A Little Winter Goes A Long Way

 Written by By Owl Jones from www.fishlicker.com

It’s not that I don’t like winter. There’s something special about that first light snow, or the way
the birds come alive on a warming trend after a few bitterly cold days – when they know they’d better
find food and water before the season’s icy grip returns. I like Christmas and New Year’s Eve and
although I’ve never had the chance to do it, snowboarding always seemed like it might be fun. Winter is great. I really like winter – for about four weeks. Continue reading A Little Winter Goes A Long Way

How To Properly Transport Your SUP

Although, at first glance stand up paddle boards look easy to transport, their long and flat shape actually makes them act like wings.

On top of that you have to be careful not to damage their surface. If you’re driving a pickup a van or vehicle big enough to safely transport the board inside, the only thing I’d recommend is getting a padded board bag that will save both your board and your vehicle some wear and tear.

Most people need to transport their SUP on top of their vehicle and if that’s what you need to do there are few things to consider:

Always transport your SUP flat on the roof with the fins facing up, if the board is on edge it will act like a huge sail when you are driving which could cause you to lose control.

Even with your board flat on the roof you have to appreciate it’s going to act like a wing as the air rises up the windshield and hits the underside. Continue reading How To Properly Transport Your SUP

5 Essentials of Climbing

Guest blog written by Samarth Vasisht.

Rock Climbing Hammocks

Climbing is an awesome way to have fun while staying in shape. One of the best things about climbing is that anyone, no matter body type, size, or age has unique strengths and weaknesses that make almost any crag possible to scale. There are many times where I have been quickly humbled by a 6-7 year old kid on the wall and it reminds me that relative to a lot of other sports, climbing is less about strength and more about balance and technique. Although training and working on overall strength will help out a lot, that is something that can come from climbing and exercise over time. Not to mention there are a ton of unique places to hammock when you’re up their chasing those views! Continue reading 5 Essentials of Climbing

Grip and Grin: Secret Trophy

 Guest Blog by Ben Duchesney @ Kayak Angler Mag

A N0-Name Lake Turns Into The New Spot After A Giant Largemouth.

“With spring time bass fishing in full swing, I was a little discouraged this year,” said David Tassos, “because of the rising commitments at work and the worst – my favorite bass honey hole was now protected by 3 gated communities surrounding it on all sides. For the last 6 months I had been searching far and wide for what I hoped would be that next ‘secret spot.’ I had located a no-David Tassos Bass body 1name lake that I was certain didn’t see much pressure and I began doing scouting trips randomly throughout the winter and early spring.

The Turning Point

Several small bass were caught but nothing that made me certain that this lake held the lunkers that I was hunting. Last week after an attempted (and failed) shot at fishing our old lake, my friend Matt and I again hit ‘The Lake’ that was only giving up 1-2 pounders. After four hours of paddling around and only a couple small bites, we were headed back to the truck. Continue reading Grip and Grin: Secret Trophy

How To Wash Your Eno Hammock

Guest Blog by the Eno Hammock Team

Life happens to hammocks. Mud, coffee and trail mix can most likely be found on or in many hammocks after a full season of hanging around in them. Don’t fret too much though, it’s easy to keep your Eno Hammock clean and fresh throughout it’s lifetime.

The nature of the parachute nylon is fairly dirt resistant to begin with, but it’s always good to spot clean extra dirty spots along the way. Sometimes, it’s nice to revert your hammock back into a flawless, soft, breezy oasis.

Eno hammock carabinerStep 1. Remove Carabiners.

Make sure you don’t wash the carabiners! Remove them from your Eno Hammock and set them to the side. Be sure to keep track of them so when your hammock is clean and dry you can get right back to hammocking!

Step 2. Gentle Detergent.

Add just a little dose of a gentle detergent. Wash your hammock alone, with nothing else in the machine. This will get it the cleanest. Do not add fabric softeners or any additional cleaning agents. Wash on cold!!

Step 3: Line Dry.

It’s best to do this chore on a sunny breezy day. That way you can line dry your Eno Hammock outside. Regarless if you do it indoors or out, air drying is what we recommend. When drying outside in the fresh air, it won’t take longer than thirty minutes for your hammock to completely dry.

Step 4: Get In Your Hammock.

Hopefully it doesn't stay clean for long!
Hopefully it doesn’t stay clean for long!

