I’m totally smitten with a fairly cheap, simple piece of clothing I bought only recently: a neoprene surfing hood*. It covers most of my head and goes down to the shoulders, keeping my scrawny neck warm from cold wind and spray. It’s only 1.5mm thick, yet feels warmer than the 3mm neoprene cap I used to wear (which covers the ears but nothing below them except a chin strap).
A side benefit I hadn’t expected is that I don’t feel the need to pee as soon as when I didn’t wear it. Strange, but much appreciated.
This hood is one of those items that lights up a sort of Aha thought, “Why did it take me so long to try this?”
What are items that fellow Pnet paddlers have had a similar reaction to? Our list might be useful for those new to paddling, especially now that it is the cold season in most of the U.S. I’m restricting the question to only equipment, not intangibles such as paddling lessons or trips. And I bet one of the answers will be “a drysuit.” But it’d be interesting to hear what some of the smaller, less obvious gems people have discovered.
The hood is an O’Neill Hyperfreak, for anybody wanting to know.
1. I bought a nice ZRE paddle early on, so I cant say I Wish I would have gotten it earlier, but I suggest a composite paddle as early as you can afford one.
2. A nice PFD. I love my NRS Ninja and wear a PFD more because it is comfortable and ergonomic.
3. Kevlar canoes. Under 45lb boats are a thing of joy (my Odyssey). Under 30lb boats are heaven (my J200). ~20lb is like carrying air (my future surfski?). I didnt pay more than $850 for all of my Kevlar UL boats used but in very good condition, so light doesnt have to be expensive if you buy used and wait for a good deal.
2 pieces of gear A North Water turtle-back bag for the kayk deck and a Kokotat storm cag. I ordered the little turtle back bag for a paddling trip to Sapelo Island, GA, because i hate big deck bags. My paddle scrapes against a deck bag. But i do need some stuff to hand, and those essentials fit in the little bag. I really love it. No scraping.
The storm cag i very rarely use – it’s for emergencies mainly – but it was cold and windy the day we left Sapelo and i wore the storm cag over my drysuit on land till it was time to hop in our boats and go. It was like being in a warm sleeping bag or a warm room inside that cag. I was very grateful for it. I can see it would be very effective too on a shivering wet person. Excellent piece of gear.
Same idea as Vic In my case, it was my first “good” rowboat. From there, I got another, and then started getting solo canoes. Before then, my only solo boat was a little aluminum Jon boat, which seemed great but I had no idea how much more I could be doing.