One issue I face when going kayak camping or backpacking is how to bring along my camp chair. I have a Kelty Folding Mesh Chair which I love using on camp outs and tailgates, but at 8 lbs and nearly 3 feet tall when packed down it’s not a truly portable camp chair option. Often what I need is something I can easily slide into my kayak’s dry hatch or something that’ll fit into my pack for extended backpacking trips. Sound like something you can relate to? Keep reading.
The Portable Camp Chair Solution
New to ACK, the Helinox Portable Camp Chair is the solution I have been searching for. It’s lightweight, weighs 2 lbs, and packs down to just over a foot tall, something that I can easily slide into my backpack or kayak. It’s strong enough to hold a capacity of up to 320 lbs and comes with it’s own carrying case.
The portability comes in from it’s utilization of break apart aluminum pole technology similar to many tents from the manufacturer DACPole. Not only does this technology make it a great portable camp chair option, but also very easy to assemble. In fact, the chair almost assembles itself with self locating shock cord technology. See for yourself:
The Helinox portable camp chair comes in two different options: tactical and regular. The main differences between the two is that the tactical has a solid fabric with two seat back pockets (and costs a little more) while the regular uses a breathable mesh material. Both versions boast four different color options. I see a blue Helinox Portable Camp Chair joining the rest of my gear back home very soon.
The Portable Camp Table Solution
Helinox didn’t stop with their portable camp chair. You can also now find the Helinox Portable Camp Table at ACK, another solution for those looking to bring a table with them on trips where space is limited. Like the chair, the table packs down to just over a foot tall and weighs less than 1.5 lbs! It features a durable nylon table top and has to drink holders built into the tables surface. No more knocking cups off the table.
For campers looking for lightweight camping gear, Helinox gear is for you. Check them out and be sure to post any comments or questions below. Thanks for reading!
When the snow starts to fall and the water turns solid, what’s a paddler to do? Strap on a pair of snowshoes and take a hike! Snowshoeing is a fun wintertime activity that can be either exhilarating or relaxing (and sometimes both), depending on how you approach it and definitely worth giving a try!
Why Go Snowshoeing?
Snowshoeing is a versatile activity which people choose to take on for different reasons. For some, it’s a way to extend a hiking or running season into the colder months and can be a great workout. For others, it’s a way to keep exploring the outdoors when its usually very peaceful and quiet compared to other times of the year.
One of the best things about snowshoeing is that it’s a very simple activity. It’s not gear heavy and doesn’t have much of a learning curve at all. After all, if you can walk, you can snowshoe. If you’re contemplating going on your first snowshoeing adventure, take a look at my blog post from last year where I share my first experience.
Picking Out The Right Snowshoe
Snowshoes come in different shapes, sizes and materials and picking the right one largely depends on a your weight and the type of snowshoeing you plan on doing.
The first thing you need to determine is how much “float” you need. Float measures a snowshoe’s effectiveness at keeping you on top of the snow by spreading your weight as you walk. The heavier you (and your gear) are, the more float you need. When you don’t have enough flotation, you’ll find yourself sinking more and spending extra energy pulling your feet out of the snow. Manufacturers will list a suggested weight or load capacity so you can determine the best fit for your needs.
Keep in mind that flotation is also going to be effected by snow conditions too. Fluffy dry powder will require that you have more flotation than hard-packed stuff. Sometimes manufacturers will state that a shoe is designed to carry a certain capacity based on snow type. A good way to plan for different snow types is by investing in a flotation tail, which can add float capacity as need.
Traction will be important when considering the type of terrain you will be taking on. Toe or instep crampons are the primary source of traction for every snowshoe. Other common traction devices found in snowshoes are heel crampons, heel lifts, side rails (or traction bars) and braking bars.
As you begin to tackle more mountainous terrain or hard icy conditions, traction becomes more and more important. For those just getting started, I recommend starting with a flat area ideally after a fresh snow. This type of terrain doesn’t require more than basic traction, so you won’t need more than a snowshoe with the basic toe and instep crampon.
As with any winter time activity, snowshoeing requires that you dress warm. The best approach is to layer, usually with at least three layers. Keep in mind that sweat and snow melt will soak into cotton fabrics, so it’s best to avoid clothes made with this type of fabric. Check out our selection of outdoor apparel and keep in mind that you want to aim for the following types of layers:
Base Layer: A moisture wicking base layer that will retain warmth even when wet (like the one you use for paddling).
