BY CHRIS KALTHOFF
One week ago, I attended the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake City. At this staggeringly large outdoor sports trade show, which brings equipment retailers and manufacturers from around the globe into one main hub, an interested party would generally need to set aside all four days (August 5-8) to peruse the seemingly unending array of exhibitor booths covering every end of the outdoor industry. I had one afternoon. Therefore, I moved fast, focusing my scant time almost exclusively in the paddlesports section, with a quick sweep of the camping area. As expected, I found no shortage of wonderful products designed and made specifically for people who love to camp and paddle. As one of those people, and a member of the Missouri River Paddlers group, five products in particular spoke to me personally, and seemed would benefit any like-minded paddler.
1. SUPreme Paddle Gear's Reach (Men's) and Catch (Women's) Platinum Polyolefin Jacket
Made from breathable Platinum Polyolefin with a micro-fleece interior, this jacket provides paddling comfort and maneuverability. Though it’s designed specifically with warm-water (65-80°F) standup paddleboarding in mind, it caught my eye as I’ve run into several hitches while searching for a layering system -- I'm either too hot or too cold a good amount of time -- and this versatile jacket seemed to be a good solution as an all-around paddling top for a broad range of seasons and air-temperature ranges (50-80°F) if you’re not worried about immersion and falling in the drink. Plus, unlike climbing in a wetsuit, it can be easily layered, and SUPreme Paddle Gear has matching top and bottom combos. ($110, supremepaddle.com)
2. Sawyer's Double Bend Manta Paddle, weighing in at a mere 22 ounces, looked to be a fantastic fit for my specific paddling style. The double-bend allows the paddle to fit nicely in my hand, easing the flex on the lower wrist, while the double-scoop dihedral blade (fiberglass-reinforced and protected with Dynel ToughEdge) cuts through the water with minimal effort. Crafted from Western Red Cedar and Doug Fir, it looks as good as it feels. ($219, paddlesandoars.com)
3. Western Mountaineering's water repellant new sleeping bag, the TerraLite, is exactly the type of bag I would take on the river, most any time of the year. Resistant to cold temps down to 25°F, it's perfect for expeditions on the Missouri River. I like to sleep on my side, and this bag allows me to do just that. Having a wider build, a zipper for mating other mummy bags, and a second zipper at the bottom, you are free to turn without restriction. Another option would be to simply not zip it at all (weather permitting), and use it as more of a comforter than a mummy bag. At 18-29 ounces, it has a three-dimensional down-filled draft tube, insulated adjustable hood, and is available in three lengths (5'6", 6'0", 6'6"). ($470-$500, westernmountaineering.com)
4. MTI's PFD, the Java, looks to be a perfect choice for those who are on a budget, but don't want to sacrifice quality to save a buck or two. Six points of adjustment, padded neoprene adjustable shoulders, two large zippered cargo pockets (with stretch mesh), and open sides make this PFD perfect for recreational use, from a day-paddle, to even a two- or three-day trip. ($89, mtiadventurewear.com)
5. I found the Swedish FireKnife, from Light My Fire of Sweden, in the camping section of the trade show, and had to put it on my list. With a Sandvik 12C27 stainless-steel blade (used for anything from cutting a tangled rope, to cleaning a fish), a high-friction rubber handle, and an original Swedish FireSteel firestarter in the handle, this knife is a must for journeys of any magnitude. The back of the blade is squared at a 90-degree angle, which allows for easy striking and almost effortless production of tinder for lighting campfires, gas stoves, or gas barbeques. Wet or dry, the FireSteel firestarter works wonderfully, without fail. ($39, lightmyfire.com)
MORE FROM C&K
-- Check out whitewater expedition paddler Darin McQuoid’s First Look at 5 New Paddling Products at the this summer’s Outdoor Retailer show.
-- Take a sneak peek into what your favorite brands are working on for next season in our 2016 New Product Preview.