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Best Paddling Gear for 2020 – Drysuits, Dry Tops & Splash Jackets

Discover the best drysuits and paddling apparel from Level Six, NRS, and Gul North Performance Apparel. Whether you’re looking for an expedition-worthy drysuit or tough splash jacket for staying comfortable during foul weather, these picks from Paddling Magazine have you covered.

The Best Drysuits and Paddling Apparel in 2020

Freja by Level Six

Price: $900
levelsix.com

Women only! Level Six’s unique drop-seat relief zipper design allows for easy use and maximum comfort. Constructed with eXhaust 3.0 fabric and reinforced in the high wear areas for optimum breathability and durability. The front-zip entry makes it extremely easy to get in and out of on your own and the new Stealth DCS waistband system locks the suit into place. Plus fleece-lined pockets for cold days.


Men’s Helium Splash from NRS

Price: $199
nrs.com

The lightweight Helium Jacket protects anglers from wind, splash and rain with an articulated design for comfort and mobility in and out of the boat.

 

 

 

Taw U-Zip Paddling Drysuit from Gul Performance Apparel

Price: $989
gulnorthamerica.com

The Taw U-Zip Paddling Drysuit combines advanced GCX4 fabric technology with style and functionality. Breathable, waterproof, hardwearing four-layer fabric combined with 100-percent waterproof seams, and tough YKK Aquaseal Horseshoe Easy on zip system. The opening gives this drysuit the edge. Glide Skin neck and cuff seals, plus neoprene outer ankles and webbing straps provide function and supreme comfort.

Odin from Level Six

Price: $900
levelsix.com

Built from the ground up with a new cut and improved fit. Constructed with eXhaust 3.0 fabric and reinforced in the high wear areas for optimum breathability and durability. The front-zip entry makes it extremely easy to get in and out of on your own and the new Stealth DCS waistband system locks the suit into place. Fleece-lined pockets for cold days and a relief zipper for when nature calls.

Women’s Riptide Splash Jacket from NRS

Price: $199
nrs.com

The NRS Women’s Riptide Jacket is a fully-featured splash top built to deliver versatile, waterproof protection when you take your paddling to the next level in less-than-ideal conditions. The Riptide is as versatile as it is protective with an articulated storm hood, quick-venting adjustable neck and a kayak overskirt.


Juniper Touring Drysuit from Gul Performance Apparel

Price: $1,045
gulnorthamerica.com

This ultimate touring suit with a TIZIP system separates into two fully functional garments. Constructed from GCX4 Evo four-layer breathable, waterproof 2/2 mechanical stretch fabric and 500D Cordura reinforced elbows, seat and knees. Features Glide Skin neck seal, Spacer mesh upper back, high-vis stow-away storm hood, and four-way adjustable increased cranium volume for helmet compatibility. Easy to use relief system.

9 Best Canoes For 2020

Discover some of the best canoes of the year from Nova Craft, Sea Eagle, Old Town, Swift, Mad River and Wenonah. Whether you’re looking for a canoe for a month-long canoe tripping adventure, a speedy boat for winning races, or a solo canoe for enjoying nature, Paddling Magazine’s top picks are sure to please.

The Best Canoes in 2020

Cruiser 14.8 by Swift Canoe & Kayak 

Price: $3,095
swiftcanoe.com

If you spend your backcountry adventures traveling light and fast, the Cruiser 14.8 provides the speed of a touring kayak with the volume of a solo canoe, allowing you to pack without worry and portage with ease. Snappy on the turn when leaned over, and more than capable if the waves come up, the Cruiser 14.8 is designed to handle whatever your adventures may entail.


Travel Canoe from Sea Eagle

Price: $1,649-$1,999
seaeagle.com

The original inflatable, all drop stitch canoe goes from car trunk to water in just nine minutes. High-pressure drop stitch sides and floor form an incredibly rigid, stable and lightweight canoe that’s just 60 pounds. It inflates to 16 feet by 38 inches and holds three people, or up to 915 pounds. Take it fishing, paddle lakes or run class IV rivers. Bow and stern molds help slice through the water for paddling speeds up to five miles per hour.