An Insulating Layer: Go with a fleece that will trap your body heat and still keep the moisture away from you.
Outlet Layer: You’ll want a nice breathable shell to keep you dry and fend off wind.
Footwear is also important. Insulated, waterproof boots are best and surprisingly shoes good for paddling can also be good for snowshoeing, like the NRS Boundary Shoe. Coupling a good pair of hiking boots with gaiters is also a common footwear choice.
The last thing to remember when choosing your apparel is that snowshoeing is a aerobic activity and can actually be quite strenuous compared to a normal hike. As long as you’re moving around, you’ll probably be much warmer than you think!
Give it a try!
At the end of the day, snowshoeing is a very simple activity and the best way to get started is to jump right in. Find a flat, easy trail, strap on your snowshoes and give it a try!
No matter what team you root for, one thing every football fan can agree on is tailgating. Filling up the parking lot outside the stadium with good food, drinks and close friends to celebrate a mutual obsession for your favorite team has become a pregame ritual that is just as much a part of football Sundays as the games themselves. So grab your face-paint and your friends and head on down to the stadium lot, and don’t forget these 5 tailgate essentials…
1. A quality cooler. Whether you’re hauling around meat to grill or just a six pack of your favorite beverage, a cooler is probably the most essential piece of tailgating gear. Keep it simple with a NRS Dura-Soft 6-Pack cooler slung over your shoulder or bring enough for the whole crew with a Yeti Tundra. A good quality cooler is an investment that’ll last the whole season, plus will be something you can use on your next paddle too.
2. Something comfortable to sit on. Almost as important as the cooler is your tailgating chair. You have to be comfortable lounging around in the parking lot before a game! I suggest bringing along a nice folding chair like the Kelty Mesh Folding Chair or one of our portable camp chair options which can get you through your tailgate and also add some comfort to your stadium seat.
3. Defense against the sun. If you end up sun-burned before you even sit down in your stadium seat then you didn’t set yourself up for an enjoyable football experience. A little game-day shade is an important part of any tailgate and we’ve got you covered with several different options to choose from. Not only will most sun shades and shelters protect you from the sun, but they’ll also keep you dry on rainy days so you can keep tailgating no matter what the weather is like.
4. Tunes! There’s nothing that makes a good tailgate quite like playing the right music. Download your team’s fight song or just fill your MP3 Player with your favorite jams to get pumped up before the game, then hook it up to some rugged outdoor speakers to keep it safe from spills, tumbles or from being drowned out by all the other tailgaters. Our line-up of EcoXGear should do the trick!
5. A grill for your meat. You can’t forget the grill, that’s just part of the tailgate. I prefer to keep things simple by bringing along my Primus Grill/Stove combo. I bought it for car camping, but it works great cooking up a package of hot dogs and I don’t have to worry about loading up a full sized grill. However you prefer to do it, don’t forget to bring the grill!
Make sure to bring these five tailgating essentials along with you on your next tailgate! For more ideas on what to bring, visit our tailgating page.
Emergency preparedness is an important aspect of outdoor adventures that often is overlooked or forgotten. What many people don’t realize is that it doesn’t usually take much. Getting a basic kit like the Weekender First Aid Kit and keeping it in your pack or car glove compartment can prepare you for a variety of situations.
Supplies Paired with the Knowledge To Use Them
The Weekender First Aid Kit is intended to keep up to 6 people prepared for up to a week in the field. It doesn’t just offer supplies for emergency situations but also basic instructions on how to use them. It should never replace seeking medical attention, but when you have the Weekender First Aid Kit packed away nearby you can feel confident that you are prepared for the worst.
As with all of the Adventure Medical Kits that are stocked at ACK, the Weekender First Aid Kit is packed full of user friendly features. A basic but important one is that it is very clearly labelled and bright blue. This is especially important if in an emergency someone else has to grab the med kit, you can easily explain what it looks like and they don’t have to spend time searching through bags.
