The Gear Closet

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Skirt Works Aramid Tough Rim

Want a tough skirt with quality craftsmanship from people that know the industry? Check out Skirt Works Aramid Tough Rim ($165). This baby is designed with the Class V enthusiast in mind. Skirt Works used the resilient qualities of 5.5 mm Aramid casing combined with 3.5 mm Neoprene for a deck and tunnel that just might hold up better than you in demanding whitewater. Our favorite Skirt Works feature? A variety of skirt designs for everything from the squirt boat (they did specific designs for Jim Snyder) to the fiberglass sea kayak. They’ll even put together a skirt based on your individual cockpit needs. Like they did for our Pyranha Everest. Skirtworks.com

K-Bomb

They’ve been dormant. Now they’re “rising from the ashes like a phoenix,” says Bomber Gear-owner Rick Franken. And the K-Bomb skirt ($150) is leading their charge. The K-Bomb features Kevlar on the outside edges with a gel screen in the middle that completely seals all the pours, creating a barrier between the skirt and the water. And it doesn’t just look cool. It actually works, beading water like a new ski jacket. The grab loop is thermoformed plastic and the tunnel features varying degrees of stretchiness: more stretchy around the torso and less so near the skirt to insure a drier seal. Bombergear.com

Bomber Gear Creek Mitts

Spring is burly cold. That’s why Bomber Gear’s Creek Mitts ($25) are a welcome relief. Heat-conducting neoprene shelters adventurous creek boaters, and, ahem, playboaters, from the early season chill. Bombergear.com

Bomber Gear Bombanation

Board Shorts are great. Except they can be cold and leave the old package hangin’ out in the wind if you catch our drift. Bomber Gear introduces their version of surf style with old school neoprene tighties sewn in beneath board shorts in the Bombanation ($70). The result? An incredibly comfortable fit that, A. Looks Cool, B. Keeps you warm and C. Keeps the fellas’ junk securely in the trunk. Plus, if you’re a board surfer and have ever gripped a board with the inside of your thighs to make a turn for a wave, you know the chaffing that can follow. Bomber Gear’s Board Shorts eliminate this quandary. Bombergear.com

Ibex Undergarments

New Zealand has some phenomenal paddling. The country also raises some phenomenal sheep, ideal for making wool undergarments with (and preventing Kiwi shephards from getting lonely). Many of you may not think of Ibex as a paddling garment but the Paddling Life crew has put this company’s ridiculously warm layering system to the test. The result: some of the cosiest and most comfortable undergarments on the market, perfect for wearing beneath a drytop or, better yet, a drysuit. Check out the Woolies Crew ($60) and the Woolies Bottoms ($79), available in both men’s and women’s sizing. This wool ain’t scratchy either. All of Ibex’s garments are made with 18.5 Merino Wool so it’s as soft as a baby’s blanket. Sick of the rotten kayaker stink? Ibex’s material is anti-microbial, meaning it actually fights against that funky smell. If you’re looking for layering, best look at Ibex: quality undergarments flying below the paddlesports radar.

Predator Six

Easy to adjust. A snug fit. A stylie design. Safe. All qualities of a good whitewater kayaking helmet and all qualities of Predators new Six ($239), a lightweight offering for serious creek boaters. Predator used a carbon fiber reinforced fiberglass shell and expanded polystyrene impact liner to beef up this moto-cross style helmet available in black or white with black face guard. The composite fiber visor is detachable but we liked the way it blocks the sun. The vision is priceless on this full-face helmet, keeping your line of sight open for scanning the water in front of you. This baby weighs just over a pound and a half and comes with a super comfy chinstrap and a fit pad kit so you can customize yours. The Six stands out as one of the top helmet offerings this season. Predatorhelmets.com

Zeal Swap It Deuce

Have you ever been blinded by sun on the water whether rafting or kayaking? It happens. Zeal Optics has the solution with their Swap It Deuce, glasses made to be worn while you play. This sunglass converts to an aqua goggle with rubber sealers you can attach to the back of the lenses and the headband pulls everything in to keep water out. While some offerings of this variety look, well, dorky, Zeal’s Swap It Deuce rides with style, complete with ZB-13 Polarized lenses – a lens that earned Zeal a Gear of the Year award from Outside magazine. Zealoptics.com