C&K’s 2011 Holiday Gift Guide

Presenting a paddling gift under the tree is never easy. There’s no good box or bag to conceal a boat or a paddle—and picking the right size, fit, and outfitting is often is best left to the discerning user anyway. Let’s make this easy. Here’s our picks for the easily stuff-able, box-able and shippable paddling items that work for any single- or double-bladed paddler on your list.

If it seems like your options for new paddling shoes are just getting wackier and flashier, consider the Teva Churn. As a worthy successor to the popular Sunkosi 2, the easy-breathing/draining Churn inherits the proven features — namely, a well-supported low profile, quick-pull laces and rugged Spider Original sticky rubber sole — while adding a fold-down heel. ($80, teva.com)
 
Ever lost a headlamp to a rainstorm, or had it crushed in your drybag? If you’re ready for a headlamp you can abuse just like the hull of your trusty, roto-molded boat, check out the Petzl Pixa 1. Yes it’s got a hefty feel, but we’ll take it for a headlight “certified for use in explosive environments,” just in case something goes wrong with the grease bomb. We’re thankful for a broad-swiveling light that keeps on kicking 25 lumens after complete immersion (read: midnight roll sessions). ($37, petzl.com/us)
 
What’s the one item that always gets lost and always needs replacing? No holiday gift item is more evergreen than a good water bottle (or at least one you’ll try harder not to lose). CamelBak’s Eddy increases gulp-ability by 68 percent or so with its larger stem tube and straw and one-piece bite valve that quickly flips open and shut ($14), while the new Groove ($25) adds insulating double walls and a straw that holds a slim filtration system to ensure better tasting tugs on the bottle. (Camelbak.com)
 
Winter time means one thing: more insulation. But just because you’re packing more natural insulation on with each bite of holiday turducken doesn’t mean you need to pack more in your overnight paddling camp kit. Helly Hansen’s new lightweight Quebec Down Jacket (left) packs small, yet adds water repelency and waterproof zippers to the toasty goose down insulation of your favorite puffy coat. For an even more water-ready synthetic option, the PrimaLoft-stuffed HH Odin Isolator Hooded Jacket (right) has lined pockets and a beefy ripstop-nylon outer shell. ($325, $300, hellyhansen.com)
 
No longer can the high-maintenance foodies on your list turn up their noses at your soggy bag of GORP. Rise Bar introduces its 100-percent all-natural Breakfast, Energy and Protein nutrition bars. Reading the basic ingredient list is a breath of fresh air, and the bars taste so chewy and fresh (we like the Crunchy Cranberry Apple) that you’ll forget to wince at the fact that you’re eating something at once vegetarian, Kosher, gluten-free and without GMOs, preservative, peanuts or soy. ($17 for 12-bar pack, risebar.com)
 
Try as you might to keep your on-water snacking socially responsible, you know you want some jerky. Our stocking-stuffer pick compromise is the new Oberto All Natural Jerky Line—especially in the saliva-inducing BBQ Pork. There’s no artificial ingredients, or preservatives or added MSG, and you won’t miss the preservatives or artificial flavors. ($23 for pack of four 3.25-ounce bags, oberto.com)
 
Keep it simple (and cheap) this Christmas for that smartphone or tablet-owning paddler on your list. SmartSleeves’ surprisingly stout, formfitting zip-lock covers will keep high-tech gadgetry completely dry and protected from the elements while still allowing users to talk, text, read, or even play Angry Birds on the water for about $1 a pop. ($7 for six sleeves, smartsleeves.com)
 
Conveniently insured against loss or destruction for two years and made with self-proclaimed “Canadian persnicketiness” (whatever that means), the new Tilley T7MO is a great fit for paddlers. Its quick-drying ventilation, extra broad brim and UPF 50-plus sun protection make it indispensable on a sunny day. And when the wind kicks up, the tether will keep it from blowing out to sea. ($82, tilley.com)
 
In an effort to forever abolish the use of improvised duct-tape Croakies, the new Julbo Dolphin Sunglasses will not sink when you swim. On your head, where they belong, the Dolphin’s polarized lenses and contoured shape keeps you seeing clear on the brightest days. (also available in yellow frames, $100, julbousa.com)
 
One of the more progressive steps forward this year in cold-weather, synthetic insulation comes from a sport far from paddling. That’s right—huntin’. We like Cabela’s Thermal Zone baselayers that match three weights of well-positioned Polartec Power Dry fabrics in all the right places, getting lighter toward your sweatier extremities and cuffs. So go camo and release your inner outdoorsman. And don’t worry about your outdoor releases coming back inside, thanks to the warm, easy-breathing top and bottoms’ antimicrobial treatments .($85, $85, cabelas.com)
 
Planning on escaping for a paddling trip to warmer climes this winter? When you’re ready to stretch out and relax on that rocky riverside or cobbled ocean beach, deploy the 1-pound Trek Light Single Hammock. Triple-stitched in fast-drying parachute nylon, the Trek Light holds up to 400 pounds and folds down to the size of a water bottle. Rain, bugs, bad with knots? No need to sleep in the dirt. Add the V-9 Hammock Tarp ($70), Bug Free Hammock Shield ($70), or the Rope and Carabiner Bundle ($26) to your hammock kit. ($65, treklightgear.com)
 
Think Tank Photo Airport AirStream Rolling Camera Bag Getting to that perfect paddling destination isn’t enough these days. Now you have to photograph it, take video and blog about it, and that means you’ve got a heap of camera gear to move through the airport. Think Tank Photo’s durable bag complies with international carry-on size limits. The configurable dividers keep a pair of camera bodies and half a dozen lenses safe and organized. The integrated cable locks (one front, one rear) secure a laptop case to the bag, and the bag to a fixed object. The zipper also sports a TSA combination lock. ($289, thinktankphoto.com)

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Buyer's Guide

Buyer's Guide