Effective, Affordable, Food Storage/Protection for Home Sale

Effective, Affordable, Food Storage/Protection for Home Sale

It’s simple.  Reduce the air exposure, keep water out and your dry goods will last longer.  You also keep the rodents at bay unless they can smell through tough polyethylene, sealed plastic.   While some rodents are pretty determined, I figure if a bear can’t smell through this stuff, then neither can rodents.  We’ve been using these barrels for Boundary Waters canoe camping since the early 90’s.  they are nice because around the camp, they can be used to sit on or as a work surface.  At night or when you leave camp during the day, you simply stash them by laying them 50 feet away from your campfire , in a slump in the ground.  They you throw some sticks and brush over the top of them to break up their appearance and off you go.  Bears and rodents walk right by.  Pouring down rain is meaningless and short of a flood carrying them away, they are impenetrable.   Bears can get into them, but they have to wail on them for a long time because they are slippery even on rocks.

OK, that is the camping use.  But, what about the overlooked uses for these barrels that REALLY make them worth owning?  They are a ridiculously simple design.  They stack. They do not retain any odors.  So, why can’t you have a half a dozen of these in your basement or one in each closet of your home as a “go bag” with food, clean-dry-warm clothes, a medical kit, water, and everything you’d need for a catastrophe.  Heck, at 60 liters in size, you could pack food for a family of 4 for 7 days with no effort.  You could also have another with clothing and one more with a medical kit.  Lock up a pistol and ammo.  Bugspray.  Rope, a small ax, duct tape, a screwdriver, hunting knife, batteries, small radio, small saw, footwear, and stuff that you need to grab quickly and all in one, durable, waterproof, airtight spot.  Need to go fast?  Grab the barrels and throw them in the box of the truck in the blinding rain.  Need to stash them?  Bury them in the garden or in a ditch.  Come back later for them.

I know this sounds a little extreme, but depending on where you live, a wildfire could wipe you out in a half an hour.  You see it on the news all the time.  People all over the country being mandated to evacuate NOW.  Just think if you had four barrels with everything you need to survive for 7 days all ready to go.  Run down in the basement, grab ’em, throw them in the back of the car and get going, now.  Given just the wildfires in California of the last few years, is this that crazy sounding or is having a little bit of preparedness, the responsible thing to do?  And, I’m not talking about really knocking yourself out doing it.  Put the stuff that you would need to get by in a barrel, lock it up, set it somewhere you can find it fast.  How hard is that to do, really?

It’s just a thought.

The other thing you could do is have your travel gear all locked up in one spot.  If you come to Minnesota every year for a vacation, what if everything you needed to do your trip was replenished and airtight at the end of your trip.  Next year, when the time comes, your tackle, reels, travel rod, plus specific clothing and gear  are all in an  airtight container.  Time to go?  Grab your barrel and head north or south if you are from Canada.

The point is, these barrels are really, really useful and they don’t cost a lot.  And, unless they are filled with gold bullion, they float like a duck.

Who would have thought that something so simple could be so handy, eh?

Order Your 60 Liter Barrels Here 

Here’s Something You Actually Need – Kelly Kettle for Boiling Water


What is this funny looking thing?

Kelly Kettle - SmallKelly Kettle – Small

Kelly Kettle MediumKelly Kettle Medium

Kelly Kettle LargeKelly Kettle Large

I don’t care where you go or what the season, you need hot water.  You need hot water for everything.  Making hot water when you are out in the brush in -35 below F or 70 above,  you will want hot water for re-hydrating food, washing a booboo, doing the dishes, etc.  When you are away from modern plumbing and if you’ve ever camped before, making hot water is not an easy task.  Using wood, requires a fireplace, some way to prop up a pot, and fuel.  In an open air fire, usually, you need a lot of wood and therein lies the difficulty.  If it’s raining, a time when you’d need the hot water more so, your available wood supply might be soaking wet.  You get around that by using smaller twigs to bigger…

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We Quit Hanging Packs in 1999

