Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Field Test: Superior Glove Endura Chainsaw Glove.


When working with any cutting tools safety is always number one. Being protected and taking your time is all that matters when working in the bush. You could be miles from help, deep through thick forest with possibly lakes between you. You must slow down, think of your steps and be sure to not skimp on PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) costs and worthiness. As cheesy as it sounds, your life depends on it. Chainsaws are the worst of the worst in terms of damage caused per duration of time. The average chainsaw wound requires 110 stitches.110 folks. My goodness.


 Last year my family purchased 21 acres of beautiful forest in Huntsville, ON. And while we are in the deciding stages of life paths, we will be using the forest for camping, and harvesting wood for heat as well as building supplies. Since we will be cutting the trees ourselves as a side project, having top notch PPE is essential. As I searched the Internet to find what is the appropriate PPE for chainsaw work it came down to a few items. Head protection, Ear, eye, Leg, Foot, and lastly hands. With me being based in Milton, it came to my surprise that one of top rated gloves was being made by of Superior glove. Superior glove’s head office is a mere 10 min from my home. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to try out Superior Gloves new Endura Chainsaw Gloves. 

How not to wear a face guard.

The gloves are a bright Blaze yellow, so you do not lose them if you put them down in the bush. Look wise, very similar to the now popular “mechanic” gloves. They have 8 layers of a chain stopping specific Kevlar. Their spec sheet states “…designed to withstand a chainsaw running at 3140 feet per minute. This meets the EN 381:1999 Class 0 for chainsaw cuts.” The palms are a goatskin with Anti-vibration pads in key spots within the grip to help dampen the movement of the saw.

They all in all were super comfortable to work with. The seams inside the glove were a tad stiff when new, and had me concerned if rub points once I started sweating. However the seams actually softened up when they got wet with punky wood and sweat. One of the great features I really liked was the cuff. The gloves go well up your arm almost past where one would wear a wristwatch and seals tight with an elastic and Velcro closure. This I found very helpful keeping bits of wood out of the glove compared to my previous Deer hide ropers. One less thing to deal with…shaking wood chips out of your gloves every now and then.

The Anti-vibration pads were quite helpful, as after the second 7-hour cutting day my hands felt normal. I am sure you would get more protection out of a dedicated anti-vibration glove. The Endure is a healthy median. No buzzing or numbness from the saw being in my hand all day. The gloves leather palm also was great as a general work glove, moving the felled logs, gripping them when wet and dry. I never felt as if the glove was sliding off or I was going to lose my grip.



The quality of the stitching was great. While Superior does make many of it gloves in Canada, these are made offshore. That being said, you can see that Superior keep very tight control over their standards of quality to ensure good products make it out to the market.

There was really only one concern I had with these gloves. That issue being that the black dye that the leather manufacturer uses in the goatskin come off onto quite a bit onto your hands. I have used these gloves for about 40 hours now...and every time I sweat in them…my hands turn black. While the majority of it comes off with a hand washing, some if still left for a couple days. I had the pleasant experience of wiping my face with black hands and leaving black all over my face. Pretty funny. I looked like a football player with the black lines under my eyes.

The very thick Kevlar Pad on the top of the left hand.

 The Endura glove is a solid chainsaw safety glove as well as a work glove. While I am fortunate enough to have not have had to try out the Kevlar protection, it’s nice to know its there incase I do need it one day. Some argue that wearing PPE makes you more complacent. I think that chainsaw safety equipment only offers a bit of protection. It’s not meant as bulletproof armor, but can help if a true accident happens. You still need to have complete focus on the job at hand making sure you are well footed, and practicing proper techniques. Its nice to have a great local company like Superior Glove going the extra length to add more layers of Kevlar protection then other brands that we as consumers can get in Canada.



After the 40 or so hours of sweaty palmed chainsaw use, heaving wood into a stackable pile there has been no seam seperation or excessive wear on any high friction areas. The gloves obviously loosen a bit when wet, but the gloves shrink back to a great fit when dry. If your in the market for new high performance Chainsaw gloves and don’t mind a bit of black ghosting on your hand for a couple days, take a look at these bright gloves (Superior Gloves also make a mitt version).  With the Endura gloves you can feel reassured knowing that you will have the protection you need…when you need it. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Field Test: Tenkara Rod Co.'s Sawtooth Package.

