From early on our kids have been interested in photography and over the years their skills have steadily improved.
When Anna and Josh were little digital didn't really exist. They would each get a disposable waterproof camera when we went on a trip. We would carefully monitor usage so that they didn't blow through the entire roll of film at once. The lack of immediate feedback made it hard to teach them about things like composition, etc.
The advent of digital photography and the quality of cameras in iPods and iPhones opened up a whole new world when it came to teaching kids about photography.
Ages 8 and Under
With our younger kids we tend to stick to the cameras on their iPods or our iPhones. We know that more than likely the devices are going to get dropped, so we put them in Lifeproof cases and we haven't had one get ruined yet. At this age we really just want photography to be fun, so we don't do a lot of formal teaching. I've read a lot of articles online where the authors talk about the importance of teaching kids not to take "too many shots", however I have yet to find a way to stop kids in this age range from taking "too many shots". Since we no longer have to worry about film, we let them take as many photos as they want. Informally we will point out a good shot, talk about getting the horizon straight or not cutting someone's head out of the photo, etc., but for the most part we keep things fun and let them have at it.
Usually around the age of 7 or 8 our kids start to show an interest in shooting with DSLRs. By this age they have the attention span for more "formal teaching", although the vast majority of the teaching is really done informally around the campsite.
We put a lot of emphasis on proper care of the camera and the kids don't use the DSLRs unsupervised. We teach them to keep the camera strap around their necks and to keep both hands on the camera. We also emphasize little things, like latching the camera case shut as soon as the camera is taken out so that lenses don't get spilled out and dirt doesn't get kicked into it. I used to worry about the cameras getting damaged or broken, but so far we haven't had any mishaps.
Dan spends a lot of one-on-one time with the kids reviewing their shots and talking about composition and framing, holding the camera level, how to pick a point of interest, the rule of thirds, direction of light, etc. At this age the kids can understand the shutter speed, but grasping concepts like aperture, ISO, is a bit beyond them (especially at the lower ages), so Dan manages the settings or they shoot in auto mode.
By the time our kids reach this age they are typically ready for their own DSLR (the girls all have Nikon D3300s). The instruction becomes more formal apprenticing where Dan will teach them about aperture, shutter speed, ISO, etc. He explains what settings they should be choosing and shows them how to set them. When shooting on their own they aren't ready to go fully manual, but they can make use of the aperture priority and shutter priority modes.
This is relatively new territory for us, but so far we've found that at this age the kids can fully understand the basics of exposure, focal length, white balance, composition, etc. Since Anna tells me where I've gone wrong with my settings, critiques my composition, and takes much better photos than I do, I'd say that by this age you can have a full-fledged photographer on your hands.
Probably the best thing about teaching the kids photography is that it gives us a chance to see the world through their eyes. Really, how else would we have gotten shots like these?
This infographic from Katchup is a great quick reference that you can use to introduce the basics to your kids.
What are your tips for teaching kids outdoor photography?
Getting a fire going in wet weather can be tricky. We should know because we've been on a lot of rainy trips. This pocket bellow makes starting a fire a lot easier. It's also great for increasing the heat when you want to get water boiling quickly or burn off garbage.
The EOG V3 pocket bellow is made of stainless steel and packs small. They are a staple in our fire kits.
You can pick them up at Canadian Outdoor Equipment for $19.95.
One of our goals on our trips is to get our kids as involved as much as possible. This year Eva took it upon herself to become our breakfast cook. In today's post she explains how she makes breakfast when we're in the backcountry.
When we are camping we have oatmeal for breakfast and guess what! I make it!
I go under the tarp and make breakfast for everyone, even when it is raining.
It is really fun to see everyone's faces when I hand them breakfast. Usually they are sitting under the tarp as I make breakfast. Sometimes I even make breakfast for some of my cousins.
It is so much fun.
So how do I make breakfast?
The night before Mom and I put instant oatmeal packages in the breakfast cooler. We also put in packages of hot chocolate and coffee. Then we boil water and put it in the Stanley thermos.
The next morning when I get up I get the breakfast cooler that has the breakfast food in it. I also get the thermos. Then I take out the day’s breakfast and ask the kids what type of oats they want, but before I make the oats I make the hot chocolate. I pore one package of hot chocolate in each cup then I add hot water and I mix it up. Then I add a bit of cold water to cool it down.
