Paddle In

CANOE! The story of a long drive and two very sore arms.

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When you were a kid and there was road trip or long Sunday drive how did you pass the time?  Car games right? Who can spot the different license plate, the numbers game, name that animal. Of course you did. We did with our siblings. Well 4 years ago my wife and I on a long drive to Algonquin came up with a great car game that especially heats up during the summer.

Before I get to the rules can I cannot stress enough that you shouldn’t be distracting your driver. Leave them alone play safe and be safe on the roads folks.

Okay here are the rules.

1) Spot a canoe on top of a car, truck ,or in backyard

2) Be the first to yell “canoe” and call out the color.

3)While shouting punch the closest person in the arm

4) Now if you call out canoe and can’t name the color someone gets a free shot, if you mistake a boat or kayak for a canoe and shout out prematurely that’s a free shot.

Okay,okay not really much a game right? Try it out, I dare you. Its ridiculously addicting. We have friends who aren’t even canoe enthusiasts who cannot wait for spring so they can be the first to strike and take revenge for sore arms of seasons past. I have friends who won’t ride in the car with me because I’m always the first to see the canoe.

Now after a five hour drive during the peak of cottage and camping season we both had extremely sore arms. We even called a cease fire through Barrie as I felt my arm was going to fall off.

The reason I’m writing this blog is a) its Friday and everyone needs a chuckle and b) I just witnessed my 2 year old son lean over in the backseat and rap his sister in the arm all the while yelling “CANOE!!!”

( Before people start sending me angry emails about senseless violence. The hitting can replaced by a simple points system. But really where’s the fun in that 😛 )

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Cheers

Paddle In

 

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Oh the things you can miss with a canoe on your head.

Oh the things you can miss with a canoe on your head. Sounds like a Dr Suess book doesn’t it.

When we portage we often take for granted our surroundings as we trudge ahead eyes peeled for open water. Some of us grunt and groan, others are forever lost in silent contemplation of why they are undertaking this portage in the first place. Some even race ahead looking to prove their prowess and vigor as they blast through the portage loaded down with canoe and pack.

But guys what could we be missing? The answer is simple. Everything.

How about the little garter snake that that was sliding through the grass in search of food?

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Insignificant when carrying a canoe on your head?

Or the old access road that can just be made out through the bush? The only true sign is the 4×4 with road crossing stamped across it.

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A section of river hidden by a few evergreens.

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Or an old bridge. Okay , Okay it’d be next to impossible not to notice this right?

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How about a campsite? Not the most secluded site we’ve ever stayed on (man was that long grass comfy to sleep on though) but a late put in had us camping on a portage campsite on our way to Biggar Lake.

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How about an epic fishing spot beside a gorgeous waterfall? Not including photos of this one. It’s ours (as well as probably a few others) hidden gem.

The moose standing off to your left lazily munching away and watching these weird canoe headed people walk through his backyard. Not to mention the gray jays and red squirrels who would gladly relieve you of a few handfuls or GORP if you decided to share.

The black flies and mosquitoes dancing around your head, getting in your nose, and ears and mouth…. maybe not the best example 🙂

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Take your time. Explore your surroundings. Enjoy yourself.

Oh think of all the things you “can” see with a canoe on your head.

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A Trip down the Eramosa River. Getting the whole family out.

With temperatures creeping in the high teens this weekend and water temperature rising steadily on the Eramosa river, we decided it was time to get the family out on the river for a nice spring paddle. I don’t think there is a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than being out on the river for a paddle.

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Since we’d have our our three year old with us we decided on a shorter route and launched at the bridge on Stone road east right beside the scout camp. You can launch all the way up in Rockwood for a longer paddle, but this route suited our needs just fine.

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The river level is fairly low but its moving at a very steady pace. We took our trusty Scott canoe with us on this trip as it can take quite a beating and I knew we’d be running into some shallower areas. With everyone suited up and our safety barrel (see end of the article for contents) aboard we set off down the river.

