Water Sports

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Forget funeral black: O’Neill lets you customize your wetsuit online, choosing from 15 colors, plus logo options. You can deck out one of two wetsuits, but we recommend the Psycho II 4/3 cold-water suit (48 to 56 degrees). Though it’s built from toasty 4mm/3mm neoprene, the Psycho is still…

FOLD AND GO—AROUND THE WORLD We packed two Swifts into one duffel, checked them through to Ulan Bator, and paddled Mongolia’s lakes and rivers for a month. Conclusion: The portable Swift—which packs down to the size of a gym bag, weighs just 26 pounds, and takes less than 15 minutes…

Rapid Attack Named for one of the classic big-water rapids on the White Nile, the Itunda blends Teva’s classic sandal-strap design with toe and arch protection that supports your foot like a shoe. The foam upper dries quickly and feels smooth on the skin, while the arched EVA top sole…

There’s no debate: This is one of the best touring boats on the water. We took the Brittany out in the stormy Atlantic and on glassy Lake Champlain, loaded down and completely empty, and in all conditions she turned like she knew what we were thinking. With the skeg…

A PERFORMANCE SIT-ON-TOP In addition to being the fastest undecked boat on the market, it’s also remarkably stable—one tester had to try several times to capsize it. The open cockpit lets air circulate on hot summer days but is protected enough to keep you dry when it’s cold. And who…

Expert Fisherman Using the underwater pedal-powered flippers and knob-controlled rudder, you can propel the Mirage across the lake hands-free so you can fish, shoot pics, sip a drink. Prefer to paddle? The flippers remove in a snap (OK, the press of a button) and you're free to paddle it like…

BEGINNER’S BOARD The INT’s top may be made of closed-cell foam, but that doesn’t mean it’s a poorly performing slug like most soft-tops. Because the business side of the board is all resin (like conventional glassed surfboards), with a set of two Future Fins and a Bahn Fin in the…

PERFECT FOR PLAYING, SUITABLE FOR DOWNRIVER If your town has a play park, put this boat in it. Here’s why: On a steep breaking wave, a slow, bouncy boat will get you airborne. But on down-tempo man-made waves, the boat has to make up the difference. The Ronin does: It’s…

The gold standard of expedition paddling gets a makeover with a more versatile neck closure to fit everyone from a linebacker to an Olsen twin and—thankfully, with all that water rushing by—a “relief” zipper. kokatat.com…

Why It’s Coolhe Fever looks like a rodeo boat beamed forward in time from 1994. But ten minutes in the cockpit will remind you why those boats were so much fun. » Remember pop-ups and pirouettes? The Fever will bring back those classic tricks. » Smaller paddlers: this boat will…

PARTY BOAT The Dirigo’s supersized rear cockpit has room for a pony keg, a well-behaved Lab, or, because it comes with a removable child-size jump seat, a water-ready grom. Primary paddlers have adjustable foot pedals, swaths of gunwale padding for your knees, and a “dashboard” complete with a cup holder…

Sail Away The Ventus was designed in collaboration with the U.S. Sailing Team. And while it certainly looks the part, it’s no one-trick pony. The siped outsoles and mesh-protected drain ports performed nicely kayaking around the lake, and just as well beachcombing in Florida. sperrytopsider.com…

This suit’s halter top and low-rider bottoms favor slim shoulders and long legs. $74; www.billabonggirls.com…

A PLAYBOAT FOR THE WHOLE RIVER We love the kayak industry’s renewed focus on floating down rivers, but that doesn’t mean play-boating is out. The Fuse brings a river runner’s sensibility to freestyle: “Its edges were aggressive enough that moves didn’t feel mushy but soft enough that boiling eddies were…

Take It Anywhere The greatest thing about canoes like the Explorer LT is their versatility. There's enough room (1,100 pounds of capacity) to tool around with dogs, lunch, and kids—or pack up camping supplies and head out for a week. And because it has a moderate amount of rocker and…

USER-FRIENDLY RIPPER Top pros like Bruce Irons, Joel Parkinson, and Luke Egan all ride Aussie shaper Jason Stevenson’s designs; the 6’5″ 300KW thruster we tested is identical to the one Egan surfs on in competitions. The bottom features a speedy, single-concave shape that transitions into a double-concave section near the…

TWICE AS FUN, TWICE AS HARD How much do you really trust your paddling partner? How solid is your marriage? The Topo Duo may have the answers. It’s the only two-person whitewater boat in production. A strong paddler can right both the boat and an accompanying novice, but beware: There…

