Each year the outdoor industry pulls back the curtain to showcase more and more "stuff" for us to drool over. The paddling arena, like most of the other adventuring outdoor pursuits, has its own debutante products as well as a welcoming nod to gear that crosses over from other adventuring realms - to lend themselves nicely to purposeful use when kayaking or canoeing.
Here is a sampling of new products that canoers, kayakers, campers alike can consider for adding convenience and/or comfort to a variety of outdoor adventures:
MPOWERD Luci Outdoor Inflatable Solar Lantern It's basically a blow-up, sun-powered, waterproof utility light that can be used anywhere a soft and reliable light may come in handy. This will make a wonderful accessory for tents, cabins, vehicles - even stowed on the deck of a kayak (could be used as an emergency running light if necessary). Two small straps on each end will enable you to loosely attach it onto decks or shelves or suspend it with the light shining up or down. Kayakers will appreciate the deflated size of this lantern that makes for easy storage, and can also be secured on your deck when compress/deflated and still emit light to let fellow paddlers see you at night.
The MPOWERD Luci Outdoor has three settings: a regular brightness; a stronger brightness and a flashing mode - all initiated by depressing the small ON/OFF button between the two solar panels on one end. Weighing 4 ounces, with a diameter of 5" and standing fully inflated at 4.5" Luci Outdoor has ten LED lights providing 65 lumens of light covering a ten square foot area. The solar panels carry a full charge for 8 hours, up to 12 on the lowest (bright) setting.
Inline Robo Handle
Sometimes it's not needing a third hand that will help you get the job done, just one will do - as long as it has a lot more leverage! Whether it's getting a firmer grip on the end of your landing net or perhaps having a firmer hold on your rod as you wrestle in that whopper on the end of your fishing line, a little extra mechanical advantage would be, - quite an advantage!
RoboHandle helps you to work leverage-type tools with far less strain on your forearm. Even if you have Popeye forearms, the RoboHandle offers you a tireless levering advantage, easing the strain on your wrist and giving you more lasting control. Attached to a short-handled landing net, a kayak angler could more easily - and repeatedly - hoist fish out of the water without tiring.
RoboHandle comes in medium (fits 3/4"- 1") and Large (fits 1"- 1.4") sizes. The handle can be attached anywhere along a straight handle and secured with two butterfly clamps. It could even be attached to a short shafted paddle blade for a powerful one-armed paddling aid perhaps to help an angler make short, controllable positioning strokes from a fishing kayak - or a photographers who needs to move ever so slightly.
Brownell's Water Filtration Kit
Purifying water in the wild can involve everything from boiling swamp soup in a tin can to straining the duckweed out of a pond puddle through a sock filled with charcoal and sand. Typically a knowingly resourceful outdoors person has both a sophisticated syphon-pump water purification/filtration system and one of several other "portable" types such as filter-cap water bottles or water purification straws in a carry-along potable water kit.
Besides the mechanical means of making water drinkable are the chemical means: the tablets, drops and special light pens that have their own means of delivering that fatal blow to most all of the tiny critters, the liquid version of "no-see-ums", found in tainted water. It makes sense, then, to carry a small arsenal against bad water with you into the field - or perhaps even stowed at the weekend cabin. Brownell's Essential Water Filtration Kit is such a package.
The kit is stocked with several popular and convenient means of assuring a variety of methods to treat water for consumption, including:
This appears to be a no-nonsense water filtering package that's convenient to carry along and offers a variety of options to assure yourself of healthy water.
That's what Columbia River Knife & Tool calls their version of a Malayan machete. And in that style it's an efficient slicer of pathways through the underbrush. For campers, it can also replace the hatchet for splitting firewood, limbing trees for camp poles, and be an especially effective scythe/sickle-like tool for gathering grasses for bedding and insulation.
It's solidly built, well-balanced for controlled use and it's bomb-proof sheath means it can take the abuse of being tossed in with all the other serious hardware of camp. Except that it's not much good for pounding stakes, it's other uses make it a serious contender as a handy piece of gear for more primitive, self-sufficient types of camping.
Seth McGinn's CanCooker
When was the last time you steamed your dinner - in beer, ginger ale or apple cider? I love to cook, so I had my doubts about the overall taste and quality of an assortment of veggies and meats steamed for 15-30 minutes in a chamber that looked like the top half of a milk can.
This "steamer", a nearly bomb-proof, yet light-weight, one-piece FDA aluminum pot, is to steaming foods as a Dutch oven is to simmering stews and campfire baking. Heavy, riveted handles make carrying and maneuvering the kettle over the heat source easy while strong safety clamps firmly grab hold to the rim of this sturdy, one-pot-meal piece of camp kitchen gear.
