4 must-haves for a successful Fourth of July on the boat

This week, many people around the country will be celebrating America's independence with a backyard barbeque, fireworks displays and daytime boating adventures through their local waterways.

While boating on its own is a great time, being on the water for a national holiday just feels like freedom. Whether you will be enjoying the Boston Pops, participating in fun and games on the Great Lakes or heading to Newport Beach in California for their acclaimed fireworks show, make sure that you have everything you need for you and your guests to have the best possible holiday.

Here are just a few must-have items for play and practicality:

Communication - First thing is first, make sure that you have means of communicating with other boaters, people on land and, if necessary, rescue workers. The best way to ensure that you will be able to get in touch with anyone is by having a satellite telephone on board. This product does not rely on telephone towers like a normal cell phone, and therefore gets much better reception. If you are looking for a higher-end product, consider those offered by Iridium. But for a more budget-conscious boater, Globalstar and SPOT offer affordable and durable models. 

Fishing - What better way to celebrate America's independence than with one of the nation's most popular pastimes? Whether fishing on a lake or in open water, one handy tool to have on board is a fishfinder. This device affords boaters the ability to see below the surface and scope out the catch-of-the-day. One of the great things about modern fishfinders is that many of them now come with GPS capabilities, essentially offering customers a two-in-one package deal. If you are looking for a good deal, check out the models from RayMarine or Humminbird GPS.

Stay dry – Undoubtedly, being on the water means getting a little wet. But when you want a towel or a change of clothes, it's important to be sure those items are nice and dry. The best way to keep your personal belongings from getting soaked is by keeping them in a waterproof bag or duffel. Whether you are just trying to keep a phone or iPad from water damage or aiming to keep your towel from absorbing stray splashes, there are a lot of options for waterproof bags and cases. These necessary boat accessories even come with the added feature of buoyancy, which means that it will float if accidentally knocked overboard. Dry Pak, Aryca and Waterbrands offer an array of products in colors and styles that are sure to suit your needs.

Water sports – With all the technicalities out of the way, now it's time to have some fun! Make sure that your boat is well equipped with all the best treats and toys so that both kids and adults will have a blast. This year, we recommend products from AirHead, Rave Sports and Full Throttle. All three brands offer affordable, durable and fun-inducing products for tubing and other water sports. No matter what tub or inflatable toy you choose, remember to also purchase a new, well-tested rope to attach the product to your boat. Ropes can deteriorate year-to-year, so for safety, and all-day fun, make sure you have a product that will last.

While we are only a few weeks into the summer, the boating season is already in full swing. Make sure that you have all that you need for fun for the whole family. For more information on any of the products listed here, contact ePal Inc. today. Our staff will be sure to outfit you with all your boating needs for the ultimate Fourth of July.

Top trails and products for successful hikes

The second that the sun starts to peek through the clouds and the weather turns nice again, outdoor lovers rejoice. After spending the off-season mentally planning for amazing hiking and camping adventures, once summer rolls around, these adventurous individuals are more than ready to lace up their boots, grab their gear and head out.

And why not? There are so many parts of the Earth that you can only see by walking. And with numerous studies proving the positive effects that exercise has on mind and body, getting out into the sunshine and learning a bit about nature is a great way to spend this season.

If you are eager to spend some time outdoors this summer, here are some of the top camping and hiking spots and some ideas for the gear you might need to bring with you to ensure fun and safety:

- Appalachian Trail – For you East Coasters, you're in luck! This trail is a massive 2,178 miles that stretches from Georgia to Maine. It is the longest marked trail in the United States, a feat that continues to take the combined efforts of over 6,000 volunteers to maintain, according to Discovery. This trail offers the opportunity to thru-hike, meaning a complete trek of the trail in its entirety or weekend and day hikes, where individuals can walk just sections of the trail. If you are considering this trek, you will definitely need a pack that can carry 25-30 pounds, like the ProGear series from Pelican. You will also want to bring layers of clothing that you can mix and match through the variety of climates that you will encounter on your trek.

