Gear is great – Gear is good

We all know that the right gear is essential to any expedition. Oh I realize that for early adventurers “gear” consisted of an animal skin or canvas tent, a bone or hand-forged iron knife, flint, mukluks, and a pouch to carry some hardtack or pemmican – you get the picture. Basically, as long as they had some meat; leather;  rock ; and bone, they were good to go!

Regardless, being prepared includes  having the tools to survive as comfortably as possible. We are simply fortunate to live in a time when lightweight, effective, cool gear is readily available to us at the swipe of a credit card.

Within this post I will describe our primary gear and then rank it in each of the following five categories…

Stowability – Does it fold, scrunch, tuck, pack, lay in a manner that won’t make me say “those” words?

Design – Is it efficient, well thought out, useful, intuitive, compatible, repairable, replaceable. In other words, does it ever make me say “what were they thinking?”

Durability – Did the #&%$&@*! thing break or quit working as intended?

Performance – Does it do what it is supposed to do and do it well?

Customer Service – I can overlook some woes and ills IF the company works to make me the proverbial
“Happy Camper”.

I then use the following ranking system to describe my level of satisfaction (or disappointment) within each of the categories…

5 = Awesome – I chase down total strangers and tell them about it.
4 = Something wasn’t quite perfect – I’m happy, but I could be happier.
3 = I wish something was different – If they had only asked ME !
2 = Makes me sad – I’ll continue to use it but will be bitter about it.
1 = Just plain crappy – This score in any category will make me wonder where can I find a recycle bin to dump this
thing in.

I will also summarize via whether or not I would choose it again.

Here goes…

 

Image result for images current design vision 150

Item: LaNae’s 15′ kayak
Brand: Current Designs
Model: Vision 150
Stowability: n/a
Design: 3
Durability: 5
Performance: 5
Customer Service: n/a
Would I choose it again?: YES
Comments: The drip tray around the front hatch doesn’t self drain. We usually sponged water out before opening the hatch.

 

 

 

Item: John’s 17′ Kayak
Brand: Current Designs
Model: Storm GT
Stowability: n/a
Design: 5
Durability: 5
Performance: 5
Customer Service: n/a
Would I choose it again?: YES
Comments: No complaints. Boat was durable and performed well.

 

 

Item: Water Bottle
Brand: Nalgene
Model: Original wide mouth
Stowability: 4
Design: 4
Durability: 5
Performance: 4
Customer Service: n/a
Would I choose it again?: YES
Comments: The original and it works great. Accepts Katadyn filter. The cap is hard to deal with  one hand and there is no “D” clip or specific attach point, although the lid strap does work for this purpose.

 

 

Thermos

Item: Water bottle
Brand: Thermos
Model: Intak
Stowability: 4
Design: 3
Durability: 4
Performance: 4
Customer Service: n/a
Would I choose it again?: YES
Comments: These were great to use around the campsite.  Regrettably, the mouth is too small for the Katadyn filter. They have “one-handed” operation when new but that does not always function as they get used. Great bottle, would buy again.

 

 

BASE Hex Tarp

Item: Camp Tarp
Brand: Ultimate Survival Technologies
Model: BASE Hex
Stowability: 2
Design: 5
Durability: 5
Performance: 5
Customer Service: n/a
Would I choose it again?: YES
Comments: The stuff sack provided is way too small for practical use.

 

 

Image result for images hubba hubba

Item: Tent
Brand: MSR
Model: Hubba Hubba
Stowability:  5
Design: 5
Durability: 2
Performance: 4
Customer Service: 5
Would I choose it again?: NO
Comments: The tent was light and packable and waterproof, but the stitching on both grab loops on the cross-bar eyelets failed and all zippers on the main tent body failed. MSR did send us a brand new tent body at no charge.

 

 

Item: Sleeping Bag
Brand: Lafuma
Model: Extrem 700 XL
Stowability:  5
Design: 5
Durability: 5
Performance: 5
Customer Service: 5
Would I choose it again?: YES
Comments: Great packable and lightweight bag. We bought a “left” and a “right” so that we could zip them together in the colder weather to share body warmth. Perfect bag for this trip.

