Tuesday, April 15, 2014

New Gear Made By Me...

With all of the bad weather we had for the first part of the new year, it left plenty of time open for some sewing projects that have been floating around in my mind. A few online transactions later and a number of hours measuring, cutting, stitching, and re-stitching later there are a few creations of my own hand in my gear arsenal. I like how i'm finally getting around to posting about his crap in april now that I have been spending a bulk of time outdoors again.

The first project I did was an idea for a quilt that had been taunting me since I hiked the AT in 2012. My intent was to write up a long article on how this quilt was a simple, lightweight, convertible, warm weather quilt. Well time has passed and I find myself wanting to paraphrase the long hand and get down to the nuts and bolts. This project took me one night from start and finish but was far from easy. My idea was to be able to use the quilt in or under a hammock, or drape over me on the ground. My design called for a footbox flap that can be closed off or opened up depending on the conditions. There are small loops along the side of the quilt that get attached to small lengths of elasticord that keep the bag in place around your sleeping pad at night.
It came out pretty good as far as i'm concerned. Matter of fact for the past two months this has replaced the comforter on my bed. All of the materials were purchased in the Quilt Kit from I've tested it once on a night that dipped into the high 40's. It was warm enough but defenitely a bit on the cold side for the working temperature range of the quilt. The icing on the cake is that it weighs in at less than a pound with stuff sack! This project was well worth the time and effort.
I've been paddling regularly for about 4 years now. Spending long hours and big miles in any seat can take a toll on your back. I'd been growing curious after spending a few hundred hours in the boat if there was more that I could do to increase the comfort level. Jackson has a lumbar support that they sell as an accessory so the tinkerer in me thought about how simply one can be made. I had almost all of the materials besides some 1" webbing and some buckles. I used some dyneema fabric left over from the frame bag build to make the pillow sleeve. It was as simple as sewing in the webbing and loops for the buckles and voila. The self inflating pillow was an old camping pillow I already had as well, so this got done for less than $10.

I put it to the test on a trip to the marsh recently and was surprised at how much of a difference the support made. I tend to lean forward when paddling hard or into winds but with this it felt better to lean back into it and paddle with better posture. Anyone who puts in long miles and hours in a kayak owes it to their back to give one of these a shot. I will be making a few of these in the future for sale once i've collected all the necessary material. It will fit around all major seats from Jackson, Native and Hobie. If you're interested please shoot me an email or something and i'll gladly keep in touch.
The last project I had in mind spurred from having one too many close encounters with motorboats in the open waters we fish. Poor boating ethics and carelessness accounted for most of my close calls but either way it helps to be a bit more visible when on the water. Most people aren't expecting to see grown men and women only a foot or so off the water in small plastic boats so a signal flag is an easy way of increasing your visibility. My only problem with them is that they usually require another mount, track or ball to be installed. Most of us have those coming out of every surface on our kayaks, and for simplicities sake I wanted to avoid another piece of mounting hardware.

I got to thinking that a flag that would slip over the tip of the rod you are not fishing would be a simple and creative solution. I found some safety orange water proof material, reflective cloth and got to the drawing board. The end result is what you see below. About 20 of these were produced and given away to friends that I normally fish with. Who knows it may even save someone's life one day. The flag also doubles as a trailering flag with the addition of a short length of cord and a carabiner.
I still have a handful of these left so if you'd like one let me know. The reflective material in the center was painstakingly cut out and sewed on in the shape of redfish, trout, tarpon, wood ducks, sacalait....yyyyeah it was a llooooonnngggg winter indeed. If that perfect piece of gear doesn't exist, you must make it!. Now is the time of the year where we go use them so goodbye til next time.

No comments: