BLOG 20. Ah…Comfort!
by Cliff Jacobson
It’s the end of a rainy paddling day and you’re camped at last. The tent is pitched an a crackling campfire beckons you to sit and relax. But where? There is no stump or “sitting log” nearby, and the ground is wet from rain. What to do? You can:
a) stand or squat near the blaze—hardly a way to relax.
b) you’re tough—just sit on the wet ground.
c) place a plastic sheet on the ground then sit on the sheet.
d) set your “sit-back” folding canoe seat on the wet ground and sit on it.
When I was much younger I chose options a and b. With age, I smarted up and brought a plastic “sitting sheet”. When I discovered the Crazy Creek® camp seat, I ran right out and bought one. It was acceptably comfortable and it didn’t weigh much or take up much room in my pack. But the seat was packed away and a hassle to get to for snack and lunch stops. And sitting on the ground had these serious negatives:
1. When preparing meals and doing stationary camp chores, a high stool or chair is more comfortable than sitting on the ground.
2. You are part way through a damp, sweaty portage; your back is killing you and you need to take a break. If you have a folding stool with backrest (more on this later) you can just whip it out and sit. Without it, you must crash on a damp cedar log.
3. You stop for lunch at a gravel beach. The river reaches 50 yards into the beach. Your “sit-on-the-ground” folding canoe seat is no good here, but a stool that has legs that won’t sink into the ground, is ideal.
|My favorite camp stool: It folds flat for packing, bungees to a pack, has a comfy backrest and storage pouch; the tubular aluminum legs won't sink into the ground. Available from Piragis.|
There are dozens of styles of folding chairs and at one time or other, I’ve tried them all. Some take too much time to put together; others have heavy steel legs (they should be aluminum) or pointed legs that sink into the ground; still others are flimsy or have waterproof seats and backs (I prefer porous material) that are sticky when it’s hot.
When I was on the army rifle team back in the 1960’s, every shooter was issued a folding stool. The stool had thick aluminum legs and a comfortable canvas seat. There was a zippered compartment for shooting glasses, ammo and cleaning gear and a sling for carrying. Years later, while leading canoe trips in northern Canada, I yearned for one of those stools. I looked everywhere but couldn’t find one. Then, one day, while rooting around a military surplus store, I discovered some. I bought two then shared my find with Piragis NWC, who rooted out the source and added them to their catalog—CLIFF's FAVORITE CAMP STOOL item # R0280002 / $36. My folding stool is the one thing I would miss most on a canoe trip, more so now that my tender teenage years have long slipped by.
|Green River, Utah|
OUTFITTING THE STOOL
I pack the following inside the zippered compartment of my stool:
· A foot square piece of (rolled) closed-cell foam. The foam piece provides a warm, dry seat if the chair is wet. The foam will also float the stool in a capsize.
· An extra insect head-net (one can never have too many head-nets on a canoe trip)!
· Small bottle of bug dope.
· Cigarette lighter in sealed Zip-lock bag.
· Some parachute cord.
· A lightweight plastic bag to place over the backrest if the backrest is wet.
· My stool is camouflage color, which is hard to see in the woods, so I tie short streamers of brightly-colored plastic surveying ribbon to the frame.
Go light paddlers will rightly scoff at my stool which, when outfitted, weighs just under four pounds. But I think the weight is worth it for the “ah…comfort” it provides in camp.
|Noatak River, Alaska|
PACKING THE STOOL
The beauty of this camp stool is that there are no parts to assemble. Just unfold it to sit, fold to store. A length of shock-cord secures my stool to a pair of carabineers attached to the side compression straps of my pack. Simple and fast—the stool releases and “clips on” in seconds.