Field Tested: 2015 Paddling Footwear
What did the boater say to his buddies when he tried to portage in tennis shoes? “Hey guys, wait up!” When it comes to water sports, good footwear is essential safety equipment. High Traction shoes that fit well are clutch when you’re scrambling around in rough, slippery terrain. Footwear may not qualify as one of the traditional “five essentials” for kayakers, but any good raft guide will tell you that most injuries occur on shore while portaging or slipping on a boat. Purchasing purpose-built amphibious footwear will save innumerable headaches on the water. Fortunately, a variety of great new footwear has flooded the market for the past few years. 2015 has seen several new additions to the lineup from Astral, NRS, and Five Ten, as brands continue to innovate with high traction outsoles. Whether your adventures take you deep into the wilderness or to simply to your local play park (and pub), you have plenty of options to choose from. Browse the links below for our roundup of paddling footwear reviews of some popular new models that our contributors tested around the world this season. Make sure you have the shoes that will work properly when you’re hauling a heavy boat
Canoe Country Shoulder-season Tips
A month into their #WildernessYear in the Boundary Waters, Dave and Amy Freeman offer timely advice on paddling in comfort during the fall shoulder season.
8 Swamp Paddling Getaways
By Larry Rice Not every swamp can be a world famous primordial paddling destination such as the Everglades or the Great Dismal Swamp, but these eight swamp paddling getaways are certainly worth a trip (and may be less crowded than more famous swamps). Check them out: GREAT SWAMP, NEW JERSEY: This 7,400-acre pocket paradise survives within 25 miles of Manhattan’s towers. Though it is surrounded by suburbia, it is possible to get lost in this land of wooded swamps, bogs, freshwater marshes, and uplands. The swamp contains an abundance of wildlife, along with an enormous variety of plant life. Contact: Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, (973) 425-1222. REELFOOT LAKE, TENNESSEE: A series of spectacular earthquakes in 1811 and 1812 created 14,500-acre Reelfoot Lake. A 13,000-acre national wildlife refuge attracts over 239 bird species, including extensive numbers of bald eagles, waterfowl, and songbirds. Containing virgin bald cypress stands, this is one of the most picturesque areas in the nation. Contact: Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge, (731) 538-2481. CONGAREEY’ SWAMP, SOUTH CAROLINA: A near-pristine strip of lowlands along the Congaree River, this is a rare example of an original southern hardwood swamp. The swamp is of ecological interest because several relatively undisturbed ecosystems are
Three families tackle North America’s iconic canoe route
Wizard’s Eye: Madagascar (Part IV)
Follow the crew of the Wizard's Eye first descent exploration of the grueling Sandratsio River in northern Madagascar in this final of four episodes exploring the African island nation's rivers.
Kayak Distribution Goes Long
Mark Hall compares his long career in paddlesports to a “ridiculous disease.” The Vancouver Island-based sales manager for Kayak Distribution, a Canadian company that brokers Boreal Design, Riot Kayaks and Corran SUPs, says he should’ve made a run for the Alberta oil sands a long time ago. But there’s something about designing and selling kayaks that won’t let go of Hall’s imagination. Perhaps that passion is why Kayak Distribution has emerged as a key player in the paddlesports industry. Kayak Distribution’s model relies on offshore production: Its composite kayaks are built in Estonia, and plastics are molded at a brand-new facility near Shanghai, China, which employs 40 full-time workers. Hall sells to markets around the world, from Russia to Australia, while catering to the North American retailers and outfitters who have long relied on touring kayaks from Boreal Designs. With its new plastics facility, Hall says Kayak Distribution is poised to start prototyping boats and designing molds for other manufacturers and retailers. Meantime, Hall is excited about two new thermoform Boreal Design kayaks due out in 2016: A Greenland-style boat conceived with the advice of expert rollers James Manke and James Roberts; and a British-inspired, rough-water design called the Storm will
On Sale Now: December 2015
12 Reasons to Start Paddling
In my book, nothing on the planet matches self-propelled boats and water for the spectrum of gratifications; from thrills to serenity, and from awe to that delicious touch of terror.