Gear

I believe there are many in the outdoor world that would disagree with the Fail Blog and herald the Ugg Croc Toe Shoe as the greatest shoe of all time. For me? I have to agree with the Fail Blog but hey, whatever floats your boat...
If you carry a bike or kayak on your car and also suffer short-term memory loss you might be interested in the Headsup System. It’s designed to remind you that you have rack-mounted stuff on your car’s roof so you don’t drive full speed into the garage damaging your expensive toys. The design behind it is pretty simple. You store a small wireless tag with your gear on the roof and another inside your car. When you approach your garage door an LED sign on the wall starts to flash along with a beeper in your car reminding you to stop. Of course this whole thing works great at home but still wouldn’t help the two people I watched crunch their canoe and whitewater kayak when trying to park underground at the Toronto Mountain Equipment Co-op. Both incidents were not pretty... Prices start around $170. Top Photo credit: IMG_5399.JPG / j.s. clark / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0Bottom Photo Credit: headsupsystems.com
If a bothy bag isn’t part of your gear kit yet, you should consider adding this ultra-lightweight emergency shelter to it pronto. I’m a huge fan of them and it’s easily one of the top three pieces of gear that I own. Basically a bothy bag is a nylon sheet cut to easily wrap around you and your friends while you sit on the ground. It cuts the wind and on a cool day warms everybody up with the body heat of the people inside. To demonstrate their effectiveness, the gang from the White Squall Paddling Center put together a quick demonstration of them in action. My guess is that they stayed out for several hours long after the camera operator got cold and went back inside to watch television. There are several manufactures like Terra Nova or Brooks Range Mountaineering who make them in various sizes. You can get them small enough to fit 1-2 people or as many as 12 if you regularly guide or paddler with groups. If you were wondering where the name comes from, Wikipedia describes a Bothy as "a basic shelter, usually left unlocked and available for anyone to use free of charge". Click through and read the full article and become a expert on the history of Bothies. You will impress everybody at your upcoming work holiday party later this week or at least something to talk about that isn't work-related... Top Photo Credit: Bothy 2 / Phil Rogers / CC BY-NC 2.0Bottom Photo Credit: Brooks Range Mounteering
There has been some really interesting advancements in the technology behind personal locator beacons (PLB) which could speed up the discovery and rescue of sailors and paddlers at sea. Finnish defence company Patria, Tampere University of Technology and the European Space Agency have partnered together to develop a new type of rescue lifejacket with an integrated PLB antenna that dramatically reduces the time it takes for the distress signal to be picked up by satellites. The new antenna design itself is quite a step forward in technology. Before this the units were always restricted to long whip-like antennas as it was the only type of antenna that reliability transmitted the very low frequencies that the satellite system uses. Whip antennas also overcame the problem of the human body disrupting the signal by getting the transmitter up and away from the body via the antenna. The new patch antenna design is still fairly large (about the size of a washcloth) but it allows the PLB and antenna to be sewn directly to the lifejacket. It’s made of a waterproof, salt proof and flexible material so it will stand-up to the rigors of the shipping/sailing worlds. The problem with attaching the antenna directly to lifejackets is that they won’t transmit below the waters surface but by attaching multiple antennas to various sides of the lifejacket they also overcome the problem of transmission signals getting disrupted by the body. So far the new vests are still in the testing and SOLAS certification stage but testing is looking very positive. Recent trials showed that the test subject’s exact location was determined by satellites within minutes which was considerably faster then the cumbersome whip-antenna beacons. How long until we can possibility see these at your local sailing or paddling shop is difficult to tell. Right now it’s mainly being developed for the industrial shipping industry but word is that Suunto is developing and integrating the technology into their diving rescue vests to assist divers who become lost at sea. More info: geogarage.com & telecom.esa.int Photo credits: A. Le'Floch, ESA
  North Water has just announced a new throw line specifically aimed for people looking for boat owners looking to meet the Coast Guard requirements. The Mirco Throw Line is 50 feet of 1/4 inch floating polypro line. It comes with a whistle and a tie-down strap so it won’t get lost. The Micro Throw meets Coast Guard regulations for the required heaving line and at only $24.95 it’s economical enough that rental companies could use it. It sure beats the crappy orange container/yellow plastic rope/whistle kits you get a big box stores and its way better than the old Nalgene stuffed with old rope chunks that a couple rental companies in my neck of the woods use. It’s available now so look for it soon at your local paddling shop.
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