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Ross Lake Hammock Ramble – Part 2

In Early summer my brother-in-law and I returned to Ross Lake (the location for our backpacking packrafting trip). This time it was a fun overnight hammock hang. This is day 2 – with a bit of gear lists and our trip out.

Hope your summer has been fantastic!

 

 

Enjoy!

 

Ross Lake Hammock Ramble – Part 1

In Early summer my brother-in-law and I returned to Ross Lake (the location for our backpacking packrafting trip). This time it was a fun overnight hammock hang.

Hope your summer has been fantastic!

 

 

Enjoy!

EccoTemp L5 – A portable, tankless propane hot water heater

How do you stay clean on your outdoor adventures? I’m sure all of us have that moment when we “could really use a hot shower” to clean off – whether that’s at the campsite, on the road, at the cabin, or even in the yard after a day of hard and dirty work. For those times, and many others, you should consider the EccoTemp L5.

The EccoTemp L5 is a tankless hot water heater that runs off propane, 2 “D” batteries and running water from a hose (it can even run off a 12v pump!). Being tankless it offers instant hot water – up to 18 hours of it on a standard propane tank for any time you need to get clean. We were sent this portable shower to review by OutdoorTankless.ca and are glad we said yes. Let’s take a look at the features and then talk about what we think.

Features

  • 37 500 BTU
  • up to 1.4 gallons of hot water per minute
  • Minimum flow of 0.4 gallons/minute
  • 30 to 35 °F rise at 1.4 gallons per minute (more with a lower flow)
  • Electric Ignition (run by 2 “D” cell batteries (sold separately))
  • Adjustable temperature from 80 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 1/2″ NPT water fittings plumb easily into standard American fittings
  • Adapter attaches to any standard garden house.
  • Shower nozzle with on and off switch
  • Heat deflector
  • Equipped with a carry handle for easy transportation
  • Includes hose and regulator for attaching to standard LP tank
  • Works for about 18 hours on an average barbecue 20-pound propane tank
  • 20 minute auto safety shut off timer (in case you forget to turn it off)
  • Weight: 12 lbs
  • Dimensions: 14.5″ tall (18″ with rain cap) X 11.5″ wide X 4.5″ deep
  • $179.99 CAD at OutdoorTankless.ca (Ships to Canada and the USA)

What it’s good for:

The Eccotemp L5 is designed to provide portable and instant hot water, meaning it’s ideal for:

  • Cabins
  • Travel trailers
  • Camping
  • outdoor showering at home
  • cleaning pets
  • cleaning vehicles
  • anywhere else that you need a quick and portable hot water source

It’s designed to hang off a nail or screw and connects to a standard hose. It even comes with a handle that makes it easy to carry.

What do we think?

We were impressed at the ease of setup and how well it worked. One of the benefits/side effects/downsides of having a farm is that the kids get filthy playing in the dirt. We’re fine with that, but it means that they either tramp dirt into the bathroom or face the cold water of the outdoor hose. Thanks to this tankless setup the kids can clean off outside comfortably, leaving the bathrooms (and the path to them) clean and mud free.

The two valves that control water flow and temperature make it easy to set the temperature you want. When set to the lowest flow and hottest temperature it is at times too hot – and still has enough flow to shower comfortably in. At full flow you’ll still get comfortably warm water as well.

Eccotemp designed this shower to not need a pilot light. There’s no open flame when the shower is not in use. When you flip the switch and turn on the shower head, the water pressure turns on the gas flow and the igniter. You’ll hear the tick tick tick woosh of the propane running and will almost immediately feel the heat. The igniter keeps running until the flame ignites – a great (and safe) system that is common on all tankless systems that you’ll see today.

We lived in South America for a few years and pretty much all hot water is supplied by tankless systems due to its efficiency and economy. Why heat water that you don’t need? This L5 model purportedly will give you 18 hours of hot showers based on a single 20 lb propane tank. That’ll last you an entire summer.

This would make a great off-the-grid setup for your cabin too!

Conclusion

Not everyone’s idea of an outdoor shower is a crisp mountain waterfall. For those of us that need a portable source of hot water, check out the Eccotemp L5 at outdoortankless.ca. We’re looking forward to taking it camping this summer – the kids already love it and I know a few friends who might just be coaxed into the great outdoors with the promise of a hot shower at the end of the day.

