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Spotlight on Products

 
 

From time to time we’ll put the spotlight on some of our favorite products; those that are new on the market and others that have been around for awhile. We’ll review the pros and cons of equipment that we personally use and recommend. We receive no financial compensation from any of the companies for highlighting their products on our website, but do it as a service for our students and other paddlers. We have the opportunity to try and use a lot of different gear in a vast array of conditions. The quality of construction, durability, performance, and customer service are some the key elements we look for when buying a product.

 

Online Lasting Legacy
by LastingLegacy.com

Lasting Legacy

This product recommendation is a little different from our previous suggestions, but well worth your time to look into. LastingLegacy.com is a website based company that strives to preserve the stories and memories of individuals Lasting Legacyso that their family, friends, and loved ones can view and keep those memories, stories, and pictures long after that person has passed away.

Lasting Legacy is not a genealogy or history site, but is rather unique in the fact that it helps to preserve some of the things that really matter. An online legacy can include pictures, home movies, and voice recordings. It can be viewed by anyone or sections can be limited with a password restricting access to only those who you wish
to view it.

This is a great product for those with children, grandchildren, or people who just want make sure that some of their memories and stories are not lost and can continue to be available for their friends and loved ones. We have recommended this service to several friends and are currently working on creating our own.

Legacy packages range from extremely affordable to more extravagant, but regardless what your needs are it is money well spent. Check out the Lasting Legacy website at www.LastingLegacy.com

 

 

SARR Surface Water Drysuit
by OS Systems, Inc.

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Bob & Karen wearing their drysuits in the Grand Canyon.

Although Bob says he dislikes paddling any place where he needs to wear a drysuit (he loves warm weather and water), he and Karen often find themselves wearing one. They use them when they paddle in the Grand Canyon, where in the summer the air temperature simmers in the 90’s and the water temperature is usually a chilly 48 degrees. In this land of extreme variance, the waterproof and breathable SARR Surface Water Drysuit by OS Systems is ideal. It keeps you dry and warm when crashing through waves or swimming a rapid, yet because of its breathability allows you to stay comfortable in the heat.

Since 1983, Oregon based OS Systems has been designing and manufacturing quality drysuits and accessories for the military, commercial diving, search and rescue, the Coast Guard, and for various recreational activities, including paddlesports. While their drysuits may not be as stylish as some of their competitors, the quality, comfort, performance, and durability of their suits are hard to beat.

Students often joke that we look like pumpkins when we wear our drysuits. They may be right, but we’ll take function and safety over fashion any day. With its highly visible “Sea Rescue Orange” color and reflective tape on the elbow pads, the SARR Surface Water Drysuit is sure to get you noticed. Being visible is a good thing and an important safety consideration, especially when you’re out sea kayaking.

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Bob in the Netherlands, teaching a student how to roll.
This drysuit offers great visibility.

For a number of years, Karen paddled and guided along the chilly coastal and inland waters of Maine. She’s worn and tried a number of drysuits from various manufacturers. Due to her rather petit size (5’0”, 110lbs) she struggled with finding a drysuit that fit her. Usually, they were too baggy and long. Not so with OS Systems. They custom make their drysuits according to the measurements of the individual. Her OS drysuit not only fits her, but is comfortable to wear and does not restrict her movement. The only feature Karen wishes her drysuit had is a female relief zipper. While OS Systems does not offer that option, they do offer a front-entry relief zipper if requested.

Below are some additional features of SARR Surface Water Drysuit:

  • Made from a three ply laminate with a micro denier polyester fabric called Sympatex - a waterproof, breathable barrier membrane and a tricot fabric inside layer.
  • Reinforced with a 500 denier Cordura™, which is used for the Butt Pad (on back) and the Knee Pads. This is added for strength and to provide slip control. 
  • Designed with Freedom Cut™ features for complete and unrestricted freedom of movement. Sidearm Panel Gussets™ extend from the wrist all the way down the arm to the waist. The Crotch gusset extends from one ankle through the crotch and all the way down to the opposite ankle for unparalleled fit, function and freedom of movement.
  • Optional relief zipper with a cordura zipper cover
  • Front diagonal entry, #8 diving quality, brass tooth zipper for easy and fast donning and doffing and guaranteed water tightness.
  • Seams are double stitched for strength and fusion sealed on the inside for water tightness.
  • The neck and wrist seals are made out of Longlife Latex™ , which is a commercial grade rubber that’s thick and durable (minimum thickness is .030”). The seals are easy to replace.
  • The seals are covered and protected by CL Neo™ Neoprene/Cordura Neck Wrap™ w/zipper closure, Wrist Wraps™ and Ankle Wraps.
  • For the feet the Longlife Latex™ socks are standard. Easily replaceable. 