It has been sometime since I have written a field test/report on an item. This particular post has been almost a full year in the making. I decided that rather then write a hasty report on an item used a couple of time I figured lets do almost a whole season. So with that being said I have nearly completed my first season as a Tenkara fisherman.


Before I begin into my look at Tenkara Rod Co.’s Sawtooth rod and set up, I should tell you a bit about my angling history. Before trying out my new set up this past year, my last experience using any type of fishing rod was about 24 years ago. In fact before I tried Tenkara I would very adamantly say, “I hate fishing”. See my loving grandfather was a fisherman, and that included 8 hours of sitting in a tiny, unshaded, aluminum boat at a time. Long hours of sitting in the middle of a lake catching perch are not for 10 year olds. Not by any means. And this is how my hatred for fishing was started. After a few summers of this on an almost weekly basis I vowed to never touch a rod again.

So now jump 24 year to perusing instagram and coming across Tenkara Rod Co. via TOPO designs feed. A reel-less, collapsible all in one extremely light package style of fly-fishing? Sound interesting! Coupled with the fact I had just purchased land with a fly fishable river running through it.sounds even more interesting. So I reached out for some more info to Drew Hollenback Co-Founder of Tenkara Rod Co. He was very insightful with the answers to my questions and generously helped me get started on this wildly fun sport.

The idea of having a minimal fishing kit for use on a bike, hiking, a canoe trip, or just keeping a kit in the truck was such a great idea! While researching Tenkara I came across many picture of very young kids landing great looking trout with ease. Well I’m pretty good at stuff, so I should be able to do it too.

When I received my Sawtooth rod set up from Tenkara Rod Co. I was very excited to try it out, however it was December, not even close to fishing season in my area. So over the Winter I put together my kit. Some waders, some shoes, my TOPO X Howler Bros. Field bag and some other fly fishing tools.


Fast forward to Spring 2015. Finally, lets break this kit out and see how easy it really is. My first experience was at Lowville Park. It has the Bronte Creek running through it. A great little river, and it has a fair number of Rainbow Trout hanging out in its pools. So I suit up, Sawtooth in hand, and step into the water. Nervous, not wanting to look like a dummy I cast out, a wrist like flick, but using my elbow as the rotational point, from 2 to 10 if I had to use a clock as a guide. Watching one of the flies supplied with the kit slowly drop on to the surface of the water I see a glimmer of silver dart for it, BAM. “Whoa!” I think to myself, “My first cast, and within 30 seconds I caught a 6” Rainbow? come on!”. Yes folk, It really was that quick, and it didn’t stop there, I think my first day I fished for a total of 3 hours, and landed about 17 fish. Going from the arduous fishing in the middle of a lake to standing in rushing water landing fish faster then I can believe…. who wouldn’t like this?


I was hooked, it was mind clearing, pleasing to the ear, and great to be outside. It really was something I feel I was missing. Tenkara really makes me feel a bit more connected to the land and the water. I have been out almost every weekend this season, with absolutely not a single hiccup with the equipment, it has preformed flawlessly. Tenkara Rod Co. has really put together a fanatics set up. One that can be used by Beginner (Clearly) and to be honest, I feel pretty confident nowadays enough to call myself a fairly decent Tenkara fishermen. And again the Sawtooth has yet to show its downfalls to me…if any.

The Sawtooth kit I got from Tenkara Rod Co. included:
-Sawtooth Rod
-Rod pouch and protective tube
-Line spool
-A Non-taper line
-3 hand tied flies.

All in all a great set up to get you going for sure. Although I would really like to see if Tenkara Rod Co. could include a spool of Tippet, in order to make it a truly “get fishing right out of the box” type package. Another great little piece to add to this kit is a business card sized “knot tying” guide for the newbie’s…like I was. I know they do have video online that show the knots, but to have a quick reference in the package would be very help…but not necessary.