 

 

Item: Solar power device
Brand: Goal Zero
Model: Sherpa 50 and Nomad 13
Stowability:  5
Design: 5
Durability: 3
Performance: 4
Customer Service: n/a
Would I choose it again?: YES
Comments: Loved the performance and the consolidated panel/cord design. Easy to deploy. Sadly, the attach loops are simply glued in and  many of them pulled loose when warm.

 

 

Item: Paddles
Brand: Epic
Model: Signature hybrid – active touring blades
Stowability:  5
Design: 5
Durability: 5
Performance: 5
Customer Service: n/a
Would I choose it again?: YES
Comments: Great paddles. The “breakdown” and adjustment  function was durable, trouble-free, and solid.

 

 

Item: Paddle Floats
Brand: NRS
Model: n/a
Stowability:  5
Design: 5
Durability: 5
Performance: n/a
Customer Service: n/a
Would I choose it again?: YES
Comments: Never had the “opportunity” to use them on the trip. Yay !!!

 

 

Item: Life Jackets
Brand: Stohlquist
Model: Trekker/Cruiser
Stowability:  5
Design: 5
Durability: 5
Performance: 5
Customer Service: n/a
Would I choose it again?: YES
Comments: Fit and durability were great. Zipper pockets were handy and trouble-free.

 

 

Item: Kayak Portage Cart
Brand: Wheeleez
Model: WZI-KCM-TT-20
Stowability:  4
Design: 5
Durability: 5
Performance: 5
Customer Service: n/a
Would I choose it again?: YES
Comments: Could not have made this trip without them. Actually stored them inside our rear holds.

 

 

Item: Dromedary water storage bladders
Brand: MSR
Model: 6L
Stowability:  5
Design: 4
Durability: 5
Performance: 5
Customer Service: n/a
Would I choose it again?: YES
Comments: We took a total of 5 of these, and they were a magnificent asset. There were multiple valve options including a bite valve that allowed us to drink hands free. The only complaint is that the mouth was too small to accommodate a Katadyn filter. Why?

 

Item: Pump
Brand: NRS
Model: Bilge
Stowability:  4
Design: 4
Durability: 5
Performance: 5
Customer Service: n/a
Would I choose it again?: YES
Comments: Used it to pump the boats out after a rain. The shaft flexes a little when using and they are a bit bulky, but performed fine.

 

 

Item: Waterproof storage armband
Brand: Overboard
Model: n/a
Stowability:  3
Design: 2
Durability: 4
Performance: 2
Customer Service: n/a
Would I choose it again?: NO
Comments: Bulky and the Velcro would bind and not stay in place. Kept the contents dry, but I quit wearing it on my arm and simply shoved it into my deck bag.

 

 

Item: Waterproof Cell-Phone Storage
Brand: Overboard
Model: n/a
Stowability:  4
Design: 4
Durability: 2
Performance: 2
Customer Service: 5
Would I choose it again?: NO
Comments: The original “blew out” along the bottom seam.  Fortunately, the great people at R.O.C. Gear sent us a replacement on the river. Sadly, the replacement failed in the same way.  Not durable enough.

 

 

Item: Waterproof Ipad Storage
Brand: Overboard
Model: n/a
Stowability:  4
Design: 4
Durability: 4
Performance: 4
Customer Service: n/a
Would I choose it again?: YES
Comments: These worked and performed as promised. They don’t seem durable, however, we had no failures.

 

 

Item: Wading/mud boots- men’s
Brand: Chota
Model: MK-200
Stowability:  5
Design: 5
Durability: 3
Performance: 3
Customer Service: 5
Would I choose it again?: YES
Comments: Loved these boots, however, they had multiple splits in the rubber. Mark at Chota is confident of his boots, was extremely supportive, and asked me to “give them another chance”. He is sending me a new replacement pair of boots.