Then I make the oats. We use instant oats and the flavours we have are peaches and cream, apples and cinnamon, maple and brown sugar, and regular. I pour whichever type of oats, let’s say Josh wants, into the bowl and then I add hot water and mix it up. Then I add cold water, so it’s not too hot, and mix that up and then give it to Josh. That is how I make breakfast.
On our last camping trip in Algonquin Park we rescued a turtle. The turtle was found while Dad, Uncle Dave, and I were canoeing close to shore filming Josh soloing his canoe. Josh spotted the turtle and noticed that there was something stuck on the turtle’s right forefoot. It was a clam!
Luckily Josh had his fishing net with him, so we scooped the turtle up and I grabbed it out of the net. The turtle wasn’t too happy to be picked up and held in the air, but Dad quickly pried the clam open with his Griptilian knife. Once the clam was off, the turtle (who we named Zoom) calmed down and we were able to take some pictures of him (we could tell he was a male by his long front claws).
We also removed a couple of leeches that were attached to his shell. Zoom was then released and swam off to hunt and be a happy turtle.
In hindsight we think that Zoom had actually asked for help. Normally turtles swim away from people, but Zoom actually swam towards Josh's canoe and circled around the canoe until we scooped him up in the net. Also, after the clam was pried off he didn’t freak out and struggle to be put down. Instead he was calm and allowed us to take pictures of him. Afterwards, he didn’t swim frantically away like a frightened turtle would, but stayed around the canoes for a little while before swimming off. Overall this was a very exciting adventure!
One question we get a lot about camping is, "What about the bugs?" I used to worry about how my kids would handle being out in the wilderness during bug season. Would the bugs drive them crazy? Would they end up hating the wilderness? Would they refuse to come out of the tent? Would we accidentally burn their skin off with Deet?
It turns out that camping with kids during bug season isn't as bad as I thought. For the most part the kids are on the move so much that they don't notice the bugs and the bugs tend not to follow us out onto the water. We do however, have a few tips for wilderness camping during bug season.
Tip # 1 - Suck it Up :)
If you are backcountry camping in Canada there will be bugs. Since kids learn by example, if the adults can suck it up and have a good time in spite of mosquitoes, black flies, no-see-ems, etc., the kids will too.
Tip #2 - Prevention
We keep the kids in river pants and long-sleeved shirts, socks and shoes or Bogs. They wear Buffs to protect their necks and hats to protect their heads. This means that there is very little exposed skin for the bugs to get at. The odd time when things have been really bad they have worn bug shirts, but typically they find them too hot and don't like how they obscure their vision.
Dave and Chloe tried the vitamin B patches one year. These are patches that slowly release vitamin B1 into the dermal layer of the skin. The vitamin B is then slowly released through the pores and is supposed to produce an "invisible, odourless shield" that only mosquitos and black flies can smell. Apparently the bugs don't like the smell and although they might land on one's skin, they will leave before biting. Dave and Chloe spent the week walking around smelling like the cotton from the top of a vitamin bottle. This attracted a lot of health conscious bugs, who apparently did not mind the smell of Vitamin B. Unfortunately for Dave and Chloe, the health conscious bugs were not vegans.
Tip #3 - Bring a Hanging Mosquito Net and/or Bug House
If you can justify the size/weight, you might want to consider purchasing a large bug shelter like MEC's Hootenanny, North Face's Homestead Shelter, or the REI Screen House Shelter. We have had our eye on Cook Custom Sewing's Silicone Tarp Tent for awhile, but so far haven't been able to justify the expense.
We always bring this mosquito net with us. It's lightweight, but big enough for two or three kids to sit under and . We have a couple of kids who really attract bugs and this net gives them a nice reprieve when they're eating, reading, or drawing. We also used it extensively when we had babies, both for nursing under and for draping over the canoe or hammock during nap time.
Tip #4 - Get Kids in the Tent Before Dusk
As much as possible we try to get our kids ready for bed and into the tent before the bugs come out. This protects the kids and helps keep the bugs out of the tent.
Tip #5 - Stop the Itch
Toothpaste is my secret weapon when it comes to dealing with itchy bites! A small dab of toothpaste rubbed on a bite will stop it from itching more effectively than products like Afterbite or calamine lotion.
Dave and Lisa use the Therapik with their kids and have had good success. It works by increasing localized blood flow to the bite and neutralizes the venom by heat.
