If you are ever trying to get into a big city and you want to go paddle around, Kayak Chicago might be the right place for you. Kayak Chicago says that if you want to go kayaking in Chicago, go visit the folks at Kayak Chicago.
Kayak Chicago Tours
They have a list of tours that you guys can go to. One of the most popular tours is the fireworks paddle. Those startup after Memorial Day, every Wednesday and Saturday there’s a firework show that goes off in navy pier. They take a group of people down to Navy Pier in kayaks to watch the fireworks show and then head back.
Other tours include the sunset paddle and the city lights paddle. These are really popular during the summer as well. People who come out will get to see the city lit up at night. They have these little pool noodles that have led lights in them so they can light up everybody’s boat so everyone can be seen at night.
Kayak Chicago River
Kayak Chicago also has architecture tours that run twice per day. One at 10 am in the morning and then another at 3 pm in the afternoon. These are three-hour paddles that start at the northern part of Goose Island on the Chicago River, and make their way down through the downtown core of Chicago. Stops are made around State and Wabash before making their way back home. So essentially you can circumnavigate an island in Chicago without ever having to leave the city.
Other offerings from Kayak Chicago include courses to learn to kayak. These are great for people who have just gotten a boat, they don’t really know how to kayak and they want to gain a little bit more confidence in being in a kayak. So with these learn to kayak classes, they’re perfect for beginners.
Now if you have a little more experience and you want to spend some time in a sea kayak, you want to learn how to outfit a Kayak, how to self rescue yourself or how to roll the kayak there is a four-week progression course that meets on Saturdays and Sundays.
Chicago Kayak Rentals
Kayak Chicago has three locations including two beach locations. They offer paddleboard rentals as well as kayak rentals. For more information about Kayak Chicago, you can visit their website at kayakchicago.com.
Have you ever wondered what happens when you pair up world-class kayakers with some of the most powerful whirlpools on the Ottawa River? Luckily, the Senders crew consisting of Bren Orton and Adrian Mattern have tested these waters.
Check out their video highlight reel that also includes pro kayakers Dane Jackson, Nouria Newman, Alec Voorhees and Rush Sturges.
“I feel you’re going to see some very interesting beat downs today and just know the river doesn’t care who you are. I’m sure everybody is going to get the beat down and I’m looking forward to that” Mattern mentions at the beginning of the video.
Dane Jackson actually gets held underwater for the longest amount of time and the commentary between Orton and Mattern is hilarious.
Bren Orton: “Alright here we go. Dane Jackson, the world’s best kayaker dropping into the whirlpools. Nice 360, oh he surprised himself. He’s going for the 720, look at the look of joy on his face, into the stern end, catching the whirlpool and getting some downtime. This is sick. Swirling around down there, popping back up, and looks like his ride is all over. Oh my God, it’s going to get him again. Oh my God, he’s back down again.”
Adrian Mattern: “Oh no Dane-o!”
Bren Orton: “He is not having the fun that was promised to him. He’s not. Oh my God. Get out of there Dano! Get out of there! DANE-O! Oh my God, dude, he’s going into China. Oh, it’s gonna get him again. Nope. No, he’s out.”
Adrian Mattern: “Nope he is back in”
Bren Orton: “Oh God, I can’t watch it. Oh my God. Yeah. No. Oh my God. Still fighting for it. Pops up. Finally gets a breath.”
Orton mentions, “some important things for viewers back home. We sort of know what we’re doing. Whirlpools are awesome fun. There’s just one golden rule and that is to never exit your Kayak in a whirlpool because things will go much, much worse.”
Paddling Magazine does not recommend trying anything in this video unless you have had proper instruction and have proper safety on the river.
If you are a paddler, there is a good chance you also enjoy taking the odd photo. Even if you aren’t an expert photographer, there are simple tricks you can learn to take better photos. Here is our collection of the best photography tips from paddlers. We figure if you learn to take better paddling photos, Paddling Magazine can start paying you for them.
1. The Best Camera Gear For Wildlife Photography
If you are lucky enough, you might just come accross some wildlife while you are on your paddle. Whether that includes moose, deer, birds, fish, beavers, snails or anything else you could think of capturing, you want to make sure you have the right gear. Here is the kit that photographer Ben Eby likes to use [ Ben Eby’s Wildlife Photography Kit ].