We Quit Hanging Packs in 1999

At 12:15, July 4, 1999 disaster struck.  Straight line winds hit our area and obliterated most of our neighbors.  It just missed us by about a 1/4 mile.  In its path, every tree taller than 40 feet snapped off have way up.  Power line poles went as well and the just after Northwind Lodge went dark.  I went over to the Moose Lake road to check on my mother-in-law Edith and her husband Bob Cary to see what happened.  There were trees and exploded electrical transformers on the ground.  Good thing I put a chainsaw in my truck because when I got there, Bob Cary was in his early 80’s and sawing on the pavement trying to open the road.  Trees were twisted and under load so you had to be careful to watch so you wouldn’t get whacked when you poked the chain bar in there.  It was truly surreal and the damage hard to believe. Fortunately, all the houses seemed to survive I think because the trees ate up the force of the wind.  Now, where there once was brush, you had a scenic view of Moose lake as you drove down the road.

Well, as a result of the big wind, our outfitting customers had nowhere to hang their food packs.   Everything snapped off.    I had experimented with barrels and harnesses before and was not a huge fan of the one big barrel because it hits me on the tailbone.  After a day of portaging, my tailbone is not a happy camper.  So, I abandoned those in the mid 90’s.  I really wanted to be able to carry 2 barrels but nothing existed to do so.  Two barrels would allow two people a place to sit.  They also allow one to separate out supplies better.  Hiding two barrels makes it far more likely that a bear won’t find both and smaller barrels are easier to stash.   The one big barrel has to be dumped out on the ground because everything you want ends up on the bottom.  Also, the big barrel likes to roll around in the canoe which irritates me to no end.  I hate stuff clunking around.  I actually took one out on a long, 7-portage, day-trip to see how it would work.  Well, it worked I guess, and comparatively, it’s cheap to own, but I was not a big fan.

I wanted a custom-made pack that would haul two 30 liter barrels so I headed over to Kondos Outdoors and met with Dan Kondos about my idea.  In about 45 minutes, the Super Pack was born.  I was going to make those little labels to sew onto the pack but I figured I would only sell 3 or 4 of these and at the time, I had to buy 5,000 labels so I held off.  I should have had them made.  We sold hundreds of Super Packs over the years to all sorts of  happy campers.  The only people who ever had a problem with it was a group of Boyscouts in a different state who borrowed a Super Pack from a guy who bought one from us, and a US Forest Service clean-up crew.    In both cases, the scouts and the USFS did exactly the opposite of what you do with a Super Pack.  They left the barrels inside the pack and hung it from a branch only to show the bears that the big pinãta  at the end of the rope might have something good in it.   Then they left camp for the day.  When the USFS returned, a momma bear and two cubs were wailing on that nice, grounded pack which was holding those two barrels together resulting in their not sliding around which normally makes them hard to handle for a bear.  In this case they were easy to hold down, jump on, and pummel.  The bears managed to completely shred the pack into a garbage heap and tear a 6″ hole in the side of one barrel.  Both barrels were completely flattened but they only got into one.  That USFS worker who told me about the bears complained that these were not bearproof barrels to which I responded, “Well, who ever told you that they were bear proof and why the hell are you hanging in the first place?”

He answered that it was “government policy” to always hang your food pack, to which I replied by pointing out how asinine that was given that these packs are supposed to have the barrels removed and stashed in two opposite directions after they’ve been sealed shut.  Then you hang that completely empty pack on any tree branch.  If the bear smells no food, he won’t touch it and you won’t have a destroyed pack.   I don’t think I was able to get through to that government worker about the error in his ways.  Nobody really knew what the scouts did on their adventure, but I’m guessing it was equi-dumb.  Those were the only two instances of which I’m aware regarding the destruction of a Super Pack going on 16 years of outfitting them now.


