The Problem With Plastic

The Problem With Plastic

It's widely accepted that as a nation becomes more modernized, it produces more waste.  This is most easily seen when you consider the world's top producers of waste - the United States, China, Germany, and Japan.  On a micro-level, consider your own day-to-day life.  How often do you stop for a coffee?  How many foods do you buy that are wrapped in plastic?  And what about shopping bags?  One trip to the grocery store for a week's worth of groceries could need up to 10 plastic bags to carry it all.

Garbage is everyone's problem.  Why?  Because it doesn't stay where you put it.  If you burn it, dangerous toxins are released into the atmosphere and are carried around the world.  If you bury it, the same thing may happen as the products break down and seep into ground water.  And if you toss it out the window as you drive down the highway?  It will most likely end up in a stream, river, or ocean.

Garbage on Beach

There is nothing more upsetting and frustrating than cruising the lake on your SUP only to find the perfect inlet for lunch ... that's covered in garbage.  That's why we at Stillwater Outdoors want to share a few easy ways that you can help reduce the amount of waste we produce each year to ensure a healthier, cleaner world for all of us to enjoy.

Ten Ways to Help Keep Our World Clean

1.  Recycle

This one seems obvious, but very few of us do it regularly.  Taking the time to separate out recyclables means less waste being dumped in landfills.

2.  Reusable Bottles

Along the same line as recycling, reusing is probably one of the easiest and best ways to reduce the amount of waste we produce.  Instead of buying recyclable water bottles and then recycling them, why not purchase a reusable bottle made of metal or glass that can last for years or even decades?  This small change will reduce the demand for water bottles that could potentially end up where they don't belong.

Plastic Straws

3.  Say No to Straws

Unless you have a disability that requires it, consider saying no the next time someone asks if you'd like a straw (or tell them not to include one in your next drink).  Americans use 500 million drinking straws a day!  That's enough straws to fill 46,400 school buses with straws every year.  

Check out the Be Straw Free Campaign for more information.

4.  Reusable Shopping Bags

Though they may cost money up front, being able to use the same shopping bags over and over will save money in the end.  Shopping bags are a major polluter of our water bodies and pose serious threats to the wildlife and ecosystems around the world.  Pick up a few reusable bags and leave them in your car to ensure you always have them on hand for even impromptu shopping trips.

Farmers Market

5.  Buy Bulk Foods

Many of us would rather spend more on prepackaged sliced mushrooms than to slice them ourselves.  And what about that fruit that neatly sliced and diced and ready to be unwrapped and eaten?  Though it may save us time, it costs far more.  Not only are you paying extra for the convenience of such things, but you're also increasing the amount of waste that leaves your home every day.  Instead, buy unwrapped foods or select items that are packaged in easily recyclable or reusable packaging.

If you want a great resource for more ways you can reduce the waste in your home, check out Small Footprint Family.

6.  Eat Out Less

Not only is this healthier for you, but it's healthier for the environment.  How many fast food containers and soda cups have you seen littering the side of the road?  Too many.  If you don't have the time to cook dinner every night, consider cooking meals on the weekend to freeze or refrigerate for the rest of the night.  Just be sure to store them in reusable glass containers.

7.  Clean Up Our Streets

We often pass litter crews doing their best to collect the garbage on the side of the road, but far more of our infrastructure is left untouched.  Why not make a weekend of it?  Gather a group of friends, fire up the grill, and have a BBQ after taking an hour or so to clean the stretch of road in front of your house.  Many hands make light work, and a little reward never hurt.

Cleaning a Beach

8.  Clean Up Our Beaches

Same idea, different locale.  Organize a beach clean-up at the start and end of summer to help keep our beaches clean, safe, and fun.  Talk to local businesses about the event.  You may be surprised by how many want to help or sponsor your group.

9.  Stop Junk Mail

You don't want it.  I don't want it.  The environment certainly doesn't want it.  In fact, we're not entirely sure who wants it.  If you find your mailbox filled with junk mail every day, check out this website to make it stop.

DMA Choice

 People of the Earth

10.  Be Conscientious 

It's not hard.  Be diligent.  Be thoughtful.  Be aware of what you buy, how you use it, and what ends up tossed aside.  Be resistant to marketing ploys to get you to buy that kitchen gadget you will never use and to upgrade your wardrobe every season even though you only wore that sweater once.  And most importantly, be kind.  To yourself.  To others.  To our world.

We know that change can be difficult, but even the smallest step made in the right direction is progress.

Remember ... We can do this.

Please share this infographic with friends and family to help raise awareness of the plastic problem.

