Search
Close this search box.

Let’s Get Wet: Water Gear

It’s time to get splashy—swim, paddle, beachcomb, and paddle some more. And we are here to outfit you for the summer season with our roundup of the best gear for watersports.

Hala 

Playita 2+2 Infaltable Surf SUP

Want to access surf spots that can’t be reached by car? This innovative, inflatable ocean paddleboard is the answer. Out in the surf, it rides like a full fiberglass SUP, thanks to a funky fin-tail design and Hala’s DoubleStack Technology, creating a one-of-a-kind shape with a 2-inch step-down rail, the sharpest on any inflatable. And—boom!—all that performance packs down into a backpack and weighs just 23 pounds. Plus, it comes with a pump, removable fins, a roller bag, and a repair kit. $699: halagear.com

Oru 

Beach LT Sport

Designed for dedicated anglers and serious ocean tours, this fold-down origami boat is just the ticket for those of us who don’t have the space to store a saltwater craft or who need to drive to get to the water. Reliable out on the brine, it serves up comfort, too, in the form of a gel cushion seat system that keeps your tush and spine happy and an open cockpit design that makes it easy to hop aboard. All that tips the scales at a mere 28 pounds with the ability to transport 300 pounds of you and your stuff. $1,499; orukayak.com

Kokopelli 

Platte

Weighing in at just 24 pounds fully decked out (13.2 bare bones), this nifty inflatable kayak is ready for adventure no matter where you point your bow. But don’t think that minimalism means you sacrifice comfort, as the multi-point adjustable EVA foam seat provides easy days on the water. The two-piece boat packs down for easy transport and still includes important touches like gear storage holds and a self-bailing floor. $899; kokopelli.com

Itiwit/Decathlon

Ultra Compact 8-foot Inflatable SUP

At eight feet long, this inflatable stand-up paddleboard proves perfect for smaller folks and kids (under 130 pounds) who want to have big fun. It’s stable and quite nimble out on the water and rolls down into a 30L backpack. At just 13.2 pounds, it’s easy to strap on and haul down to difficult-to-reach water, too. $349; decathlon.com

Outdoor Research

ActiveIce Spectrum Sun Hoodie

Sun protection is crucial out on the water and this airy, UPF 50+ hoodie ensures you don’t get sunburned or cause future damage to your skin. Even better, Outdoor Research’s ActiveIce technology actually keeps you cool by adjusting to body temperature. $89; outdoorreseartch.com

Kokatat

Hustle

Rule one: Never get on the water without a PDF. Certified for use in both the U.S. and Canada, the Hustle provides safety that’s comfy. It’s adaptable to a wide range of torsos and battens down with three side adjustment loops. $149; kokatat.com

Astral

Brewess 2.0

Who says a technical water shoe has to look, well, technical? With the style of a sneaker, this kick serves up plenty of performance. The non-marking, sticky, siped rubber outsole keeps you steady in the boat or scrambling over rocks on shore and the hydrophobic upper sheds water. $125; astraldesigns.com

Oboz

Whakatā Coast

These all-gender slip-ons provide lots of cushion and protection when you are kicking it in the boat or on the shore. Credit the comfort to a thick layer of EVA that cushions your foot more like a sneaker than a clog. Whakatā basically means “chill time” in the Māori language and Montana-basd Oboz made sure the name was approved by a liaison at its parent brand in New Zealand to help honor and promote Māori culture here in the U.S. $60; obozfootwear.com

Mission Workshop

The Fleet

Meet your new favorite summer shirt. Light and quick drying, this baby is perfect for sun protection when you head out for a tour on the SUP—but still classy enough to make waves in the brew pub when you are done. $175; missionworkshop.com

Olaian/Decathlon

Water Sport Helmet

Designed for everything from wakeboarding to surfing to whitewater paddling, this lightweight (354 grams) helmet offers excellent head protection, plus the built-in visor keeps the sun out and deflects water. $60; decathlon.com

Patagonia

Guidewater Backpack 29L

The perfect companion for adventure fishing or SUP excursions, this 29-liter backpack is fully waterproof (and even fully submersible). It’s Patagonia, so, rest assured, it’s made from recycled nylon, but what really impressed us was the clever inner storage system to keep small, necessary gear well organized.
$299; patagonia.com

Sea to Summit

Big River Dry Bag

Mandatory when you are hauling stuff on raft or SUP trips that you don’t want to get wet, these sturdy, dependable dry bags get the job done. Made from 420D nylon and available in 5-, 8-, 13-, 20-, 35-, and 65-liter sizes, they lash down on rafts or board decks with aplomb. A detachable sling (sold separately, $10) makes them easy to haul to camp or your rig.
$40–$80; seatosummit.com

SylvanSport

Go Easy Trailer

Hauling those big boats around can be a drag, but this sleek, easy-to-load trailer puts at least a modicum of joy into the job of getting your watercraft to the water. Better still, it’s not just a boat trailer—the roomy gear deck underneath the boats holds coolers, paddles, PFDs, and other big equipment, and a storage box keeps other essentials safe and out of the way. $2,695+; sylvansport.com

Bydee

Rumbeando Collection

You’ll look great all summer in these hot swimsuits from Australia. But it’s not all flash. The playful tops and bottoms feature a sturdy, stretchy Lycra, made with sustainable fabrics Econyl and Repreve, which comes from 100% regenerated polyamide fiber from post-consumer materials. $69–$119; us.bydeeaus.com

Subea/Decathlon

Easy Breath 500

From trips to coral reefs to adventures at nearby lakes to silly fun at the swimming pool, a dive mask is an easy accessory to toss in the gear stash on any road trip. With a built-in snorkel and purge valve to drain water out of the mask, this all-in-one system helps get you checking out what’s under the surface no matter where you swim. $45; decathlon.com

Share this post:

Discover more in the Blue Ridge:

EXPLORE MORE: