At this year’s Outdoor Retailer Summer Market tradeshow, the biggest schmooze and product fest in the industry, paddlesports manufacturers again pulled out all the stops to make paddling better than ever. The whitewater kayaking market is highlighted by new creek boats, playboats and river runners; the SUP world with continued rec and fishing offerings; and accessories from apparel to PFDs continuing to make the sport more comfortable and safer.
Whether you’re touring or tackling whitewater, outfitting continues to be the name of the game in boat hulls, with many models offering slipper-like comfort the moment you slide into the cockpit. Combine this with enhanced safety and performance features, and whether you’re after elusive walleye or waves the products have never been better. Angling gear and kayaks also continue to drive innovation, with more SKUs than ever.
In the world of SUP, manufacturers continue to shave weight off this latest darling of paddlesports, all while refining models for specific uses, be it touring or trolling. Apparel is also becoming more and more specialized, from SPF shirts to ward off the sun to paddling jackets that continue to push the limits of waterproofness and breathability. And in PFDs, look for unobtrusive fit to help ensure this most important product of all stays put all the time.
Following are a few show highlights…
Wave Sport’s new Mobius is a short, fast freestyle kayak designed to let beginners learn quickly and experts expand their skills. It comes with a wider stern and higher water line, as well as extra bow volume to maximize pop in vertical moves. Rounded edges, sculpted sidewalls, and a slightly curved bow enhance predictability, while continuous rocker and a stern release edge enable looseness and speed on waves. Bonus: a new foam foot brace for ergonomic comfort. www.wavesport.com
Dagger enters the crossover kayak realm with the Katana, designed for up to Class III whitewater and multi-day trips. It comes with a customizable leg lifter, low-profile, removable bulkhead footbrace system, hatch-accessed stern storage, and bow and stern deck bungees and gear loops for deck storage. A large recessed cavity fits a water bottle, throw bag or included zipper storage bag for personal items. www.dagger.com
NRS caters to the angling set with its new Chinook fishing PFD, with a seat-friendly lower back, seven front pockets for lures and other gear, hook patch, tool retractor, knife tab, beacon loop and other features for fisherman. www.nrsweb.com
Based off its Ride 115 angling kayak, for 2014 Wilderness Systems debuts the RideX 115 and RideX 115 Advance, with further fishing features. An eight-inch SlideTrax along the stern tankwell and under a removable console let anglers outfit it with Scott, Yak Attack and RAM fishing accessories, with increased bulkhead width offers more flexibility for mounting accessories. Rigidity in the standing area is enhanced with additional scupper tubes. Other features include aluminum carry handles with foam comfort sleeves and an Phase 3 AirPro elevated seat providing another four inches of height for visibility. $1,029 (115), $1,059 (115 Advance), www.wildernesssystems.com
Adventure Technology debuts its new Advanced Series whitewater paddles with composite construction and a variety of blade designs. The line includes the Geronimo for creeking, the Hercules, a hybrid creek/play paddle with slightly smaller blade; and the Samurai for playboating, with an even smaller blade. Each paddle employs a lightweight carbon fiber shaft and and is available in both ergonomic and straight shaft models. Ergo: $375, Straight: $290, www.adventuretechnology.com
Johnson Watersports hangs its hat on the angling world with its new Predator Fishing Kayak from Old Town Canoe Co. The boat includes six removable mounting plates fro tailor-placed rod holders, GPS units, fish finders, cameras and more; a three-stage Element™ seating system that can be lowered for paddling, raised for fishing or flipped aside for stand-up mode; a slip resistant Exo-Ridge™ deck for traction and drainage; large bow hatch; and dual rod tip holders for storage. $1,299, www.predatorkayak.com
On the accessory front, retro is the new new for Teva, which, to celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2014, rolls out its Original Sandal, Universal and Universal Flip in retro motif. Building on the success of its Churn, it’s also rolling out a new watershoe dubbed the Refugio for recreational paddling. Original $40, Original Flip $30, Refugio $70,
KEEN continues its foothold on footwear with the Gallatin CNX, a full-coverage water shoe with polyester webbing upper, secure fit lace capture system, proprietary PU midsole, and outsole with multidirectional grooves and razor siping for traction. It also unveils the new Rapids Collection, featuring the Class 6 (8.5 oz.) and Class 5 (7.6 oz) sandal. Both feature a PU upper constructed in a 360-degree cage, soft EVA footbed, moisture-wicking microfiber tongue, Velco-adjustable heel fit, and soft rubber outsole with traction lugs. www.keenfootwear.com
Immersion Research showcases the 100 percent nylon shell Supermodel, featuring glued gaskets and heavy gauge nylon-reinforced elbows. and every cross seam is hot/cold pressed to eliminate any air pocket. It bills it as its best, most durable waterproof/breathable drytop to date. $455, www.immersionresearch.com
Kokatat rolls out a new 100 percent polyester Paddling Shirt with a UPF rating of 30+, convertible sleeves for versatility, two-stage flip-up collar, and longer back to ensure coverage while seated in a kayak. It also has extended wrist cuffs for further sun protection, full front zipper and vertical shoulder vents for ventilation while wearing a PFD. $79, www.kokatat.com
Jackson Kayak rocks the playboat world with its new 2014 Rock Star, available in three sizes (5’4”, 48 gal., 5’9”, 53 gal., 5’11”, 65 gal.). The shortest playboat in its line-up, it serves up faster rotation speeds and makes all freestyle moves easier, for both beginners and pros. It has more volume in the center for loops, with a higher seating position, leverage and control thanks to innovative Sweet Cheeks, as well as enhanced floor support for a stiffer hull. $1,199, www.jacksonkayak.com