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New Gear for the New Year
Hopefully Santa brought you all the new boating equipment you asked for last month,
but if he got confused and brought you a PDA instead of a PFD there is still plenty of
time to get yourself all tricked out for the upcoming paddling season.
Use this forced indoor time to take complete stock of your equipment and
consider replacing anything that is worn or unsafe.
Treating yourself to some new gear is always fun and will get you motivated
for the upcoming paddling season.
So how is your stuff holding up? Is your PFD worn and tattered from the sun, salt air, or just plain old age?
Is your seat (especially the back rest) still comfy? If you have a fiberglass boat how much gelcoat did you leave on the rocks last year?
Is your paddle free of cracks and chips? If it comes apart is the spring
still working well? How about the rigging? And most importantly are you
well stocked up on Kayak Jam T-shirts and hats?
(you didn't think you could avoid our shameless self-promotion did you?)
By investing in quality kayaking gear you will experience:
Now is the time of year to upgrade. There are kayak and outdoor shows coming up all
over the country where you can
bask in the vast array of the latest equipment. You can often get good deals at these shows,
especially on boats which vendors would rather not have to drag home with them if they can help it.
Stores like EMS and REI as well as all the independently owned stores (yea small business!!!!)
will also be introducing their new lines and often have promotions running just before Spring.
So now that you've looked your stuff over with a critical eye, what do you need?
Depending on the features and comfort level you desire
There are a lot of great vests available in all price ranges.
If you paddle a sit-on-top or any boat with a higher seat back there are PFDs that will accommodate.
Many have mesh on the lower half of the back which breathes well, keeps you cooler and helps
you stay seated properly. Some have extra-wide armholes for greater ease of movement.
Easy-pull side adjustments and extra neoprene padding on the lower back can add a great deal
to a vest's comfort and ease of use. For the booming number of kayak fishermen many vests
now include lots of pockets and features like key lanyards to help keep tackle organized and handy.
You can even go as far as a vest with an ergonomically fitting torso with body-wrapping foam,
which can be adjusted in multiple places for a perfect fit.
And Ladies, there are many PFDs on the market now with your needs in mind!!
There are vests with adjustable shoulder straps for a better fit and many designed with different
"chest types" in mind.
Don't forget the kids and Fido!! Teaching children water safety from day one will pay off over and over
again. Get the kids life jackets and insist that they wear them!
This will make their first paddling experiences safe and enjoyable.
They will also be comfortable with the many PFDs designed to fit children specifically and many
of them come in cool colors and designs that the kids will love.
We have written in the past about canine PFDs and cannot stress their importance enough.
Some dogs jump into the water and some fall in but a good life vest with a grab handle will
keep them safe on the surface and make it much easier to haul them back into the kayak.
Spiffy Dog also makes quick drying nylon collars in a huge variety of cool designs.
They are also extremely durable and sturdy.
Some great manufacturers of PFDs are Stohquist, Kokatat, Extrasport, Patagonia,
and Kayak Jam's favorite; MTI.
SEATS, BACKS, AND CUSHIONS
No one enjoys getting numb buns on a long paddle so it's worth investing in the right seat for you.
Backrests come in a variety of heights (some are even adjustable) and support levels so it's a good
idea to try as many as you can before making a decision (this is a good thing to do at one of the
big kayak shows as there will most likely be a variety on display from various vendors all under one roof).
Some backrests have ultra-soft faces and very firm back support for touring and longer day paddles.
Some have component systems that allow the paddler to interchange different packs that clip onto
the back of the seat.
Once again many new features cater to those who enjoy kayak fishing including fishing pole
and cup holders built into the seats and seats designed to provide comfort and support for a
long day of fishing. Check out kayak back bands for additional basic support.
If all you are after is a soft seat pad, self-adhesive kayak seats can be used with almost any boat.
For those of us who want to feel more like we paddling our Lazy-Boy, self inflating seat cushions
are great and can be adjusted to for the perfect fit. Gel filled seat backs and cushions are the
ultimate in comfort, are quick drying and do a great job of minimizing numb-buns syndrome.
Some great seat manufacturers are: Surf To Summit, GTS, Ocean, SeaLine, and Yakpads
(maker of the much loved gel pads!!)
Of course we can't forget all the little goodies that make our paddling adventures just a little easier.
Is your boat self-bailing? If not do you have a pump and does it work? How about those cute
little neoprene hand grips for your paddle?
Paddle floats and leashes come in hand too!!! How about those nifty little dry bags that
hold your cell phone, pocket camera, or a snack? Or the larger ones that hold a change of clothes,
lunch, or a bigger camera?
If you are exploring uncharted territory (or you are just directionally challenged like myself)
you might want to consider a compass, map or GPS. A small first aid kit is always a good idea.
And oh you kayak fishermen!! From depth finders to bait boxes you have a bottomless toy box
from which to choose these days!! Ok, now that you have all your practical gear how about:
How many times have you planned a nice tranquil, relaxing paddle only to wake up to wind and
whitecaps? Isn't it the most annoying thing to have sailboats cruise past you, the passengers waving cheerfully to you while you struggle to paddle against the swells and the wind making absolutely
no headway? Say good bye to sore muscles and ruined kayak trips and look into installing a sail
on your kayak so you, too, can make the wind your friend.
OK look into it and we will do a more in-depth article in the near future just to prove we are not crazy.
Once again, all these goodies will be on display at the spring kayak and outdoor shows so find one in
your area and plan to spend the day --- or two or three. For those of us in the East and Mid Atlantic
the big show here is Paddlesport sponsored by The Jersey Paddler.
This year it will be held March 25, 26, 27 in Somerset, NJ.
Check out their website www.jerseypaddler.com for more info. There is a good chance that Kayak Jam
will be there. Last year they allowed dogs so Dexter the Kayak K9 may even be helping us man a table.
This is a great show!! We attended for the first time last year and had a blast looking at all the great
kayak equipment and meeting a lot of wonderful people.
Have a great time updating your gear and getting psyched for the spring paddling season
(for those of you lucky enough to have warm temps to paddle all year round we salute you
and are trying to keep our envy at a minimum. Still, you should go out and treat yourselves to
We would love to hear from anyone who stumbles upon any cool new toys for our kayaks!