The Scrubba - Revolutionizing Laundry in the Backcountry

By Auntie Shelley

One of the challenges when camping with families as large as ours is minimizing gear.  Kids, especially younger kids, tend to go through a lot of clothes on a trip.  In the past we have tried doing laundry in the backcountry in an effort to save on how much clothing we brought.  It never worked out well.  It was always labour intensive and the clothes never really came out clean.  We had resigned ourselves to the fact that we would just have to bring extra clothes for the kids.  That was until we discovered The Scrubba! 

Uncle Dave is the one who discovered the Scrubba earlier this year.  Dave is always up on new and exciting gear.  This summer on our 12-day trip we had the opportunity, actually several opportunities, to put the Scrubba to the test.  I think I can safely say that it has earned a place on our essential gear list.

So, what is the Scrubba?  According to their website, it is “the world’s first pocket-sized washing machine” and it weighs less than 5oz.  Imagine a dry bag with a see-through window and an internal washboard made of little nubbies – that’s The Scrubba.  It’s a modern, backcountry version of my grandmother’s old-fashioned washboard.

It’s quite simple to use.  You fill the bag with clothes, water, and a bit of soap, then close it up the same way you would a dry bag – roll the top down 4 or 5 times and clip the ends.  Next you open the air valve and push on the bag to remove the air from it.  Close up the valve then press down and rub the clothes against the internal washboard.  Depending on how dirty the clothes were we found it took anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes to get everything clean.  This is where the little window comes in handy.  It allows you to see whether or not the clothes are clean enough.

Once everything was clean we drained the water.  On their website, Scrubba says that you can rinse your clothes with fresh water in the Scrubba, or under a running tap or shower.  We tried rinsing the clothes in the Scrubba, and it worked well, however it was a bit time consuming given the volume of laundry we were dealing with (we had 9 kids on the trip).  Lisa came up with a system where she would wash the clothes in the Scrubba and then rinse them in her Sea to Summit portable kitchen sink.

One thing I would recommend is to start with a small amount of soap (i.e. just a few drops).  On his first load Uncle Dave added a bit too much soap and there were a lot of bubbles.  It took several rinses to get it all out.  Start with a couple of drops and then add more if you need it.

I will admit that I was a bit skeptical about how well the Scrubba would actually work, however after testing it out we were all really impressed.  I’m quite excited because I think it will really allow us to cut back on the amount of clothing we need to bring on longer trips.  I can definitely see how it would be a great item to bring when backpacking or trekking and have no hesitation recommending it as a great piece of gear.

For demonstration videos you can check out the Scrubba YouTube channel.  I think this one is my favourite.




Review: Stanley Thermos

By Auntie Shelley

On cold fall trips I have found that the sooner I get a warm cup of hot chocolate into my kids' hands, the happier they are.  On cold mornings it can take awhile for water to boil, so this year I decided to try bringing a thermos with us.  My hope was that if I filled it up with boiling water the night before it would still be warm enough to make hot chocolate in the morning.  I didn't have much time to research it so I went to Adventure Guide, our trusted source for great gear, and picked up the Stanley Classic Vacuum Bottle.  I purchased this one because the label said it would keep liquids hot for 24 hours and because it was the biggest one they had.

As you will see in my video review, it actually worked!  On our recent trip the temperature dropped to about 1 degree Celsius at night.  We filled the thermos up with boiling water in the evening and we were happy to find that the water was still steaming in the morning!  Check out the video review below.  BTW: I had some professional help from Grace (Age 2) :).

Why Now I Like BOGS Even More!

By Auntie Shelley

I’ve mentioned in the past that BOGS are a standard piece of gear for both kids and adults when we are canoeing. 

Each of my kids has a pair and over the years they have put them to the test.  The first pair I bought ended up being worn by our 2 boys for at least 2 years each.  That’s 4 years of heavy use.  Those BOGS have been on canoe trips and walks in the woods; they've been worn around town and dragged on the ground to stop scooters; they've been involved in outside winter play and coated in mud more times than I can count.  I’m sure you get the picture.  These things just hold up!  We experimented with cheaper knock offs once or twice, but they never held up and in the end they are more expensive because they had to be replaced within one season. 

So this year I was surprised when on one of our trips Josh mentioned that one of his boots was leaking.  I was also a little disappointed.  He had only had the boots about 8 months.  They hadn’t been worn that much and given my past experience with BOGS, I had expected them to hold up much longer.  I also didn’t feel that the particular problem was due to carelessness or overuse on Josh’s part, so I decided to write to BOGS to see if there was anything they could do. 

I was blown away by their response.  They replied to my email within hours, requesting that I send a  couple of photos of the defective part and the label inside the boot.  Within hours of me sending the photos they responded, stating that they would replace the boots at no cost.  Not only that, they gave me a selection of boots to choose from and will be shipping them directly to my home.  That’s what I call amazing customer service!

I liked BOGS before, but now I like them even more.

Eva wearing her BOGS.

Uncle Dave emptying his BOGS boot after falling into the drink.

Uncle Dave emptying his BOGS boot after falling into the drink.

Note: We are not affiliated with BOGS. 

Swedish FireKnife Review (by Cousin Josh: Age 10)

Josh reviews Light My Fire's Swedish FireKnife

The Swedish FireKnife is made by Mora and Light My Fire. This fixed blade knife has a comfy black rubber handle with Swedish fire steel in the pommel. The rubber handle prevents the knife from slipping out of your hand when you are working with it. The knife’s stainless steel blade is sharpened to a 30-degree angle. The knife comes with a plastic sheath that has a drainage hole in the bottom. The sheath has a sturdy belt clip that stays in place.  The knife comes is a variety of colours. The bright colours are good for younger kids who tend to forget where they set down their knives.

The Swedish FireKnife is useful in the camp kitchen.  It can cut meat and produce and is easy to clean. The sharp blade is also good for scraping bark to make fire tinder.  The steel can then be used to create sparks to light the tinder. To create the sparks you scrape the back of the knife blade along the fire steel. The fire steel also allows you to light gas stoves. This economically priced knife ($29-35 range) is good for any bushman and is available at MEC, Lee Valley Tools, REI, and Adventure Guide, or directly from Light My Fire.