It’s organized into compartments labeled by injury or incident with the necessary supplies and simple instructions.The instructions do a good job of giving a crash course on how to assess a situation, when medical attention is needed and what to do in the mean time. Adventure Medical Kits even go as far as including a patient assessment chart that goes over documenting the details of the scene, subject information, noting vitals, and an evacuation plan. These probably aren’t things that you would slow down and think to use these when in a stressful situation, but they are still good to have.
The Weekender First Aid Kit also includes supplies to treat different injuries plus simple and easy to follow directions on how to identify what the issue is and how best to treat it for ailments such as fractures, sprains, and cuts. Not only that, but it also includes supplies for the one who is treating the patient. Being sanitary when treating others is extremely important and the Weekender First Aid Kit has the essentials like a bio-hazard face shield and gloves.
Don’t Rely On the Kit Alone
The most important part of being prepared, after having a complete first aid kit like the Weekender, is knowing what is inside and how to use it. Familiarize yourself with its contents and keep it easily accessible because there may be a time, whether it’s a matter of survival or cuts and scrapes, where you will be thankful that you were prepared.
The holidays are just about here but I’ve got two last minute gift ideas you don’t want to miss out on. With beautiful craftsmanship and quality materials, Helle Knives and Wetterlings Axes are both gifts that will last a lifetime!
You Can’t Go Wrong With a Helle Knife
Any outdoors man or woman can appreciate a good knife. When it’s a knife that combines stunning looks and functionality, like the ones from the Norwegian company Helle Knives, that’s even better.
Don’t let the aesthetic qualities of Helle Knives deceive you, these knives are not made to be ornaments. With triple laminated stainless steel blades and fine wooden handles, Helle Knives are built to be used, and to last. Each one comes with a soft cleaning cloth and embossed leather sheath so taking care of the blade doesn’t require buying extra pieces.
If a combination of quality and functionality is what you’re after, then you need look no farther than Wetterling Axes. These Swedish axes are made using heavy duty hand forged steel are the highest quality in terms of durability and performance.
What makes Wetterling Axes so great is their strong passion and long history of making them since 1880. Whether its a gift meant for the back country or just chopping firewood outside the house, one of these axes will surely be appreciated.
Written by Austin Assistant Store Manager Bill Newberry
A towel might not be the first thing that comes to mind when listing out favorite paddling accessories, but it is for me. When I hit the water, I almost always have a McNett Microfiber Towel with me.
With fibers smaller than a strand of human hair, these towels are super absorbent, soft and dry faster than normal towels. What makes them great for kayaking is that they are light and compact and they can easily fit into a Fisherman or Chinook PFD, which I like to wear. You might want to think about re-purposing or just leaving the Mesh bag at home, the towel in its mesh bag gets a little too bulky in your PFD pocket.
But the real benefit of the McNett Microfiber Towel is the silver ions they are treated with. These ions allow the towel to stay fresh and odorless longer than a standard towel, making them a necessity for camping or multi-day kayaking trips. They also do a great job doubling as a bandanna or a dew rag to help keep cool and protected from the sun.
Don’t settle for the same old stocking-stuffers! I’ve picked out five goodies that are sure to wow any lover of the outdoors when they dig into their stocking this holiday season!
Remember, if you don’t find what you’re looking for below, there are plenty more stocking stuffers to be found in the ACK 2013 Holiday Gift Guide.
1. Outside Inside Holiday Ornaments
Paddling enthusiasts will love to have one of these Outside Inside Ornaments reflecting their adventures on the water whether it by canoe, kayak or raft. For less than $10, give your favorite paddler a symbol of their favorite pastime to hang wherever they like!
2. LuminAid Inflatable Solar Powered Lantern
The LuminAID Light packs flat, is highly portable, and is water-resistant. Charge it in the sun for 6-7 hours and it’ll deliver up to 16 hours of LED light. It easily inflates using a valve and diffuses light like a lantern. Need I say more? Any paddler would love to have a couple of these floating next to them during their next night paddle, and for only $20, why not?
3. Light My Fire FireSteel Scout Fire Starter
Very popular among survival experts, hunters, fishermen and campers, the FireSteel Portable Fire Starter makes a perfect stocking addition. Easy to use, compact and lightweight, the FireSteel is a fun yet practical gift any outdoors man or woman will surely appreciate. Throw this one into the stocking for just over $10.
