This time of the year many more people start longing for the great outdoors. Camping is big all over the United States and particularly in the Pacific Northwest. Tents and a campfire take people back to a simpler time. I have had only one real camping experience and it goes way back to my high school days in the early 1960s. The private high school I was attending did not have the biology class I wanted so I took a summer school biology class at a local public high school, Benjamin Franklin High School, in Rochester, New York the city where I grew up.
It just so happened that the head of the biology department in that school offered the top 3 male science students in the summer session the opportunity to go on a special trip. I’m sure it would not be considered appropriate in this day and age.
As it happened, I was in the top 3 and we were offered the chance to go on a week-long canoe trip in the wilds of Ontario, Canada. It was hard work because the teacher, who used to be a park ranger there years before, had us practice canoeing on a river and a pond for a minimum of 20 hours so we would be prepared. The four of us spent a week in and out of a Grumman aluminum canoe (similar to the one in the picture above). Why do I bring up this trip? The answer to that question will become obvious shortly.
We traveled from lake to lake in and north of Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada and portaged between the lakes. That means we carried our packs and the canoe overland up to 4 miles to get to the next lake.
One area we were supposed to canoe through was called Beaver Flats or something like that. It got its name because it was flooded due to the beavers building a dam which held in the water. However, the summer we were there the beavers built another dam upstream. That lowered the water level so much that we had to walk the canoe, that held only our packs, through the water that was only about a foot or two deep over a three foot deep layer of mud. Two people walked along a path around the marsh and the other student and I trudged through the mud with the shallow water just deep enough to float the canoe.
It reminds me of a scene from one of my favorite movies “The African Queen” starring Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn. The boat gets stuck in the shallow water of the winding river they are traversing. He ends up walking in the mud and water pulling the boat with a rope. That is what it felt like to me. This is important because it took us longer than expected to get to the next lake which in turn made us late to our next campsite. We had to approach land in the dark which required flashlights. One of the guys opened our packs to get them out while the teacher and I paddled. Apparently he didn’t close up mine properly. While exiting the canoe at the shoreline my pack was accidentally dripped into the water getting my sleeping bag, which was inside, wet. That night I slept in a cold damp sleeping and when I woke up to the chilly morning air I felt like I was going to freeze to death. I’m sure many of you can relate to my waking up feeling cold and not warming up until the campfire was roaring enough to heat me up.
For you avid campers and new campers you’ll shiver no more. There is a new product that solves that problem once and for all. I won’t make you wait any longer to explain. I recently received a press release concerning a company called Ravean. They have produced a heated sleeping bag liner that you can actually wear to sleep and after you get up. The story of how all of this came about is quite a tale. I’ll give you the short version of my telephone discussion with one of the company’s founders Bryce Fisher as to how the company came about.
It’s the kind of story that Frank Capra movies are made of. Bryce and three of his friends Jon Bybee, Henry Deutsch and Ezra Kwong started a company that made a dispenser for essential oils.
They went to China to secure the manufacturing and ended up selling the company for a tidy profit. Wanting to continue in business together they decided on making the first-ever heated down jacket.
They put together a kickstarter video to get the funding with the result being a phenomenal $1,300,293 to get their business off the ground. They went from production to shipping in a record setting three months and the heated down jacket was a big hit. They also make a heated hoodie. You can check them out on their home page at ravean.com.
Coming up with another product seemed rather easy for them. John Bybee was camping in some pretty cold weather so he wore his Ravean heated jacket. His core was toasty when he was out and about, but both in and out of his sleeping bag his feet and legs were cold. The light bulb went off and the idea of a heated sleeping bag liner was born.
Again they turned to Kickstarted for funding. Here is their Kickstarter pitch.
The first one they developed was a “mummy bag” meaning just a simple specialized sleeping bag liner with battery operated heating elements in it. That’s great and works very well. But what happens when you get up in the morning and have to get out of the sleeping bag? Simple, you suddenly feel cold, at least until you can sit close to the blazing campfire.
That’s when the idea was developed for the heated sleeping bag liner that you could continue wearing when you got up. The bottom where your feet are opens up and can be raised up your leg and tightened to keep your legs as warm as your torso. It also has an adjustable hood.
The 12-volt battery is curved to fit the body and even allows you to charge your cell phone multiple times while you’re camping. I guess they have proven that “roughing it” doesn’t have to mean a lot of shivering too. When will you be able to by this wearable heated sleeping bag liner? Bryce told me they hope to take delivery of the first shipment of them this September or October. At a planned retail price of $199 for either the heated mummy bag liner or the wearable heated sleeping bag liner I doubt they will have any trouble finding eager customers.
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