Review - Guardian Expedition Light

I recently took delivery of a few items from Escape Watersports, included in my order was a Guardian Expedition Light. It cost around £12 and to be honest I didn’t expect too much for that sort of money!.

The light arrived sealed in bubble packaging and once removed I was left with the light, a clip and a set of instructions. The light itself is small, robust and well manufactured. It’s CE marked indicating that the product meets EU safety, health or environmental requirements.

The light source is a high power LED which is visible for over 3 miles. Power is supplied from two CR2032 batteries which are replaceable. The light is fully waterproof to a depth of 100m, more than sufficient for kayaking use!. It has two modes of operation, steady and flashing. Battery life is a very healthy 250 hours. I chose the white coloured light, however, they are also available in blue, green, yellow and red.

A clip is supplied and this attaches to the rear of the light, fitting takes seconds. This permits the light to be clipped to the strap of a PFD.

To switch the light on it’s a simple case of rotating the lens clockwise until the light illuminates, to switch it off the lens is rotated anti-clockwise.

As mentioned the light can be operated in steady and flashing modes. To swap modes the battery needs to be inverted in order to reverse the polarity.

To be honest it’s not something you’d want to do whilst afloat due to the chance of either losing the battery or inadvertently allowing water into the light. The flashing mode is best suited for emergency use, a flashing light being ideal for attracting attention. The steady mode can be used to aid location in an emergency, however it also makes a great backup light. Should your headlamp fail this light provides more than sufficient illumination to enable you to continue fishing. As I already have a strobe light fitted to my PFD I envisage that I’ll keep the Guardian light set to the ‘steady mode’ of operation.

The video below shows the light in action, swapping the battery over and a submersion test. It can be purchased from Escape Watersports where is currently retails at £12, for that kind of money you can go wrong!

Product review

Parts delivery!

I’m rigging my Hobie Outback and needed a couple of items to effectively complete the rigging. I needed an additional Scotty 279 rod holder and two Scotty 254 height extenders so I could put together my ‘trolling setup’. UK prices and availability vary considerably, though I eventually placed an order with Escape Watersports who delivered the gear in double quick time, thank you!. Whilst I was shopping online in the store I noticed the Adventure Lights Guardian Expedition Light and picked one up out of curiosity. I have to say that initial impressions of the light are quite impressive, more to follow soon.

Dry Box Modifications

I don’t use a crate on the kayak, I use a dry box. I love the fact the whatever is stored inside will remain dry, even when capsized (tried & tested). For the past few months I’ve taken a paddle float and bilge pump afloat with me, these being clipped onto or jammed under straps in an attempt to secure them to the kayak. The most important point was they were to hand in the event of an emergency.

Whilst I’ve been rigging the Hobie Outback I looked over the dry box to see how I could improve the current setup. I decided to wrap two long lengths of strong bungee cord around the crate using the rod holders and pad eyes to route and retain the bungee cord into position. This permits easy stowage of the paddle float and cutting board, allowing them to be removed in seconds if required. However, they are securely stowed and will remain in position during a capsize and the associated recovery.

I also took the opportunity to fit two anchor retainers at the rear of the box, one to store a spare anchor (if required) and the other to house the manual bilge pump. The bungee cord picks up on the anchor to keep it secured in place, the bilge pump is an interference fit and requires no additional securing.

A length of YakAttack’s GT90 GearTrac was fitted to the dry box. This innovative rail system permits the quick fitment of the YakAttack range of accessories. I’ve also modified my own homemade camera mounts to enable them to utilise this rail system. It’s extremely sturdy and provides a very solid mounting point for accessories.

The front straps for the dry box are also used to secure the kayak trolley into position.

The photograph below shows the neat stowage for the paddle float and bilge pump.

The dedicated spare anchor stowage and removable cutting board is clearly visible below.

The photograph below shows a set of removable plywood dividers that permit the box to remain neatly organised at all times. It’s very handy to be able to place your hand directly on something in the dark if required, not quite so easy to achieve if your crate/box is disorganised!

It really is a highly effective box and will fit in the majority of kayak tankwells. Total cost for the box and rod holders is around £30, add some fittings and cord and you might nudge £40, still a bit of a bargain in my eyes!

Bilge pump installation

The first question is probably ‘why fit one?’. Someone even asked me if my kayak leaks. To answer the second question the answer is no it doesn’t, however, it may in the future. I’ve read plenty of horror stories or kayaks flooding and capsizing as a result. Why would your kayak suddenly start leaking?, after all it’s been fine for a long time. Well there’s always the chance that a kayak may get damaged during loading or unloading, whilst in storage, general fatigue, hitting rocks or unseen objects… the list goes on and on. The chances are that a leak would be slow and you may not notice it for some time, perhaps you’d find yourself a mile or two offshore when the symptoms become all to apparent.

Ok, so I carry a manual bilge pump, most of the time. However, if you’re pumping you can’t paddle, or pedal for that matter. It’s certainly better than nothing, though I’d rather be underway whilst the kayak is pumping out water. I’ve seen videos where kayakers have just capsized, unaware that their kayak had flooded to a point of terminal instability!. I’ve wanted to fit an electric bilge pump for some time and as I’m currently finishing off the rigging on my Hobie Outback I decided now was as good a time as any.