What do you think of this setup? Could you make use of one of these at home or on the road? Let us know in the comments below.

The Jump – How to tell a very short story with video

Last weekend the family was out skating and playing out on a frozen pond in rural Saskatchewan. (Don’t worry, I had to spell check that one too). In the midst of our adventure a friend wanted some tips on putting together a video, so we spent a few fun minutes putting together the above story.

This was all filmed with my cellphone, and took maybe 30 minutes to film and edit. Here’s how we did it.

Tell a story

Every movie has to have a story. The better the story (however simple) the better the film. You can go to film something with a story in mind, or you can wait for it to all happen and then edit it into a story. The latter can be more challenging, but equally rewarding.

What’s your theme?

Good stories have a theme – what the story is trying to show or teach. Our story was about overcoming obstacles… 😉 Remember, don’t be preachy, let it speak for itself.

What’s your plot?

Your plot is the conflict or struggle that your main character goes through. It’s your tool to show your theme or lesson. This conflict can be internal or external, but it needs to come to a resolution.

In our case the struggle was whether or not our young rider was going to make the jump.

My struggle was whether or not he was going to land on (and break) my new cellphone in the process!

Build the tension

As the story moves forward the tension should increase. Will he make it? Are their new obstacles? Everything should pull us to that final moment when the protagonist concludes the plot.

Structure

Most stories can be split up into a beginning, middle and end and more or less they all follow the same structure. We’re introduced to the character(s), a conflict arises, tension builds, and then finally the conflict resolves in victory or defeat, before we wrap it up. A longer story might have more ups and downs, more conflicts and minor resolutions, but it all ties together in one final conflict and resolution.

Now just add some music

Music can make a story infinitely more interesting. Especially if the story is just a kid going over a jump on a sled.

Choose a piece of music that suits your story or that part of the story. For us, an overdramatic piece that built to a crescendo fits the bill nicely… I also imagine it’s how I would have felt if I were on the sled.

Recording the video

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received was to plan your shots. Think about all the different ways you could capture the story?

Think of everything you can imagine, including crazy ideas. We joked about holding up my son on the sled and recording a shot as if he was flying through the air for 15 seconds or so. If we had the resources to do it, we probably would have… and it could have had a few laughs. We settled for a few less dramatic ones that we recorded on a few runs down the track. We kept about 50% of the footage… which is surprisingly a lot… which leads to another point.

ALWAYS get more than you think you need. You won’t be able to go back and replicate things easily later, so get more than you think you need at the moment. We didn’t get a shot of the sled starting to move, and no one wanted to go back and get the shot. It’s too bad as the story would have flowed a little bit more.

The End

If you made it all the way through this boring little how to, please leave a comment below! Thanks for watching!

How’s that for over analysing 15 seconds of video?

Flying a DIY model aircraft

My nephew is a bit of a wiz when it comes to building and fixing things. He’s an early teen now and has been taking apart, fixing and re-assembling small engines for years.

Recently he started buying components for remote control aircraft online and has been his own air frames. He came over to try his foam board and coroplast spitfire a few weeks ago and I was duly  impressed.

Check out the video and let us know what you think? His next project is a quadcopter that he’s building from scratch.

Happy New Year!

Local Lion 50L Backpack

This unlikely package arrived on my doorstep a few months ago from Gearbest.com, an online retailer, since then, I’ve used it a lot. This 50L dufflebag / backpack cross packs a punch at $32 shipping included.

Check out the details below and see what we think.

 

Features

  • 600D water resistant nylon
  • 50L capacity
  • duffle bag strap
  • side access
  • front pockets
  • Molle straps
  • Zip shut back that hides the backpacking straps
  • weight: 2.57 lbs
  • Price: $32 shipped to the USA

Testing

This backpack has been used for canoeing, day packing, fishing and even as a primary suitcase on a recent trip to Indiana.

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What do we think

I’m a firm believer in evaluating gear on a what you get your money basis. This pack is an economical and versatile pack. If you’re looking for something that you can take on a weekend trek, as a Bug out bag, canoeing, fishing or a road trip, this will do it all if treated nicely.

The capacity is good for 2-3 days of lightweight backpacking or a weekend travel adventure.