Tip #6 - Take Comfort
In the end, when all else fails, we take comfort in the fact that we're building character in our kids :)
Ray Mears has said that, "one of the key skills if you're making a canoe journey is being able to replace a paddle if it gets lost or broken." But what happens when you're in the backcountry and the yoke on your canoe breaks? We found out this past summer. Thankfully Josh was up to the challenge!
From our families to yours - Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Here is a video of Anna playing her version of Joy to the World using her new electric violin and looping machine.
As you watch you will notice that Anna keeps adding on different violin tracks to the song.
We would have done this outside, but it's been raining since Anna opened her gift on Christmas.
By Uncle Dave
Over the last few years, our families have become very interested in fire cooking using wood burning stoves. In this post we want to share with you the wood burning stove that we recommend for backcountry families.
The wood burning stove category has exploded over the last decade and there are all kinds of wood-burning stoves on the market. Most of them are geared to the solo hiker or hiking pair sharing a cook kit. The vast majority of these are too small to do any meaningful cooking for a group.
One stove that stands out from the crowd is the Littlbug Senior. The senior version of the Littlbug is large enough to hold a 4-6 L pot or even a 12” Dutch oven making it possible to cook meals for the whole family.
The Littlbug consists of 4 curved panels made from stainless steel, which stack together, and nest nicely around your pot set. Littlebug Enterprises sell a separate envelope style nylon pouch that is handy to keep soot off the rest of your cook kit and we recommend purchasing it with the stove.
The Littlebug can be used as is in an existing fire pit or with the optional fire pan to practice leave-no-trace and avoid leaving a fire scar. We have the old fire pan, which was basically a steel pie plate type unit. The old fire pan was heavy and prone to rusting, and we really can't recommend it. However, Littlebug Enterprises now have available a new fire bowl which appears to be modular and made of stainless steel. Once we've had a chance to test out the new fire bowl we will report on how well it works.
Besides the optional storage pouch and fire pan, there is available a chain for hanging the stove off the ground while cooking - an option which we don't consider viable with small children ambling around camp. There is also available a pot sling designed to lower your pot deeper into the stove for use with an alcohol burner - an option which we haven't tested.
Assembling the stove is easy and intuitive. For wood-burning mode, simply attach the pot supports to the upper closed slots in the stove sides, and then connect the sides together making sure all three edge tabs go inside the stove and all three assembly rivets enter their respective holes.
When lighting the stove there are several options. Since the stove has no bottom one can simply light the tinder bundle, place the stove on top and then continue feeding it from the top. In case of a strong wind one can place the tinder bundle in the stove, light the stove while it is on its side, and then tip it upright once the fire has started (my preferred option). With a long match one can also light the loaded stove through one of the air holes along the bottom. In all these scenarios there is no need to stick your hand down from the top while lighting the stove - a definite plus.
The Littlbug will accept all manner of fuel collected from around camp from small twigs to pinecones etc. Our boys love splitting wood to make fuel for the stove and since the fire is nice and controlled we don't mind letting the kids get close to put sticks in to keep the fire burning.
Our main use for the stove is to boil water, purifying it for drinking, washing dishes, rehydrating meals, and, of course, for the required hot beverage on cold mornings. The stove is fast and effective at boiling water thereby saving a lot of fuel for our white gas and canister stoves as well as saving wear on our water filters.
With practice one can learn to control the heat output quite effectively and when I don't mind the extra work of operating the stove (vs. canister/white gas), I enjoy using it to cook my morning eggs. The stove is definitely capable of serving as your primary stove if your fire skills are up to the task. In practice, we use the Littlbug as a supplemental and backup stove to our white gas or canister stoves, and it fits that role nicely.
If there are any downsides to the stove they are the typical ones associated with this whole category. One must possess sufficient fire starting skills to light and sustain a small fire - no small feat when it has been raining for days and all available fuel is wet. The stove needs a steady source of fuel to keep it going but is considerably more fuel efficient than an open fire. Also, fire cooking is inherently messy as your pots will get blackened with soot and there will be a little soot on the pot support panels of the stove. In the event of a fire ban the stove would likely be classified as an open fire, relegating it to serving as a pot support for an alcohol burner. More specific to the Littlbug: since the top of the stove is open it is not possible to cook your day's catch directly on the stove without some sort of additional grill.
That said, the Littlbug is a joy to use. Besides its practical cooking capability, the Littlbug easily provides that uplifting campfire ambiance when there is no time to collect large quantities of wood for a larger fire, and it provides a surprising amount of heat on a cold and dreary day. We love the way the little bug engages the kids in meal preparation and how it provides a controlled environment to teach the principles of fire starting and fire cooking. At 585g (including storage sac) it can easily save you that much and more in white gas/canister stove fuel on a longer trip, and it provides a maintenance-free backup in case of gas stove failure. Over the years this stove has earned a permanent place in our tripping kit.
