The Paddle In The Park Contest is back for 2015!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Gun Socks ≠ Paddle Socks

paddle 1 |ˈpadl|nounshort pole with a broad blade at one or both ends, used without an oarlock to move a small boat or canoe through the water.

sock |säk|nouna garment, typically knitted from wool, cotton, polyester or nylon.

Paddle Bag or Paddle Sock?
There are many paddle bags on the market that are referred to as "paddle socks" but most are made of fleece, canvas, etc. and are really more bag then sock. They aren't technically a sock (in the knitted traditional sense of the word), and usually are paddle specific. Paddle bags are also pretty expensive starting at any where from $30 for most and even over $100 for some. They can be really heavy and bulky too.

When we first started looking for a way to transport our paddles we needed a bag that could be used time and time again for paddles of different lengths and varying blade shapes that was quick and easy to put on and take off. We started making our own from recycled hockey socks.  We would actually take two (or three - depending on the length needed) old hockey socks and hand-sew them together to make one long sock - with one end sewn closed and the other left open like a sleeve.

This worked temporarily but they were much, much, too loose (forever falling down) and we really wanted something we could easily cinch closed and that looked a bit more aesthetic then Poppa Badger's retired (mix-matched) hockey socks. So we went on the look-out for a knitter/manufacturer to give us the same style stretch as the hockey sock provided (quickly slipping on and off the paddle with little to no "grand production") but a closer knit that we could make Badger Paddle Socks from.

Machine knitted like socks are now known to be, our Badger Paddle Sock
works and feels much like a real sock does.

We found a some-what local fella who made and distributed central vacuum hose covers. Always open to other applications for his product (including Baseball Bat Covers, Golf Ball & Club bags, Gun Socs [gun sock], and more), he agreed to sell us what we needed. Thus, the Badger Paddle Sock was born. The first of it's kind, the Badger Paddle Sock will fit almost any canoe paddle up to 65" long!

Gun Socks are NOT Paddle Socks:
But please, for the health of your wooden paddle, DO NOT substitute a "Gun Sock" for a "Paddle Sock", whether it be a "Badger Paddle Sock" or not! Gun Socks are not only too short for most traditional canoe paddles, but - more importantly - most Guns Socks are actually impregnated with silicone which will not only help hold moisture in the sock - but anywhere the silicone touches bare wood or an area that the finish has worn thin, there could be a real problem when you go to maintain it. The silicone will make it difficult for your oil or varnish to adhere properly to the wood.

According to the Sporting Clays ~ The Wingshooters Magazine forum, gun owners have even been warning others about the effects of a silicone impregnated gun sock on wood:

"Be aware that if you have any scratches exposing bare wood or worn areas on the gun, that the finish is worn off. This silicone will get into the pores of the wood and if and when you would ever get the gun refinished, the finish will not stick to these areas. I had just thought you could sand it out but according to this gun refinisher, it is very hard to get any finish to stick to these affected areas. So silicone on metal only keep it off of the wood."

So while Badger Paddle Socks are made in a similar way to many gun socks (and maybe check your hose cover for your central-vac - it be could material made from the same guy who made your paddle sock too!) obviously our socks are meant for paddles and DO NOT have any silicone or rust-prohibiting chemicals impregnated into the material. So your wooden paddle and finish is definitely safe with us!

And while we aren't foolish enough to think we have the "original" paddle sock (as people have been unofficially referring to paddle bags as "socks" for over a decade), we are pretty sure that we have the first (really sock-like) one-size-fits-most paddle bag priced less then the popular bags or "socks" of the past. You can buy our Paddle Socks individually but the best deal you can get on a Badger Paddle Sock is when you buy a Badger Paddle... 'cause each paddle comes with a Badger Paddle Sock for free!

For more information about our Paddle Socks, visit

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Badger Paddles' Tip of the Week - Increase Your Chance of Observing Wildlife

Badger Paddles' Tip of the Week includes information on paddling, camping, portaging, boat transport, and maintenance tips, as well as any other information that we may find to be useful around our sett.

"You have to do what you can, do your best with what you are. And you have to believe in wilderness. If you do that you can’t go wrong." – Kirk Albert Walter Wipper

Increasing Your Chances Of Viewing Wildlife In Their Natural Habitat:
Growing up spending summer holidays interior camping in Algonquin Park with my parents, I (Fiona) had the opportunity to view lots of fauna in their natural habitat. Over the years we have had the pleasure (and luck) to view many a Black Bear, Moose, Deer, Fox, Rabbit, Raccoon, and many other forest creatures as well as the Loon, Wood Ducks, Turkey Vultures, Eagles, Ravens, Heron, Grouse, Mink, and more. Some of these creatures we happened upon unwittingly and to the surprise of all parties involved. Others we waited for hours to see, tucked away in our boats in the swamp of some back bay. If you are wanting to see wildlife on your trip into any wilderness region, the following tips will definitely help to increase your chance of success... so get your camera ready!
Not far from our campsite, we found a small snake den.