Plastic Problem

Continue reading

The Importance of a Dock Line

The Importance of a Dock Line

When using a boat, it seems fairly obvious that a dock line would be a vital piece of equipment.  How else would you secure the boat to the dock when done for the afternoon?  Most of us don't consider, however, that the dock line is just as vital for those using man-powered vessels.

True, most man-powered vessels are small enough and light enough to be pulled up on shore.  That doesn't mean that you shouldn't have a dock line secured to your vessel, no matter what type of vessel it is.

Why?  Here are four vital (and sometimes hilarious) reasons why you should have a dock line on your kayak or SUP.

Headstands on SUPs

1.  Group Yoga

Although a dock line isn't actually used in the execution of SUP yoga, it's a useful thing to have on hand.  Why?  That dock line can be used to secure your SUP to another or even to a buoy or a dock.  This way, you don't have to worry about floating away while trying to master Shirshasana.

Woman Pulling Kayak Over Shallow Water

2.  Shallow Water

Most kayaks, SUPs, and even canoes sit high enough in the water to cross shallow waters, but even they can run aground.  When your SUP is loaded with gear, carrying it often isn't an option.  Having a dock line means you can remove your weight from the SUP, allowing it to ride higher in the water, and pull it through the shallow areas.  Personally, I've had to do this several times when going down rivers in the later summer when the water levels sometimes drop until only a few inches cover the rocky river bottom.

Canoe and Kayak Tied to Buoy

3.  When Shore Isn't An Option

There are times when you may not want to drag/carry your vessel up the shore.  Rocks, cliffs, and even crowds may make it impossible, or at least very difficult, to carry your SUP or kayak up the shore.  With a dock line secured to your SUP, you can easily tie it off to a buoy, tree, or even a rock to ensure it doesn't float away while you rest.

Girl Paddling Kayak

4. Towing

There are two situations when your dock line may need to serve as a quick-tow rope as well.  In my personal experience, these situations often revolve around children ... or husbands.

First, children.  While rowing long distances, they may tire sooner or may not be able to fight the current/wind as easily as you can.  Simply secure one end of the dock line to the back of your vessel and secure the other to the front of theirs.  This ensures they never fall too far behind, can take breaks when they need to, and will be able to stick with the group during windy days. 

Do not do this when venturing down rapids.  The rope can easily get caught on rocks/branches/debris and may end up putting both of you in a dangerous situation.  Never allow a child to traverse a rapids alone in their own vessel.

Second, husbands.  In particular, I'm thinking of my own who prefers to cruise along on his PWC while I stick to my kayak.  One summer day, I set out to investigate a bit of marshlands along the edge of the lake while he got his PWC.  After struggling for a bit (it's a two-stroke and takes a bit of love to start the first time), he got it running only to have it shut down on him about two hundred yards from shore.  I had to tow him back to the dock, which was easy with my dock line.

He learned a very important lesson that day - PWC work better if they have gas in their tank.

And me?  I don't think I've ever laughed that hard.

Dock Line Attached to SUP

Whether you prefer kayaks, canoes, or SUPs, consider purchasing a dock line like the one offered here at Stillwater Outdoors.  It pays to be prepared, especially when bringing husbands along.

Continue reading

Types of SUPs: Which One is Right for You?

Stand-up paddling is a great sport for people of all ages and abilities.  It's low-impact, easy to learn, and can be done virtually anywhere you can find water.  We love it because of its versatility ... but that can also create some confusion for those looking to break into the sport.

How?  Well, that versatility comes with an array of options as far as board type, size, and length.  So how do you know which one is right for you?

calm lake

First, think about where you plan to use the board. 

Easy access to a small lake will require different equipment than whitewater boarding.  Racing options aren't the greatest for those who want to focus on SUP yoga or fishing.

Second, think about who will use it.

Children often do better on shorter boards and weight limits can influence the type and size of board needed for adults.  

Third, consider how you plan to move it.

If you do a lot of adventuring all across the country and plan to take your SUP along, an inflatable board is the way to go.  The same goes for those who plan to take it on hiking/camping trips.  If you plan to only visit areas where you can drive directly to the water (a boat launch), a solid SUP may be the better option, but keep in mind that solid SUPs are obviously heavier and may be difficult for some people to carry/move by themselves.

And fourth, decide which is more important - maneuverability or speed.

Why?  Planing hulls (those that remain flat along the surface of the water with a rounded nose) are more maneuverable than displacement hulls (those that "cut" through the water with a nose like that of a canoe and tend to sit lower in the water).  This goes along with the first question - where do you plan to use it - and adds the layer of how do you plan to use it.  Planing hulls are great for surfing, yoga, and whitewater as well as leisurely rides across the water.  Displacement hulls are for those looking for speed for racing, touring, or fitness paddling.