Discovery 119 Solo Sportsman from Old Town

Price: $899.99
oldtowncanoe.com

Combining the best of both worlds, Old Town delivers the ideal grab-and-go watercraft for anglers and hunters alike. Offering the simplicity and utility of a classic solo canoe with the agility and sleek handling of a kayak, the Discovery 119 Solo Sportsman hybrid canoe is a stable, lightweight boat that is easy to handle on and off the water.

Prospector 16 from Nova Craft Canoe

Price: $1,429-$3,259
novacraft.com

A timeless classic. Affectionately known as the workhorse of the Canadian north, Nova Craft’s Prospector 16 feels most at home loaded with gear on a remote wilderness lake or river. While it is best suited for river tripping, it remains versatile enough to be a good all-around canoe. The versatility of the hull design makes this canoe a bestseller season after season. Also available in 15-, 17- and 18-foot lengths.

Explorer Carbon from Mad River Canoe

Price: $3,699
madrivercanoe.com

Matching the most versatile hull design on the market with the quality and refinement it deserves, the new Explorer Carbon features resin infusion for a lightweight and durable construction, contoured cherry outfitting, and integrated carbon/aramid gunwales. Choose the carbon version for the ultimate in lightweight cruising.

Voyager from Wenonah

Price: $2,699-$3,699
wenonah.com

Designed for a solo paddler with big plans, the Voyager is at home on large lakes and rivers. If you’re looking for a solo that’ll take on the Great Salt Lake, Lake Powell, the big reservoirs of Tennessee, or any waters like them, this is your canoe. This hull is the solo version of the legendary Minnesota II’s incredibly efficient design; it’s straight tracking and capable of carrying two weeks gear.


Fox 14′ Solo from Nova Craft Canoe

Price: $1,229-$2,859
novacraftcanoe.com

Nova Craft’s Fox 14 is an ideal choice for solo paddlers looking for independent adventures on flatwater lakes and lazy rivers. The Blue Steel layup (shown), is a combination of aramid and carbon fibers, and offers incredible stiffness for efficient performance. At only 36 pounds, it’s also a pleasure to portage.

Haida from Nova Craft Canoe

Price: $1,529-$3,359
novacraftcanoe.com

A versatile family canoe people can grow into. Beginners will find its steadiness reassuring and as paddlers become more advanced they will appreciate the faster hull and easy glide. The Haida’s roominess and stability means it is an ideal canoe for families who want to enjoy some tripping with young children, whether for a weekend jaunt to a favourite park or a wilderness adventure.

Prospector 15 SP3 from Nova Craft Canoe

Price: $999
novacraftcanoe.com 

Nova Craft’s Outfitter Series canoes are reproductions of the iconic Prospector design rendered in a super tough three-layer polyethylene plastic called SP3. Built to take hard knocks, these canoes can withstand years of use with little maintenance. They are ideal for canoe liveries and rental shops since they will provide many years of faithful service at an attractive price.

Pyranha Kayak’s Ozone First Look

Pyranha Ozone Prototype
Pyranha Ozone Prototype

Paddling Magazine got a first-hand look at the brand new Ozone whitewater kayak from Pyranha. This design is so fresh, it’s still a prototype and may have a few small tweaks made to its design before it hits retailers in early 2020.

This new river running playboat “fills the gap between the Loki and Jedi, and the Ripper,” says Pyranha sales manager Chris Hipgrave. He says the name of the kayak pays tribute to Pyranha’s Inazone, which won awards for being an ideal do-it-all, one-boat-for-everything design.

With two playful ends and plenty of volume in the bow, expect the Ozone to surf like a dream, says Hipgrave.