The construction quality will handle average use.

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There are enough pockets to manage regular storage. The main pocket is accessed from a side zip, which is a-typical for a backpack, but normal for a suitcase. The front pocket is slim but sizeable – handling hatchets and hand saws with ease. A smaller external zip pocket is good for all your pocketables… that you don’t want to keep in your pocket.  The Molle straps are good for attaching external items if you’re into that too.

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The backpacking harness is neatly hidden in a zip pocket on the back, making it convenient for flights. Typically backpacking straps are at risk of getting ripped off on the conveyor belts, so this is a great feature.

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After a few months use, the shoulder strap gave in. When I had the pack loaded with 30-40 lbs I tried jumping down a drop-off using only the shoulder strap (not the backpcaking harness) and pulled the strap out of the stitching on one end. This would not have been an issue had I been wearing it as a backpack, but for full disclosure I thought I’d let you know. I wasn’t a fan of the shoulder strap anyway!

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Conclusion

Let’s be clear. A high end backpack this is not. For $32 though you get a fully functional, versatile backpack that will handle typical use well and better. Because of it’s price point, it’s something that I reach for a lot when I need something to carry my clothes or gear in that I don’t mind getting damaged. Take a look at the video of the Local Lion 50L backpack above to see it in action and let me know what you think.

Feel free to shop GearBest for the pack. (affiliate links)

Gander Mountain Northern Lights 10-person tent with Vestibule

Setting up camp for a few days and need a bit of luxury? Check out Gander Mountain’s Northern Lights 10-person tent and vestibule. If you’re looking to go big on a budget then this tent is worth a look.

Gander Mountain asked us if we were interested in checking out some gear from them so we took them up on their offer. Our thoughts on the tent are below. Let’s look at the features and then talk about our thoughts.

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Features

  • 12′ x 12′ Floor
  • 6′ x 12′ Net Vestibule
  • 6′ 8″ Center height
  • 1-person setup (see the video above)
  • Quick-clip partial rain fly
  • External pole and hub frame
  • 2x Gear storage shelves
  • 1 room divider
  • 2 doors
  • Covered Mesh Vestibule
  • “E-port” Electrical Plug access port
  • Weight: 43 lb 14 oz
  • Wheeled storage bag
  • MSRP: $399 – on sale for $249.99

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Testing

This was our primary car camping tent for the summer. We tested this thing in hot weather, wet weather and even some torrential deluges (lots of rain). We used this for 2 dults and 4 children on multiple occasions, including a week long trip (and all the belongings that one needs to make that happen).

What are our thoughts

Ultralight this is not, and yet every piece of gear has a purpose.  The Northern Lights 10-person tent is designed for light car camping where space is important and average weather is expected.

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What we loved:

This tent has a ton of room. Even with 4 kids, we were able to keep all our belongings for a week in the tent and still have tons of space for walking, working and changing.

I say walking because the tent is 6′ 8″ in the middle and close to 6 feet tall even at the edges.

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The divider splits the tent into 2 – 6′ x 12′ rooms. That was enough to keep the kids on one side and our two cots and double sleeping bag on the other. The two entrance doors meant that the kids didn’t have to walk through our side of the tent to get out.

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The Vestibule was ample to setup chairs for when the bugs came out. The fact that it’s waterproof means that you can take off all your rain gear before you step into the tent.

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Despite that this foot offers 216 square feet of space, every time I’ve set up the tent by myself. It’s straight forward with colour coding on the poles and hubs. The quick connect vestibule makes it easy to attach and adjust.

The E-port was nice as it allowed me to easily run our Solar Lighting System wiring inside the tent. The flat room of the tent allowed me to just toss the solar panel on top – where it stayed for the week.

This tent has 3 large mesh windows that you can zip up for privacy. They provide plenty of ventilation for the hot days, which combined with a high ceiling made it comfortable to be in during the day.

Room for improvement?

As a primer (and this applies for pretty much all car camping tents) one should always seal seams. Now almost all of the seams of the tent and fly were already seam taped out of the box… except for where the bathtub floor met the walls. I didn’t notice that… and probably wouldn’t have had we not face a storm that left foot deep water, soaking wet 5th wheels and many other campers feeling like drowned rats. This one seam was rolled and stitched and it held out well in average rain, but a massive, persistent (3-hour long) storm proved too much. some water got in, which we were able to wipe up with a towel, but that didn’t soak any sleeping bags. Never fear, a bead of silicon seam sealer on the outside will fix that before our next time out in the tent.