Carrying SUPs

Now that you've thought about the when, where, and how you plan to use your SUP, let's consider the different board options available.  Some of these options may vary by company/brand, so be sure to read the specifics associated with all of the boards you are considering before you make a purchase.  Be sure to check out volume, length, weight limits, thickness, and width.

In general, planing boards are more forgiving when it comes to these measurements.  Displacement boards require a bit more thought.  Pay special attention to the volume and weight statistics.  If you are too light for the board, it won't sink into the water enough and will be difficult to control.  If you are too heavy, it will sink too deep and will drag and be far slower than it should be.  And remember to consider the weight of any gear you bring as this will have a significant influence on the performance of the board.

Surf SUP

 Surf

Surf SUPs are generally shorter than 10 feet long and are almost always planing hulls.  They cut over the surface of the water with ease and allow for great maneuverability.  The downside?  They are slower on flat water and are less stable.

All-around SUP, yoga

All-Around

These boards, as the name suggests, can be used for just about any type of SUPing.  These are perfect beginner boards and are excellent options for those sharing the board with friends and family (who will differ in size and skill level).  Though they work in just about any situation, they don't excel as much as the others for specific objectives (they aren't as fast as racing/touring boards or as maneuverable as surf SUPs).  They generally range from 10 to 12 feet in length and usually have planing hulls though some companies offer displacement style all-around boards.

Flatwater SUP

Flatwater

These boards are designed for distance and speed.  Most are over 12 feet long and are still wide enough to be relatively stable in most conditions.  They will typically have a displacement hull, which allows for better tracking (staying straight on the water) and speed.

Racing SUP

Racing

Racing SUPs are a sub-category of the flatwater boards.  They are generally the same length and always have displacement hulls.  The major difference is in the width.  Racing boards are narrow, which means they are far less stable than any other board and aren't a great choice for beginners.  The narrowness allows for increased speeds, which is why this choice is great for those looking to race.

Continue reading

Why You Need to Have One Last Paddling Adventure

Why You Need to Have One Last Paddling Adventure

Autumn is officially here.  Well, maybe not officially, but it certainly feels like it.  Here in the Pacific Northwest, we know autumn has arrived when the nighttime temperatures dip into the low 50's, the leaves start to change, and school buses greet us every morning.

It seems like only yesterday soaring high temperatures drove us to the lakes and rivers in hordes, desperate for relief from the heat.  Now, many of those same lakes and rivers stand empty or host solitary fishing boats that sit quiet and still in sheltered bays.

fishing in autumn

Which is one of the many reasons why you need to grab your SUP and hit the water one last time (or two or three if you can manage it).

Think about it -  no more rambunctious PWCs zooming in and out with little regard for the man-powered vessels slowly making their way across the water.  And those boat launches that always seemed to be full?  Now they're mostly empty with no lines at the ramp and no delays before you get out on the water.

Sure, it's a bit colder.  And yes, rain is coming.  But are those reasons to ignore one of the most beautiful (and my personal favorite) season of the year?

I think not.

autumn by lake

Of course, there are some of you who laugh in the face of frost and aren't at all intimidated by ice or snow.  Those same people venture out into the wilds and hit the water regardless of season and can no doubt tell you hundreds of amazing reasons why you should do the same.

We understand, however, that some of you may exchange SUPs for skis/snowboards and boats for snowmachines.  Before you do so, we want you to consider taking one last paddling adventure.  Believe us, it is definitely worth it.

Why?  Here are four of our favorite reasons why you shouldn't pack away that SUP yet.

autumn along a river

1.  See above.  It's beautiful.  Need we say more?

2.  Crowds?  What crowds?  With many sticking close to home as children return to school, most of those fan-favorite destinations that were crowded all summer now stand empty.  

3.  Now that the water isn't as crowded and you aren't being bombarded by waves, you might consider trying something new with your SUP.  Those SUP yoga positions you've been hesitant to attempt?  Now is the time to give them a try.  Those new strokes for maneuvring through tight spaces?  Feel free to practice all you want.  For those of you with touring SUPs, that venture across the entire lake won't be as hazardous now that there is less traffic on the water.

4.  It's a great time to introduce someone new to the the sport.  Grab a pair of SUPs, head down to the lake, and practice with ease all the while enjoying the beauty of the changing seasons.  When you're finished, crack open that thermos of hot cocoa and enjoy.

Although the allure of snow is difficult to ignore, don't be so eager to give up on your SUP just yet.  Take advantage of all that autumn has to offer and enjoy the beauty of the season by taking one last paddling adventure.  When you're done, we are sure you'll be hooked.

Continue reading

The Allure of Autumn: A Guide to Camping in Fall

The Allure of Autumn: A Guide to Camping in Fall

Summertime is fun, but as autumn approaches, many of us pack up our camping gear, put away our SUPs and kayaks, and exchange hiking boots for school gear.  

Why?  Yeah, the days are shorter.  True, the nights are colder.  But there are definite advantages to getting outdoors in the fall and as long as you keep a few simple rules in mind, you may find that camping in this often disregarded season quickly becomes your favorite activity.

autumn

The Advantages:

1.  Discounted Rates

While some campgrounds shut down after Labor Day, others remain open but at reduced, off-season rates.  Who doesn't love saving a bit of cash?

2.  Less Crowded

For many of us, fall means school has started, which means family vacations aren't possible (or are far more difficult).  If you can manage it, you'll find that your favorite campgrounds, lakes, and trails are less crowded allowing you more freedom to enjoy all that the wilderness has to offer.

Colorado in fall

3.  A New Perspective

Autumn is a time of change, a time when the world seems to curl up upon itself, breath a sigh of relief, and prepare for winter's cold embrace.  What does this mean for you?  That familiar stomping ground you visited all summer is now transformed into a new world filled with stunning vistas, wildlife, and opportunities to explore areas that you may have missed in summer.

Now that we've convinced you of why you should explore in autumn, we'd like to offer a few tips on how to do it safely.  This list is by no means exhaustive, and what you need will vary wildly depending on who is going, where you're going, and how long you plan to be gone, but it should give you a solid start to your autumn adventure.

Fall Camping Guide:

1.  Watch the Weather

As with any outdoor adventure, the weather plays an important role.  Make sure to watch weather trends for the area you plan to explore and pack accordingly.  It's never fun to be caught out in a rainstorm without proper gear or to wake up and crawl out of your tent only to discover that the first snow of the year fell during the night.

fall, first snow

2.  Cold-Weather Sleeping Bag/Sleeping Pad

These are a must for any fall/winter/early spring camping trip.  Always bring a sleeping bag rated for lower than you think you'll need to ensure you never spend a night shivering instead of sleeping.  Though you may have braved the rough terrain in summer and slept without a sleeping pad during those warmer months, it's important that you bring one for any fall outings.  That insulating layer will help protect your body from the chill of the ground as temperatures drop.

3.  Invest in a Good Tent

Consider buying a 3-season tent with a full rain fly to protect against the damper, rainier autumn weather.  It's always a good idea to put down a tarp beneath your tent to help prevent moisture from seeping in and it can't hurt to bring an extra one to put over your tent for those particularly rainy areas.

4.  Bring a Variety of Clothes

Autumn weather is as varied as it is unpredictable.  Nights are cold, days can be hot, rain is always a possibility, and even snow could threatened your adventure.  Bring things that can be layered for easy removal throughout the day and never forget to bring rain gear with you to help protect against a sudden rain shower.

5.  Check for Burn Bans

Although the temperatures are dropping, some areas may still be affected by burn bans, which means that you won't be able to rely on a fire to help keep you warm (or cook, or keep predators away).  Check before you go to make sure you're properly prepared with either a plan to get firewood or suitable alternative means of heating/cooking.

Elk in Fall

6.  Watch for Wildlife

The autumn provides unique opportunities to see wildlife as they prepare for winter, but it also brings with it wildlife safety concerns (yours and theirs).  Keep in mind that some animals are more aggressive in the fall and should be avoided at all costs (bears and bees come to mind first).  Other animals experience their mating season in fall and may behave unpredictably or even dangerously.  Please give the animals extra space for your safety and theirs.  If you want to take pictures, use a telephoto lens and always be aware of your surroundings.

7.  Make a Plan and Survival Kit

You should always leave a plan of your trip with someone when venturing off, especially on your own, but it is especially important to do so as the weather gets colder.  If you get lost, you may not be able to wait for days before someone comes to save you, which is why it is equally important to bring a survival kit with you whenever you venture away from camp.  In it, pack everything you will need to survive in case the weather turns on you, you get lost, etc.

8.  Know When to Abandon Ship

Not literally, of course, but don't be afraid to admit that you aren't prepared and have a plan B - in this case, extra money to pay for a hotel for the night.  When the weather turns foul or an unexpected storm blows in, there's no shame in finding alternatives to camping.  Better that than risk your safety or health by toughing it out when you're not prepared.

Your outdoor adventures don't have to end just because summer is over.  With proper planning and preparation, you can explore a new world - one of rich color, vibrant life, and untold beauty.