We got a look at the snazzy carbon prototype, which arrived just before Hipgrave had to hit the road to go to Paddlesports Retailer 2019 in Oklahoma City. The design will be available in North America in carbon by special order, and the rotomolded versions will be manufactured in three sizes and available in 2020.

Hipgrave said most specs were still to be determined but he was able to confirm the medium Ozone will be 7.5 feet long and come with Pyranha’s standard Stout 2 outfitting.

Attendees to PaddleExpo in Germany this fall will likely get a look at the final prototype before Pyranha begins rotomolding the design, says Hipgrave.

 

Sawyer Paddles’ New SUPer Styk

Designed in collaboration with professional paddler Paul Clark, these gorgeous whitewater SUP paddles from Sawyer Paddles and Oars are designed for paddlers of all skill levels.

“We’re really pushing into whitewater SUP,” says Sawyer’s Zac Kauffman. “We’ve been working closely with Hala and have a handful of paddlers that paddle for them and us because that’s what’s going on on the West Coast.”

The SUPer Styks have straight blades for effective directional and momentum control, says Kauffman. They also excel in lateral paddle strokes, feathering, and providing a stable bracing platform.

The wood blade is reinforced with fiberglass and carbon fiber for extra strength, with the perimeter edged in Dynel Tough Edge. Blade dimensions are 7.25 by 19 inches.

The Super Styks are offered in three constructions

Canyon SUP: Wood whitewater SUP paddle, with Douglas fir shaft and T-grip. The shaft is impressively flexible.
Glass SUP: Fiberglass whitewater SUP paddle, with a straight shaft and slight scoop on power face for more power, plus a T-grip.
Carbon SUP: Carbon whitewater SUP paddle, with carbon fiber reinforced straight shaft, and a slight scoop on blade power face for more power.

Bending Branches Glowtek Paddle

Bending Branches Angler Pro GlowTek Kayak Fishing Paddle
Bending Branches Angler Pro GlowTek Kayak Fishing Paddle

When Bending Branches wanted a new design for their popular Angler Pro paddle blade, they reached out to pro staff to send in ideas. The result was an influx of photos, images, designs and sketches for the BB folks to choose from.

The winner was West Coast pro staffer J R Rowlands’ Glowtek pattern.

A cross between alligator and python patterns with colors ranging from bright green to dark brown, the blade will get plenty of attention on the water. Bending Branches applied the pattern to their wildly popular and versatile Angler Pro fiberglass blade. The Angler Pro is the result of years of research and development to design a blade with enough torque to push a heavy fishing kayak combined with efficiency to go for miles in an open-water boat. Best news is, Bending Branches received so many great designs, they are already planning future paddles.

Best Canoe Paddles for 2020

Discover seven of the year’s best canoe paddles from Bending Branches, Grey Owl Paddles and Sawyer Paddles. Whether you’re looking for a canoe paddle for cruising, tripping or whitewater adventures, Paddling Magazine has rounded up seven of the best picks.

The Best Canoe Paddles for 2020

Catalyst Straight/Bent from Bending Branches

Price: $139.95
bendingbranches.com

Meet the new Catalyst canoe paddle from Bending Branches, made entirely of recycled wood scraps that would otherwise be discarded. A catalyst of change for the betterment of the planet and paddlers. Made with the most desired features, including full Rockgard coverage, two-ounce fiberglass coating and a palm grip. Five dollars from every paddle sold will be donated to American Rivers.


Voyageur from Grey Owl Paddles

Price: $76
greyowlpaddles.com

Grey Owl’s most popular laminated paddle, combining durability, design and value. An excellent all-around paddle for wilderness tripping. Offers the benefits of a full carbon unit but at a fraction of the price.


Northern Light from Grey Owl Paddles

Price: $165
greyowlpaddles.com

The lightest traditional paddle available from Grey Owl. Perfect for easy cruising and experienced style paddlers. Suitable for solo and tandem deep-water paddling (minimum two to two-and-a-half feet).