4. Adventure Medical Kits SOL Survival Blanket
For $5, ensure a certain outdoor enthusiast is prepared for their next adventure by topping off their stocking with this palm sized SOL Survival Blanket. As the most advanced emergency blanket on the market this blanket will keep you warm when you need it to plus serve as a ground cloth, gear cover and more.
Lights are important for every lover of the outdoors and a goodheadlamp is hard to beat, plus just the right size for a stocking. Whether you’re shopping for someone’s first or gifting them an upgrade (like one that’s waterproof or rechargeable), ACK has a wide range of brands, models and prices to choose from.
6.* Yaktrax Pro Winter Shoe Traction Device
Know someone that could use some help staying on their own two feet when it comes to venturing onto ice & snow? Drop some Yaktrax into their stockings and they’ll be very grateful! These easy to use traction devices slip on and off the bottom of the user’s shoes and provide greater traction whether their walking a few miles or to the mailbox.
*I know I said five, but since only a portion of the country experiences weather that would make #6 useful I figured this one doesn’t completely count
The ACK.com merchandising team is constantly finding and adding new products to the website year-round but as manufacturers prepare for 2014 this is the time of the year when we start to see some very exciting stuff heading our way. With so much awesome gear either in or on it’s way in, I decided to put together a list of top 9 products you should be excited about. Why? Because they are awesome.
9. SuperNova Lighting Kits – Make your ‘yak glow in the dark with these different lighting kits. Intended for anglers but useful for everyone.
Well, my first Boondoggle has come and gone. I will be completely honest with you, I am actually really sad that I have to wait until February to attend the next one. This event shed an entirely different light on how I perceived the kayak fishing community. I had always known that kayak anglers shared a bond and helped each other out, but little did I know that they were some of the most welcoming people I have ever had the pleasure to know.
As Andrew and myself pulled into Perdido Key, Florida late Friday afternoon, we proceeded to the entrance of Big Lagoon State Park to check in and scope out the lay of the land. As we drove closer to the camp grounds, droves of kayaks kept passing by strapped to the roofs of cars, truck beds, and trailers. It was a miniature caravan of plastic awesomeness. We pulled onto the road that lead to our camp site and got to behold a spectacle that I will have a hard time erasing from my memory bank. Every single campsite was packed full of kayaks as far as the eye could see and were chalk full of the latest and greatest kayak fishing accessories you could find. Every type, brand and color of kayak you could ever imagine was present and accounted for. Even some that had been discontinued for nearly 10 years. As we got to our site and started to unpack, we heard the first Boondoggle chant, and little did we know that it would be echoing through the camp grounds all weekend as each excited kayak angler wanted every one to know just how elated they were to be at the event. A single person would scream out, “BOOOOOONDOGGLE!”, and everyone followed suit shortly thereafter. We had not even set our tents up and we had already hollered our response nearly a half dozen different times. Never once did we feel silly. If anything, we felt as if it were a right of passage. With camp completely set up, we got the kayaks loaded on top of our car and made a b-line for the beach since the offshore conditions were supposed to be about as perfect as you could imagine for some offshore kayak fishing.
When we got the kayaks unloaded and down on the sand, we really had to sit back and soak in what we were seeing. Being from Texas, it is a rare event that I see water so blue that it resembles a clear summer sky nor white powder sand that rivals cake flour in texture. To sum up what we thought in one word as to how to describe the sight….”heaven”. We launched our kayaks and quickly paddled out to about 30 feet of water to try and sabiki up some live bait so that we could start trolling. I managed to bring up a few cigar minnows and we quickly put them on our lines and began to paddle around in search of our quarry, the speedy king mackerel. The conditions were so beautiful that we easily found ourselves lost in just the sheer serenity of the open calm ocean. We also forgot to take into consideration how fast the sun was setting, so once we snapped out of our trance we decided to paddle back towards the shore. We got within 3/4 of a mile from the beach when my bait got slammed. I got the rod out of the holder, engaged the drag, and reeled down to the fish. The fight was short due to a pulled hook.