Continue reading

Guest Blog: Glacier National Park

Guest Blog: Glacier National Park

Today, we would like to share a post provided to us by our friend, Timothy Beggs, who recently went on a trip to Glacier National Park.  We love to hear about adventures near and far and are so happy that our Stillwater SUPs added a new level of fun for Tim, his friends, and his family.

Glacier National Park, sunrise on lake

As someone who is new to paddle boarding, I was unsure of what to expect when I tried this very hyped-up sensational rave, and I must say I was not disappointed. I am also very into camping and mountaineering, so when I went to Glacier National Park this year to do a camping and climbing trip, I decided to bring paddle boards as well. And boy, am I glad I did.

Glacier National Park, friends

After a long day of hiking and climbing in the mountains, we would go for a one-two hour paddle on Bowman Lake where our main camp site was and I even got up early one morning to watch the sunrise from the water.

Glacier National Park, ready to SUP

As much as I love fast-paced high-risk activities, paddle boarding brought such a fun and enjoyable addition to our camping trip this year.  Whether we were hiking Logan's Pass or climbing Mt Siyeh, my brothers would always say, “When we get back to camp, we need to do some more paddle boarding,” to which I always agreed.

Glacier National Park lake at sunrise

While Fun Unlimited offers some beautiful locations to rent from in Post Falls and Spokane, I always like getting a little farther away. Thankfully, they let me take the paddle boards off-site for the trip. So 6 hours away in Glacier National Park, Montana, I was able to enjoy the most peaceful and quiet sunrise on a remote lake.

Glacier National Park Lake

Thanks Fun Unlimited and Stillwater Outdoors for the great time in Montana and for the many more trips on the water to come!

Thanks Tim!  We're so glad you had a safe trip and hope next summer brings many more adventures on water and on land.

All pictures were provided, and used with permission, by Timothy Beggs.  The article is presented, as given, with the exception of a few minor grammar corrections.  

Continue reading

Snow, Ice, and Cold Water: Winter Water Safety Guide

Snow, Ice, and Cold Water: Winter Water Safety Guide

Summer is ending, fall is fast approaching, and temperatures are already starting to drop ... but don't think that means you have to pack your SUP away for good.  Winter brings unique opportunities to the sport.

As well as some serious dangers.  Never underestimate the cold.  If you plan ahead, prepare, and respect Mother Nature, there is no reason why you can't go and see a world very few have had the pleasure of witnessing ... a winter wonderland seen from the water.

Woman by lake, winter

1.  Know the Water Temperature

We all know that SUPing is swimming, and though few of us plan to end up in the water, it happens.  What most don't realize is that water doesn't have to be that cold to be dangerous.  50 degree (F) water is a lot colder and more deadly than 50 degree air.  Water temperatures between 70 and 60 degrees are considered dangerous.  Water temperatures below 60 degrees are considered very dangerous/immediately life-threatening.  At 60 and below, you may experience total loss of breathing control, inability to control gasping, and hyperventilation.  For more information on the dangers of cold water, check out the National Center for Cold Water Safety at www.coldwatersafety.org

If the water temperature is cold, it doesn't mean you can't SUP.  It does mean that you should take extra precautions to ensure that you can get out of the water quickly and safely if you do fall in.

2.  Watch the Weather

This is important any time you go out on an adventure as no one likes to be caught in torrential rains or unusually blistering heat.  In the winter, however, the danger ramps up.  That slight breeze that cooled you during the summer months now adds a wind-chill factor that could put already cold temperatures below freezing.  And, honestly, who wants to set out on their adventure during a blizzard?  Check the weather days in advance.  Keep checking it as your target date approaches.  And if there are any risks, don't go.  Try again at a later, safer, time.

blizzard by mountains

3.  Make a Float Plan

We mentioned this in our post about general water safety/SUP safety.  Make a detailed plan of your trip - where you will put in, where you will paddle, any potential "safe" areas where you may shore up in case of trouble, when you will leave, when you will return, who is going with you, what you will be wearing, and so on.  Seems like a lot, but getting stranded in the winter is far more dangerous than getting stranded in the summer.  Daylight temperatures in the winter months are cold enough, but when that sun goes down and the temperatures plummet, you don't want to be stranded outside.  Make a plan, give it to someone you trust, and stick to it.

And when choosing your route, consider this:  Can you swim to shore?  If not, you should probably choose a different route.  Hug shorelines and stick to shallows whenever possible to reduce the risk of drowning and/or hypothermia if you end up in the water.