Probably over the season thus far I have landed easily about 60-70 fish, the biggest being a 10” Rainbow. The Sawtooth held its ground and gave a great feeling in the hand while bringing it in. The cork handle is comfortable and grips well when wet, the paint job on the Sawtooth has held up as expected, I do take the rod apart after every trip to dry out before putting it back together. Whether or not this is needed I’m not sure, but it just seems like the right thing to do. The line has held up all season with no issues and the spool is very handy for drying your line and keeping it safe when not fishing.

One of the great things about Tenkara Rod Co. say from Patagonia’s set up is the Storage tube. It is such a great feature to get right off the bat. If you choose to tie it from your handlebars, or lash to a pack you know your rod is safe and will not get snapped if leaned on or possible even sat on. I know some other companies sell tubes as an after market item…but good on Tenkara Rod Co. for fitting this into their kit.

Drew and the gang over at Tenkara run a super helpful team for sure, When I got my order there unfortunately was a quantity issue with an item. It was quickly resolved and shipped with some bonus tidbits. I definitely have good faith that they will help any customer out when needed, which is something to take into account when in the market for your set up.




I think for someone wanting to explore Tenkara, but yet possibly take it more seriously Tenkara Rod Co. really fits the bill. I think that Tenkara Rod Co. really has a solid foundation on their offering to the Tenkara Market. Their offering has clean graphics, are hard wearing, and a pleasure to use. If you search Google for other review you might find some cons about Tenkara Rod Co.’s products from other very professional anglers. I however, and about as simple as it gets…I want to catch fish…regularly, and I have found that Tenkara Rod Co. delivers. 60-70 fish in a season is pretty good for a guy who has not touched a rod in decades. Having no skills of my own when I started, I feel the Sawtooth has allowed me to learn these skills, from precise casting, reading the water, to even tying the knots. I feel if Tenkara Rod Co.’s gear were a sub par, I would have been dissuaded and just put the rod away in the unused gearbox. I am however very happy to say I am looking forward to many more years of fishing this set up, exploring my own backyard in new rivers and streams. Heck, even telling other Western fly fishermen all about Tenkara as it still is somewhat new in my area.

Thank you again To Drew at Tenkara Rod Co. for all your help in getting me on board with this great new to me hobby!

Click here to check out all of Tenkara Rod Co.'s offerings

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"The Joy of Hot Tenting" - Kevin Callan.

As you have read from the previous post, Tim Foley, Kevin Callan and myself did a fantastic hot tenting overnight. Kevin and Tim made a short Video about the trip for Kevin's Happy Camper Website.

It was great to be able to be apart of the video and have this little memento to take away from the outing!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Hot Tenting 2015.

This past weekend I had the absolute pleasure to be invited to head on up North to partake in some Hot Tenting. It was very short notice, but heck... that is definitely what it is all about. The week before I received a text message from friend and owner of COEC Tim Foley to see if I wanted to go camping with himself and Canadian Legend and fellow Miltonian The Happy Camper himself Kevin Callan. Needless to say my response was "Yes!"

 

Saturday morning came and Tim and I were to meet Kevin just outside of Kawartha Highlands at the local grocery store. We arrived a tad late, and I was formally introduce to Kevin, we all made some jokes about how really cold it was and quickly hopped back in our warm cars and off to the trail head.

Tim Filming or Hiding?

When we got to the trail head we loaded our freight toboggans up with all our Gear, tied it all down and began our trek in. As the snow squeaked beneath my feet, I could tell that it was a perfect day to be walking. With the snow so cold it acts more like sand, boots don't get wet, if you kneel or sit, again it brushes right off leaving no water. Perfect for walking. As we hiked among the beautiful hemlock forest through the park we stopped every now and then to take some footage for some upcoming videos that Kevin put through his YouTube page. As the bystander it was really interesting to see how these shorts come to life and the amount of work that Kevin, and in this trip Tim puts into it. Amazing.