Time of Day:
Although it is possible to spot an animal at 2 in the afternoon, it is much more likely have success if you watch for wildlife at dawn and at dusk. I cannot remember all the countless evenings, and the very early hours after dawn, when we sat in a swamp, not uttering a word (sometimes giggling either from the boredom of the silent wait - or my Grandfather's soft snoring - which really annoyed my Grandmother). And so we waited... and waited... and waited for some creature... any creature... to come to to water's edge from the dark and silent forest. Thankfully, we were rewarded many times for our efforts. And in my impressionable youth, I was altered by each and every experience in some small way. A love for the wilderness was really getting deep into my blood.
Scanned picture of old photo of a moose
(from Fiona's younger years). Taken at dusk.

Be Quiet, Be Still, Be Patient:
At a place like Algonquin Park, if you sit quietly in a small bay (or even at your campsite) for 15 to 20 minutes, you will have a much better chance of spotting a wild bird or mammal. You will also realize just how loud and hungry those mosquitoes can sound! But remember: no sudden movements. Even to lift your arm to scratch your nose can make noise that an animal can hear (clothing brushing against itself). Try to keep all movement and sound to a minimum and speak in whispers if possible. If the animal doesn't notice you at first, enjoy the moment. Because as soon as you click that camera or cause any motion or other disturbance, they will be aware of your presence - and therefore change their behaviour (or most likely move away from the area and you).
This grouse thinks he is still camouflaged by his surroundings.

Location, Location, Location:
In Algonquin, it is not unheard of seeing a moose or bear* walk right thru your camp site. But you will probably increase your chances by finding a bog, field or shoreline to follow. Animals go were people go. Explore beyond your campsite, walk a trail, portage, or old logging road and you will see lots of signs of animals because animals use the same trails as we do. If you see an animal while you are driving, remember to stop and pullover off the road (there is no need to block traffic or create a dangerous situation for other drivers). As for more natural environments,  meadows or flat low lying wet areas like swamps or muskegs, are great places to watch for wildlife. When you paddle, staying close to shorelines is also a great tip or choose to do a river. In larger Ontario parks, don't be surprised if you spot a beaver, martin or even a little mink along the shore. We have!
Swamps and wetlands are prime locations for wildlife.

Bionic Eyes:
This tip is to remind you to bring binoculars. You will be thankful to get an extra close up view of the wildlife without invading their space - they will linger longer if you respect them from a distance. Note: it is possible that a camera's zoom feature will also let you see more detail.
Herons are shy and amazingly prehistoric looking.

Converse with a Local Outfitter or Old Boy:
Talking with a popular and knowledgable Outfitter, like Algonquin Outfitters, or an Old Boy**, can give you a great window into the best places to view the regional wildlife. For example, they can tell you things like how: "Fill In Name Here" Trail has lots of deer at a particular time of the year; or "Fill In Name Here" Lake has plenty of moose in the back east bay after the first inlet; or even that Highway gets lots of moose along the road side in the Spring licking the salt from the winter roads, etc., etc.
Algonquin Outfitters is a perfect example of a local resource
for local wildlife viewing tips and best locations for success.

The Bigger, The Better:
When there is a larger habitat left intact, there is a much better chance of spotting a wildlife. Larger parks or conservations areas are better then smaller ones. And usually, the deeper the route takes you into the interior of a large park, the less people and the more wildlife you will encounter. In the years that we have been wilderness camping, we have countless memories of many a bear, sometimes even with cubs, and deer with their young too. We have seen a loon fight an innocent but confused wayward moose to drive it away from it's nest. We have witnessed deer drink by the shore's edge and disappear the moment they noticed we were there. We have watched moose dive for it's food at the bottom of a lake. We've seen families of ducks, loons and even some mice. We have watched a bear swim from one island to the next in search of food. We have been surrounded by a swarm of Tiger Swallow Tail butterflies and watched a fox romp playfully thru a field. We have accidentally startled sleeping bears at Captain Dennison's old farm on Opeongo (Algonquin) and have been shocked into fright by countless partridge on numerous portages. We have heard a jackrabbit scream and the cries of a wolf pack. We have seen snakes, frogs, crayfish and some crazy big leaches. We've had a bear drag it's body down the length of the tent we were sleeping in on Tea Lake (Algonquin) and have even experienced that moose that walks thru campsites. We've watched beaver work and otters play. My father (a.k.a. Poppa Badger) has even been lucky enough to actually see the elusive wolf. Most, if not all of these events, took place in large parks and conservation areas like Algonquin, Temagami, and Quetico.
A doe and fawn by the water's edge.