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The river is alive with activity. Mallards, buffleheads and Canada geese were everywhere. My daughter was ecstatic to be out on the water again. Her constant questions and queries made the trip even better, we’re very excited as she has taken such a big interest in the outdoors this past year.

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We passed under all the old foot and train bridges as we made our way through Guelph’s suburbs. I was surprised at the lack of downed trees along this route. A few weeks back when I paddled the Speed I was constantly in and out of the canoe climbing over downed trees. Though I’m not complaining.

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One thing which really stood out on this trip was how poorly people treat this river system. I passed 12 bikes (that I could count), a good number of tires and a bunch of plastic bottles. Now I could rant and rave about this but we have a better idea. Once the weather heats up a little  we’ll be back (in greater numbers 🙂 ) To start to clean up the section we normally paddle. If anyone is interested in helping out drop us a line at paddle.in.ontario@gmail.com .

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Back to wildlife. Deer,weasels and quite a few hawks were seen along some of the quieter stretches of the river. If you have young children or are just looking for a relaxing paddle this is a great route. We passed quite a few paddlers along our trip. From gorgeous cedar canoes to giant awkward looking sit on top kayaks. I love meeting people along the river. Exchanging brief pleasantries and commenting on the gorgeous weather adds a excellent sense of community.

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By the time we hit the covered bridge we know our trip is coming to and end. The stretch of water from the Boathouse (great ice cream by the way) to Mccrae blvd bridge is EXTREMELY shallow right now. The three dam doors which normally fill the little bay are wide open and water levels are down a good 8+ feet.  So if you don’t want the bottom of your canoe destroyed hop out and the boat house. If you don’t mind so much you can continue down. I’ll warn you there is a nice drop under the Mccrae blvd bridge. Take the far right tunnel, it seems the lesser of three evils. A quick drop, as long as you are straight and balanced you’ll shoot right through. I watched a ill fated couple try and take the middle tunnel. The boat was bounced off the wall and they tipped. Thankfully they were both fine, well except for pride I guess. Once they decide to close the dam doors this will change, as its normally smooth sailing through here.

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We hit the shore and waited for the ole Paddle In shuttle to arrive. Everyone was stoked to be out and about in the canoe again and I sat and relaxed on the bank as my wife and daughter talked today’s travels.

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That’s it for now. We’re just getting into to tripping season. Have quite a few back country trips planned (Algonquin, Kawartha Highlands ect ect). As well as quite a few fishing trips. As all of you readers know, as much as I love the back country, we also try to get out with the family as much as we can. So this year we’ll be chock full of adventures that are suited to beginners as well as more seasoned paddlers. Thanks for reading! If anyone is interested in getting a day paddle going or even an extended trip feel free to drop us a line.

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The food barrel or (emergency supply barrel) that comes with us on all day trips includes the following.

-50 feet rope

-first aid kit (3 day/4 person kit)

-storm tarp

-dry sack with fire making materials (lighter/matches/fire starters)

-energy bars/granola bars

-water purifier

-emergency blankets

-canoe patch kit

-power stick (enough juice to recharge an iphone twice)

Cheers

Matt

Paddle In

 

The itch.

The itch. That nagging little feeling a lot of you have right now. Just can’t put your finger on it but it won’t go away. Sure a few day paddles here and there make it go away. But then the next day it’s back. It’s getting uncomfortable now isn’t it? I mean there is snow in the forecast for tomorrow. When will it end? How will we soldier through? Will we make it?

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Of course we’ll make it, we always do, its the same old ice out blues we experience each year. I guess we’ll just continue doing what we always do. Plan and prepare maybe throw in a little pleading with mother nature as well.

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The last few weeks before ice out feel like an eternity for a lot of paddlers. We’re all waiting for that first trip. Many of us already have the May 24 weekend marked on our calendars as first trip of the year. Then there are the few who try to push the boundaries (weather permitting) and get out into our provincial parks systems as early as possible.

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We have a few trips planned for May. The way the weather is going right now at least one of them may be a hiking trip (say it ain’t so). But it’s the excitement and thought of these that keep us moving forward.

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The one good thing about being landlocked is it has allowed us to work on some new content for everyone and start upgrading our online presence. That being said we have a few questions for everyone to help in the planning.