 

We made it to camp and got the Trangia going for some tea to warm our bellies. After that we split up the tasks from setting up the tent to gathering firewood for the long winter night ahead.

Before dark we had a good pile of hemlock for the night, the tent was cozy warm, with snow melting on the wood stove. As we all joked inside the tent...mainly about me; I was on snack duty and did not want to disappoint, So I brought about 6 lbs of GORP, two HUGE chocolate bars, smoked cheddar, and a whack of gummy berries. Which I knew was complete overkill, but better be looking at it, then for it ...right? and as Tim and Kevin enjoyed their camp chairs I slumped on top of buckets from kitty litter slipping and sliding every which way.


The night was filled with conversation and stories about camp trips, gear reviews, idea, and insights. It was also filled with some scotch, bourbon, pipe smoke and the beautiful crackle of the fire. As we grew tired around 11pm, we all huddled in our sleeping bags. Kevin pulls out his camera and proceeds to ask Tim and I question about the day and winter camping.  And as he asked me the questions he did, I think to myself that these types of question should be asked at the end of each and every day. Questions like "what was your favorite thing about today?" or " if you could sum up the day in 5 positive words, what would they be?" Forcing you to reflect upon the positive and look at the day as a whole instead of the perhaps really crappy hour you had, or the small argument that happens. As I drifted off to sleep for the night to the sound of the fire and the wisps of smoke I too reflected on the day and all the hilarious chatter that happened.

 

We all awoke around 8 am, tent was freezing, bladders full. Kevin got the fire stoked, and going, I gathered the last bit of wood outside, and Tim got the all important coffee on the go. As things warmed up inside the tent we got all our sleeping gear packed away and switched the tent from sleep mode back to seating mode. Kevin made some back-bacon and slush eggs muffin sandwiched with warmed the guts, coffee was downed and before we knew wit it was time to break the tent down. It came down with ease and everything all loaded back on our toboggans for the trek out. After a couple more shots and some beautiful lighting through the forest we could see the roofs of our cars.How quick one night can be, Hot tenting is a great social camping experience. With the shortened days having a few people can make the camp tasks quicker and the long night seem bright with laughter and stories. I hope to get out again this winter after having a taste, but for now...this week the thirst has been quenched.

Thanks Tim and Kevin for a truly memorable weekend!

From Kevin Callan's Facebook page.





Saturday, July 27, 2013

Gear Trials Along The Missinaibi.

Writing this blog has provided me with plenty of unique opportunities. As you have read over the years, I have been on factory tours, met plenty of new friends and also have had the chance to try out new gear for camping and the outdoor lifestyle. When Andy and I put it out there that we were going to complete the Lower Missinaibi we were provided again with a great forum for trying out some new gear. Below you will find a few of our favorites from this trip.

1. RucPac Hardcase Conversion Strap System ($112).


This one of a kind piece of equipment is a really awesome idea. A fully padded pack system that turns any Pelican Brand case or similar into a backpack. I came across this system when I got my Wanigan (a Pelican 1620). I originally made a backpack system from an old internal frame pack, But the problem was the in order to access the contents you had to unbuckle the whole thing then re-attach and tighten again when finished. The RucPac eliminates this completely and leaves the lid completely accessible any time, Also does not interfere with the laying down of the case as it is just webbing. The shoulder straps are fairly comfortable, mind you my wanigan weighs about 80 pounds fully loaded so is anything comfortable!! The stitching is top notch and well crafted. What little reviews I could find on the web complained about the instructions, I had no issue with the simple pictures and brief words. When I contacted the inventor of the RucPac Laurens Parsons about whether the system can hold such a big case full of gear. His response was "The only limit is ones own strength as the product is rock solid in its construction." And I have to fully agree. The webbing did not let up once the whole trip. The only issues I had was the Velcro tab section that holds the webbing to the case would sometimes flip up into your back when putting on, and the other issue was some time, possibly because of the weight of my case there was a pressure point between the flat back of the case, bottom of the shoulder straps and my shoulders. It caused some discomfort, but a minor issue for the absolute genius of allowing me to carry such a huge case on my back. Any one looking for a amazing camera case or a wanigan, I would stand behind these to make that happen.


