Summer Gear Locker: 2017 Hala Gear SUP, SOL Paddleboards Rebel, NRS Ninja life jacket and more for your river kit
Summer toy chest
Gryphon by Reactor Watch | $350
A watch made with firearm materials should be able to take a bullet, right? That’s the pitch: the Gryphon from Reactor is big, bad and kind of bulky, built with Nitromid polymer over a military-grade stainless steel core and Swiss timing movement. It’s waterproof up to 200 meters and, at least in theory, bulletproof, if shooting a $350 watch is your bag. In the real world, have faith this watch will take anything you throw at it — and then some.
Wanderer by Sweet Protection | $199
If this is the season you go from paddling lakes to powering whitewater, the Wanderer helmet from Sweet Protection is your new best friend. It’s a performance helmet for boaters on the rise, with ventilation, ear protection and sliding size adjustment.
Tundra Roadie by YETI | $199
Hard to believe, but YETI has made a name for itself as the Mercedes of coolers. The Tundra Roadie — the 20-liter version of YETI’s Tundra line, from 20 to 350 liters — is made for on-the-go outdoorsman, with sealing gaskets, 14-can capacity and a drain. Just don’t drop it in the river — it weighs 15 pounds when empty.
Editor’s note: This is the first installment in a three-part summer gear guide.
You’ve pulled the permits, requested the PTO and rallied the crew for a mid-summer river trip.
Now all you need is a new kit, stat.
As river season inches closer with the runoff — whitewater festival season gets started in earnest this weekend with CKS Paddlefest in Buena Vista — it’s time to give your gear a once-over and replace the old, ratty hardware and accessories you said you’d swap out after ski season ended.
To kick-start your pre-summer search, we’ve compiled a list of must-have gear for river rats of any age, ability and gender, from SUP yogis and kayak nomads to casual boaters who don’t leave home without beer. Just don’t forget the sunscreen.
Seawave by Innova Kayaks | $999
Whitewater kayaking and creeking isn’t for everyone. Enter the Seawave, an inflatable kayak from the Czech Republic manufacturer Gumotex that’s making its debut in the U.S. this summer. Dubbed “the most popular inflatable kayak in Europe,” the three-person Seawave is almost deceptively average — nearly 15 feet long, nearly 2.5 feet across, 550-pound capacity, eight separate inflatable compartments — and that’s what makes it so good at what it does. This kayak is made for laid-back boating on lakes, ponds, the ocean and mellow rivers (Class III and lower), with plenty of options to make it your own, like a simple seating system that goes from a single to a double by changing decks. The kayak packs into an included 100-liter backpack (27 x 17 x 12 inches) and also comes with a repair kit.
Rival Hoss by Hala Gear | $1,099
The stand-up paddleboarding trend isn’t fading anytime soon, at least here in Colorado, and that means local manufacturers are filling every conceivable niche with boards for every conceivable SUPer.
But sometimes you can’t reinvent the wheel (or board) and need a go-anywhere, do-anything model. The Rival Hoss from Hala Gear in Steamboat Springs is a SUP board to the core, made for lake paddlers, families, water dogs, yogis — just about anyone who likes spending mellow time on the water. The inflatable board measures 10-feet, 10-inches long and 35-inches wide, weighing in at 27 pounds for a total load of 350 pounds. That’s more than enough for you, a cooler and the pup.
The Rival Hoss (like all Hala boards) comes with a paddle, rolling storage bag, repair kit, hand pump and 12-volt car pump.
SOLrebel by SOL Paddleboards | $959
Ready to crush Summit County’s other white waves? If you’re looking for a SUP board that feels like a snowboard, the SOLrebel from SOL Paddleboards of Telluride is your ticket. At 10 feet long and 32 inches wide, this board is almost surfboard-sized, which means it’s made to pump and carve and slash through waves at the local kayak park, or even Class III whitewater (if you’ve got the nerve). It’s incredibly light at 22 pounds, and with PVC construction from outer wall to inner core, it’s made to take a beating.
Need something larger? SOL’s line of SUP boards is vast, from the 7-foot SOLjah ($949) to the 15.5-foot-long, 5.5-foot-wide party boat SOLfiesta ($2,299). Most boards come with a paddle, storage bag, hand pump and repair kit.
SUPerior by Motionize | $99
Like we said, the SUP trend is here to stay, and along with boards for frat boys and yogis comes technology like the SUPerior, a motion-tracking system from Motionize made to get the most out of every paddle stroke. The company also makes the kayak tracker — a similar system — and so they know a thing or two about durable, simple and (most importantly) useful training products. The SUPerior system comes with a paddle-mounted tracker, which talks to a SUP-specific app to track everything you’re doing on a board: distance, entry angle, stroke count, heart rate, water speed, route — you name it, the SUPerior does it, all with the end goal of making you a better paddler.
Hydrus 3L Stoke by Kokotat | $285
A new dry top isn’t on every boater’s wish list every season — hopefully you stored yours in a dry, cool place this winter — but all waterproof gear loses its mojo after a while, and after five years in the same top it’s time for a new look. Enter the Hydrus 3L Stoke from Kokotat, one of the most popular (and trusted) dry tops on the market. The Hydrus comes with everything you need — three-layer outer fabric, dual-adjustable outer skirt, latex gaskets at the neck and wrists, self-draining zippered chest pockets, a key ring — and nothing you don’t. The Stoke might not be as “tech-y” as the high-end Gore-Tex Rogue dry top ($459), but it’s also about $180 cheaper. It’s a fantastic top for weekend warriors and newbies.
Ladies, the women’s Hydrus 3L Stoke comes with everything the men get, including the same price.
Ninja PFD by NRS | $129.95
Similar to dry tops, life jackets (aka PFDs) shouldn’t need to be replaced every season. As long as it floats, even your grandpa’s military-issue vest will work — it just might not be comfy when strapped in a boat. The low-profile Ninja PFD by NRS is the golden standard of river flotation devices, featuring a sleek, triangular design that easily fits over a dry top. It’s rated Level III by the U.S. Coast Guard — the minimum for any river PFD, according to local expert Matti Wade — and features six adjustment straps: four on the sides and two on the shoulders. It comes in three sizes for all genders, not to mention three colors, plus a front zippered pocket and lash tabs for a rescue knife. You won’t need another PFD until 2022, when NRS introduces the next-generation Ninja or this one gets lost, whichever comes first.
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