4.  Never Paddle Alone

In the summer, it can be tempting to venture out on your own because there is less risk.  Conditions are ideal and dangers are minimal.  In the winter, however, having someone with may save your life.  The cold makes everything difficult and fine motor skills quickly disappear with gross motor skills following soon after.  Having someone there to help in case of an emergency is vital, so never go out alone.

campfire in snow

5.  Make an Emergency Kit

Whether you plan to be out for an hour or all day, it's a good idea to have a winter-specific emergency kit with you while paddling.  In it, include things you might need if you do end up stranded overnight in the cold.  Matches/a lighter, water, a blanket (to save space consider placing it in a bag that can be compressed and sealed to remove air), chemical heating packets for hands and feet, flashlight, etc.  If you do have to go to shore and can't make it back to your car before nightfall, you're going to need a way to stay warm.  Pack with that in mind.  Consider a safety beacon or flare as well, just in case.

6.  Leash and PDF

In the summer months, it is tempting to SUP without actually wearing your PDF.  On calm, warm water, there is less of a risk of drowning, especially for those who are strong swimmers.  In cold water, however, swimming skill isn't enough to save you.  Wear your PDF at all times.  If you fall into cold water, the shock of it may make it difficult or impossible to swim.  Always keep a leash attached as well.  When the water is cold and swimming is difficult, you don't want your SUP to get out of your reach.

7.  Dry Suit or Wet Suit?

Both can be used, though they work in very different ways and are more useful in different situations.  A wet suit works as you might think - it absorbs water and holds it against your body, allowing your body heat to warm it.  This warm water then becomes an insulating layer between you and the rest of the water.  A dry suit keeps you dry by repelling the water completely and uses the air trapped near your body to keep you warm.  In winter weather, particularly, a dry suit may prove more comfortable.  No matter which you use, keep in mind that layers both under and over can provide extra comfort and safety.  Also make sure that your clothing doesn't restrict your movements, both on the board and if you happen to fall in the water.

Wool Socks

8.  Consider Clothing Carefully

Cotton is a no-no.  Why?  It absorbs and holds water.  Instead, use layers that hold heat, not water, like fleece and/or wool.  Dress in layers as well.  Lightweight layers first, then warming layers (like fleece and wool) and waterproof/repellent layers last.  Hats are important, so make sure to have one.  While in the cold, it's important to keep your hands and feet warm as well, so invest in good gear.  Waterproof boots are nice, though they can be awkward in the water.  Wet suit booties are a great alternative, though they mean your feet will be wet the entire time.  Wear gloves that are waterproof and warm or consider neoprene (wet suit) options.

Two things to keep in mind when dressing for winter paddling:

Dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature

Layer properly for adjusting temperatures throughout the day (so you can remove layers when sweating and add them again when it cools)

8.  Extra Gear to Consider

A dry bag is a great investment for any water enthusiast.  Consider one, or two, for your winter paddling adventure.  One can carry your emergency gear as well as your float plan while the second can be used to store any layers you shed or extra clothing you bring along.  This will ensure they remain dry and ready to be reused later.  A thermos of something hot to drink is always a great idea.  Bring two, one to drink on your way out to the paddle spot and one for after you are finished for the day.  That added heat after a day of cold-weather paddling will definitely be appreciated.  Also consider a change of clothing.  After you return to your car, changing out of anything wet will help raise your body temperature faster and will make the trip home far more comfortable.

mountain lake in winter

Winter offers just as much beauty and fun as summer, as long as you don't underestimate the dangers.  Here at Stillwater Outdoors, we want to encourage you to try something new, something adventurous, while remaining as safe as possible.  Preparation and prevention are key, so the next time you venture out, please take an extra moment to review this guide and, as always, stay safe.

Continue reading

Destination Spotlight: Deep Lake

Destination Spotlight: Deep Lake

The school year is about to start again, and with it comes all the stress and chaos of getting your kids ready.  Supplies, clothes, and other gear to buy.  Sports physicals to schedule.  And the after school activities?

So with all of that coming in fast, wouldn't it be nice to have one last peaceful outing?  A little "me" time spent in a serene setting where the only thing you have to decide is whether to paddle or float a while?

Stillwater Outdoors has found the perfect spot.  A glassy, crystal clear lake nestled in the mountains of Northeastern Washington.

Deep Lake.

Deep Lake, WA North End

We consider it to be an ideal destination for anyone with an SUP.  Though the lake is small, it's rarely (if ever) crowded and at most you can typically only find a single boat (usually fishing), a few kayaks or canoes, and the occasional duck or goose.  Keep your eyes peeled, however, as bald eagles sometimes swoop down to catch some trout before they soar along the valley.

The best part?  The unique shape of the lake and the surrounding topography mean the water is usually smooth and calm - perfect for a bit of SUP yoga or just a relaxing cruise around the lake.  And the views?  It can't get much better than tree-covered mountains, rocky cliffs, and abundant wildlife.

