1. Astral Buoyancy redefines creeking comfort and safety with its new Greenjacket. A locked-down lower-torso foam panel under a second, adjustable outer panel means a mobile and customized fit. This USCG-approved vest has 15.5 pounds of floatation and plenty of ‘oh crap’ features, including a 1,200-pound tested rescue harness, Spectra front safety loop and a handy pocket for a 6-foot tow line. And you’ll love the reinforced shoulder protection when it’s time to lug your boat back to the river ($210, astralbuoyancy.com).
2. Weighing in at 3.8 ounces, Gerber’s new blunt-tipped, serrated Rivermate rocks like Bon Jovi, with its rust-resistant titanium-coated blade. But unlike the Jersey frontman, it won’t get ‘slippery when wet,’ thanks to an improved non-slip grip ($43, gerbergear.com).
3. Nothing says you mean business like a full-face helmet. Predator’s new Six certainly does not mess around, combining the rock-solid protection of a carbon-reinforced fiberglass shell with the fail-safe padding of a polystyrene impact liner. This streamlined lid weighs in at a svelte 1.75 pounds, and features a wide field of view and detachable visor for keen visibility ($249, predatorhelmets.com).
4. Funk it and forget it with Kokatat’s smooth and fast-wicking, long-sleeve OuterCore top, featuring Polartec’s new Power Dry fabric that infuses silver yarns to inhibit odor-causing bacteria growth. Stinky hippie boaters can rest double easy knowing it’s made with 65 percent recycled materials ($72, kokatat.com).
5. Teva’s new Cherry Bomb booties are equally at home in underwater wrestling matches (see p. 62) as they are scaling the slippery slopes around the nefarious California drop for which they’re named. At 24 oz., they can make the playboat squeeze, but the SSR rubber foot-wrapping outsole is better suited for your next manky put-in slog ($65, teva.com).
6. Need a little Nookie? Get some with the Assault Drytop, one of the most-bomber tops on the market. The fully taped inner tunnel and adjustable outer waist layer keep you sealed over your sprayskirt, while the innovative deck clips keep skirts from sliding down. The “Enduro mesh” reinforced elbow pads, developed using motocross technology, keep a barrier between you and those bone-splitting river rocks. Nookie’s new Xtetra4 fabric is not just breathable, it keeps you drip-free all day. And the retro-reflective material is as stylie as it gets ($323, nookie.co.uk).
7. Does your pigskin toss strike closer than your horseshoe huck? If so, unleash your inner Elway using the “overhand style deployment” of Salamander’s new River Dart, utilizing a tapered-end design and a patented Pop-Top closure. Available in various bag sizes and rope configurations, from the Doug Flutie-sized 70-foot bag with polypropylene core and 1000-pound strength to the Big Ben (Roethlisberger) proportions of a 90-foot rope with a Spectra core tested to 2500 pounds ($45-$83, salamanderpaddlegear.com). —Dave Shively