Re-attach your carabiners and get outside…once it’s clean, it’s time to get your Eno Hammock dirty again! :)

 

 

 

How to Choose the Perfect Whitewater or Touring Kayak Paddle

by Danny Mongno, Werner Paddles Marketing Manager

Werner Kayak PaddlesSelecting the perfect kayak paddle is probably the most important decision you will make as a boater. That’s because the paddle is your engine, your tool to transfer energy to the water. Choosing the proper blade shape will allow you to perform at the highest level for your style of boating, and understanding how to get the perfect fit will allow you to be more comfortable, use less energy and spend more time on the water. Although it is such an important decision, it does not have to be hard.

First of all, for either whitewater or touring paddles there are some common choices that you’ll need to make. Let’s go over them now:

Shaft options
The benefits of a straight shaft kayak paddle is that it has a familiar feel; most of us have used a straight shaft at some time and it’s what we are used to. Other benefits are lighter weight and less of an investment. If good technique is used and a paddler can hold on loosely to the paddle, focusing on grasping the shaft with the “O-Kay” symbol all day, pain-free paddling can be obtained.

Whitewater Kayak PaddleFor those who have developed some aches and pains in their hands and wrists, and for those who generally hold on too tightly to their paddle (and let’s face it, we all do when we get nervous), a neutral bent shaft kayak paddle becomes an insurance policy for your body. By always keeping the wrists in an ergonomically correct straight alignment, less pressure is put on the small tendons and ligaments of the wrist and pain is avoided. Although more of an investment, it can make all the difference for spending more time on the water. The concept of neutral bent allows for a smooth transition from your old kayak paddle, as your hand position is familiar and exactly the same as it was on your straight shaft.  The only thing that changes is that your wrists remain straight while paddling.

Shaft diameter and blade size
Both of these options are really common sense and easily determined by your body size. Folks with smaller hands and smaller bodies, should look towards the smaller diameter shaft for a more relaxed grip and a small or medium blade surface area to put less stress and strain on the body. Larger boaters, generally with larger hands, prefer the standard diameter shaft and a medium to full sized blade area, depending on their fitness level.  Remember, a kayak paddle with a bigger blade is not always going to make us more powerful, especially if we are just working too hard to move that extra size through the water. If your hand is larger than 7 inches from the base of your palm to your fingertip, you will want the standard shaft. If the length is smaller than 6.5 inches, you should use the small diameter shaft. In between, you can go either way.

Spend as much as you can afford on your kayak paddle material
Touring Kayak PaddleAs I said early on, the paddle is your engine. You will use less energy on the water, run more drops, surf more waves, paddle further and perform better if you are less tired. A paddle that is lighter to move through the stroke path, referred to as the paddle’s “swing weight,” will allow you to feel fresher as the miles and hours wear on. A kayak paddle with a stiffer material will flex less, causing less water to “escape” from the blade face and for you to use less energy in your stroke to create more motion.

Kayak paddles with higher end materials like Performance Core provide more buoyancy in the blades, which helps you brace with more confidence and roll more easily, even in the most aerated water. Sure, paddles wear over time, but so does your boat, your automobile or mountain bike tires, your tools. However, think of the performance advantages you are getting while on the water. Is your paddling enjoyment worth the investment? Well, I think that sums up how to decide what to spend…how much do you value your time on the water; how far do you want to stretch your skills?

Now, let’s take a few simple steps toward fitting you with the perfect whitewater or touring kayak paddle:

Choosing a Whitewater Kayak Paddle:

Choose the shape of your blade  based on the style of paddling you are doing.

river running kayak paddle1. River running or creek boating:

As we paddle downstream we are faced with many features: holes, waves, eddies, ledges both small and large (i.e. waterfalls). To navigate your way through these obstacles your forward stroke will be far and away the most valuable tool. A river running kayak paddle will have a larger portion of the blade shape at the upper tip, or a focus above the center line of the kayak paddle. This oversized tip allows paddlers to reach the water sooner and get instant bite at the most important part of the forward stroke, the catch. For those paddlers looking  primarily to run rivers or steeper creeks, this is your best choice.

play boating kayak paddle2. Play boating:

As the sport of whitewater kayaking has grown over the years the ways we “play” the river has expanded. For some the feeling of front surfing a glassy wave is what provides that all-day smile while others need to notify the local air traffic controller before they start their aerial assault on the river. No matter what your idea of play boating is, the proper shaped blade will help your performance. By down turning or “drooping” a play boat blade shape, with more focus of the blade surface area below the center line, the kayak paddle will engage the water sooner, allowing paddlers to perform play boat control stokes with greater ease.

