Wednesday, August 29, 2012

DIY First Aid Kits, Sort Of...

As with all adventures, you need or should be prepared for everything. Many things get overlooked or forgotten. They're usually seemingly little things that are negligible or trivial in nature, that is until you need them the most. Two of the most common are toilet paper and first aid kits. For now though, we'll discuss first-aid kits.

I looked through the whole gamut of first-aid kits, from the expedition kits for 5 or more people, to little kits that one would normally find at a dollar store. I was never quite satisfied with what I found, so I opted to create my own. I should probably start off with saying that when it comes to going on a full on expedition with a few other people and staying for a few days or longer, one of the expedition kits provided by Adventure Medical Kits would actually serve quite well. The majority of my trips are overnighters or days trips, so I didn't really need quite that many supplies. The problem is that in some of the smaller kits made for overnighters or day trips, they just have the bare bones bandaids and alcohol wipes.

Given all of that, when creating my own I started with a small kit. I used a small premade kit mostly for the handy little zipper case, then crammed some more stuff in there. I started with a little Coghlan's Trek I that you can buy from Walmart or any outdoors store. It only had the typical little bandaids, medical tape, and alcohol wipes. Hopefully that's all you will ever need, but we don't usually plan our accidents around hopes. If we did, we would obviously never have them in the first place. The good thing about the little Trek I pouch is that it had plenty of room for more supplies. I opted to pack it with a few other supplies just in case.
1. Mirror for signaling and self-checking any facial wounds
2. 2 Gauze pads for more serious abrasions and cuts
3. 2 Knuckle bandaids, I will probably double that to 4 since knuckle abrasions and cuts are the most common for me.
4. 2 Fingertip bandaids, I will also probably double these to 4 since fingertip cuts are also common.
5. An assortment of several medium and small bandaids, as well as several of the little wound closure strips (the technical name escapes me for some reason)
6. A moleskin for blisters, which has saved my toes more than once!
7. Athletic or medical tape, for helping secure bandaids or gauze pads.
8. An assortment of peroxide and alcohol wipes
9. A couple packets of sting relief, not really needed, but very welcome.

I also carry a small bottle of basic pain relievers and allergy meds separately, but make sure you or the people in your group aren't allergic to any of these meds. All of this stuff packs into my little first aid pouch quite well and it's still small enough to hold in the palm of my hand. I simply stick it in one of my drybags or usually in a spare pocket in my tackle bag. I've only had to use mine a couple times, but I've always had what I needed to at least take care of small injuries until I can get out of the backcountry. In the event of bigger injuries, I can usually improvise with objects around me to create what I need to stabilize an injury then control the bleeding (if there is any) with the assortment of bandages in my little kit. These skills were learned in a certified wilderness first-aid course, which I very highly recommend!

That's basically it for my little kit that I carry 90% of the time. If you're looking to put your own together or purchase one straight off the shelf, do your research and read up on the various products reviews out there, then get out there and take a first aid course. Hopefully you'll never need to use what you've learned, but you never know what will happen. Be safe and go prepared!

Friday, August 17, 2012

DIY Kayak Scupper Plugs

As most may notice, a large majority of SOT kayaks have scuppers. If you're not sure what a scupper is, it's essentially a hole (or set of holes) intentionally molded into a sit-on-top kayak that allows water to drain out. They're especially useful if it's raining or when you take on water when running a rapid. They're not so useful when you're on flatwater and they allow a little water into the boat or in my case, foam build up from whatever "nutrients" might be in the water. The scuppers in the rear tankwell of my Ride 135 take on a little bit of water when I have my seat slid all the way back, which effectively soaks some of my tackle. It's not a huge deal, but it can be annoying on flatwater. Thus, enter the scupper plugs...

