If you are one of those paddlers who have looked in envy at UK sea kayakers with those funny white stickers on their boat covered in chicken scratch writing then you will be pleased to know the Bryan Hansel from paddlinglight.com has developed his own set of kayak deck slates and is now selling them. If you have no idea what I’m talking about that's ok.

Kayak deck slates are basically two vinyl stickers that are positioned just ahead of your cockpit which provide a good writing surface for notes to yourself using a grease pencil. Paddlers on tidal waters can keep track of daily highs/lows or current on the left slate while the right one blank making a perfect location to keep track navigation, weather observations or if you are teaching, student names, notes or a rough lesson plan.

Kayak Deck Slate - Left side. Photo Credit: Bryan Hansel

The deck slate is printed on 3.5 millimetre vinyl so you know it’s durable. It has also been coated for UV resistance so it shouldn’t fade for some time.

Bryan is offering the slates with a Listo grease marking pencil for $24.99 or $19.99 without. Take my advice and get the pencil version. It's one of the good plastic barrel versions and not the paper wrapped ones you see at your local Home Depot. I proved a couple of years ago that the paper wrapped grease pencils last about 1 hour into a typical rescue lesson on the water.

More info: paddlinglight.com
Photo credits: Bryan Hansel

Published in Gear

Mobile satellite communication company, Thuraya will be introducing this April a new product called the SatSleeve that will easily transform your iPhone into a satellite phone allowing you to be able to make phone calls and send SMS messages around the world.

The new phone case has a couple of features including an extra battery built in to charge your phone and give it more talk time in the field as well as a built in emergency button that will make an automatic call to a pre-programmed number.

Right now the SatSleeve will only transmit voice and SMS but look for a version to be released in the third quarter of this year that will also transmit data turning your iPhone into a truly global smart phone. Just think how fun it will be to be able to get work emails throughout your entire canoe trip vacation in Northern Canada.

The price for this bad boy isn't cheap with an MSRP around $500. No word on the proposed pricing for the data version but rumours put it at a couple hundred dollars more.

More info: thuraya.com

Published in Gear


Flicking through a fabulous collection of our supreme leader, Kim Jong-un looking at stuff, I discovered that North Korea is using the latest and greatest in outdoor safety technology.

What do we see below on these fine-young sky divers heads? Yep, those are Pro-Tec helmets circa 1994? It goes to show that a well-designed product that is basically just moulded plastic will last forever. In fact if you go to any good white water paddling school and you are bound to see a bucket full of these bad-boys ready to be rented out to students for $5 a day.

North Korean Ski Divers

If you are keen at keeping with the latest North Koran trends you can still get one of those classic designs if you know where to look (ahem, Ebay).

Interested in seeing what else our leader approved of or at least stared at? Here is the full collection below.

Top photo credit: Reno_Whitewater_Kayak_0179 | Flickr - RenoTahoe http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/deed.en_CA / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


Published in Gear

I recently received a couple Vapur collapsible waterbottles sent to me as a sample. I knew they were coming but I got a nice surprise when I opened the package and discovered that that the company also threw in a couple of their kids bottles after they found out that I had two girls.

Vapur wanted me to give the new designs a try and let them know that the family thought of them.

To be honest, I’ve always been hesitant about collapsible water bottles after having once a bad leak while using a cheap one but when I pulled these out of the package it felt a whole lot beefier than others I have tried before. Vapur describes material they use this way:

Vapur Anti-Bottles are BPA-free and are constructed of three layers of ultra-durable plastic. The innermost layer is made from FDA-approved polyethylene, which is then bonded to two layers of nylon for strength and durability.

Other than that, the "adult" design is a water bottle with a quick flip-up plastic lid that doesn’t leak when you give it a good hard squeeze. The flip-up lid easy to open and with a built-in hinge, you won’t lose the top on a hike. It’s pretty simple.

Vapur Waterbottle Close-up

It’s was the kids water bottles that got my kids (and me) all excited. The Quencher is a smaller sized bottle that holds just under a ½ litre (14oz) so it’s light enough for kids to carry and manage. I can go on and on about design features but really, the best part of it is that fact that it comes with four different great monster patterns. On top of that you also get a sheet of cool plastic stickers so your kid can add the appropriate monster eyes and/or rainbow clouds as my youngest daughter said it required.

My only disappointment was that our sticker set didn’t come with unicorns running on the rainbows. Make note of that Vapur.

Any ways, they are great little water bottles that we’ve been using pretty regularly over the past couple of months and so far the stickers are still going strong (and isn’t that the important part?)

Vapur bottles range between $10-12 depending on the model. They can be purchased online at vapur.us. I also just found out that they have a great kids design-your-own-bottle mini site here so I know you will want to take a couple minutes out of your very busy workday to play with it this afternoon.

Published in Gear Reviews

Just imagine how envious your camping neighbours will be when you pull this out of your canoe and set-up shop. The only addition I would make is to add in a battery operated light that turns on when opened. People will swear that it’s filled with glowing gold.

Can somebody please rush this to market? Work with me people.

Photo Credit: cheezburger.com

Published in Funny

Sorry it’s been so quiet over the past couple of weeks. Life has been way to busy to do any writing.

The above image floated across my desk today and I couldn’t help but post it.

If these sleeping bags were available today I would get one right away (for the kids of course. Yes, for the kids).

Photo credit: voicesofeastanglia.com

Published in Gear

The fold able pocket whiteboard.

I recently stumbled upon this interesting teaching tool: a foldable, pocket whiteboard.

It peaked my interest because there were several times over the past year when I was out teaching and wished I had a writing surface to get a complex concept across to my students. Beach sand and a stick can only go so far when explaining the wonders of a developing cold front.

The whiteboard is made up of 27 mini pieces that folds up to roughly 3”x5”x0.2”. It folds out to 15”x27” giving you lots of whitespace to work with. The kit comes with a dry erase market and a microfiber bag which doubles as an eraser.

More info: thinkgeek.com

Published in Teaching
Tuesday, 03 July 2012 14:02

Want Free Camping Gear? [Contests]

I got an email from friends of the site, Austin Canoe and Kayak who have just announced a new facebook contest where you can win a bunch of great outdoor gear.

Visit their Facebook page for all the details.

Sadly it’s only open to paddlers living in the US of A so I apologize to my Latvian brothers and sisters who, like Canada, can only watch the contest outcome from shore.

Published in General News

The What Happened Bandages

Sadly these amazing bandages are currently out of stock over to Urban Outfitters but if they were, I would make them an essential part of my wilderness first aid kit replacing the Dora the Explorer band-aids I currently use.

My extensive research tells me that while adults love Dora the Explorer, given the choice, 2 of 3 injured people would choose “Ninja Fight” over a jumping blue monkey and a weird looking girl with huge eyes.

A box of band-aids are $7 so make sure you save them only for your most injured clients/kids.

Published in Funny

We all know that the worst part of campfires is sitting in the dirt. Sure you can bring along one of those Crazy Creek camping chairs but why settle when you can rule the outdoors like God intended?

There is only two problems with the officially licensed Star Trek captain’s chair. The first is that it’s inflatable so watch for sparks and the second is that it’s only for somebody up to 120lbs. The description on the site says that it’s designed for kids but I like to believe it’s a weight management motivator for fat camping geeks.

Other than those minor drawbacks, I give this and official rating of, "Set course for awesome".

Pick up your own chair at thinkgeek.com for only $24.99.

Published in Funny
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