This year was our first visit to Canoecopia, the largest paddlesports consumer event in the world! Held in Madison, Wisconsin it was no short portage as we jumped into a rental car and drove over 1200 km (745 miles for our American readers) to see what it was all about. Although Canoecopia is a three day event, due to time constraints we crammed it all into a single day jam packed full of seminars, trade show booths, sights and sounds.
While we highly recommend spending the full weekend at the show (and also to take in the City of Madison), here is just a few of the neat things we saw...
It was comical to see so many paddles poking up above the sea of trade show attendees as if they were carrying flags. Paddles of all shapes, materials and designs were being purchased at the show from paddle makers such as Badger Paddles and Sanborn Canoe Company. We especially liked this display from Bending Branches that showed their designs from 1980 (on the left) to 2015 (on the right) and you wouldn't believe how much weight they have been able to shave off over the years too.
Of course our first stop was at the MSR booth, which also included some of the new 2017 pieces of gear that were just announced. Although we didn't see the new Alpine utensils (which we're looking forward to grabbing a set of) we were happy to nab some new stickers for our Nalgene bottles and have a look at the new Ceramic cookware).
We were especially impressed by the Sea to Summit X-Set of gear for your camp kitchen. These collapsible silicone pieces of cookware (which include pots, kettles and more) have an aluminum base that are perfectly content atop your camping stove. Pretty impressive!
As great as it is to have a catalogue, there is something to be said about the tactile feel of trying out gear. We thoroughly enjoyed checking out the Frost River waxed canvas bags and we also have to hand it to the father in the above photo who made his son try on a pack (tumpline and all) while he got to investigate all the pockets.
There were samples galore from all sorts of vendors from freeze dried to dehydrated meals. We picked up some dinner and dessert from Trailtopia who make pre-made meals (and were sampling tasty concoctions that weren't even out on the market yet).
There were so many great talks from a huge variety of speakers. From trips, to health, to music, to food preparation. There was even a hands-on exercise clinic to help paddlers (such as us who kneel) to stretch out our muscles after long days of canoeing. Take in as many seminars as you possibly can as these guest speakers speak from the years of experience.
My favourite part of the day. After walking all Saturday, it was nice to sit down and watch a live cooking show where three chefs squared off using camp kitchen gear and cooking on a camp stove. Mona Gauthier (who hosted a dehydrating seminar earlier and brought some of her own dehydrated food) and Marty Koch (a professional guide) faced off against Luke Zahn (who is a professional chef at Driftless Café). Hosted by Kevin Callan, it was chock full of giveaways from MSR, humour and great food.
When attending trade shows, it's always best to get there as close to opening as possible. You get better seats, less people bumping into you and more one-on-one time with the booth vendors. On the flip-side though, here at Canoecopia there was a sense of pride when the crowds swelled that we were all here for the same reason. If anyone was to ever tell you that the number of people canoeing was declining, you would never believe them when attending this show. Canoeing looks as healthy as ever.
I can't recommend Canoecopia enough! If you enjoy camping, canoeing or kayaking... you will be sure to come away with something from this show. Everyone is friendly, full of knowledge and handy tips and are very helpful.