1. Sweet Protection Strutter LE Anniversary Helmet
$237 | WWW.SWEETPROTECTION.COM
Sweet Protection celebrated their 20th anniversary and re-released the LE to commemorate. The Strutter design is iconic and the LE comes in blue/orange and white/purple color patterns.
This is a favorite among rock gardeners and whitewater boaters. The shady baseball cap inspired Strutter LE comes in three sizes. The back band fit system and chin strap are easily adjustable.
2. Native Eyewear Braiden Sunglasses
Originating in the urban jungles of Philadelphia, Native Eyewear moved west and expanded their sunglasses styles along the way. The Braiden is a classic look in Native’s single medium-large size profile.
Their N3 polarized lens technology makes their use on the water a go-to for a variety of weather conditions. Just because it’s cooler outside doesn’t mean the UV rays are any less.
The fit is comfortable and let’s face it—they make Kevin look really cool. Secure with your choice of head strap and you are set for whatever adventures occur on the water.
3. NRS cVest Mesh Back PFD
$114.95 | WWW.NRS.COM
The NRS cVest advertises 16.5 pounds of flotation like most Class III PFDs these days. But how do they manage to do that is very innovative. The front of the cVest looks like a fusion of a regular touring kayaker’s PFD and a photography vest. There are five accessible pockets for odds and ends and one for a VHF radio are sewn around an easy front-zip entry and trimmed with reflective tape.
The back of the cVest is where things get interesting. The mesh back portion of the cVest’s name comes from the flotation being concentrated up high in the shoulder blade area of the back. Just mesh extends down from there to the adjustable straps sewn securely into the bottom. Getting the floatation high up means the NRS cVest pairs nicely with high seat backs.
4. Level Six Fjord Drysuit
$1,149.99 | WWW.LEVELSIX.COM
Level Six integrated a simple new feature in their new Fjord expedition drysuit—the torso entry zipper. Zip it open from just behind your right bicep all the way over to your left. Inside is a mesh suspender system that allows for the Fjord to be worn like a bib around camp on days when water temperatures are out of sync with the beating sun. Designed for multi-discipline paddling, the Level Six Fjord comes in three colors and six different sizes.
The construction is Level Six’s 2.5-ply eXhaust material and is reinforced with three-ply panels in high wear areas. Built-in feet and latex gaskets at the wrists and neck are then wrapped and protected with a comfortable closure system. On those cold blowy days we snuggled into the high zip-up collar. Oh yeah, the most important part, the relief zipper or drop the shoulder straps and the whole suit if you prefer.
5. Kokatat Unisex Inferno Paddling Mitt
$65 | WWW.KOKATAT.COM
We started using these Kokatat Inferno Mitts in February, and yes, they are all the hype. Available in six sizes, the XL version fit me comfortably—I’d typically wear a large in a ski glove. When putting them on, the secret is to pull the Inferno Mitts all the way up over top of the your latex wrist gasket and then under the drysuit outer sleeve.
Even with the minimal bit of water that snuck in, our hands stayed warm and cozy. These babies are pre-curved to more easily grip a paddle shaft. Kokatat uses three-millimeter Smoothskin neoprene that is reinforced in the palm area. This not only provides comfort but added durability. Did we mention they are warm?
6. Gearlab Paddles Nukilik
$348 | WWW.GEARLABPADDLES.COM
Leading the way in Greenland paddles’ popularity growth are the carbon fiber and Kevlar sticks coming from Gearlab Paddles. The Nukilik is available in seven lengths and colours. The wide loom is a signature of these two-piece paddles and the halves snap together with a low profile push-button.
The sharp edges of the symmetrical blades ensure reduced fatigue over long distances. The tips of the Gearlab Paddles are replaceable. Continuous fiber weaving has helped create a high quality paddle with an incredible strength to weight ratio. The irony of really liking a traditionally-shaped Greenland paddle manufactured in a space-age material with flare orange blades in a factory on the other side of the world is not lost on us.
7. Five Ten Eddy Pro
$120 | WWW.FIVETEN.COM
Five Ten is perhaps better known for producing some of the best rock climbing shoes but they’ve been in the water shoe business for a long time.Our publisher is still wearing an original pair of Water Tennies he reviewed back in 2001. Why? Because he swears they stick to wet rocks better than any other shoes he’s tried. Five Ten has used their knowledge and expertise canyoneering to make durable and comfortable water shoes for a variety of shoreline conditions.
The Eddy Pro has a glove-like fit and a long tongue that does not wag around. The synthetic mesh sides and double drainage holes in the sole shed water before you put your foot down. The Eddy Pro sole features a non-marking version of their Stealth rubber and its what really makes these shoes so special. Like most Five Ten shoes, the toe features what they call the Climbing Zone for protecting little piggies on technical approaches, steep rock accesses and when kicking in under raft tubes and kneeling in canoes.