Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Gear?

Hi fellow paddlers,

At the end of every canoe trip that Diane and I take there are certain conversations that always take place. We talk about how we wish the trip could have been longer. Even if we are out for two weeks, we always wish for longer trips. We talk about how we will take those longer trips once we are retired and do not have the constraints of a job. We talk about the fact that we are glad that we live in Ely and do not have to drive for a day or two to get back home. And invariably, we ask the question...How can we take less stuff next time?

Now don't get me wrong, we have done this for a while and we have refined our gear needs pretty well, but we still wonder if we take too much. I suppose this conversation comes up because we are both getting older and the portages are a bit tougher on us than they were 15 years ago. I used to carry a canoe and pack on the portage, now it is just the canoe and a waist pack. It takes us a bit longer than it used to as well. Now, for lots of reasons, this is all OK; but we still find ourselves wanting to trim down on what we take.

I once heard the advice that after every trip one should make three piles of gear. Pile one has all the stuff you used all the time. Pile two has stuff that you used maybe once or twice. Pile three has stuff that you never used at all. The admonition concludes...on your next trip take only the stuff you had in pile one.

This seems a bit severe and certainly even though the need for a first aid kit never arose does not mean that you should not bring one. A very important part of any wilderness trip is anticipating all sorts of contingencies and being prepared for them. This means that you may bring some things that you never need, but if the need arose, you sure would be glad you had them.

So...let's get some discussion going. What do you feel is absolutely necessary for a canoe trip in the BWCAW or Quetico? What are some of the things you would never leave behind? What are some of the things that are borderline? And if you were ruthless...what kinds of things could you do without?

I will start the ball rolling with this one. There is one thing that I would never consider leaving behind...a TARP. I have often told my clients that if I had to choose between taking a tent and tarp, the tent would stay at home. You can sleep under a tarp and stay dry. You can sit under a tarp and huddle by a fire for warmth and comfort. You can function under a tarp in all kinds of weather and stay dry and comfortable. You can cook and eat your meals under a tarp no matter the weather.

What do you think? I look forward to hearing some responses. Maybe you will have some ideas that Diane and I can put into practice on our next trip.



Thomas said...

Not only do I agree completely with Bert and would never go without a tarp, I'll take that a step further and say I would never go to the BWCAW without my COOKE'S SEWING tarp! It is an absolutely indispensible "got to have it."
The other thing is my Dragonfly stove. Love that stove.
Can't wait to read some of the other comments.

Thomas said...

There are, for me, three things I cannot do without in the BWCA:
1) A Cook Custom Sewing tarp;
2) My Dragonfly stove, and most importantly;
3) My wife.

Bert said...

Hi Thomas...
Thanks for your comments. I agree...Cooke Custome Sewing Tarp is the best tarp available anywhere. I have been in some powerful windstorms and that tarp has stood the tests with flying colors. It is unbelieveable.
I also agree with you about number 3 on your list of "must haves". Do you think we will get in trouble by not makeing them #1 on the list?

Bert said...

Thomas...thanks for your comments.I agree that the Cooke Custome Sewing tarp is a must. I have been in some powerful wind storms and that tarp is bomb proof, and I mean bomb proof. I also agree on choice number 3 in your list. Do you think we will get in trouble for not making them #1?

Bert Heep said...

I agree Thomas. The Cooke Custome Sewing tarp is the best tarp one can buy. I have been in some powerful wind storms and the tarp is bomb proof...and I mean bomb proof. I also agree with #3 on your list. Do you think we will get in trouble for not making them #1?