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Review: VSSL Insulated Flask with Bluetooth Speaker

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Gear Game Changers!

Every so often I acquire a new piece of gear that has such a big impact on the way that I camp, that I’d never go back to the old way. A few examples of where I’ve experienced this before include: Water Filters.  No more carrying too much water, boiling water for drinking, or using terrible tasting water purification tablets. Thermarests.  If you’ve never had to use solid blue foam pads, be grateful! Ultralight Tents.  Okay, reaching back here, but I really did camp and hike with an old fashioned, green canvas tent “back in the day!” Changes in the last few years may not have been as dramatic, but there have been fantastic additions to my kit that I think everyone should consider. Solar Power: Charging While Paddling Solar Charger My career and my hobbies have always revolved around tech of some kind or other.  As a result, trying to stretch every last milliamp out of the batteries and powerbanks I took with me into the backcountry grew into a fine art.  iPhone display on full? 

Book Review: Kevin Callan's "Another Bend in the River"

I thoroughly enjoyed Kevin’s previous book, “ Once Around Algonquin: An Epic Canoe Journey ”, so as soon as I heard he had a new one out, "Another Bend in the River" , I decided to buy a copy.   What a nice surprise that it turned out to be two books in one!   While the subtitle of the book is “The Happy Camper’s Memoir”, and that’s its main focus, it’s also chock full of “side bar” articles which cover a huge range of topics.  Examples include how to cook trout using Kevin’s favourite recipe; techniques for lining a canoe; choosing your first canoe; the value of spray skirts; even how to make bannock!  Although few of these would be considered secrets as tightly held as how to get the caramel into the Caramilk bars, they’re good reminders of things you might take for granted, and perhaps forgot, and are presented in a way that makes them eminently readable and entertaining.  You’ll undoubtedly learn something new as you read your way through the book; I did. Of course, th

Replacing An Old Friend

In 2007, I bought a used MEC Wanderer 2 tent for car camping and easy backcountry trips with only one or two short portages.   The extra room over my ultralight backpacking tent made it great for outings with family members.   The two huge vestibules with paired separate entrances made getting in and out easy, even with loads of gear, and provided great ventilation. My Old Friend: A MEC Wanderer 2 Well, after countless trips over 15 years, in all four seasons, it needs to be replaced; it's now beyond simple mending and seam sealing. Before pulling the trigger and making a purchase, I reached out to my Instagram community and asked for comments and suggestions.  Many people kindly took the time to engage, and I received great feedback and detailed comments.  I had a lot to think about! I took a morning to do some research, collect information, and pull together a summary of the key attributes of the various tents I was looking at, based on what’s important to me.   That last

Gear Review: Bushbox Ultralight Pocket Stove

I recently authored a brief review of this inexpensive, cool little stove for the Canadian Outdoor Equipment Co.   You can find my thoughts on the stove on their site , or simply by clicking on the photo below! The Bushbox Ultralight Pocket Stove with a Trangia Spirit Burner In Place

Quetico Highlights

I put together a short set of favourite photos from my 2021 Quetico Trip .   These are  free to download   at no charge  (for personal, non-commercial use)  if you'd like to use them as computer wallpaper or some similar application. Please reach out to me should you be interested in a full resolution  version of any, suitable  for printing. Click on the image below to view the full set. Quetico Highlights

Gear Review: VSSL Java Coffee Grinder

I like coffee, especially freshly ground coffee. I like it a lot! About ten years ago, I purchased a portable grinder that was designed for camping. “Lightweight”, “Packs Well”, “Hand Held” were probably some of the marketing terms used to describe it. What wasn’t said was “Grinds coffee beans really, really poorly!” It would take about 15 minutes of turning the tiny crank, and shaking the thing up and down, to get enough coffee out for a single cup. I stuck with it for two trips, then tossed it! What a waste.  Fast forward to 2022. We had a terrible storm in our neighbourhood, knocking down hundreds of trees and power. The only coffee grinder I had was electric; oops! I had to rig up an inverter to my car battery to grind my coffee - “sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do”. Clearly, I needed a manual grinder. One of my Instagram friends, Gregory Pleau (@backcountry_wanderer) suggested the VSSL grinder (formally: the “ VSSL Java ”). I remembered seeing ads for the