Luck Be A Lady:
In the end, you will also need a little bit of luck. You won't always be successful. More often then not, you will come away without a close-up wildlife experience even if you do everything right. But don't give up. In my personal opinion, one of the most pleasurable experiences about canoeing and camping - in most parts of Canada - is being able to view and co-exist with the local wildlife. Seeing a moose, unaware, tromp down to the shore edge of a bog, and make his way into the water walking thru the deep mud without a struggle, is a surprisingly exhilarating experience. One you will never forget. And if you follow these tips, you too, may be lucky (like we have been) and will experience many chances to see wildlife in their natural habitat, enjoying their existence as the free creatures they were born to be.
Fiona was so inspired by her wildlife encounters that she took to painting
wilderness scenes on canoe paddles when she was in her late teens.
See more examples of her work here: Badger Paddle Art Gallery
Do you have any tips to share? Send us your tips and paddling advice - and if your tip is featured here - we will send you a free Badger Paddles sticker!!! All you have to do is email us your suggestions.

*It is also not unheard of to have a bear visit your camp in the middle of the night to pilfer your edibles if he/she can. Never try to attract animals with food. And don't try to domesticate any critters by teaching them to feed from your hand. Keep your supplies in a smell proof container and make your site as bear/critter proof as is possible. 

** An "Old Boy", as Mike refers to them, is a euphemism for an older gentleman who is known to be a long time resident and who has years (and years) of local knowledge and interesting (and not so interesting) facts about the area. Old Boys can often be lured into a conversation with the offer of a cold beer.

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Badger Paddles' Tip of the Week - Making a Fire with Newspaper

Badger Paddles' Tip of the Week includes information on paddling, camping, portaging, boat transport, and maintenance tips, as well as any other information that we may find to be useful around our sett.

One of the traditions that I remember from my childhood trips to Algonquin's interior was my father bringing that day's newspaper as reading material for his first couple of days in the bush. Of course, it's secondary purpose was to help light the fire at our campsite as well, but only after the paper had been given a good read over by my dad.

I also remember that one of the first skills my father taught me around camp was how to light a fire. And don't kid yourself... it is a skill. It can take a while to figure out the principles of fire-making, but with a few pages of old newspaper and this week's tip, you will be known as THE campfire-starter in no time!

Some people just scrunch up the newspaper into a ball. And that works... some of the time. But more often then not (especially at a windy or damp camp site) your fire needs a bit more sustained heat to get it going and those scrunched up newspaper balls burn really fast and the loose burnt up paper ashes don't hold much warmth (and can even fly away when you blow on them!). Plus it uses a lot of paper.

That is where this week's tip comes in. Instead of scrunching or crumpling the news paper into a ball, rip a few pages of newspaper into 2-3 inch strips and roll each individual strip into loose mini paper logs (See photos below). Tuck the loose end of the rolled paper into centre of the tube to help hold it's structure. Note, you can also use string to tie the roll in place but using extra materials is not really necessary as tucking the end into the roll loosely seems to do the trick just as well.

When finished, these rolled bits of paper will give you a flame AND a coal base to work with for your fire. They burn much slower then a crumpled page of paper. You can even blow on them to increase your flame and air-flow without the same worry that you will blow all the burning paper away. But be careful not to roll these little fire-starter tubes too tight or they will not burn well. Loose is better, for more air flow.

Here is an example (see images below) of a fire lit with ONLY 2 pages of newspaper, ripped into strips and rolled into the fire starter tubes/logs.  These 2 pages of newspaper produced 6 or 7 little rolled fire-starters - just enough to get a good fire going, but you can always add more depending on need. Notice how long the coal base of these little paper log fire-starters last and how hot they keep the fire base until the wood catches.
After making several lil' fire starter logs from only
2 pages of newspaper, this fire is ready to be lit!
These lil' fire-starters really hold the heat!
Of course, you can't beat good ol'birchbark. It works dry or wet and burns hot hot HOT! But this handy natural fire-starter isn't always readily found and should only be harvested from the ground - NEVER take birch bark from a live tree - ALWAYS wait until it falls to the ground (naturally) for collection - or you could cause the tree to die prematurely due to an insect infestation or other disease. And while newspaper doesn't really compare to a birchbark lit fire, at least when you burn your newspaper at camp, you don't have to pack it out.

