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Canol Trail ATV Adventure: Three Tools That Saved Our Tails

November 10, 2011

Canol Trail ATV Adventure: Three Tools That Saved Our Tails

http://ak.c.ooyala.com/kxMXEwYzpq1JgnkPo2YwbmhkkAKV3Bzz/3Gduepif0T1UGY8H4xMDoxOjA4MTsiGN

The trailers broke. They broke bad.

The metal ribs that held box to axel snapped clean off Jim’s trailer. In nearly the same place, on my trailer, the welds broke free. One minute, I was rolling over mountainscape, the next minute I was pulling a sleigh.

To Jim’s credit, he thought he could fix his trailer. (I scrapped mine in a cache of hiker, biker, camper detritus--a little monument, it seemed, to those beaten by the trail.) And I must admit, I was a little skeptical of Jim’s plan--and the time it would take--but of all the repair jobs we attempted in the bush, none were more successful.

Jim’s plan was simple: attach spruce poles to the axel, plane larger trees to boards, plank boards in the trailer box and screw spruce poles to the boards. Without proper repair gear, three tools made this possible: a knife, an axe and a saw. This trifecta of backcountry basics saved our tails time and again.

A Knife: The Cold Steel Trail Master

When Cold Steel sent us the Trail Master before the trip, we joked that it was better suited for a samurai battle. At 14.5 inches overall with a 9.5-inch blade, it’s a beast. Yet it was this sheer size and heft that made it so valuable. We used it to split wood--more precise than a swinging axe--and to plane boards draw knife style. We carried the SK-5 carbon blade model, which runs $240, but they also make a $485 San Mai III version. Both have checkered Krayton handles and despite the knives overall size it felt balanced and true in my average to small-sized hands. Before the trip, I would have said it’s too big for a survival knife. After the trip, it’s my go-to knife. It can chop like an axe, but is sharp with fine enough of a point for detail work.

An Axe: The Cold Steel Trail Boss

Cold Steel also sent us the Trail Boss, which retails around $45. When I showed it to people in the office, when I showed it to Jim, when I showed it to our ride in Whitehorse, when I showed it to everyone, I got a chorus of: “it’s too small.”

And at 23 inches with a 4.5-inch cutting edge, it is small. But unlike the full-sized synthetic handled axe we bought at Canadian Tire before setting off, the Trail Boss was razor sharp and rock solid in the hand. (That big box axe had a terrible wobble on the strike.) It was our Number one tool for the miles of brush we cleared off the trail, for cutting down trees to building the rafts, and for up-rooting roots in the swampy bogs that hooked our trailers and held us under. It did, however, loose its head--a potential deal breaker--but we were able to fix it quickly with a little whittling and an old nail.

A Saw: The Sawvivor

I hadn’t seen the Sawvivor until Jim whipped it out of his pack a few days into the trip. At 10 ounces, this space-age collapsible aluminum saw weighed less than two Mountain House meals in a ziplock. Along with the Trail Boss, it did more work than any other tool we had along for the ride. It’s hard to convey just how light the Sawvivor is, or how well it cut. In the video there are several shots of it zipping through spruce poles. It did this day after day, for 21-days, on a single blade without any signs of slow down. The foam handle wore off, the wing-nuts that attach the blade got harder and harder to turn, but the saw kept cutting. At less than $40 with a lifetime warranty, you can’t beat that.

 

 

Comments (11)

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from Puffy wrote 2 years 23 weeks ago

Regarding saws I've always been partial to the Sven saw, in 21". A great tool that packs well; it's blade is completely covered when stowed. Also, it only has a single wingnut.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 2 years 22 weeks ago

That trail master is one hell of a knife. A friend owns a Japanese knife that they seemed to have copied. His has incredibly high grade steel with a rolled (convex) edge that will cut a car open and still scare the hairs off of your arm. It virtually never needs sharpening. Just some stropping and it's back to scary sharp.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ernest wrote 2 years 22 weeks ago

Its nothing to do with knives and axes its having some imagination on how to fix things when they break. I have been following this trip,I live in whitehorse where it started from you should of asked a local about your gear, your bikes were fine just stock, your trailer was a piece of crap. most of us here build own for a reason though we drive our pick ups right up through the canol boarder and unload our machines when we get there. Still it makes a good story and it was well written and at least you did it.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from joddypoo wrote 2 years 22 weeks ago

I love the Canol Trail ATV Adventure - best part of F&S right now. I still think a good set of aftermarket tires would have saved you a lot of hassle (and a synthetic winch rope). No thoughts on that trailer though, other than you having to rebuild it trail side every once in a while(knock on wood).

Question: is this happening real time? If so, how are you sending these updates...?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from murdock32 wrote 2 years 22 weeks ago

I think they are idiots, with little knowledge. I would have made my own trailer before trying such a trip. And had 2 shotguns, 870's for the area, and 2 pistols. If they live, they will just laugh about their mistakes and not learn much.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

The pepper spray is to hose the shooter down for better tasting while the rest run!

You poor guys!

All jokes aside, I truly believe all of you should receive a degree in Engineering!

