Every paddler wants more gear – it’s genetic. Here is a whole closet full of goodies that will make the boater in your family almost as happy as being on the water.
Vasa Ergometer, $1,299-$1,899 (vasatrainer.com)
Want to paddle more but live far from the water? Have nowhere to store a boat? Or simply work too much during daylight hours to steal away for a boating excursion? Vasa has a solution: a low-impact trainer that resembles a rowing machine, but is designed for kayak, canoe, and swim training by simulating the paddling motion with varying degrees of resistance. Assemble the lightweight, quiet unit with the included tools and instructions, add the "paddle shaft" of your choice—canoe or kayak—and stroke away in your living room or office (add TV playing paddling videos on a loop for maximum effect). The monitor offers simple information like time elapsed and stroke rate in one mode; for more details switch to "stroke mode," which displays force and stroke length on each side. Other options include pre-setting distances, times, or intervals for your workout, as well as post-paddle review of average pace and strength. The Vasa Ergometer makes it easy to prep for your next paddling adventure, or train for the big race, without ever doing another twisting crunch. Check out the new "space saver" version, due out this holiday season—a great gift for the paddler who has everything, except extra room in their studio loft.
Spot Satellite Personal Tracker, $170/requires a monthly subscription service (findmespot.com)
Many of us have a bad habit of just going out boating, forgetting to file a float plan with a spouse, roommate, or significant other, invariably driving them crazy and wondering as to your whereabouts. This handy little device lets them know where you are in case anything happens. It also can alert first responders in an emergency or simply send a signal to show that you are okay. It can track your route on Google Maps, and save your GPS waypoints. Using it requires a service subscription—get one for the wayward boater in your life this holiday season and everyone close to them will enjoy a little peace of mind.
Adventure Medical Kits (adventuremedicalkits.com)
Ultralight & Watertight .9 First Aid kit, $35
The compact size of this lightweight kit makes you more likely to take it on a trip. Two waterproof Aloksak bags are nested inside a tough ripstop nylon zippered pouch to keep the contents dry. Unlike some small lightweight kits, this one has a good supply of components, including a swift wrap elastic bandage, Moleskin and Spenco Second Skin for treating and preventing blisters, and tiny Splinter Picker tweezers. There is also a wound irrigation system to clean and close wounds and a good assortment of tape, Band-aids and ointments to prevent infection. The .9 is listed for a group of up to four people for a four-day trip—great to throw in your deck bag and forget about until you need it.
Comprehensive Watersports Kits, $190-$280
These full kits are ideal for outdoor guides or large groups out for multi-day adventures—available in a roll-top drybag or Pelican case.
Pocket Survival Pak, $33
A complete rescue kit in a waterproof bag, the Pocket Survival Pak includes a needle and thread for gear repair, fire-starting materials, compass, and waterproof survival instructions. And, for when all else fails, a two-foot swatch of duct tape.
Emergency Bivy, $15
A palm sized emergency blanket. Great to keep in your dry bag in case someone takes an unexpected swim and need to warm up fast.
Go Pro Digital Hero 3 , $139.99 (goprocamera.com)
Three words describe this camera. Inexpensive, small and fun. Inside the tiny 4.5 oz. body is a 3 megapixel sensor that shoots still images which enlarge nicely to 8x 10. It records 30fps VGA video with sound at high enough quality to make any You Tube addict happy. The GoPro folks stuffed this little box full of digital goodies – self timer, fast f2.8 lens, wrist strap and 32 MB of built-in storage (good for about 50 images and 50 seconds of video.) To take full advantage of the video feature you need to get an optional SD card so you can record up to 56 minutes of video. The best thing about this tiny camera is it’s waterproof and small enough to fit in your PFD so you will get the picture when other cameras are nestled securely in your waterproof gear box.
SealLine Storm Sack Drybags, $11-$35 (seallinegear.com)
Even though kayaks have infinitely more space for gear than any 3 backpacks combined, paddlers still share the same soft spot for ultra-light gear as the most fanatical trailheads. These oval-bottomed waterproof stuff sacks are perfect for stowing necessities like tents, camp pads, and anything else you can cram into your boat's hatches. Fully-taped seams and traditional roll-top enclosure systems on these PVC-free coated nylon bags make sure everything is still dry when you get to camp. Avoid snagging the thin material on a bolt while stowing it in your boat to ensure years of use.