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Feedback can be sent to paddle.in.ontario@gmail.com or Facebook http://www.facebook.com/PaddleIn

Is there anything specific you like to see written about this year? A certain destination, product review, subject tackled? We have a lot of blogs in the works as well as quite a few trips planned this year. But there is always room for more and if something has been on your mind and you’d like to chat about it drop us a line and lets get something going.

We’d love to hear from you

Cheers

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“How to be a happy winter camper”- a guest post with Ontario Parks

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You guys love reading right? Of course you do that’s why you’re browsing blogs. Head on down to OUR NEW GUEST POST.

We greatly appreciate all the support and feedback we receive from all of you, which allows us to continue on the amazing adventure.

Cheers

-Matt

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Outdoor Adventure Show – Toronto

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This past Sunday we hopped in the Paddle In truck and headed down to Toronto to visit the Outdoor Adventure Show. As an avid paddler I’m always excited when this show comes around. Filled with great products, fantastic presentations, and meetings with old and new friends, it made for a perfect Sunday afternoon.

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128130Ontario Parks had a great booth as always. Full of people going over maps and planning trips. A “meet the naturalist” table which was a big hit with my daughter. You can tell people are thinking about spring as they chat about this years canoe routes and swap tips and stories.

052162086The place was full of vendors. Lots of show deals to be had this weekend. We walked away with a few new products by Eureka which I’m very excited to try this year.

153152150One vendor which caught my wife’s eye was the Muskoka Surfboard Co. Any of you who are interested in long boarding, wake boarding or just having fun on the water should check these guys out. They have a wicked “retro” type pull behind board and disc which looked like it would be way too much fun on the water. They also have a sweet long board which I think I definitely see in my near future.

058image_2119The demo pool in the center of the paddlers paradise was great. Very informative demos going on at all times of the day. My favorite part of the show had to be the Adventures in Paddling stage though. A series of great outdoors men/women telling stories, sharing tips, and having a laugh.

140088Another highlight was getting to meet some of the people who we interact with daily through social media. Meeting David Lee of The Passionate Paddler was great. We talked about tents and managed to catch his presentation later in the day on “The Perfect Canoe Route”. We briefly talked with Jeff McMurtie of Jeff’s Maps. If you haven’t checked these maps out yet you are missing out, so click the link! This has to be one of the best things about the OAS. Meeting people who love and enjoy the same activities you do is a wonderful experience. Plus all of the other wonderful folks we met.  Meeting each and everyone one of you was awesome!126038image_5Thanks to everyone who makes the OAS possible. Its a wonderful event that we will continue to attend year after year after year.

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So what’s next? Well we have another guest post with Ontario Parks coming any day now. Spring is definitely in the air and we’re busy planning all kinds of canoeing and camping trips. A few that i’m excited about

-Our annual opening of brook trout season visit to Algonquin Park

-My daughters first portage trip in may

-A very special canoe trip in July. Its a secret! How secret? Well so secret that i’ll probably get in trouble just for mentioning this.

Plus all the trips we have planned with new friends. Its gonna be a great year for us here at Paddle In and I hope you all come along for the ride.

Cheers

Matt Olsen

Paddle In

Hot Tenting- A review of the SnowTrekker EXP Crew 10×13 canvas tent

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Hot tenting! Glorious hot tenting. It’ll be pretty hard to convince this guy to ever again go winter camping without a hot tent again.

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On January 31 2014 Team Paddle In set out for five wonderful days in Algonquin’s interior. But first we made a stop at Algonquin Basecamp. Chris and Robin were absolutely great to deal with. We strongly recommend them they have a wonderful outfitting store located near Access point 4 at the Amalguin Highlands information center. Lots of cool gear to rent or buy we’ll definitely be back. Chris ran us through the basic safety and setup of the SnowTrekker, we paid for our rental  and we were off into the park.

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“These guys were great! Go check em out!”

Okay before we get into set up let me give you some stats on the SnowTrekker.

10×13 EXP Crew

Ridge Height:78.5″
Ridge Length:102″
Tent Weight:16.2 lbs
Frame Weight:  6.84 lbs
Total Weight:23.04 lbs

And the Stove

SnowTrekker Large Stove

Length: 24″
Width: 12″
Height: 12″
Setup Height*: 19″
Stove Pipe: 5″
Package Weight: 24.5 lbs

Description from the SnowTrekker Website

“The lineage of our time-tested Snowtrekker™ Expedition tent remains the unbroken. The Snowtrekker™ EXP Crew canvas tent starts with our classic Expedition design, the modified wedge, and adds 17 years of tent design modifications based on our personal observations and invaluable customer feedback to give you our best canvas tent to date. In this canvas tent you will find our newly designed asymmetrical oval door and our structurally integrated horizontal guy-out system. We build this tent with our 7 oz custom canvas, and keep standard all of the things that count: reinforced stress points, 12” wide synthetic sod cloth, shock-corded Easton aluminum frame and stove-jack. Just as our Expedition tents in years prior, we are confident that the EXP Crew will be the first choice for guides and winter wilderness seekers in need of a light, nomadic and durable tent with amazing set-up simplicity. The Snowtrekker™ EXP Crew is destined to be the undisputed champion of traditional winter camping tents. What’s left to say? You best start planning your expedition today!”

Sounds pretty amazing doesn’t it? It is! It really is. This tent went up so fast. Simple A-frame design made set up a cinch. Both the stove and tent fit onto one pulk which made carrying it in a snap.

Have you set up an A-frame before? It’s very easy. Having some extra hands while setting this up makes it go much faster.

Wait stop! Did you pack down the area you wanted to set your tent up in? Get those snowshoes working. Stomp ,stomp, stomp. make a larger area than the tent so you have room to walk and work. Make a path of into the bushes as well for when nature calls. Trust me you don’t want to be walking around in the middle of the night, up to your waist in snow and only wearing your long johns. Okay, have a nice area packed down? Take a break have a snack, gather some firewood. When you come back it should of already started to freeze.

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Lay your poles out. Find your center pole and the four legs.

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This is where we found having someone there to help you was great. Have one person begin to insert legs. While the other person holds up the center pole. As Chris from Algonquin Basecamp stated the tent acts a bit like a baby deer, all wobbly on its legs until you get the canvas on. Once all your legs are on go grab the canvas.

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Insert legs on either side into the pockets at the corner of the canvas. Pull the canvas over the frame and insert the legs on the other side into the pockets in the canvas. Voila! That’s pretty much it. Side poles can be installed and the tent can be pulled out using grommets and string at all four sides.

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You’ll notice a black snow liner around the bottom. Its up to you if you want that inside or outside the tent. I have seen people do it both ways. We kept ours on the outside. The 15cm of snow we received the next few nights covered it and created a nice “seal” to the ground. No drafts coming in at all. Open the vents at the top of the tent and you’re set.

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Okay stove time.Pull open the legs, now stop. A major concern is that you keep your stove level and stable. This is accomplished very easily by creating a float with logs underneath it (pictured below) These can be wired to the legs and to each other with small gauge wire.

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Okay depending on which tent you have and what level the stove it at the next steps include putting the elbow stove pipe in and then placing the nesting stove pipe into the elbow. Don’t ram it in. It fits very nicely and the pipe is thin metal and can be damaged by to much force. Ok you’ll need a bi-pod or tri-pod. Go grab some nice sticks and slightly heavier gauge wire (Thanks again Chris). Make yourself a sling to hold the pipe up. Like so.

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See those little shovels up there? Its a good idea to keep one of them inside the tent. This way if there is a fire or something is heating up to much. Snow can be scooped and dumped very quickly.

A word of warning. The pipe gets HOT! (really a stove pipe Matt?) Yes it does. So make sure you are wary when lumbering around your campsite like a bear.

Now it should look something like this.

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Now go get more firewood lot of it if you want to stay warm. The 10×13 EXP Crew was more than enough space for the Three of us and two dogs. We had a nice kitchen area near the stove. Gear stowed to the side and all our sleeping bags laid out with our feet pointing toward the stove.

