Greenland Kite Kayak Supertrip 5000

Sarah McNair-Landry, Erik Boomer and Ben Stookesberry are redefining the adage to “earn your turns.” The all-star trio of expedition leader-paddlers have their sights set on a river over 500 miles into the frozen interior of Greenland. The fastest way to reach the headwaters by foot? With a little help from the wind, of course.

Stookesberry, Boomer, and McNair-Landry have set out on as bold and unique of a put-in approach as whitewater expedition paddling has even seen. With the assistance of skis and kites they are towing their kayaks and sleds of gear 560 miles into Greenland, in order to reach a place they call the “Twin Galaxies,” where the headwaters of two unnamed rivers, formed by the melt-water of Greenland’s ice sheet, parallel one another as they drop 3,000 feet to the sea.

McNair-Landry, who resides on Baffin Island, brings serious Arctic prowess to the group, training Boomer and Stookesberry in the art of kite-skiing in order to greatly speed up the process of glacial travel and decrease the amount of time needed to trek into the Arctic. The technique is not without its risks. The winds, which make the idea of kite-skiing across the island ingenious, can also be extremely fierce. Harnessing the power of these winds can make glacial travel a breeze, but a mistake could lead to some disastrous situations on the frozen terrain. Stookesberry has already reported a couple of close calls via Instagram:

“A day after sudden high winds nearly dragged me to the ocean and dropped Sarah on her head from 20 feet, we are recovering and hunkered down in a heavy wet storm at 4000 feet on the East slope of the Greenland Icecap.”

The group arrived on the eastern shore of Greenland on August 7. On Sunday, August 21, they managed to cross into the Arctic Circle having covered roughly 150 miles in two weeks. Once the glacial travel is out of the way, the next plan is to hop in those kayaks they are dragging along — launching into one of the unnamed rivers for a first descent of one of the newest streams on the planet, carved out from the thawed runoff waters of the world’s second largest ice sheet.

Follow the expedition via Gramwire

Stay tuned to C&K for updates on the Greenland Kite Kayak Supertrip 5000.

More from C&K on the notable paddling expeditions of the crew:
Into Papua New Guinea’s ‘Grand Canyon Pacific’
Crossing Baffin Island
The Hendri Coetzee Memoir

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Nemo Tensor 20R Sleeping Pad Review

Nemo  Tensor 20R
($120, nemoequipment.com)

It’s impossible to look at the Nemo Tensor 20R without paying homage to its inspiration, the previously reviewed Therm-A-Rest NeoAir Xlite. The two are remarkably similar and coming into this review, we were curious if the Tensor would address the slippery surface, loud fabric and narrow width concerns we had during the NeoAir review.

A quick look at the basic specifications of the two pads:

Nemo Tensor 20R

Therm-A-Rest NeoAir Xlite

MSRP $120

MSRP $160

13oz

12oz

Inflated Size: 72 x 20 x 3 in

Inflated Size: 72 x 20 x 2.5in

Packed Size: 8 x 3 in

Packed Size: 9 x 4 in

The packed size of the Tensor is truly impressive; this little thing is not taking up much room in a drybag. Out of the stuff sack it seems rather loud due to the aluminized film used for insulation. The good news is that this film is on the bottom layer of the pad, making it much quieter in use than while setting up. In use, it is not the quietest inflatable pad we’ve used, yet it’s still a few volume notches down from the NeoAir.

Next, we come to two words not often used in sleeping pad reviews: Elasticity and stability. Nemo’s new fabric has minimal elasticity, which in turn gives it incredible stability. How this translates into the real world is that the pad does not have to be over-inflated to make it stable. Basically, it has the least “pool toy” feel of any inflatable pad we’ve used to date, and it can be inflated soft enough to maximize all three inches of height without getting squishy. Kudos to Nemo for being at the forefront of what is the future evolution of inflatable pads.

The fabric is also less slippery than its predecessors; we had no problems slipping off during a night’s sleep.

For broad shouldered users, the NeoAir was plagued by a considerable bevel, making the top of the pad narrower than some users’ shoulders, resulting in a discordant feeling of simultaneously slipping off both sides of the pad. Unfortunately, the Nemo is nearly identical to the NeoAir in this regard, a considerable bevel results in roughly 18 inches of usable sleeping width at the top of the pad.