- Glacier National Park – Significantly different from the Appalachian Trail, Glacier is a National Park located in Montana that has hiking trails throughout its limits. This popular hiking spot, Discovery says, is "known for impressive mountain peaks, isolated alpine lakes and no shortage of wildlife. The park gets its name from the huge glaciers that helped to shape the park's rock formations 10,000 years ago." Not to be missed, especially when traveling through middle-America, Glacier requires permits for overnight hikers, but these aren't in as much demand as those for Yosemite or the Grand Canyon. Other than a permit, you will need heavy layers of clothing if you are staying overnight as temperatures can drop very low, especially at mountain peaks.

- Pacific Crest Trail – Sort of the Ying to Appalachian's Yang, the PCT is a 2,600 mile-long trail running through the West Coast. While hiking this trail, individuals will experience Mexico, California, Oregon, Washington and parts of Canada.  Hikers will be exposed to canyons, deserts, lush forests and over 50 major mountain passes, according to the association's website. Individuals who endeavor to pass through the trail are required to be permitted in sections. They are advised to carry binoculars to spot the copious amount of wildlife and a water bottle in order to stay hydrated.

No matter what adventures you elect to go on this summer, make sure you have the outdoor equipment that you need in order to be safe and sound. For any major hike, like those listed above, make sure to bring a proper first aid kit, like those available from Adventure Medical. Also bring a communication device in case you get separated from your party or need to call for help. Some options might be a satellite telephone, like those available through GlobalStar or Iridium, or for a more solid understanding a locator is always handy. ePal Inc. has a series of GPS deals that are great to check out before setting out. 

How to pick a boat propeller

Any boat owner knows the importance of the durability, functionality and precision of the propeller. When selecting which propeller to install on your vessel, whether it is a speedboat or a cruiser, it is important to weigh your options.

While the propeller might seem like a straightforward purchase, it is critical to the propulsion of your boat, and there are few things you should know about this piece of equipment:

- Construction – Propellers generally come in three, four or five bladed units. The unit itself will either be listed as having forged or welded blades. A forged blade is highly reliable and has greater strength for moving the ship, but they also tend to be more expensive. The welded blade is, as it sounds, welded together and to the hub, making it less structurally sound than the forged blade. It tends to be less expensive, but is still a durable option.

Material - Propellers are designed to move an entire vessel, which means that the material they are made out of have to strong and durable. The two primary materials that you will find are aluminum and stainless steel because both are high performance, tend to be corrosion resistant and last a long time. These factors are important as propellers need to stand up to the abrasiveness of seawater and the wear and tear that occurs over years of use. Unlike many of the other aspects of propellers, the material is largely up to user preference.

- Sizing - This part of propeller selection is perhaps the most important to pay attention to. Propellers are sized with two numbers that detail diameter and pitch. The first number listed is indicative of the diameter of the propeller. A large diameter should be selected if you are motoring a heavier boat or you maintain a large engine. The second number, the pitch, is used to describe the projected distance that each rotation of the blades will push the vessel forward. For example, if the pitch of a unit is 15 inches, it should propel your boat forward 15 inches. According to Savvy Boater, high pitch characteristics are lower top end speeds and less acceleration, whereas lower pitch models boast better top end speeds and better acceleration.

Turning Point Hustler offers a range of both aluminum and stainless steel options in a variety of sizes and constructions. Their products are also well tested and affordable.  If you are interested in purchasing a propeller contact ePal Inc. If you are still trying to determine the right unit for your vessel, our staff of knowledgeable customer service representatives are here to answer your questions about propellers and all other marine accessories.