3. What if you can’t decide?

If just getting to the river and enjoying your time on the water with your family and friends is your ultimate goal, with no set agenda, we say play the percentages.  What do see yourself doing the most out there? Then buy the blade that works best for that application. Remember, the proper blade shape is going to offer you maximum performance in your discipline, but that is not to say you can’t “cross train”.

Length options

Now that you have the proper blade shape for your paddling style, let’s be sure you have the perfect fit. The perfect fitting kayak paddle will assure comfort and better paddling efficiency.

1. River running kayak paddles will always be longer, again due to the importance of the “catch”. The catch is where the blade first enters the water, where you have the most energy in your stroke. So if your paddle has some extra length you will have more “catch length” and take fewer, more powerful strokes. Generally speaking, short people use 194 cm, medium people 197 cm, tall 200 cm.

2. Play boating kayak paddles tend to be shorter, as you will need to perform more dynamic paddle strokes when performing play boat maneuvers. You will also need to take much faster, higher cadence strokes as you attain upstream to catch waves or drop into holes. For a general rule of thumb, short people should look to a 191 cm, medium at 194 cm and those long folks 197 cm.

Choosing a Touring Kayak Paddle:

Angled Paddling

Choose the shape of your blade based on the style of paddling you are doing.

low angle kayak paddle1. Low angle = “more options”:

Most people enjoy the low angle style of paddling. Low angle paddles have longer and narrower blades designed to pull through each stroke with the right amount of surface area for good power while maintaining a smooth forward stroke. The low angle stroke puts your hands at about shoulder height, is more relaxed and puts significantly less pressure on your upper body, arms and shoulders.

high angle kayak paddle2. High angle = “more commitment to technique but far better tracking”:

This is typically a more aggressive style of paddling with a faster cadence and a larger variety of strokes being used on each paddle outing. By focusing on keeping your top hand about forehead height as you take your stroke you will notice the blade travels closer to the kayak. With the blade traveling in this path your boat will track significantly better and go straighter. Werner’s wider, shorter blade shape puts more surface area of the blade into the water in this position. This does place more emphasis on proper torso rotation since more pressure can be put on your shoulders in this higher angle paddling style. The commitment is worth it though for those looking to take their paddling to a higher performance level in longer, sleeker, light touring and touring kayaks.

3. What if you can’t decide?

What do see yourself doing the most out there?  Look at the boat you’re paddling and your goals in the sport and then buy the blade that works best for that application. Remember, the proper blade shape is going to offer you maximum performance in your discipline.

Length Options

Now that you have the proper blade shape for your paddling style, let’s be sure you have the perfect fit. The perfect fitting paddle will assure comfort and paddling efficiency.

1. Low angle kayak paddle

Here are some easy to follow rules:

  • 6 ft or under, use 220 cm.
  • 6’1″ and over, use 230 cm.
  • If you kayak is over 28″ wide, add 10 cm to the length of the paddle, after you choose based on your height.

2. High angle kayak paddle

Here are some easy to follow rules:

  • 6 ft and under, use 210 cm.
  • 6’1″ and over, use 215 cm.
  • Kayak width general does not come into play since most high-angle paddlers are in more narrow light touring and touring kayaks.

If you have questions about boating styles or kayak paddle choices, give the folks at ACK a call, 888-828-3828, or email at customer@austinkayak.com.

Happy paddling!

 

Travel Safe: How To Protect Your Bags and Belongings While Traveling

Travel SafeIf you strategize for travel safety—and plan ahead—you can avoid becoming a victim of theft on the road. Keep these eight tips as you start packing up for your next getaway.

From Eagle Creek Blogger Jessica Festa

When traveling and exploring unfamiliar territory, your belongings become more vulnerable to being lost or stolen. That said, you don’t need to travel in fear: there are tactics you can employ to keep your things safe. To help you plan a strategy, here are Eagle Creek’s top suggestions.

1.  Leave Unnecessary Valuables at Home

If you can’t bear the thought of losing something, leave it at home. Of course, there are some things you may need to bring like your camera or cell phone for emergencies; however, do you really need to bring your high-end wristwatch, costume jewelry, laptop, tablet and your smartphone? Pack light, especially when it comes to valuables.

2.  Invest in Concealed Accessories

Instead of putting valuables in outer pockets and backpack pockets where they can be easily stolen, invest in accessories that allow you to keep your important items on the inside of your clothing and inside secret pouches.

ACK offers three different concealed accessories to help you travel safe. The Undercover Neck Wallet can be worn around your neck and tucked into your shirt. The Undercover Money Belt and the Undercover Hidden Pocket are two other options for keeping your valuables out of sight.

