Monday, June 6, 2011

Please Vote for Pack & Paddle

Your hometown outdoor shop is nominated once again - this year in two categories. We would love to win the title in 2011, so, please - if you have the time - follow these easy directions and cast a vote for Pack & Paddle. We would very much appreciate your support!

Enter your email (this keeps people from voting twice)
Scroll way down the list to the "Best of Retail" category
Scroll down to the "Best Outdoor Gear" and the "Best Hunting and Fishing" gear.
Vote for us!


John, Becky and the whole P&P Staff.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Leveraged Between Sea and Sky

I'm not sure where the idea came from, but Becky and I thought "wouldn't it be great if we could sail the Hobie kayak out to Marsh Island, catch a fish and then sail back?" This thought has rolled around in my head over the last couple of months. Recently we decided there was no time like the present, loaded up the Hobie Adventure Island Tandem Sailing kayak and headed for Cypremort point.

Becky and I met because of sailing. Back in 1984, windsurfing was a popular pursuit in the area. My search for windurfers that I could convert into instructors led me to the woman I have been married to now for 27 years. We would windsurf on the lake, take night cruises aboard a monohull sailboat that we had and enjoy ripping up the local waters on hobie cats. Sailing has not been as popular as it was back then, but many things about this trip reminded me why sailing is something we will always love.

A quick glance at the water as we drove though the gates of Cypremort Point state park told me a lot about the day we were about to have. The water was rough with the wind whipping the tops of the swells into whitecaps all across the bay. The Nestle Quik color of the water indicated it would be a tall order to catch a fish. Soon the kayak was on the sand. We popped in the sail, attached the ama's and aka's (the pontoons and braces), loaded our lunch, fishing gear, water bottles and a little bit of emergency gear. Within minutes, we were dragging the Adventure Island into the water heading south towards Marsh Island.

We punched through the chop with the sail hauled tightly to stay as close to the wind as possible. We would have to tack (zig zag towards the direction of the wind) since Marsh Island lies south of Cypremort Point. With the sail trimmed and the kayak heeled over onto the downwind pontoon, we raced across the swells. The feeling of freedom came rushing back as we sailed. "The wind is free" is a slogan that Hobie used in their advertising in the 1980's. The slogan pointed out how inexpensive sailing is compared to filling up your powerboat with gasoline price back then at an astronomical $1.20 per gallon.

Beyond this wink at gas prices, the slogan summed up the feeling of sailing. Free from the sound and smell of a boat motor, free from the daily grind, and maybe most of all, free from the feeling of always having to be busy doing something. We sailed south, bouncing across the swell knowing that all we had to do - and all we could do - is sit and enjoy the day. Simplicity is sometimes forced and the simplicity of sailing forces everything else out of your world. It's just you, the water, the wind and the boat. Connected at the same time to the sea and the sky in a leverage that has moved explorers across vast distances for a millennia.

Which is not to say that our situation was idyllic. As our kayak blazed its way through the water, virtually every swell would deposit a load of water into Becky's face. The thought of what would happen if something broke while we were far offshore crept into the back of my mind as Cypremort point faded into the distance behind us - finally disappearing completely. We tried to whoop with joy - but truth be told we were both nervous. No one else on the water other than shrimp boats and a couple of crew boats. I'm pretty sure the workers on these boats wondered what a couple of crazies were doing way offshore in skinny yellow sailboat.

After 2 ½ hours and over 18 miles of tacking southward, we started to wonder what we were doing out there as well. Even tacking and holding the kayak close to the wind, we were northwest of the island, but within sight of Southwest pass. With the continuous drenching, I could see that Becky's goosebumps had turned into shivering. We figured we had maybe an hour of tacking left to get right up to Marsh Island. After a quick discussion of the situation, we decided to turn to boat northward and head back to the point.