There are factory and aftermarket made scupper plugs that will fit virtually every SOT kayak out there, but they can get kind of pricey, especially when you're having to buy 6 or 8 of them to keep your boat completely dry on-deck. I opted to do it my own way. There are a variety of ways to make your own scupper plugs. You can carve out pieces of a foam yoga block, a big piece of packing foam, pool noodles, etc. I opted to use foam practice golf balls. They're cheap, easy to cram in the scuppers, stay put pretty well, and they work just as good as a conventional purpose-made scupper plug. They typically run around $5 for a pack of 12, so it's a cheap and easy mod to do that will keep you and your boat dry on flatwater.

Check out the video for more info...

Friday, August 10, 2012

Quick and Easy DIY Mount for a Humminbird PiranhaMax 160 Fish Finder

Once I got the initial setup on my boat with all of the rod holders and anchor trolleys, I contemplated adding a fish finder. A lot of people out there choose not to add a fish finder to their fishing kayak, mostly because they fish rivers and a fish finder is of little use and just gets in the way. Fish finders will work ok on larger rivers, but for many it's just not worth the trouble. My goal was to make it as little trouble as possible. I fish a lot of smaller lakes and reservoirs, and it would be nice to at least see the depth and temperature of the water I'm fishing in. Finding actual fish is a nice perk as well...

I opted to go with the Humminbird PiranhaMax 160 that carries. It has a dual-band transducer for 20 and 60 degree angle readings, allowing a good wide view of what's below you. It also has a very nice backlight and is waterproof. I'll get around to posting an in-depth review soon of the PiranhaMax 160, but I was once again impressed by ACK's prices, shipping, and customer service. They're actually one of the few retailers I trust that carry the 160 (most others only carry either the 150 or the 170 for some odd reason). I considered the 160 a steal for $90 shipped, especially given the dual band transducer, backlight and weatherproofing. I didn't want to go with something too expensive, mostly because I only really needed basic functionality for now. I may change my mind sometime in the future as I fish more lakes and really get to researching thermoclines, but the little 160 fits my needs perfectly for now.

I wanted to mount my recently purchased PiranhaMax 160 in a way that it was easily removable for when I do not want it or need it on river and creek trips. I researched a few ways to mount it by purchasing adapters for a rod holder base, but in the end I decided to make my own. The total cost? About 50 cents.

I was going to purchase a mount made specifically for the Piranhamax series by Scotty, which is very nice, but it didn't have the option of routing the cables through the actual mount, which is ultimately what I wanted. I was then going to do the same as Paul from Palmetto Kayak Fishing and make a custom mount base like his, but it also wasn't designed to have the cables routed through the mount.

I decided to start with a Scotty Flush Mount Bracket, which has a nice low profile and a plug that you can remove from the bottom for, in my case, routing cables. I still wasn't sure how I was going to interface the base of the fish finder to the flush mount bracket, until I got to peering at the bottom of the fish finder's base. As it turns out, below the hole in the base of the fish finder, there is a 1/2-1/4" long tube or shaft that extends down. The circumference of that little tube appeared to be the same as the outer circumference of 1/2" PVC. I tried a 1/2" PVC coupler and it fit perfect! Snug enough that it takes a pretty good grip to pull it back off, but one could probably secure it with a little GOOP or Lexel for added security. I then cut a small piece of 1/2" pvc (maybe 2.5 to 3 inches long) to go in the other end of the coupler, long enough to fit in one end of the coupler and extend down into the bottom of the Scotty flush mount bracket.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

As evident from the pictures, I painted it gloss black (the visible portion anyways) to give it a nice sleek look that matched the fish finder and flush mount. The 1/2" pvc fits down into the flush mount base perfect. It has a little "play" at first, but once you work it past the notch that's down in the flush mount bracket, it locks in pretty decent with enough resistance to keep it from moving around or falling out if you happen to flip your boat. As an added measure of security, I may eventually drill a small hole through both the pvc shaft and the shaft of the flush mount big enough to put a small lynch pin or PTO pin through. Keep in mind that if one does go with that method of securing their fish finder to the base, pull the cables before you drill the hole, then push them back through after drilling, and use a small enough pin that won't pinch the cables when you push it through to lock it all in place.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Once everything was secured, I routed my transducer and power cables up through the base and plugged them into the PiranhaMax 160. [Pro-Tip: Run the transducer cable up first, then the power cable] When I'm not using the fish finder, I simply pull the cables back down into the hull and secure them with a twist tie, then flip the rubber cap down on the flush mount to keep water out or stick a Scotty rod holder in there.