My other recommendation to Gander was to use a heavier duty floor. The site we used had a stone that I missed during setup and over the week it wore a tiny hole in the tent floor. Which leads to another point ALWAYS use a ground cloth or tarp when car camping. Camp ground sites are designed to drain well, which means they have lots of stones that will make short work of any tent floor.

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Conclusion

All-in-all this tent is a solid and spacious car camping tent. If you’re tired of cramped tents and want to have a few more creature comforts next summer then check out the Northern Lights 10 tent with vestibule.

We’ll be sealing that one seam before our next trip and expect to use it for years to come.

Take a look at the video above to see how easy setup and hear our first hand review of the tent.

Do you have a favourite car camping tent? We’d love to read your comments below.

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Murtle Lake 2016 – Lightning, Fish and Food

Last year we introduced ourselves to the fantastic and unpredictable lake known as Murtle Lake. This year we went back with high expectations and good food… It did not disappoint.

Never trust the forecast when you head up there. A week before, the weather reports stated solid rain. What awaited us was a mix of sun, rain, wind and lightning.

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Despite that, we caught lots of fish, went swimming and the kids had a blast.

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We even took some first time canoe trippers. They got the easy boat, while we pushed the tanker along. Despite their best efforts they managed to stay afloat!

 

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We returned to our favourite camp site. We recommend you avoid it… because… reasons… good reasons that have nothing to do with popularity.

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And oh the food. From cedar smoked trout to donuts to bacon, egg and salsa burritos, we ate like kings, queens, princes and princesses.

MurtleBreakfast

Check out the video for more details and amazing lightning storms, but be warned. you may see us next year!

Farm Updates: August 2016 – Apples, Pigs, and more

Wonder what has been keeping us busy? Check out this video update and give us your feedback.

The Pigs are getting fantastically large. The chickens still lay 12 egss a day (and sometimes a double yolker). The plums and apples are ripe. The hay is cut and we’re tired out.

Mr & Mrs Adventure Hike the Monashees

With 4 kids and a handful of pets – it’s easy to confuse which is which – spending time with one’s spouse is easily (and often) relegated to the back burner. Gfor that reason that we decided to make an impromptu escape for some misadventures with Mrs. Adventure.

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I think this is the first time we’ve ever actually gone hiking with just the two of us. Our first backpacking trip involved our 1-year-old, and while it was an awesome memory, it involved diapers and baby food and a lot of extra gear. This time we only brought the minimal gear and just relaxed… after a gruelling hike.

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Well gruelling for some. I find backpacking to be incredibly therapeutic. The steady progress of one foot after another up hill or down in a wild environment offers many distractions and in this case opportunities to talk, think and just relax.

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The lower elevation area of the Monashee mountain range is very similar to the coast – humid and green with wild ginger lining the many streams and creeks.

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The abundance of moss and presence of rocks and raised boardwalks (no photo sorry) makes the first 5 km (from the trailhead to Spectrum Lake) slippery in places. In late June we were entertained with plenty of birdsong and chattering squirrels.

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Water levels are still high, offering many places to refill your water bottles – and great photo opportunities!

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Once you pass Spectrum the trail changes from “Easy” to “Difficult”. This is due to a combination of the 2000+ foot elevation gain and narrow, overgrown trail. At one place we found a rope to help navigate a steep slope down to a creek crossing.

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One of the nice things about the crossing is that the trail opens up and offers some great views.

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At Little Peter’s lake the trail levels out. There’s still a lot of snow pack that makes the river exiting the lake quite the site. There’s a good bridge crossing as you move on towards Big Peter’s lake – our destination for the day.

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This was the new bridge. Check out the video above to see what remained of the wooden crossing.

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The trail to Big Peters was buried under snow – 3-4 feet in some places. With GPS and only 1 or 2 distractions we managed to find all the trail markers and get to Big Peters in about an hour.

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We navigated the 10 miles (16 km) in about 5 1/2 hours and had the lake to ourselves. Although there was evidence of a few day trippers from Little Peters, no one else spent the night there.