Order your Red Rock Super Pack Here

Now, when you get to camp, take the Super Pack up to the site and pull the two 30 liter, air & water tight barrels out of the pack. Use them to keep your food and it’s associated odors sealed off from the outside world.  Use the two barrels as two chairs while in camp.  When you leave camp and/or at nightfall, standing at your fireplace, stash one barrel 50 feet to the left and the other barrel 50 feet to the right, in the brush. Throw a couple of rocks and/or sticks, maybe an old downed log over the barrels to break up their appearance as they lay in the brush.  You don’t need to bury them but if you can find a slump in the ground to lay a barrel in so they are harder to see, that is  even better.   And, while thse two 30 liter barrels are great to sit on in camp while you are there, make sure you don’t fry fish next to them.   Don’t smear grape jelly on the outside.   Also, don’t leave them unattended on a trail or the path to the biffy – bears walk on paths, too.    What you are trying to do is minimize exposure to bears.   You don’t have to go crazy in camouflaging them.   If they are clean and odor free on the outside, they are not a target.

If you have the misfortune of getting the last campsite on the lake and it’s laden with bear signs including fresh scat, a ring of bark at the base of the hangin’ tree from where the bear has been running up and down the previous night, do this:   Tie a rope around the necks of your two barrels, take them 15 feet offshore and anchor them floating in the lake.   It’s pretty unlikely that a land animal like a bear will swim out and go “bobbing for apples” to see what’s in those barrels.

Contrary to myth and various internet bulletin boards, these barrels are incredibly tough, but not “bear proof”.   Bears just don’t want them because a sealed up barrel smells like food-grade polyethylene which is a very clean, inedible plastic.

While portaging, remember to get the pack on your shoulders and then reach behind your head and pull each of the cover straps snug for a great fit up against your back.   For short-torsoed folks, pull out the hip belt, flip it over and re-install it back in its slot.   Easy to do and requires no tools.   This puts the belt up about 1.5 inches higher for women’s torsos generally allowing the waist belt to be on the hips.

Each Red Rock Super Pack is custom built for Red Rock by Kondos Outdoors of Ely.   Our Red Rock Super Pack holds both barrels beautifully and allows an extra 6″ of space on top for things you may need quick access such as raingear, lunch, a 2-3 man tent, etc.   It’s easy to carry with a built-in foam-padded back,  2 contoured padded shoulder straps complete with sternum strap and hip belt.   Made out of 1000 Denier Cordura Nylon containing 2-8 gal/30 liter barrels (20″ H x 12″ W) with tough dependable “V” channel lock band.   Pack is 6684 cu in. Too much room for your food?   Put the food in one barrel and your clothing or other things you want to protect and keep dry in the other barrel.   Just don’t put the your clothes in a barrel with hard German salami or something truly ridiculous to bring on a canoe trip:  cantaloupes.  You might end up with a bear licking your ear on the portage…

This is a picture of a used Super Pack.  You always see the shiny new gear, not the one that’s been out in the woods and actually used by real people.   This one was on many canoe trips.  I just shot some quick pics to show the straps, the barrels in the pack.  Then I had to move because a truck was coming down the driveway, so I didn’t get the top zipped shut, but you get the idea.

Red Rock Super Pack

Red Rock Super Pack

Order your Red Rock Super Pack Here

Red Rock Super Pack

Red Rock Super Pack

Don’t want to play with the bears at night?  Come stay in our of cozy cabins and take day trip all over the place in the BWCA – Click here

Good Drinking Water for your Next Wilderness Trip

Good Drinking Water for your Next Wilderness Trip

You need water.  Clean water free from Giardia Lamblia and Cryptosporidium.  The first one is NOT an airport out east and the second one is not Superman’s nemesis, but they’ll sure make you get all funky if you pick them up.   There are ways to reduce your exposure to these two gastrointestinal terrorists without filtering the water.

  1. You can use chemicals (bleach) which work if used correctly but make the water taste like crap
  2. You can boil the water which takes far more effort and fuel than it sounds.  Plus, you always end up with hot water in the middle of a hot summer day.
  3. There is an ultraviolet system that works after you stir the light in the water for 90 seconds to expose everything to the disruptive UV radiation.  Sounds cool until you’ve stirred for 90 really, long seconds.  It feels like it takes forever.

