little Big Blackfoot bikeraft loops

As opposed to the Little Blackfoot, whose headwaters are too small and brushy for good floating, the Big Blackfoot River rarely runs parallel to a road, something that makes for convenient and high quality floating.  The middle section of the Big Blackfoot and its tributaries, which is to say the bit in the Helmville/Ovando valley,…More

The Fantasy

Make no mistake, this is a silly boat.  Just as it has been a silly, unusual, and in some respects unpleasant summer.  The heat rolled in at the very beginning of June, and baked me thoroughly during an exploratory trip on the upper reaches of Tenderfoot Creek.  With the exception of a cool and rainy…More

Bark River Micro Canadian re-scale

For the past four years my Micro Canadian has always been one of my very favorite objects.  It blends practicality and elegance in a way which few other categories of things can.  Restlessness, and extreme specialization (river rescue), are the only real reasons I’ve used anything else.  To address the former I bought a Bark…More

Accident report: near-drowning in Meadow Creek Gorge

Paddler A and B were on the fourth day of a packrafting trip on the South Fork of the Flathead at low water (a hair above 500 cfs at Twin Creeks).  They passed through the intro rapid right below the normal Meadow Creek takeout and arrived at the first serious rapid 1/2 mile later around…More

A daypack

After being so impressed with Ultraweave I naturally wanted to make several/a number of bags out of it.  My affinity for burlier pack fabrics goes back to the very beginning, both because I know that many of my favored activities shred lighter pack fabrics, and (more relevantly) because I have an aesthetic preference for things,…More

The new nu

After dropping my paddle a second time I decided I must be tired.  The Catalyst is a pretty paddle, and moves around the water just as well as the laminate wood and almost invisible fiberglass coating would make you hope.  I had bought it just the day before and hadn’t quite embedded the balance point…More

Alpacka Explorer 42 review

We spent a lot of time thinking about this one.  Our need for a second large packraft, to compliment our Double Duck, was obvious.  You really can’t paddle more difficult water with a kid in your lap, one previous option to getting both kids out of the front of the Duck, and we needed to…More

National Parks; the future is still now

The national parks are crowded, or rather, they have been.  The pandemic reduced and altered visitation in potentially unexpected ways which are worth pondering.  Anecdotally, visitation is back close to or has exceeded the previous records, which were generally set in the latter half of the last decade.  This seems to be the COVID outdoor…More

Challenge Ultraweave abrasion testing

Advanced (read: non-nylon) woven fabrics have spent most of the past decade promising to upend standard performance to weight ratios, especially where backpacks are concerned.  Standard and hybrid cuben laminates have been a disappointment in this respect, with inadequate durability and poor balance between performance and cost.  The hype and rhetoric associated with hybrid cuben…More

Summer

A month ago I knew we were in trouble.  In the dead of winter I had plotted a lookout/packraft/hiking trip, hoping the agency optimism in opening slots so early in the summer would lead to cool isolation.  The final road was drifted in, but the scorching days I was there sublimated those into hollow, slushy…More