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Clean Trails

During our recent visit to the Outdoor Retail Show in Salt Lake City, we became acquainted with an organization called “Clean Trails”. Their message is simple … “What if everyone picked up just one piece of litter?” By encouraging people to care for their favorite outdoor spots and pick up after themselves and others, we will all benefit from the ‘clean trails’ left behind.
Bill & Steve from CleanTrails.org
The group was started by hiking buddies Steve Jewett and Bill Willoughby after noticing more and more trash being left behind on hiking trails. What started out as a good natured “game” of picking up pieces of trash and ‘calling out’ each other if they “missed” one turned into a community effort with fellow hikers.

Clean Trails is now a sustainable nonprofit organization with a board of directors and a lofty goal to eliminate waste on all trails on public lands throughout the United States. By creating a national system of outdoor stewards for our wild places, they hope to free those places of litter and trash. In all actuality, the goal is reachable if each and every one of us does our part, one piece of trash at a time.

Clean Trails Trail Box StationOne of their efforts, the ‘Trail Box Project’ (shown in the photo) is a long term plan that will aid hikers in picking up and disposing of trail trash. Click here for Trail Box details.

I spoke with Steve at the show and he emphasized that the group focuses on all types of “trails”, waterways included and how their goals can be reached by helping outdoor lovers become more aware of the small things that can be done to accomplish the larger goal.

Here are some of the group’s objectives:
* Create a national network of trail stewards by 2015.
* Advocate for “Leave No Trace” and enjoying nature responsibly.
* Create awareness of the evils of trash on trails.
* Develop an educational program to eliminate the disposal of litter in our wild spaces.

To learn more, visit their web site … CleanTrails.org. And next time (and every time) you’re hiking or kayaking, pledge to pick up just one piece of trash on your trail.

Outdoor Retail Show 2014

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One thing for sure is that you will get some walking exercise when you attend the Outdoor Retail Show in Salt Lake City. The 2014 event was no exception. The Salt Palace, where the indoor portion of the show is held, is huge. I’m not sure of the exact number of exhibitors, but all 515,000 square feet of the building was full of manufacturers of outdoor products. In fact, the show has grown so much that there are 3 giant tents, called the pavilions, that house several more exhibitors across the street.

This is the third time we’ve attended the show in the past 6 years, the last time being 3 years ago. Some things have changed but, for the most part, you’ll find nearly anything and everything that has to do with outdoor recreation. Most of the manufacturers that attend are from the hiking, camping, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and outdoor shoes and clothing areas. You do see a few fishing and hunting booths, some outdoor related toys and some hard to categorize niches that fit into the general ‘outdoor accessories’ area.
People at ORS
Our main purpose in attending was to visit with the manufacturers we’ve been dealing with over the past 8 years, Sea Eagle boats, Innova kayaks, WindPaddle sails and Cannon paddles. All these companies have a variety of new items for 2015 that we were excited to see. Sea Eagle and Innova will be introducing new kayaks that we had a chance to paddle at the Demo Day that opened the show. WindPaddle has a new Bimini sun shade as well as a new design for their sails and Cannon is introducing an adjustable length kayak paddle and some new paddles for kids. You can check into PortableKayaks.com to see these new products as they become available. You can also e-mail us at hillstores@aol.com and we’ll keep you informed.
Paddlers at ORS
We’re always looking for new and interesting outdoor products that will fit into PortableKayaks.com and our Hill Stores Amazon store. It’s going to take some time to evaluate all the new items we found, but we’ll be sure to write about them here and let you know if we’re adding any travel chairs, hammocks, custom made backpacks & carry bags, camping dishes or anything else on our long list of potential new products.

Of course we managed to take advantage of the free food (Vasque Boot’s pancake breakfast, Keen’s Shoes Keenfest Lunch and various ‘happy hours’ and snacks throughout the day). We also accumulated a collection of swag that ranged from the usual t-shirts & hats to mini-clips & straps to free sunglasses. I was also lucky enough to win a Zippo Rugged Lantern at their spin & win wheel.

All in all it was a fun and productive trip. Looking forward to the next time.

Take a look at this ‘wrap up’ video that was produced by the outdoor retail show …

Tips For Buying A Kayak

Buying a kayak for the first time can be a daunting task, especially if you are new to kayaking. Often the terms people use to explain the different types of kayaks, such as ‘recreational’ or ‘touring’ and their features can be confusing. Animated Kayak PaddlerYou’ll also be faced with the choice of a ‘sit-in’ or ‘sit-on-top’ style. And, of course, there are hard shells and inflatable kayaks.

Other factors such as shape, storage capacity and tracking (how well a kayak cuts through the water, which also affects the speed) are important to understand when you shop. General kayaking terms such as port, starboard, stern, bow and beam are also something you should know.

The following video, Kayaking 101, produced by a Canadian company, PelicanSport.com, gives you a nice, easy to understand explanation of the things you need to know. You’ll still have to make some decisions based on the type of paddling you intend to do, but, at least, you’ll have enough knowledge to tell if your purchasing the right kayak for your needs.

A 3D Printed Kayak – Believe It Or Not

There’s been much excitement generated in technical circles in recent years by three dimensional (3D) printing. The applications for manufacturing and medical uses are revolutionary. However, as is the case with all technological breakthroughs, eventually the uses for such technology often lean toward a more domestic or recreational slant.
3D Printed Kayak
Such is the case with the “world’s first 3D printed kayak”. Made with a “home made” 3D printer by Jim Smith of Grass Roots Engineering, the kayak only cost around $500 to make from reasonably simple materials like ABS plastic, machine screws, brass threaded inserts and a little bit of silicone caulk. The 28 printed sections took over 1000 hours to print in a specially designed heated chamber. They are held together by brass threaded thermoplastic inserts.

The 3D kayak is 16 feet 8 inches long, based on Bryan Hansel’s Siskiwit kayak design. It weighs in at 65 pounds. And … yes … it does float, actually quite well.

You can see more photos and additional details of the construction on the Grass Roots Engineering web site.

Organizing Your Kayak Fishing Gear

This is the time of year when “cabin fever” really sets in, especially for fishermen. I guess that’s why I’m seeing more fishing craft sales and fielding more questions about kayak fishing gear and accessories.

Chad Hoover is a top notch fishing ‘guru’ and I found his fishing video on gear management for kayak fishing to be very informative.ChadHoover He calls it a “stealth” approach. A way to organize the gear so you’re not stumbling about your kayak, dropping things and making unnecessary noise should you paddle into a spot where you want to get fishing quickly and quietly.

The video shows how Chad breaks down his gear management system into 3 parts.
1. Where to keep gear and tackle in the kayak.
2. Organizing the items that are on your ‘person’.
3. Incorporating tools into your PFD.

Hopefully you’ll pick up a few tips that will help you land a big one next time you’re kayak fishing.

Photo of Chad Hoover courtesy of KayakFishingMagazine.net

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