The Gear......        

Notes from 2003

Below are a few photos of some of the bigger stuff. What isn't shown are the heaps of other things like backpacks, canoe barrels, paddles, etc, etc that we had squirreled away. We even had a B.B.Q.! And yes, it was all a bit too much but not having done a trip like this before we weren't sure what to bring. We were going to call this web site "Canada in a Year" but after my sister Kate saw our piles of stuff she suggested "Canada with Gear"!

Our Canoe was a Rolayex Swift Dumoine with wood gunnels (as the wood gunnels were my choice Carol insisted that their sanding and maintenance was my full responsibility)! It was a bit wet in the rapids because of the narrow front end (it punched through the waves rather than riding over them) but it was a good boat and it was well built. We like it.

The camper was our semi-successful Coleman Sedona. The thing was brand new and we had way too many issues with it. After only 8 days on the road we had the door lock fail (replaced under warranty), the telescoping arm brackets crack and the front interior wall staples (there's quality) back out. On top of this the floor got wet when we drove in the rain and the roof didn't fit squarely over the lower unit. I called Master Canvas in Toronto (where we bought it) and was informed that many of these items were normal. It is disgraceful that Coleman can build a product year after year with so many fiddly issues and not make product improvements. Hellooooooo Coleman?

Bikes... we had those as well - crammed in the truck with everything else. The bike photo below is from a rather wet day on our way around Lac St. Jean in Quebec.

The cap was a really nice unit with windoors in place of side windows. They made all the difference in the world in that we could access stuff from the side of the truck; we didn't have to keep crawling in the back. The wood unit in the back was a combination shelf/divider/drawer unit that Dad and I built. The bikes and paddles got strapped on the left side of the vertical divider and there was a large three-section pull our drawer which held food, stoves, backpacks and the like. The drawer had adjustable legs so we could pull it out and adjust the legs to fit the terrain. On top of this was a shelf on which we piled odds and ends. It all worked really well.

The lucky bugger that got to tow all this stuff here, there and everywhere was our trusty Toyota Tacoma 4x4. It wasn't the most comfortable truck on the market but it proved to be quite reliable. My Dad and I installed an airlift kit on the rear suspension to keep it from sagging (and blinding everyone with our headlights) with all the stuff Carol had packed in the back. The photo was taken somewhat into the sun so the truck is in its own shadow and actually looked clean!

2003 Update #1 (October 2003): We had something like 14 issues with the camper during the summer and decided it was simply junk. Although we had very good reception at several dealers across the country, dealing with Master Canvas in Toronto was completely frustrating. They were not even capable of basic decency let alone figuring out how to rectify our issues. They made the sale, took our money and buggered off.

Notes from 2004

During the winter of 2004 our canoe developed a cold crack. These cracks occur on Royalex boats exposed to extreme cold or fast freeze thaw cycles and are more prevalent on canoes with wood gunnels (due to different expansion/contraction rates). For this reason if you have wood gunnels on a royalex boat you are supposed to loosen the first few screw affixing the gunnels to the bow and the stern - I had gone one step further and removed the gunnels entirely. We contacted Swift for warranty info and repair advice but didn't even receive so much as an acknowledgement. Looks like we can add Swift Canoe to the list of companies that really don't give a damn about their customers. A small thing to be sure but the lack of response means I will not recommend the product and will be reluctant to purchase from them again. We had heard Swift support was horrible so I suppose we shouldn't have been surprised. Anyhow, the canoe got a lot of well deserved attention over the winter. A rolayex repair kit (not purchased from Swift... so there) made an excellent repair and we sanded and oiled the gunnels inside and out. We also added tie down loops to the bottom of the inside gun.nels and floor tie downs for our barrel.

Despite having softened our stance (somewhat) on our Coleman Sedona tent trailer over the winter we (O.K. it was mostly "I") elected to sell it. This was successfully accomplished only two weeks before our summer 2004 departure date which has left us scrambling to revamp our set-up. It represented a major mid-stream shift. We had purchased a portable propane powered fridge, picked out a tent and were looking (with only five days before departure) for a small utility trailer!

2004 Update #1: We purchased our Eureka Tunnel Vision tent. It was 19 feet long and over 6 feet high and we loved it. We could simply walk into it. After years of crawling through tiny vestibules this baby was a real treat!

2004 Update #2: With only days to go before leaving, my sister Kate pulled a rabbit out of the hat and found us the perfect utility trailer for our trip. We likely paid a bit much for it but we were in a bind so we paid the price. It was a 5' x 8' homebuilt jobber with a big lid hinged on one side; whoever built it did a solid job. It had however, sat around for a few years and needed a bit of cosmetic work. Despite this, we hooked it up and away we went. Writing this having finished our trip I can say it performed admirably. It leaked a bit, emitted some dust and the lid was so heavy Carol couldn't open it herself but it bounced around behind the Toyota on so many dirt roads that the first 3/16" of plywood got sandblasted from the front panel and it never once let us down. Our Coleman camper could never have survived this year's travels.

It took us several permutations and combinations to get the right rig which allowed for a high degree of mobility, economy and some comfort. We eventually settled on the small 4x4 truck, a utility trailer and a tent. As we didn't use the bikes nor the back-packing gear as much as we thought we would (the bikes were in fact dropped for the 2004 summer) we would leave them at home next time and just go with a single small van/camper that allows you to sleep inside with no setup. The only gear we used extensively were the canoe and our feet!

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