Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Little Foamie Fun: Part I

Taking some inspiration from the people over at FoamieFun.com and the creators of Foam Boater: Keep It Between The Land, I've decided to try my hand at making a couple foamies. For those of you who aren't familiar with foamies, at least the ones I'm referring to, they are essentially miniature kayaks carved out of foam or wood with some weight in the bottom to keep them upright. They almost always have a daring kayaker attached to them as well. They're designed to float and run just like the big boys, only you can play with them in a little creek. They're made in different sizes as well, running from 6 inches to 15 inches long. The foamies that I will be making are going to run around 8-8.5 inches long, perfect for most little creeks and whatnot around the farm.

Obviously, these are toys, but they're meant for all ages. They're also especially good at making you (or me in this case) look like an enormous dork, but since when has kayaking in general been a very flattering sport?

Anyhow, I'm going to post up a three or four part series on how to make one, paint it, and tune it to run the gnar with confidence. Here is part one...

First we start off with a block of foam or wood. Since I couldn't find any basswood for a decent price around where I live, I opted to use foam. Specifically, I decided to use a foam yoga block. You can get them for relatively cheap, and probably make at least two complete foamies out of a single block.

For my design, I opted to go with the popular and super cool Liquidlogic Freeride. I want my foamie to look and behave like a playboat/river runner, so it's a perfect design. I simply found a side and top profile picture online and scaled it to the size I wanted, printed it, then cut them out to use as a basic guide for cutting the main form out of the foam block.

Then, I started cutting out the rough form!

This is where we are right now. I should be able to use a good sharp Xacto knife to do the carving and Dragon Skin to do the shaping. It'll take a day or two to get some Dragon Skin in, but it'll be worth the wait, it's the perfect stuff for shaping mini cell foam!
Next update, I'll go through the basic carving and shaping of the boat and the rider, then we'll start looking at paint, coating, and weight options! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Dark

Heading into winter, I've once again found myself busy but a bit bummed. This summer was pretty epic. Between buying a new house, photoggin', kayaking and rafting, it's been a blast. As the case for most people, it pretty much slows to a crawl once cold weather hits. I've got a bunch of cool weather paddling gear, but not quite cold weather/4 season gear, so from here on to around February it'll be limited to the occasional warm day here or there. The one good thing is that it lets me kind of reevaluate my gear needs for the next year and prepare for whatever adventures that are on the horizon. The other good thing is it gives me more time for some much needed mountain biking!

The next paddling season will be pretty interesting. I got Jess a boat at the very end of this season, so she hasn't had a chance to paddle it yet. That being said, the first part of the season will be spent getting her all lined out to paddle moving water and maybe even some Class II/III whitewater. She seems pretty receptive to the idea, so as long as I can keep from getting her in something over her head, I think she'll take to it pretty well. I keep assuring her it will be fine and that once she gets acclimated to moving water, the jitters will go away.

I'm hitting up the Immersion Research crew pretty soon for a new drytop in preparation for early spring Elkhorn and Big South Fork runs. I'll also be picking up a drysuit from them as well later on in the year in anticipation of getting into year round paddling and eventually (hopefully) a trip down the Grand Canyon in the near future.

For now, it's hunting season and my weekends are pretty much booked up until the end of the year. Once January hits though, it looks like I'll be hitting up the local mountain biking hotspots for some winter fun. The Kona is all tuned up and ready to go, time to hit the trails!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Review of Black Diamond Spot Headlamp

Originally submitted at REI

Updated for 2010, the Black Diamond Spot headlamp is brighter than before to punch a hole through darkness while you run, ski, climb, hike and paddle.

Excellent headlamp for the money.

