Category Archives: Safety

Gear Review: LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

Lifestraw Personal Water Filter

Vermont SUP Lifestraw personal water filter
Lifestraw Personal Water Filter – Photo Credit: JTJ Photography

I had seen the Lifestraw Personal Water Filter online for several years and had always wondered if it worked. The most important & essential item whenever planning a paddling trip is water. At over 8 pounds per gallon its the heaviest gear you need to bring. While paddling, you have an abundance of water all around you but it’s not safe to drink and can get you very sick if you do so. Upon getting my Lifestraw Personal Water Filter I quickly noticed the lightweight and small footprint of the product made it an easy choice for backpackers and paddlers. We tried out this product in the sunshine state of Florida over the past few weeks and concluded that it’s a great product to have with you in the absence of clean water and as a backup. I will always try to bring as much drinkable water with me as I can hold but this Lifestraw personal water filter offers a backup solution if you run out or something contaminates your water.


“LifeStraw is ideal for hiking, backpacking, camping, travel, and emergency preparedness. The straw-style filter design lets you turn up to 1,000 liters of contaminated water into safe drinking water.” -Lifestraw Website

Erin tests the Lifestraw Personal Water Filter on the Chassahowitzka River in Florida.
Erin tests the Lifestraw Personal Water Filter on the Chassahowitzka River in Florida. – Photo Credit: JTJ Photography

We first took the Lifestraw to the Chassahowitzka River in Homosassa Florida. There are many different natural springs pushing out from the Limestone ground, including the crystal clear Seven Sisters Springs, where we stopped to take photos and test it for the first time. The 2 oz. weight and 9 inch size allowed me to keep it right in my Stohlquist PFD zipper pocket.

Lifestraw easily fits into your PFD pocket.
Lifestraw easily fits into your PFD pocket. – Photo Credit: JTJ Photography

Erin, an author and contributor to Vermont SUP, posed for a few photos. “I didn’t think it was working at first but once the Lifestraw was saturated it seemed to flow through at a comfortable rate and I could get several full mouthfuls before I had to take a breath.”

The Weeki Wachee River looks clean but you never know.
The Weeki Wachee River looks clean but you never know. – Photo Credit: JTJ Photography

After using this product multiple times, I’m happy with how it performs. I didn’t get sick from the waters I tested it in, which is always a good thing. For a single use it’s great, easy to store and very lightweight. I wouldn’t notice it if I carried my gear in dry bags around dams or un-runnable rapids. Lifestraw has several other products that would be more suitable for a family camping for longer periods. These other products also say they filter our many viruses that the smaller personal filter doesn’t. I’m glad I have this water filter for our future paddling expeditions. I would recommend it to any adventurer looking to explore the unknown for multiple days if they are unsure of the availability of clean drinking water.

Lifestraw personal water filter
Chassahowitzka River Florida. – Photo Credit: JTJ Photography

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for free from as coordinated by Outdoor PR in consideration for review publication.

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2nd Annual Onion River Race & Ramble – June 6th 2015

What a great day for a river race!

If you didn’t know… today was the 2nd annual Onion River Race & Ramble  held on the Winooski River in Vermont. The course started below the Bolton Dam and finished at the bridge in Richmond. This ten mile stretch is a gorgeous scenic cut through the green mountains.

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The morning started out a little chilly for early June but attendance wasn’t affected from the cooler temps. Close to 90 people signed up this year to show their support and have fun at the same time which was almost double the turnout from last year. Umiak Outfitters helped out again by providing the shuttle for the eager participants. Noah from the Friends of the Winooski River led the group with a safety briefing before the heats started.

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Early in the race was the biggest obstacle, a set of rapids and rock garden, that stood between the racers and the flat water below. The tricky eddy lines surprised many paddlers letting them feel the cold temperatures of the Winooski River in June. There were many safety boaters on the water to help people to shore and recover their gear.

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Below the rapids lay many many miles of reasonably flat water on a normal day but today was different. A Northerly wind of 17 mph gave the paddlers a steady head wind most of the trip. At the end of the ten mile stretch you passed under the Richmond bridge and thus the finish line.

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After the racers finished and pulled their boats to shore they celebrated with a feast provided by Richmond Grange and sat down to reflect on the past few hours and enjoy some much needed food.

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All in all the day was beautiful, the people showed up to had fun and the Winooski River was once again conquered…at least for today.