Well, we hope you enjoy your camp fire... but only after you enjoy reading your newspaper, that is!!!

Do you have any tips to share? Send us your tips and paddling advice - and if your tip is featured here - we will send you a free Badger Paddles sticker!!! All you have to do is email us your suggestions.

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Note: Due to weather issues during the writing of this article, the fire in these example images was lit in an indoor fireplace and although this tip is meant for the outdoors, these little newspaper fire starters can be used in indoor fireplaces and wood stoves as well.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Freestyle Canoeing Hits the Mainstream Media

It is always funny to hear a first-time viewer of Freestyle Canoeing voice their concern that the paddler is going to fall out of the boat.  You may have even heard this reaction before if you have ever leaned your canoe over on it's hull to solo paddle. It's technical term is Freestyle Canoeing derived from it's more basic sister, Canadian Style, but with a bit more flourish and a competitive aspect thrown in as well. And if it's the first time you have ever witnessed this style of paddling, then you probably think the paddler is going to tip over and go for a swim at any moment.  But after a few minutes, you relax because you realize that the person is doing it, not only on purpose, but with such grace that you start to see the beauty in it.

According to FreeStyleCanoeing.Com:

"FreeStyle Canoeing is the "art and science" of quietwater paddling.

FreeStyle Canoeing emphasizes smooth, efficient flatwater paddling and precision boat control. FreeStyle can be applied to all canoeing situations.

Many FreeStylers paddle to music making an expressible, interpretive art form. FreeStyle paddling requires no special equipment other than a boat, a paddle, a life jacket, and in most cases a kneeling pad."

But for those not familiar with this style of paddling, it can look a bit odd. Especially when some soft paddling music is thrown in with a matching themed costume!

"The concept of freestyle canoe has never entered my sphere of influence, and I’m still not sure I believe it even after watching these videos. It’s like a cross between canoeing, synchronized swimming, and Halloween, with the spirit of LARPing thrown in for good measure."

That is how sports fan and writer , Jerod (of describes Freestyle Canoeing after watching a few Youtube videos featuring some costumed paddlers. We don't know about you, but no one in the Badger clan has ever paddled in costume before. Nor have we ever paddled anything but Canadian Style, ourselves. But it seems that these videos of outfitted paddlers are making their way into the mainstream media. And, because of the added costume element, some of them are pretty funny to a novel viewer... or, as Jerod the sports writer has put it, perhaps even: bizarre
Yes, there are some hardcore canoe dance videos making their way into minds of the masses. Just yesterday, David Johnston of PaddlingInstructor.Com posted the news that Freestyle Canoeing was mentioned in a hilarious segment by Steven Colbert of the popular television show The Colbert Report. Mentioned... and giggled at. Because it seems that, while the art of Freestyle looks interesting enough, the act of paddling to music AND wearing a costume has brought it to the attention of many... and they think that it's pretty funny. Especially the NFL sports fans who are looking for other forms of sports entertainment due to the current situation plaguing the NFL.

"Freestyle canoe? It made no sense, unless maybe as a description for a time when Li’l Wayne, Snoop Dogg, and Eminem were at a lake party and decided to take a canoe out for a while and do some rapping."

While "Jerod", the author of the quotes above and below, and others are no doubt amused by the costumes and music choices (a couple of the examples he uses is of the paddler dressed as a Pirate "dancing" to the theme song from the Pirates of the Caribbean and another is of a gentleman paddling to the tune of Chris DeBurgh's "Lady in Red" in a green canoe), there is an obvious respect for the skills needed to lean a canoe and make it dance on the water.... As he goes on to qualify his words:
"With all that said, whether it’s bizarre to me or not, clearly these folks get a giant kick of it, so I say good for them. Just because some jackwagon blogger doesn’t understand anything about the sport and decides to be snarky about it doesn’t lessen its excitement or sheer awesomeness for the people who participate in it.

In fact, the more I write about this, the more I am finding my mind focus less on mocking the shocking images I just watched and more on trying to decide what song and costume I would choose for my freestyle canoe routine. First instinct: Can’t Help Falling In Love by UB40. It’s got “freestyle canoe” written all over it."

So... have you ever freestyle paddled your canoe before? Was it to music? And if you were to embrace this sport, for how it has been portrayed in the mainstream media as of late, what special outfit would you paddle in?

