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Wet Goods: The Newest Paddling Gear - Explore

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Wet Goods: The Newest Paddling Gear

About 70% of this planet's surface is water. If that's not reason enough to spend some time this spring having liquid fun, this season's slew of innovations might be. 



Get both a whitewater kayak and a flatwater tourer in the WAVE SPORT Ethos. Available in 9- and 10-foot lengths (we tested the 10-foot on an overnighter on Utah's Green River), it handles touring, easy surf, and up to Class III rapids. Deploy the drop-down skeg for touring or pull it up for whitewater. There's a roomy cockpit, ample storage space, and hinged hip pads that fold up into a carrying cushion for your shoulder. $999

The 17-foot, 5-inch fiberglass Koru from OLD TOWN CANOE is a masterful blend of function and art — the same elegant features that made it a classic hunting canoe back in the day have been revamped for recreational use. An extended waterline makes for efficient padding, while a shallow arch hull adds stability. This 60-pound craft worked well in the Colorado River's light waves and flats. $2,300

CREEK COMPANY's inflatable Osprey Fishing SUP covers a lot more terrain than a traditional one-person float tube. On the Elk River in Colorado, it also allowed for a better casting range and provided a higher line of vision. At 11 feet long, 35 inches wide, and 6 inches thick, the Osprey is stable enough to support a cooler. Bonus: It rolls up for transport and storage. $1,500

With its molded polyethylene shell, the 55-pound Squall GTS sea kayak from CURRENT DESIGNS can take a beating from barnacles and boulders. The shallow hull aids tracking and turns strokes into speed. It's the right length (almost 16 feet) for a modest morning workout on the bay or a multiday excursion downcoast. Also on board: two waterproof hatches, an adjustable seat back, and a smart rudder system for steering. $1,549

With the Quest Carbon paddle from ADVENTURE TECHNOLOGY, your touring oar will be as pretty as your surroundings. It's available in straight or ergo shaft options, and its dihedral carbon-weave blades serve up propulsion without flutter. On a small Colorado lake, we wished we could have paddled farther. $320 for the straight paddle, $400 for the ergo 

Even when it's warm out, maintaining your core temperature is crucial. Keep that chilly spray at bay with the BOMBER GEAR Blitz Splash Top. Made from two-ply material that's waterproof and breathable, the top has a tapered fit, a large neck opening with a hook-and-loop closure, a sleeve pocket, a nylon waist with a draw cord, and cone-shaped cuffs to keep water out of your sleeves. From $89

Canoeists and rafters in bear country can keep water locked out and food smells locked in with HARMONY's storage barrel. An airtight compression seal on its pop-top lid keeps your rations high and dry. Come portage time, slide the barrel into its customized harness (from $55) with padded straps. It also doubles as a camp stool. From $70

Designed for older paddlers, MTI's high-back Voyager PFD features an easy front zip with extra-long pulls, fleece-lined pockets, a rescue whistle, and an ID patch. There's also reflective trim and cargo pockets big enough to hold birding books. We put this handy vest through its paces on Colorado's Yampa River, and all of its features worked great. $125

SAZZI's new Decimal sandal, designed by Teva founder Mark Thatcher, features four toe posts and five articulating toe platforms. It might look funny, but let others with uncomfortable feet laugh while you enjoy your ergonomics. Made from recyclable foam, these flip-flops feature a soft drop-in top sole, contouring for stability, and a dense outsole for extra traction. $80

—Eugene Buchanan

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