Swedish manufacturer Morakniv is legendary in bushcraft circles for its well-made, razor-sharp and wallet-friendly knives. The Morakniv floating serrated knife ($27) is an ideal stocking stuffer for paddlers, with a stainless steel blade and cork handle that's unusually comfortable in the hand. Complete with a secure sheath, the full package is ideal for camp tasks.
There's nothing lighter than a quilt for backcountry camping. The Kammok Firebelly ($279) will practically fit inside your favorite paddler's stocking, yet remains toasty warm in 30-degree temperatures. The versatile Firebelly can be used as a minimalist sleeping bag for tent-based camping or as a top quilt or bottom quilt in a hammock. The whole package weighs a feathery 24 ounces—credit Kammok's water-repellent, 750-fill down and gossamer shell fabric. More on hammock camping HERE
UCO's Stormproof Torch ($13) is a powerful fire-starter for adverse conditions. This refillable lighter outperforms cheap gas station varieties in all areas, with a windproof flame and waterproof housing.
The LifeSaver Liberty bottle ($99) is a unique combination inline pump and water filter bottle (pump into a separate reservoir or drink directly from the unit), making it a versatile option for securing clean drinking water in the outdoors. The replaceable purifier cartridge removes bacteria, cysts and viruses, and the pump-based mechanism is reliable and easy to operate. (More filters tested HERE.)
The AquaTech AxisGO ($199 plus accessories) is a great option for making the most of your iPhone camera in watery environments. This pro-grade, polycarbonate and aluminum housing is waterproof to 33 feet. The touchscreen membrane enables all functions; accessories such as a pistol grip and various lens ports are also available. Housings are available for iPhone 7, 8 and X. Check out a sample video captured with the AxisGO system.
Here's a stylish and functional soft-sided cooler that's tailor made for apres paddling fun. The made-in-North Carolina Diamond Gear Double Take ($64-69) is available in numerous materials, including tough Cordura nylon and classic waxed canvas. Its insulated liner has enough room for a six-pack of cold beverages or a lunch for two.
Julbo's Paddle sunglasses ($110-130) float if you drop them in the drink—reason alone to make them a great gift for paddlers. They're also stylish with a modified aviator-style shape and functional for on-the-water use with sharp, polarized lenses.
Crush your workout, then quench your thirst with a brew from Sufferfest Beer Company ( $14 – 6 pack) Crafted by a team of athletes, these low-calorie "recovery beers" contain reduced gluten and are brewed with beneficial ingredients like sea-salt, black currant and bee pollen.
Matador’s FlatPak Soap Bar Case ($13) is an ideal solution for traveling with your choice of bar soap. The innovative fabric allows the soap to dry while keeping any liquids inside. The bag has a roll-top, leak proof design that is also TSA approved.
Costa’s Pescador sunglasses ($219) are part of the "Untangled" collection, meaning the frames are made from 100 percent recycled fishing nets. We found the frames quite durable. And when combined with the large polarized glass lenses, made for a great choice for on-water activities.
Camp bartenders rejoice! BarCountry Pocket Cocktails ($10) are here for your palate as well as your weight-saving demands. These packets use all-natural spices and dehydrated ingredients, just add water and spirits. BarCountry is currently serving up Moscow Mule, Margarita, Old-Fashioned and Bloody Mary mixes.
Stillhouse Canned Black Bourbon ($35 for 750ml) uses stainless steel to transport their spirits, making it an ideal choice for getting your booze into the backcountry. We tried their bourbon and were not let down by the blend of grains that gave a distinctly balanced body and a remarkably smooth finish.
Patagonia's Silent Down shirt ($230) definitely feels more like a robust jacket than a shirt. It has 700-fill power of recycled down, along with deep handwarmer pockets and two chest pockets. Use this snap-front "shirt" as an insulating mid-layer or on the outside as it's also windproof and weather-resistant.
With reef-friendly sunscreens becoming not only the requirement, but also the right environmental choice, we tested Manda's SPF 50 Organic Sun Crème ($32 – 3.2oz) that utilizes natural Thanaka tree sun-protectant. Non-greasy and with a faint mineral fragrance, the cream went on smooth and stayed put after hours in the sun and salt-water.
The Nathan Hemp Mesh Hiker by Connor Hats ($42) also works great for paddlers. The hemp and mesh construction allows plenty of airflow, and dries quickly. Connor Hats come in pre-fitted sizes, so make sure to get your noggin sized correctly before ordering (we found they run a little big). More hats for the water HERE
The Helle Wabakimi Knife ($160) is a great choice for the outdoorsperson looking for a sheathed blade on the smaller scale, suitable for long carving sessions and other random camp tasks. With a 3.3" triple laminated stainless blade and birch handle, this Les Stroud design provides the right combination of comfort, performance and style.
Give your feet a break at camp with these Montane Prism Booties ($55) Designed to be super lightweight and packable, these slippers have tough soles and weather-resistant uppers. We think they offer a great option for those nighttime forays out of your tent as well as just lounging around camp.
Speaking of booties, check out all the innovative measures packed into the new Solite Omni ($59). The super-light bootie is designed as a custom performance boot, where, once warmed with boiling water, you can mold the soft thermo-foam sole to fit your foot. An internal split-toe and vulcanized gum-rubber pods result in traction and protection with a barefoot feel.
The United By Blue Bison Puffer Vest ($188) uses a proprietary insulation of bison fiber and recycled polyester to fend off the cold. The vest shell is waterproof and breathable. An internal storm flap, drawcords and fleece-lined chest, phone and hand pockets round out the extra features.
Paddlers have long been oriented to Pelican products in terms of managing tech items, most especially photo equipment, inside its rugged, clasping watertight cases. The company has quietly been expanding its protective offerings and now has a full line of premium coolers with the same DNA and reliability as its cases and housings for electronics. Any private rafters and car-based paddle campers will drool over the big-ticket 150-quart, 66-pound Elite Cooler ($629), which keeps ice for 10 days in a 2-inch poly body, kept secure with press and pull latches. The lifetime-guaranteed cooler is of course certified bear resistant by the IGBC. That’s the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, whose certification involves “intense impact and penetration testing by use of visual inspection, mechanical methods and captive Grizzly Bear testing over extended periods of time.” Can’t argue with that.
One key to getting your children into paddling is eliminating variables that can lead to negative associations. As highlighted in this year’s Paddling Parents series, presented by NRS, the assurance that kids are having fun and paddling in comfort is paramount to keeping their interests on the water. The Idaho gear manufacturers have come up with a comfy lightweight option with the NRS Vista Youth PFD ($59), which offers 11.5 pounds of flotation and six adjustment points in a body-wrapping fit to enable longer more comfortable days.