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Badger Paddles' Tip of the Week - Making the Most out of a Wilderness Canoe Trip

Badger Paddles' Tip of the Week includes information on paddling, camping, portaging, boat transport, and maintenance tips, as well as any other information that we may find to be useful around our sett.

Besides not having a plug for your curling iron, there are lots of other modern day conveniences missing from life in the bush. While many enjoy escaping from the whirlwind of their contemporary lifestyles, for some first time campers, the culture shock of interior or wilderness camping can be a bit too much... or too little - as the usual complaint amongst newbie campers (especially the young ones) is that they are bored.

To make the most out of your wilderness canoe trip and to help make the experience more enjoyable, there are a number of things you can do.

Start by researching area maps and check to see what books and other literature is available about the area. Don't be afraid to talk to the locals, either, as you are able. If you learn to identify the regional flora and fauna and other local natural features for your trip, it will only help to make your trip more pleasurable. Especially for the kids.

Plan for rainy days by bringing a deck of cards, or a novel to read, to help pass the time. For kids, a home-made "Fidget Kit"* is always a good tool to have around for rainy weather and/or long days spent in the canoe.
Having preferred activities planned for
your trip can be gratifying. Here,
Fiona sketches a tree bent naturally
over time by the prevailing winds.
"Prevailing Winds"
Sketched at Ferguson Bay,
Lake Temagami, September 2000
Another great tip is to plan your canoe trip with a preferred activity in mind; whether it is to fish, sketch/paint, explore, to take photographs, or to write. Keep a trip journal on hand to record your experiences and points of interest. And, to make the tripping experience that much more enjoyable for the next camper, always leave every campsite cleaner then you found it.

Do you have any tips to share? Send us your tips and paddling advice - and if your tip is featured here - we will send you a free Badger Paddles sticker!!! All you have to do is email us your suggestions.

A "Tangle" is a great
addition to a Fidget
Kit to help keep young
hands and minds busy.
*A "fidget kit" can be made from any number of small sensory objects that appeal to a specific child that are calming. Squishy balls/Koosh balls/Spaghetti Balls, and other sensory items can be fun for passing the time. As well as small cause and reaction toys, miniature dolls, or other manipulative objects like rubber bands, stress balls, Silly Putty, play dough, Bendeez, Rapper Snappers, etc. These kits can be home made or bought. They can be individualized and change as the child grows and interests change. See: How to Make a Fidget Kit or click here: Therapro Fidget Kit to see a store-bought example.

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Badger Wood Oil - Why Hemp?

It's no secret that the finishing industry is changing. Environmental concerns about the chemicals and toxins being used in finishing products are a real concern. VOC*** count and content is a real issue. Processes are evolving and new materials are being sought. Pretty soon, you may even be hard pressed to find varnish on store shelves that is NOT water-based.

As Badger is always concerned with the environmental and social impact that we have on the planet, last year we decided to get serious about our research and look for the most environmentally friendly and socially responsible oil finish that we could find in today's modern world.  We really wanted to give our fellow paddlers a quality finishing product that was easy to use, non-toxic, environmentally safe (minimal effect on our rivers, lakes and oceans as well as safe for children), worldwide sustainability, and yet affordable too.  We asked around to find out about a few new products and were excited to try the recommended and novel (for us) oils like Orange and Hemp. But after researching and using various products and oils from Danish Oil, to Tung, to Teak, to Hemp to Orange Oil to Linseed; the decision was easy. Hemp Seed Oil was the clear winner, for a number of reasons. All of them good.

Environmentally speaking, when we looked at the available natural oils, we were blown away by the qualities of Hemp Seed Oil. Hemp Seed Oil is completely non-toxic, can be grown in almost any part of the world (without the need for large amounts of pesticides or any herbicides), is one of the fastest growing plants known to man, is food-safe, cleans up with soap and water, provides a smooth hard finish, no harsh fumes, darkens the wood while enhancing the grain patterns nicely, and there is no issue with getting it on your hands or skin, nor are there any respiratory effects associated with this product. Hemp can be grown for food, clothing or for oil, including fuel. It's antimicrobial and anti fungal properties even help to prevent mold.