Now, what is wrong with all three of the above?  What do they do that I really don’t like?  No matter which you choose, you will end up with “crunchy” water.  All those dead bacteria are floating around in there along with bug wings, bird poop, moose poop, fish poop, and soap from the moron down the shore who thinks she’s bathing in the Ganges River in India.  (Doesn’t everybody dump soap and scrub up right in the lake in the Boundary Waters?  Rather disgusting habit in my opinion and yet, I have seen it more times than I can count.  This is NOT India,  you campers-with-no-clue!)

If you use the right filter, you end up with clean, drinkable water and no bug parts, etc., floating around.  If you want to see which one I like the best and why,  CLICK HERE to Red Rock Outdoors.

How to Make a BWCA Permit Reservation – and then what?

To take a Boundary Waters Canoe Trip, you need a BWCA permit for overnight camping.  Here’s how you do it:

Read this page and then go to this site:  Recreation.gov

This link goes right to the BWCA permit part.

Recreation.gov landing page for BWCA permits

Recreation.gov landing page for BWCA permits

Select your entry point and indicate your date ranges for your trip and hit the “search” button.  You’ll see a window appear like this:

Making a BWCA Permit Reservation

Making a BWCA Permit Reservation

The number below the A is what is remaining open and you can reserve that date.   Make the reservation for the entry point you are seeking.  If you need help with selecting an entry point and will be renting a canoe from us, email us here .   Just let us know how many are going, the level of flat water canoe paddling experience – paddling down rivers doesn’t count for much.  Anybody can be a gravity slave and steer a canoe for 20 miles.  You won’t be doing any of that in the Boundary Waters. If we’re going to help plan a route for you, we need to know your flat water experience level.  If you don’t have a lot, no worries, we do this all the time and have done so for 30+ years.

So, make your permit reservation and have your credit card ready.  They will charge a deposit.  Then call us and reserve your canoe for those dates.  Then, show up either the day prior to or the day of your permit start day and pick up  your actual permit from the government workers at the USFS building on the eastern edge of Ely.

Here is their address and a map I whipped up.

Kawishiwi Ranger District
District Ranger: Gus Smith

1393 Highway 169, Ely, MN 55731
(218) 365-7600; (218) 365-7602 TTY
Email: kawishiwi@fs.fed.us

Pick Up your BWCA canoe trip permit here.

Pick Up your BWCA canoe trip permit here.

Pick up your permit and head out to us to do the quick paperwork on your canoe rental and down the road we’ll go.  We can haul your canoe or you can haul your canoe with foam blocks that we provide for no charge use your own roof rack.  In most cases, it is cost and time effective to simply pay us to haul and pick up your rental canoe because we are experts and have the right gear laying on the floor here at all times.  No head-scratching about if your tie-job is going to blow off the car at 50 mph with you becoming the proud owner of a $3300 kevlar canoe with severe road rash.   We can talk about that when doing your trip routing when you reserve your canoe.

So, if you’ve never been to the BWCA, you’re missing out.  Reserving a permit is not very hard.  Picking it up is easy.  And renting a canoe from us is easier still.  Give us a call!  218-365-4512

NEED to KNOW:  You must enter the BWCA on the date you’ve reserved.  If you miss that entry date, your permit is void and you can’t go in without getting a whole, new permit.  Entering the BWCA with your permit means that you CANNOT come and go freely in and out of the BWCA.  If you come out of the woods, get in your car and go into Ely for shopping or to check your email as people of today do, you are done with your canoe trip.  This is considered a wilderness canoe trip not a stay at a federal campground with an RV.  The rules are simple but strict and if you get caught going back and forth, you will be made to leave and you could be fined.

Want to stay in a nice cabin and take BWCA day trips all over the place?   No permits required, come and go freely.