The next time you guys go up, I got a trailer you can barrow, it's Alaskan Proven!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from crowman wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

I can't believe they picked a trailer like that it's a piece of crap on the store floor let alone in the woods. They should have given the selection more thought and went with a design like the military has for there Jeep type vehicles [ WW 2 type ]. If you couldn't find any that were heavy duty enough for a trip like there taking I would build one or have one built. There going to be lucky at the end of this trip to be dragging a trailer tongue with no wheels.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

crowman easy Bro :)

Fellas first time out in the land of the FINAL FRONTIER! One of these days, they'll ask the crowd here at F&S whats the best equipment to use. Unfortunately, that trailer had parts moving that didn't need to be.

This little trailer I narrowed it to two foot wide and placed 1/2" board in the bottom and 3/8's 2 foot high sides and replaced the tires with ATV tires and works great.

One modification I would do to the trailer tongue, is replace it with 2x2 tube and run it all the way to the back of the trailer. This will take the weight and pounding off the front.

The ideal trailer is one you can lift and most of all has to be solid.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

This is the trailer I converted for tundra and rogh country ATV travel and never had a problem with.

http://ak1.ostkcdn.com/images/products/P11570016.jpg

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from larson014 wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

should be called the unprepared mans trip to alaska...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jwillard wrote 2 years 19 weeks ago

I like the Canol trail adventure because it shows how your typical store bought equipment can (or can't) handle real world scenarios. Now, we may not be battling the Canol trail, but we're all bound to get in a few tricky situations in our own neck of the woods. Knowing which equipment to count on is great information.

That said, those trailers are pretty lame. I think the "sled" route would be worth exploring. Deer sleds, dog sleds, and other similar devices are made to haul cargo across land. Dealing with all the issues of the traditional trailer may be worth more hassle than good.

I agree 100% with joddypoo, some aftermarket tires on those bikes would have been worth their weight in gold. And, if you were going to go with a standard trailer still, put some good rubber on them too.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from ernest wrote 2 years 22 weeks ago

Its nothing to do with knives and axes its having some imagination on how to fix things when they break. I have been following this trip,I live in whitehorse where it started from you should of asked a local about your gear, your bikes were fine just stock, your trailer was a piece of crap. most of us here build own for a reason though we drive our pick ups right up through the canol boarder and unload our machines when we get there. Still it makes a good story and it was well written and at least you did it.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from joddypoo wrote 2 years 22 weeks ago

I love the Canol Trail ATV Adventure - best part of F&S right now. I still think a good set of aftermarket tires would have saved you a lot of hassle (and a synthetic winch rope). No thoughts on that trailer though, other than you having to rebuild it trail side every once in a while(knock on wood).

Question: is this happening real time? If so, how are you sending these updates...?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Puffy wrote 2 years 23 weeks ago

Regarding saws I've always been partial to the Sven saw, in 21". A great tool that packs well; it's blade is completely covered when stowed. Also, it only has a single wingnut.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 2 years 22 weeks ago

That trail master is one hell of a knife. A friend owns a Japanese knife that they seemed to have copied. His has incredibly high grade steel with a rolled (convex) edge that will cut a car open and still scare the hairs off of your arm. It virtually never needs sharpening. Just some stropping and it's back to scary sharp.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from murdock32 wrote 2 years 22 weeks ago

I think they are idiots, with little knowledge. I would have made my own trailer before trying such a trip. And had 2 shotguns, 870's for the area, and 2 pistols. If they live, they will just laugh about their mistakes and not learn much.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

The pepper spray is to hose the shooter down for better tasting while the rest run!

You poor guys!

All jokes aside, I truly believe all of you should receive a degree in Engineering!

The next time you guys go up, I got a trailer you can barrow, it's Alaskan Proven!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from crowman wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

I can't believe they picked a trailer like that it's a piece of crap on the store floor let alone in the woods. They should have given the selection more thought and went with a design like the military has for there Jeep type vehicles [ WW 2 type ]. If you couldn't find any that were heavy duty enough for a trip like there taking I would build one or have one built. There going to be lucky at the end of this trip to be dragging a trailer tongue with no wheels.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

crowman easy Bro :)

Fellas first time out in the land of the FINAL FRONTIER! One of these days, they'll ask the crowd here at F&S whats the best equipment to use. Unfortunately, that trailer had parts moving that didn't need to be.

This little trailer I narrowed it to two foot wide and placed 1/2" board in the bottom and 3/8's 2 foot high sides and replaced the tires with ATV tires and works great.

One modification I would do to the trailer tongue, is replace it with 2x2 tube and run it all the way to the back of the trailer. This will take the weight and pounding off the front.

The ideal trailer is one you can lift and most of all has to be solid.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

This is the trailer I converted for tundra and rogh country ATV travel and never had a problem with.

http://ak1.ostkcdn.com/images/products/P11570016.jpg

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from larson014 wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

should be called the unprepared mans trip to alaska...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jwillard wrote 2 years 19 weeks ago

I like the Canol trail adventure because it shows how your typical store bought equipment can (or can't) handle real world scenarios. Now, we may not be battling the Canol trail, but we're all bound to get in a few tricky situations in our own neck of the woods. Knowing which equipment to count on is great information.

That said, those trailers are pretty lame. I think the "sled" route would be worth exploring. Deer sleds, dog sleds, and other similar devices are made to haul cargo across land. Dealing with all the issues of the traditional trailer may be worth more hassle than good.

I agree 100% with joddypoo, some aftermarket tires on those bikes would have been worth their weight in gold. And, if you were going to go with a standard trailer still, put some good rubber on them too.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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