Of course, nothing is perfect. The valve placement on the Tensor is puzzling. Perhaps it was considerably cheaper to place on the sleeping surface of the pad, and those savings has been passed on to the consumer. Unfortunately, it takes away from the already diminutive sleeping area and leaves us wondering why this location was chosen.

At the end of a few multi-day trips we can say that for anyone excepting wide shoulder sleepers who must sleep on their back or stomach, the Tensor is a fantastic ultralight sleeping pad. We’re happy to see that it’s an evolution rather than a carbon copy of what inspired it. For those in the market for an ultralight pad, it’s highly recommended. For those who already own NeoAir, it’s up to you to decide if the smaller packed size and greater stability are worth the upgrade.

— Read Darin McQuiod’s full SLEEPING PADS and SLEEPING BAGS reviews.

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Rio 2016 Recap: Triple-medalists for Brazil and Hungary highlight Olympic canoe sprint finals

Upon crossing the finish to capture silver in the men’s 1000-meter double canoe, Brazil’s Isaquias Queiroz dos Santos accomplished a feat in his first Olympic appearance that no other athlete of his home nation has ever achieved, in any sport – winning three medals in a single Olympic games.

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With the help of his C-2 partner Erlon de Souza Silva (the pair, pictured above, are also the 2015 world champions in the event), Queiroz dos Santos has done just that, elevating the Brazilian to a status of athletic heroism in his home nation, and host of the 2016 Summer Games.

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Queiroz (pictured above) first gained silver in the C-1 1000 meter, but second of these medals, a bronze in the 200 meter C-1, may have arrived in the most dramatic fashion at Lagoa Stadium. Falling behind quickly in the short sprint, the Brazilian pushed to gain ground, making a valiant charge for the finish. Surpassing Alfonso Benavidez Lopez de Ayala for the bronze. In a field where all eight competitors vying for the podium broke the previous world record time of 40.346, Queiroz dos Santos and gold medalist Iurii Cheban both capsized upon crossing the finish.

After the unlikely come back, Queiroz stated, “never give up, always persist … insist, persist, but never give up because one day you will conquer. This medal is for all Brazilians who never gave up on your dreams”

Queiroz dos Santos status as a hero of athletics reaches well beyond his medal count at the close of the 2016 Games. The 22-year-old has faced harsh adversity as he grew up to reach the level of elite athlete and multi-medalist. As a boy in northeastern Brazil, he once suffered severe burn trauma and thought unlikely to survive. A few years later he was kidnapped to be sold through child trafficking, before fortunately being returned safely to his family. And at the age of 10, Queiroz fell from a tree, severely damaging a kidney, which would have to be removed. A year after this accident at age 11, Queiroz began canoeing, thanks to a government program brought to his region. While the physical and psychological scars of these occurrences could have easily kept Queiroz from his place among the top tier of athletics, they instead have made him stronger.

The fortitude of the superstar canoe sprinter, who promises to provide much more international success, is simply yet elegantly stated in his words following his first Olympic podium, “It really was for me a satisfaction to be able to win this medal after all the obstacles I have faced.”

A unique triple-medalist feat also highlighted the women’s side of the competition as Hungary’s Danuta Kozak (pictured below) became the first female canoe-sprint athlete to win three gold medals at a single Olympic Games.
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Prior to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Kozak was already one of the most-decorated paddlers of all time with two gold medals from the London 2012 Games and a silver from Beijing in 2008 (not mention 10 world championship titles).

The demanding program at the Lagoa Stadium meant Kozak raced seven times over the six days of competition in the women’s 500 meter K-1, 500 meter K-2, and 500 meter K-4 (pictured below).
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Kozak’s unprecedented exploits helped put Hungary second in the canoe sprint medal table behind Germany, which won four golds, two silvers and bronze across the 12 events contested, with notable wins tallied by Sebastian Brendel’s gold in both the men’s 1000 meter C-1 and C-2, as well as Max Rendschmidt and Marcus Gross gold-medaling in both Germany’s winning 1000 meter K-2 and K-4 crews.

While many of the champions from the London 2012 Games’ were absent from Rio, the majority of those who did return retained their titles. Lisa Carrington’s second consecutive win in the 200 meter women’s K-1 punctuated a very productive Olympics for the Kiwis through both the sprint and slalom disciplines.

