Mother’s Day Q&A Session with Emily Jackson (by Sarah Leith Bahn)

We were lucky to have the Jackson-Troutman clan in the Gorge for a few weeks recently and, after seeing Emily juggle a preschooler, a baby, a moving home, business commitments and still getting time on the water, we couldn’t think of anyone better for a Mother’s Day Q&A. A professional paddler for most of her life, Emily is (literally) traveling a less-traditional road with her family, paddling wherever the water is good and taking her kids along for the adventure.

And who better to interview her than one of our other favorite moms, Sarah Leith Bahn? Sarah is a former US National whitewater slalom team member who still finds time to get out on the water while juggling two boys, starting a business with her husband, vlogging about healthy eating… oh, and writing a book along the way!

Enjoy!

 

Sarah:

How do you get your life jacket on over your engorged milk boobs? This was a problem for me! I got to the put-in the first time to paddle and couldn’t fit in my life jacket!

Emily:
Did the same thing in my DrySuit after having my Daughter Parker- it was my boobs and hips- I may have cried a little, I loosened all the straps and fed her as much as I could right before paddling!

Sarah:
How do you deal with the fact that you pee a little every time you take a hard stroke?

Emily:
Haha- I was pretty lucky this only happened when doing jumping jacks- or at least, I didn’t notice it while kayaking… Wear board shorts I guess and try to not wear a drysuit for the first little bit… You can get rid of board shorts pretty easy but once a dry suit smells like pee- there is no going back

Sarah:
I had my babies in my mid-30s. I gained 60 pounds in both pregnancies. And it was really hard for me to trust my shoulders, my back and abs again – I was worried when I first went paddling that I’d get injured. It took a lot longer than I would have thought to trust my body again and know it was strong enough to handle paddling. Do you have any advice for women to learn how to trust their bodies again after growing babies? (My pregnancies were like an injury and it took time to have faith that my injury was healed)

Emily:
I was younger with both kids, but I don’t feel this changed that feeling of doubt I had with my body. With Tucker I competed 3 weeks before I had him – weighing 198 pounds in a small Star (max weight of that boat is supposed to be 140 lol) and then I actually competed 3 weeks afterwards at US nationals and won. I decided I was happiest if I got my time in the water, and this meant baby was happy, daddy was happy and most importantly I was happy. I felt if I held myself back in fear of my body getting hurt, then I was already hurting myself. I focused on play boating and easier river runs and literally told myself, it’s like riding a bike, you just need to do it, and while paddling, convincing myself that I had all the confidence in the world (even though it was at an all time low). I laughed when stuff didn’t feel right, but my confidence stemmed from the fact that hey- I am a MOM now- things are different and different is totally okay.

Sarah:
I was never a Nicole Mansfield that ran multiple class V rapids daily, but I did love technical class 4. However after I had kids, I really had a hard time with rapids that had consequences. I found myself scared instead of nervously excited. It was like something flipped inside me and honestly it made me turn my back on the sport for a little while. I was bored on class III and too scared on class 4. It took a new slalom boat, and multiple laps down the Lower White Salmon to realize, I do love simply being on the river and feeling my hull react to the water regardless of how small the whitewater is. Do you have any advice for Moms that come back to the sport after having kids that find themselves scared of a sport they once loved?

Emily:
This is totally normal is so many different ways- Any major change in your life will have you looking at things a little differently. There are so many ways to add spice to kayaking without upping the consequences. For starters- take a playboat down an easier river run, try splatting, squirting, and harder lines on rapids. The combination of trying things plus being in a smaller boat will make the river feel different. Much like taking a SUP on flatwater and all of sudden the flatwater at times can get difficult and exciting. My favorite feeling is when water simply splashes me in the face. So I feel like my day was an accomplishment if I had that one moment of bliss. The absolute hardest part about getting back into kayaking- is choosing to go kayaking over taking care of other responsibilities, as mom we get accustomed to taking care of everyone else and not ourselves, so by simply choosing to put yourself first for that quick kayaking lap, or river run, you should already gain confidence and be proud of yourself regardless of what you are doing on the water.

Sarah:
One of the things I loved about the sport of kayaking – especially on the Potomac River, I could paddle whenever I wanted and was not dependent on anyone. My boat was always on my car and I could literally in 5 minutes go from eating breakfast to taking a lap down little falls on the Potomac. Then I had a kid and felt trapped! I couldn’t just go paddling whenever I wanted. And it made me sad. How do you deal with feeling trapped?