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The solitude, sunsets, and views were ours to enjoy.

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It was hard to believe at times that we could just relax and that it was just the two of us.

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The next day we headed back to the trailhead, happy for the time away, in wonder at the beauty of these remaining wild places and thankful for all the blessing we have.

If you’re ever in the Okanagan, check out the gem that is the Monashees.

June Farm Updates – Video

Well, you’ve heard that we’re doing a little hobby farming on the side. If you want to see a bit about what we’re up to then take a look at the video above.

Oh, and it was a Double-yolker. Don’t miss are awesome ’70s carpet in the bottom corner of the photo.

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It’s a nice break from the day job and the kids love it. All the best to you and yours!

Teton Sports Adventurer Cot & Comfortlite Sleeping Pad

Over a year ago we picked up two Teton Sports Adventurer Cots and Regular Comfortlite Self Inflating Sleeping Pads (2″) and boy are we glad we did.

We bought them for car camping and they have been awesome. They’re easy to setup, incredibly sturdy and and built to last.
Let’s take a look at the Features and then talk performance

Features:

Teton Sports Adventurer Cot

Teton Sports Comfortlite Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad

  • Packed size: 26″ x 6″ x 6″
  • Bed Size: 72″ x 25″ x 2″
  • Top: ComforTech™ Stretch Microfiber Top
  • Bottom: Grey Non-Slip Bottom
  • Insulated with open cell foam
  • Storage Bag: 70D Stuff Sack with Offset Shoulder Strap
  • Velcro Strip for attaching two pads together
  • Weight: 2 lbs 12 oz
  • MSRP:  $95 on Amazon (affiliate link)

Testing
We’ve used them on multiple week long car camping trips, as beds during moves, separately and together. We’ve loaned them out to family and friends and they’re still going strong. Everyone has been impressed with how easily they setup and how comfortable they are (even without the optional sleeping pads) and how well they’re constructed.
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Performance

Disclaimer: these are not for ultralight backpacking. They are for car camping, canoe camping, base camp camping, or anywhere you want a fantastic, luxurious night’s sleep.

The 600D Poly Canvas used on the Cot is fantastically durable. You may have seen the Teton Sports video of 11 guys standing on their XXL cot… do a search it’s quite impressive. It’s also breathable, so you’ll get a decent amount of airflow.

The stainless steel frame performs great. It adds to the weight (20 lbs) but It’s a small price to pay for the durability you get from it.

I did have two of the plastic spacers in the frame break when I opened it incorrectly one time, but they didn’t affect performance and Teton Sports was quick to send me replacements and thank me for the feedback.

One thing I love about these cots is that they give you plenty of room to store all your gear underneath. That opens up your tent floor a ton… especially when you have 4 kids!

The spreader bars on the cots are offset to allow two cots to be placed closer for two people – ideal when you use the comfortlite sleeping pads which velcro together.

We purchased these sleeping pads to go with our Teton Sports Adventure Cots. While not necessary, they provide a whole ton of comfort to an already luxurious sleep setup.

The Comfortlite Sleeping Pads that we purchased were the Regular 2″ version. They’re insulated which makes them self inflating. They are 26″x6″ when rolled up and weigh 2 lbs 12 oz. They offer two inches of padding when inflated and are spacious (75″x25″x2″). The insulation means they’re great for winter camping and, if you use them on the ground, will provide plenty of protection from heat loss.

They can be used by themselves or with the Teton Sports Cots. Either way you’ll get an incredibly comfort night’s sleep.

Oh, and the awesome bit: the sleeping pads velcro together, which is perfect for couples! We have used these for week long trips with our cots. velcroing the pads together meant it was easier to use both normal bedding and double wide sleeping bags without cold breezes coming up between the pads.

Conclusion

If you want to enjoy the outdoors, but get a good, comfortable night’s sleep at the same time, check out the Teton Sports Adventurer Cot and Comfortlite Insulated Sleeping Pads.

These cots and sleeping pads are an excellent investment. They will give you an excellent night’s sleep in the outdoors and serve double duty as luxurious guest beds for when you have company.

Everyone that we’ve loaned them to has been impressed… and a little reluctant to give them back!