2. The Best Drone Kit For Paddlers
Now that drones are coming down in price and more consumers can get their hands on one, why not add one to your gear bag to get some new angles. While this is a great way to get creative, don’t get too carried away with too many drone shots. [ Tips To Elevate Your Drone Kit ].
3. Photographing Sunsets And Using Backlighting
Sunset and sunrise provide two of the best times to take photos, but they are also two of the most difficult times to get the right settings on your camera. Cameras are getting better and better these days but knowing a few simple tricks will help you take the best photos possible during these beautiful times. Pro tip: if you get better at shooting sunsets, you spend less time taking photos and more time enjoying them and living in the moment. [ Tips For Photographing Sunsets and Using Backlighting ].
4. How The Best Paddling Photos Are Taken
Learning from others is a great way to expedite the learning curve. Every photographer has their tips and tricks that they have either learned from lots of practice or from other photographers. Many photographers will share what settings they use and tricks for getting the best shots possible. [ Crazy Paddling Photography And How They Were Taken ].
5. How Action Cameras Have Changed The Game
The camera market is getting crazy good. There are so many options giving paddlers endless opportunities to get the shot they want. GoPros are waterproof, drones can chase you down a river better than a helicopter ever could and 360° video is opening up a whole new world of possibilities. Time for you to get the best shots yet. [ How Action Cameras Have Changed The Way We Paddle ].
6. Camera Gear You Want To Splurge On
Camera gear isn’t cheap, so it is important to know what you are looking for. With so many different options out there, how does one decide what is the most important gear to get? Let us get you started here. [ Camera Gear Paddlers Should Splurge On ].
7. Learn To Change The Memory Card Often
Memory cards can be more important than the camera itself. Well, kind of. The size of memory cards keeps climbing and while that can be helpful in some circumstances, it isn’t always ideal to have all your photos on one card. Learn this lesson now before it’s too late. [ A Paddling Photographers Nightmare ].
In 2017, Justin Barbour along with his trusted sidekick Saku set out on a 68-day expedition across Newfoundland. Newfoundland and Labrador have some of the last truly untouched wilderness on the planet. We reached out to Justin to get the inside scoop on his epic Newfoundland crossing.
Tell us about your background?
I’ve been on adventures for as long as I can remember. During my childhood, I lived in a small rural community outside of St.John’s, Newfoundland. I was always outdoors and loved every minute of it. Building cabins, lean-toos, biking, fishing, swimming, I was always at it. And always had dreams.
Hockey was also a huge part of my life and like many other young players, I dreamt of making the NHL. I played competitively for years, moved to New Brunswick for Junior, and took my shot, but as we all know the chances are slim and eventually I came back home to study Physical Education and become a teacher. While still playing senior hockey locally, it was during University when we studied outdoor activities and survival, that I rediscovered that passion from my youth.
For years I hardly went in the woods because hockey was my focus. But I stirred up that feeling of exploring the unknown and freedom that I remembered as a young boy. Now, this life and the endless trips there are to be planned is the new focus.
The physical and mental challenges, the indescribable rewards that await and that feeling of being alive and in the moment that can only be felt by being off the beaten track and traveling by your own power. I love to live it and share it so that others can be encouraged to dream their wildest dreams and live their lives to the maximum. If they get out to appreciate and respect mother nature then that’s a double win.
What made you want to go on this expedition?
I had been doing smaller trips, 3 days-4 days- 7-days-14 days. 99% were solo, including the longer ones because committed partners were difficult to find. And also because I sort of got into this on my own time through books, documentaries and solo practice whenever I could.
I was just so enthralled by being out there. So I was focused early. And one thing I’ll tell you about me is that when I get an idea I need to run with it, I’m locked on.
I wanted to go big and thought that this would be a fine way to see the least explored areas of my provinces wilderness
Early on, most thought it was strange for me to be spending a couple of nights in the bush on my own while there were more important things happening in town, but to me, I was preparing for something bigger, that I did not yet know of and I was fine by that. I needed to be out there and was super content with my own independence and company. I would entertain others when they wanted to join and loved it, but no one seemed to have the same intensity of interest. So most times it was solo and it became an obsession of my own!
