When the rain starts to fall and an icy wind begins to blow in from the north, heralding a change of season, leaving toes blue, rendering t-shirt attire quite useless. Well, that’s when it’s time to have an arsenal of suitable clothing ready to combat the elements and ensure that this journey is one you’re going to remember pleasantly.
When the likelihood of being exposed to bad weather on the ocean, whether sailing or paddling (or pedalling), your choice of gear doesn’t just mean the difference between happy and sad, it’s far more vital than that.
Palm Equipment Europe's range of paddling gear covers all seasons and for me, guaranteed peace of mind as I kayaked my way between Oslo and Helsinki between August and October this year.
When you spend 850 miles on rugged coastline or in the middle of some of Europe’s biggest lakes you’re going to experience the full range of Mother Nature’s fury and kindness.
So I wanted to make sure I had the clothing to fit all seasons.
I started late in the season. Mid August is about the time when most coastal paddlers in Scandinavia are rounding off their expeditions, which explains why I saw less than ten other kayakers in 50 days (and six of them were in the same group).
There’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing. Well, the essence of this is true, although I’m pretty sure I occasionally found myself in bad weather on Sweden’s west coast, and in the waters of southern Finland.
A paddling jacket like Palm’s Oceana has the ability to insulate not just your body’s warmth, but your nerves, too. This is the jacket I wear to bring the sun out even if the sky is swirling with grey, cold storm. It settles my temperament and keeps me calm, even when paddling through a cauldron of waves.
You stay dry and warm, you’re happy.
On better days, even with a slight chill in the air, a lighter Tempo jacket fended off splash and spray from the sea, and doubled up as a perfect hiking or cycling top layer.
Thanks to a forest-like growth of hair I rarely feel the cold in my legs, so for most of the trip opted for a pair of Horizon shorts, which I really liked thanks to a Neoprene waist band and a warm, comfortable fleece inner-lining.
As I approached Helsinki in the last week, Finland turned cold. Temperatures regularly tickled zero and the Baltic (sea and winds) finally tested my leg’s limits. Off came the shorts and on with Neon pants. They’re not intended to be 100% waterproof, but there’s a snug near-neoprene fit around the ankles and a high, velcro-tight waist, so not much is getting in there.
Suffice it to say, I was overly smug and warm with the Oceana/ Neon combo. Not to mention infinitely colourful.
Safety, of course, is paramount when on the water. As a solo traveller I don’t take chances no matter how comfortable I might be with the conditions and the Kaikoura PFD is my flotation jacket of choice. Comfortable and furnished with more pockets than a snooker table, the Kaikoura was a second skin between Oslo and Helsinki.
- Visit Palm Equipment Europe’s Website
The seeds of my first true adventurous ideas began to blossom as I rolled the streets of Swansea, South Wales on a longboard. There was no greater plan at that stage, just a will to push some boundaries and create a new road to the future, for me at least.
There’s a certain irony that a love for travelling on water was born halfway through a dry and hot journey on land. Exhausted, with two thousand miles of bitumen beneath my wheels I skated onto a car ferry in Wellington, South Australia and stopped for three minutes as ropes did the work and we crossed the Murray River.
Those 100 metres or so will always stay with me. The pelicans swooping, willows waving in the wind. The Murray’s journey finishes close to that ferry crossing but it took me two and a half months of paddling to reach that intersection for the second time, when three years later I returned to Australia and kayaked the Murray’s length.
I fell in love with the soft meandering of water travel and as these journeys became more central to my lifestyle and work life I began to value the gear I took with me. Integral to keeping this gear in working order - and this counts for clothing, camping and cooking equipment as much as electronics - is a set of waterproof bags capable of protecting their contents in case of rain, splashing or submersion.
I tried a few different brands but eventually settled with Aquapac's range of duffels, dry bags, stuff sacks and electronic pouches.
In remote areas I need to trust that my equipment is in good hands. I travel relatively light and simply can’t afford to lose any items because the protection isn’t up to scratch.
When I travel I put everything into an Upano Duffel and if flying I throw that into the underside of the aircraft.
I tend to keep smaller items and electronics in Trailproof Drybags, usually with the most important electronic items in their own separate pouches, just in case.
Clothes don’t take up much room when stuffed down into compression Pack Dividers, which are 100% dry bags also.
I’m a big fan of Noatak Wet and Drybags, they’re super hardy. One lived permanently on the front of my Hobie Kayak when pedalling across Scandinavia and was subjected to a constant barrage of waves and splash. Never did any water creep inside.
Aquapac make a bunch of pouches sized for various electronics which allows operation and waterproofing at the same time, especially handy for GPS, iPhone and iPad.
I try not to have more than one bag in any given size or style so when unpacking in camp at the end of the day I can see instantly where everything is.
Ultimately, with Aquapac I know what I’m getting. Protection, trust, peace of mind. I haven’t yet been on a journey with them where I finish with less gear than I started, which is exactly how I’m going to keep it.
Official Website: www.davecornthwaite.com
There’s something deeply basic and beautiful about following your feet. Some wise Buddah once said that every journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step, and although that isn’t strictly true the sentiment is there and applies to every decision, step, bounce, push, pedal and whatever action we choose to take us forward.
I’ve been a long-time admirer of KEEN footwear, not just because they make strong products in a nice, sustainable way, but because they have a simple, powerful ethos. Yes, they’re a business, but they want to make a difference at the same time as trotting through life. And like me, they’ve chosen the outdoors and adventure as their playground.
Earlier this year KEEN invited me to be an Ambassador for them, which made me smile. And you know what, they made me feel wanted. I’ve worked with plenty of companies over the years but have sometimes been left with a sense that I’m not really valued.