Camp cooking needs to be quick and easy. Steaming makes for relatively fast but delicious work of most meats and veggies (even those left in bigger chunks). Adding a healthy sprinkle or cluster of seasonings makes already good-tasting fare even greater - the steam imparting those flavors deep into the food.
Such meals require little prep time (choosing ingredients and then cutting 'em to size). The most critical part of a kettle that relies on steam, of course, is the type and amount of liquid that will produce a constant source of heated vapors. The key is not so much what liquid to use, but more importantly to use the right amount - 12 ounces total, alone or in combination (water and wine?).
The CanCooker comes in a four-gallon and two-gallon size; the smaller one ideal for stowing in a kayak, it's innards used for packing along seasonings; whatever. So far several meals (chicken breasts, brats) with carrots, potatoes, onions, celery, etc. have all surprised me at how fast and easily they cooked - retaining that food's firmness that boiling in water would have turned to mush - and infused with all those added spices.
This CanCooker makes for delicious one-pot meals with minimal prep time - a good choice for any paddler's camp kitchen.
GSI's Pinnacle "Dualist" nFORM Ultralight System
It's name has nearly as many components as does the kit itself. The 1.8 liter, teflon-coated, hard anodized aluminum pot/container holds all that two campers need to prepare a hot meal in camp, on the beach or trail.
You can't frypan cook with this but you can create one-pot meals or boil water. The Dualist has been designed to enable you to carry your small stove, fuel canister, two "foons" (fork/spoon combo), cups with sipping lids - all of which then slips nicely into the pot and sealed with it's lid (which has drain slits along a section of the rim). The snug-fitting case for this petite and concise collection also serves as a flexible bucket for collecting water or for use as a mini-sink for doing dishes.
The compact cook kit is ideal for a micro-cooking option to pack away on even an afternoon outing - taking up little space in your paddle craft of choice.
I clearly do not condone mixing alcohol while directly engaged in an outdoor activity that involves control, awareness and abilities. However, a sip of your favorite outdoor "spirit" as you sit comfortably around the campfire or cabin's fireplace can be one of camping's more soothing and pleasurable moments.
Even those who don't partake may find uses for a reserve of rum or brandy to heighten the flavors in a camp meal. In either case, a small camping flask is a convenient way to enjoy the moment.
Shaped to fit the contours of a pocket, traditional flasks are typically thin, curved and made of metal. The standard size holds 8 ounces of liquid - that's about 6 shots of liquor.
Outdoor Products flask's dimensions vary slightly but hold the same 8 oz.volume. Made out of polyethylene terephthalate , a sturdy, clear, plastic-like material, the wider body, longer neck and bigger mouth of this flask makes it more versatile than just as a recepticle for John Barleycorn and friends.
This larger-mouthed flask can also be used to carry other liquids - sauces or cooking oils perhaps - broadening its versatility as a container for an assortment of flowables. It primary shape, however, still remains best suited for sliding into pockets and pouches for a swift withdrawal and a sip of their contents. Cheers!
Rolling Camping Locker
This huge, heavy-duty fabric duffel bag on wheels is perfectly named - describing it to a "T". Outdoor Products camp "locker" is a 38" x 20" x 14" voluminous pack - 174 liter capacity or over 6 cubic feet of space - and it's on wheels.
That may sound like an unwieldy mass to be dragging from place to place but if you are going camping or paddling and need to transport all your gear from point A to B while in transit, this may be the pack for you.
It features one huge U-shaped opening on top, large exterior zippered pocket and a 2" padded shoulder strap and handle - all requisite accoutrements for such bags. The incorporation of 1-inch wide, 3-inch diameter wheels and 3/4"-wide skid runners along the bottom means you can pull this soft-sided camping trunk behind you - at least over fairly even and firm surfaces. Beach sand, deep forest liter or matted grasses, maybe not so much. Still the ability to pack bulky, odd-shaped gear into one huge page for transport makes the rolling camp locker a handy addition for the gear-ladened traveling adventurer.
So much gear is designed for adventure-specific use, finding those items that cross over into another outdoor arena broadens our ability to ease our workload or make our actions more efficient and downright easier. Having a piece of gear that serves multiple functions in a variety of circumstances means less to carry or paddle as we enjoy the outdoors.
Be safe; have fun out there.
Tom Watson is an avid sea kayaker and freelance writer. For more of Tom's paddling tips and gear reviews go to his website: www.wavetameradventures.com. He has written 2 books, "Kids Gone Paddlin" and "How to Think Like A Survivor" that are available on Amazon.com.
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