Tag Archives: Canoe

The 'Apache' Canoe reviewed

Well it’s been around a year now since I first ordered my Ivory 16 foot Apache and having collected quite a bit of experience with it in lots of different environments and weather conditions I thought I would put my thoughts and opinions down for other people.

Apache canoes is run by a guy called Stu, and I must admit, when dealing with someone at the end of the phone he is great. He takes the time to make sure you understand where your order is and how everything is progressing. See the Apache website here I chose a 16′ model with Ash and webbing seats and Ash trim. I had Stu do the full fitting for me and was very impressed with the quality of work.

Here are a few pictures of the build, provided by Stu:

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So when the canoe was finally delivered I was very impressed. Unfortunately it took several weeks for the snow to clear enough to get out on the water safely! The first trial was a small river near home:

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My first feelings on this canoe were very positive, and in fact after nearly a year and several multi day canoe and camping trips they still are. The Apache canoe is very light and very responsive. However it does have some quirks and if you want to experience the best from this boat you need to understand them. The Apache can be tippy, I say can be because it’s all about how you paddle this canoe. For example if you are solo you really should load the weight carefully and sit in the bow seat facing backwards. If you can I would say to kneel as this really makes the canoe quite stable (it’s still no Old Town though!). Two up needs a little more care, the canoe is designed to be nimble and fast, and when you get used to it solo it’s probably one of the most fun canoes I have paddled (oh and it looks just great!), but put another person in the front and it does wobble.. and I mean wobble. But thats just the characteristics of this boat. Sit down, get used to its tipping point and you will soon get comfortable.

So I have done several solo trips with full gear for 5 days (well probably enough for 2 weeks onboard as I overpack :P) that took in grade 2 rapids, slow deep rivers, fast current and lakes, and you know what I loved doing it in this boat. It always turned heads with other canoeists and when paddled leaned right over just cut through the water, and at all times felt like it had enough rocker that you could just dip the paddle and turn! I found that I was using a lot less effort to do the same speed than other people in more classical boats..

So any downsides? 2 up canoeing requires some skill and confidence and the shell is fibreglass and is not as hardwearing as some of the solid and heavy canoes out there, but do I worry about that? After scraping on the beach and banking rocks for nearly a year, nope – hardly any damage. And if it does get damaged, fibreglass is easy to repair! So for a canoe thats 1/2 the price of many others, with a hand finished wood trim I would recommend it… IF you are already comfortable in a canoe. If you are newbie, stick with something much more stable.. 8 of 10 from me!

I’ll finish with a few other pics. Would also be interested in what any of our readers felt about the Apache canoes.

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photoThe Canvas bow cover is home made from white canvas and shock cord that loops over small screws under the gunwhales. I think it really finishes the canoe as well as keeps the splashes off in a bit of white stuff.

Baker Tent Hunt – The Bush Shelter Lightweight Campfire Tent

Update: See our latest test of a full size Campfire Tent.

The Bush Shelter

Discussed here before as part of our “Baker Tent Hunt” series the Bush Shelter from www.greenoutdoor.co.uk looked like an interesting lightweight “Campfire Tent” option, and is even designed with canoeing in mind in that you can use paddles to hold it up, meaning you don’t need poles, so it’s a tiny package, no bigger than taking a tarp really. Here’s the ‘Backyard Test’!

The tent arrives by courier, from greenoutdoors.co.uk - its a small package for a tent.

The tent arrives by courier, from greenoutdoors.co.uk - its a small package for a tent.

16ft Canoe for scale!

16ft Canoe for scale!

OUt of the bubblewrap.... a new tent in my life... The tent is made of recycled PTFE plastic, from bottles and the like!

OUt of the bubblewrap.... a new tent in my life... The tent is made of recycled PTFE plastic, from bottles and the like!

 

 

Size 10 boot for scale...

Size 10 boot for scale...

The tent laid out on the ground. The useful "pitching guide arrived with the order by email as a word document (to save the environment): very simple but valuableinstructions. 1. Peg out the grounsheet (black) first, but loosely. 2. Insert your uprights - can be paddles if canoeing, or walking poles or just sticks from your campsite.

The tent laid out on the ground. The useful "pitching guide arrived with the order by email as a word document (to save the environment): very simple but valuableinstructions. 1. Peg out the grounsheet (black) first, but loosely. 2. Insert your uprights - can be paddles if canoeing, or walking poles or just sticks from your campsite.

2minutes later it's up and looking good for a modern, small-scale 'campfire tent'!!

2minutes later it's up and looking good for a modern, small-scale 'campfire tent'!!

Depending on the lentgh of your paddles or poles, the groundsheet can be pulled up or lowered, and still pegged in OK.

Depending on the lentgh of your paddles or poles, the groundsheet can be pulled up or lowered, and still pegged in OK.

Nice wide-open front to the tent gives an authentic 'baker tent' feel, even in this small one-man tent, which is a real achievement.

Nice wide-open front to the tent gives an authentic 'baker tent' feel, even in this small one-man tent, which is a real achievement.

Good, useable space inside. I like the recycled material a lot.

Good, useable space inside. I like the recycled material a lot.

 

 

Set a bit lower t his time. Did a wind test at this pitch - facing into probably 20-30mph sou'westerlies up on our hill... it did very well but in the end...(See next!)

Set a bit lower t his time. Did a wind test at this pitch - facing into probably 20-30mph sou'westerlies up on our hill... it did very well but in the end...(See next!)

Did a wind test at this pitch - facing into probably 20-30mph sou'westerlies up on our hill... it did very well but in the end...(See next!)

Did a wind test at this pitch - facing into probably 20-30mph sou'westerlies up on our hill... it did very well but in the end...(See next!)

