Sportsman Show Antics

This weekend, after the glory that is St. Patrick’s day we got up and had breakfast.  It was a good breakfast.  After that we headed downtown, and it was a lovely little drive.  The weather was nice, and my roof rack’s distinctive whistle has been dampened by piping insulation (which I zip-tied to it), so I can leave that shit on all…year…long!  Whee!

But I managed to get into the Metro-Toronto Convention Centre with little to no incident and set upon the Sportsman’s Show.  There was much to be done!  We immediately went to the long jump competition at the Superdogs corner.  One of those dogs cleared 24 feet!  Unreal hops into the pool for that puppy!  Then we did a systematic sweep of the place.  There was much to look at!  How to strike a flint properly, good rope systems for light backpacking, sweet clearance deals from popular vendors (like Tent City, where I’ve gotten food barrels before), and a mountain of fishing gear.  I managed to make it out with a ten dollar section of paracord (slated to snap at 550lbs) and a compass that has a magnifying glass built into it.  I know I’ve already got 4 other ways of starting fires (lighter, waterproof matches, and two flint systems), but the Sun is usually there and this is centuple backup.

All I can do now that I’m pretty much fully outfitted (minus some creature comforts) is shut up and wait for camping season!  I also need to grab a cheap little fishing rod holder to try and hook up my canoe (the Ewok) with a rod system…


The Doink Floats!

Last night me and my cousin gave a little bath to his new canoe, the Doink.  It was awesome.  The weather cooperated long enough for us to put in at a creek near our house and we got a good 45 minutes of paddling in before we ran out of river and sunlight to paddle in. 

The Doink is a 15.5 feet long fiberglass canoe, running three keels underneath the bottom and it’s fairly wide across.  This makes it solid as a rock in the water.  It doesn’t get blown around too bad, which is a good thing for open water paddling, but it turns kinda sluggishly.  It’s defintely easier to paddle than an aluminum canoe, but I wouldn’t want to run it through questionable rapids any time soon.  It’s nicely weighted and almost perfectly balanced, making it ideal for what we need this summer, a light craft which is ideal for quick trips up north and the occasional portage or two.

The real treat was just playing in the water.  While we didn’t swim, this marked the first boat excursion I’ve had in 2012 and it was super fun.  I got to try out a new paddle, new lifejacket configuration (got a shiny new paddling lifejacket), and most importantly, a new canoe.  It probably did nothing to help my near-manic obsession with camping, but I definitely enjoyed it.

We Buy Another Canoe, Antics Ensue. (How NOT to Lash a Canoe to Your Roof)

We bought a new canoe last Friday night (not Saturday for some reason), and it was ridiculous.  The night was cold and dark, with snow coming down as we headed out down the road on a Friday night rather than waiting until Saturday morning.  We took my car as opposed to my  cousin’s truck because we wanted to save on gas as we were going about 40 minutes away, and I didn’t want to put my roof rack on if we weren’t getting the boat, so I put it all in my trunk.

We got there, and the canoes were beautiful.  It was my job to point out the flaws and junk to try and get the seller to let it go for less, but it was legitimately difficult.  The guy selling them was pretty cool too, which only added to my trouble.  But we got the canoe for a good price, and I got to work putting the roof rack on.  In the dark.  For the second time, ever.  Didn’t take too long, but by then my hands were quite cold (wind had picked up and it was snowing).  We ‘lashed’ the canoe on as best we could muster and after securing the front and back as a precaution we took off!

I knew something was wrong once I got on the highway and the canoe started to bounce around a lot.  By the time I made it to the next interchange and got off the highway, the canoe barely stayed on the car.  It was terrifying.  I pulled into a carpool lot and examined the now-slack straps.  For some reason we thought it was a good idea to make an X with two ratch straps connecting it to the roof rack, and that was a bad idea.  There was no support on the left-to-right axis, and instead we needed two straight straps locking the canoe along the roof-rack.  It took us about another 15 freezing minutes, but we managed to figure it all out and get back on the road with a now-concretely secured canoe.

Roof racking: Level 100

We got the Doink (as it has been named) safely home, hoisted the canoe on our shoulders and found it delightfully balanced for portaging, and then celebrated with beer.  Now we know the ins and outs of lashing, and we’ll never be as nervious again (I hope).

Choosing a Tent, Not as Simple as it Seems

Heheh, I’ve got the Twenty Dollar Special, which is a flimsy and yet hilariously full of heart little tent from Canadian Tire.  I haven’t even used it out in the bush, but no doubt it’s terrible.  But it’s good enough to get out of the house for, and it highlights why you need a good tent.

What a beauty!

Camping can be host to a whole galaxy of weather.  Snow, rain, and high winds threaten to give you a miserable nights sleep.  A proper tent can shield you from that.  However, even an expensive tent can get you drenched if it’s not a well-designed one.  This is the result of the condensation which collects in an improperly ventilated tent.  Single wall tents, tents with outer shells (flys) which don’t touch the ground, or no ground tarp can result in dew penetrating the outer hull of you abode!  Which will suck if you have to pack it up wet, and then sleep in it after a long paddle.

So what DO you need in a good tent.  First thing is space.  Never assume the number of people the company SAYS can fit in a tent actually WILL fit in a tent.  Add gear, a pet, maybe a few air molecules, and you’ll find the three people cannot sleep comfortably in a 3-person tent.  Second, make sure the fly goes all the way down to the ground.  This will keep rain off you, and deflect wind in a useful manner without flapping around like a jackass.  Thirdly, make sure it’s easy to set up.  The less poles needed, the less can break, and the easier it’ll be to set up.  I also suggest getting a ‘stand alone’ tent, because some tents don’t have corner pegs and require staking into the ground/rocks for full deployment.  Finally, I’m going to suggest aluminum poles versus fiberglass ones.  They weigh a bit more than fiberglass, but are a million times less likely to crack or break. 

Don’t skimp out on a tent.  Anything under 200$ will probably let you down unless you’ve really done your homework.  Get a good one, and it’ll treat you right!