Like the cushy longboards that initially bore the Bing name, the single-fin Lovebird is gorgeous, with a gloss coat, fabric-inlaid deck, and pigment-colored bottom and rail wrap. But this isn’t some artsy old-school replica. (The brand was relicensed in 2000.) We tested our 9’2″ model in a variety of…

By Stephen Regenold They cost hundreds of dollars. Their use is limited to cold-water scenarios where you may have to swim. But for many outdoors enthusiasts — including sea kayakers, divers, and sailors in cold climates — a dry suit is an essential, life-preserving…

I've been kayaking for a few months and have been looking for a neoprene bootie that lets my feet breathe. I've tried wearing my Keens and they are definitely way too big, and the Neoprene Booties I've purchased make my feet sweat way too much. I would love something that provides protection against the sharp gravel, lets my feet breath, and will still fit comfortably in my kayak. I've heard about these so called "grip socks," but I don't know much about them or their quality. Any suggestions? John Scottsdale, AZ

By Stephen Regenold Mad River founder Jim Henry built the first Malecitecanoe in 1971. For 2011, the classic canoe design gets an update and a newhull. The Malecite, a 16.5-foot boat, is made to handle flatwater as well as currents. It tracks straight…

I'm moving from a sit-on-top to a sit-in kayak, and am looking for something I can use in summer in cold-water Maine. The Perception Carolina 12 is at the top of my wish list. But my budget says that if I go for a Pelican Pursuit 120 DXL I can buy it now. I can't get a good idea of how the Pursuit would do in close-to-shore ocean paddling, and no dealer near me has one I can try. Should I just hold out for the Carolina? –Nan Medford, NJ

  By Stephen Regenold It is obscenely huge. It fastens shut and watertight with a roll-top closure. A backpack harness system lets you strap it on and hike, ferrying immense loads through airports and down backwoods portage trails alike. The SealLine Pro Packs are…

These cutting-edge hybrid, tandem, and ultra-portable boats make it easy to hit the water.

It all started back in 2005 when my college roommates and I opened our first Pabst Blue Ribbon of the night. Luke, Will, and I shared a fondness for PBR and dreaming big. The subject of the night was a circumnavigation of the world's largest freshwater lake:…

By Stephen Regenold Pump it up. Cinch the seat in place. Now, push off into the rapids. That's what it takes to start a whitewater adventure with Zoik Inflatables's AlterEgo kayak (zoikinflatables.com). The pump-up boat, made for…

In November, Budweiser tapped Jackson Kayaks founder Eric Jackson, a perennial favorite at TMG’s freestyle kayaking contest, as the face of its American Ale, ordering 8,300 kayaks to display in liquor stores across the country. (Only 11,000 were sold in the U.S. in all of 2009.) Bud’s $20,000 sponsorship will…

By Stephen Regenold It may look like an inflatable pool toy, but the pack raft, a personal watercraft with roots in aviator survival boats from World War II, is a serious tool for some backcountry explorers. Lightweight and durable, the blow-up boats…

It started with sneakers (Prada) and moved on to bikes (Gucci). Now designer brands have hit the outdoor industry head-on with Chanel’s new line of $4,000 surfboards, debuting this spring. Go ahead and paddle out on one; we’re sure the locals will respect you for it. High fashion co-opts surfboards…

When we first contemplated the idea of stand-up paddling across the Hawaiian islandchain, it sounded so simple: All we would need would be a boat, a willing and able captain, and some boards and paddles. What we've learned is that planning a trip like this requires a…

Give me a well-crafted paddle, and I’ll take a grocery cart down a Class V. Give me a clunky, over-weighted paddle, and you couldn’t pay me to roll in a kiddie pool. A poor paddle equals poor paddling. It’s that simple. As a general rule, a good creeking…

I sea kayak in the cold Pacific waters of British Columbia. Being a warm-water boy from North Carolina, I'm always freezing out there. I have a dry suit but have never found the perfect combination of layers below the suit to keep me warm while doing rolls and rescues involving submersion. I've even tried wearing my wetsuit with Sugoi thermal shirts and still been frigid. What else can I try?—JohnSalt Spring Island, BC

Ah, Venice, city of love—and site of one of the world's largest, goofiest rowing regattas, where anybody is welcome to paddle anything through the storied canals for 19 glorious, grueling miles. Into this tempest we tossed WELLS TOWER and his big brother. Their orders? Finish the damn thing without killing each other.

I was a little disappointed when Wavemaster America’s CEO, Steven Moser, told me that the Waterman stand up paddleboard (at left, red board on right) I was picking up from his house in Palos Verdes, California, was not designed for surfing steep or sizable waves.