Emily:
This day and age I feel like being a Mom alone isn’t enough, we all need to be supermom and take care of everything on our own, asking questions makes us look weak right? I feel trapped when I want everything to be perfect and an exact way. When I am not flexible or allow people to help me, the walls around me get tighter and tighter until I eventually crack. My kids have been watched on the river banks by people who I would never expect to watch them, people have run my shuttle with the kids in the car, by giving up a little control, and taking people up on acts of kindness my freedom has come back! By being flexible and saying yes to the chaos, accepting the challenges, and knowing that when I get home, the house will be messy, the kids might be a touch tired, by my soul is refreshed, makes me feel like I can accomplish anything.

Here is my Ted Talk on Prioritizing to give you a little more insight on how I try to balance my lifestyle:

 

Thanks again, Emily & Sarah, and Happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms that paddle!

Taking Care of your Gaskets

We’ve all done it. You pull the drysuit out of your car on that first chilly fall day, stoked to get out on the water – foot, foot, arm, riiip… NO! You’ve blown a gasket and with it all hopes of a warm, dry run. With drysuit season upon us, we thought we’d give a little 101 on the 303. 

How to care for your gaskets:

1) Always store your dry gear in a cool, shaded place. Sun and heat are the enemies of latex and guaranteed to decrease their life expectancy. 
2) Dry your gear right way – don’t keep it in your bin/trunk/dry bag overnight. You know we’re all guilty of this one. Decrease your stank and increase your gasket life, get that dry gear dry. 
3) 303 your gaskets once a month. Pick a day, any day, and just do it. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’ll save you river-side anguish in the future. 
4) Wash your gear with a powder soap in a front loading machine by itself. This is the kindest cleaning method for your gaskets and will keep the fabric on your dry gear working its best – dirty pores on your dry gear keep it from breathing. 
5) Flip your dry suit every now and then to keep mold out of the feet. Once again, not only are you doing the longevity of your suit a solid, you’re making your paddling partners a lot happier. 
6) Inspect your gaskets to see if there is any dry rot by stretching them gently and looking for cracking. Sure, this means you have to replace them, but better in your garage than at the side of the river.


Stay on top of this list and you’ll (probably) get years of use out of your gaskets. That said, blown gaskets do happen, even with the best of care. If they do, give us a call or email us and our gasket pro at the shop, Justin, will be happy to fix them up for you!

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Buyers Guide : What to Wear When Cold-Water Kayaking

Are you new to kayaking? Or maybe you’re from the balmy south and wear shorties on the daily, looking to move to the great Pacific Northwest? Here in Oregon & Washington, we are pros at paddling snow melt. Like it’s our job! Shoot – in some of our lucky cases, it literally is! Here to help you maximize your fun on those glacier fed rivers is our Top 5 List of What to Wear When Cold Water Kayaking! 

1) Wet suits

Wetsuits use the insulating warmth of water to help keep the cold at bay. While it may seem like these neoprene outfits sit directly on your skin, they allow a very small amount of water to slip between you and the suit. Your body heat then warms that water and it serves as insulation against the water outside the suit.

Kokatat Gore-Tex Meridian

2) Dry suits

While a wetsuit relies on your body heating the water captured next to it to help keep you warm, a drysuit focuses on keeping you dry. No matter where the water comes from, drysuits are the best when it comes to keeping you protected from the elements. Drysuits are commonly made using a nylon material that is then waterproofed using Gore-Tex. They are designed to keep any water from reaching your skin. Even if you capsize and spend time swimming, the latex gaskets and roll-up closers of the one piece suit keep the water off you.


Sweet Helmets Shadrach Dry Top

3) Dry tops

Dry tops are made much like dry suits in that they include waterproof gaskets to prevent water from coming into contact with your skin, however, these suits only cover your upper body. The waistband is double layered and attached to your spray skirt. Most often, dry tops are paired with Farmer John wetsuits or dry bibs.






4) Insulation & layers

Underneath your wetsuit or drysuit, you may need another layer of insulation when things get very cold. Polartec® Power Stretch® fleece are a great choice and are designed fit perfectly under any protective clothing or worn separately. The fabric is abrasion-resistant to be soft next to your skin and breathable so that you don’t get too hot.

