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Thread: Canoe Camping - by Tim Gent: a review

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    Default Canoe Camping - by Tim Gent: a review

    Back in March, John Kelly cottoned on to the fact that retirement gave me lots of empty time to fill, so asked me if I would read and review a book for him. Naturally, after a nanosecond or two of careful consideration, I agreed. The book arrived, I read it, wrote a review and contacted John to arrange sending it to him. He replied that I should just post the review on here. It is quite a long review, for which I apologise, but here goes:


    Canoe Camping, by Tim Gent

    Published by Pesda Press - www.pesdapress.com
    ISBN 9781906095482


    It doesn’t take a great intellect to deduce from its title that this book is about two leisure-time activities: canoeing and camping. However, it could be argued that the world of canoe-camping is divided into two camps – no pun intended: those who camp in order to enhance their canoeing experience, and those who canoe in order to enhance their camping experience.

    I may be wrong, but my inference from reading this book is that the author, Tim Gent, fits more naturally into the latter than into the former of my two spurious sub-divisions. One of the great premises of the book is that there is no excuse whatsoever for suffering unnecessary discomfort while camping - if you’ve reached your campsite by canoe! He points out that the original purpose of the canoe was to transport people and large quantities of stuff from where they were to where they wanted to be! If it was good enough for the aboriginal populations of North America, then it should be good enough for us!

    Tim is certainly a great enthusiast for outdoor life – both at work and at play – and the expertise that his wide experience has brought him has led to him writing articles for publications about fishing, hillwalking, canoeing and camping. He is a regular contributor to Canoe and Kayak UK and Bushcraft and Survival Skills. I think it is fairly safe to say that he knows his stuff! Another of his skills is his ability to write about what he knows in a clear and concise way, which makes this book easy to read.

    Tim also writes of his personal philosophy and approach to life, which make canoeing and camping – and canoe-camping – a means of attaining great inner peace and fulfilment. Perhaps the last chapter – ‘Final thoughts’ – should be right at the start of the book and entitled ‘First Thoughts’, as it is in this section that he lays bare his soul and the purifying effect that the outdoor life has on it. Encouragement, indeed, to everyone to get out there and enjoy the beauty of the natural world!

    So, what is the book about? What the book isn’t is a sort of ‘canoe-camping by numbers’ instruction manual. You will not find amongst its pages a detailed list of, for example, which particular make and model of folding saw to take along with you; there is no recommendation as to which make and model of tent you should buy; nor which length, shape, make or model of canoe; nor which camp-stove; nor which river, lake, loch or fjord you should paddle; nor which… Actually, I think you have probably got the idea by now!

    Instead, Tim generalises, carefully and clearly explaining the principles that underpin the decisions that the reader/would-be canoe-camper should make when considering what to buy, where to go, what to do and how to do it. He explains the pros and cons of various makes, models, materials and methods. He cites his own experiences – both good and bad – to illuminate the evolution of his equipment over the years. Yes, he mentions brand-names from time to time, but also invariably mentions alternatives, such that the reader is fully aware that they are not being advertised at! There is no blatant product placement in the book. There is very useful “List of Things to Take” in the appendix, although it is prefaced with a note that the list comprises merely those items that he usually takes with him and which he finds useful. (Essential items, such as a canoe, are marked with an asterisk!)

    Another thing that this book isn’t is a bushcraft bible! Although Tim talks about various methods of making fire, he takes a very practical and pragmatic view to living comfortably ‘under canvas’ , and consequently advocates the use of matches! This may be heresy to the more ardent bushcrafters amongst us, but it encourages those who may lack confidence because of a lack of such esoteric skills as using a bow-drill to get out there with a box of Swan Vestas and have a go!

    In this book Tim takes the reader through all the stages of a successful canoe-camping experience, from the first glimmer of the idea of such an undertaking – perhaps with a group of mates sitting with a pint in hand in a pub – to being back at home, happy and contented, and ready to write a blog to inspire others to follow in his footsteps. The sections lead us through what to take, the canoe of choice, packing and loading the canoe, the paddle journey, where to go, selection of campsites, open fires, cooking, foraging, a camper’s code of behaviour, other possible activities on site: the book is very comprehensive.

    Tim, with the zeal of the enthusiast, would like everyone to share with him the joy of a successful and safe canoe-camping experience, but with an emphasis on the ‘successful and safe’. To that end, there is a very good section towards the end of the book, which discusses how to avoid unexpected and unwanted unfortunate incidents, and how to deal with them and their ramifications should they occur. Although there is some particularly useful detailed advice on such issues as hypothermia, he argues that we should all be aware of our limitations and of the potential hazards and make informed choices through ongoing, dynamic, internal risk-assessments.

    Each section of the book stands alone; there is no need to read the whole book from cover to cover, and Tim often advises the reader to skip sections if they are already confident about the content. Having said that, he does back up what he writes with personal experience, and we can all learn something, I would hope, from other people.

    I did read the book from cover to cover, in two sittings, and I enjoyed it. As a self-confessed ‘grammar-faschist’, I found the book to be very well written, with only a couple of typographical errors and one superfluous ‘already’. Tim’s writing style is concise and flows as easily as the rivers on which he paddles. There are also many ripples of laughter provided by his humour. Particularly appealing are the many glorious photographs which illustrate the book, most of which make you wish you were out there in your canoe with your camping kit on board.