Body Glove's Eco Loose Fit Surf Shirt ($50) scores points on many levels. Not only is the material buttery soft, the shirt is good for more than its name lets on. On a recent trip to southern Africa, I wore it diving, surfing, rock climbing, and…

By Stephen Regenold This winter, I have kicked my athletic training into high gear. In February, I am traveling to Chile to captain a team in the Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race, anultra-endurance event through Tierra del Fuego. The multi-day race will include long treks, mountain-bike segments, climbing,…

Simply put, the Aquapac Waterproof Backpack ($85) is a gem: it’s compartments are easily-accessible, using it takes no frills, and it's craftsmanship is sturdy. My first impression was that this drybag-like pack would be a raft guide's nightmare. It's material felt surprisingly lightweight (read: snaggable) and…

This sounds like something Ian Fleming would've dreamed up: a vehicle that's both a surface watercraft and a self-contained submersible. It may look like a yellow submarine, but it's technically a Scubacraft with an internal-combustion engine, electric thrusters, and the capability of diving down to 100…

The New York Times has a nice slideshow-slash-gear review segment up on wetsuits. It follows two surgeons, who are also surfing buddies, as they test a variety of suits, from Patagonia to O'Neill. The Times also has other gear reviews for…

Outside's guide to the best new concepts in gear, garb, human performance, and green.

When packing for a trip, do you ever think “But what if I spontaneously want to go kayaking?” This is for you. The folks at Vagabondish give a first look at the Citibot, a kayak that weighs 24…

Wooden kayaks weigh significantly less than most modern fiberglass boats, so they are easier to handle on land and faster on water. The catch? These handcrafted works of art can cost as much as a new car. A red-cedar-strip Guillemot Kayaks Night Heron, like the one pictured here, takes Connecticut…

A British kayaker says he has the tool to safely launch Niagara-size waterfalls: horsepower.

In January, England's Olly Hicks, 26, set out from Tasmania to become the first person to row solo around Antarctica. His vessel: a 24-foot, fuel-cell-and-solar-panel-fortified boat called the Flying Carrot, which was designed to withstand 50-foot waves while navigating the storm-racked Southern Ocean. ABE STREEP caught up with Hicks—who rowed solo acr

A world-class, carbon fiber playboat.

My wife and I want to take our two dogs, a miniature poodle and a 70-pound lab, kayaking with us while we fish the marsh and inlet creeks of South Carolina. I dreing, or is there a single kayak that would accommodate us? Jeffrey Murrells Inlet, South Carolina

Should we get paddle or pedal kayaks? We have demoed both but don't know enough about kayaking to make a decision. We’ll use them in backwater from the Gulf, so we’ll be dealing with tides. Fran Fort Myers, Florida

For expedition kayaker STEVE FISHER, 32, exploring for virgin whitewater can be as difficult as running it. Luckily, he found a shortcut.

Following the lead of NBA guard Stephon Marbury, whose $15 Starbury basketball shoe is sold through budget retailer Steve & Barry’s, Laird Hamilton hits S&B shelves in May with his surf line, Wonderwall. The collection will feature some 250 graphic T-shirts, polos, pants, and boardshorts—all for less than $15. “The…

Swooping through your first full-rail turn on a Hess surfboard requires a suspension of disbelief. This thing is made of wood? Hand-constructed from sustainably harvested poplar, cork, and amapola by San Francisco shaper Daniel Hess, it’s a piece of art as much as a performance wave-rider. Unlike the clunky wooden…

My husband and I are looking for a good kayak. For now, we’ll be lake kayaking/camping in Arizona. Then, we are moving to Kauai, Hawaii, in 3–5 years and want to go in the ocean. Is there a "dual-purpose" kayak we can buy? Kathy Chandler, Arizona

Video and Photo Gallery

When should I retire my whitewater kayaking helmet? I have a Pro-Tec full cut that is old enough to vote in some states. I've never taken a serious thump while wearing it, which gives it some talismanic value. But even the best things don't last forever, so I'm probably due for a new hat. Any recommendations? Kelly Sanders, Oregon

Chile’s Peel Inlet has a long history of turning back experienced explorers. Maybe what they needed was a golf umbrella, four wheels of Dutch cheese, and a better way to brew coffee.

Chile's Peel Inlet has a long history of turning back experienced explorers. Maybe what they needed was a golf umbrella, four wheels of dutch cheese, and a better way to brew coffee. For the December 2007 feature story, "Hustle and Floe" associate editor Grayson Schaffer and cohort Reg Lake found out. Here, see an exclusive online photo gallery of

OK, so he's not the coolest guy on the river. But with another world freestyle title, a kayak-building business that's shaking up the industry, and a sweet RV to take him and his paddling offspring anywhere, Eric Jackson is high on the pile.

