Could be a big ticket item like a new kayak that just blows you away, or just a little optional thing that you think really worked out well, and that you’re happy to promote.
Here is my short list of little things that I would hate to have to go without:
Crocs water sandals - Just got them 6 months ago and I love them. Comfy to walk in, comfy to wear, quick drying, they stay on my feet in muck, they actually look pretty decent IMO (you might not think it of Croc’s, but I do like the look of the sandals), and a fairly low profile which is nice for getting in and out of my boat. They are my favorite water shoe thus far.
Seals brand Mesh Deck Bag - I just got this yesterday and paddled for the first time with it today, so this is a first impression. What I like about it is the extremely low profile (for the bag itself; obviously, if you stuff it with big items it will expand accordingly), inexpensive, seems to be well constructed, and it’s just a model of simplicity. It doesn’t have rigid dividers or bungees or anything else…just a mesh bag with a zipper and some clips to secure it to your deck lines. Since it is mesh, you can see what you need. This will be especially useful when I get my new boat and have to give up my old sprayskirt which has a zippered pocket (an soon-to-be retired favorite item).
Anura “amphibious” note pad (I think that’s the brand name). I’ve been using these for a while but sadly, I don’t think they are available any more, at least not in the states (maybe in Australia). Basically it’s a waterproof notepad with a tethered pencil and a hard back (like a diver’s slate) which makes it easy to scribble stuff on the pages. It also has a plastic snap clip which I use to attach it to the bungees in front of the cockpit. I almost always come back with at least a couple of pages of notes (everything from what I might like to make for dinner tomorrow to something I want to look up on the web, to how long it took me to get from point A to point B, etc.). My mind wanders all over when I’m paddling and I like to jot it down.
Klean Kanteen - Lightweight, stainless steel water (or whatever) bottle with a very functional no-spill drinking spout. One of my favorite parts of every paddle is stopping for an hour or so (usually about 2/3rds into the trip) to sip on coffee, preferably in a salt marsh or other tranquil location, let my mind wander, enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the environment, etc. I’ve tried other beverage bottles but the Klean Kanteen is the best in my view. I have a single walled model and my coffee is usually lukewarm by the time I get around to it but I don’t mind at all. However, I see they now have a double walled model with “keep hot” times of 10 hours or so, so it’s going on my Christmas list.
You know, sometimes just a real basic item contributes disproportionately to my enjoyment of being out on the water.