The Great 2019 Swag Roundup and Paddling’s Best Gear Reviews

447

Every year we get gear, gear, and more gear to put through the paces during paddling season — and sometime even through ski season. Tried and true, authentically tested on a river near you, behold some of Paddling Life’s greatest gear finds of the year.

NRS High Tide Paddling Jacket

More warmth means more paddling—especially during the shoulder seasons—and the NRS High Tide Jacket provides just that. The jacket is made from a lightweight HyproTex™ material, or in other words, it’s both waterproof and breathable, blocking wind, splash, and rain. It kinda reminds us of our trusty dry tops, without all the drama of the neoprene neck. Drawcords and adjustment points keeps the jacket snug and in place, but the half zip provides ventilation when you want it. Where’d we test it? The desert runs of Utah to ward off the errant freak rain and wind storm, and sea kayaking the Dalmatian islands of Croatia (hey, it’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it). $149.95 www.nrs.com

 

CleverMade Snapbasket Collapsible Cooler

The SnapBasket Collapsible Cooler keeps 50 of your favorite drinks (yes, that’s a lot) plus ice cold for 36 hours, or until you run dry; whatever comes first. And when that time does come (hic!), it packs down into a low-profile, three-inch-high rectangle that’s easy and perfect for storing back in your shuttle rig or raft bottom. The cooler has the details down, like a built-in bottle opener, a mesh back pocket, two types of handles for different load sizes, and PEVA insulated liner. We took it on a float and bloat down to a bluegrass band at Rancho del Rio on the Colorado River, and it performed…swimmingly. And it fit under our car seat afterward. To the RiverFest or the river trip, the Snapbasket always comes with us fully stocked. $34.99 www.clevermade.com

Costa del Mar Panga Sunglasses

The utility of the polarized sunglasses is so understated, especially when it comes to scouting fish, campsites, and waves on your sun-filled adventures. That’s why we’ve chosen the Costa Panga as our polarized shades of choice. The Panga features tri-fusion bio-resin construction, integral hinge and CAM systems, and polarized lenses that offer 100% UV protection. Costa also offers prescription lens with their glasses. $259.00 www.costadelmar.com

Grayl GEOPRESS Water Filter

Yeah, it’s safe to say we can leave the iodine pills at home now. Water filter technology has been on the up and up lately, but we have yet to come across a product as reliable and efficient as Grayl’s GEOPRESS Water Filter. From murky rivers to questionable water spigots, the GEOPRESS filters 24 oz of clean, drinking water in eight seconds, protecting from global waterborne pathogens, pesticides, chemicals, heavy metals, and microplastics. The filter and water bottle are the same system, making it one less thing to pack on your excursions. The non-slip surfaces make it so you can trust it’s grip on your paddleboard or raft. $89.95 grayl.com

 

Stegmann Eiger Sport Clogs

Call them post-kayak clogs. Whether it is post-paddle, at home, or traveling, our Stegmann Eiger Sport Clogs are always there when we need them. Nothing is quite as comfortable or durable. The convertible heel can be worn down like a clog or worn up like a shoe for maximum versatility. But they’re no slippers. The latex sport sole provides traction that’s on par with any other trail shoe. Plus, their paddle footbed and leather-lined interior make them both wear and weather resistant. $130, www.stegmannusa.com

Tiki Speaker
For the times when you forgot the guitar and the campfire just won’t light, the Tiki Speaker provides 6 hours of continuous bluetooth playtime, and an atmospheric LED light to set the perfect ambiance. It’s a 5 watt speaker, but if that’s not enough volume, you can dual sync the Tiki to another speaker. (We tested the surround sound set-up on our last river trip…it’s epic). We particularly like the Tiki because it is both water and dust resistant, making it suitable for the raft on the flats. Where else did test it? How about sailing on a 48-foot catamaran through the Dalmatian Islands of Croatia, on a boat landed with sea kayaks and sups — the perfect place to blast a little Reggae and Margaritaville.  $39.99 www.limitlessinnovations.com

 

Helinox Cot and Chair
Lite Cot

The best solution to comfort on overnight treks. The Lite Cot is a full-length, elevated cot that
packs down to a tight cylinder of only 2 pounds. Built with DAC aluminum pressure-fit legs, the cot provides a durable, tensioned surface. It is maximum weight-saving, without skimping on comfort. Another perk we found— the extra lift keeps you safe from mouse-infested campsites.  $250.00 www.helinox.com

Chair Zero

The Chair Zero is a game changer for all long-distance hikers. Weighing only 1 pound, it’s smaller and lighter than a water bottle, and the perfect item to throw into your backpack for a day on the trails. The chair also has a quick, easy set up to give you ultimate comfort when you’re ready to kick back and relax. $120.00 www.helinox.com