2. Kupilka Classic Cup - Kupilka 21 ($22).

 
This super-affordable piece of kit really has to make it way into every one's bag. Made in Finland from 50% pine fiber {wood} and 50% thermoplastic {BPA-free}, they looks and smells like the classic Kuksa cups that are favored by Sami folks, but a lot more durable. Also the 7.10 oz cups will not spoil by using milk in them like solid wood kuksa's, and will not break the bank if you want to get a set for the family. We used these as our primary cup the entire trip, coffee, whisky, food, and just looking cool hung from our belts. I also have the smaller "shot cups" which are made from the same materials, but come with a long reindeer lanyard for around your neck.  On my Kuplika cups I changed the strap from reindeer to paracord so we could hand it on our belts as stated above. It looks top notch, will not dent in you drop them. It only is really unfortunate that we cannot just drink the river water with out treatment, because if that was the case I would have just brought these for water. I guarantee you will love these bad boys. I plan on getting the whole set and letting them serve us for years to come.


Teva "Original Universal" Sandals ($55).



Needing a light pair of footwear for around camp? Want them to be tried and true. Then look no further than the Teva Original Universal. These sandals have been around for more than 30 years, pretty much unchanged. Please mind the socks in the sandals as the bugs would have had at my feet within seconds. My primary footwear for canoe trips are me 16" Maine Hunting Boots. The boots are what I wear in the canoe, along the portages etc, however the second we get to camp these Teva's go on. With the socks they become the perfect foot stretching, breathing and protecting platform to perform all camp tasks. I would have loved to have worn these while canoeing, however the bugs alone put an end to that, that will have to be another trial. The quality of these again is tried an true, the webbing is a thick patterned colour, and the sole is a comfortable grippy m is not to stiff. As you know these are meant to go in the water and still be useful, and while bathing and swimming around camp they performed flawlessly, drying quickly allowing me to put y socks back on to protect the tops of my feet again. The one thing where I was not to keen on these sandals is while scrambling up hills at camp, The softness of the sole allowed the straps to flex at their contact point and I would shift and slide all over the place within the foot bed.  A general feeling of not to secure while on a hills. I am sure that Teva has other sandals that address this issue with thicker stiffer soles, but as long as you are sure-footed and take your time they will hold up. Yeah, coming down some hills I thought the foam was going to rip and I would have to carry a busted sandal home, I almost wanted them to, so I could shake my head and be disappointed. However these sandals took a beating from all the scrambling and really held up, No damage what so ever, just some sore feet from sliding around on the hills. These Tevas's are easy to store in a pack, and again quick to dry. They are a great camp shoe for the warmer months, and I am sure you could even stretch them into the Fall if you were so inclined. There are plenty of colour ways to chose from and even some super slick white soled versions for all you "trendy" folks (I want to get them!?!). So if you want so easy cap shoes scoop up some history. If its good enough for 30 years of whitewater guides, I am sure they are good enough for your boring lake travel canoe trip.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Trip Report: Day:6 Lower Missinaibi River - Mattice to Moose River Crossing.

Day 6: July 5, 13.
-Km's Paddled: 23km
-Portaged Meters: 100m
-General Weather: Sunny, No clouds

Early Morning headed towards Moose River Crossing.
So last Morning. After a early rise as we had a train to catch we ate a nice big bowl of oatmeal and some whisky and coffee we packed up ship and we were now officially off of the Lower Missinaibi. We put in on the Moose River and made our way up to Moose River Crossing. The Crossing is the Bridge for the Polar Bear express that runs between Cochrane and Moosonee. The train comes by Moose river twice daily, as it goes in and as it returns.  The Stop is a "flag only" stop and one has to flag the train down to get it to stop and pick you up.