I recently received the email below from good friends of ours. Philip Edward Island is one of our favourite paddling destinations (see the pictures in this gallery) and the news below comes as a bit of a shock. If you would like to help please check out the links below:
Like this Facebook page to spread the word about the Wiikwemkoong Land Claim.
Update: According to the information on the Georgian Bay Association website the deadline for public consultation is October 16, 2015.
Note: The three letters to the MAA that are linked on that page are very informative and the sample letter provides a great start to getting involved.
We need your help!
Bill and I have had a very busy summer in Georgian Bay due to a large First Nations Land Claim that was presented to us the beginning of August. We are both on the board of our local cottage association where this land claim affects every single private land owner. We own property in a very remote, water access area of Georgian Bay with the closest town being Killarney and are surrounded by crown land.
The Wiikwemkoong on Manitoulin Island have made a claim of 41 fishing islands that the government has agreed they have a right to. We do not oppose the island boundary claim. We sympathise with the past wrongs our government has imposed on the First Nations people.
However, one of the islands within this claim is Fitzwilliam (off the south east shoreline) a very large island (15,000 acres) and privately owned. The American owner does not want to sell. The government does not expropriate land for land claims. The Wiky do not want the fair market value dollars offered but rather want land and will not compromise, according to the negotiator for the province.
The government is proposing to exchange Fitzwilliam for the most beautiful, unique island and all its’ hundreds of surrounding islands .... Philip Edward Island ... across the bay from Manitoulin and outside the island boundary claim agreed on by the Wiky and the governments. This is crown land owned by the province. It will cost the provincial government zero cents to transfer it to the Wiky. The islands in question are freely used as crown land by thousands of kayakers, canoeists, yachts, campers, cottagers and the local residents and businesses of Killarney every year.
It is a pristine wilderness, easily accessible like no other in all of Canada. The government had plans of making this whole area a coastal parkland. Now it will all become a First Nation Reservation.
The public in-put consultation period is about to end (Oct. 2.) We have been given a mere 50 days to comment. You as tax payers and owners of the crown land have not even been informed that this transfer is being considered.
Please email email@example.com (corrected) with an objection. He is the Senior Negotiator with the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and is negotiating on your behalf. I am providing you with several statements to chose from if you wish to simply copy and paste to his email.
“I am adamantly opposed to the exchange of Fitzwilliam Island with Philip Edward Island and its’ archipelago in the Wiikwemkoong Islands Land Claim.”
“The islands between the French River and McGregor Bay are deemed the most unique and beautiful in Canada with a rich history from before the first explorers described them and into this century.
They should continue to be preserved for all who have freely used them in the past and present for future generations.
I am adamantly opposed to the provinces proposed alternative islands selection in the Wiikwemkoong Islands Land Claim!”
If you would like to ask him a question he will be more than happy to answer it. If you would like to send him a letter please do.
Freda and Bill
By Auntie Shelley
Our kids love to wear Keen sandals, and Anna and I love our Vibram 5-Finger Shoes. As a result, I know a thing or two about stinky sandals, and I know a lot about long van rides with kids with stinky sandals. Not good. So this summer a few days before our first canoe trip I decided to be proactive and I ran all of our sandals through the wash and dried them in the sun.
The day before our trip I sprayed them with this spray which is supposed to "break down and eliminate organic residues that cause odours." I was proud of my foresight and that for once I was ahead of the game, but you know what they say about pride, it comes before the fall.
Later that day we put several pairs of those "clean" sandals into a dry bag and then sealed it up. The bag was placed in our canoe trailer that night. It spent the next day in the hot sun and by the time we got to the launch point it really should have had a warning label on it. Like the ones on the bleach bottles that warn you not to mix bleach with ammonia because of the toxic vapour the mixture will give off. The spray did NOT work and our sandals smelled like a nasty mix of the spray and some kind of stinky foot bacteria on steroids. And the worst part, the stinky spray smell only got worse throughout the course of the trip.
When we got home I conducted exhaustive and in depth research (i.e. I did a search on Google) and then tested out some of the recommended solutions. Here are three of the solutions that worked for us.