For more information on the drysuit featured and other paddling attire made by OS Systems log onto their website at www.ossystems.com.

 

 

Just because it’s getting colder outside doesn’t mean you have to be cold when you’re out paddling. Below are a couple of products that we absolutely love to wear when the water and/or air temperature is a bit on the chilly side. 

QuickLace™ Mukluk Boot
By Chota Outdoor Gear

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Photo from taken from the Chota website.

We’ve used our Chota boots when we’ve gone sea kayaking off the coast of Maine and Oregon. We’ve worn then when out canoeing (and portaging) in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota and the Pecos River of Southwest Texas. In fact, we’ve been wearing these great Mukluks for the past six years - whenever its cool and we want to keep our feet warm and dry. We have yet to find anything better.

The boot’s fleece-lined 3mm closed-cell neoprene keeps you warm and dry up to the knee. Even when we’ve waded in over our knee and some water has gotten in, our feet have still stayed remarkably warm. The skin-out neoprene gasket, coupled with the nylon cinch strap, keeps the top comfortably in place just below the knee and retards flooding. As long as we lace up the boot and make sure to cinch up the nylon strap, we have never had a problem with flooding and the water hindering our performance and safety. With their 7mm vulcanized rubber sole, plastic mid-sole, rubber toe cap and heel counter, the Chota Mukluk Boots offer great foot protection and support… “to boot” (Sorry, we couldn’t resist).

When water does get in and they are wet in the inside they do take awhile to dry. We usually just roll the upper part of the boot down to the footbed and air-dry them. We haven’t tried drying them with a ski boot dryer, but may give that a try someday.

This would make a great Christmas gift for yourself or for someone you love. Just think…every time they put them on and have warm and dry feet they will think of you. The gift that keeps on giving. Price: $95.00 . Checkout their website at  -
www.chotaoutdoorgear.com

 

Paddle Float by NRS

Paddle floats are a necessary safety tool in sea kayaking. When used they create a functional outrigger that adds to the stability of your craft when performing a self-rescue. NRS has produced a paddle float that we think is the best out on the market. It’s well thought out, durable, and comes with lots of great features, some of which are listed below:

  • Self-draining main pocket to slide your paddle into.
  • Webbing strap with a Fastex buckle to fasten around the paddle shaft.
  • Dual air chambers - one with a traditional valve and the other with a hands-free valve for safety. (Note: You only need to inflate one of the air chambers when using the paddle float; the other chamber is for backup).
  • Reflective tape for visibility.
  • A webbing strap to slide your arm through and hold across your chest - in case you want to use it as a supplemental buoyancy aid, in addition to your Coast Guard approved PFD.
  • Price: $40.00

For more information on this product click onto the NRS website at www.nrsweb.com

Kayak and Canoe Instructional DVDs by Kent Ford 

Kent Ford is a highly acclaimed paddler, teacher, and producer of instructional videos for paddlers. His DVDs (also available in VHS) on whitewater canoeing, whitewater kayaking and sea kayaking are some of the finest in the business. He consistently consults and shares the spotlight with an elite team of teachers, paddlers and experts in each DVD he produces (we had the privilege of working with him on “Drill Time”). The information he delivers is relevant, concise, and clearly broken down and demonstrated. We use “Drill Time” and “Kayak Roll” a lot in our classes. Check out two of his latest DVDs:

  • All About Kayaking” – A great DVD for those who are new to kayaking and want to know all the avenues and ins and outs of the sport. He goes over the basics that every paddlers should know before heading out on the water and gives an overview of the different ways you can enjoy the sport of kayaking: whitewater, surfing, touring, fishing, etc. Price : $19.95
  • The River Runner’s Edge” – In this whitewater kayak DVD he “unlocks the secrets of competent river runners: Water reading, strategies, strokes maneuvers and basic playboating.” Price: $29.95

For more information on this product click onto the Performance Video and Instruction, Inc. website at

www.performancevideo.com

 

 

The Big Bubba & Easy Rider Chairs
by Travel Chair

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Bob relaxing on the Canyon in the Big Bubba by Travel Chair

 

While the environment in the Grand Canyon is spectacular, it can be very harsh on equipment. Between the sun, sand, water, and handling, gear can take quite a beating. We’re constantly in search of products that are both functional and durable. Chairs and accessories from Travel Chair are that and more.

