. Last year, with this in mind, I purchased a couple of ExOfficio BuzzOff shirts on clearance. When a 'buddy' saw my green checked shirt he remarked, "Makes perfect sense they were in the clearance bin". Although I won't make the GQ best dressed list, it does the trick with the bugs. When I saw some equally unattractive BuzzOff bandanas in the clearance section this year I bought a couple of those also. As you can see from the photo the French Foreign Legion look, modeled by GalwayGuy and myself, is not only stylish but effective. The success of these garments prompted the VoiceOfReason to order BuzzOff socks and a hat. This hat makes the sartorial affront worn by the ManFromSnowyLegs seem stylish but I guess a guy with a green checked shirt can't be critical. You can see the hat, the legs, and the total disregard for the upside down kayak in the photo right.

All of this equipment is a far cry from my early camping gear from the mid '60's but I gotta admit the new stuff beats the hell out of Halazone tablets, Ensolite pads, canvas packs and tents, and especially the freeze dried entrees. Upgrade your gear. It will make your camping experience a lot more enjoyable.


Nan said...

I've always kind of wondered about the way the various blood suckers seem to split up the territory. The biting stable flies will drive you crazy out in the open, but as soon as you step into the woods they drift away and leave you to the tender mercies of the mosquitoes and deer flies.

My personal favorites are the sand flies -- you don't notice them unless they crawl up your nose or into an ear while they're chewing on you. By the time you feel the blood running down your neck it's too late; they've sated themselves and moved on.

DaveO said...

A few years back on Assateaague Island I made the acquaintance of salt marsh mosquitos. If our northwoods mosquitos are like B-52 bombers these guys are like F-16 fighters. They bore in and drill you very quickly with no preliminaries.

I hope you avoided most of the pests you describe on your recent journey to the homeland.

Silbs said...

Wait until you get older and need help getting up out of that chair. Then you're going to want a higher one :)