This happened!!! the air was forced inside and then trapped inside! Wierd. to be very fair though only a dome tent will stay up in this spot in Big Wind, so that's OK: it did very well actually and being able to zip up the front and lower the front canopy meant it lasted for a long time without a problem, only when a full on storm force hit it did this happen...!

This happened!!! the air was forced inside and then trapped inside! Wierd. to be very fair though only a dome tent will stay up in this spot in Big Wind, so that's OK: it did very well actually and being able to zip up the front and lower the front canopy meant it lasted for a long time without a problem, only when a full on storm force hit it did this happen...!

You can't see the wind, but it was there... I collapsed it and forced the air back out!

You can't see the wind, but it was there... I collapsed it and forced the air back out!

The rear view.

The rear view.

Inside. Wow it's cozy, really nice, light and airy but sheltered and cozy too. Very happy with this tent.

Inside. Wow it's cozy, really nice, light and airy but sheltered and cozy too. Very happy with this tent.

So there it is. Proven: this is a great modern, and small/lightweight "Campfire Tent" that really works. Thumbs up and for only £49 that is superb, but even at the previous price of £99 its still great value.  Well done Greenoutdoors.co.uk! You win our Baker Tent Hunt "lightweight Category" competition!

So there it is. Proven: this is a great modern, and small/lightweight "Campfire Tent" that really works. Thumbs up and for only £49 that is superb, but even at the previous price of £99 its still great value. Well done Greenoutdoors.co.uk! You win our Baker Tent Hunt "lightweight Category" competition!

All set up with camp-fire and kelly kettle ready for a first test...

All set up with camp-fire and kelly kettle ready for a first test...

 

 

Canoe and Tarp Rig Test – Campfire Tent

Part of our Hunt for the perfect Baker Tent/ Campfire Tent – this rig looks promising – the tarp is secured to the canoe for stability and extra shelter, and out front with the paddles. See the following post for why this is a good set up!

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Tarp is held up by a paddle and secured to the canoe giving extreme stability without the need for pegging.

Tarp is held up by a paddle and secured to the canoe giving extreme stability without the need for pegging.

Tarp Set-up

From http://www.songofthepaddle.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?t=16298 this looks like a great Tarp – I think it’s from True North, the Big Tarp (see second pic below and http://www.truenorthoutdoor.co.uk/bigtarp.htm ).

These rigs need good pegging ground to work though: camping on sand and pebbles would give a problem, especially in Big Wind. Our solution is to anchor the tarp to the canoe itself (see previous post) requiring only one guy rope out front which could be held in place with a log or rock: the canoe will provide all the stabiity you need from any Big Wind plus if a storm kicks in you simply collapse the tarp down over the canoe ‘Voyageur-style’ and settle in for the night.

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Baker Tent Hunt – In Search of the Modern Campfire tent

Update: See our latest test of the Green Outdoor full size Campfire Tent.

We’re on a mission. To seek out the best modern version of a traditional canvas tent, the “Baker Tent”.

The Baker Tent- image from www.tentsmiths.com

The basic attraction of this kind of tent or shelter is that it provides a living and sleeping space that is wide open to nature and environment and views around you, and yet sheltered enough from the elements. IN addition the classic Baker Tent is flexible in design, with a porch/roof and side wings all of which can be adjusted to suit the weather conditions. The Baker Tent is also known as the ‘Campfire Tent” which also gives a clue to it’s main attraction, that you can place the tent in front of the campfire whilst remaining under cover and out of any wind etc. In hot climates bugs and Mozzies are an issue of course with an ‘Open Tent’ design and this fact is the main reason why many ‘conventional’ tents don’t offer an open option – they assume the need to close up and exclude any biting insects. Whilst of course you can use mosquito netting with this tent, and you would want to in a hot climate location, but here in the UK with our temperate conditions and lack of any really nasty biting insects the open Camfire tent can really come into it’s own (exception would be clouds of midges in Scotland at certain times of year!) .

Our hunt for a modern version is not limited to replicas of the original camfire tent design such as those made by hand at www.camfiretent.co.uk but also includes any tent or tarp shelter that provides the same basic principles or cover, flexibility and openness to your surroundings, and to your campfire. This traditional 19th century design of tent had been kept alive in book form by the Great Bill Mason canoe-tripper and author of “The Song Of The Paddle” and recently regained popularity through the TV broadcasts of Ray Mears.

We’ll be udating you as we research and find a way to build buy or make the perfect modern version of the campfire Tent, The Baker Tent.

Stay Tuned!!!

Wye River – October 2008

We’ve just returned from our Autumn Season canoe trip on our favourite UK Southern River, the River Wye. A four day trip took us from Herefordshire, past Ross on Wye, through the Spectacular Symonds Yat limestone gorge through to Monmouth, making camp on the river bank along the way. We caught the last of the year’s fine weather, though it was just starting to get cold at night. A fine fire took the chill away as the evenings got longer and smouldered through most of the night, making outdoor ‘Tepee-Livin’ perfectly comfortable: as Ray Mears says – “if you’re roughing it, you’re not doing it right!”.

Gear on trial included a Old Town Discovery 158 (15’8″ canadian canoe), Wychwood Rogue Shelter, Australian Swag (bivvy) bag, Vango 2-man dome tent, Swedish Army “FireSteel” fire starter, Marmot Coffee Press steel mug, Beechwood beaver-tail canoe paddles, Brando LED head-light (clips onto hat) and Musto Fleece.

A Full Report will follow, but here’s some highlights:

A lunch stop…

1st night’s camp site…

Moonlit night…

Symods Yat Gorge Campsite