The exceptions were in the men’s 1000 meter K-4, where Germany took Australia’s London 2012 Olympic Games crown, and in the women’s 500 meter K-2, where London 2012 champions Tina Dietze (GER) and Franziska Weber (GER) relegated to second behind Kozak.

In all 19 countries shared out the medals on offer at Lagoa Stadium.

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Full results of the 2016 Olympic canoe/kayak sprint

Read a recap of the 2016 canoe/kayak Olympic slalom and Maialen Chourraut’s dominating performance in the women’s K-1.

An interview with US Olympic sprint kayaker Maggie Hogan.

Check out C&K‘s entire Road to Rio series.

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Dog Paddling: Amy Besunder and Bad, Bad Leroy Brown

Amy and Leroy on the water

Amy and Leroy on the water.

Amy Besunder, 42, is the co-owner of Populuxe Brewing in Seattle, Washington, a cheerful neighborhood brewery that serves playfully descriptive brews like Beer Snob Brown and Cinderblock Canadian Dark Ale. When she isn’t brewing, Besunder is out paddling with Leroy, her pooch. Leroy is an 8-year old German Shorthaired Pointer.

Besunder and Leroy understand that attitude puts a little more push in the paddle.

“We rock a 17-foot Coleman Canoe,” Besunder says.

As a German Shorthaired Pointer, Leroy was born to point and doesn’t limit that proclivity to land. According to Besunder, “Leroy sits up and points at other paddlers.” Of course, Leroy also notes and nods to every feathered critter. “Leroy is a bird dog by nature if not by nurture. While I have never hunted him, he loves checking out waterfowl from afar.”

Besunder and her buddy paddle the lakes of Lewis and Yakima County where there’s “beautiful scenery, lots of solitude, great fishing, and tons of nature.”

Besunder didn’t modify her canoe in any way to accommodate Leroy. “Leroy is happy to sprawl out on the floor of the canoe,” she says. And he boards the boat with no prompting. “As soon as the canoe hits the water, Leroy leaps in. He loves adventure and knows he’ll get to swim and play ball somewhere along the line.”

Leroy

Leroy was named after the titular Bad, Bad Leroy Brown and whereas Leroy is generally happy to merely point at paddlers and waterfowl and be a good, good Leroy, one day, he wasn’t content with simply pointing.

“Leroy and I went out for a paddle on the Yakima River a year ago,” Besunder recalls. “Along the way, we encountered a herd of deer hanging out alongside the river. Leroy was intrigued and decided to jump in and swim to the bank to get a better look. Unfortunately, I could do nothing to stop him.” The current was swift and Leroy wasn’t about to break his pursuit. “I was paddling with a strong current down river and couldn’t slow the canoe.”

Then, the canoe flipped. “I lost my supplies and it took all my strength to muscle it to shore.” When Besunder finally pulled the canoe to the bank, Leroy was nowhere to be found.

“I had to walk through underbrush, calling Leroy’s name, until he finally appeared.”

Besunder paddled off with a takeaway: “I learned a valuable lesson about paying attention to my dog’s cues. I now put an end to Leroy’s roaming tendencies before they start by redirecting his attention.”

However, as Leroy ages, his cues are often that he’s happy and sleepy under the sun. “Much of the time, Leroy is happy to sprawl out on the floor of the canoe.”

And in spite of that one wayward leap and consequent spill, Besunder and Leroy are besties. “Spending time with my dog is the best…period,” she says. “He is a fun-loving, adventurous dude and I am lucky to have him as my partner in crime.”

And Leroy has added an essential five-letter word to his vocabulary: canoe!

“When I say ‘canoe,’ Leroy goes bananas. He leaps about and yaps until we get a groove going on the water.”

Leroy’s joy works like a turbocharger for Besunder.

“His enthusiasm makes me paddle faster. I am lucky to have such a great paddling companion.”

If you too want a furry paddling pal, Besunder tenders some advice.

“Start out slow, plan to paddle for an hour, and stop and play after that. Your dog will associate playing with paddling and form a love affair with the activity.”

Besunder’s love affair with Bad, Bad Leroy Brown has her wanting to one day take on the big, bad Alaskan Inside Passage with her buddy.

