When an unexpected package arrived with a map of the Rogue Wilderness and a note from Columbia inviting me to an adventure, the only logical thing to say, of course, was yes. With a busy summer of travel and adventure of my own (Seattle, road trip and car camping around five states, Thailand, Korea, Toronto, Salt Lake City, and more) I didn’t do much prep.
Turns out the surprise adventure was going to be three days of rafting on the Rogue River with Rogue Wilderness Adventures, a team from Columbia, and eight fellow gear testers. Our purpose would be to test out the newest gear from Columbia and provide feedback for improvements, though mostly just to have fun.
As it turns out there was a fire raging pretty hard in that part of Oregon so this trip almost didn’t happen. A few days before the trip we finally got the go-ahead. Though a bit smokey at the put-in, it quickly cleared up by lunch.
This wouldn’t be just any rafting trip, however. Mark, a master brewer with Ninkasi Brewing Company in Eugene, OR would be joining us and bringing beer, the likes of which I’ve never tried before. That’s right, fellas, this trip was to be a Paddles and Pints trip on the Wild and Scenic portion of the Rogue; only accessible by boat and hiking trail.
As I mentioned, we’d be abusing a lot of columbia gear along the way. Duckie wars, of course (standing on an upside-down inflatable kayak and doing whatever you can to knock the other person off without touching them):
Lots of jumping off things:
What impressed me most about this trip was the Columbia’s insistence on product feedback. Columbia is a brand I remember from middle school; and they weren’t a very good one. Back in 1991 Columbia had 1 patent to their name and I believe that reflected the brand well. Today, they have a whopping 227 to their name, about a gajllion percent increase according to one friend at the company and I agree.
Take this sleeping bag, for instance. Yup, that’s me one early morning still asleep next to the river.
Each night i slept this way and thought I’d be frozen, given the light nature of the bag. Smartly, Columbia lined the inside with Omni-Heat®, tiny dots that reflect heat back to you. The bag was also wet each morning, but only on the outside thanks to Omni-Shield®.
I’m a new Columbia convert, falling in love once again with a company I haven’t liked since 1991. For three days I lived in a pair of boardshorts; never changed them. And how could I forget the Drainmaker II shoe? I’ve never been a fan of water shoes, instead preferring sandals. Aside from the errant sand that crept inside, shoes are much better at protecting from stubbed toes and scratches. I’m very thankful and have turned them into every day shoes.
The end of every day found us
hanging out lounging with amazing beer, some of the best food I’ve ever had, and some of the best friends anyone could ever ask for.
If you’re looking for an adventure you can’t go wrong with this one. Call up Brad and his team at Rogue Wilderness Adventures, book the Paddles and Pints trip, then grab your friends. The more you bring, the more fun you’ll have.
Thanks to Columbia for dealing with my closed-mindedness and willing to provide gear that stands up to anything I throw at it. It’s what #tryingstuff is all about. My mind is forever changed for the good on the brand and you have a new fan for life. Thanks also to Mark for being the photographer I’ll never be. All these pics are his…well, the good ones anyway.