Deep Lake, WA

And while you're there, why not bring your fishing pole?  The summer season is perfect for trout and as summer fades into fall, Kokanee (silver trout) are easy to catch.

There is a public boat launch with bathrooms, though a Discover Pass is required.  Don't have one?  Check out this website for more information about costs and where to buy:

Discover Pass

Deep Lake, WA Public Boat Launch

For those looking to launch a boat, we'd like to offer a bit of warning.  The cement platform for launching has a severe drop at the end with a metal tab sticking out, perfect for catching on a wheel.  Instead, consider using the gravel slope alongside it as a safer alternative.  It's not as steep, which means you'll have to back up farther, but you won't run the risk of catching on the metal or getting stuck on the drop-off.

Deep Lake Resort has closed, so if you're looking to stay a while, you'll have to find an alternative.  For the adventurous types, there is always the national forest which has easy access off Deep Lake Boundary Road.  While there, you can check out Big Meadow Lake as well, which rests deep in the national forest and does have primitive campsites available on a first come, first serve basis.  If that's not your style, you could always stay in one of the nearby towns: Colville, Kettle Falls, or Northport.  If you're staying in Kettle Falls or Northport, you could always spend a little time on the Columbia River as well.

So before you jump into the new school year, why not take a day (or two) to visit Deep Lake and add a little serenity to your life?

Continue reading

Dangers of Heat Related Injuries

Dangers of Heat Related Injuries

As temperatures climb into the triple digits, many of us run for cover.  Air conditioning becomes more than just a luxury, it can be a lifesaver.  For those who can't remain somewhere cool, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke are very real threats.  Stillwater Outdoors would like to share important information about these heat related injuries as well as ways to prevent them and what to do if you or someone around you is suffering from them.

What are they?

 All three are conditions that are caused by exercising in high heat/high humidity.  They all affect the body in various ways and to various degrees with heat cramps being the mildest reaction and heat stroke being the most severe and potentially life-threatening.

men running outdoors

Heat Cramps

Symptoms:

Painful, involuntary muscle spasms that occur when performing heavy exercise in hot environments

Who is most at risk?

Anyone exercising in high heat can experience heat cramps

Prevention:

Take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water.  Work in the shade if possible.  Avoid working during the hottest part of the day.

First Aid:

Rest in the shade.  Drink plenty of water.  Perform slow, easy stretches or gently massage muscles affected.  Do not return to exercise for several hours after spasms stop.  

fan in sunshine

Heat Exhaustion

Symptoms:

Headache, Nausea, Muscle cramps, Low blood pressure when standing (light-headed), Weak and/or rapid pulse, Dizziness, Fatigue, Heavy sweating, Cool and moist skin with goosebumps even when in heat

Who is most at risk?

The old and young, those taking certain medications that affect your body's ability to stay hydrated or react to heat (like blood pressure medications, allergy medications, and more), overweight/obese, those not used to the heat (those traveling, for instance), those consuming alcohol, and those overdressed

Prevention:

Wear loose and lightweight clothing.  Protect against sunburn (wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen, sunglasses).  Drink plenty of fluids often (not just before or after working).  Avoid working during the hottest part of the day.  Never leave anyone (human or animal) in a parked car for any length of time (temperatures can rise 20 degrees inside a car within 10 minutes).  Go slow until you acclimate to the heat (which can take several weeks).

First Aid:

Loosen clothing.  Drink plenty of water.  Find shade/cool areas to rest.  Bring your body temperature down however possible: dampen towels or cloths and place on skin, take a cool shower, submerge yourself in a lake or other body of water.  If you don't feel better within an hour of starting these measures, seek medical attention immediately.

military, running in high heat

Heat Stroke

This is the most severe and dangerous of heat injuries and requires immediate medical attention!

Symptoms:

High body temperature, Altered mental state or behaviors, Nausea and vomiting, Flushed skin, Rapid breathing, Racing heart rate, Headache (often severe)

Who is most at risk?

The old and young, those exerting themselves in hot weather (participating in sports, military, etc), sudden exposure to extreme heat, those with certain health conditions (like heart or lung disease), those taking certain medications (those affecting blood pressure, treating ADHD, antidepressants, and others), those without air conditioning

Prevention:

Wear loose and lightweight clothing.  Protect against sunburn (wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen, sunglasses).  Drink plenty of fluids often (not just before or after working).  Avoid working during the hottest part of the day.  Never leave anyone (human or animal) in a parked car for any length of time (temperatures can rise 20 degrees inside a car within 10 minutes).  Go slow until you acclimate to the heat (which can take several weeks).

