One of the best parts about meeting up with a group of fellow paddlers is gaining some extra tips and tricks. Whether it's a kayaker using IKEA shopping bags for gear storage or a solo canoeist who prefers a double bladed paddle. They're all great little bits of knowledge. Listed below are a few descriptions of my favorites with associated videos posted above:
Packing an Umbrella
A dollar store umbrella can add so much to a trip. First, I attach an umbrella holder to the gunwale of the canoe. It provides a perfect shady spot for my dog to sit under while I paddle across a big lake on a sunny day. I also attach the umbrella to the side of my portage pack. It helps keep me dry during a downpour. But the best use for the umbrella is a sail rig. Works perfect
Duct Tape vs Deer flies
Deerflies hunt in packs and are well known for patiently "buzzing" around your head until they find a safe place to land. Shinny objects attract them, which is why the shimmer of wet skin on swimmers draws them in for miles around. That can be their downfall as well, however. One of the best ways to fight back is to place a folded piece of Duct tape (sticky side exposed) on your hat. They'll be attracted to the shine of the tape, the glued surface becomes their tomb, and you can feel justified by counting how many you've killed at the end of the day.
Save Money, Steal Olive Barrels
Rather then buy those blue pack barrels at the outdoor store, pick up smaller surplus olive barrels by visiting any place that buys olives in bulk (ie. large-chain grocery stores, delicatessens, or restaurants). Either ask for them or wait until garbage day and pick them out of their recycle bin. Two of them, resting side by side in a regular canoe pack, works' well. I also place my sleeping pad between the barrels and my back for more comfort. They have a screw-on top with a rubber washer, making the container waterproof. But the opening is a little too tight for my liking.
Taking Eggs Canoe Camping
One of the best places to store eggs is in a Styrofoam carton, Duct taped firmly under the canoe seat. I've never had one break. Just make sure to pack it with all the other food at night. If not, a raccoon might come along and steal your eggs.
Tent Stuffers vs Rollers
There's the "rollers" and then there's the "stuffers." The rollers painstakingly lay out the tent, fold it in thirds, place the poles at one end, and then roll everything up in a cigar shape. The difficulty always remains in getting the darn thing to fit in the storage bag. To eliminate the hassle, use a larger size bag and then compact it by wrapping bungee cords around it. Or you could convert to stuffing it. Simply open up the storage bag and start stuffing everything in. Hard core campers even have two separate compression sacks; one for the main tent and another for the fly. It's not a bad idea separating the two, considering the tent fly is always wetter than the tent body.
Avoid Scratching Your Paint Job
The problem with tying your bow down to the front of your vehicle is that the ropes rub on the hood of your car and ruin the paint job. I've seen paddlers use pool noodles. But they look silly. A much simpler solution is a hood loop. The loop is made of a foot-long piece of strapping. You need two - one for each side of the vehicle. A hole is made at both ends of the strap, and the strap is then folded in half. Find the two existing frame bolts, located under both sides of the hood. Run the bolt through the holes in the folded strap. The loop strap then hangs out from under the hood and you tie two ropes off from the bow of the canoe to both sides of the hood. When you're not using the hood loops you tuck them under the hood, out of sight. Problem solved.
Kevin Callan is the author of 15 books including "The New Trailside Cookbook" and "The Happy Camper." A regular keynote speaker at major North American canoeing and camping expos for over 20 years, he has received three National Magazine Awards and four film awards, including top award at the prestigious Waterwalker Film Festival. Callan lives in Peterborough, Ontario, birthplace of the modern-day canoe.
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