Different Strokes: Bellyak founder Adam Masters picks his go-to gear

Adam Masters was born into kayaking. His father, Bill Masters, founded Perception Kayaks in the ‘70s and had a large hand in taking the sport mainstream thanks to Perception’s affordable plastic boats. Adam has been kayaking all his life, but in the last several years, he’s made his own contribution to the world of paddlesports by developing the Bellyak, a kayak you paddle while lying down.

“I got into hand paddling in 2004 and loved the connection with the river,” Adam says. “I wondered what it would be like to lay on top of my kayak and paddle like I was swimming through the river.”

Masters took an old Perception, cut it up and filled it with spray foam and duct tape to make his first prototype. It was 85 pounds and tough to handle, but he was hooked. “All of the rivers I’d been on forever became a completely new experience. It was super fun.”

Fast forward 14 years and that original prototype has evolved into Bellyak, a niche sport that’s introducing thousands of people to whitewater. “A lot of people come to me who always wanted to kayak but never learned because they were scared of the roll,” Adam says. “With the Bellyak, you can run class II or III whitewater and you’re never stuck inside a boat under water. It increases the reward without increasing the risk.”

Astral Hiyak

Astral Hiyak$115

Astrals are great and I really love this high top river shoe. We’re actually in the water, standing in eddies and moving around in the current, so good foot protection is crucial.

Sweet Protection The Rocker$250

This helmet fits really well, offers bombproof protection and doesn’t impede my visibility. You take face hits a lot when you’re in a Bellyak. You don’t want your helmet to push back on your head.

Bellyak Play 35$729

My favorite is the Play 35. I love them all. But it’s the most high performance. Really light, super responsive. I can throw it around. It performs well on a wave, great for river running. If you want something more stable, but still good for river running, size up to the Play 45.

NRS Radiant 3/2 Wetsuit | $230

This might be my favorite piece of gear. I’m in the water constantly, and we’re wet the whole time, so depending on the air/water temp combo, a wetsuit might be necessary.


Astral Layla$135

This is a women’s jacket, but it’s perfect for Bellyaking because it has a nice flat front, which is key for paddling prone. You don’t want a PFD with a lot of bulk up front.

Allbirds Wool Runners$95

Most outdoor shoes are made with unsustainable, often toxic materials. Allbirds does things differently: they make simple, comfortable shoes with a durable, water-resistant merino wool upper, recycled laces, and castor-bean-oil cushioning in their insoles. Your feet and your conscience will feel good in these shoes.

Tigerlight D.A.D. (Defense Alert Device) | $130

DAD is always looking out for you: in this case, DAD is a handheld multi-use protection tool that has the ability to spray a unique chemical deterrent that had a documented 96% stop rate and sends Bluetooth danger alerts with your exact location. The alerts can be lifesaving in the event of an attack or if you hurt yourself and are stuck somewhere. The lightweight device also has a multi-mode flashlight and convenient hand strap that allows the device to always be in hand and ready to use.

Lorpen T3 Trail Running Ultra Light Socks$15

With separate layers of fibers that work together for comfort, support, and moisture management. The T3 sock is perfect for running in any season, keeping feet dry, comfortable, and blister-free.

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