Bent Shaft Ranger X from Sawyer Paddles

Price: $165
paddlesandoars.com 

The Ranger X is a heavy-duty expedition and whitewater canoe paddle featuring a modern teardrop blade profile and an 11-degree blade offset intended for long trips and heavy use. This tough paddle has a dual tapered Douglas fir wood shaft reinforced with carbon fiber and fiberglass X-Weave durability. Delivers real power to the carbon fiber and fiberglass reinforced Ponderosa pine blade.

Pathfinder from Grey Owl Paddles

Price: $90
greyowlpaddles.com

An upscale version of Grey Owl’s Voyageur paddle with a new blade shape and fabulous grip design. An excellent all-around paddle for wilderness tripping.


Touring from Grey Owl Paddles

Price: $100
greyowlpaddles.com

A tough, durable paddle for those who like to cruise the wilderness. Also available in a six-degree bent shaft for those who want to combine the efficiency of an offset blade with the style of a straight shaft.


Guide from Grey Owl Paddles

Price: $76
greyowlpaddles.com

The Guide is a rugged and inexpensive tripping paddle for bow, stern or solo use.

4 Best Whitewater Kayaks for 2020

Discover four of the year’s best whitewater kayaks from Dagger, Liquidlogic, Pyranha and Verus Kayaks. Whether you’re looking for a whitewater kayak for downriver play, or ultra-fast creeking, or one with lightning-fast speed for challenging creeks, Paddling Magazine has rounded up four of our top picks.

The Best Whitewater Kayaks for 2020

Rewind from Dagger

Price: $1,259
dagger.com 

Meet Dagger’s next whitewater icon—the Rewind. The ultimate downriver playboat for paddlers of all abilities, the Rewind over delivers on what boaters want and need from a modern whitewater kayak, including piercing river running capabilities complemented by an exciting play-ability that allows you to add new tricks to your arsenal.


Alpha from Liquidlogic

Price: $1,099
liquidlogickayaks.com

Liquidlogic started the nine-foot fast creeker river runner revival and the Alpha is the latest creation in the class. This machine has a large smooth transitioning bow rocker and flatter center hull section. Longer boats no longer have to be hard to paddle. This baby is nimble! The subtle kick rockered stern profile is modeled after the Braaap, which gives it a predictable quick carving fun feel on the water.


9R II from Pyranha

Price: $1,249
pyranha.com 

The 9R kickstarted a creek boat design revolution; now it’s time to raise the bar with the 9R II. This sports car of a kayak is an exhilarating ride on any river, its narrow width not only increases the 9R’s dynamic speed, but also offers immense connectivity, effortless rolling and lightning-fast edge-to-edge transitions.


Gladiator from Verus Kayaks

Price: $1,099
veruskayaks.com

The goal of the Gladiator was to create a displacement hull with a smooth rocker that transitioned from bow to stern. The Gladiator is 76 gallons, which lends itself well to being what Verus envisioned as a playful creeker, somewhere between a half slice and full-blown creek boat. Its versatility makes it a perfect match for challenging creeks or substantial eddylines ideal for stern squirts.

Best Hard Boards for 2020

Discover six of the year’s best hard boards from Bishop Boards and SIC Maui. Whether you’re looking for a fishing board, race board, family board or all-around board, Paddling Magazine has you covered. Discover the top six hard boards for 2020 below.

The Best Hard Boards for 2020

Grouper from Bishop Boards

Price: $1,849
bishopboards.com

Finally a shallow-draft SUP. The Grouper needs no fins due to its revolutionary tri-hull and full-length keel. Straight tracking and super stable. No worries getting to those skinny water fishing spots, launching or landing. The flat deck has tons of real estate to set up your gear, coolers and rod holders with 13 deck attachment points. Under nose anchor point and huge weight capacity. Dimensions: 11’8” x 34”.