What pump?. Rule pumps seem to be the most popular on the market for marine use and they have the advantage of being able to run dry (without water lubrication). After much research it became apparent that the 500gph (gallons per hour) was the model to go for. That narrowed it down to an automatic or manual version. I was originally going to go with a manual pump on cost grounds, though an Ebay bargain saw me go with an automatic version at the last minute!.

So the parts required, a bilge pump, 19mm piping, stainless pipe clips, waterproof switch, thru-hull skin fitting,foam pieces and Marine Goop. Total cost to me was under £50.


The next decision was where to fit the pump. Kayaks tend to sit down at the rear somewhat when loaded so it made sense to position it towards the rear of the kayak where any water would initially start to collect. I also wanted it situated where the hull was strongest so I chose a position in between the rear tank well scupper holes. The internal hull surface is smooth and requires ‘roughing up’ with some wet and dry paper, I used 300 grade. This enables the adhesive to bond more effectively to the hull. I’m a big fan of Marine Goop adhesive and have used it with excellent long term results on transducers. However, it tends to spread out quite rapidly so I first glued a circular ‘dam’ (neoprene ring) to the hull to hold the Marine Goop.  With about 3mm of Marine Goop retained within the foam ring the base of the bilge pump was firmly seated and allowed to dry for at least 24 hours.


With the base of the bilge pumping drying into place I switched my attentions to placing the vent for ditching any pumped water overboard. For this I used a 90 degree skin fitting (19mm), the problem was where to position it. I finally decided on a flat area just behind the seat on the left hand size. The hole for the skin fitting is large so check you marking out twice before you drill the hole!.

The skin fitting was supplied with a lock nut, though the use of that pushed the 90 degree fitting a little to close to the rudder lines for my liking. Again I roughened both the internal and external surface where the skin fitting would sit. Thought need to be given at this stage as to how you intend to route the pipework, as once the fitting is glued into place there’ll be little chance of moving it!. Marine Goop was again used to seal the fitting on both sides and it was left to dry thoroughly overnight.

With various parts of the installation drying I switched my attention to the electrical side of things. I was making a completed wiring loom for the kayak at this stage so introducing the bilge pump into the design posed no problem. The main kayak battery is a 7ah SLA unit. This is used to power the LED navigation light, the fishfinder/GPS and the bilge pump. The Rule 500gph pump pulls 1.9A whilst running which means even with a partially discharged battery would give me plenty of time to return to shore should the pump activate.

The switch was mounted on the right hand side of the kayak just behind the RAM rod holder. A three position ON/OFF/ON switch was used. This enables the pump to either be in the automatic or manual mode of operation, the other position switches it off.

Saltwater will quickly destroy any exposed electrics so thorough sealing of the switch and associated loom is of paramount importance.

Full electrical installation for the kayak will be covered in more detail in a later article. With the electrics in place it was merely a case of routing the pipework and fitting the pump into position. It’s recommended that you place a loop in the pipe close to the skin fitting to prevent back flooding of water in rough weather. Routing the pipe in this way within the confines of the hull was one of the trickier aspects of the installation!

You can see in the above photograph that I added a foam packing piece between the pump and the hull. As much as the pump is glued solidly to the hull, the kayak travels upside down on the car roof and I was concerned that the weight of the pump could possibly cause the pump to loosen over time. The foam packing piece is lightly glued to the top of the pump and the hull to prevent any possibility of it falling out.

That concludes the electrical and mechanical installation of the pump. I’ll probably partially flood the hull at some point to give it a full functional test, however I’ve watched a few videos on YouTube and it will no doubt be very effective.

Kayak Wars !

Kayak Wars is a year long tournament where you get points for catching as many of your local species (within a size limit). When a fish is caught it is measured and photographed for proof and submitted. The tournament is growing across the globe and is now to include Europe. The UK and Ireland are currently forming teams, France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands are also joining in the fun. Teams are normally comprised of 3-5 people, though the UK & Ireland have chosen to forms teams of three people to keep things more fair.

It’s also cool to see the submissions from around the world as well as competing within your region against other teams. The UK & Ireland participants are running a Facebook group (‘Kayak Wars UK & Ireland’) to keep abreast of the tournament.

New product – GearTrac SL from YakAttack

YakAttack is just about to expand its product range with the introduction of GearTrac SL. I’ve used the original GearTrac on my older Big Game kayak as well as rigging my new Hobie Outback with the stuff. I’ve not seen the new SL range in the flesh yet, though what what I can see it looks great!.

The GearTrac SL series is made from the strongest and most durable USA made polymer available. Period. The original material they selected would have allowed them to lower the price by an easy 15% or more, though they stuck with their principles and went with the best.

The US prices are as shown below, the product will no doubt also be sold within the UK in the near future.

GearTrac SL-UD (All colours, drill holes where you want them, no hardware)
8” - $7.00
12” - $9.00
24” - $15.00
48” - $28.00

GearTrac SL (All colours, ready to install with mounting holes, includes hardware)
4” - $8.00
8” - $12.00
12” - $16.00
16” - $20.00
24” - $26.00