I’m hitting the road with a travel trailer and would like to take an inflatable kayak so I can get out on flat water along the way. What kayak would serve my purpose? Doreen Vero Beach, Florida

I’m looking for a fast and light sit-on-top kayak that tracks well. I paddle a Feelfree Move on the Russian River with a couple who have a tandem Hobie, and I can never keep up with them. What do you think about the Cobra Explorer or the Hobie pedal kayak? Chrissi Cloverdale, California

Not every playboat is for whitewater. Maximize your summer fun on lakes, rivers, and oceans with these versatile sit-on-top kayaks.

British adventure filmmaker JUSTINE CURGENVEN, 33, elevates sea kayaking to the highest level of action sports: cool videos!

Last week, the Gear Guy responded to a question about kayaking with dogs. We got such a response, that we decided to revisit the question: Can a dog still be man’s best friend out on the water?

I would like to take my Labrador retriever kayaking with me. What kayak would you suggest using? And any tips on kayaking with my dog? Inger Irvine, California

My husband and I are looking for a good tandem sea kayak. He’s an advanced paddler, and I’m more of a beginner. We live on Narragansett Bay, so there is often a good chop. Any recommendations? y Bristol, Rhode Island

I’m an experienced touring kayaker, but I have gotten out of shape and gained a lot of weight. I would like to get back into the sport but none of my current equipment fits or has the capacity to hold 400 pounds (me plus gear). Can you help me find a new boat? Nancy King City, Ontario

Recycled, salvaged, and renewable gear that doesn't sacrifice performance

Dominica has steep folded jungles, dozens of backdrops used in Pirates of the Caribean, and the chronic misfortune of being mistaken for the Dominican Republic, 500 miles to the northwest. But with few beaches and a rugged interior, it’s dodged the crowds that descend upon its tax-haven neighbors every winter.

I have a canoe right now but would like to try kayaking, as it seems more forgiving in wind. Do they make a starter kayak that fits a man with a 38-inch-long leg? I don't want an open boat (I might as well stay with my canoe). Tom Port Charlotte, Florida

With a world-class guide, far-flung kayak expeditions are now within the layman's reach

Do you think Perception’s Acadia Scout is a good kayak for an eight-year-old child? Also, what’s your take on purchasing a pre-owned kayak? Angela Saratoga Springs, New York

By lifting a boat’s hull out of the water to reduce drag, hydrofoils boost everything from commuter ferries to Navy cruisers—and now, in a human-powered first, kayaks. Norwegian designer Peter Ribe’s 17-foot FLYAK works so well that Ribe, a former racer who hadn’t competed at the sport’s top level in…

What kayak would you recommend for an older guy who has lower-back problems? Also, any suggestions on resources for people over 55 who still want to stay active? John Sherborn, Massachusetts

I’m a beginner kayaker and want to buy a boat for recreational purposes such as fishing and camping local lakes, rivers, and creeks. A Wilderness Systems kayak dealer recommended the Pungo 120 or the Tarpon 120. Which would you recommend? Jason Marion, Kentucky

With Burning Time II, world-class kayaker and filmmaker Scott Lindgren is back doing what he does best—scouring the world for the most intense rapids, and shots, on the other side of sane.

A daring upriver expedition gets back on the water after a deadly attack

I'm looking for an inflatable kayak and folding bicycle to hit some Class I-II creeks in Alaska, float them, and then bike back to my put-in. I would need some kind of inflatable capable of fitting in a backpack or on the bike somehow, and a bike that is capable of being transported (in a folded position most likely) on the craft. Any ideas? Jeremy Anchorage, Alaska

A few buddies and I are planning a five-day trip on the Clearwater River in northern Saskatchewan. We plan on hitting some whitewater, though nothing too outrageous. We want kayaks that will track well on flatwater but also be able to bomb down some whitewater. What would you recommend? Rob Lloydminster, Saskatchewan

As one of the premiere destination whitewater schools in the country, the Otter Bar Lodge Kayak School has the instructor chops, the rapids, and the views to keep you coming back

Could you recommend a kayak for day trips on the relatively slow-moving Hackensack River, a wide tidal river (it feeds into Newark Bay and New York Harbor) with no rapids or whitewater sections? I already have a small nimble boat (an old Perception Pirouette) for other trips, but since it does not track well, I'd like to get a second boat. Stu Hackensack, New Jersey

My son and I are going to kayak Isle Royale. What is the best type of tent to take in a sea kayak? We are renting the kayaks in Copper Harbor. Sharen Columbus, Ohio

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