Tao Fit 11′ x 34″ – Tough Tec from SIC Maui

Price: $779.95
sicmaui.com

The Tao Fit is a versatile, stable board for families, fitness and fishing use. Designed for all-purpose flatwater use, it’s now available in rugged and affordable Tough-Tec construction. Includes FCS 2 tool-free center fin, grippy yoga-mat full-length deck pad, deck bungee and 10 high load-strength accessory attachment points.


Dinka from Bishop Boards

Price: $1,179
bishopboards.com

Bishop Board’s has brought a select group of features to the new Dinka. Combining soft chines in the nose and an aggressive drop-down rail in the tail allows it to pop up, paddle higher, easier, and be more predictable and crank turns with a tight rail profile. As always, Todd Bishop used single to double concaves, continuous rocker and rails to give you drive. 6’11”, 7’11” and 8’11” available.


Okeanos 11′ x 28″ from SIC Maui

Price: $1,499.95
sicmaui.com

Okeanos is named after the ancient Greek god of the sea and was further inspired by the NOAA Ship “Okeanos Explorer”. This new series is focused on fitness, touring and voyaging the unknown, so thus the name was chosen. The Okeanos shares similar DNA with the RS series, however, this board is made for recreational paddling and journeying rather than racing.

Paddlefish from Bishop Boards

Price: $2,149
bishopboards.com

Todd Bishop has been working on the progression of SUPs and the Paddlefish delivers. The revolutionary nose and tail keel sections allow it to slice in and out of the water, creating smooth drive and glide—something found in kayaks and canoes and missing from paddleboards. Removing the standard center fin allows it to also turn easier, stepping back with one foot, which is quicker and more stable. 14’x27”, 12’6”x25”/26”


Bullet 14′ x 30″ SF from SIC Maui

Price: $2,899.95
sicmaui.com

The 2019 Bullet takes the best of this timeless all-purpose, does-it-all design and re-invents it with new attention to rocker, tail width and volume distribution, all packaged in stunning new graphics. Available in two constructions, three lengths and multiple widths to fit riders of every skill level and size. Starting at $1,599 in DF construction and $2,599 in SF construction.

P&H Sea Kayaks: Virgo Day Touring Kayak First Look

The Virgo takes day and weekend trips seriously. This performance polyethylene touring kayak is inspired by the well-loved Scorpio, a P&H sea kayak for making miles. The Virgo is influenced by its efficient design but is built specifically for paddlers who want to make the most of day and weekend trips. Like the Scorpio, the Virgo tracks straight when flat, and will swing effortlessly on edge. At 14’5”, its waterline provides good hull speed for short to medium journeys, while its shorter length keeps the boat’s weight manageable at 53 pounds.

Length: 14’5”
Width: 23”
Volume: 83 gal
Weight: 53 lbs
Load: 121-220 lbs
phseakayaks.com

“The Virgo has plenty of speed and maneuverability with the features of a day and weekend kayak,” says P&H Sea Kayaks’ Mathew Wilkinson.

P&H Virgo Construction

The Virgo is constructed from a rugged Corelite X material, which is a three-layer sandwich of polyethylene. Corelite X increases hull stiffness when compared to Corelite, which allows it to cut more cleanly and efficiently through the water. The Corelite X material is also between six to 13 pounds lighter than Corelite, which makes the boat easier to handle both on and off the water.

“It’s nice and light on the roof,” adds Wilkinson.

P&H Virgo Accessories

The Virgo features bow and stern main hatches, plus a bow mini hatch. The bow mini hatch allows for extra storage so you can keep on water essentials close at hand—like drinks and sunscreen. Each of the hatches features a top-notch dry hatch cover, thanks to KajakSport.

Also included are full deck lines and elastics for versatile storage and rescue options, as well as P&H’s Connect outfitting, which has an adjustable backrest and hip pads for comfort and control. The Virgo is available with a Skudder, which offers the best of both a skeg and a rudder. Paddlers can partially deploy it to work as a skeg, or fully deploy it to work as an ultra-efficient, under-stern rudder.