3.  Lock Up and Stay Alert in Crowds

Instead of just leaving your suitcase vulnerable to intruders, keep it locked up using a Signal Search TSA Lock or Mini-Key TSA Lock. This type of lock allows you to see when your belongings have been opened by TSA. You can also use one of these locks to secure purses and day bags to make it more difficult to get into your possessions both on the street and in the hotel. If you stay alert and are confident, you’ll avoid looking like a target.

4.  Don’t Let Your Guard Down In The Hotel

It’s easy to let your guard down once you’re off the city streets and back in your comfortable hotel room. Don’t. It doesn’t matter if you’re staying in a hostel or 5-star hotel, you need to be mindful of your belongings in order to travel safe. Lock up valuables, keep luggage closed and secure and, if you don’t need your room cleaned every single day, hang the Do Not Disturb sign on the door to keep cleaning staff out of the room when you’re out exploring the city.

5.  Keep A Clear Head

While it may be tempting to sample every beer on the menu at the local bar when traveling, it’s not wise. When drinking, sip slowly and alternate with water to keep from becoming intoxicated — and putting yourself in a vulnerable position. Some thieves specifically target travelers they see leaving popular bars and coffeeshops as they make easy targets. The more clearly you can think, the more aware you will be or your surroundings and better equipped to handle potentially dangerous situations.

6.  Trust Your Gut

If something seems too good to be true or a situation just doesn’t feel right, trust your gut. Get in the habit of always taking your hotel’s business card and putting it immediately into your wallet. Late at night—or if you need to leave the scene quickly to avoid trouble—you’ll be able to hand the card to the driver, and know that he’ll be able to get you back to safety. You won’t have to remember addresses and directions or deal with language barriers.

7.  Be Mindful of Scams

There are some truly outrageous scams out there aimed at robbing tourists, so ask your hotel or travel agent which ones you should be aware of when you are touring around at your destination. One rule of thumb is to be wary of anyone trying to be overly helpful — helping you with your bags, wiping dirt from your shoulder, touching you in a flirty manner — as they may just want access to your pockets. In general, keep your bag closed tightly and close to your body.

8.  Stay Organized

The more organized you keep your luggage, the less likely you are to lose track of your valuables. Use Pack-It Specter Cubes  to save luggage space and keep clothing separated. Additionally, Pack-It Sacs can secure your important documents, credit cards, passport, money and receipts.

Jessica Festa, a New York native, is a world traveler who is always looking for a new adventure. She stays active through hiking, cycling, and dance and loves nothing more than her backpack. Follow her travels around the world at Jessie on a Journey and at Epicure & Culture.  

8 Ways to be a Backcountry Chef

From Eno Team Member, Carolyn Ellison

With Spring in the air, our weekends will soon be filled with hammocking, camping, playing in rivers and then when we’re all done…we’ll be hungry. Cooking–or eating rather–is personally one of my favorite times of camping trips. You just can’t get that campfire taste at home. There is an art to cooking out in the middle of nowhere however. Read on to explore these tips on how to become a backcountry chef!

Can It1. Can It

Depending on what kind of camping you’re doing, try to minimize the amount of space your kitchen-on-the-go takes up. For example, if you’re doing car camping, opt for canned goods instead of taking up up valuable real estate in your cooler.

Chop it2. Chop At Home

Try to minimize the amount of work you have to do on site by preparing as much as possible at home. Does your recipe call for onion? Then before you head into the woods, chop the necessary amount at home. So peel, mince, dice and pack it up!

SOG Multitool3. Simplify Your Tools

If you think you’re a star in the kitchen, you probably have an affinity for kitchen gadgets and toys. However try to resist the urge to haul all these out into the wilderness with you. By the time you’re breathing the fresh air and the smell of campfire hits your nostrils–your resourceful instincts will kick in and you’ll be totally content with just using a multi-tool.

make a plan4. Make A Plan

Plan your menu! And as you are planning it, keep in mind the environment you’ll be cooking in. In other words, research recipes that are suited for cooking on a campfire or camp-stove. Camping recipes have already considered the elements that you’ll be cheffing it up in. This will aid you in an easier–but just as tastier–cooking experience. You can always try out a dehydrated meal too!

time5. Time Is Of The Essence

As a backcountry chef, remember that 10 minute dinners are awesome too. Keep in mind some short and super easy meals for multiple day trips. You don’t want to get back to camp after an active day playing in the woods for ten hours and return to camp hungry with multiple hours of prep, cooking, and waiting for that intricate recipe you had planned.

