Summer Gear Locker: 2016 Pyranha Fusion kayak, Aquaglide Cascade SUP board and fly-fishing gear
Summer toy chest
Goal Zero Rock Out 2, $59.99
Goal Zero has a corner on the outdoor audio market. The new Rock Out 2 is a beefed-up version of the original, with water-resistant material, a two-hour recharge time, AV input, 20-plus hours of audio, and a combination USB or solar charging. It even comes in fancy colors for the backwoods dance party.
AT whitewater kayak paddles, $130-$500
Chances are you’ll spot the Adventure Technology logo in any kayaker’s kit. The pro-level whitewater paddles are pricey, but man, they’re worth the investment, from the mid-level Samurai ($250) to the high-end AT2 Superduty ($500). Most models come in fiberglass or carbon fiber and the option of a straight, bent or custom shaft. Yes, AT will build a custom shaft for you.
Hoo-Rag fishing bandana, $15.95
And you thought fashionable facemasks were only for the guys at Phunkshun Wear. Hoo-rag makes soft, stretchy, stylish bandanas for anglers, stitched with polyester microfiber that’s rated to 30 UPF for sun protection. You’d better believe there’s a Jaws pattern.
River rats, your time has come.
Beginning this past weekend, the rivers, streams and reservoirs of the High Country were finally ready for the thick of whitewater season. On May 19, the Upper Colorado River had flows of 3,110 cubic feet per second and the Blue River below Lake Dillon was at 760 cfs. Thanks to plenty of late-season snowfall and gradually warming temperatures, local paddlers can look forward to one hell of a season.
But, first, the goods. A long and rewarding season all starts with the right gear, and, this season, manufacturers are hopping on the hybrid train with kayaks, SUP boards and accessories made for multiple sports — not simply charging rapids.
Orvis Hydros SL fly reel, $198-$259
Like skiing and just about anything else around here, fly-fishing can be a deceptively expensive sport when you get hungry for something more than the basics. For years, making that leap required a huge commitment, jumping from about $300 for a complete kit (reel, rod, line, flies) to more than $2,000 for a high-end reel and rod alone. It’s like somewhere, at some point, evolution just skipped a few steps.
Call the new Orvis Hydros SL fly reel the missing link: a high-end arbor reel at a mid-range price. This large reel (four options for line weights 3-5 to 9-11) comes with a fully sealed-drag-clutch bearing, a narrow spool for less line stacking and improved line retrieval — a testament to the super-large arbor.
Hardy Zephrus FWS rod, $649-$779
This could be the one that puts Hardy back on the map. New for summer 2016, the Hardy Zephrus FWS rod is a simple and sexy fly rod, made with the South Carolina manufacturer’s Sintrix 440 material. The rod comes in four pieces and four lengths (8, 8.5, 9, 10 feet) and features titanium stripper guides, a cork handle and weights from 2.80 to 3.20 ounces. That makes it light, strong and sleek — everything you want from a rod — at a reasonable price. Chances are you’ll get at least five or six seasons of heavy use.
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Pyranha Fusion kayak, $899-$1,099
New to whitewater paddling? The Pyranha Fusion is your ticket to just about any Colorado waterway. It comes in two models — a traditional skirt version and the SUP-like sit-on-top version — and features just about everything you want for exploring the state. One of the biggest perks: a hatch, or storage hold, topping out at 21.6 gallons for the largest model.
“This gives people the opportunity to really think about whitewater and be in a boat that can handle it, but it’s not as long as a traditional lake boat,” says Matti Wade, owner of Ten Mile Creek Kayaks in Frisco. “This really is like an all-mountain ski or snowboard. It’s not particularly good at any one thing, other than carrying gear, but it’s proficient on all ends.”
Both Fusion models come in three sizes (9’8” to 10’2” with varying widths) and weight from 40.7 to 48.5 pounds. The traditional skirted model has adjustable hip pads, thigh grips and backband.
Aquaglide Cascade inflatable SUP board, $700-$950
There’s a war waging in the stand-up paddleboard world. Well, maybe not quite a war, but at least a debate: are rigid or inflatable boards better for the river?
The answer is complicated, but, in general, Wade and other local kayakers prefer inflatable models for braving the rocky (and sometimes shallow) rivers of the Central Rockies.
The Aquaglide Cascade is one of the best inflatable boards for your buck. At roughly $800, it’s a cool $400 to $600 less than similar models from Boardworks and Badfish. It comes in three sizes (10, 11 and 12 feet long) at 32 inches wide and 6 inches deep, which makes it stable enough for paddling the lake or maneuvering through whitewater. The 10-foot version weighs in at 26 pounds (pressure up to 18 psi) and all three lengths feature top bungee cords to lash gear.
Aquaglide Blackfoot Angler inflatable SUP board, $1,099.95
But, what if whitewater and lake lounging aren’t on your summer bucket list? Aquaglide also makes a SUP board just for fisherman, dubbed the Blackfoot Angler. The 11-foot craft is another inflatable, meaning it’s perfect for apartment dwellers and just about anyone with a sedan, and measures a hefty 36 inches wide. That makes the deck more than roomy enough for a fly kit, net, extra rod, beer cooler — you name it. The deck also features six mounting plates, front and back bungee cords and a front ruler for measuring your catch. They thought of everything.
Motorola Talkabout T600 H20, $119.99
Your cell phone hates the water. Seriously — even the new Galaxy S7 that Lil’ Wayne douses in champagne won’t survive five minutes at the bottom of Lake Dillon.
That’s where the new Motorola Talkabout H20 two-way radio shines. When dropped in the water, not only can it survive for up to 30 minutes, it floats at one meter (seriously) and even lights up on the bottom, making it easy to spot from a distance or at night. It’s the ultimate communications gadget for kayakers, rafters, SUPers — anyone on the water, really — not to mention backpackers and hut junkies. It’s not a matter of if you’ll get caught in an afternoon thunderstorm, but when, and the Talkabout H20 is ready for it.
Stohlquist Rocker and Misty PFDs, $100-$150
PFDs are like helmets: Most folks don’t think twice about an old and battered model until it fails, and, by then, you’re up a creek — literally and figuratively.
In short, there’s no better time than now to upgrade and the Stohlquist Type III PFDs are perfect for paddlers of all abilities. The streamlined design on the Rocker (men’s) and Misty (women’s) leaves plenty of room for neck and shoulder movement — the upper fits more like suspenders than a true vest — and the thin backside won’t get caught on your seat. Chest sizes range from small (33-39 inches) to XXL (48-54 inches) and both models feature six adjustments, including cross-chest cinch harness, side pulls and front waist buckle. Stohlquist also included pockets and a D-ring for storage.
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