Wal-Mart and other discount stores offer cheaper imitations, but we’ve found they don’t hold up as long as the chairs from Travel Chair. So far - ours’ have “taken a lickin’ but they keep on tickin’” (they’ve survived 100 days or 5 seasons in the Grand Canyon). Some of the cheaper models are short-lived and have lasted only 14 days or one trip. The chairs from Travel Chair may cost a little more, but we feel they are worth it.

Made out of double layered 600 denier polyester with PVC backing and a sturdy 5/8” tubular frame (1.1mm thick), the Big Bubba is perfect for someone looking for the ultimate in lounge lizard comfort.

This chair is designed to hold someone up to 300 lbs. But as our friends Jake and Mary found out it when they tried to sit tandem in it, the frame is not made to support two average sized (or bigger) adults.

Weighing in at 11.5 lbs. (including storage/carry bag), this chair is not called the Big Bubba for nothing. While not suitable for backpacking or a canoe trip with lots of portages, this chair is great for raft trips, the beach or anywhere you want the ultimate in comfort and where weight is not a big deal.

Below are some of the other features that are included in the chair:

For a smaller option, check out the Easy Rider. It’s Travel Chairs’ classic folding chair. The workhorse that guides and outfitters around the world rely on.

Checkout Travel Chairs website for additional information on products: www.travelchair.com

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H2Outfitters’
Sea Kayaking Essentials
A Visual Manual of Instruction – Volumes 1-3

We highly recommend this DVD for those wanting to prepare for one of our ACA Instructor Development Workshops and/or Certification Exams in Coastal Kayaking. 

Whether you’re new to sea kayaking and in search of a resource that offers a solid foundation in strokes and skills or a seasoned paddler wanting to learn the finer points of boat control, this DVD by H2Outffiters has something to offer paddlers of a variety of skill levels.

H2Outfitters has combined the first three videos from their “Art of Paddling” series; The Basics (Volume 1), Honing the Skills (Volume 2), and Rescues that Work (Volume 3) into one comprehensive DVD.
 
The Basics (30 minutes) covers just that - the basic skills and strokes necessary for a safe and fun time on the water.  Topics such as parts of the kayak, how to get in, wet exits and fundamental strokes (forward, reverse, and sweeps) are clearly broken down and demonstrated in this first volume.

Honing the Skills (35 minutes) takes it to the next level. In Volume 2, draws, braces, the C to C Roll and other advanced strokes and maneuvers are presented in a format that’s easy to see and understand.

Rescues that Work (40 minutes) covers assisted rescues, such as the T, TX, and Side-By-Each, as well as self rescues like the Paddle Float and Re-enter and Roll. The Scoop, Hand of God and other specialized rescues and techniques are also included.

Along with the disc is an index that allows the viewer to search through the DVD by individual skill. Sold separately, each volume (VHS format) cost $26.95. At $39.95 this three volume DVD is a bargain.

One of the strong points of this DVD is the diversity of the paddlers modeling the strokes. It shows a number of people doing the same stroke, but with their own style based on their boat and body. It’s worth just turning off the sound to watch the strokes being fluidly executed and to get a general visualization of their mechanics and flow.  The graphics and underwater shots showing the hull and the paddle are also beneficial.

Throughout each volume, they take the time to lay a solid base line for each stroke and skill and then go on to encourage the paddler to adapt these principles to best fit their body, boat and style.  H2Outfitters promotes the viewer to think and explore outside the “box”. Some of the “what if” scenarios will be sure to get people thinking and possibly stirrup some debate. Just like the Donner Party, who when caught in extraordinary circumstances, had to resort to extreme measures or starve to death, H2Outfitters encourages the paddler to think about the “what ifs” before they happen - right down to a last resort contingency plan.

For paddlers wishing to bring their skills and strokes to the next level, H2Outfitters’ Sea Kayaking Essentials (A Visual Manual of Instruction – Volumes 1-3) DVD gives you a lot of bang for a reasonable amount of buck. I recommend adding Volume 1-3 to any paddler’s library and to stay tuned for Volumes 4 and 5.

Bob Foote
ACA Instructor Trainer
BCU 4 Star
www.bobfoote.com

For more information contact H2Outfitters at www.h2outfitters.com or at 1-800-20-KAYAK.