Available in Sunbeam yellow, Lava orange, Ocean Turquoise blue.

7 Best Life Jackets for Kayaking in 2020

Discover some of the year’s best life jackets from Salus Marine Wear, Stohlquist WaterWare and Kokatat. Whether you’re looking for a PFD for an adventure just out your back door, or a PFD that will keep you safe on the trip of a lifetime, these versatile life jackets will keep you protected on the water.

The Best Life Jackets for Kayaking in 2020

Capri by Salus Marine Wear 

Price: $169
salusmarine.com

The Capri offers superior fit and comfort. It’s soft and feminine on the outside, yet strong and practical on the inside. The roomy and contoured top, combined with fleece hand-warmer pockets, two zippered security pockets, full-length reflective trim and a unique splash of feminine styling make the Capri a welcome companion on any open water adventure.


Ebb from Stohlquist WaterWare

Price: $99.95
stohlquist.com

One of Stohlquist’s most popular PFDs is now offered in Graded Sizing for the ultimate fit. The higher mesh back flotation fits more comfortably above the tall seat backs found in today’s rec/touring kayaks. The exclusive Cross-Chest Cinch harness eliminates ride-up, and the added internal ventilation helps keep paddlers cool during long days on the water.

Hustle and Hustle R from Kokatat

Price: $139.95
kokatat.com

The low-profile, side-entry Hustle PFD has two stacked and sculpted GAIA PVC-free floating foam panels that wrap around the torso to allow optimal comfort. Covered in 210D high-tenacity ripstop nylon with adjustable, padded shoulder straps and three side adjustments for secure fit. A large front pocket allows for secure internal organization. A single lash tab on the front for accessories.

Stepping up, the Hustle R provides guides, teachers and rescuers a full Type 5 rescue vest with the same fit and comfort as the Hustle in a pull-over vest. The Hustle R adds quick release safety harness and O-ring and protected rescue tab lash tab. The Hustle R is covered with tough, dependable and stain-resistant 500D Cordura.

Saco PFD from GUL Performance Apparel

Price: $175
gulnorthamerica.com

The versatile Saco PFD delivers ultimate protection, comfort and peace of mind, whether enjoying whitewater adventures or flatwater touring. Featuring an anatomical fit, this pullover, low-profile PFD utilizes Gul’s Infinity+ failsafe shoulder strap system. Incorporates a Spacer Mesh Liner, 3D webbing, anti-ride-up waist belt, spacious Slimline front pocket, reflective details and EaZZy glide straps.

Ungava from Salus Marine Wear

Price: $169
salusmarine.com

Ideal for kayak touring, the Salus Ungava is a unisex-style vest with all of Salus’ trademark features, including soft foam, round edges and contour fit. Additional features, including hand-warmer pockets, the ability to attach a quick-release belt, zippered security pocket, mesh drop-down pocket for quick access, five lash points and added reflective trim, make the Ungava a welcome companion on any water adventure.

Nomad from MTI Life Jackets

Price: $89.95
mtilifejackets.com

MTI’s new premium universal vest. Large cargo pockets with stretch mesh offer secure storage for must-carry items like a smartphone. Stash sunglasses in the elastic loops without fumbling to open a pocket. Features upscale Oxford and ripstop nylon fabric finished with reflective material and adjustable padded shoulders and handy tethered signal whistle—because a vest with so many bells deserves a whistle.


Betsea from Stohlquist WaterWare

Price: $129.95
stohlquist.com 

The women’s specific Betsea features the ergonomic Wrapture-shaped torso that wraps around the body for a close, low profile and comfortable fit. The Cross-Chest Cinch harness keeps flotation positioned low on the torso, eliminating ride-up. Interior sculpted cups and Stohlquist’s exclusive Graded Sizing ensure the perfect fit. Also available in Petite size (75 to 125 pounds) for smaller paddlers.