4 tips for woodland survival

Recently on this blog, we talked about what you should do if you need to contact the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) in case of emergency. But what about you landlubbers who prefer camping and nature to sea life? It is always good to know what to do in case of emergency, so make sure you are prepared by checking out this list of things to do when lost or injured in the woods:

1. Before you leave: First, whether you are going for a few hours, or for the weekend, when you leave for an adventure you should always tell someone where you are going and how long you will be gone. This will ensure that, if you do go missing, someone will know to come looking for you. Secondly, you will certainly be packing a bag. Make sure to bring tons of water, a few snacks, a change of clothes, and a first aid or survival kit. Adventure Medical offers a few different kits that range from a single knife to a utility box.   

2. Call for help: In a 1946 pamphlet from the U.S. State Department of Agriculture on how to be safe in the woods, the Forest Service suggested that "A clear head will find itself." Meaning that if you take time to think, you would be able to save yourself. While the sentiment is nice, its not necessarily true. So first thing you should do is signal for help. You can do this by building a fire, spelling out an SOS or (if you have one) shooting off a flare gun.

3. Fire/Warmth: If building a fire is not part of your initial call-for-help plan, be sure that it is next on your list of things to do. No matter where you get lost, remember that any location gets chilly when the sun goes down, and you don't want to be prone to hypothermia. Building a decent fire in a safe clearing and layering on the warm clothes will help you to stay warm and dry. For this, you want to be sure that you have packed a good amount of compact, yet effective layers into your bag. When putting together camping gear, consider purchasing a dry bag for clothing, towels and blankets. Dry Pak offers some great duffel options that come in a number of sizes and colors.

4. Shelter: No matter where you get lost, finding or building a shelter should be a top priority. This could be in a nearby cave or under a natural overhang of rock. Keep in mind that if your location is prone to unpredictable weather patterns, you may want to try and camp on higher ground. This will give you a better chance of being seen from overhead and will also not allow for pooling of water wherever you sleep. While no one plans to get lost in the woods, preparing for a dry and warm place to sleep when packing your bag is a good idea. Make sure to bring a few extra garbage bags for lining the ground (or yourself) to make rain a non-factor. Also be sure to pack a lightweight sleeping bag or blanket just in case.

If you are planning a trip into the woods, and happen to get lost on your adventure, consider these tips for getting to safety. If you are interested in adding to your camping pack to ensure your safe return, contact ePal Inc. for a vast array of products, tools and gadgets. We offer a range of camping gear and also specialize in marine accessories. Contact us today! 

3 must-haves for any tackle box

Fishermen are always very possessive over their tackle boxes, and for good reason. They are a catch-all for anything and everything that he or she might need while trying to capture that elusive catch-of-the-day. But what goes into those handy bags and boxes? Here are some ideas for how to fill your box so you can tackle even the most evasive fish.

- Floaters and sinkers – Floaters (or bobbers) let you know when you get a bite from a fish and sinkers bring your bait far below the water's surface. These two items are clutch when it comes to lake or sea fishing. If you are looking for new additions to your tackle box, try the Davis Fish Seeking Trolling Plane. You can set its depth and it will do the rest!

- Line – This may seem like a no-brainer, but you don't want to get caught without it. Making sure that your tackle box is full of ample amounts of fishing line will reassure you in case you snap a line while reeling in a big one.

- Pliers – A necessity when you are wanting to take hooks out of fleshy fish, needle-nose pliers are a must for any sufficient tackle box. If you are looking for a new pair, try out the Gerber Evo Multi-tool. This handy gadget is an all-in-one equipped with wire cutter, pliers, bottle opener and knife, what more can you want?

If you are interested in these items, or any other marine supplies, contact ePal Inc. today. Our product line is sure to have anything you need for fun in the sun and our staff of knowledgeable professionals will be able to answer any boating questions you have!  

3 must-have upgrades for your boat

Getting into a new hobby or sport can be expensive, but once you find the thing you love, it becomes more of an investment than an expense.

This is definitely true of the boating world. The initial purchase of boat, sails, motor, rigging equipment and other boating accessories is costly, but you know that the reward will be well worth it. Once your vessel has all the necessities, adding your desired bells and whistles makes your boat uniquely yours, plus its just plain fun.