Solution # 1 - Nikwax or Granger's
I picked up a bottle of Nikwax's Sandal Wash ($8.50). I also got a bottle of Granger's Footwear Cleaner ($5.25) and their Odour Eliminator Spray ($5.50). The Nikwax Sandal Wash bottle claims that it deodorizes. Granger's Footwear Cleaner does not make this claim, which was why I picked up their Odour Eliminator Spray. All of these products got decent online reviews, so I figured they were worth trying. I took four pairs of sandals (at varying degrees of smelliness) and washed each of the left foot sandals with Nikwax and each of the right foot sandals with Granger's (I figured I might as well run a controlled experiment). I followed the directions on the bottles for how to use the products and let the sandals air dry. After washing and drying the sandals I found that the ones washed in Nikwax smelled better than the ones washed in Granger's. The ones washed in Granger's still smelled a little bit, but after spraying them with the Odour Eliminator Spray I found the overall results were comparable to Nikwax. I used about the same amount of each product. 4 individual sandals used up half a bottle of product (unfortunately by the fourth sandals the spongey applicators on the bottles were ripping off). I still have more than half a bottle of the Odour Eliminator Spray (which can be used on bike helmets and other stinky gear). Since the price of Nikwax's Sandal Wash is comparable to Granger's Footwear Cleaner and Odour Eliminator Spray together I would say that these products are about even in terms of performance and value. The benefit of having the separate Odour Eliminator Spray is that, unlike the first spray I mentioned, I have been able to use it a couple of times to freshen up sandals when I don't have time to do a full on washing.
So, how long did these sandals stay stink free? About 2 weeks, regardless of which product was used on them. By the end of our second canoe trip all of the sandals washed with these products were getting pretty stinky again.
Apparently sandals and Vibram 5-Finger Toe Shoes should be washed about every two weeks, so I don't think these products really bought me any extra time in terms of keeping the stink factor at bay, but they did work.
**On a side note, I really owe my gym partner an apology because I can't remember the last time I washed my Vibrams, and I work out in them at least three times a week. Sorry, Shannon.
Solution #2 - Mouthwash
While I was conducting my "extensive" research into this topic I came across a very old thread on a forum where someone said that Teva recommended that they mix 1 part Listerine Mouthwash with 2 parts water, soak the sandals in the solution for 15 minutes and then rinse them well. This solution made sense to me since the stink in sandals is caused by bacteria and Listerine is antibacterial. So I took our stinkiest sandals and soaked them in watered down mouthwash for 15 minutes. I rinsed the sandals and the stinky feet smell was gone. Now a word of warning about this, rinse the sandals REALLY well. If you don't the next morning when you go to church you will be able to smell your son's nice minty sandals even though he's two pews over. Sorry, Josh! The mint smell did dissipate within a day or so, but it was pretty strong at first.
So, how long did these sandals stay stink free? Well, it's been over three weeks and they are still pretty much stink free. And the cost of this solution? The bottle of mouth wash cost me $3.49 and I still have half left.
Solution #3 - Vinegar and Baking Soda
There are a few variations for this cost effective solution. Wash your sandals well. While they are still damp sprinkle baking soda all over them. Let this sit for a few minutes and then spray with a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water. Let that sit for 15-20 minutes, rinse well, and then air dry (preferably in the sun). I found that sandals washed this way stayed stink free for 2-3 weeks.
Another alternative is to wash the sandals well and then once they are dry liberally sprinkle baking soda all of them. Let the baking soda sit overnight and then dust them off in the morning. The drawback to this solution is that if you don't get all the baking soda out, and this can be hard to do, you get baking soda all over your feet. If this happens with a pair of Vibram 5-Finger shoes that you happen to workout in you will end up with a slimy baking-soda-sweat-paste all over your feet which really doesn't feel very good.
I read on another forum that if the sandals are really bad you can soak them in the vinegar water solution overnight, douse them with baking soda, let that sit for awhile, rinse and finally dry them in the sun.
These are just a few of the solutions that we've tried. If you have any suggestions please share them below in the comments section. We'd love to hear them.
The Nova Craft Prospector strikes a perfect balance between ease of maneuverability (due to its 2.5 inch rocker) and straight tracking on flat water (partly due to a full length keel). The kids liked the maneuverability when soloing the boat and when they were exploring islands or fishing. They also appreciated the relatively straight tracking of the boat when we were on the flat water (on a recent trip we paddled for roughly 11 km on just the first lake.)