By thelosthiker from Central Kentucky on 9/17/2011


5out of 5

Pros: Stable, Bright, Adjustable Beam

Cons: Not Waterproof

Best Uses: Day trip, Backpacking, Hiking, Car Camping

Describe Yourself: Professional/Guide

Was this a gift?: No

I've had a Black Diamond Night Ray for 7 years or so and it has functioned very well for me through the years. It still works and I still use it quite a bit, but I needed something a little brighter and a little more versatile. The Spot is just the ticket.
I can't really comment yet on the battery life since I'm still on my first set of batteries (the same ones that came with it). I have played around with it quite a bit though and have not noticed any lack of brightness yet, the battery meter is still on green as well. One thing in particular that I'm happy about, is the lack of a regulator. Some people like them, and in theory I'm sure they're great, but every light I've had that contained a regulator has either suffered from flickering or completely failed.
The red light mode is what I was really looking for in a new headlamp. I've gotten tired of blinding myself and my wife when crawling around the tent or truck when camping. The red light is also less obvious to the critters in the woods and doesn't blind me when I'm sorting through stuff in my treestand during hunting season.
The other light modes work very well and the dimming feature is pretty slick. The high output mode really surprised me. The beam was nice and even with no cold spots and had very good reach, it will definitely light up the woods! The low output or flood mode works as expected and puts out good light for work around camp.
The Spot appears to have pretty decent construction, but I'm a bit leery of the lack of weatherproofing. However, from most of the other reviews I've read from other users who have operated theirs in the rain and snow, it doesn't look like I have much to worry about. I will probably still wrap a little piece of electrical tape around the seam of the body and battery door when I know I'll be taking it out into a wet environment.
I will note that if you absolutely must have full weatherproofing, you can spring the extra 10 dollars and pick up the Storm. Had I known that when I bought this lamp, I would have probably picked up the Storm just to have that little bit of extra weatherproofing and the extra 25 lumens, but I'm not concerned enough about it now to go back. It goes well above and beyond my expectations for a $40 headlamp.


Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The Itch

About this time every year, I begin to get "the itch". Almost any outdoorsy person knows what I'm talking about, especially those that have desk jobs and have been stuffed indoors for most of the fall/winter. Of course there are those exceptions, the days where you say screw it and go on a hike or take a little ski vacation, but for many of us they are few and far between. My eyes are beginning to glaze over, I need to get outside soon.

So as it goes around this time of year, I'm eyeballing what I want to accomplish this year. I'm beginning to plan the activities I want to do, places I want to go, and of course...the gear I want/need to get. It's a sickness really, and when the receipts hit your hands, it becomes sickening sometimes just how much you are willing to spend on "recreation". On the roster for this year? A "new" boat (as in, possibly new or possibly used, either way it will be new to me), new PFD, new helmet, and a few other miscellaneous goodies.

I have vowed to get back out on the water more. I miss the river. I miss camping and backpacking. The particular boat I'm looking at will allow me to do all of those at the same time. I'm opting for the Liquid Logic Remix XP10, a crossover boat of sorts. Its hull is based off of the popular Jefe and Remix series creekboats and river runners that Liquid Logic has produced, but has a retractable skeg for flatwater paddling and a 4600ci rear drywell for gear storage. When a buddy of mine first began talking about them, the term he used was "hybrid" boat. I sort of cringed when I heard it because I've seen the bad side of many so-called hyrid boats, I've even helped recover a couple over the years that have tried to run class III+ water. I was imagining a Perception rec boat from BassProShops trying to go down the Big South Fork canyon. I was imagining a generic open top kayak with the stability of a wet log. I decided to look at the boats he was talking about anyways, just to see what he was talking about. Color me suprised when I look them over and realize they're pretty legit. Capable of packing a crapload of gear, capable of running up to and including Class IV water, and capable of paddling in a straight line on flatwater. I gotta get me one of these! One problem...

After getting all excited about being able to finally have one boat that allows me to do many of my favorite activities at once, there's one slight issue...we've picked this year to buy a house. Not a huge deal since between the tax money we'll receive back this year along with what we have saved up as well as whatever else we manage to save between now and then, we pretty much have it locked down. However, since the house shenanigans will probably go well into the summer, I'm looking to find other sources of income to fund my hobby and let my main job or source of income take care of the house and whatever else. Hopefully I'll be able to do some weekend work for the outfitters this winter and spring and maybe a few other odd jobs here and there. By April or May I should be packing a new boat around in the back of my truck and stowing it in our shed or garage. Also, with working outside a bit more on the weekends, hopefully I'll be several pounds lighter. Sounds like a winner to me, but who knows what will happen between now and then.

I figure if I want it bad enough, I'll make it happen. Obviously, the purchase of a house will take the main stage. I hate renting and I want a bigger place with more storage. My wife is excited as well, for the same reasons. It's going to happen this year even if we have to build it out of sticks and mud. Hopefully though, my great plan will work out and we can do both the house and new gear. Stay tuned.

In other news, it looks like my YouTube channel is gaining a little more popularity, mostly for the videos on my homemade alcohol stoves. That's another plus...with more popularity comes more income from adsense, so keep clicking, guys! I'm planning on making a few more videos soon, only this time around, they will be some new designs I'm trying with thicker aluminum (like the Venom stove mentioned a few posts below).