Holiday Gear Additions: Ballin’ on a Budget
Throughout history we have learned that all great streaks must come to an end at some point. Whether it was Cal Ripken Jr’s 2,632 consecutive games over more than 16 years, Ken Jennings’ 74 straight Jeopardy wins, or Leonardo DiCaprio’s lifetime streak without winning an Oscar, – wait…that one is still going – history has taught us that all good things will come to an end. To keep the vicious circle of life moving, we need to rest in the 2,633rd game; we need to have Nancy Zerg demolish us in our Final Jeopardy wager, and we need the Oscar panel to finally just give him the darn Oscar!*
I sit here humbled – like Cal, Ken, and the eventual Leo – as I announce that my streak has too come to an end. After almost four months of ballin’ on a budget, our gear bag no longer looks like a do-it-yourself (DIY) forum for DIY-challenged adventurers. Thanks to the generosity of family and a short list of sponsors, we have been able to make the following improvements to our 2015 gear bag.
Nothing passes time on the water faster than good conversation or loud music. Well, good conversation comes and goes. As two young males – once roommates and friends for the past 18+ years – complacent in our drama free lives, conversation tends to go more often than it comes. This leaves us to drown in our reverie with music, trivia, and books on tape. Our non-waterproof $5 Bluetooth speaker took it’s last breath last month on the Little River. While it served it’s purpose, our new EcoXGear EcoX BT Speakeris waterproof, it floats, features a 12 hour battery life, and is all about that bass.
A spare paddle is a necessity for all paddling trips. It’s a basic safety regulation. Having an extra paddle – regardless of the quality – provides you with a safety net for reaching your take out point when one of your primary paddles breaks or gets lost.
Don’t worry, I understand how silly that sounds…
While I don’t plan on losing or breaking and paddles, it could happen. In my case, a more likely scenario is that river conditions change, and a different paddle would be better suited to handle these new conditions. With the addition of the Bending Branches Beavertail Traditional Wood Canoe Paddle, I’ve got a solid basswood shaft 6.75″ x 25″ blade paddle built for deep water lake-type paddling and strong enough to use in shallow water situations as a hybrid push pole. Weighing in at only 20 ounces, the lightweight shaft, and high surface area blade give me extra cushion in maneuvering the learning curve on my Goon and soon to be J-Stroke.
The new Railblaza USA Camera Mount Adapters make any GoPro camera instantly compatible with their Railblaza USA bases without having to worry about platforms, booms, or extensions. Made from UV stabilized glass reinforced nylon and stainless steel hardware, this eliminates my need to constantly worry about where the camera(s) are mounted on different extension poles or loosely floating around the back deck of the canoe. Not only will this increase the number and quality of pictures we can get but it will also let me paddle free from worry that my beloved GoPro camera is unknowingly sinking to the bottom of the river.
We’ve paddled in the dark a couple of times now. It’s nowhere near as fun as it sounds. While Lumina LED cockpit lights serve their purpose along the centerline of the canoe, they don’t do much for providing visibility downriver. Without visibility downriver from the bowman, paddling turns into a big game of guess and check where incorrect guesses turn into unbalanced slams into sandbars and slaps from overhanging tree limbs. I swear, once the sun goes down there are more obstacles on the river than there are Starbucks in the mall. With our new 130 lumens of night vision in three modes (white spotlight, white flood light, and red night vision), our speed, moral, and safety on our predawn launches and post sunset finales is sure to improve allowing us to pack more miles into limited hours of daylight.
*Thanks for hooking Leo up in 2016, Academy!