Tung and Teak oils are wonderful too, but we don't grow Tung Trees (to harvest the nut for processing the oil) here in Canada, nor do we grow the hardwood known as Teak, therefore these oils (while excellent products) must be imported (from Asia/China) which greatly impacts the carbon footprint of these oils. We needed something closer to home. Also, these oils, when all natural, are considered non-toxic but you have to check your product packaging wisely as solvents and other chemicals are usually mixed with the Tung or Teak Oils to help then cure and dry faster. But this is usually referred to a "Tung Oil Finish" or "Teak Oil Finish" on the label. As a side note, some people also prefer a Tung Oil finish over Linseed Oil, as Linseed is known to darken the wood considerably. Also, another interesting fact about Tung Oil is that some people, who suffer from nut allergies, can have an allergic reaction to Tung Oil as the oil originates from an actual nut.

Raw Linseed Oil (from Flax), left as just natural, has the same qualities that raw Hemp Seed Oil has: it takes forever to dry properly. But unlike Boiled Linseed Oil - which is not really just boiled but has added toxic chemical solvents to help the oil dry and cure properly when applied to wood - Hemp Seed Oil only has to be put through an oxidization process to be able to harden when cured. Again, Hemp was the winner where the environment is concerned.

We also looked at the "environmentally friendly" Orange Oil, too, but eventually passed it over for the following reasons:

Orange oil, a natural oil and byproduct of orange juice production, proves that "natural" doesn't always mean safe. Orange Oil is considered a very effective and potent pesticide for bugs but it doesn't only kill them - it also melts the exoskeletons of insects! It is also considered to be an effective antiseptic and very aromatic and powerful solvent. And although thought to be relatively safe for contact with humans and pets (it's biodegradable and has fairly low toxicity), you must be careful when using Orange Oil as it is a mild skin irritant (as it dissolves protective skin oils on humans too).

Orange Oil is known to also irritate the respiratory tract.  You should always wear gloves and insure there is adequate ventilation when using Orange Oil, just like Boiled Linseed Oil or any other oil mixed with solvents.  Orange Oil is also very flammable (much more so then Hemp Oil). There is even some evidence of carcinogenicity. One warning stipulated "Although Orange Oil is safer than nearly all other caustic, synthetic and toxic chemicals such as ammonia and bleach (chlorine) Orange Oil is not non-toxic, and should never be [sic] left where children may come into contact."**

But we still wanted to test Orange Oil as a wood maintenance finish, regardless of Poppa Badger's insistence that it was to be used only as a solvent, and even though the above qualities were a bit concerning (especially the fact that Orange Oil is highly acidic and can be a skin irritant). Also, besides the possible respiratory effects, another concern for us was it's strong "smell" or "scent" as an attractant for animals. For paddlers who like to spend time in a wilderness situation, the last thing any of us need is an odour that will attract rodents, pests and other larger animals to our campsite.

Wanting to test the safety of bringing an mostly orange-oiled paddle into the bush, we set out a number of freshly oiled paddles last fall (overnight) in a wilderness area close to home. Every paddle finished in each oil, namely: Boiled Linseed, Tung, Teak, Hemp and Orange (specifically one was oiled with our Hemp Oil mixed with citrus solvents and one paddle was oiled with Hemp mixed with Japan Driers. Another two had the same mixtures of solvents to oil but instead of Hemp Seed Oil we used Tung. And then the same ratio repeated again, but with Orange Oil. The rest were oiled with the old standbys of Boiled Linseed, Tung Oil Finish and Teak).

Just as we had suspected, the orange-oiled paddles were the only paddles, to not only get knocked over by creatures in the night, but to also sustain some scratches (one paddle even sported a few teeth marks!). While there was lots of mouse signs left behind (meaning mouse scat) with the Orange-oiled paddles, we were also convinced a racoon had joined in the smelly goodness of orange fun. For this reason and the many reasons above, we decided that the Orange Oil was not the best maintenance oil for our paddles. However, when used as a solvent only, the Orange Oil did help a bit with the drying process and we were happy to find that it was a nice (less toxic then the usual solvents used) addition when used as a solvent only.

Interestingly, the rest of the paddles, including the paddles with the Hemp Oil were left untouched as well as the paddles with the mix of Hemp Seed Oil and Citrus* Solvents/Japan Driers. But the greatest thing about our research is that we were introduced to some really great products and methods of using them. We love the way all of the oils felt on the paddles, each bringing it's own depth to the wood, but it was clear that many factors were not being met as we dictated in the beginning of our research. Orange oil was not safe enough as a maintenance oil, for our purposes, but was a clear winner as an added solvent for the purpose of drying the Hemp Oil a bit faster. We still use citrus solvents in our production at times, along with other Japan Driers and, as you are probably aware by now, we totally fell in love with the Hemp Seed Oil. It gave a great finish without any health or environmental concerns (unless orange oil is added as a solvent/drier - then extra precautions are needed).

