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Fresh Gear: Float Your Boat

Get out on the water and play with our annual roundup of the best paddling gear to have fun, explore, or just relax. 



The Indus is designed to do exactly what a PDF should do—get you above water in a hurry, especially in nasty rapids. The high-buoyancy jacket features 22.3 pounds of flotation and fits with plenty of room, making it a safe choice for paddlers going big, as well as paddlers with bigger bodies. $375;

Oru Kayak

Haven TT

No boat is as easy to store and quickly set up as an origami-style Oru, which folds down to suitcase size and, in the case of the tandem Haven, pops up to form a sturdy kayak for two people. The 16-foot-1-inch boat weighs in at 41 pounds but has the guts to safely navigate flat water and gentle rivers. Don’t want company? It can be set up as a single too. $1,599;

Jackson Kayak


This boat from the Tennessee-based brand with a pedigree of core kayaking is all about fun, plain, and simple. With a full planing hull and super-high rocker in the bow and stern it’s meant for Class V water and showboating in holes. But don’t think it’s just for experts: That design makes executing rolls, quick turns, and carves easy for beginners and precise for vets. $1,599;


Explorer 3

Ringing in at a nice price and delivering a stable ride, the 11’6” Explorer 3 weighs a respectable 19 pounds and handles like a dream on flatwater and easy surf. The real selling point is the stability, as this board is ideal for beginners and a perfect option to take your water-experienced dog for a ride. The inflatable comes complete with a kit that includes paddle, pump, carrying backpack, and leash—and you can convert it into a sit on top with the brand’s Cloud Kayak Seat (sold separately for $125). $795;

E-Sea Cup

Original Suction-Mounted Cup Holder

“Careful, man! There’s a beverage here.” No worries, dude. This easy-to-mount add-on keeps that drink—no matter the size—secure while you paddle. $26;



Here’s the boat for those who want to get out in the wilderness. Tipping the scales at a silly 6.5 pounds fully outfitted, the raft was designed for big Alaskan adventures but gets the job done for anyone who wants to haul in for a serious trip downriver (or up). The 840-denier nylon floor can withstand river-rock abuse and two-point thigh straps impart control. $1,325;


Grand Catalina

A tribute to the era of Swayze and Schwarzenegger, these retro-style shades pack 2020s technology. A solid range of lens options—including the impressive 580G Gold Mirror option—cut glare and protect your peepers 100-percent from UV damage. That makes them the choice for serious paddlers with throwback tastes. $292;

Sweet Protection


Sweet’s sleek design sets the protection standard for river runners and playboaters. The low-volume lid features EVA foam that can handle a hit and an LFT outer shell that offers up a bit of elasticity. Add it up and this is a mandatory safety piece that looks good too. $200;


Women’s CFS Drifter Short

Quick-drying, comfy, and hot for those shots on the ‘Gram, this is the shirt you’ll want for everything from SUP excursions to humid summer hikes. $59;

Werner Paddles

Pack Tour Four Piece Straight Shaft

Easy to break down and pack away and adjustable between 215 and 260 centimeters in order to adapt to varied conditions (and paddlers), this durable paddle is the perfect accompaniment to any serious packrafter’s kit. A snap button also lets you dial in the feather angle. Best of all it weighs just 34.4 ounces. $400;


Rackham Aero 12’4”

Stability is the name of the game when it comes to this fishing SUP inflatable that can handle up to 400 pounds of angler and gear and provides a solid platform for exact casts into tricky-to-access locations. A kayak seat, cooler tie-down points, pole mount, and bungees mean it’s ready for business. Want to really trick out the board so you can focus on the water and silently track fish? Trick it out with Bota’s Apex Pedal Drive and Rudder System ($899), which will give you the ability to navigate quickly and confidently while focusing on the water. $1,529;


Approach 120 Fishing Raft Two-person Package

Here’s a full fishing boat that can access shallow water but doesn’t require a trailer to haul to the put-in. The ultralight raft relies on smaller tubes and a rugged 6-inch floor to slip into truck spots—but it still has the ability to carry two fully-rigged anglers and seat them confidently with a slot rail system that makes for quick adjustments and maximizing rowing power. All that and the raft itself only weighs 70 pounds, with setup packages bringing the weight up between 120 to 160 pounds. $4,995;

Outdoor Research

Astroman Air Sun Hoodie

Light, breathable, quick-wicking, and, most importantly, serving up UPF 50 protection from the sun, this hoodie is just the ticket for long days on the water. It’s also Bluesign approved meaning it’s met the strictest standards for sustainable and ethical manufacturing. $99;


Hydratec Sandal

Whether you’re boating or stopping to hike along the way, this shoe will deliver solid grip underfoot and give your little piggies plenty of room to breathe. Not only does the bottom sole stick to slick decks and wet rocks, the top of the sole also provides enough traction to help keep your foot in place—perfect when you are in the middle of the action on rapids or scrambling off trail. $85;



Designed to provide plenty of grip and comfort this classic boating kick works equally well on land and on the water. The outsole is made to both shed water and stick, featuring a wide toe box, zero drop, and a quick-drying upper that add up to make this the perfect shoe to wear all summer long. $95;


Sirocco Lite

Here’s the perfect layer to cut the chill after a day on the water. Weighing in at just 9.5 ounces but providing double protection with a stretchy weather-resistant (and PFAS-free) outer layer and light, cozy insulation, this versatile piece can also provide some warmth under a paddling jacket. $210;

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