 

 

Item: Wading/mud boots – women’s
Brand: Muck
Model: Hale
Stowability:  4
Design: 5
Durability: 5
Performance: 5
Customer Service: n/a
Would I choose it again?: YES
Comments: A little stiff for stowing, but worked great and were durable.

 

 

Item: Kayak Compass
Brand: Seattle Sports
Model: Sea Rover
Stowability:  5
Design: 4
Durability: 5
Performance: 3
Customer Service: n/a
Would I choose it again?: YES
Comments: Never failed us. It would get some condensation inside on hot mornings but would clear up later in the day. Wished the straps for portable attachments had room to be pulled a little tighter, but it was never a problem and it always stayed secure. Portable design allowed us to place where it could be seen, while allowing us to still strap gear on the deck.

 

 

Item: Headlamp
Brand: Petzl
Model: Tikka+2
Stowability:  5
Design: 5
Durability: 5
Performance: 5
Customer Service: n/a
Would I choose it again?: YES
Comments: Dependable

 

 

Item: Deck Bag
Brand: SealLine
Model: Baja
Stowability:  5
Design: 5
Durability: 5
Performance: 5
Customer Service: n/a
Would I choose it again?: YES
Comments: Really like the extra outside “mesh” zipper pouch. Great for quick access to lip balm, etc…

 

No current photo available
San Juan deck bag (No current photo available)

 

 

 

 

 


Item:
 Deck Bag
Brand: SealLine
Model: San Juan
Stowability:  5
Design: 4
Durability: 5
Performance: 5
Customer Service: n/a
Would I choose it again?: YES
Comments: Durable and performed well.

 

 

Item: Spray Skirts
Brand: Seals
Model: Sneak
Stowability:  4
Design: 4
Durability: 3
Performance: 4
Customer Service: n/a
Would I choose it again?: YES
Comments: Zippers were stiff and internal seam tape came loose easily.

 

 

Item: Cockpit covers
Brand: Seals
Model: Cockpit Seal
Stowability:  n/a
Design: 5
Durability: 5
Performance: 4
Customer Service: n/a
Would I choose it again?: YES
Comments: Works fine. A little difficult to get installed, but that’s to be expected.

 

 

Item: Sleep pad
Brand: Klymit
Model: Inertia XL
Stowability:  5
Design: 3
Durability: 4
Performance: 4
Customer Service: 5
Would I choose it again?: YES
Comments: We loved these pads. Regretfully, there is an extraneous “pump” valve that can be used to get extra air into the pads. This is not needed, and those valves started to leak. This is the reason for some of the low scores. Fortunately, the folks at Klymit were great to work with and offered to replace the pads or send caps to cap off the extraneous pump valves. We chose the caps, and it was a secure and permanent fix. Very packable, light, and effective sleep pad.

 

 

Item: Pants
Brand: NRS
Model: Hyrdroskin 0.5
Stowability:  n/a
Design: 5
Durability: 5
Performance: 5
Customer Service: n/a
Would I choose it again?: YES
Comments: These were awesome. We used these once it was too hot for our wet-suits. They were like a lower body glove, keeping us clean and “dry” in our dirty cockpits. LaNae chose the Capri length (women’s option).

 

 

Item: Dry bag
Brand: SealLine
Model: See
Stowability:  4
Design: 4
Durability: 3
Performance: 3
Customer Service: n/a
Would I choose it again?: NO
Comments: Nice to be able to see the contents. Clear material is heavy and harder to stuff and pack. Started to tear and rip at the fold corners.

 

 

Item: Dry bag
Brand: SealLine
Model: ECOsee
Stowability:  4
Design: 5
Durability: 5
Performance: 4
Customer Service: n/a
Would I choose it again?: YES
Comments: Nice to be able to see the contents. This clear material is softer than some but still a little hard to pack. Durable.

 

 

Item: Dry bag
Brand: SealLine
Model: Kodiak
Stowability:  5
Design: 5
Durability: 5
Performance: 5
Customer Service: n/a
Would I choose it again?: YES
Comments: Not sure how well these will keep out water, as we never used them in direct contact with water. Giving it a “5” on performance because we have to assume innocent until proven guilty!  Interesting design. Soft/packable material with a clear window for viewing contents. A one way “burp” valve allows you to compress even after the top is rolled shut.