“I’d love to paddle the Inside Passage with Leroy. I’d need to get him used to a kayak but I think he’d love it!”

Leroy living the good life.

Leroy living the good life.

Have a furry paddling pal? Want to share your adventures? Contact Katie McKy at katemcky@hotmail.com and put “Paddler and Pooch” in the subject line. You will have to provide photos of you and your beloved buddy.

More pup paddling stories from C&K:

The Freeman’s bring their dog for the long haul

Six tips for taking your canine counterpart

Doggie-Cam

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When should you replace your PFD?

Sad, old lifejacket. Photo: MTI.

Sad, old lifejacket. Photo: MTI Adventurewear.

Be honest: do you ever give your lifejacket some TLC or do you always assume that it will be there for you, like a doting dog? There are times when maximum buoyancy is a life and death matter, such as when a hydraulic is making like a washing machine and treating you like a dirty, old sock or if you end up gasping in frigid water on a gray October day. PFDs, like everything else, have finite lives. If it’s to save your life one day, prolong its life as much as possible, and when the time comes, replace it.

Lili Colby, the Chief PSDiva at MTI Adventurewear, which makes nothing but lifejackets and has done so for 25 years, understands how many paddlers abuse their products.

“Many people come back tired from a paddling trip, and simply throw their lifejackets in the corner of their garage or in the bottom of their boat.”

Tossed into a dark corner, PFDs can turn into a petri dish for mildew, which can both break down fabric and flotation and make them less likely to be worn in the future. So, how do you keep your PFD at peak performance and avoid the funk?

Colby said, “It’s all about how well you take care of it. After each use, rinse it out with freshwater, and not just after saltwater paddling. Even the salt from sweat can reduce its lifespan. Then dry it out properly. Put it on a hanger and open the straps to let air get to it. Dry it right side out and then inside out.”

SLIPSTREAM-1000 miles

Just as it’s best to store a boat inside, so it goes with your lifejacket too.

“Store them inside a boathouse or garage, out of the sun. Sun degrades the material. Fading is the first sign your jacket is getting worn out. Fading might not mean your jacket is compromised, but it’s a sign it’s headed that way.”

What are other signs that it’s time to shop for a new lifejacket? Ripped fabric and frayed webbing are good indications.

“There are expensive and inexpensive lifejackets,” Colby said. “The latter use cheaper foam, which breaks down. It can become dry and some have been recalled.”

A lack of quality can mean your dream of surviving a spill turns to literal dust. Coast Guard inspectors in Key West, Florida recently discovered more than 60 lifejackets whose flotation had crumbled, broke, and even escaped the fabric. These lifejackets had been properly stored away from sunlight and kept dry, but the unicellular foam likely degraded due to high temperatures.

The Coast Guard urges boaters to be alert to compression of a lifejacket’s flotation foam, which reduces buoyancy and can be caused by years of storage. Foam that is hard, stiff or brittle is also problematic. A simple test is simply squeezing it to half its thickness. It should return to its original thickness shortly. Another indicator of an expired lifejacket is wrinkling of the fabric covering the foam, which suggests the flotation foam has contracted, becoming less buoyant. The Coast Guard warns that lifejackets manufactured by The Safeguard Corporation should be especially scrutinized in the preceding ways.

“If you bought something cheap, poke at it,” Colby said. “If your finger goes through it, you need a new one. Quality foam tends to keep its floatation qualities.”

Even if your lifejacket’s floatation is fully functioning, if it’s too tight or plain old ugly, you’re unlikely to wear it.

“Does it still fit you? People don’t want to wear moldy, ill-fitting life jackets. Make sure it’s comfortable.”

hang vests to dry (1)

A fully functioning lifejacket isn’t just an insurance policy. It’s the law.

Mary Snyder, VP of Marketing at Absolute Outdoor/Onyx, said, “The law states that your PFD must be in good condition before you go out on the water. If it is not in good shape, it should be destroyed and a new one should be purchased.”

Just as you change the battery in a smoke detector, do the same with your lifejacket.

Snyder said, “Another recommendation by the U.S. Coast Guard is to test your life jacket at the beginning of each season.”

— Check out MORE GEAR reviews, tips and updates from CanoeKayak.com

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