spice6. Spice It Up

You can still spice it up in the woods. Just because you’re camping doesn’t mean you have to leave the salt, pepper, and olive oil at home. These items somehow taste better miles away from civilization. But you don’t need to lug them out in their original packaging. Bring along portable containers and if all the spices are going to get mixed together anyways, go ahead and blend them at home and throw them in the same container.

pan7. One Is All You Need

Laziness is easily translated to efficient-ness when cooking as a backcountry chef. Don’t be afraid to mix up the recipes and modify them to one pot shots. No one likes to clean, especially in the dark in the woods. Make it easy and get to marshmallows and guitars sooner than later.

bears8. Don’t Feed The Bears

Clean up and put it all away. This is important. Unless you’re camping someplace where you have no threat of wildlife, it is crucial you properly clean and store your food and food items before you turn in. Try to camp close to a creek or river so you can wash your pots and utensils. Put all food and things that still smell like food in a bear bag and go properly hang it up. There’s no way to ruin a trip faster then to have an unexpected run in with a hungry bear.

How LuminAid Got Started

From the founders of LuminAid, Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta. The two share an interest in solar lighting technology and a common belief that design and design thinking can be used to solve problems at a global scale, including improving access to basic resources such as lighting and power. 

LuminAID co-founders Andrea and Anna with an early, homemade prototype
LuminAID co-founders Andrea and Anna with an early, homemade prototype

The LuminAID solar light was designed to fulfill the basic need for light in post-natural disaster situations shortly after the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti.  When thinking about what we could design to make a difference, we decided to focus on affordable, renewable light because it had the potential to greatly improve the comfort, safety, and survival of disaster victims.

While on a school trip to Japan, we unexpectedly found ourselves in the middle of the earthquake in March 2011. Having experienced first-hand how a disaster can negatively impact the lives of millions, we are motivated to make the LuminAID light a reality for those affected by disasters, crises, and conflict.

Our Patent Pending Solar-Inflatable Technology

The solar-inflatable technology developed by LuminAID Lab is patent pending both in the US and internationally through multiple filings that cover a broad range of applications and uses. The LuminAID light is our first application of this technology. The product packs flat and inflates to diffuse the light like a lantern and reduce the glare of the extra bright LEDs. For every 8 small conventional flashlights by volume, you can pack and ship approximately 50 LuminAID Lights. The inflatable material is also printable with patterns and logos.

LuminAid Technology

The LuminAID and Humanitarian Relief Aid

LuminAID’s goal is to make portable lighting a part of the supplies commonly sent as part of disaster relief aid. In addition to food, water, and shelter, light can greatly add to the well-being of victims of a natural disaster or crisis. Renewable lighting can aid those in situations where batteries are scarce and the electricity grid is disabled both immediately after a disaster and over an extended period of time. Over the past year, our company has put lights on the ground in the wake of disasters such as Hurricane Isaac in Haiti and Hurricane Sandy.

Popularity Among Outdoor Enthusiasts

LuminAidWhile designed for disaster relief, our product has quickly grown in popularity among outdoor enthusiasts for its innovative design (it even made National Geographic’s 2013 Gear of the Year list). After being charged in the sun for six hours, the LED light provides up to 16 hours of light — a feature that not only makes it more eco-friendly but essential in emergency situations when batteries are hard to find. Due to its inflatable design, it also provides diffused light like a lantern so it can be used to illuminate a room or tent. Moreover, since disasters often involve water, it is waterproof and able to float – a great feature for paddlers!

You can find specs and purchase the LuminAid here.

Fitting Railblaza To The Old Town Predator 13 & Ocean Kayak Big Game II Mounting Plates

From the Railblaza Team

Railblaza sponsored UK angler Ian Pickering (Ocean Kayak UK Fishing Team) has been putting his thinking cap on and applying a little DIY to make use of his Railblaza accessories on the Old Town Predator 13 fishing kayak. The Predator 13 comes with mount plates fitted to the gunnels, which allow the mounting of accessories without the drilling of holes into the kayak. Ian has used these plates to recess mount the Railblaza StarPort. Here’s what he had to say:

The mounting plates fitted to the Old Town Predator and Ocean Kayak Big Game II are a fantastic idea. No holes to be drilled in the kayak and you can change your mind as often as you like without worry. I’ve started off by fitting a star port to the left hand forward plate. If I change my mind I could rotate the plate 180 degrees to move it further forward or even swap it with another position.Very versatile.