Wanting to share this ecologically responsible and very environmentally friendly and safe maintenance oil with other paddlers, we made this 100% all Natural Hemp Seed Oil available to the general public. And because it is not considered a dangerous good - our Badger Wood Oil can be shipped anywhere in the world without special packaging or specific arrangements. You can also mix Hemp Seed Oil with a bit of Orange Oil/Citrus Solvents for a less harmful concoction then using chemical solvents usually found in oil finishes today). We are proud to stand behind our product - however, just remember - it's not a fresh & flavourful hemp seed oil like that meant for cooking or salad dressings - but it is food safe. And if you happen to have some residual oil left over on your hands or paddle, this oil won't melt the exoskeletons off of any creatures in or out of the water. In fact, it may even help attract a fish your way, so make sure you keep a rod in the water while you paddle... who knows, it may help you catch the big one!

Plus don't forget, we still offer a standard finish too with a traditional mix of oil, various solvents and even some varnish properties (not unlike Danish Oil). So no matter your preference, whether a traditional oiled finish or an all natural oil, you know that Badger has your paddles covered, paws down!

This research and article was written in consultation with Poppa Badger/Mike Westner - former owner of Badger & Son (with over 45 years of experience working professionally with wood finishes) and present Wood Finishing teacher for the Toronto District School Board, Adult Education Programming.

*We only used a small ratio of Citrus Solvents to Hemp Seed Oil so as to not apply too heavy of a citrus scent to the paddle finish. If you add any solvents, Citrus or Japan Driers, please wear gloves. All citrus solvents and orange oils have a scent based on their limonene content. Limonene is what gives oranges and other citrus fruits their familiar aroma.
** Sources:, Wikipedia,
***Volatile Organic Compound

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Badger's Tip of the Week - Impromptu Kayak/Canoe Repairs

Badger Paddles' Tip of the Week includes information on paddling, camping, portaging, boat transport, and maintenance tips, as well as any other information that we may find to be useful around our sett.

While we hope you don't ever find yourself having to use these specific tips, we do believe the following information for emergency boat repairs is extremely useful to know.... because, well... you just never know!

Minor impromptu fibreglass/kevlar canoe or kayak repairs can be done while on a trip, even if you didn't bring a proper repair kit with you. For a minor crack or leak, repair the area by carefully burning/melting some polypropylene rope and then dripping the liquid into the crack. Let cool.
Polypropylene can fix a small leak when
brought to it's melting point.
For a larger hole or damaged area, seek out and respectfully harvest some Birch bark and Balsam sap from the surrounding forest.  Use a thin piece of Birch bark as a temporary emergency patch held in place with some gum from a Balsam tree. (If you do not have these specific species available to you, research your local flora and fauna to become familiar with substitute materials for those specified in this week's tip.)
Use the "gum" from a Balsam tree as a sticky adhesive.
Use the bark from a Birch tree as a temporary patch.
These are all meant as temporary repairs, of course. We would always recommend repairing your canoe properly as soon as your trip has ended, but in an emergency, these quick fix tips could possibly get you back to civilization with much less worry. And, if you end up getting all that sticky sap on your hands, just grab some rubbing alcohol or on-the-go hand sanitizer from your first aid kit, apply to the sticky area and rub vigorously. The alcohol should dissolve the resin.

Do you have any tips to share? Send us your tips and paddling advice - and if your tip is featured here - we will send you a free Badger Paddles sticker!!! All you have to do is email us your suggestions.

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Paddle For The Planet

Digger does his part for
Paddle For The Planet
This past Sunday (June 5th, 2011), thousands of paddlers in over 50 countries around the world participated in a global environmental awareness campaign for our oceans and waterways. Originating in Dubai, the idea was to bring paddlers together in a relay style world wide paddle - all over the planet - called "Paddle For The Planet".

When Dez, from Blast Paddlers, brought this great cause to our attention on Facebook (just days before it was all scheduled to take place), and asked us to host an event for Paddle For The Planet, we were very keen to participate. After all, one of the main reasons we offer a Badger Paddle Sock with every paddle* is to omit the use of plastic in our shipping process by replacing plastic bags with our re-usable fabric socks. So, with just days left before the big day arrived, we invited anyone who wished to join us at Buck Lake Beach to help raise awareness for the plight of our oceans and to Paddle For The Planet.