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Big thanks to all the sponsors who without them this event wouldn’t have been possible. Sponsors include Friends of the Winooski River, with support from the Vermont River Conservancy,  Umiak Outfitters , the Vermont Paddlers’ Club , and the Richmond Grange.

Click the link below to view all of the photos from the days events.
Onion River Race & Ramble – June 6th 2015


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How To: Make A Safety Throw Bag (DIY)

A good throw bag is quite expensive and even fairly difficult to find the materials to make. First you have to track down a fabric seller that has Nylon Cordura and Nylon web strapping and then you have to buy all of the other stuff to go with the project as well. Unless you are putting together a dozen or more you may as well buy one.

There is a middle of the road alternative though and that is to make one from a nylon camp chair bag, the fabric is often cordura anyway but is always a close substitute. You can put a good rope bag together this way for under $20.

The first and most important thing you need is fifty feet of 3/8 floating rescue rope. This will cost about $15. You will also need a sewing machine, a seam ripper, some scissors, a couple grommets and setter, and one of those camp chair bags that everyone has in the closet and does not use.


You begin with the seam ripper and take all of the patches and carry handles off of the camp chair bag. These can be used to put a carry strap on your throw bag later if you want. With all of the nylon webbing off of the bag cut it 16 inches from the bottom. Save the draw string and keeper from the top of the bag to be used later. Once you have done that you will see all of the hard work is already done for you.


The first thing to is roll a one inch hem on the top end of the newly cut bag and sew that. I used white thread so it would show up good in the photo but you don’t have to. Just be sure it is very strong nylon thread that you cannot break with your hands.


So with the first hem in you can check the factory stitching on the original bag. If it is good leave it alone but if you suspect it is weak touch it up with a few stitches. Put a small grommet on the new hem be sure to fold the hem to the outside of your bag and put the smooth face of the grommet to the outside as well.


Next take that old draw string from the camp chair bag, and the keeper in hand. Run the string around the inside of your hem and pull the two ends through the grommet hole and put on the keeper. Tie a knot to keep from loosing your keeper. Carefully sew down the hem to the bag. The hem is now an inch or so wide so the draw string does not bind up. Do this slow as it is about the only hard part. Once you have this test your draw string to make sure it works good and that you didn’t sew through it or something.


The next thing to do is to take a piece of closed cell foam and cut it the same diameter as your bag. This makes a float. You can use a swimming pool foam board that you can get at the dollar store like I did or camping mat foam, it doesn’t matter. You also need a 3/8 inside diameter washer. You can just make one from some strong plastic if you like. A detergent bottle makes a great washer.


Once you have those pieces made cut a small hole in the bottom and add another grommet. The best way to do this is to cut a tiny hole with scissors and melt the edges with a lighter so they don’t fray. Add the grommet next. You could reinforce the hole by sewing a bit of nylon web strapping both inside and out and heat up a big metal spike and melt the rope hole if you do not have grommets at hand and have no plan to buy some. This is messy and smelly but it works.


Feed your rope through the bottom bag hole and tie a bowline knot loop and pull the knot back snug to the bag.


Punch a hole through your foam and slide the foam and washer onto the rope and into the bottom of your bag. The washer is simply there to keep the foam from working its way up the rope. Seal everything off with a knot tied as close to the washer as you can get it.


OK; now you’re done. Stuff the rope in and cinch the draw string. You can add nylon carry handles, belts, and plastic clips if you want, but remember whatever you add is just a potential extra to get snagged on a tree or a rock. It is best to just carry it around by the loop. That and it is no good to you strapped to the front of your canoe, keep it close.


As an option if you want to go all out you can find high visibility and reflective strips at most fabric stores you may want to sew some on to your throw bag for the few extra dollars.

Original article from Canoe Canada East

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Leashes and Lifejackets 101

The American Canoe Association(ACA) has published a great video tutorial about when to wear what types of leashes and lifejackets while SUPing. It is worth 5 minutes of your time to know when to use these key pieces of safety equipment.

The ACA recommends the following for calm water with no risk of entanglement:
~ coiled leash
~ inflatable belt pack

The ACA recommends the following for ocean surf:
~ straight leash
~ no lifejacket

The ACA recommends the following for moving water or whitewater:
~ coiled leash attached at the waist with a quick release
~ inherently buoyant type III or type V lifejacket

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