SealLine Boundary Pack 70, $80
A classic canoe portage pack with ultramodern features like waterproof/breathable shoulder straps and a comfy waist belt. It's heavy-duty vinyl body features a reinforced "bathtub" bottom and roll-top closure with side-cinch buckles to keep 65 liters of stuff safe and dry.
Otter Box 1000, $12 (otterbox.com)
Drybags are great, but for expensive electronics like cameras and cell phones, a hard waterproof box is the way to go. Otter boxes are rated waterproof to 100 feet and they float—the 1000 case holds my digital camera perfectly and is still small enough to fit in my PFD pocket; it also has a slot for a lanyard.
H2O Audio Waterproof iPod Case, $40-$100
H3 Waterproof headphones, $50 (h2oaudio.com)
Taking your iPod out paddling seems like an unnecessary luxury–some folks even consider it sacrilegious to take it out on the water, but how else are you going to listen to your favorite tunes while training for the Olympics?
The iV6 takes the latest generation iPod but there are models available for all the Apple portable sound units. They also make pair of waterproof headphones so you can even play it while practicing rolls.
Nite Ize Figure 9 Carabiner, $4-$6 (niteize.com)
Leave your mangled trucker's hitch at home with these rope tighteners from Nite Ize. The newest version, featuring a carbiner that clips to a fixed point or loop in the rope, adds an extra level of handiness while tying down boats and cargo. Available in two sizes.
Inka Pen Titanium Edition, $50 (writeanywhere.com)
A $50 pen? More like a titanium and carbon-fiber fine writing instrument. It writes underwater. It writes at altitude. In the heat, in the cold … you get the idea. The engineer behind Inka pens developed technology for the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the U.S. military before bringing this line of stealth writing instruments to the American consumer. If you've ever tried to record data in wet, sandy conditions, or conduct an interview outside in sub-freezing temperatures, you understand why. If not, you'll still enjoy its sturdy stainless steel key ring and sleek, compact design that converts into a full-size pen and ingeniously incorporates a PDA stylus.
Princeton Tec Fuel headlamp, $25 (princetontec.com)
The average camper wants one thing from his or her headlamp—a simple beam of light that originates from a fixed point on their forehead. The Fuel delivers this in an affordable, low-profile, 2.7-ounce package. A single button turns the light on and off and toggles between four output settings: high, medium, low, and fast flash; three AAA batteries provide about 110 hours of light on medium.
GIFTS FOR HER
Therm-A-Rest Women's Prolite 4 Camp Pad, $85-$110 (thermarest.com)
A score for both of you—give her the ultra-light, compact 4-season camping pad with added insulation in the feet and torso, and she won't feel the need to plant her cold toes on you during those cold outdoor nights. Available in three sizes.
Kokatat MsFIT Tour PFD, $142 (kokatat.com)
She's more likely to go boating with you if she has a stylie, tricked out touring vest to wear. Hint, hint … give her the Kokatat MsFIT, specially cut to fit women's torsos with cool extras like padded shoulders, a strobe lash tab, and gadget-friendly pockets. You'll earn a paddling partner for life.
JUST FOR KIDS
Eureka Grasshopper Sleeping Bag, $40 (eurekatent.com)
My son loves the Grasshopper's bright green color scheme, cool mummy shape, and pocket for his stuffed animal du jour. I love the grown-up features like the fully adjustable contoured hood, anatomically-shaped foot box, and double layer off-set construction so he stays warm in his bag and doesn't come snuggling into mine in the middle of the night. The bag is rated to 30 degrees F and is perfect for summertime paddling trips.
Chaco Boy's and Girl's Z/1 Water Sandals, $50 (chacousa.com)
A children's version of Chaco's legendary Z/1 sandal—for every kid who wants to wear the same sandals his or her paddling parents wear. It is a smaller version of the adult shoe but has one feature that I don't have on my grown-up pair—an elastic back strap that makes my son's shoes easy for him to slip on and off. These kicks feature all the same great time-tested features Chaco is known for, like durability and a rugged sole for outdoor adventuring—the BioCentric support system makes sure junior keeps them on and the open-toed straps let him wear socks for a little extra warmth.
View our comprehensive on-line gear reviews for more gift ideas…..
Sea Kayak Paddles
Kayak Tow Systems