Construction Work Being Done.
As we approached the Bridge we could see a group of men working on the bridge covering the concrete with Steel to prevent the ice from destroying them. We waves as we went under. You have to go past the bridge and come back around to get to the station.  As we landed at the station and brought our gear up to the platform, you could see that the Mover River station is really an outpost for these men. thee is bunk houses, a mess hall, Beer cans everywhere. I was interested in how long these men stay out here at a time. It really seemed like a Klondike outpost, really interesting. a couple of the men came out to say hi, and inquire about our trip. Super friendly, but a rugged bunch of men for sure.

The Main Building.
One Guy came up to use and to let us know that the train will be coming by within the hour and to grab a blaze orange fleece they have hanging to flag it down. Sure enough the train came and as we flagged it down the train stopped and some parcels got dropped off and hands were shaken. A real treat to see some other faces. We loaded our canoe and took the train into Moosonee. The ride took about 1 hour, and when we arrived I had to call Owen from the outfitters to let him know about the early arrival. Owen was out but his wife Denise said that he could bring it in the Morning.

Welcome to Moose River
 After strolling around Moosonee for a couple hours the Train was about to leave for Cochrane. So we Boarded and took the 5.5 Hour Train ride back. Napping, snacking, and reminiscing about the trip the whole way back. It really was amazing, The luck with the tailwinds, The nothing but sun for 6 days. Really a killer trip. Andy and I became closer for sure. Learning, teaching, everything to make a bond stronger. It was an amazing trip and I am glad I got to do complete it with Andy. We arrived in Cochrane with no car to store the canoe in, however the Best Western in Cochrane was oh so kind and let us store it in their lobby for the night and we just got clean and hit a air conditioned bed...It was the perfect end to the trip. We awoke to a great breakfast and my car waiting at the train station. Lower Missinaibi..Complete.

Start Over to Day 1.
Andy Sitting in the Shade.

Trip Report: Day:5 Lower Missinaibi River - Mattice to Moose River Crossing.

Day 5: July 4, 13.
-Km's Paddled: 50km
-Portaged Meters: 0
-General Weather: Sunny, No clouds
-End of day Camp.

Loading the Canoe in the Morning.
Day 5 was a simple day, We started with a simple on the water breakfast as the mosquitoes at the site came out in thousands as there was no wind first thing in the morning. We could not set up the sail right away as we had "Deception Rapids" to deal with right out of the hop. They were not bad at all, at first we were not even sure if we had gone through them. We had notice in the days before the river was dropping about 2" or more every day. This explained to us why all the picture from previous trips of other people had them sleeping on gravel bars and running what looked like streams sometimes. Water goes fast from here, and the opportunity to paddle the Missinaibi is short.

Breakfast Mosquitoes.

 No real highlight, other than a more steady tailwind than yesterday. We are able to Blow through the full 50km before 2pm. The sail held tight and barely ever had no wind in it. It was a solid 3 hours of one continuous breeze. A great sailing day. While just cruising along we come up with this story that our sail, a tarp is a third person named "Tarp". He has a stereotypical whitewater rafting guide personality. He really just goes with the flow and let the wind take him where he wants, we create this whole persona of Tarp. and then create the adventure of Andy, Chris, and Tarp. I guess you had to be there. We were busting a gut.

Tarp just going with the flow.
It was so smooth we were able to bust out the pipes while on the water and just sit back and enjoy the steady pace of the wind and water. Truly a relaxing day. We felt lucky to have been able to have a tailwind, Things would have had to have been seriously adjusted if a headwind came into affect. Conversation was light, the map had just straight lines, without even any swifts, Just flat river travel for today.

Enjoying a Pipe.
The Sun was hot, and the wind was strong as we pulled onto Portage Island. The sight was high above teh water level, so we just brought up the sleeping stuff and decided to leave all other gear down below. I had had enough of the blazing sun for 5 days, and decided to "hide" in the tent. Even thought it was sauna hot, it was out of the sun. Andy went fishing in some of the swifts around the corner. Later we met up and collected some nice fossils and rocks. I was no hungry for dinner, as the heat was a little much, but Andy made himself some Bannock Pizza, which looked amazing! I had a bite, and it was surely tasty.

On to Day 6.


Leg Bruise Started to Heal by The End of The Trip.