Adventures With Lloyd

on CanoeCanadaEast.Com

Gear and Kit


Camp Tools

There is really very little that you need in the way of camp tools. An axe is a good thing to have with you but you can make due with a hatchet if you are doing a fair number of portages. That will save you about two pounds. A folding saw or takedown bucksaw is another good tool but I find myself leaning towards the folding saw more often lately. A good camp knife is also essential as well as a decent flashlight. Other than that there is little else you need. A little tiny gardening shovel can also be brought for digging latrine holes when necessary.



The axe I used for the longest time was the Garant all purpose axe with a twenty six inch hickory handle. It weighs in at two and a quarter pounds it is made in Canada and retails for about $25. In truth this axe is mass produced and the first thing I did, was sand and oil the handle. The second thing I did, was sand the black enamel off the head, as it wears off anyhow. Not a bad axe once you customize it for comfort.

If I ever win the lottery, I am going to get a Gransfor Bruk, Scandinavian forest axe. It has a twenty five inch hickory handle and a two pound head so it is basically the same, but they are individually hand made by an environmentally ethical company in Sweden, and have a twenty year guarantee. They do however retail for about $100 Canadian. I picked up a Gransfor Bruk wildlife hatchet while in Scotland and this hatchet is a beauty. The hatchet has a three inch face and a thirteen and a half inch hickory handle and the head weighs one pound. It will probably start coming on all my trips and the Garant will be left home. Unless you are clearing portage trails the hatchet is plenty and a larger axe is not nessesary.

The main thing to remember with axes and hatchet is that if they are dull they are dangerous and will skip off the wood but will likely not skip off your leg. Keep them well maintained and learn to use them proper. I have been using them all my life and have only had one minor nick in a finger. Mind you it was a freak accident that could never have been avoided so even if you are very comfortable with tools an accident can happen at any time.


Trail Blazer Saw

This is a great saw for canoe trips. They say it weighs 535 grams, however much that is? It takes a minute or so to put together, but it will rip through wood like magic. A Nova Scotia company based in Dartmouth produces this saw with a Swedish blade. It must be noted that at some point you will lose the clip that holds everything in the tube. I replaced mine with a key ring but you could use a cotter pin or just be creative to solve that issue.

That aside this saw is about the best you can get for canoeing. The saw is available at most camping stores and hardware stores and retails for about $30, replacement blades retail for about $10.


Folding Saw or Laplander saw

I got one of these for free and it is really handy for quick cuts or small stuff and for long hikes where you don't want to carry a bigger saw. I always bring it because it is easier to have ready fast than the trail blazer saw. They retail for between $5 and about $40. Mine is worth about $10 and has served me well.

Look for something with a thick blade with a double row of teeth side by side. They are a lot tougher and cut faster. A comfortable handle is also a good option. I find myself using this more and more in favor of the bucksaw. Most campfire wood used for cooking does not need to be very big and a folding saw can handle up to four inch wood. It is more than enough saw for camp use.


Mini Maglite

Maglites are the way to go as far as flashlights are concerned. Tough, water resistant, and idiot proof. They also have every conceivable size from single AAA cell to six D cell models. The best one for canoeing is the Mini Mag it is small, lightweight, and can be used as a candle as well as a small spot, or flood light. The best part is the end cap has a small hole drilled through it for adding a key chain or a lanyard to it, to keep it secured to your body. They come with a number of accessories, including belt pouches and colored lenses that don't interfere with night vision equipment. I have some larger models too that make it on the occasional trip, but they were designed for law enforcement applications. The Mini Mags retail for about $15 the larger ones are more. While they are not as good as the Surefire type tactical flashlights they are perfect for canoe camping; plus if you do loose one you are not out a hundred dollars or more. There are LED conversions now available that will add many hours to your battery life and the simple twist on twist off means that there is no switch to wear out and break.



Head Lamps

Miners and spelunkers have used these for years but now with the popularization or LED technology, just about every camping supply store has these and they are great. My head lamp gets a lot of use around the house and sees a lot of action on trips as well. Inevitably if I am following someone else's itinerary I end up cooking in the dark,

which is hard to do with a normal flashlight sticking out of your salivating mouth. The hands free capabilities of  a head lamp make life immeasurably easier.  Lights vary in power as well, from one LED to as many as twenty and range in price from $10 to $50. They are fragile however and are not meant to be sat upon or roughly packed. My head lamp also has a strobe on it. I guess it is good for being spotted if you were lost or something, I usually only turn it on when my girlfriend it getting undressed for bed in the tent, for a little wilderness exotic nightclub atmosphere.



I don't like most knives. They are too big too thick too heavy etc. The best compromise I have found is the Grohmann #3 Boat Knife. I like their other models as well but for me the #3 is the best all round compromise. Knives are a personal thing so it is what ever you like best but having tried a lot of them this is the one that I recommend most. It is manufactured in Pictou Nova Scotia and comes with three possible sheath options.



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