First Aid:

Home treatment isn't enough for heat stroke.  Seek emergency medical attention immediately.  Don't drink any fluids while awaiting medical help.  Take measures to cool down your body (cool damp towels, find shade/air conditioning).  Heat stroke can cause damage to vital organs and even death.  When in doubt, don't risk it - seek emergency help immediately.

Please be careful and take the proper steps to help prevent heat related injuries this summer.  Save and share our infographic to help spread the word and make everyone's summer safer.

Heat Injury infographic, symptoms and prevention

Continue reading

Whitewater SUPing: The Next Adventure

Whitewater SUPing: The Next Adventure

You've tried and subsequently fell in love with stand-up paddle boards ... but flat water just doesn't hold the same appeal it once did.  Sound familiar?  You're not alone.  Many who learn the sport on flat water find themselves wondering what's next?

Stillwater Outdoors has the answer or, rather, we know the answer.  Whitewater SUPing.  That's right.  It's no longer reserved for kayaks and rafts and is quickly becoming a nation-wide competitive event.

Now, we don't suggest that you dive into competition immediately.  Like any sport, there is a fair bit of learning and practice involved.  Where whitewater is concerned, this training stage is vital as it can, quite literally, save your life.  Here are a few other tips for those looking to try a new, exciting use of their SUP.

1.  Gear Up

If you already have an SUP, you should already have the basic gear needed for being on the water: PFD, whistle, paddle, leash, and SUP.  Whitewater SUPing requires a few additional pieces of equipment.  First of all, inspect your SUP.  There are many different types designed for many different uses.  For whitewater rafting, you want a stable, durable board (inflatable boards work well) that has considerable rake (an upturning of both the front and back) to ensure you remain on top of the waves instead of being pulled under them.  If you don't have much rake on your SUP, adjust your placement on the board by standing farther back to keep the nose of the board up while riding the rapids.

Whitewater Helmets

Consider buying a helmet, knee and elbow pads, and potentially a different PFD.  The ACA (American Canoe Association) recommends an inherently buoyant lifejacket for all whitewater rafting.  You may need a new leash as well (if you choose to use one).  For whitewater SUPing, the ACA recommends that you wear a leash at waist level, accessible with both hands, and it must have a quick release feature.  For more information on the basic equipment needed for different types of SUP uses, check out this video released by the ACA:

SUP Leashes and Lifejackets

2.  Consider Taking a Class

For those who have no whitewater experience, we highly recommend taking a class with a certified whitewater instructor.  The ACA offers a list of classes offered, including classes for those wishing to become certified as an instructor.  Check it out here:

American Canoe Association: Whitewater Classes

Whitewater Rafter Overboard

Whitewater SUPing is swimming.  You will fall off.  You will have to swim.  This is yet another reason why taking a class is important.  Swimming in a rapids isn't the same as swimming in a lake or even a calm, flat river.  There are unseen obstacles, plenty of places to get caught, and the water is volatile making it difficult to tell which way is up in some situations.  Take the time to become a better swimmer before attempting any serious rapids.  The more comfortable you are in the water, the less likely you will be to panic and the more likely you will be to walk away unscathed.

3.  Start Small

Once you feel comfortable understanding the proper way to handle and remain safe on whitewater rapids, the next step is to try it out.  We recommend starting small with a class I or class II rapids.  Though it may be easier, don't always practice on the same rapids.  Exposure to new situations, different currents, and new obstacles will help you grow as a paddler and will help you be better prepared to move up to the next class of rapids.

Couple in Canoe Going Down Rapids

4.  River Etiquette

Like almost everything in life, there are certain rules that should be followed while on the river.  Canoe & Kayak offers a wonderful blog post about river etiquette that outlines the basic rules of the river.  One of the most important?  Those upstream on the river have the right of way.  Just like when you cross the road, always look before entering the river to be sure you don't cut off another river user and create a potentially dangerous situation.  You can find Canoe & Kayak's complete list of river etiquette here:

Canoe & Kayak: River Rules

5.  Pick Your Rapids

Now that you have a better understanding of what you need to get started on your SUP whitewater adventure, you probably need to find the perfect location.  American Whitewater offers an interactive map that shows you the class of rapids, its current water level, and when the information was last updated.  While there, consider offering your support by becoming a member or by donating (money or time) to help preserve our river systems.

American Whitewater Map

Kayak in Rapids

This is just a basic outline of some of the factors to consider before starting whitewater SUPing.  It is a challenging, fun way to get more out of your SUP experience.  Just remember to be careful, plan ahead, and, as always, have fun.

Continue reading