I had begun reading books on old Newfoundland and Labrador explorers and trappers. Some early Europeans and others the aboriginal people of our province, Beothuck, Mi’kmaq, Innu and Inuit. There were epic stories of adventure, of struggle, success and fascination in the splendors of nature. I also read and watched trips from more modern outdoorsmen and explorers. Like Dick Proneeke, Lars Monsen and Mike Horn. With that all digested I had the itch to plan an expedition of my own, so looking at the whole of Newfoundland one evening I decided that traveling its width, some 700 kilometers, would be a perfect challenge. I wanted to go big and thought that this would be a fine way to see the least explored areas of my provinces wilderness.
Why did you choose Newfoundland and specifically this route?
Newfoundland and Labrador have so much wilderness, why go any further? It’s some of the last true wilderness left in the planet. Living on the island portion of our province I thought why not go the distance and cross it all. If I started in the west I would get the prevailing winds at my back when I paddled and I would finish near my home on the most easterly portion of the island.
I planned to first cross 100 kilometers of the Long Range Mountains by foot then paddle and portage the remaining 600 to the end. My boat was a 6-pound Alpacka Raft. In the last days leading up to the expedition start, I added a sled to pull my gear over the mountains on snowshoes because snow levels were still extremely high due to a late winter.
What were the highlights of the expedition?
There were highlights daily on the trail. So much is happening when you’re always moving forward. Some good, some not so good. Walking through the Long Range Mountains (An extension of the Appalachian Chain here in NL) pulling a sled was memorable. We started at sea level and climbed about 1800 feet and then back down the other side.
We were blessed with some warm and sunny late spring days but the albedo effect was strong off the high mountain snow. Unfortunately, I forgot sunscreen and had none until my first resupply at the 100 km mark. I received a bad sunburn to say the least.
Hitting some real productive fishing holes that were deep in the country was also a treat. Wetting a line is a big joy for me on these trips. A learning experience and a not so good highlight came when I flipped the raft in white water and lost plenty of gear. It was scary stuff. Amazingly I have footage of this on the YouTube series. Luckily Saku and I were okay. Lessons were learned every day out there.
What were your biggest challenges on the trip?
Challenges are what make trips interesting. Managing yourself is one of the biggest. On this trip, my body held up pretty well and in my mind, I just kept breaking the trip down in small chunks to minimize the feeling of distance. One actual situation was when the snow was melting and I was still pulling a sled. I had to break camp in the at first light to get hard crusty conditions because by afternoon you would sink to your chest even with snowshoes on. I battled that for a few days.
To make matters worse, on this trip I had to wait unexpectedly for over a week for lake ice to thaw and during that time all food had to be rationed down even further
Another big and interesting challenge on this expedition was trying not to eat all my food. I’m serious. You get really hungry out there grinding solo through the conditions and only have limited rations. Every bite is savored and appreciated. Many evenings I stare at the food bag wanting more but know I am only eating into the next days’ rations. Over time your body adapts and you can run on less, but some evenings you still you get that craving to eat more once supper is finished. Then again on other nights, I’m that tired I can’t even cook and just end up eating a few handfuls of trail mix and diving into the sleeping bag.
To make matters worse, on this trip I had to wait unexpectedly for over a week for lake ice to thaw and during that time all food had to be rationed down even further. Drinking tea and coffee helped curb my hunger and I relied on fish to fill the void, which I did well with. Ultimately your three biggest challenges on any expedition are managing your food, getting from point A to B and staying safe while doing it.
What was it like to do the trip with Saku your dog?
Doing a trip with Saku was everything I could have asked for. I find it hard now to think of doing an expedition without him though I know it is a reality. Especially if I want to get into longer winter treks which is a strong desire I have. But Saku is always the silver lining out there. When things get rough and the daily grind and distance are wearing me down, I look to Saku for motivation from the jump in his step. It’s contagious energy to see him so excited. The security around camp and his scent is good for marking your territory and decreases the chances of any unwanted animal visitors. He is also entertaining and has become my best friend and wilderness traveling companion.
Time to eat | Photo: Justin Barbour
If there was one disadvantage it would be dealing with his food weight, though it can be managed. During certain points of this trip, which were longer sections in between resupplies, I would have to carry some of his extra food and of course, his first aid because he only has limited room in his pack. But that’s okay because it’s worth having him there and I’m pretty hardened to it now. Just means a better workout!
Overall there are really no negatives to taking a dog on any wilderness adventure if they are suited for it, well trained and obey your commands.
What were the trip stats?