 

TRīB Outdoor Tech airCap™ pressure gauge

The guessing game is over, thanks to the first ever pressure gauge cap for SUPs, RIBs, and whitewater rafts. The gauge accurately measures up to 20 PSI, which is more than double the standard recommendation for most RIB’s. To the average joe, airCap seems like a simple concept, but some serious engineering work went into details like the gauge’s LCD digital display, its durability and waterproofing, and most importantly, its ability to get a reading up to a fraction of the PSI. With the airCap we know that before, during, and after we hit the water, our inflatable is safely at its best performance capability. Getting on board just means removing your existing valve cap and screwing on the airCap. $34.95, www.triboutdoor.com

Kijaro Rocking Chairs

Kijaro’s Rok-it is the camping chair with the novelty of your grandpa’s front porch rocking chair. The Rok-it is built with the same durability of all of Kijaro’s chair, but with the ability to rock — literally. The portable rocking chair can be carried using the attached carry strap or folded down and stored with other gear. Like any of our other beloved camping chairs, the Rok-it comes with padded armrests, flip out cup holders, and a mesh back to keep you cool. Bonus: It helps you sway tote music when you’re playing riverside guitar. $60, www.kijaro.com

Kammok Mantis Hammock

Say goodbye to setting up your tent.The Mantis and its ultralight twin, the Mantis UL, bring the best elements of elevated camping to lake and riverside camping: breathable, lightweight fabrics, durable hardware and pack-easy protection from the elements. It comes with a knotless suspension system making set-up a snap, as well as an integrated insect net and rainflykeep to keep you dry and bug-free throughout the night — a bonus in our testing on buggy Yampa Canyon trip, due to this year’s high water. Bonus: It weighs less than most one-person tents, thanks to an user-high strength-to-weight ratio. What we really like: the ability to roll the fly and netting away to marvel at the Milky Way. $229, www.kammok.com

Pelican Go Case

In today’s social-savvy world, sharing photos of your paddling outing is almost paramount. Protect your link to likes with the new Pelican Go Case, whose two sizes fit everything from the most modern upgrade on down to your kid’s hand-me-down (it also fits other things, including wallet, keys, first aid kits and more). Rubberized protective bumpers and a cushioned EVA lining protects against drops (like, ahem, we did on the floor of our sailboat on a boat-assisted sea kayak trip in the Adriatic Sea), while a built in pressure valve keeps water and dust out while equalizing air pressure during air travel. With a submersible depth rating of 1meter for 30 minutes, it comes with a single hinge latch for easy opening. It’s available in six colors and two sizes (note: the G40 fits up to iPhone Xs Max adn Samsung Note 9s). G10: $29.95 (4.8″×2.8″×1.6″); G40:$39.95 (7″×3.5″×1.6″), www.pelican.com

Columbia Sportswear Terminal Deflector

Whether the sun is getting hotter or not, sun-protection remains no joke. The sun shirt is the essential that will single handedly keep you on the water longer. Designed with Omni-Wick, Omni-Shade™ Sun Deflector, and Omni-Shade™ UPF 50 sun protection, the Terminal Deflector long sleeve incorporates reflective microdots and breathable wicking fabric that deflects sunlight and moisture, respectively, keeping you cool and sweat-free on those hotter days. $65.00 www.columbia.com

 

A Few from the Winter Side

Elan RipSticks

Consider it the all-around river running kayak for your ski quiver. In short, the Elan Rip Stick does it all, with a 96mm underfoot for carving and blowing through crud, and an ample shovel for floating on powder. We skied it all year during one of the more epic winters in a decade, and it excelled on all fronts, from power and its day-after packed powder leftovers to the rare firmer day when you needed to hold an edge. It’s an all-mountain ski with complete versatility for any condition — the perfect width to hit powder in the morning and piste in the afternoon. Elan’s Amphibio profile integrates both rocker and camber giving the paradox of grip and ease of turn that every skier looks for in a pair of boards. It’s this very construction that dubs the skis the ‘Smooth Operator’. $800,www.elanskis.com

WhiSki Poles

Want a quick snort on the slopes? WhiSki Poles are ski poles that double as flasks. The poles are sleek, adjustable, and made with aircraft grade aluminum – the lightest and strongest material on the market. For when the hot chocolate just won’t cut it, the Whiski Poles hold 8 oz of your liquid of choice. Each pole comes with an insertable storage “Stash Handle” so you can easily transport and access essential small belongings without needing to take off your gloves. We opt for  powder baskets for the deep backcountry days. $79.00 www.whiskipoles.com