7 Items To Make Your River Running Life Even Better | Rapid Magazine | Rapid Media
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A collection of gear for river and whitewater paddling on a grassy backdrop. Photo: Kaydi Pyette

The seven new pieces of gear you need to make river trips and whitewater paddling days even more fun

1. KAYAK PRO COMPACT KAYAK ERGOMETER

I don’t have Olympic dreams; I just don’t want to suck more than I did last season. As a result of this ambitious training program in the Rapid office workout room (yes, there is one) you’ll find a treadmill, two bike trainers, a rower and now a Kayak Pro’s Speedstroke Compact Kayak Ergometer. Enter your weight in the on-board console and start measuring distance, time, stroke rate, heart rate (with ANT+ compatible HR monitor) and the rest of the geek stats that keep me interested on cold February mornings. The stick paddle is attached to cords that drive the smooth resistance fan. It’s so simple. What’s even more clever is how easily it collapses and stands up out of the way for the summer. $2,550. www.kayakpro.com

2. BENDING BRANCHES EXPEDITION PLUS

When life gives you lemons, make better lemonade. When Bending Branches was running out of butternut they didn’t just substitute roasted basswood, they took the opportunity to retool their entire canoe line over $100, including the Expedition Plus. Why the new funky shape? To soften the angle at the bottom corners, the most common wear point on whitewater canoe paddles. Clever. The blade of the Expedition is sandwiched in fiberglass and wrapped in Rockgard to protect from, you guessed it, rocks. The Expedition is tough and remarkably lightweight; so light in fact, I’ve stopped switching to my lakewater paddle in the flats. $149.95 US; $189.95 CDN.  www.bendingbranches.com

3. FUGOO TOUGH SPEAKER

You can’t always get what you want—until now. The ultra-rugged Tough speaker by Fugoo might as well have been designed for the river rat lifestyle with a waterproof shell, 360-degree sound and near-limitless mounting options. Fire it up at the take-out, around camp or take it out on your raft. Even Mick Jagger would approve of the way this slim Bluetooth speaker cranks out the tunes. $229.00. www.fugoo.com

4. FUJIFILM X-E2S DIGITAL CAMERA

Shooting selfies with your iPhone is fine for Instagram, but it doesn’t cut the mustard for creating the breathtaking images you see printed in this magazine. To get DSLR-quality prints at a fraction the size and weight, get a compact mirrorless camera like the new Fujifilm X-E2s. The Fuji offers HD video and manual modes, rugged magnesium body and a full selection of interchangeable lenses—all in a slim package that stashes neatly in a small dry bag or waterproof case. $699 (body only) | www.fujifilm.ca

5. NRS SIDEWINDER BIBS

Just when I thought I had every piece of gear I truly needed I found NRS’s Sidewider Bibs in their fishing catalog. So how do waders make my life better for whitewater? I hate being cold. I hate wet feet. I also hate being in a full dry suit all the time. The Sidewinders are breathable, have a pee zip, and a cinchable waistband. Unlike many fishing waders the feet are fabric, not neoprene, so they fit into paddling shoes. These are my new go-to coldweather whitewater canoe tripping and rafting bottoms which I pair with either a dry top or hooded paddling jacket. $449.95 | www.nrs.com

 6. NRS VELOCITY SHOES

First, read about NRS Sidewinder Bibs above. Okay, so I needed a no-slip rubber creeking shoe like the new NRS Velocity Shoes to protect my wader or drysuit socked feet and also offer toe and heal protection when wade fishing or lining rafts and canoes. The sole is good and stiff for portaging heavy loads on sketchy trails. The whole package is still lighter and lower profile than a traditional fishing wading boot, which is good because I ordered the Velocities a half size bigger so I could fit both warm woolly socks and dry socks inside. $109.95 | www.nrs.com

 7. ALITE MEADOW MITE 

It doesn’t matter where you call home—any river will look a little warmer with the tropical Aloha spread out on the shore in front of your favorite surf wave. Easily stowable, this lightweight and versatile mat can be used as a change pad at the take-out, to protect your shuttle interior or to woo a fellow boater via riverside picnic. Its waterproof bottom will save your ass on dewy mornings and after steamy rain showers. $39 | www.alitedesigns.com

This article was originally published in Rapid, Volume 18 • Issue 3. Read this issue. 

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