Started the trip in Robinson’s Newfoundland April 19th, 2017 and ended in Cape Broyle Newfoundland June 25th, 2017. A total of 68 days and 700 kilometers.
What is on the horizon for Justin Barbour?
Last summer I paddled 1000 kilometers across Labrador and into Northern Quebec with Saku so that was a big step. I had hopes of going 1700km’s and reaching Hudson Bay. Nature had other plans though and we were cut short by an unusually early October winter. So now I am leaning towards a winter expedition to maybe finish that. But nothing’s in stone and ideas are always rolling so all I can say is that more adventures are to come.
On the creation side of my expeditions, I am about to begin my first speaking tour here in Newfoundland presenting the 1000km Labrador trip. Last year I visited 30 venues and schools presenting the 700 km Newfoundland journey.
I also have a book coming out in September on the Newfoundland expedition and Saku has a children’s book being released by a local author at the same time. Then in the Fall, I plan to release a new documentary series on the Labrador-Quebec trip. So it’s exciting times and I am looking forward to moving forward.
Speaker 1: Don’t people usually use life jackets with these things?
Salty Jefferson: I learned that lesson the hard way.
Speaker 2: Paddling legend, Salty Jefferson?
Salty Jefferson: My buddy Shaggy Brad and I were out with the old two man cruising for babes. We saw a few on a cigarette boat with some dudes. Shaggy didn’t have a life jacket cause he liked to show off his guns. I had mine on, got a couple extra nipples I like to keep protected from the UV. But the boyfriends weren’t impressed. they hit the throttle and we hit the water and I never saw Shaggy again. That’s why I always wear my life jacket, because safety first, but also the nipples.
As a United Stated Coast Guard nonprofit grant recipient, the Water Sports Sports Foundation produces paddling safety outreach materials and distributes them through boating and paddling media providers.
Paddle sports currently has an inordinately high rate of accidents and deaths that for the past five years has been increasing, while power boating stats have been decreasing during the same period.
In the tempest of new fishing kayaks hitting the water, it’s hard to make waves with a fresh boat. Especially a company that’s been around for 120 years. But last year, Old Town released the Topwater line to compete with lower-priced competition. This year, they blew the other guys out of the water.
Old Town Topwater 120 PDL Specs
Activity: Fishing, Hunting Style: Sit-on-Top Number of Paddlers: 1 Propulsion: Pedal Material: Single Layer Polyethylene Seat Type: Element Air Seating Weight Capacity: 500 lb | 226.8 kg Length: 12′ | 3.7 m Width: 36 in | 91.4 cm Price: $2149 USD
When we fished the Old Town Topwater 120 last summer, our team anticipated Old Town would release a pedal version. The super-stable Double U hull and smart outfitting were perfect for stand-up backwater fishing and the price was perfect for any budget.
So, we weren’t surprised when Old Town released the Topwater 106 PDL. At only 10-feet, six-inches, we were surprised by the pocket pedal boat’s ride and handling. The Double U hull lent itself perfectly to a pedal drive. And the tried and true PDL lived up to its strong and silent reputation. The little Topwater PDL made us hungry for a hotly anticipated 12-foot version. While we were impressed with the Topwater 106’s performance, the team agreed we needed more room for stuff.
Shazam! This spring, the Kayak Angler crew picked up word of a new Topwater PDL in the works and the result exceeds expectations.
The same smart features available on the other Topwater models added to the proven PDL system gives the 120 PDL more to love.
Topwater’s super-stable Double U hull improves stability and keeps the boat traveling straight. Steering is handled with a low-profile knob that is easy to index and a large, responsive rudder. One of our favorite features is the extra-long lever to retract the rudder. Instead of fighting with lines and bungees, the lever lifts the rudder without complaint.
A lightweight fishing kayak
The boat comes in at a prize-winning 87 pounds and the drive weighs just under 20 making the Topwater 120 PDL one of the lightest pedal boats on the water.
The topside of the 120 shares our favorite Topwater touches. The padded deck is easy for stand-up fishing. A large bow hatch seals for dry storage. Gear tracks on the gunnels are positioned to keep rod holders and fish finder display within reach and out of the path of the action.
Topwater makes it easy to install the fish finder and power cables with a transducer scupper and mounting system.
Two flushmount rod holders behind the seat are angled for trolling. My favorite is the flushmount rod holder beside the captain’s chair. I use it a hundred times a day to hold my rod for rigging or unhooking fish.
