Shield your camera from spray, your toes from rocks, your eyes from the sun

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside Magazine, 1999 Annual Travel Guide

Gear to Go
Seaworthy Stuff

Shield your camera from spray, your toes from rocks, your eyes from the sun
By Robert Earle Howells

Whether the adversary is inclemency from above or the peripheral spray of a speeding catamaran, waterlogged adventurers need a designated dry zone. Ortlieb's S-Cape daypack ($160) is a highly mobile option. It's truly weatherproof as few packs are, thanks to welded-seam construction and patented weatherproof zipper, and as functional as any, with interior organizer pockets and an outer pocket that can lash down a bike helmet or a windfall coconut. Think of Seattle Sports' Versa-Flo Wet/Dry Duffel ($75; 7,260 cubic inches) as a two-story tote: The bottom compartment is waterproof — keeps a change of clothes dry or soggy stuff in quarantine — and the top is largely mesh — your fins and mask can air out on the way back to your hostelry.

Toes open to the elements are also open to epidermal indignities, like getting ACG Drub; Teva's Circuitstubbed on river rocks. Nike's ACG Drub ($60) sheaths your vulnerable digits with a rubber bumper and synthetic-leather top and puts a swath of EVA and high-traction rubber underfoot, but still self-bails and air-conditions by way of generous mesh strips along both sides. Even more rugged is the Rockport Hydro-Surge XCS ($90), which drains by way of two small mesh ports on either side. Otherwise, the upper is waterproof Pittard's suede leather. This is the rare water shoe that's more than passable as an all-around walking shoe, with its molded EVA midsole, toe-protecting rand, stabilizing heel counter, and sturdy rubber outsole. If your toesies are in no peril, Teva's Circuit (nylon, $70; leather, $75) is a cooler walker — designed for women, it's the most athletic model yet from this maker of amphibious footwear, with features like a medial side EVA insert to keep pronation in check.

There's no one more paranoid than the owner of a pricey SLR outfit gazing downriver at Class III froth. The proper palliative might be SunDog's waterproof River Runner Telezoom Case camera bag ($50-$60), which nests a padded closed-cell-foam case inside a roll-top-closure dry bag and floats, to boot. Use the inner case solo when there's no imminent possibility of a dunking, then garage it when the near future starts churning.

Placing polarizers in front of your eyeballs draws a soothing curtain over the searing rays of light that bounce off watery surfaces. But Hobie's Eclipse ($155) one-ups other polarizing shades — it's also photochromic; when a mercurial sun disappears, the lenses lighten, then go dark again when el sol returns. They're not your average drugstore shades, so you'll want to keep them around. Best place: on your head, by way of a Croakies Floater eyeglass retainer ($7) — a thick band of neoprene holds shades where they belong, and also gives them a floating chance should they take a dive.

Packable Panama Hat BEACH ESSENTIALS
You can spend your days standing beneath a thatch of banana palms, or don the chapeau equivalent. TravelSmith's airy, shady Packable Panama Hat ($36) comes in both men's and women's styles and adds a functional bonus: It rolls to fit into a suitcase or daypack. Tote your gear to the beach in Crazy Creek's KletterRest II ($77.50), a 2,150 cubic-inch daypack with front-zip pocket and side mesh water-bottle holder, then settle into the attached folding camp chair.

Think of it as a pocketknife for the pocketless: Schrade's Cliphanger Viper ($37) hangs from a PFD, pack strap, or belt loop and springs into action as quickly as it's needed: A finger touch releases it and a thumb flick swivels the locking blade out — 4.5 inches of gleaming, sharp, partly serrated stainless steel.

Photographs by Gary Hush

Copyright 1998, Outside magazine

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