Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tricks of the trade

In all our years of camping, backpacking, and canoeing we've accumulated a fair amount of gear. Brian has been going to the Boundary Waters for 20 years, interned at Isle Royale National Park, and worked at Voyageurs National Park. I've been camping since I was 6 months old. My parents had horses and I have photographic proof of being bathed in a horse bucket at their campsite. Each piece of equipment we use holds many memories. I don't have the horse bucket anymore but I do still have my first pair of hiking boots that I bought for my horsepacking trip to Wyoming when I was 14. Whenever I lace up my Timberlands I'm reminded of that great trip, the friends I made, the scenery I saw, and how incredibly long it seems since I was 14. My next big purchases were made when I was 18 and included a new pair of hiking boots and my Crazy Creek Chair (see below). That same gear has traveled across three continents with me and reminds me of either melting in the heat of the rain forest or freezing at the top of the Andes depending the day.

Fast forward two years and the need to load up on more gear is upon me: sleeping bag, backpack, expensive hiking pants... Lets just say everything got well broken in while I crisscrossed much of Latin America and Western Europe.

When I went to Voyageurs National Park to do my internship I brought all my trusty gear with. I was going to the Northwoods after all. I was going to get lots of use out of it. Before Brian and I went on our two week tour of Minnesota State Parks I bought a camp stove, cookware, and a ThermaRest.
The next summer as a paid employee I used my stipend to invest in Gortex. Love that stuff.

Our first big purchase as a married couple was our canoe. It seemed fitting.
Since then we've added a new tent ($10 at a garage sale!), waterproof bags, headlamps, rain pants, and a kayak.

I love window shopping at REI. Gear is pricy but the trade off is that it lasts forever. Sure I paid $180 for my second pair of hiking boots, but that was 14 years ago. By far the best deal was the $80 Timberlands that I've been wearing for 18 years.

Here is my Crazy Creek chair in action on our most recent trip.

Other things that I recommend to make a wilderness experience more enjoyable include:

An anchor bag.

We bring a small mesh bag and rope along and then add rocks from the campsite to make a boat anchor.

We collect driftwood from the shorelines. It's dry and makes great fires.

Fires are important - especially when your husband tips the canoe over.

It only took 3 days to dry this stuff out.

I can't complain. I wasn't the one who got all wet.

Having someone along who knows how to catch fish, is willing to touch them, AND clean them is a huge bonus.

A canoe paddle is a nice flat surface for fish cleaning.

Do you know what this is?

Convenient! That's what it is. This bathroom may be rustic, but it beats the alternative.

This year our campsite had the nicest bear tree ever.

It may look like the bag isn't high enough, but there's a drop off before you get to the bag so it's actually hanging 15 feet up. Usually we have a really hard time finding a decent tree to hang our food. This tree met all the criteria.

I'd never seen a roller portage before, but now that I've experienced the ease of rolling a canoe full of gear from one lake to the next, I wish ALL portages were this easy. None of the 1/2 mile with 60 pounds on my back.

At least I don't have to do what Brian does.

He carries the canoe AND the food pack.
That's my man. :)

If you like to camp, canoe, kayak, or hike what's your favorite piece of gear*?

* an RV is not considered gear so don't even go there.


gbmom2407 November 4, 2008 at 10:34 PM  

my mom and dad... (they babysit the littles!!) no, really, I think that the air mattress. After a long day of exploring, it is nice to be comfy.
Happy day.

Jenney March 12, 2009 at 7:37 PM  

I have NO idea if you get comments still from old posts...but here's trying. I don't kayak or backpack (my brother and sister-in-law do ferociously) but I do LOVE to camp and have been my entire life. My favorite two pieces of gear are my Nalgene water bottles and our metal blue and white speckled cooking stuff. LOVE them.

Boundary Waters Blog Lady June 2, 2009 at 11:17 AM  

Neat blog, similar to our life with kids and outfitting canoe trips. http://www.boundarywatersblog.com

Where is the roller portage? I've never seen one of those.

Darling children, I mean bears!

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