Holiday Gift Ideas
Finding the right holiday gift, whether small or large, for the paddler in your life can be tricky! So we asked our staff what some of their favorite pieces of gear are. If you are trying to find something a little more exciting than a gift card to fit in a stocking or hide behind the couch, read below for some inspiration!
I think everyone needs a pair of Astral Loyaks for the holidays. Offering super grippy soles and a nearly indestructible canvas upper you’re not going to find a shoe better for use both on land and in the water. Plus they look amazing so they will quickly become your go-to shoes for any activity, from stand-up paddling to going downtown.
If someone needs a dry bag these holidays, the NRS Tuff Sack 10L is a great choice. One of the best options for dry bags if you are a paddler mostly doing light paddles and day trips. Really durable material and fits inside most kayak storage compartments, as well as can clip to your bungee lines. Has enough room to hold your lunch, spare clothes, anything you might need on a small excursion.
If you are feeling really nice this holiday season, and a loved one needs a life jacket, this is the gift for them. This life jacket fits almost anyone, and is capable enough to handle any type of paddling you are doing. Has a really great front chest pocket, fleece hand pockets to keep you warm in the winter time, as well as a quick release harness for towing companions. If you’re struggling to find a vest for someone, this will probably work for them.
Surely there is nothing worse than being without a tasty beverage on the water! Whether it’s my coffee or my water bottle, the Can-Panion keeps my beverage(s) close at hand! These fantastic contraptions simply snap on the gunwales of my canoes and the cockpit coamings of my sit inside kayaks. Why leave your beverage on shore when it could be within arm’s reach?!
Here’s a GREAT holiday gift! First, I’m of the opinion that you can’t have too many cam straps, and the 30L bag of cams in the back of my truck is objective evidence of such. With that, I am not claiming to be a fanatic, per se, but they are just VERY useful to have whether I’m transporting boats, 2×4’s, or most recently an elliptical machine.
Our new roller cams will slowly be replacing my collection of standard cams. Why? Because the addition of the rolling barrel makes the action of the buckle buttery smooth. Whether cinching or releasing, the strap rails through the buckle with barely any resistance. We even soaked a buckle in saltwater for a month and it still functioned effortlessly. If you are particular about managing your strap tails, you can double your strap back on the other side of the roller to make your tie-downs extra clean. And why am I oddly enthusiastic about these straps? It’s because this simple piece of crucial gear makes life just that much nicer.
Let me cut straight to it: The Northwind 17 is one of my favorite canoes of all time. At 17’6″, it is ready to haul a ton of gear (or extra friends) or get out for an easy afternoon. This boat has good hull speed, tracks well, and is still maneuverable for its length. The way the Northwind 17 moves through the water is simply remarkable. For those versed in single-bladed paddling, you’ll be enamored with the responsiveness to the paddler. My Northwind 17 is built with Northstar’s BlackLite layup with wood trim – stiff, light, and a real head turner.
The Rio is one of my favorite kayaks I sell at Alder Creek. That’s because for people of a certain size, it offers them performance they thought unattainable. If you’re up to 5’5” tall and up to 130 lbs., you might just be a Rio paddler. Many customers come to me seeking a small, lightweight kayak. From their research, the only ones available have larger, open style cockpits. I suggest, “Well, take a look at this Rio. Let’s get you inside and see what you think. It’s only 35 lbs.” And the kayak simply fits them like a glove! It offers them more control over the boat, it’s faster, and once on the water, more fun! It’s so popular with paddlers this size that there should be a club just for them.
This paddle feels like part of my body like no other. It’s lightweight, and the ovalized segments of the bent shaft make knowing where to grip the paddle child’s play. I can’t miss a stroke. It moves through the water smoothly, and is great for accelerating when needed, as well as performing dynamic strokes for maneuvers. Its light weight, neutral bent shaft, and foam core blades are so ergonomic and easy on my body that I’m rarely sore. It’s a delight to have in my quiver.
I have owned an Ortlieb Dry Duffel 85L since 2017. Two words sum up this product: Tough and Waterproof. This bag has been on high altitude treks such as the Cordillera Huayhuash in Peru, and the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek in Nepal. It was carried the whole way up and down, in rainstorms, on the backs of Llamas and horses. In 2021 it was lashed to an inflatable kayak on a river trip down the Deschutes, deftly and dryly carrying my clothing and tent. And in 2022, it went on a trek through Scotland’s Isle of Sky, West Highland Way, and Cairngorms. It has endured incalculable abuse by baggage handlers. It has never ripped nor leaked!
Put it on the dashboard of your car to keep it charged. It will be ready when you need it: broken down car, late night arriving at camp or a legal light for paddling in dusk or late at night for the Christmas parade. A tried and true holiday gift!