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With the stove stoked and filled we could damp it down and enjoy the warmth while we ate dinners and talked about mysyery adventure survival novels about guys named Devon (don’t ask). When night came we let the fire die out and then tucked in to bed. The stove was never run unattended. If someone was cold, they got up stoked the fire had a drink and sat around. You don’t want a tent full of smoke or a fire on your hands. So if no one is awake/around to watch it don’t run it. Believe me the tent will heat up. I was amazed at the temp difference that was created by that stove. Its great to be able to dry wet gear and just warm yourself up.

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“So warm its like I’m at the beach”

In closing we want one of these tents. They would be great for any type of base camp camping. Late fall trips, early spring trips and dead of winter trips would all benefit from having one of these amazing tents along for the ride. if you haven’t tried hot tenting get out there. the groundhog said six more weeks of winter. Enjoy and have fun. Be safe and gather lots of wood.

For rentals contact: Algonquin Basecamp 

To purchase a tent contact: Snowtrekker Tents

Cheers

-Matt

Toronto Sportsmen’s Show

120If you have some free time this weekend, and are within driving distance of Toronto, I strongly recommend making the effort to check out this show. We attended The Toronto Sportsmen’s Show this Friday afternoon and had an absolute blast while we were there. The show has something for everyone. Fishing,hunting,boating,canoeing,camping ect ect booth after booth filled with all kinds of gear and gadgets.

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Check out the excellent selection of tents from Eureka tents

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Get your fishing licence renewed and book your next camping trip at the Ontario Parks booth.

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Check out the wicked selection of Canoes from both Swift Canoe and Souris River Canoe companies.

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Lots of activities for the kids. Fishing ponds, fly tying, games.

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Plus lots of “Big Kid” activities as well. Try your Luck in the casting pond for a chance to win 75,000 big ones.

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Pick yourself up a new axe , paddle, fishing rod, heck even a new boat.

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You get the point. So pack up and make the trek down, there is hours of entertainment.

Cheers

Matt

Is it spring yet?

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I know I’ve asked the question many times this winter. But really is it spring yet? Is it? How much longer do I have to wait?

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Truth is we’ve actually been having a blast this winter. We’ve been working really hard to improve our new website, work on our social media and plan trips and routes for this year. All the while snowshoeing, snowshoeing and more snowshoeing. We’re pretty excited to see what everyone has to say about all the new content and we can’t thank all of our followers,subscribers,friends enough. You have made this venture so rewarding.

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We’re 8 days out from a snowshoeing trip into the Western Uplands Backpacking trail. We’ve hooked up with Algonquin Basecamp and rented a very nice Snowtrekker tent. I’m really excited to get back out there but to also try out all the cool gear we have had lying around the Paddle In house. Jackets,gloves, pants, headlamps ect ect. Just all kinds of neat stuff.

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We’re also stoked to attend the Sportsman Show in Toronto on Feb 6th-9th  and the Outdoor Adventure Show Feb 21st-23rd. We’ve already planned to meet up with a few friends to plan trips for this year. Let us know when you’re going and we can do coffee, or beer 🙂

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Well that’s it till we return on Feb 4th. We’ll have lots of pics and video.  Have fun this winter and make sure to pop by one of our pages and share some wintery photos!

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Dashing through the snow

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So the guys are gathering up gear and making preparations for our winter walk in trip on the 31st. Here are a few photos from Pete as he was piecing together a DIY Pulk (sled) .

Here’s what he had to say about this project.

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“Well it took about two hours. It’s pretty straightforward as long as you go at it slowly and steadily. The sled cost me $50 and the hardware about $30. The waist belt is borrowed of one of my canoe packs. We’ll see how it all functions on the trip. It’s got to be a huge improvement on hand pulling and hopefully gives more control going downhill. Next on the list is some side support straps for the load itself.”

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We’ll have a detailed step by step blog on how to put one of these together after the trip, as well a slew of gear reviews.

Until then thanks for reading and #GetOutside !

-Matt

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