We are team paddlers for the following paddlesport companies. We chose them long before they chose us. From the start, we sought out the best gear, and they provided it. Now they support us, and we enthusiastically recommend their gear to our students. Here’s why:
Sharon paddles the Avocet LV, one of the few high-performance sea kayaks for smaller paddlers. Many boats claim to fit paddlers who weigh less than 130 pounds, but few actually do. Most boats are too deep for shorter paddlers (a paddler’s hip bones should be just below the cockpit coaming for optimal balance) and too high-volume for lighter paddlers (increasing the amount of boat out of the water). The Avocet LV is fast and nimble, equally at home on a journey or in surf. It’s stable enough for beginners, and playful enough for advanced paddlers. And it’s made by Valley, the Nottingham, England-based company that developed watertight hatches and recessed deck fittings. Valley has been an innovator in high-quality sea kayaks since 1970, and still makes some of the best boats on the market.
SEA KAYAKING UK
Alec paddles the SKUK Pilgrim and the Pilgrim Expedition, two boats that offer exceptional fit and performance for lighter paddlers. He especially appreciates are the signature “knee bumps” that allow a leg position that is more central and upright for a powerful forward stroke without raising the deck height, a fit right from the factory that needs no foam or adjustment, a comfortable composite seat that allows friction-free movement inside the boat, and the “shallow v” hull shape that makes edging so easy it feels like cheating.
SKUK was founded by Nigel Dennis, a world renowned expedition paddler and coach who incorporates into his kayak designs features he finds necessary from his personal experience. SKUK kayaks have been expedition proven around the world as well as by paddlers buying their first kayaks.
Werner has been handcrafting paddles in Washington state since 1960. A technical innovator, Werner prides itself on the “strongest shaft to weight ratio” in the industry; its performance and premium blades are light, durable and a delight in the water. We also love Werner for its stellar customer service, and its support of paddlesports organizations, events and paddlers.
Alec uses an Ikelos 205, neutral bent shaft. Sharon uses both a Cyprus 200 straight shaft and a Cyprus 205 neutral bent shaft for paddling.
SNAP DRAGON DESIGN
Made in the Washington state, Snap Dragon spray skirts (and pogies) are handcrafted in a small shop outside Seattle. When we visited Snap Dragon in 2011, we learned what a labor of love Snap Dragon products are. Founder Rich Wilson still has his hands on the neoprene that goes into the one-piece decks that make the spray skirts so durable.
Alec and Sharon use the Ocean Tour EXP with the shorter flirt tube.
Made in California, Kokatat is the industry standard for dry suits, PFDs, thermal layers and other paddling essentials. When we were reporting for an Adventure Kayak story about what top paddlers wear, we hoped to find more variety than we did. Nearly all of them wore the Kokatat MsFit Tour. And when we sought a functional and good-fitting whitewater PFD, we found it in the new Maximus Prime. We’ve been wearing Kokatat Gore-tex Meridian dry suits since we began paddling. We’ve been able to count on Kokatat for innovative design, quality materials and craftsmanship, and great customer service.