This year, there are new technologies, products, tools and toys that are sure to excite even the most seasoned boaters. So as you look to upgrade your home away from home, consider these:

- Autopilot – Perfect for sail or powerboats, an autopilot installation will make tracking your route and enjoying the time on your boat all the more easier. New technologies mean that current autopilot models have less drain on the boat's battery and can integrate with your existing chartplotter or GPS systems. This season, RayMarine developed a new model of their autopilot system called the EV-100 Wheel Evolution that is mountable above or below deck and comes in one easy-to-install housing system.

- Trolling - For the fishermen in the crowd, purchasing a trolling motor will be a great addition to your boat. An innovative tool, a trolling motor will propel your boat at the speed of your choice while you try and lure the catch-of-the-day. The FW46 model from Motorguide is a foot operated, bow mounted piece that is both easy to use and affordable.

- Weather Tracking – On land or out at sea, it is critical to know what weather systems are at work. Any veteran of the sea knows the dangers of unpredicted squalls, freak lightning storms and high pitched wave systems. Don't be caught off guard. Consider installing a weather station onto the dash of your boat this year. Davis offers a Vantage Vue Wireless station that tells you about each weather variable and is even radio compatible.

While our boats can be costly, they are a labor of love. As we get into the warmer months, spending time on the water will come more and more frequently, so don't skimp on the tools that will make it the most enjoyable experience. If you are interested in any of these products or any other marine accessories, contact ePal Inc. Our line of products will surely have you geared up for a great time on the boat. Not to mention, our staff of knowledgeable customer service representatives are here and ready to help you outfit your boat with anything you might want!

3 necessities for your fishing trip

Father's Day is this Sunday, and we know that many of you outdoorsy folks will be heading out onto the water for a day of fishing with dad. With a week left before dad's big day, make sure that you have the necessities to ensure the best experience for all on board.

1. First Aid Kit - You never know when you might need a band-aid, antiseptic or tweezers on a boat. Make sure that you are prepared for even the worst situations by assembling a first aid kit that carries all of your medical necessities. Make sure to have Neosporin, waterproof medical tape and throw in some sunscreen for good measure!

2. Knife – Whether you are cutting into packaging, slicing up the catch of the day or just snipping a line, having a knife on board is a must. There are a bunch of options out there, and depending on the intent of use, you may choose to have more than one. For multi-purpose, however, Gerber's Bear Grylls Grandfather Knife is perfect for every generation of fisherman.

3. PFD - It may seem trivial to load up the boat with life jackets, but if you ever need them, you will be glad they are there. Keep in mind that, as boaters, you now have a ton of style and function options that you didn't have before. Life jackets are available from small and compact inflatables, to industrial looking, strapped jackets. If you are looking for something on the small side, try the Mustang Inflatable Belt Pack. It looks like a belt, and acts like a PFD.

With these three simple carry-ons, your boat will be well equipped to handle a weekend away with pop. For these items, and many more boat accessories, make sure to contact ePal Inc. Our staff of customer service representatives will outfit you with everything you need for a fantastic Father's Day.

How to make your boat water sport friendly this summer

Summer sports are tons of fun and are a great outlet for the kids to let off some steam. But if the weather is too hot, it can put a damper on a good time. For boat owners, having some toys for the boat will get everyone active and on the water and make this summer a blast! Here are three fun water toys that are sure to be a hit:

Tube: Little kids love to go fast, and with the inner little kid in mind, why not consider buying an inflatable tube for your powerboat. This boating accessory is almost a necessity for any family on the water this summer. With products like the Mach 2 from AIRHEAD, kids and adults alike can have fun in the sun!

Wakeboarding: For those of you who are multi-season athletes, or at least raising your own, wakeboarding is a great way to keep those skateboarding and snowboarding skills up to par through the summer. And whether you are a veteran to wakeboarding, or just starting out, there are products for everyone. For beginners, consider the Rave Jr. Impact Wakeboard. This package deal comes with board and boots at an affordable price for people looking to try something new.

