I am currently looking for a new life jacket, spray skirt and wet suit. I was wondering what people on here thought were the best in those categories. Also if you know of any good deals I would love to hear them.
Life jacket - very important that it fits you and has as many/few pockets, tabs, etc. that you want. Definitely try on.
Wet suit - if I was to use just one, I’d get a 3mm farmer john from either Kokatat or NRS, with extended relief zipper. Also get a paddle jacket for wind protection. Won’t give you as much of a working temperature range as a dry suit, but much cheaper.
Skirt - make sure it fits your boat. Seals has a convenient system for determining fit, but they don’t always fit best. Local shop can guide you in on the right one.
Not enough information …
A lot depends on where you are going to paddle.
For a starter for reasonable deals on paddling equipment.
Look at NRS online catalog.
For paddles … look at Onno Paddles
Thanks for the suggestions.
Also to everyone. I am just sort of getting started as a paddler. I plan on mainly doing ocean kayaking. If there is any gear that you would never go on a trip without, or things that you have found come in handy, I would love to hear what they are.
best is what is best for you
and to that end you really have to try on many. Disregard what is the "best deal". Establish a rapport with a good paddlesport shop that values your business.
I have not done business with dealers on the North Shore not because there might not be good ones but have been happy with the Kayak Centre in Wickford RI.
Others will no doubt have better suggestions for the North Shore Area..
And go join North Shore Paddlers Network and ask them! They will get you off to a good start.
Club members often sell gear..as you move up to a level someone else may be going onward.
Sorry, I should have included a little more information.
I will be paddling mainly in the northeast (USA) and even more specifically mainly on the northshore of MA. I do mostly ocean kayaking. Right now I stay mainly along the shore doing day trips, but as my skills progresses I plan on going on longer trips, and doing some island hoping.
What boat do you have?
Re the skirt, if it is a boat that you might be transitioning out of as you acquire skills there’s no reason to get pricey about the skirt right now. Neo deck best for ocean paddling, but pricier than nylon and not safe unless you have practiced pulling it off correctly. They won’t just push off.
Thanks for the input. I have a cayuga 146 w/ rudder. I am not sure how long I will keep. I bought it used from a place that rents kayaks. It is still in good shape (just scratched up on the bottom), and seeing as I am still in college and don’t have the money to spend, I will probably be keeping it for at least another 2 or 3 years.
You can read the reviews here
on Pnet about the hatch covers. It seems they have a few quirks that you can overcome if you follow some tips.
Spray covers are kinda all by themselves. Make sure you buy one that fits that cockpit opening… You might consider contacting Old Town for compatible covers.
No reason you can’t start out with that boat… other boat lust will come naturally.
Kittery Trading Post is probably
your closest brick & mortar bet for accessory browsing and trying on PFD’s besides the Charles River Boathouse. Moor & Mountain in Andover has some paddling stuff, too, as well as being an authentic old-school independent outdoors store.
K mentioned the Kayak Center in Wickford, RI. It’s a good place, but probably a 2+hr. drive for you. They do have probably the best selection of paddling PFD’s around, though.
Just C-A-L-L NRS on the phone tell them
what you got and what you want to do. The sales people are seasoned paddlers and very helpfull when you call and talk to them. For me: 3mm Farmer John with neo jacket, booties, neo gloves and a hood. Take your boat to a paddle shop to get the right fit on a skirt.
There was a good sale on PFD’s
(a Stolhlquist Trekkerfor example) recently on www.steepandcheap.com i.e. discounted from $99 to $33.
www.Backcountry.com or www.cleansnipe.com are good places to look for bargain prices. www.landfall.com has sales on strobes/signal lights, etc. West Marine has regular sales on VHF’s.
Follow the advise given - TRY THEM ON!
I just bought a new one and I tryed on a bunch. Probably spent a half hour at Campmor trying on and adjusting different models from different mfg.
With a plastic kayak, the driest skirt I found was a full neoprene skirt with a rubber rand. The cockpit seal is better than the bungee skirts I tried but it is harder to get off.
In PFDs, it's all a matter of the fit and features you want.
For wetsuits, I'd look at surfing/wakeboarding/waterskiing supply stores as well as paddling stores. Some of the new neoprenes are much more flexible than the older versions.
In paddles, your paddling style, strength, intended use, and budget are all factors. You should also have a spare, especially if you're paddling alone.
I've used high-end carbon-fiber paddles, paddles made from 2x4s, and many in between. Some were better at specific tasks, but none was best for everything.