Andrew sat and watched the event unfold since this was his first true offshore kayak fishing experience. Out of no where, his reel starts screaming shortly after mine. He goes through the same process and locks down on a solid king. I got my rod stowed away and proceeded over to assist him with the catch. He was grinning from ear to ear, but you could tell it was all business with him. He wrestled the fish boat side when I leaned in for the tail grab. With his first ever kayak caught king mackerel in hand, he could now show his excitement. “I can’t believe how fast my line was disappearing off my reel,” he would proclaim several times on our paddle in. I have been doing offshore kayak fishing for nearly 10 years and it never gets old watching someone get a rush from their first big fish caught from a kayak. We got back to the sand, took the customary photos, loaded the kayaks back onto the car, and headed back to the camp grounds so as to make it to the meet and greet that night.
As we arrived at the pavilion, we were amazed by the tremendous number of people that we starting to pour in. As we began to meet everyone, it was amazing to hear just how far some people drove to be at this event. If my memory serves me correct, I could have swore that I met someone who said they had made the trip all the way down from Alaska! Now THAT is some dedication. As the meet and greet ended, we made our way back to the camp site to cook dinner over an open fire and crack open a few adult beverages. While sitting in our chairs and soaking in our surroundings, people began to stop by our camp and hang out with us. We’d chit chat for a while, exchange some fishing stories, and then it typically ended with our new friends inviting us over to their camp sites for some good food or an invite was extended to fish the next morning as a group. After a while, we heard some people chatting a few sites down from us and little did we know that our friend Thomas from Diablo Paddlesports had made the journey down to Florida from Texas as well. We hung out for a few hours and exhaustion hit us like a ton of bricks. A short stroll back to our tents and then it was lights out for the night.
We woke up the next morning later than planned and took a walk to scope out the area where we were going to set up our booth. After locating our spot, we gathered our materials and set up shop right next to the kind folks who run www.yangler.com. People started to pour into the vendor area and we were off to meeting new people all over again. Twelve o’clock rolled around and it was time for our seminar, which was titled Offshore Kayak Fishing 101. Roughly 30 eager kayak fishermen found their way into the pavilion to listen to us speak on topics such as ideal kayaks for offshore fishing, basic gear, safety equipment, and fish targeting techniques. Once the seminar was over, we made our way back down to the booth to finish out the day. That night, Andrew and I decided to take the kayaks out for a little night fishing. There was little tide movement making for a tough bite. We managed one measly trout for our efforts and headed back to camp. The next morning we would try our luck offshore again.
The fishing the next morning ended up tough as well with Andrew landing another solid king and me losing another one. There seems to be a pattern here, wouldn’t you say? When we got back to our booth after our brisk 12 miles paddle, we got a chance to catch up with some of the guys who put on the Boondoggle. Mark Watanabe of YakAngler.com sat down and gave us the back story of how the Boondoggle came to be and just how much it has grown in size, attendance-wise, since it’s inception 3 years ago. We also got to shoot the breeze with Chip Gibson, the owner of www.kayakfishingradio.com, who invited us over to his camp site that night for a pot luck dinner. We were lured in by the promises of fresh venison and shrimp called ruby reds, which I found out were caught in about 800 feet of water! The night was spent just hanging out with our fellow kayak fishermen and swapping fishing stories from the previous 2 days with all who showed up. Nothing like good food and amazing company to make for an entertaining and awesome evening. As we walked back to our camp, we would make several pit stops into various campers sites, just to say our goodbyes and exchange handshakes. Sleep came easy that night on a full stomach.
As we woke up the next morning to break camp, we were greeted by the same chants as the first night being yelled across the camp grounds. I guess the term Boondoggle can be taken several ways at this event. Not just as the name of the event, it potentially could be used as a greeting, as a way of describing a particular feeling, and as a parting phrase to your fellow kayak fishing brethren. I am beyond excited I got to attend this event, and have already made plans for the next one that is coming up in February. If I could ever recommend a family style event for kayak anglers of ALL experience levels, the Boondoggle is the one I would encourage you to attend. Until next time, “BOOOOOOOOONDOGGLE!”
After four consecutive weekends of ACK events this month, I’ve gotten my fair share of sun. It’s been a lot of fun, but the bad news is that I haven’t done my best to consider sun protection while I’ve been out there. It wasn’t until a visit to my grandfather’s house prompted me to reconsider my way of thinking.
