As I sit here warm and dry, I’ve had time to contemplate some of the best gear available on the market, and I’ve formed some opinions about which brands and products boaters should be buying. It’s not like I’m actually able to use any of these items right now, but I’m happy to tell you why you should be buying and using these items. Let’s start with a review of the three best kayak brands on the market right now.
- Jackson Kayak: were you ever an eight-year-old girl? If so, you need a Jackson Kayak. Why? The unicorn puke color pattern! I mean, come on. It’s practically Lisa Frank meets whitewater boats. This is seriously the best color to ever hit the kayak scene. Technically I think the color is actually called Tie-Dye, but that’s okay. We both know that it’s really the color of mythological regurgitation. Throw in a few butterfly stickers or a dolphin and every girl who grew up in the 90s will place an order today! It doesn’t matter if she actually plans to paddle or not. This boat is so pretty that you can flip it upside down and use it as a coffee table to fill out your Lisa Frank Valentine day cards.
- Dagger Kayak: Dagger makes the Mamba; ’nuff said. If you want to be a sexy beast, you need to paddle a mamba. It should suffice to say, Dagger builds the boat most guaranteed to make you boof a heavy load. Knock knock.
- Pyranha Kayaks: With each purchase of a Pyranha boat, buyers receive the coolest sponge known to man. This should be a very appealing add-on to any designated swimmer. Now they have something to sponge all the remaining water out of their boat after draining!
Now let’s move on to review of safety products.
- Astral Layla: This attractive personal flotation device includes the trademark lotus blossom on the back. This was enough reason for me to buy one. Don’t you pick out your safety gear based on floral patterns? Really, just me? Okay, well here’s a second reason you should buy a Layla –boobs! The vest is cut out to make space for your boobs to fit comfortably, so no more paddling the wrong line because you couldn’t see straight with your boobs smashed up in your face. Score one for female anatomy.
- The Green Jacket: Another win for Astral. Pat Keller paddles in the Green Jacket, so you should too. Pat Keller can run the Green blindfolded. I’ll bet it’s cuz he wears a Green Jacket. Next time I get bored, I may try on Brinn’s Green Jacket and a blind fold and see what happens.
- Astral Quick Release Rescue Belt: If you want to turn your Astral Layla or Sea Wolf into a rescue vest, you can add on the quick release belt, but there’s a much better reason to buy this belt. It’s a great accessory! What girl doesn’t love accesories? This gives us one more excuse to shop, and remember: you should always match your accessories to your shoes. How fantastic is it that my rescue belt matches my NRS neoprene booties so perfectly?
- NRS Pilot Knife: Now this one is a huge safety feature on the river. No boater should ever leave the put-in without a rescue knife. In the case that an emergency ever arises, paddlers should always be prepared. You never know when you might be out on the water and your toddler suddenly decides that he can no longer eat an apple with the skin still on the fruit. Don’t get caught unprepared and suffer a meltdown that only an enraged tiny human can enact.
And finally, let’s take a closer look at the apparel you should be wearing while out on the water.
- NRS 1.5 hydroskins: Hydroskins essentially are neoprene wetsuits available in three different thicknesses: o.5 mm, 1 mm, and 1.5 mm.The 1.5 mm hydroskin is typically lined with fleece. Before the name was changed to hydroskin, the fleece lined neoprene was called fuzzy rubber. Isn’t that enough reason to make you want to buy it? Come on, say it with me: FUZZY RUBBER. Didn’t it make you giggle a little? If you wear it, every time someone asks what you’re wearing, you get to say “fuzzy rubber.” See, you giggled again. If any cool weather remains when I finally get to paddle again, I’ll be wearing fuzzy rubber on top and on bottom.
- Teva Guide Sandal: Every paddler should own at least one pair of these sandals in their life. Why? Because spider rubber is awesome! It will seriously stick to every rock. The problem is that most of the time you can’t fit in your boat with sandals on, so you have to clip them in to the back of your boat. Then if you swim, you don’t usually have time to unclip your tevas and slide them on as your bouncing along over rocks and past undercuts. If you do manage to fit in your boat with your tevas on, there’s that small problem of how to keep them on your feet when you swim. The front straps like to slide off your foot and turn your sandals into worthless flippers around your ankles. But spider rubber is still really cool.
- Grateful Heads: Sadly this dazzling fashion statement is no longer available for retail purchase. The Grateful Heads helmet company folded quite some time ago, but you’ll still find some of their helmets floating around paddling gearswaps. It’s really too bad that boaters can’t purchase these helmets new. What a way to make a statement on the water! Other boaters won’t be able to take their eyes of you if you rock out one of these bad boys. Mainly because their retinas will be burned into place once the sun reflects off your dazzling glitter finish. You may ask if helmets should belong with the safety gear review, but anything that turns you into such a sexy devil must be considered apparel.
Now, try not to blow up NRS or your local outfitter all at once. Be sure to give them some time to restock as I expect most of these items to start flying off the shelf. Probably best if you don’t mention my name as you submit an order for “unicorn puke” and “worthless foot flippers.”