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Quetico Highlights

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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

Newsflash: Badger Paddles Announcement!

Today Badger Paddles announced on their social media channels that I have been named as their first ever Badger Ambassador! Link to Badger Web Announcement As someone who already uses Badger Paddles (and their versatile Badger Wood Oil), I am thrilled to be associated with this Ontario based, Canadian company.   I've handled more paddles than I can count in my lifetime, and the craftsmanship and "smooth hand feel" of the Badger Paddles stands out and won me over. I look forward to talking with people, sharing and maybe helping with a few contests or giveaways in my Ambassador role in the weeks and months ahead. Happy paddling!

Gear Review: Littlbug Twig Stove

My review of the incredibly light Littlbug Junior stove is hosted on the site of the company I bought it from, Canadian Outdoor Equipment Co. They're a Canadian outfit that I've come to trust for any serious outdoors product that I expect to last for most of my lifetime; check them out! Litterbug in Action

Gear Review: BearVault 500

Aside from my paddling adventures, I’ve done a lot of backpacking, both “locally” in the Adirondacks, the Green and White Mountains, and in the Rockies and Sierras. In many cases, regulations necessitate backpackers use a bear canister - a bear resistant container for storing food; not using one isn’t an option, it’s mandated. As a result, I’ve used them when absolutely required. They are readily rented in some parks, much as you can rent (or borrow) PFDs. I can honestly say though, I’ve never truly liked using them. However, I do understand the ultimate rationale: to protect bears by ensuring they don’t associate people with food, resulting in poor outcomes for both the bears, and potentially any humans involved. In planning my itinerary last summer for what I refer to as my 1st Bucketlist Trip, I realized I was going to be in remote places for many days on end. I was traveling alone, so if my food was taken or compromised in some way by bears (pulled down from a hanging spot up

Gear Review: Eureka! Canoe Pack 115L

I made a long trip with many portages through Quetico Provincial Park during the summer of 2021.  During that trip, I decided that my old 65L canoe pack was ready for retirement, and something larger, with better water resistance was in order. After talking with a few people, reading reviews, and doing my own research, I settled on a pack with a lot of room and a good reputation: the “Eureka! Canoe Pack 115L”. Eureka! Canoe Pack 115L This pack is huge, with tons of storage space!   It’s effectively a single large compartment bag, with welded attachments for carrying it in various ways.   It also has six “D” ring attachments to hang additional pieces of loose gear to when the need arises. All your gear goes into the bag which is roll top style.  Two straps then go over the top of the bag to cinch it tight, and two additional straps go down the sides to secure the ends of the roll top. To carry the bag a on a portage, it comes with shoulder straps and a padded hip belt.  To help you

Book Review: Once Around Algonquin

After having sat in my "to be read" pile for almost six months, I finally picked up, started and soon finished, Kevin Callan’s “Once Around Algonquin; An Epic Canoe Journey” and it was thoroughly enjoyable! Once Around Algonquin For some reason I had expected it to be some kind of dry reference guide or route planner; the kind of book that I'd characterize as useful or valuable, but not highly engaging. Boy, was I wrong! Having followed Kevin online for years, listening to his advice, learning from him about winter camping and plant identification, I should have known better. Kevin seems to have the ability to make any topic both interesting and funny. If I had to define the man quickly, I'd tell someone to imagine a person who is one part Bill Mason and an equal part John Cleese or Michael Palin! But I digress... In short, the book was fun, informative, educational, and at times, quite personal. Once I started it, it was hard to put it down. The backstory of the