Schwag the Halls! PL’s Random Schwag Sampler from 2016


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Sweet Protection’s Rocker HC Whitewater Helmet

I’m not sure why it took me so long to wear a helmet with a face guard on our local Class V Fish Creek, especially when all the younger bucks were doing so, but this year I showed up in Sweet’s Rocker Half Cut and immediately felt better protected than ever (not that I wanted to tip over). It’s built from Sweet’s Thermoplastic Laminated Carbon (TLC) shell technology, combining the elasticity of injection-molded thermoplastic with the rigidity and strength of carbon fiber. All this means they can fine-tune it, like you your line through a rapid. It’s softer in the crown area, which is better for impacts due to its rigid spherical geometry, and stiffer along the sides where the more angular parts of your noggin’ benefit from the rigidity of carbon fiber. Another nice touch: its Occigrip tensioning system, that provides a secure fit, no matter how bad the trashing. And a molded expanded polypropylene liner adds more shock-absorbing properties, dampening the energy of a crash, while a Coolmax liner keeps you from overheating. Our only beef? You don’t have quite the peripheral vision of an open-face helmet, but we’ll take that trade-off hands, and face, down. $249.95,


Kokatat Idol Drysuit

Voila! Versatility has finally come to the drysuit world. With Kokatat’s Idol, no longer are you restricted to drysuit-only use, which sometimes can be overkill. By replacing the standard over-the-shoulder zip with a fully separating waist zipper, Kokatat has opened new doors by creating the onesie that isn’t. The Idol can be worn as a drysuit for full immersion protection, or layered down to a drytop or paddling pants when you only need half. The secret is kiwi-sized plastic screw cap below your belly button that sandwiches the zipper ends to form the waterproof seal. While the system takes a bit of practice to master, and it isn’t quite as quick to enter and seal as a conventional shoulder-zip drysuit, its versatility more than makes up for it. We used it as a full drysuit throughout the spring kayaking the cold water Yampa River (wondering how we ever made it through so many years paddling with a drysuits), and separated it at its waist to use the bottoms only as dry pants when sea kayaking Alaska’s Prince William Sound over the summer. We also used it as a stand-alone drytop only countless other times during the paddling year, finding it as bomber as they get. All you have to do is fold and Velcro the flap over the zipper to keep it covered, protected and out of the way. And like all things Kokatat, it’s built to bombproof perfection, including Cordura-reinforced Gore-Tex fabric, integrated feet, and perfectly fitting out of the box latex neck and wrist gaskets.$1,100,

Seal Line Bulkhead Compression Drybag
Finally, no more awkwardly rolling down a drybag to close it and then unfurling it to burp the air out. Save the burps for drinking beer out of a wetsuit bootie. Sea Line’s new PurgeAir Valve in its Bulkhead Compression Drybag lets you expel air back out where it belongs while you’re rolling it tight. It also employs a new two-strap Continuous Strap Compression System that cinches everything down tight so there’s no wasted space. And sliding it into tight sea kayak and canoe spaces, and even though awkward nooks on gear rafts, is easer thanks to its smooth, waterproof surface that lets it slide in and out of cramped quarters easily. Like the bottom of an upturned IK serving as a Slip n’ Slide into the river, it’s got good glide. Sizes: 5L, 10L, 20L, & 30L, $34.95-$49.95,

Talk About T600 H20 FRS/GMRS Two-way Radios
We tested these babies sea kayaking in Belize, where their range, and more importnatly, floatability, paid big dividends. With mountain to valley range of 35 miles and open water range of six miles, they proved perfect for talking to the teens when the wind carried them too far away, and for corralling our four tandem sea kayaks to head in for a cold beer on South Water Cay. When handed them off to one another while paralleling the second largest barrier reef in the world, we also were fortuitous enough to test out their waterproofness and floatability (nice drop overboard, Heidi). They’re waterproof down to one meter for 30 minutes, and float face-up thanks to built it buoyancy. They also come with a water-activated flashlight, built-in flashlight, 22 channels with 121 privacy codes, NOAA weather radio. That not enough to add them to your must-have paddlepsorts gear list? They’re dual-powered by 3 AA batteries or two included NiMH rechargables, have a micro USB charging port, PTT Powerboost to extend transmission range, and hands-free operation (for when you set up your sail). $99,

Treksta Kisachie Sandals
To test these babies, we sent PL reader Matt Stensland on a trip with the Treksta Kisachie water sandals to Vieques Island just east of the main shore of Puerto Rico, where he surfed, beach combed, paddled and bar-hopped in them, all in the same four hours. “It was clear I brought the right shoes,” he says. “The water there is clear and calm, but my barefoot comrades had to fret the sea urchins laying underneath while I gallivanted around without worry.” Billed by their marketing department as he SUV of warm weather footwear, the Kisachie has an open concept upper like a sandal, yet with more stability, support, protection and traction. Its NestFIT system cradles your feet by bringing the upper, midsole and outsole together, while its Hypergrip® Waterlock outsole with specially formulated rubber and lug design allow frog-like grip. A water-repellent Buff Hide Synthetic upper keeps feet cool and dries quickly, while a neoprene-like inner lining keeps feet comfy when wet. They also proved their merit while supping. “The tread was great for the paddleboard from Blue Beach to the nearby island, where we snorkeled and explored the marine life,” he adds. “Plus, their Boa laces made the shoes snug and comfortable.” Blister free, the only thing I had to think about was finding the next adventure and tasty rum punch. $120,

Platypus Tokul Hydration System
Bike or boat, it helps to be hydrated. For that, look to the 1 lb., 3 oz. Tokul XC 8.0 and Women’s B-Line hydration systems from Platypus, offering a whopping six liters of gear storage, a 3-liter BPA-free reservoir, and RidgeAir back panel for heat dispersement (which we absolutely loved in our sea kayaking testing along the barrier reef in Belize). For boating, its ventilated shoulder straps also keep you cool, while interior pockets let you cart along everything from snacks to layers and sunscreen. (For bikers, it also has a helmet carry system.) Drink-wise, it hangs from clips inside the pouch, making filling a snap and stopping it from dropping to the pack bottom. But what we liked best of all was its drink hose magnet that pops the high-flow bite valve (with ergo shutoff) right back into place after slurping.