KEEN aren’t like that. From the first minute they tuned into my motives, asked me to get involved with projects, shared my stories on their channels, and when I rolled through their home base of Rotterdam on my ICE Trike they gave me a bed and a place to chill, and instantly had me up on stage at one of their Ocean Film Tours, which just happened to be on when I arrived.
And Julian and Perry even gave the Trike a good workout in some pretty hefty wind!
I felt like I was part of a family. Can you ask for more than that? As a nomadic traveller community is something I often miss out on, so in that sense, KEEN had me at “Hello.”
A few months after we met I embarked on the 11th leg of my Expedition1000 project, this time in a Hobie Kayak across Scandinavia.
Of course, KEEN’s roots lie in good waterproof shoes with a solid toe plate to avoid those agonising hopping-around-in-pain moments, and with endless rocky islands ahead of me I wanted to ensure my feet not only survived the journey, but also enjoyed it in comfort.
Most days I slipped into a pair of Clearwater CNXs. They were my bread and butter for pedalling (the Hobie Kayak is powered by a Mirage Drive, based on two fins that replicate the propulsion of penguin flippers) and took me through storms, across wide sections of open water and, of course, made coming ashore on rocky, stony landings blissfully easy.
Also in the bag were a pair of Class 5 Flips which replaced the Clearwaters when I was in camp each night, and a pair of Marshalls, the only traditional ‘shoes’ I had with me. These got a run out on the coldest of days, and when my camps weren’t flip flop friendly. I also used them for the longest of the 60 portages I had to make when crossing Sweden on the lock-ridden Göta Canal.
So, here we are. 48 days. 24 islands camped on. 1000.5 miles covered between Oslo, Norway and Helsinki, Finland. KEEN shoes having a part to play all the way.
And you know the best thing, my feet still have 14 more 1000+ mile journeys to enjoy, and with KEEN around, enjoy them they will.
- Visit KEEN’s website
…because it’s snack time.
I don’t like to be caught out on an expedition. Whatever happens, running out of food and water is a cardinal sin.
On my last trip between Oslo and Helsinki in a Hobie pedal kayak, I packed ‘escape rations’ in different parts of my kayak, all in different dry bags.
In the unfortunate event of capsizing or, worse, sinking, I’d always be able to rescue some - if not all - of my food.
Although my plan was to resupply at some points around the Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish coastlines I began the expedition with a variety of products from Natural Balance Foods.
They have endless flavours of protein and energy Nakd bars; from Rhubarb and Custard to Cashew Cookie, Banana Crunch to Cocoa Delight.
For a heftier snack turn to a Trek Bar (I always had one of these at hand in my left side flotation device pocket).
And then, for a fun snack, flavour infused raisins, which always gave me a smile with their witty packaging.
Or the unstoppably tasty bags of Nakd Bits, little 35g portions of goodness in all kinds of flavours. They taste good on dry land, so imagine the party after ten hours of pedalling!
100% natural ingredients, no added sugar or syrups, and a whole lot of attitude.
The plan worked out well. I nibbled on my last Trek bar a mile away from the dock in Helsinki. 48 days of pedalling. 1000.5 miles travelled across and around three countries. Now that was an adventure.
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Choosing the right headwear is key for any adventure, especially if you’re blessed with a complexion and hair colour that naturally resents any contact with sunlight.
Over the past few years I’ve covered thousands of non-motorised miles, down rivers, across deserts, over oceans and along mighty roads. But whether I need a layer under my helmet, a neck warmer, a windbreak or a simple item of headwear that protects my noggin’ from the sun, a Buff covers all bases.
Buffs come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, but it was on my 2nd expedition over 1000 miles that I first fell in love with the Visor BUFF®.
Take the versatility, comfort, weather and UV resistant nature of an original Buff, then add a soft neoprene visor for reducing sun glare and adding extra protection to the face. And there you have it, the first items of clothing in my bag for every expedition.
I’ve taken my Visor Buff the length of the Murray and Mississippi, across the American South on a Bikecar and between Oslo and Helsinki in my most recent journey, a 48 days pedal in a Hobie Kayak.
You can wear the Visor up or down depending on the conditions. And it’s not just for the head. I’ve used my Buff as a hammock tree strap, an oven glove and the neoprene visor does a fine job as a makeshift pillow during those most valuable daytime naps.
So, as multi-talented headwear goes, I think the Visor BUFF® is well ahead of the field.
Get yourself a Visor Buff.
And for a full history of my adventures, here’s my website.
48 days. 3 countries. 1,092,900 pedal pushes. 303 hours and 35 minutes on the water. 24 islands camped on. Average speed 3.5 miles per hour. Total Distance: 1000.5 miles. Oslo to Helsinki by Hobie Kayak, tick!
11 non-motorised journeys over 1000 miles now in the bag. 14 still to go. We haven’t even gotten started yet. Thanks to everyone who has been a part of this journey, especially you guys on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter who have given me plenty to grin about when I’ve checked in. These trips are all the more fun because I can share them with you, so thanks for being there.
What’s next? I don’t have a journey in the planning stages yet, need a little rest first :) I fly to England tonight and will be there for a few weeks, giving the occasional talk so I can put bread on the table, but first job is to edit the remaining Pedal on Water films (check out the current episodes out on www.youtube.com/davecornthwaite) and then I’m going to start writing a little book about this journey.
I do have a small adventure planned in the Caribbean this December on Sea Dragon, the 72ft yacht I completed Expedition1000’s 5th journey on. We still have a few places available for what will be a brilliant Exploring Mindset Voyage, a mixture of adventure and conversation all geared towards finding your purpose. Why don’t you come and join me? http://bit.ly/1ksG9Vi
For now, I hope you have an adventure planned, big or small, wherever you might be. Make life memorable, say yes more.
Dave, Helsinki. October 2nd 2014
Image by Leif Rosas