 

Lightweight dry bags

Item: Dry bag
Brand: Sea to Summit
Model: Lightweight
Stowability:  5
Design: 5
Durability: 5
Performance: 4
Customer Service: n/a
Would I choose it again?: YES
Comments: Soft and easy to pack and stow. Seemed to get “damp” inside when used on top of the deck and exposed to a lot of water, but kept contents dry.

 

“Stopper” dry bag

Item: Dry bag
Brand: Sea to Summit
Model: Stopper
Stowability:  4
Design: 4
Durability: 2
Performance: 3
Customer Service: n/a
Would I choose it again?: NO
Comments: We had two and one of them and one suffered  a blowout in the glued seam, while the other had small splits in the stiff  material where it was folded. Stiff material packs easy but makes it kinda awkward to stow.

 

CLEAR stopper dry bag

Item: Dry bag
Brand: Sea to Summit
Model: Stopper-CLEAR
Stowability:  4
Design: 4
Durability: 5
Performance: 4
Customer Service: n/a
Would I choose it again?: YES
Comments: Nice to be able to see the contents. This clear material is softer than some but still a little hard to pack. Durable. The design complaint is because there is no “D” ring for attaching. (But the buckle is replaceable if it breaks)

 

 

Item: VHF Radio
Brand: Standard Horizon
Model: HX-290
Stowability:  4
Design: 5
Durability: 5
Performance: 5
Customer Service: n/a
Would I choose it again?: YES
Comments: Intuitive, durable, a battery that seemed to never drain, easy to view, easy to use even with gloves. This is a MUST have item for purpose of safety for kayaker and courtesy towards the towboat and ship pilots.

 

One Comment

  1. Steve Sheets said:

    Well, well, well. John, my boy, you cannot know how long I have been trying to find you. I might have known that you were off, and about on some fantastic adventure. Lord knows we talked about trips like these often enough. I’m sure glad that you were able to do something like this.
    But catching up on times past on here just doesn’t do it justice. We need to find a way to get together to rehash old times, and talk about the new. I want to hear all about the trip that you, and Lanae just finished. The last that I heard anything about you, you were working in St. Marys, and I think, living there, too. Am I right in thinking that you now live around Portland? Funny, my wife, and I were in Hartford City today to watch one of my grandsons play tennis for AC. Last Saturday, we were at Madison-Grant high school watching one of my grand-daughters play volleyball. On the way home from Hartford City, this evening, we decided to go to Pizza Hut in Berne to eat supper. On the way thru Geneva, we took a drive around rainbow lake to see how things have changed since I last worked at Micro. Ran into Randy Elzey, and had a nice visit with him, and his wife for about 20 minutes. Talked about you, and they were the one’s who told us about your Kayak trip. I got back home, did a little Google search on you, and here I am.
    I am retired now, other than a little info you will surely laugh about. I bought the ‘Whiptee Dip’ (Tastee Twirl) in Rockford back 2013. This is our second year of being open this year. It’s my wife’s business, and I help her with ordering and picking up inventory, bookwork, etc.
    I own 140 acres of farm ground, and cash rent most of it to my son-in-law. Between my pensions, farm rent income, and SSI, we’re doing ok. My wife still works in factory in Van Wert, but she wants out in the worst way. That was one main reason for buying the Ice Cream shop so she can work there instead. We are open from about April 1 thru (as long as the weather remains warm) the end of September. Longer if it stays above 75.
    How’s you daughter doing? Please forgive me if I’m wrong, but was her name Casey? Aren’t you a grandpa now, too. I think maybe you had told me that at some time in the past.
    Hey, send me some contact info, times you can be available, etc. I can meet you most anywhere, anytime, with just a little notice. You got my email address now. I miss stopping in, and talking with you. Glad your trip was a safe one. Looking forward to hearing from you.

    August 26, 2015
    Reply

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