Eagle Creek Gear Warrior
Need to fit your entire paddling (or ski) kit inside a rollable duffel? Look no further than the Eagle Creek Gear Warrior, winning Best In Class from The Gear Institute. We took it down on a sea kayaking trip in Belize, and it fit everything from PFDs to snorkeling gear (granted, our only apparel was a banana hammock). We liked its ease of use, durability and ability to keep gear and clothing separte. Multiple grab handles made loading on buses and boats a snap; and we could also attaché gear to its top thanks to its Equipment Keeper (complete with bottle opener for our Belikins). Other nice features include: durable anodized aluminum dual-tube handle; interior compression straps to keep contents from shifting; and reflective accents for low-light visibility, like when we unloaded it at the Bocawina Lodge ( As for beefiness, its glue-laminated Exo-Skeleton composite construction held up fine, even when landing with a hard “thunk!” on the dock, and new wheel housings and molded kick plates kept it rolling, rolling, rolling down the river. $289,

Royal Robbins Bluewater Short
Look stylish before and after your paddle with this classic relaunched sailing short that took watersport communities by storm in the mid-1970s. It’s back in its original pure cotton, thick-yarn canvas, ready to absorb whatever you can throw at it. Perfect for canoeing or other paddling disciplines where you won’t get wet, the design was created by American climbing pioneer Royal Robbins at the Billy Goat Short in 1975, wearing it on a number of his first ascents in the Yosemite Valley. This baby is the cargo pocket version, whose pockets fit a PBR perfectly. Its pure cotton, thick-yarn canvas construction is also bomber, with durable construction you won’t feel bad about crawling under your car to find that spare shuttle key. A peach finish and enzyme stone wash create a comfortable, aged effect. $58,

While you still might have to drink out of your wetsuit bootie if you swim kayaking, at least now there’s something that can help you stay hydrated and hangover free after doing so. We got a case of proactive recovery drink Resqwater this summer, and slammed it down on every debauchery-filled river trip. Packed with antioxidants and electrolytes, each 8-ounce bottle helps hangovers and muscle recovery whether you’re paddling, biking, skiing, traveling and more. What it has (beyond water) as far as natural and organic ingredients: vitamin C (antioxidant), milk thistle (combats free radicals), prickly pear extract (reduces nausea), sucrose (reduces fatigue), B vitamins, electrolytes (keeps muscular and nervous system in shape), NAC and more. Plus, it’s certified kosher, gluten-free and vegan.

Eagles Nest Outfitters Hammock
While a fellow dad and I were pack raft fishing Jonah Lake on a short backpacking trip near Steamboat Springs in September, I looked over to one of the lake’s three small islands to see my daughter and her friend happily swinging from the ENO hammock they had slung between two perfect pine trees seemingly put there for that purpose. It was the perfect setting, and, more importabnlty, they were happy, and with fish biting, we were happy. And it got me thinking: Why the heck wouldn’t you bring an ENO hammock with you on every single paddling trip you go on? We tested the SingleNest, which at just a few ounces is worth its weight where ever you bring it. Simply pull it out of its soft-ball-sized stuff sack, clip it to your handy-dandy Atlas Straps, and settle in for some relaxing Me-time. Light enough to make the backpacker’s cut, but robust enough for backyard luxury, the SingleNest is the go-to for any occasion. Breathable quick drying nylon, 400 lb. capacity, aluminum wiregate carabiners, heavy duty triple stitched seams, attached compression stuff sack. Variety of colors, Atlas straps for easy set-up and take-down (even my 9-year-old daughter figured it out). $59.95,

Shanti Bars
Shimmy up to some Shanti Bars if you want good, wholesome energy for your next paddling trip. We tested these babies on Utah’s Deso-Gray Canyons on an 8-day raft trip, as well as sea kayaking in Alaska’s Prince William Sound, and found them an energy-filled favorite in the snack stash. The reason could well lie in its flavors: Acai, Coconut, Cacao, Goji, Spirulina, Tumeric, Mulberry, Goldenberry and more. Billed as a high performance, high protein, nutrient dense, delicious raw superfood, it’s even the bar of choice of soccer legend Hope Solo. For good reason. If it works for her in goal, it’ll work for you in a canoe, raft or kayak. Each 1.7-oz. bar packs 240 calories, 15g of fat, 21g of carbs, 6g of dietary fiber, 9g of sugar and 7g-17g of protein. All this equates to some serious paddling punch when the going gets tough. Still don’t get the picture? Consider the Acai bar’s ingredients: Organic Almonds, Organic Cashews, Organic Sunflower Seeds, Organic Dates, Organic Coconut Nectar, Organic Cranberries Sweetened with Apple Juice, Organic Freeze-Dried Acai, Organic Goji Berries, Organic Chia Seeds, Organic Cacao Nibs, Oranic Freeze-Dried Blueberries, Organic Freeze-Dried Raspberries, Organic Spirulina, and Celtic Sea Salt. What’s not to like? Info:


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