Old Town carried over the Elementair Seat which is light and strong, even if it lacks extra padding or supports. I like how the back is angled to accept a PFD with plenty of room in the 21-inch-wide seat.
Old Town PDL pedal fishing kayak
The star of the show is Old Town’s PDL drive. Engineers and pro-staff worked for years to develop the original PDL drive. The extra effort paid dividends with is a system that hasn’t needed improvement since. The pedal system is sealed and maintenance free, as capable in salt water as fresh. The PDL is so reliable, Old Town backs it with a five-year warranty.
I prize the fit and finish on the PDL. The system wedges solidly in the kayak with virtually no flex to transfer maximum power from the pedals to the propeller. Even if the system is larger than other power plants, the solid connection with the hull is worth the trade. When the pedals are inserted in the deck well, the base has a small hatch to double as dry storage.
Probably the Topwater feature that will appeal to the widest range of anglers is the price. At $2149 dollars, the Topwater 120 PDL brings Old Town quality at a great value.
walking out of the store with a solid pedal kayak for just over $2000 feels like highway robbery
I was so stoked about one of our favorite pedal boats growing up, I reached out to marketing manager Ryan Lilly. “Based on consumer feedback, we saw an opportunity to bring a lighter, compact, easy to maneuver and transport kayak to the market,” he explains. The Topwater line has been one of the best-selling in Old Town’s 120-year history. “That’s saying something,” Lilly crows.
Lilly gives credit to the guys behind the scenes. “Our product engineers are some of the best in the business and they delivered some of their best work with the Topwater series.” He points out the Topwater 120 PDL paddles as well as it pedals. “It cuts through the water with confidence and ease,” he adds.
We asked Lilly for the secret to building a feature-filled boat at a reasonable price. “There is a race to the bottom,” he admits, pointing to companies sacrificing quality and features to sell a less expensive kayak. “We are not interested in chasing cheap,” he insists, explaining Topwater’s ideal owner is looking for quality for their money.
Still, walking out of the store with a solid pedal kayak for just over $2000 feels like highway robbery. This boat is a great fit on any inshore or back water expedition with the capability to cover distance and survive moderate seas. It’s the grab-and-go boat you use more than your big, heavy tournament ride. The Topwater 120 PDL will keep friends and family smiling; I’m getting one for my mother-in-law. With smart features and a great price, the Topwater 120 PDL will fit anywhere.
The past three months have seen significant staffing changes at two of the largest paddling organizations in North America. After nine years of working with Paddle Canada, Graham Ketcheson, the organization’s Executive Director, has resigned from his position. Christopher Stec has also resigned from his post as the Chief Operating Officer at the American Canoe Association.
Since joining Paddle Canada in 2010, Ketcheson led the organization through growth and change. He helped implement better membership and course registration strategies and solutions, newsletter and social media communication with members, and a partnership with Rapid Media, so all Paddle Canada members receive a complimentary subscription to Paddling Magazine or Kayak Angler. During his time with the organization, Paddle Canada aimed a media campaign at educating paddlers to be smarter on the water, reaching millions of Canadians.
“One of my realized goals was to bring financial stability and profitability to Paddle Canada and to see the organization succeed by using smarter technologies while cutting traditional operating expenses,” says Ketcheson. “The organization has seen 30 percent growth during this time, mostly in membership and course offerings, plus more than a tripling of operating budgets.”
It’s hard to say goodbye to an organization I have so much passion for
“Graham had many positive traits he brought to the team at Paddle Canada,” says Jeff Martin, current President of Paddle Canada. “He is a people person who can effectively communicate and problem solve when members had questions. Over his nearly 10 years with Paddle Canada, he was able to effectively manage staff and many vital volunteer committees and communicate the vision of the organization.”
“It’s hard to say goodbye to an organization I have so much passion for,” wrote Ketcheson following his March resignation. “Our organization is in such a better place now compared to 2010, when I first arrived in office. We are at a much more sustainable level and have an excellent mix of courses, program offerings and great brand recognition in the outdoor marketplace. We have established partnerships with outdoor manufacturers, safe boating and government partners. The future of Paddle Canada looks bright.”
Both Paddle Canada and the American Canoe Association are in the process of hiring new staff
Ketcheson has taken on a role as managing director at OWL Rafting on the Ottawa River. It’s still in the paddling world, but a big change of duties and responsibilities. Ketcheson says he is excited to “learn a lot more about the world of commercial rafting, which is brand new to me.”