I had just spent the day working at the Texas Ski Ranch for our San Marcos Demo Days and decided to pop in to say hi to my grandfather who lived nearby. We caught up and watched some football and eventually he commented on the sun burn I had gotten that day. I told him I had put on sunscreen but still managed to get a little burnt, no big deal. He proceeded to tell me about how he’d recently been fighting with skin cancer, brought on by some carelessness to protect his skin when he was younger and spending a lot of time outside just like me. He gave me a info sheet he had gotten from the doctor and that was the end of the conversation.
What the info sheet had on it and what he told me wasn’t anything new. I knew sunburns were bad and could lead to long term skin problems, but for some reason it’s an easy danger to dismiss. It’s also an easy danger to beat, and next weekend when I was out at the National Hunting and Fishing Day I took some extra precautions for the sake of protecting my skin. Just 3 simple steps to protect myself from the sun that’s easy for anyone to follow.
Step 1: Keep Sun Protection in Mind When Planning
Start protecting yourself from the sun before you even get going. When you plan an outdoor adventure, consider the time of day you’re going out. UV rays are strongest when the sun is directly overhead (usually between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM) and during the summer months. If you’re going out during these times, be extra conscious of protecting your skin! On the other hand, you probably don’t have much to worry about if you’re going out for a night paddle.
Also, don’t let the weather fool you. Fall often means more overcast days, but a cloudy sky doesn’t mean you shouldn’t worry about the sun. UV rays can penetrate cloud coverage and sometimes even reflect off of a patchwork of clouds to result in more rays on the ground. Even on cloudy days, you need to prepare yourself with proper sun protection.
Step 2: Cover Up What You Can
Protecting your skin involves covering it up. No, this doesn’t mean that you need to be covered head to toe, but covering up in a comfortable and responsible manner is important.
Something for your head is a must have – I don’t know about you, but when I try to apply sunscreen to my scalp, my hair usually gets in the way. The problem is that hair usually isn’t enough to protect your noggin from the sun and an easy and effective way to compensate for this by putting on a hat. Ideally, your hat should be wide brimmed giving 360 degree coverage to your whole head, neck and face. A popular option to do this are the sun hats from Outdoor Research, including the Seattle Sombrero which is perfect for colder Fall weather because of its GORE-TEX fabric crown. Buffs are a popular alternative to hats and come in a wide selection of styles that can cover your entire face. In the end, it’s a personal preference whether you prefer wearing a buff versus a hat, or both like Jeremy choose to do in the picture.
In addition to covering your face, it’s a good idea to wear clothing that offers sun protection as well. Find long sleeve shirts or pants that offers a UV Protection Rating (UPF) that are loose fitting and comfortable so they don’t interfere with your adventuring, like our apparel from Columbia. Gloves, closed toe shoes, sunglasses and other apparel accessories are there if you want to go completely covered, but remember you can always use sunscreen to take care of anything not covered up. In colder weather, you’ll probably want to wear clothing that provides extra coverage to keep warm anyways!
Step 3: Use Sunscreen – and More Than Once
For anything not covered, bring a tube of sunscreen and keep it with you. Aim for one that has a SPF rating of 15 or greater and if you’re planning on participating in some water sports make sure you get a brand that’s waterproof! When applying, cover everywhere from your ears to your toes – easy to forget spots like these are often the first places to get burnt.
Finally, it’s important to remember is that you need to apply more than once if you stay out for an extended period. Unfortunately, there’s no hard and fast rule for how often you need to re-apply as factors like the SPF rating, weather conditions and even your propensity to burn play a factor in how often you need a new layer. When participating in activities where I’m not heavily perspiring or constantly getting wet, I’ve found that it’s best to re-apply every 3-4 hours. Even if you are using a waterproof brand of sunscreen, water sport activities require more frequent re-application of sunscreen, approximately every hour and a half.
Remember Sun Protection on Your Next Outdoor Adventure
Don’t let the sun keep you from adventuring, but remember to take the appropriate steps to be protected. Even if you don’t see direct results of it now, improper steps to keeping your skin healthy can lead to long term problems in the future. It’s best to just be safe!
So how do you protect yourself from the sun? Do you have a favorite brand of sun screen or wear a buff to cover your face? Comment below and let me know!