Come stay at our wilderness resort!  Click Here

Great Lake Trout Lure for Boundary Waters Fishing

Great Lake Trout Lure for Boundary Waters Fishing

Man, somebody hand me a paper towel.  I started thinking about catching spring (May, June) lakers in the Boundary Waters and started drooling at the thought of fresh, fried laker fillets on an open fire.  You fillet out a 5 pound laker.  Then, take those delectable thick fillets and chunk them up in to 1.5 inch cubes.  Then, shake them in the breading of your choice and  put them in a hot fry pan with preferably corn oil, but any oil will do except sunflower oil (starts to smoke too soon).  Flip the chunks on all 8 sides until the laker cubes are done – probably 2 minutes on the top bottom and less on each side.  You are doing a bunch of them in the pan, so you prop them up against each other so they can brown.  When they are golden brown, remove from the pan and set on paper towels on an aluminum or other (non-plastic) plate.  You can eat these with your fingers like fish cakes.   My keyboard is getting blurry at the thought of one of my favorite northwoods delicacies.

In reality, before you can begin drooling over a plate of fresh fried lake trout on Kekekabic lake or on a point in Thomas, you gotta catch one or more.  In the spring time when the water is cold, they are cruising at shallower depths making the act of catching them an easier event.   Follow the shoreline with one of these Red Rock Spinner/Spoons.  Lakers love a good flash and they will come smokin’ in to investigate and attack.  That is what you want.  You want to rile them up and  make them try to devour whatever you are pulling behind the canoe.

Red Rock Spinner Spoon

Red Rock Spinner/Spoons

Our Spinner/Spoon was originally a lure designed for bass fishing in weeds – I don’t know when exactly, but you see that same style spoon (sans spinner and metal beads) in every grandfather’s tackle box in the attic or on some shelf in the garage.  We added the metal beads and hi-flash colorado-style spinner  to this old-fashioned spoon and now you have a Spinner/Spoon.  How’s that for a literal name for lack of a better one?  Who cares – it the end result that counts.

To effectively use these weedless spoons, you make sure you have a decent snap swivel tied to your line, attach the Spinner/Spoon.    Start paddling the canoe on your course along the shoreline – not too close to shore on a lake trout lake (Kek, Crane, Thomas, Ima, Knife, and many more).   Toss it out behind the canoe and let out about 100 to 150 feet to troll shallow behind you.  Secure your rod either with a rod holder or jamming it into the gunwale held down by your foot – whatever works.  You don’t want your rod popping out of the canoe on a strike.   Then, continue paddling forward.  If you are in a Souris River Canoe, you can do this all without losing your forward glide.  If you’re in  Wenonah, you are now dead in the water and need to begin paddling and developing new momentum while your lure is sinking and sinking.  Wenonahs won’t turn when you need them to turn and they crap out in about 20 feet after you stop paddling.  I don’t make this stuff up – no need – everybody who know canoes knows about the “crap out” of Wenonahs when you stop paddling.

You may want your reel’s drag to be set a tad lighter while trolling so it’s easier for your line to play out on a strike and harder to pull your rod over the side of the canoe.  You can always tighten it up when your are fighting the fish.

On a darker/cloudy/partially cloud day – use the gold color.  On a bright day with blue sky, use the silver.  This rule applies most of the time, but sometimes the fish change it up so don’t adhere to it super tightly.

Be aware that this lure will also attract killer northern pike.  Northerns like laker tackle just like lakers.  The cool thing about Spinner/Spoons is that you can use them for casting in the weeds with the weed guard.  Now, with the spinner flashing, they won’t be as completely weedless as they are without the spinner-bead part.  This makes a good reason for fishing  it along side of weed beds, especially cabbage weeds if you can find them.  Northerns like weeds but big northerns also hang out in the same places as lakers which is open deep water.  Northerns from the Boundary Waters are also delicious so don’t be bummed if you catch one.  Be bummed if you catch a 20 pounder.  That’s too big and too much for even a small army to eat.  Let him go and eat the smaller ones.   Find out about filleting northern pike and eating them here

So, this is an effective, easy to use lure for laker fishing in the pristine waters of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.  We sell them in two packs – one gold and one silver.  It will become your go-to lure for action and eating fish.  Make sure you put a couple in your box before you go!  You can only get these from Red Rock.

Order Red Rock Spinner/Spoons from Red Rock Here