Christopher Stec also announced his resignation effective March 8, 2019, from his job as Chief Operating Officer at the American Canoe Association. In his resignation letter, Stec stated he was grateful for everything accomplished by staff and members of the American Canoe Association since his beginnings with the organization, and was unavailable for further comment.
Both Paddle Canada and the American Canoe Association are in the process of hiring new staff. “In terms of filling the Executive Director’s role, we have a hiring committee in place currently and have advertised the position over the last month,” says Jeff Martin of Paddle Canada. “We have also shared the job advertisement through Paddle Canada social media platforms and through word of mouth. Graham has left some big shoes to fill.”
YETI Holdings, Inc. a leading premium outdoor brand, expands its product offerings with a new cargo-style LoadOut GoBox. The YETI LoadOut GoBox leaves nothing to be desired when it comes to utility and durability. Designed for secure organization, this versatile gear fortress is ideal both on-the-go or back at basecamp.
The waterproof and dustproof GoBox can hold and protect everything from duck calls and rangefinders, to tippet and camera lenses, thanks to the included removable caddy, compartment divider, and Pack Attic deployable pouch.
The LoadOut GoBox is built to be nearly indestructible—ready to endure seasons in the sun, negative temps in the field, and repeated abuse being lugged in and out of the truck, the boat, and the blind. And when it’s all said and done, the GoBox stacks up neatly until your next adventure. “We are passionate about delivering products with a combination of exceptional design, function and reliability that are natural extensions of the YETI brand,” says YETI CEO, Matt Reintjes. “With the GoBox, we have taken your standard storage box and turned it into a product with endless versatility and unprecedented reliability”.
The LoadOut GoBox will be available for purchase through yeti.com for $249.99, starting in May 2019. Available colors include white, tan, and charcoal. Accessories included: Divider, Caddy, and Pack Attic. For more information regarding YETI’s new Spring 2019 products, please visityeti.com.
About YETI Holdings, Inc.
YETI is a designer, marketer, retailer, and distributor of a variety of innovative, branded, premium products to a wide-ranging customer base. Our brand promise is to ensure each YETI product delivers exceptional performance and durability in any environment, whether in the remote wilderness, at the beach, or anywhere else life takes you.
We bring our products to market through a diverse and powerful omni-channel strategy, comprised of our select group of national and independent retail partners and our DTC channel. By consistently delivering high-performing products, we have built a following of engaged brand loyalists throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, and elsewhere, ranging from serious outdoor enthusiasts to individuals who simply value products of uncompromising quality and design.
Our relationship with customers continues to thrive and deepen as a result of our innovative new product introductions, expansion and enhancement of existing product families, and multifaceted branding activities.
The latest boats, boards and paddling gear information is now at the click of your mouse and tap of your phone.
The 2019 Paddling Buyer’s Guide is a turn-back-the-clock media initiative with a modern twist. For the first seven consecutive years, Rapid Media published a 300+ page magazine showcasing hundreds of the hottest canoes, kayaks, boards, paddles, PFDs, gear, accessories, and apparel from paddlesports’ most trusted brands. What makes this year’s edition unique and revolutionary is its digital integration with Rapid Media’s new paddlingbuyersguide.com.
More than 110,000+ subscribers receive a digital flipbook version of the print magazine. The flipbook mobile application allows readers to hover and tap on products to pop up additional product information, including international pricing, detailed descriptions, additional photos, and full product specifications.
we see our role evolving from product news and reviews to guiding customers further down the sales pipeline
The reader can then continue reading the magazine, click to buy the product, or learn more and compare products at paddlingbuyersguide.com.
“Rapid Media’s new online Paddling Buyer’s Guide is just another example of how our marketing team is working to create native advertising platforms focused on innovation, measurement and reader trust,” says Director of Marketing, Cristin Plaice. “As more and more shopping and researching behaviors switch to e-commerce formats, we see our role evolving from product news and reviews to guiding customers further down the sales pipeline.”
We are tracking and seeing the success of e-commerce conversions but what is also important is connecting consumer Paddling Buyer’s Guide online research to in-store conversions
While the online Paddling Buyer’s Guide drives consumers to brands’ online stores, it also provides valuable research tools and boosts in-store visits to specialty retail. Every product page includes a link to find local dealers.
