May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine

Waterworlds, Family Vacations 1998


All the right stuff for watersports
By Steve Shimek

Kokatat Super Breeze (adult), Kokatat Breeze (kids), and Rapidstyle Ruzzy Thermal Stretch Shorts
Paddle Clothing
It's the constant splashing and evaporative cooling that chill you on whitewater adventures. The Fuzzy Thermal Stretch T and Fuzzy Thermal Stretch Shorts by Rapidstyle ($77.50, $67) are well-built examples of the new genre of thin pile laminated to a stretchy waterproof skin. Add a waterproof spray top like the Stohlquist Hydro Plus Jacket ($80) or Kokatat's Super Breeze ($82, adult; $65, children's sizes) and you'll be prepared for whatever the river dishes out.

More companies are making watersport-specific footwear this year; as a result, prices have dropped. Most basic are Nike's Aqua Socks ($35, adult; $26-$28, kids; $22, infants). The Air Deschutz PR2, also by helvetica">Nike ($60, adult; $36-$38, kids), and the Universal L.C. by Teva ($80) are toe-tanning sandals with buckle closures-Velcro is

Orosi Scooby, Adidas Equipment Posydon, Bolle #319 for kids, and Orosi Mach
one innovation that doesn't mix with sand and moss. The new Adidas Equipment Posydon ($75) sandal wins the prize for functional innovation by incorporating areas of felt (long used by fishermen) into a super sticky sole. The new Nemo by Five Ten ($85) is a techie shoe aimed at whitewater kayakers, but the grippy sole and snug fit work equally well in a canoe or raft. More basic, but still capable, is the Lizard Fin distributed by La Sportiva ($100).

The new Watersports Helmet by Bell ($60, distributed by Northwest River Supplies) offers the most protection available today. For something more stylish (important if you expect your kid to actually wear it), there's a cap-style helmet, the Scooby from Orosi ($90), which can be worn backwards.

Coated polycarbonate (plastic) lenses are lighter on the face and much safer for impact-prone sports. Downside: they scratch easily. Bollé offers a variety of high-quality kid-sized glasses with 100 percent UV protection at good prices ($20-$40), and for adults, the Micro Edge ($95) is a sport-shield style with hook earpieces. For extreme kayaker attitude, look to Orosi for styles like the Mach ($65) or the polarized Lotus ($95). If you prefer glass lenses, go with the wrap-style polarized Sliver by Smith ($140) or the top-of-the-line, polarized, curved-lens Python by Revo ($350). When using anything less than a full hook earpiece, spend the extra $5 or so on a pair of eyeglass retainers like Croakies or Chums.

(Top to bottom) Northwest River Supplies Bill's Bag 3.8, Seattle Sports Super Sack, Voyageur Shutterdry Bag, Kokatat Boater's Sack, Cascade Designs Seal Pak
Waterproof Bags
While your body gets booshed by the big waves of Roller Coaster rapid, you want your wallet and reading material to have a drier ride. For fanny-pack-handy access, the small Seal Pak by Cascade Designs ($22, 120 cubic inches) holds a book, wallet, and glasses case; the larger size ($31, 550 cubic inches) holds all that plus camera gear and a sweater. Need more room? The large Boater's Sack by Kokatat ($33) is 4 by 13 by 19 inches-perfect day-trip size-and has an outside mesh pocket for sunscreen and chapstick. Clear vinyl bags like the Super Sack (large, $22) by Seattle Sports save on rummaging time, and cameras get some cush and flotation from Voyageur's inflatable Shutterdry bag ($45)-buy yellow so you can spot it if it gets away. If you're headed out overnight, Bill's Bags by Northwest River Supplies ($55, 3.8 cubic feet) and the River Pack 4.2 by Seattle Sports ($65) have about the same capacity as a medium-sized backpack.

Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)
Even Olympic hopefuls need extra flotation to stay on top of the really frothy stuff. Poor swimmers and small children should wear a Type

(Top to bottom) Stohlquist Mobius, Kokatat SurFit Side Zip, Perception Wave
II PFD, designed to float a person face up. Friends of mine who bring their infant on fly-fishing excursions find that the Extrasport Kids PFD With Collar ($58) and the Stearns Infants Heads-Up ($20) fill their needs "just in case." Tubular-torsoed tykes should wear a crotch strap; otherwise they'll slip right out of the vest. The Youth Wave PFD by Perception ($46) and the tricked-out Lola by Lotus Designs ($84) are cool picks for kids up to about 100 pounds. Strong swimmers may prefer a sleek Type III, sometimes called a swimvest. Swimvests manufactured by Lotus stole the show in 1997 with their superior fit and new fabrics; now other manufacturers are offering Lotus-like PFDs. Adults should check out the Kokatat SurFit Side Zip ($89.50), the Stohlquist

(Top to bottom) Stearns Infants Heads-Up, Lotus Rio Grande, Extrasport Kids PFD With Collar
Mobius ($84), and the Rio Grande by Lotus ($87) for long-lasting, comfortable, and capable PFDs.

River Toys
Water fights are an inevitability; the ultimate secret weapon is the Hydro Stik by Northwest River Supplies ($17-$18.50). For riverside baseball, bring some Whiffle balls and a plastic bat; for golf, substitute a putter for the bat, and use a pickle bucket for the hole. (Note: Packing the ball with wet sand for extra distance is illegal.)

Photographs by Eric Swanson

Copyright 1998, Outside magazine

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