We didn't achieve our goal of catching a fish at Marsh Island. Maybe in retrospect, sailing and goals are counter to each other. Or maybe they should be. In any case, we left the goal out there for a future day.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

P&P Will Host the Documentary Bag It with Bayou Vermilion District

We are very excited to be bringing a screening of the documentary Bag It to Lafayette. Becky and I were able to attend a screening last fall and left the film feeling uplifted, motivated and inspired to do something about the litter problems that seem to always dog our area.

Bag It is a fun film to watch. Not at all a preachy environmental snore fest, Bag It is funny, irreverent and still amazingly informational. We learned so much about
the problem of single use bags, cups and other waste.

This screening will be shown as a prelude to the Annual Trash Bash on the Vermilion River. Margot from Bayou Vermilion District will be on hand to comment on the film and to talk about the problems Lafayette and specifically the Vermilion River face with regards to litter.

For the write up on the P&P site, go to:

Here's a trailer for the film:

We hope you will join us for this free screening!

Fly Fishing Film Tour Rolls into Lafayette - Sunday June 12th - 4pm

We've been jealously reading about showings for the Fly Fishing Film tour in places like Austin and Denver for years. It always seemed like a stretch for the tour to come to Lafayette. Finally, on June 12th, the Fly Fishing Film Tour will roll into South Louisiana.

We are excited to be hosting the festival with the Acadiana Flyrodders club and the Red Stick Fly Fishers club. Without the support of these two fine organizations, this event would never have happened.

For more on the festival and to view some of the trailers visit:

To view the write up on the Pack & Paddle website, visit:

Tickets can be purchased in advance at Pack & Paddle for $12 or online for $15 at:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Basinkeeper Paddle Trips Raise $5100

We would like to thank everyone that signed up and supported the Basinkeeper paddle trip this past weekend. This was our second time to run this event and we've seen it as a successful way not only to raise needed funds for the Basinkeeper program, but also as a way for paddlers and outdoor enthusiasts to meet Dean (our Basinkeeper) and get to know him and the important work he does right in the basin.

Through the support of participants in the past 2 Basinkeeper paddle trips plus a $1,500 grant from Patagonia we were able to donate $5,100 to this important program. Thanks to everyone!

Here is a blog that Dean put together about the trip this past weekend:

On Saturday, April 9th Atchafalaya Basinkeeper trustee, Stacey Scarce, and I led about 30 people on a paddling trip on the east side of the Atchafalaya Basin. We paddled through beautiful Pat's Bay and visited some awesome old-growth cypress trees with incredible shapes and huge knees. Even with the high winds, everyone's spirits were great and we enjoyed being out in the field surrounded by people that support our work.
We made some very important contacts that opened the door for collaborations and new strategies. After the paddle trip, we all enjoyed a traditional fish fry. I fried fish for hours and everyone ate it as fast as I could put it on the table. From the amount of fish eaten, I guess it was good! The beer was attacked with a vengeance and board member, David Brown saved the day by going to the store to buy more beer. I want to thank everyone for their support. A special thanks to trustee Stacey Scarce for donating her time to lead the trip and to trustees John and Becky Williams for organizing the trip and their donation to Basinkeepeer. Thanks to everyone who supported Atchafalaya Basinkeeper throught this event. I assure you, you will not be disappointed with our work.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dealing With Persistent Wet Weather on the Trail or Paddle Trip - Part 1 - Packing Systems

Recently, I did a talk for the Louisiana Hiking Club on one of the most problematic things outdoors people face in their journeys. Wet weather. And I mean day after day wet weather that can start to saturate even the most careful packer. I've decided to share some of these ideas via my blog. This will be done in a number of installments (the talk lasted 1.5 hours). Our first installment will focus on packing systems.