“We are tracking and seeing the success of e-commerce conversions but what is also important is connecting consumer Paddling Buyer’s Guide online research to in-store conversions,” said Publisher and Founder Scott MacGregor. “After seven years of publishing the world’s largest paddling buyer’s guide print editions, we know it drives sales. Consumers circle products and walk into shops with dog-eared pages. The magazine can only feature new and top-selling products, while our new online guide isn’t limited by weight or what fits in a mailbox. We can include all products from all brands, driving long-tail sales of every item in every catalog from every brand.”
Gearlab, pioneer of the first modern Greenland-style paddles with exchangeable tips, has partnered with engineer Declan Nowak to develop a mechanism to measure the forces on a carbon fiber Greenland-style paddle in the water, allowing Gearlab designers to increase paddle strength and efficiency.
“In the industry, there is no set standard for testing stress placed on the paddles,” says lead designer and co-founder, Henry Chang. “All Gearlab products go through systematic and rigorous research, usability analysis, and ﬁeld testing. As part of that process, we needed a way to measure how much force is in each stroke and determine the strength-to-weight ratio.”
In consultation with engineers at Gearlab’s design laboratory in Taiwan, Nowak designed an Arduino-powered sensor that records the force exerted by a paddler’s hands on a paddle. An Arduino is a small lightweight microcontroller that is perfect for data-recording applications because it records information to an SD card.
This new standard will allow the consumer to compare the strength of paddles manufactured by different companies
“Using the sensor, I was able to determine the maximum force a paddler is likely to apply in ideal paddling conditions,” Nowak explains. “By knowing the stress a paddle can withstand in controlled lab tests and what the average force of a paddle stroke is, Gearlab can ensure that every paddle will handle tough conditions and meet customer expectations.”
As a result of this collaboration, Gearlab applied these results in developing the new Kalleq paddle (from the Inuit word for lightning) to be released this spring. The new Kalleq paddle, which is even lighter in weight than other models, offers a new sharper edge that improves paddle efficiency in the water, as well as paddling stability. The Kalleq has a redesigned internal carbon fiber structure that offers greater strength and durability in harsh conditions than previous models. And Gearlab’s signature exchangeable tips are smaller and the blade slightly wider than previous models.
With these innovations, the user can go farther and faster, with less stress to the shoulder and arm joints. The tests ensure that as the paddles become lighter, they maintain Gearlab’s rigorous durability standards.
*To simplify the graph, no data is recorded when the sensors registered a force of zero.
** While the analysis states that the units of kilograms are a force, the paddle is actually moving the mass of water. The force on the paddle will depend on how fast the paddler is accelerating. For the purposes of this experiment, I assumed that the paddler’s acceleration was the same as the acceleration due to gravity—which is significantly more than the rate a paddler would be accelerating.
Nowak says the next step will involve refining the sensor system and analyzing paddle strength using computer models in various water conditions. He also plans to put the new flagship Kalleq paddle to further tests this summer with Gearlab’s chief engineer, Chung-Shih Sun, on a 740-mile expedition on the historic Northern Forest Canoe Trail through the Northeastern United States and Canada.
In the future, Nowak aims to work with Gearlab to establish a universal metric for paddle companies.
“While each kayak paddle company has its own internal standards for product development, Gearlab is working toward establishing a universal standard,” Nowak says. “This new standard will allow the consumer to compare the strength of paddles manufactured by different companies, the strength of various lengths and widths of Greenland paddles, and even the strength of different types of paddles—such as Euro blades versus Greenland paddles.”
For more detailed information on Nowak’s Arduino-powered force sensor and field testing, go to gearlaboutdoor.com/PaddleForceTest.
For the past eight years, Gearlab has designed and manufactured Greenland-style carbon fiber paddles for ocean kayakers around the world. Created by a team of award-winning industrial designers and outdoor enthusiasts, the paddles are adapted from indigenous Inuit designs. Greenland paddles provide a long range, efficiency, and precision while reducing injury and fatigue. Made from 100% continuous carbon fiber material, Gearlab perfects thousand-year-old ergonomics with advanced material strength and durability. Gearlab paddles will open up a new realm of adventure for both weekend kayakers and expert paddlers. Find out more about the benefits of Gearlab paddles at www.gearlaboutdoor.com.