All the floatation without the bulkiness. This pull-over PFD is great for ladies and gentlemen, super lightweight, two small pockets and it fits very comfortably.
Kokatat Super Nova Angler Drysuit
I hate latex neck gaskets. Don’t buy this suit for heavy whitewater or for surf but if you are a paddler of moderate conditions this Hydrus suit is a winner and not just for anglers. I have swimming experience in this semi drysuit – you get a little wetting but boy is it comfortable. Extra note: if you have a really thin neck this suit is probably not for you. And the best news is the price $750.00.
Beautiful, relatively affordable, and extremely lightweight, the Sky 10 makes a perfect holiday gift for the prospective paddler in your life (or yourself). At 10 ft long and only 32 lbs, the Sky 10 is not only a joy to paddle but is easy to load and unload as well. With its v-form hull, the Sky 10 tracks very well for such a short kayak, and Eddyline’s adjustable Infinity Seat ensures you are comfortable all day long.
Long known as efficient and easy on the body, Greenland paddles are the original kayak paddle; and now they have entered the modern era through space-age composite materials! Gearlab has helped evolve the Greenland paddle through the Kalleq’s carbon fiber construction to make a lightweight and stiff paddle that is a pleasure to use. The Kalleq is a great gift for a high-performance paddler looking to maximize lightweight efficiency, or for someone who likes to experiment and wants to try something new.
Every paddler needs a pair of pogies. They are a simple and versatile way to keep your hands warm in cold conditions, and many paddlers love that you still have your bare hands in contact with the paddle shaft. And if you find yourself in really cold conditions, you can pair them with gloves to maximize warmth. Pogies are a simple, durable, and affordable stocking stuffer that makes paddling through the winter season comfortable.
Bending Branches Angler and Angler Pro Plus Kayak Paddle
Got a ‘yakin fisher in the family? They are probably not cut from the same cloth as your average Joe. While they might have spent hours custom rigging their boat and gear, they probably did not treat themselves to a nice paddle. This makes holiday gift giving easy! With durable and oversized blades as well as an adjustable full carbon shaft the Bending Branches Angler will make sure that your fisher is properly equipped for success. If they’ve been really good this year the Angler Pro Plus is equally durable and powerful while being even lighter weight.
Tributary Tomcat Inflatable Kayak
One of my absolute favorite toys! When it comes to getting out on the water there are few craft more versatile than the Tomcat series by Tributary. I’ve paddled the same boat on a leisurely and pristine mountain lake and then taken it flying off a cascading waterfall. Solo or Tandem the Tomcat is my favorite way to get new paddlers into the sport. I can’t tell you how many frustrated soggy folks fighting with a deflated or punctured craft on the shore I see. I typically stop to help them out – though sometimes my buddies and I just float on past with a wave, smiles plastered to our faces, happy to have boats that were built for adventure.
I love these sturdy little carts. When I go paddling with the family it really helps to simplify my trip to the water. Instead of trying to balance a boat carry, gear transport, and wrangling two dogs I simply load the boat, strap on the wheels, and walk it all to the launch site!
Learning to navigate on the water is a big confidence boost and lots of fun. A compass is essential. And while many top end kayaks have recesses for compasses, most kayaks don’t. That is why the Silva 58 Kayak Compass is so great! It clips to your perimeter lines making it compatible with most kayaks, and transferrable if you have multiple kayaks.
After a class or at the end of a day of paddling it is nice to dry off before driving home or settling into camp for the evening. I love my Nomadix Towel because it isn’t super bulky, dries me off, and comes in an assortment of cool patterns and colors. I’ve even gotten a few complements hanging out in their changing Poncho.
All USCG certified PFD’s must have a specific amount of buoyancy, so it’s up to the designer how they distribute the material. Some PFD’s are very thick, but the small surface area leaves generous cutouts under the arms. Some are thin with a larger surface area which feels similar to the apparel you wear on a daily basis. However, that design can create chaffing points and hinder proper paddling technique.
The Astral Ringo strikes a perfect balance between the two. The princess cut contours around the body perfectly, while providing ample room under the arms. The front panel uses foam around the sides, and Kapok in the middle for a soft feel against the chest. We aren’t all the same shape, so spend some time finding the right vest for you. For me, the Astral Ringo is the most secure fitting and comfortable PFD I have ever worn.
We can all admit, our boats feel a little bit heavier every year…The Hullavator uses gas struts to raise and lower your kayak over the side of your vehicle. It is required to have an aftermarket rack that extends beyond the width of your car, which is an added cost over factory rack systems. But once you use the Hullavator you will not regret the investment! It makes our sport more accessible and makes a quick trip to the water all the more feasible.
Of course, if you would like any help in your pursuit of the perfect holiday gift, be sure to contact us!