I'm currently working on creating a waterproof battery box, to power my fish finder and a few other accessories that I plan on adding on later. The box will be secured in the center of the hull between the two "towers" formed by the scupper holes (Ride 135 owners will know what I'm talking about. As for the transducer, I opted to "glass" it to the hull using a carved out foam block and some Lexel. I'm not sure how I'll like the transducer mounted like that though. I've heard it has no signal loss, but it does throw the water temp reading off a bit. If it becomes a huge issue, I'll opt for a flip down transducer mount. For now though, this setup should work ok for me, now I just need to get it on the water and try it out this weekend!

More pictures

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Friday, August 03, 2012

New Phase 3 AirPro Elevated Seat for the Wilderness Systems Ride Series

This just in from the 2012 Outdoor Retailer Show.. Looks like the rumors were true, this will be really boost the Ride series! A higher seat will give you a better vantage point when fishing as well as make it easier to stand and sit. For those wondering about the stability with a slightly higher center of gravity, the Ride series is so stable it shouldn't even be an issue. This is just a prototype in the video, so it should be interesting to see if they do any more modifications before it's released to the public. Check out Chad Hoover's quick overview in the video below.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

2012 Astral Buoyancy Ronny PFD Review

This is another part of my latest series of reviews. Several people have asked me about my gear and why I chose what I did. Being a convert from whitewater boating, I started completely new with kayak fishing, so pretty much all of my gear other than my rods and tackle are brand new (I have fished in a bass boat for many years). I did countless hours of research to make sure I was getting the best deal and the best product for my money. I didn't go with the highest end gear for everything, simply because it's not necessary for me. The products I did pick though were what I deemed the best bang for my buck, and none of them have let me down so far.

As far as my PFD goes, I knew it would be difficult to find another pfd (life jacket) as comfortable as my old Lotus Lola, which my wife now uses. As mentioned before, I did quite a bit of research, mostly looking through reviews and message boards. The product that seemed to stand out the most for my specific application of kayak fishing, appeared to be the Astral Ronny, so I bought one to try out. I was not disappointed.

This is by far the most comfortable PFD that I've ever had the pleasure of wearing. It's completely adjustable from the shoulder straps to the side straps. The back panel of foam is only 1/2" thick, so it's extremely comfortable when leaning against a full backrest such as the one on my Ride 135. There's no big chunk or wad of foam making you feel awkward or uncomfortable, which is a very welcome change. The back panel also has a small vent in it to keep the air flowing a bit better. I'm not sure how much it really helps, but it looks cool and I feel cool, so that's pretty much all that matters to me.

The Ronny has one front pocket made out of mesh that I use to hold my Gerber EZ-Out knife and glasses strap. It's not a very big pocket, but would at least fit a cell phone in a waterproof case or similar.

Overall, I am very impressed with this PFD and will certainly keep on using it for quite a while. While I am satisfied with this PFD, especially for the price it typically goes for, there are a few things that I would like to see either changed on this model or possibly for a future creation. I'd like to see thicker fabric such as 400 or 500D nylon. The nylon on the current Ronny seems tough enough as-is, and it dries out super quick, but I'd just like to have a tad tougher material. I'd also like to see another pocket or two on the front for additional gear. This is where if they did take that into consideration, it might be for a completely new model made specifically for fishing, but still keep the 1/2" thick back panel. That's pretty much it! As I mentioned before, I'm very happy and look forward to using this PFD for many seasons to come.

Check out the video below for a quick look and basic overview. Comment with any questions, thanks!