The boat is exceptionally stable, which is important when it is primarily being used by kids. On numerous occasions (when the kids took it to go swimming, exploring, or fishing) the boat was filled to the gills with kids and the movement of the kids in the boat did not pose a noticeable problem; the boat handled considerable side-to-side wobble without ever coming close to tipping.
The symmetrical shape of the boat allows the boat to be paddled backwards as easily as forwards, which is useful when one wants to solo the canoe from the front seat facing the stern. The absence of a thwart behind the front seat also makes this possible.
The 16' Nova Craft Prospector boasts a centre depth of 15 inches and a centre width of 36 inches. The upper end of its load capacity is 1000 pounds. We were able to comfortably fit two 60L barrels (with harnesses) side-by-side between the front seat and the yoke, and two small 30L barrels and some day bags between the back thwart and the yoke (see photo below). There is also room under the seats for smaller items such as camera gear and water bottles. The boat could easily handle all of the gear for two people going on a one- or two-week backcountry trip.
One of the features that I rather like about the Nova Craft Prospector is the relatively meaty aluminum gunwale design (you can get ash gunwales at an additional cost). The solid gunwales make it easy to pick the boat up from the side and ensure that the seats, thwart and yoke are firmly attached. We opted for the aluminum gunwales over the ash upgrade because the aluminum gunwales require less maintenance and have greater longevity when the canoe is stored outdoors.
As you can see in the image below, the paddler of the Nova Craft Prospector sits relatively high above the waterline and so it is advisable to use a paddle with a slightly longer shaft. The bow height of the Prospector is 23 inches, which is aesthetically appealing and useful when faced with large waves, but can be somewhat of a challenge in strong wind conditions.
In terms of build quality, I am happy to report that the Nova Craft Prospector has a solid and reliable build. The boat is available in several layups (fiberglass or the new TuffStuff material amongst others). While I would have preferred to go with the amazing TuffStuff, I decided to ultimately go with the much cheaper fiberglass version. I gather that nowadays fiberglass boats are considered to be mostly cottage boats, primarily because of their weight, which makes them somewhat difficult to portage (the 16' fiberglass Prospector is about 68 pounds in comparison to the TuffStuff version which is about 54 pounds). However, I don't mind carrying the extra weight on my shoulders when portaging, and the fiberglass version is much lighter on the wallet (which is important when your family has 7 people and the cost of camping gear is quite high). On our last trip, I portaged the Prospector for a total of roughly 1.3 km and it wasn't really a problem. Keep in mind that "back in the old days" most of the canoes were fiberglass and portaging a 65 pound canoe was a routine event. While I would recommend that you go with the TuffStuff layup (or even another lighter layup such as the aramid lite or the blue steel layups) if you have the cash, if money is an issue, just hit the gym during the year to make sure that you are made out of tuff stuff before canoe season begins so you can carry the fiberglass version :). The fiberglass version we purchased held up very well even though it made frequent (and sometimes somewhat careless) contact with rocky shores of the lakes in the Temagami region.
If there was one thing I would ask the good folks at Nova Craft to change about the boat it would be the yoke. The yoke included in this entry level boat is not really much of a yoke (it's more like a thwart), likely because, as I noted before, fiberglass boats are no longer meant for serious portaging. However, a deep dish yoke would be really helpful for those of us backcountry trippers strapped for cash, especially given the weight of the boat. In order to portage the boat, I had to resort to the old tried and true trick of lashing paddles between the yoke and the back thwart and carrying the boat on the cantilevered paddle blades (which was much more comfortable -- in fact, I actually like that better than the deep dish or contoured yokes on my other canoes). While MEC sells a deep dish yoke (for about $100) you can install yourself, I found that the ends of that deep dish yoke were much narrower than the ends of the yoke included with the boat, and I worried that there would just not be enough "meat" on the outsides of the screws to securely hold the yoke in place when the boat is on my shoulders. Also, what's the point of going with a cheaper boat if you have to spend hundreds in post-purchase upgrades? While I'm making suggestions, I should also mention that the kids complained a little about the comfort of the seats and the handles on the bow and stern; seats made from wide webbing would be preferred and more rounded handles would be much appreciated. Again, seats made from wide webbing can be purchased at MEC, but at an extra cost.
All things considered, however, I give the fiberglass/aluminum-trim Nova Craft 16' Prospector two thumbs up! It's a wonderful all-around backcountry canoe for the kids.
On our most recent backcountry canoe trip to Temagami our young photographers captured some wonderful images. Below are a few of our top "pics".