    Over the last 15 years, I suppose I have accumulated around 30 weeks of canoe-camping: I am neither an old-hand at it, nor am I a novice. However, I found myself thinking, “Oh, yes! Of course!” on several occasions, as I read one of Tim’s suggestions or recommendations. Someone just setting out on a canoe-camping career would no doubt have many more similar thoughts while reading the book. If such a person were to ask me, “Is this book worth buying and reading?”, then my answer would be, “Oh, yes! Of course!”
    Juvanile delinkwit, vaguely faffing around with a pair of pliers. Du skal ikke tro at du er bedre end mig!

  2. #2
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    Nice review. I'm reading it at the moment and definitely a novice canoe-camper! I'm finding it really helpful, although it does seem more geared towards flat water touring than white water. I've not finished it yet, so maybe there is more on that later in the book! I would recommend it to anyone starting out.

    Robin
    The early bird may catch the worm... but the second mouse gets the cheese!

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    Excellent review Trev.


    I got this for Christmas, and totally agree with the above. Its both informative and inspirational.
    Paddler,blogger,camper,pyromaniac: Blog: Wilderness is a State of Mind

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    Great review thanks, my copy expected tomorrow.

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    Thanks for the review - I'll have a look at the book now when I otherwise wouldn't have.

    I hope no spelling fascists come along and take exception to you describing yourself as a 'grammar faschist'. (I'll go back to Pedant's Corner now. Or should that be Pedants' Corner?)

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    Nice review Trevor.

    I got this book for Christmas too and read it cover to cover without skipping anything.
    I agree with everything you have said especially the bit about him being a person who goes camping and the canoe is a means for him to make it more comfortable when he does rather than a person who canoes and camps because they can't paddle any further. That does come across in the first couple of chapters.

    It's a very good reference source for canoe camping especially for beginners and one that I will probably dip back into from time to time but I did feel at the end that I hadn't picked up as many new tips as I was expecting.
    Perhaps I was expecting something more akin to Ray Goodwin's Canoeing book but geared towards tripping/camping. More likely that there are more gaps in my knowledge about canoeing than there are about camping.

    Still, as has been said a good book and worth a place on anyone's book shelf.
    Bootstrap
    There's no such thing as inclement weather - you're just incorrectly dressed

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    Quote Originally Posted by GMS View Post
    I hope no spelling fascists come along and take exception to you describing yourself as a 'grammar faschist'. (I'll go back to Pedant's Corner now. Or should that be Pedants' Corner?)
    Oops! Linguistic interference or typo? Habe ich ein Wort auf Deutsch geschrieben, oder hab' ich bloß falsch geschrieben?
    Juvanile delinkwit, vaguely faffing around with a pair of pliers. Du skal ikke tro at du er bedre end mig!

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    Great review and sounds well worth ordering - thanks for taking the time to do the deed!

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    Oh thanks Rockhopper.......another book to buy
    Cheers
    Tim


    Paddles a Prospector

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    Default Review of review

    Quote Originally Posted by GMS View Post
    Thanks for the review - I'll have a look at the book now when I otherwise wouldn't have.

    I hope no spelling fascists come along and take exception to you describing yourself as a 'grammar faschist'. (I'll go back to Pedant's Corner now. Or should that be Pedants' Corner?)
    Ha, you beat me to it.

    I was wondering if it was some sort of back country Worcs dialect, related to oor ain "dinna fash yersel'".

    But no, it seems he is claiming now, rather dubiously, that it is German.

    Otherwise the review appears to be mostly in English. Well done.

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    Good review Trevor. Thanks again
    John

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    You have it spot on.

    My friend bought it for me as a birthday present and I also read it back to back in a couple of sittings (during a weekend visit to my mother-in-law's!). I now find myself picking it up an reading a page or two just as a short escape from the drudgery of modern life.

    Even experienced (canoe) campers can pick up a useful hint or two.

    It is an inspiring book filled with much good sense and a "get out there and do it" attitude which is very refreshing.

    Kind regards


    Lime

    p.s. "up with bad grammar I will not put"!

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    My copy was waiting for me on returning from today's meetings - rapid service from Amazon!

    A quick scan through and I feel I'm lacking a collapsible prawn pot in my camping kit - wonder if Alpkit will do one soon?

    Looking forward to reading it properly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tim View Post
    Oh thanks Rockhopper.......another book to buy
    Walked into Pro Adventure at Llangollen (a great shop to pop into, lots of sharp pointy things and Tentipi's) there was this book siting on the shelf waiting for me to buy....so I did.

    Will read when I have time.
    ��
    Cheers
    Tim


    Paddles a Prospector

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    My copy arrived on Saturday - will provide plenty of bedtime reading for the next few weeks!

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    Am sure the book is good, but check out his facebook! Some great images.

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    It is a good read and it will sit with pride in my library next to all my other Canoeing books, however you'll need a magnifying glass to view the pictures when he refers to them about particular details as they are too small IMHO.
    Great to read about someone else's point of view on Canoe Camping.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Richie504 View Post
    .
    Great to read about someone else's point of view on Canoe Camping.
    I second that
    Cheers
    Tim


    Paddles a Prospector

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