Paddling Life’s Joe Carberry recently visited Portland, Oregon on a gear testing trip and the water was gushing. Bloated waterfalls and steep waves were par for the course, as were cold hands and ice-cold beer. Following is a run down of the latest and greatest he thoroughly used and abused.
The Lid —The Sweet Rocker S1 full cut might just be the most versatile helmet on the market. The always-durable carbon layup is standard in this Sweet piece of love, which can be worn on the creek—if it’s chilly add the ear covers—or riding powder in the trees. The Rocker offers complete protection down the back of the neck and comes with a motocross-style visor. Click here for more
The Blade —AT still does paddles like Bill Bellichick does football: The right way. The AT 2 feels like a magic wand in the water with braided carbon/Aramid shaft for a super light stick that you’ll be able to feel every current with. You may as well be hand paddling. Nylon edging on the blades fends off big hits and ideal balance means you can creek, play and generally tear it up in any situation. Click here for more
The Suit —Warm, comfy, dry. The Palm Torrent is the ultimate for warding off hypothermia on a cold day. You may roll more than a Sushi chef, swim more than a dolphin and swallow more water than a hung over college student, but at least you’ll be cozy. No underarm seams so you won’t wear this thing down to nub and built-in Cordura booties allow you to wear socks and stay even warmer. All zippers are water tight and made for rippin’ the wetness. Click here for more
The Jacket —Introducing the Salus Darwin Expedition Life Vest. Salus may be obscure but its vests are the real deal. Form fitting with neoprene adjustable waist and shoulder pads, this baby fits even the most awkward torso. A tunnel underneath the big front pocket allows you to hide your hands when things get frigid. Plus, you can accessorize your jacket with a rescue belt, towline, hydration pack, throw bag and a strobe light that fits on the shoulder. The Salus Darwin Expedition: cool and comfortable. Jackets are definitely evolving. Click here for more
The Ride —A Ronin is a master-less samurai and you’ll have no limitations when you hop in the Liquidlogic Ronin. Impressed wasn’t the word for this free-ride machine. Carberry was actually able to wear creek booties in the 59 (also available in the 49). Plus designer Shane Benedict used input from big wave riders Marlow Long and Patrick Camblin to create a loose hull for combo moves. What does that mean for the everyman boater? Spin it to win it baby. Plus Benedict decreased the rocker slightly so the Ronin is fast like a cheetah, allowing users to haul ass down wave faces and set up for enormous blunts, or other moves if you’re willing and able. The increased foot bumps signal two things: bigger loops and a more comfortable ride, the latter being the boat’s most redeeming quality.
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Pick up a copy of Canoe and Kayak’s Whitewater magazine this spring for a full review of the latest boats.