Outdoor Gear We Love
Here are a few of our favorite things:
Sun protection: Bill's OR hat has extra SPF; Mary's
Wave Hat has an extra wide brim and folds up. Native eyewear with polarized lenses for seeing into the water.
Their motto is 'First on the Water,' and it's true. When the nasty weather kicks in, we don our Sea Tour Jackets with neoprene cuffs and neck, and keep on paddling. They supplied us with enough AquaSeal to patch Noah's ark, and Bill's feet stay safe in NRS's Desporado shoes. Their HydroSkin product is a wonder.
Like a first love you never quite get over, we started using Werner from the get-go, and never left. Bill uses a Kallista carbon paddle, and Mary uses a Camano carbon with a shaft for small hands. These paddles are lightweight, two-piece for easy storage and basically, a god-send on those 15-plus mile days.
A paddling dude once described NDK's Explorer as the Toyota Camry of kayaks. If he meant it as a diss (he was, after all, repping a competitor), I've taken to liking the description: Explorers are roomy, and that means some of the creature comforts of home can come with us on multi-day trips. And like a good car, the worse the conditions, the better this boat performs.
Mary paddles a Kevlar Squamish. In Key Lime green, it was love at first sight. This boat weighs a scant 41 pounds, which means she can carry it to the water herself (but don't tell Bill). She first started paddling the plastic version, loved the handling, but the Kevlar is a much swifter animal with a little more thigh room. It has just enough storage for a multi-day trip, even packing water. Speaking of which, when the this light boat is empty in high winds, it really needs some ballist in the bow. Mary keeps a five-pound bladder of water up there.
When the temperatures dip, we're cozy into our MH Conness 30-degree mummy bag (with a "doubler," see below).
It's funny: Up to the very last minute, we couldn't decide on poly-fill or down. Even after we'd chosen the later, I wasn't sure I'd made the right choice. One week of mid-40's in the Florida panhandle later, there are no more lingering doubts. This bag rocks. (Thanks to Steve and Joel at Florida Bay Outfitters for some last minute advice on this one. It was right on.)
A small company with a romance-saving product. It's called The Sweetie Pie Sleeping Bag Doubler, a wedge-shaped poly-fill expander we zip into the MH Conness. It effectively doubles a single mummy bag and allows us to cuddle on those cold nights. There's a summer and a winter weight (we got the winter). Thanks for designing exactly what we were looking for, Tracey!
We stuff the bag and doubler into some miraculous new waterproof compression sacks made of HydroSeal by OR. They are awesome, compressing things down to a size that fits easily int our hatches. We'd love to get some more for our clothing.
I'd heard a rumor that this 100 percent merino wool product had one advantage over Capalene: It didn't retain odor. A very pursuasive argument, as Mary will attest to (Bill, apparently, has a BO problem). Well, so far, it's true. Bill wears SmartWool tee-shirts on the water, and long underwear when the chill sets in. It's so good, he's going to order some more.. if he could just find an address where they can send it.
For about ten years of backpacking, we've been using a Whisper Lite stove by MSR, Marmot raingear, and a Sierra Designs Meteor-Light tent (recommended by a friend who is too busy right now being a lawyer and father of three to do much hiking. Get some packs on those tikes soon, Matt and KQ!)
Packs: Mary totes a Lowe Alpine, women's size. Bill can be a packmule with his Dana Designs TerraPlain. Both internal frame.
Footwear: Bill swears by Chacos; Mary lives in Crocs.
PFDs: Mary wears a Lotus, tailored for women.
Snapdragon sprayskirts round out the ensemble.