2012 Gift Guide

C&K's top paddling picks for the holiday shopping home-stretch

We’re inside the two-weeks-till Christmas mark. If you need a little last-minute gift-giving inspiration for that paddler on your list, look no further than a few of C&K’s favorite gear goodies in our annual Holiday Gift Guide. 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.

The North Carolina PFD innovators at Astral provide a welcome facelift to the river shoe with the Brewer. That lifting starts with your stride thanks to a surprisingly lightweight build. You’ll recognize some of the AirMesh and hardy quick-drying fabrics, but your feet will find a new home in the comfy, rubber-pocked footbed with ample arch support. A Stealth Rubber sole and plenty of quick-drain extras push these shoes onto any paddler’s must-have list. ($99, astralbuoyancy.com)
 
If you went paddling and didn’t post photos online, did it really happen? Keep your battery-sapping iDevices of choice fueled for the journey with Goal ZERO’s Guide 10 Plus Adventure Kit. There’s good reason its the best selling USB solar charging kit for the power-storage savants at Goal Zero: It won’t break the bank, it packs easily away (and finds itself easier too thanks to the built-in LED flashlight), and has enough juice to keep the average paddlers basic electronics going with the included AA rechargeable batteries. ($160, goalzero.com)
 
Aqua-Bound’s Surge Carbon paddle tips the scales at less than two pounds—perfect for extended touring. The full-size Surge blades are favored by fit paddlers like Josh Tart, the kayak angler who circumnavigated the eastern U.S. Available with a simple three-hole push-button ferrule or an adjustable telescopic ferrule. (aquabound.com)
 
For traditionalist campers, Littlbug’s Senior stove adds a new level of efficiency to campfire cooking. Lightweight and compact, Littlbug stoves burn twigs and small pieces of wood, and the cylindrical firebox keeps the heat right under your pot. ($56.95, littlbug.com)
 
Teva slims down its gnarly Gnarkosi shoe that’s seen plenty of foot-time with raft racers, creekboaters and whitewater SUP fanatics over the last couple years. Updates include a slimmer profile, non-absorbant mesh upper and lighter weight (10 ounces) while still maintaining sleek skate-shoe DNA looks and the flat Spider Original sole that keeps its paddlers feet put ($90, teva.com)
 
Sometimes the entire point of paddling is to get out of cell range. But if you still want to communicate with members of your group, or say, the photographer waiting at the bottom of the waterfall, look to Motorola’s new Talkabout MS350, a burly, completely waterproof two-way radio you can wear right on your PFD with a 35-mile range (don’t worry, it floats). Welcome extras include a built-in flashlight plus access to NOAA weather alert channels. Did we mention it’s completely waterproof? ($99, motorola.com)
 
Don’t brush off Carhartt as only a hardened canvas clothes crafter. With its new soft shell hooded jacket, Carhartt not only shows a softer side, but that its high-value outerwear can hang with the fancier gear on the rack. It’s still got that rugged build with ripstop nylon, and the breathable, water-resistant, windproof protection will add it to your cold-weather camping quiver. Also, if you can’t decide on fleece vs. puffy, check out Carhartt’s $140 Soft Shell Hybrid that combines the best of both. (Soft Shell $125, carhartt.com)
 
Badger’s Digger paddle has enough grab in the beavertail-shaped blade to set a good pace and enough flex in the shaft to keep you going all day long. Handcrafted in Ontario’s Muskoka region, the Digger blade features stout, durable edges to stand up to the rigors of canoe tripping. ($129.95 in cherry, badgerpaddles.com)
 
Dublin Dog’s all-rubber collar eliminates the nasty funk associated with typical nylon collars. It’s waterproof, simple and stylish—a perfect gift for your favorite buddy on the river. (also available in yellow frames, $100, dublindog.com)
 
A belt knife like Helle’s Fjellkniven is an essential tool on a canoe trip. The Fjellkniven’s 4-inch blade performs flawlessly in meal prep and producing wafer-thin tinder to start a fire, among other everyday tasks. Helle’s three-layer laminate steel is corrosion resistant and holds a fine edge. ($109, helle.no)
 
On a sea kayak trip to Florida’s notoriously buggy Big Bend Coast (read the full story in the December 2012 issue of Canoe & Kayak magazine), we relied on ExOfficio’s permethrin-treated Bugsaway clothing and accessories, like the Halo Check long-sleeve shirt ($99) and Adventure hat ($45). Besides repelling insects, both offer SPF 30 sun protection. ( exofficio.com)
 
For the outdoor chef on your list, GSI’s Dutch oven is a lightweight take on a camping classic. Made of hard-anodized aluminum, the 10-inch Dutch oven resists sticking and offers uniform heat for baking pizza, lasagnas and desserts. ($69.95 gsioutdoors.com)
 
Got a winter paddling escape in the works? Pack one of Chaco’s new flip-flops from its NearGround Collection. For a long time, the Chaco webbing-sandal traction-masters’ flip-flops were mired with extra flop due to heavy footbeds. No longer. The reduced platform goes thin to win, especially winning over the well-arched who still crave support for endless riverside wanderings, but only on a lighter, yet more cushioned Chaco. ($60, chaco.com)
 
When it comes to the bang-for-buck choices of stuffing certain gear into the finite space of a boat hatch or drybag, you need more from less. Lenser’s 4.13-oz. H7 fits that bill of a lot from a little with this minimalist and water-resistant headlamp. Six times the lumens, a dimming feature, a vertical swivel, and a no-brainer beam-focusing adjustment will help drive you through the short days of winter.($289, ledlenser.com)
 
Speaking of easy packing and pricing, Coglan’s new Anondized Aluminum Cookset provides a compact, lightweight cookset option that nests a 7.8-inch fry pan, three pots, a measuring cup and a pot scrubber together well. It will hold out for the long haul and seasons of hastily-prepared rice an sausage concoctions at the end of weary paddling days. Sea kayak crossovers will want to check out the new (slightly heavier) steel version to keep things corrosion-free. ($69, coghlans.com)
 
Don’t be the tool without a tool out there. You don’t need every do-hickey out either. Just a few basics like the ones built into Leatherman’s steel Skeletool: a good, locking knife, a pair of needlenosed plier/wirecutters, and a screwdriver with four bits. Oh yeah, and something to open your beer (bonus: the five-ounce Skeletool’s opener also works as a carabiner for clipping to your gear bundle). ($77, leatherman.com)

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Buyer's Guide

Buyer's Guide