2004 Buyer's Guide: The Essential Paddler

Take Me to the River

When the water gets pushy, here's the gear to see you through

2004 Buyer's Guide: The Essential Paddler

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PADDLES, PFD’s, AND SPRAY SKIRTS » (1) ADVENTURE TECHNOLOGY’s new carbon-and-nylon AT4 PLAY ($230) is the least expensive bent-shaft paddle on the market, and perhaps the strongest. Its ergonomic grip and stiffness cry out for creeking. A no-creep, internal-foam-padded harness and streamlined shape lend pro-tour cred to the (2) LOTUS DESIGNS LOWRIDER PFD ($120)—it’s the choice of U.S. Freestyle Kayak Team member Tanya Shuman. Don’t fly without the (3) WHITE WATER EXP SPRAY SKIRT ($180) from SNAP DRAGON DESIGN. A reinforced rim and a deck made of Kevlar and expedition-weight neoprene prevent skirt blowouts during big aerials. BODYWEAR AND MORE » The titanium-based material lining the NRS HYDROSKIIN G2 SHORT SLEEVE TOP ($67) and (4) PANTS ($90) preserves heat while in the play hole. The company’s soled (5) DESPERADO SOCKS ($40) keep your piggies toasty in glacial melt and feel like slippers. The LOTUS DESIGNS versatile SHORT STRETCH DRY TOP ($285) is the new warm-weather version of its classic Home Stretch top, with nonbinding, anatomically curved shoulders and stretchy yet strong panels. With a competition cut and super-techy features like an adjustable collar, latex wrist gaskets, and a double skirt, (6) Kokatat’s new Gore-Tex XCR RE-ACTION JACKET ($270) wards off water, windchill, and rivals. Wear the dual-brimmed (7) SHERLOCK HELMET ($110) with über-adjustable H.O.G. (Hand of God) chin strap ($20), both from Shred Ready, and spend your time cartwheeling, not futzing with your lid. Stash keys and wallet in the compact (8) PELICAN 1120 CARRYING CASE ($33), while safeguarding larger valuables like camera gear inside (9) WATERSHED’s welded OCOEE DRYBAG ($69). Its sealing system and optional padded liner ($27) make other drybags look like glorified Ziplocs.