Water Trampoline: Could there be anything more fun than that? Jumping around with family and friends on a giant, floating trampoline and splashing into the water might sound too good to be true, but with Rave Aqua products, it's totally possible. The company's Aqua Jump is essentially a party size, floating trampoline that comes in a number of sizes and colors. It is even compatible with additions, like an Aqua Launch, that will throw jumpers into the air so they can land with a splash!

If you are in the market for these boat accessories or any other outdoor products, contact us at ePal Inc. Our staff of knowledgeable customer service representatives are ready to help you gear up for summer!

3 Easy Upgrades for your boat this summer

Whether you are out with the family or entertaining friends, your yacht has to be in tip-top shape to guarantee a relaxing experience on the water. As summer approaches and days out on the open sea become more frequent, consider some quick and easy upgrades that will ensure tons of fun for the whole family.

Get your grill on: Literally. Whether you are cooking for yourself or a flotilla worth of people an attachable grill is a great addition and is sure to impress your guests. Kuuma offers a few different models that cater to any type of chef. Their products are transportable and can be stand-alone, or mounted to a railing system for space saving. 

Fishfinding: Once you have the grill on board, you have to have something to cook! For the fishermen and women in the crowd, a fishfinder is the perfect bonus item for your vessel. Available in a range of models that offer different types of technology, boat owners are able to find the equipment that best suits their needs. If you are looking for a simplified, yet powerful, technology, consider the Lowrance Mark-5X Pro Fishfinder Mono. It offers an intuitive interface alongside an easy-to-read home screen for ease of use.

Swim Platform: Boating on the water often ends with a swim. So whether you are keeping the kids safe or making it easier on yourself, installing a new swim platform makes getting into your boat much easier. If you are in the market for a new platform, consider one made of teak or a poly blend. Both options will require much less maintenance and will last from season to season. Whitecap offers some easy-install, affordable and durable options!

For all these items and many more, ePal Inc. is a one-stop-shop for all your boat accessories and outdoor needs!

Buyers guide for summer camping

What says family bonding like trading in electronics and sturdy shelter for canoes and adventure? Summer camping trips are a great for getting away from the hyper-connected modern world we live in – even if it is just for the weekend. While getting the kids in the car might be easy with the promise of campfire s'mores and no bedtime, reality sets in when you reach the campgrounds and they realize the lack of amenities.

But just because you are going off the grid, it doesn't mean that you have to go without. So make sure that you pick up all of your camping needs, and in case you are needing some assistance on picking out the right necessary items, we've got you covered!

- First, you will need a tent. Tents can be pricey, but they are a worthwhile investment if you are going to be a regular camper. For those of you that are traveling by land to your destination, just be sure to pick a tent that will accommodate all the people in your party. If you are a parent traveling with kids who are old enough to have their own tent, give them the independence and responsibility of setting up their own shelter for the weekend. If you are choosing to camp on the water and are traveling by boat to your destination, be extra sure to pick a tent that is waterproof or quick dry. Consider checking out tents from Coleman. They have an array of styles and features that are sure to please any camper!

- Once your shelter is set up, you are probably going to be hungry. Make sure that the food that you have brought with you, along with anything that you might fish for on your trip, is well preserved in a functional and effective cooler. NorChill offers a soft-sided cooler that can be used for hot or cold items.

- Then, once you have established a place to sleep, filled your belly and spent some time enjoying the surroundings, you are going to want a cozy place to lay your head for the night. While there are a number of types of sleeping bags out there, be sure to pick one that keeps you warm on cold nights while still allowing good ventilation so you don't overheat at night.

If you are interested in purchasing camping gear for the coming summer months, look no further than ePal Inc. Not only do we have a vast array of products, including camping and boating accessories, but we also have a staff of knowledgeable customer service representatives that are available to advise you on the right choices for your needs.