Industry Stuff

Just got an email letting me know that the Canadian canoe and kayak manufacturing company, Mid-Canada Fiberglass has gone into receivership and will be closing their doors after 53 years of making canoes and kayaks. Though you might not have heard of the company name Mid-Canada, you have probably heard of their extensive product line including Scott Canoe, Bluewater Canoes and Impex Kayaks (also once known as Formula Kayak). It's a sad day for Canadian manufacturing for sure. Update: I received the following statement from Scott Canoe: The end is here. Wilderness Dreams Adventure Store and Scott Canoe in New Liskeard is having one final massive liquidation sale, for 2 days only. Everything must be sold. This Saturday Nov 30 and Sunday, Dec 1, 2013 from 9AM to 5PM. Come in and check out the best prices you have ever seen on, canoes, kayaks, paddling gear, clothing, footwear, camping gear, and so much more. Drop in to the location by the hospital in New Liskeard at 156457 Clover Valley Rd., New Liskeard, Ontario. This sale is being conducted by msi Spergel Inc. Court-Appointed Receiver for Mid-Canada Fiberglass Limited. Canoe photo credit: Scott Canoe
Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Sea Kayaker Magazine Sinks

Big news in the world of outdoor publishing today. After 30 years and 158 issues, Sea Kayaker Magazine has decided to hang up their paddle for the last time and close down the magazine. Here is the announcement from their web site: For nearly 30 years, Sea Kayaker magazine has been an exemplary cornerstone of the sea kayaking community and a defining influence for the standards of our sport. We've been pleased and proud to share 157 issues with the kayaking community, but now we must announce with great regret and sadness that the next issue of Sea Kayaker magazine will be our last. In the course of our many years of service to kayakers around the world, we've seen many changes in sea kayaking, the industry it supports, and the business of print and web media. For our first two decades the changes generally worked in our favor, but over this past decade, the tide slowly turned. Though the magazine and the website continue to draw nearly universal praise from our readers, we recently recognized that we've been paddling against an overwhelming current and it's time to come ashore. And so, we're celebrating the final chapter of the Sea Kayaker legacy with our special 158th issue, to be released in February. Current subscribers will receive the February/March 2014 issue in print, digital or both per your subscription. We thank you for your years of support and ask your patience while we sort out the closing of the magazine. Over the last five years or so we've lost several really good paddling magazines, including Kanawa and Paddler. It's really sad to add this grandfather to the list. To be honest, while I always appreciated the magazine, it's been several years since I read it cover to cover. I used to really enjoy it but I always felt they were aimed at an age bracket much higher than mine with the conservative layout and extremely long articles and trip reports. I know there are lots of people who appreciate the extensive research the writers put into their articles but I would…
  Some interesting news from the map world. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced today that effective April 13, 2014 they will no longer print paper nautical charts. For those readers who are panicking and already drafting a letter to congress, there is no need to worry as you will still be able to get paper charts via print-on-demand distributors. According to the NOAA, the decision to stop production of paper maps was due to several factors including the decline for paper charts, the increase in both digital and electronic charts and finally, federal budget realities. The big change here is that the NOAA is getting out of storing a huge stock of charts that often take years to sell through. By fully switching over to print-on-demand charts, the NOAA is able to push out updates to distributers significantly faster (with monthly updates) and thus you are ensured that you have the most up-to-date version when purchased. If you use digital charts you will still be able to get them from the NOAA in a variety of formats including electronic navigational charts (NOAA ENC), raster navigational charts (NOAA RNC) as well as full-scale PDF charts as part of a brand-new pilot project. The new NOAA PDF pilot project looks very interesting. For the next three months they are offering 1000 of their most popular charts available in PDF format. They want to guage popularity and collect user comments before rolling out the entire catalogue. The biggest appeal of PDF charts is that they are easily viewable on many different platforms including phones, tablets and computers as well as easily printed out at home (though they are technically for reference only, not for navigation). More info: oceanservice.noaa.govAnnouncement FAQ (pdf): nauticalcharts.noaa.gov      
Keen Footwear has just rolled out a brand new program called "Build Your Own Keen" where you can order a completely customized pair of their classic Newport Sandals. The new app on their website allows you to customize pretty much every single component of the shoe from the webbing pattern right down to the colour of the lace or the sole itself. I did a quick count and there 14 different parts of the sandals that can be adjusted and some quick grade 2 math at my end tells me that there at least 62 billion and three combinations to choose from. With so with that many colour choices; you can pretty much guarantee that nobody will have your exact pair of shoes. Keen says that they can get them made and on your feet in about 2-3 weeks which is pretty amazing. I haven’t confirmed it yet but my guess is that they are able to offer this service via the new manufacturing facility they recently opened up in Portland, Oregon. I just found out that that the Keen Custom shoes are manufactured for you in one of their factories in Asia. The price for the shoes is $130 (US) which is only $30 more than regular Newports so it isn’t an exorbitant price to pay for custom footwear. Ok kids, get designing. Just don’t walk up and shoe me the pair that you ordered with every option as black. That would be waste and you would feel my sarcasm. This is what I’m expecting next time I see you: More info: Keen Footwear  
It looks like we are going to be seeing some major changes in the coming months at Canada’s largest outdoor co-operative retailer, Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC). CEO, David Labistour announced this morning in the Co-op's blog that they will be undertaking a massive brand revitalization program. The announcement is a little vague but there are a couple clues scattered throughout: What they said: Starting this summer, we’ll begin to roll out a revitalized brand platform. It begins with a new version of our logo on MEC products released in July. In September, you’ll see a shift in the style of photography and the design of store interiors, elements that will complement the freshness of our product lines. What it likely means: The familiar mountain logo is gone and replaced with something less "rough and tumble mountainy". This will allow them to cut their ties with the past as the place to get only mountain gear and give them the ability expand into new outdoor sports down the road. This also means that the old way of how they did things and the decisions behind types of gear they sell is finished. It’s clear at MEC is feeling the competition from big box stores like Bass Pro, Sail and some Canadian Tire stores that they need to change or become quickly irrelevant. So what does that mean? My guess is that they are going to be making very hard choices to what they will focus on. Hard choices mean that money losing departments like the rock climbing section will probably be cut back drastically (or moved out of the store and available online only) making room for more urban activities like expanded cycling or running departments. I think we are also going to see a subtle shift in the clothing line-up away from purely wilderness designed clothing (ugly but functional) over to more lightweight “outdoor lifestyle” clothing to compete with the clothing departments found at Sail and Marks (which is owned by Canadian Tire). Are all these changes bad? Nobody likes change so the knee-jerk reaction is to think the sky…
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