Location and Priority of Accessibility
A major key to keeping your gear dry is where your gear is loaded in your pack or boat. I like to think of my packing in 3 levels of accessibility. Level 1 is all the things I could need to get to without taking my pack off or beaching my boat. These items should be in areas that are easily reached while walking down the trail or paddling. These items include:
Rain Jacket (Pants are level 2)
Pack Cover
Navigation (Map, Compass, GPS)
Water Purification (Filter, Chemical Treatment, Steri Pen)
Stove Fuel (I keep this outside not for convenience - but rather to prevent leakage inside my pack)

Level 2 items are things that you may need during the day and can access without removing the raincover from your pack. These items include:
Rain Pants, Hat & Gloves
First Aid Kit (Note that a blister kit could be level 1 if you are not sure of your boots or you are leading an inexperienced group)
Lunch for the day
Day Shelter (Bothy, Tarp, or Fast-Pitch portion of your tent system)

Level 3 items include everything else. These items are generally things you will need once you set up camp (spare clothes, sleeping bag and pad, tent body, flashlight etc...)

Pack Liners and Pack Covers
Pack covers are essential for keeping your pack dry. Think of it as a rain jacket for your pack. All packs leak at the seams and zippers - so a pack cover is absolutely essential. An alternative is a Pack Liner. This is a lightweight drybag that goes inside your pack. This system is utilized by hikers in wet climates like Scotland and proven to be superior to Pack Covers in keeping gear dry. All dry gear goes in your pack liner with damp things above it. Or - get 2 pack liners and use one for damp items and one for dry items. Many thru hikers utilize a very simple pack made with fabrics and foams that will not absorb any (or much) water. They rely on their pack liners and don't worry about bringing a pack cover.

Obviously, good raingear is essential for wet weather outdoor use. My preference is for a rainsuit (jacket and pants) as opposed to a poncho. Your rainsuit becomes your outer layer blocking not only rain, but cold and wind as well. It provides the most protection.
What you want to look for in a rain jacket is a high quality waterproof / breathable material that does not utilize a nylon or mesh lining on the inside. These linings add weight and become saturated with sweat anyway. The jacket should have taped seams and covers over every zipper. The hood should have a nice large bill on it to keep water from running down your face. A good suggestion is to bring a quick dry ball cap to wear not only for sun but also under your rain hood to help out with the problem of water running down your face.

I always recommend a very light base layer such as Patagonia Capilene 2 underwear to wear under your rain jacket. This spreads perspiration allowing it to vent out of the jacket quickly and easily. It also stops body oils from getting into the waterproof breathable coating inside the jacket. Even in warm weather - you WILL be more comfortable with a light longsleeve shirt on under your raingear.

Keeping your raingear in good shape is absolutely essential. EVERY waterproof breathable jacket - no matter the price needs to have the outer Durable Water Repellancy revived from time to time. This DWR allows water to bead and roll off keeping the nylon from saturating - allowing the jacket to breathe much better. To do this, we recommend a product called Revivex. It is applied while the jacket is wet after washing. You then "Set" the DWR into the jacket by running it through a warm dryer. Anytime your jacket isn't beading water anymore - it's time to Revivex it.

Hiking in raingear in warm humid weather is a challenge. For this I recommend an Umbrella. The umbrella can be affixed to your pack strap easily allowing your hands to be free for trekking poles. Click here to view how to set this up. If you like to take it to the extreme in lightness try a rain kilt instead of pants. Not only are they more ventilated and cooler - but you look at least 30% more tough (or maybe goofy).

Remember - it's not about looking cool. It's all about going light, being efficient with your gear and enjoying your experience in the outdoors.

One Day Without Shoes - Tuesday, April 5th

One Day Without Shoes - Tuesday, April 5th
Millions of children grow up without shoes and at risk of infection and disease. One Day Without Shoes is the day we take off our shoes to raise awareness of the impact a pair of shoes can have on a child's life. As part of this special event, Pack & Paddle employees will be going without shoes for the day, and we encourage other businesses, organizations and individuals to participate in this event.

Come by Pack & Paddle barefoot on Tuesday April 5th, and you'll receive a coupon for Saturday's big Style Your Sole event worth 10% off your TOMS shoes for that day. Not to mention getting to see Skip and Amy's toes!!!

Here is a link to the One Day Without Shoes website page: