Bryan Hansel from paddlinglight.com has highlighted what should be a wake-up call to the entire outdoor industry.

The results from a long-term survey were recenrtly released by the US Forest Reserve. The survey (which was completed back in 1969, 1991 and finally in 2007) has been looking into who the users of the Boundary Waters Wilderness Canoe Area (BWCAW) are.

The survey result paints an interesting picture into the health of canoe tripping in the BWCAW and I feel could also be anecdotally applied to other major canoeing areas across North America as well.

…we found out that the average user age in 1969 was 26 and in 2007 it was 45. We also found out that first time visitors have dropped from 30% of visitors to 6%. This means that fewer people are being introduced to the BWCAW. I’d guess that also means that the age of the average visitor will continue to rise and current users grow older. As a point of reference, the average age in Minnesota is 36. The study suggests that one way to explain this is: “While it is important to recognize that younger individuals and first time overnight visitors continue to use the BWCAW, trend data suggest that a strong and substantial cohort of aging, repeat visitors to the BWCAW exists.”

One interesting observation from the study is “Just less than half of the visitors in 1969 had visited other wildernesses besides the BWCAW at that time, but this rose to 57% by 1991 and 75% by 2007.” To me that seems to suggest that once people experience how magical wilderness areas are, they want to visit more of them.

What does this mean for the outdoor industry and outdoor camping? It means that current participants are getting older and we are not introducing young people to the outdoors as our parents did to us. If something isn’t done soon I feel an entire generation will miss out.

More info: paddlinglight.com - Original Survey Report

Flickr Photo Credit: Big Sag - http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_CA / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Published in Industry Stuff
Friday, 17 August 2007 05:24

Natural PFD Filler - Kapok

Kapok Seed Pod We recently found this fantastic article about Astral Buoyancy founder Philip Curry and the rediscovery of using kapok as filler for PFD's.

Kapok is a material that was used extensively during the second world war for a variety of different products including pfd's, car seats, and pillows.

What is kapok? It is a natural fibre found in the Indonesian rain forest and harvested from the seedpods of the ceiba tree. In its raw form, it looks like a feathery ball of cotton. Kapok is naturally buoyant, with a high resistance to water and decay.

There are also great benefits for the environment as it produces little waste, is easily recycles and growing it requires no chemicals.

With so many companies touting their "greenness" will they start using this material as well? Astral Buoyancy is convinced it is the way to go for sure. We will see.

Thanks to Playak for the link.
Published in Gear
Monday, 19 February 2007 17:43

Paddling in India

School Lecture

For those who have been following V.Balaji’s trip along the coast of India might have noticed that he is paddling an Easky 15 by Venture Kayaks (P&H). I recently asked him how he acquired his boat as I don’t know any other paddlers in India.

Easky 15

This is his response:

Yes, it has been in my dream to make an adventurous journey in the sea, after I saw the program of Justine's kayak expedition in the east coast of Russia in National Geographic Channel (if you know her, say my hello).

In 2005, when I went for a mangrove conservation training program, I met Mr. Dominic from International Tree Foundation, UK. After my seminar on coastal conservation he was impressed and we had a few minutes chat - I told him I wish to make a kayak expedition, but i did not know how to ride it, roll it, its cost and I never seen before except in the TV. I was confident that the kayak will surely attract the people here as a tool to talk about the value of protective fragile, coastal ecosystems of tamil nadu (coral reefs, mangroves and sea grasses).

When I was in Germany in July 2006, I spend some time to rent a kayak in an enclosed bay at Baltic Sea and paddled it for a km myself - which was like a child walking first time.

Then, Dominic took a great effort in UK - he made a car rally with his friends from UK to France to collect money, I selected the sea kayak through websites and started to read the kayak lessons through internet.

Dominic (690 UK pounds +300 UK pounds) and I paid nearly 24,000 Indian rupees for Indian customs clearance. October - November 2006 is the training session and December 2006 the expedition start.

I am very grateful to Mr. Dominic and his friends, I have to be responsible to teach the children in the village on marine conservation, and paddle the kayak to next village - as a way to prove it.

Going to a village school today afternoon...

Yours truly,

v.balaji
Published in Trips
Sunday, 18 February 2007 06:10

Almost done!

V. Balaji is almost finished his trip. You might remember him as he as been paddling almost 650km along the shoreline of India to raise awareness for shoreline conservation.

He wrote me last night and said that he has finished 500km and only has 144km to go. Keep it up, you are doing great!

He was recently interviewed and there was an article posted about his trip in The Hindu, India’s national newspaper. You can read a copy of it here.

Learn more about his trip here.

Published in Trips
Tuesday, 12 September 2006 09:44

Superior Sea Kayaking

A slide show of a sea kayaking trip on Lake Superior for two weeks at the end of Sept. 2005.

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Published in Sea Kayak Videos

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