By the time Fiona remembered to get out the
camera, we were all on our way!
The day turned out to be beautiful in Muskoka. We (Mike, Fiona and Makobe) arrived at the beach early so pimped up our canoe with our Paddle For The Planet signs and put on our Team Fat Paddler T-shirts while we waited. As it turns out, not too many people were able to attend as they had already made other plans but all were interested in the idea when we spoke to them, some neighbours stopping in on their way to what ever business they had in town and beyond. Not to paddle, but to to show their support.  However there were a few more paddlers on the beach bringing an array of watercraft. By the time the excitement had died down, (unfortunately I had forgotten to get the camera out), Mike and Makobe were ready to get out on the water and do some paddling

We paddled around the lake until stopping at an island for Makobe to swim (or do the "dog paddle" for the planet). While Makobe was busy enjoying the cool waters of Buck Lake, Mike and I took some time to enjoy the beauty of it all. The strong breeze kept the bugs at bay and the sun, while strong, gave us a good amount of relief by hiding behind the clouds just before it became unbearable.
Wait... yep... there's a paddler!
Once on the island, Fiona remembered
to finally dig the camera out and get some photos!
A few hours later we were back home, but not before we raised awareness with a few fisherman and some lucky paddlers and supporters got to take home some free Badger SWAG and coupon books from Algonquin Outfitters (with over $900 in savings!). All in all, considering it was very last minute, Paddle For The Planet was a success in our little part of the world! Next year will be even better, though!!!

*51 inches in length and above.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Badger's Tip of the Week - Paddle For The Planet

This week's tip is about getting involved!

According to the Blast Paddler's website:
  • Each year, three times as much rubbish is dumped into the world’s oceans as the weight of fish caught. (
  • 32% of the world’s fisheries are overexploited, depleted or recovering, which threatens the health, economy, and livelihoods of communities all over the world.
  • The global fishing fleet is estimated to be 250% larger than needed to catch what the ocean can sustainably produce. (
  • Every year tens of millions of sharks die a slow death because of finning. Finning is the inhumane practice of hacking off the shark’s fins and throwing its still living body back into the sea. The sharks either starve to death, are eaten alive by other fish, or drown (if they are not in constant movement their gills cannot extract oxygen from the water). Shark fins are being “harvested” in ever greater numbers to feed the growing demand for shark fin soup, an Asian “delicacy”. (
So... what can we do about it?!!

Well... we can PADDLE FOR THE PLANET!!!

Again, according to the Blast Paddler's website:

"Paddle For The Planet 2011 ( PFTP ) is a global effort to to raise awareness about the terrible things that are happening in the Ocean we use daily.

Our common goal is to hold a world wide seires of “relay” style paddle events through whicl all paddlers participate in and become part of a global effort increase awareness of what’s going on in our oceans and want to create an opportunity to make a difference. We want to allow all paddlers the opportunity to help, and by doing so, help bring about change, by merely doing what we love to do – paddle. Paddle for the Planet’s aim is to support Marine conservation, and as the campaign grows over the ensuing years, we endeavor to support all kinds of Marine Conservation.

For the first couple of years we are going focus our efforts on an initial campaign to raise funds for a marine reserve in Raja Ampat, Indonesia and keep it protected. Each year we want to grow this idea and see the project branch out further and further, as more paddlers get involved keeping more and more waters protected. You can help make a difference.

How does it all work, and why is it on the 5th of June:

June 5th is World Environment Day, so there there is no more fitting date for us to hold Paddle For The Planet.

We want paddlers paddling for the planet in Every Time Zone on that day! Ideally they will paddle between 5km to 10km ( so they are on the water for around an hour ).

Even just one or two people paddling together in the same area as a group is sufficient!

We really need your help to make this a success, and to get this WORLD WIDE paddle happening."

Digger does his part for the cause.
He really "digs" the earth!!!
To get started, become a fan (or "Like") the Paddle for the Planet page on Facebook, download and print the Paddle for the Planet logo here:  Paddle For The Planet Printable Logo Take your picture with the printed out logo and upload it to Facebook here: ... then help to spread the word and remember to get out and paddle on Sunday! And don't forget to take lots of pictures to share with the paddling world!!!

Note: If you will be in Muskoka area, Badger Paddles will be hosting a Paddle For The Planet get together on Sunday, June 5, 2011 from 1:00 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the Buck Lake/Illfracombe Beach on Ravenscliffe Road, Huntsville Ontario, Canada.  Nothing too official. All you need is your boat, paddle and proper gear to participate.  We sure hope to see you there!!! And the first dozen paddlers to show will be rewarded with some free Badger SWAG!!! Email us for details and/or directions.

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