Immersion Research Union Suit
NRS Men’s Hydroskin Top














5) Accessories 

There are a variety of accessories that help hold in the heat too. Helmet liners provide a warm fuzzy, water resistant barrier to keep the frigid water from hitting your head directly and it helps retain the heat coming off your head. Another accessory many of us find necessary, especially during the winter months when the air is as cold – or colder – than the water, is a pair or pogies or gloves. This is definitely an area of personal preference as some people don’t like the constriction of pogies, which wrap your hands around the paddleshaft, or the lack of paddle feel you get from gloves, but both help retain that valuable heat your hands generate. Finally, don’t forget your socks! Chacos are all well and good when you’re paddling warm water, but for cold water, you’re going to want booties with some warm neoprene socks underneath!

Immersion Research Thermo Cap
Immersion Research Microwave Handwarmers
NRS Hydroskin Glove

 

NRS Hydroskin Sock


























There’s our top 5 recommendations. Want more detail? Visit our buyer guide! Or better yet, give us a holla and we can answer any specific questions you may have! 

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A Non-Fisherman Reports on Fishing in the Hobie Oasis

One of my goals this year was to catch something and then eat it. Rabbits are too fast, so I had to resort to fishing. My dad, an avid fisherman, has tried to take me fishing on multiple occasions, but I have gone fishing more than I have caught fish (though my Dad called them bait).

Yesterday, a friend and I took out the Hobie Oasis and a couple of borrowed poles. We were fishing for dinner, so given my past experience, I suspected that it would take all day for me to catch anything at all.

After 2 hours, we had caught 9 Rainbow Trout, 5 of which I caught! This is a fish story, but those numbers are no exaggeration. I finally understand why people like fishing: it’s fun when you actually catch fish.

As a whitewater kayaker, I have always thought of a tandem kayak as more of a novelty, not something that you would ever buy. However, fishing in the Hobie Oasis was really enjoyable for several reasons. I get bored easily, so it was nice to have someone right next to you to talk to without worrying about “scaring the fish.” When either of us caught a fish, dealing with getting it off the hook was a breeze, since one person could hold the pole while the other freed the fish. Having the tandem also made it easy and maintainable to get up to “trolling speed.”

The Hobie Oasis was great, but there were a few things that I wish were different. There is some Hobie gear that I would want added, for example Rod Holders. I was scared to put 100% into casting in the Oasis. I cannot say that I have good technique or precision aim, and I like the person that I was kayaking with, so I was scared that I might hook him. This is when the Hobie Pro Angler would be awesome! The Pro Angler allows you to get into the sweet spots, but still stand up to cast.

In summary, I had a great time fishing in the Hobie. So much so that I plan on going again. And who wouldn’t when you are catching fish roughly every 13 minutes?

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Week 1 of C25K – Couch to 5K Running in Minimalist shoes

When we originally brought Vibram FiveFingers into the shop, our thought was that – with their low profile and siping – they’d make great shoes for our local watersports: whitewater kayaking, windsurfing, kiting, etc. But it didn’t take long to discover that the VFF’s have their most devoted following in the running world. Since we tend to like our exercise to have a healthy dose of adrenaline however – something my personal running speed does not accomplish – we observed this growing segment from the sidelines. Until now! After reading countless blogs proclaiming Vibram FiveFingers to be to running what peanut butter is to jelly, I finally decided I’d dry out my Classics and put them to a non-watersport use.

I do some walking in my VFF’s, but I’ll admit it’s mostly to go sit in my boat, and there were enough comments in the blogs about sore this-and-thats (and I really don’t like being sore unless there’s a whopper of a story to go with it) that I put my research hat on. It didn’t take long to come across a program called C25k – or “Couch to 5k“. In addition to having a great name, the website states that the program is “designed to get just about anyone from the couch to running 5 kilometers or 30 minutes in just 9 weeks” and there are a bunch of VFF converts out there that are using the program – which is based on walk/run intervals – to get up to speed in their FiveFingers.

When I mentioned my idea to the shop’s GPB – who gets a lot of great feedback and comments from VFF customers – he thought C25K sounded like a good way to start, but threw out the additional suggestion of starting on a soft running surface. That sounded reasonable and even smart. I live a couple of blocks away from the local middle school’s cinder track, so yesterday morning I downloaded a Week 1 podcast from the C25K site and headed out the door.

Initial thoughts: I felt like I forgot something at home. Like my shoes. For the most part, walking on pavement in VFF’s feels like you’re going barefoot… and it feels a little wierd. “Mommy, that lady doesn’t have any shoes on!”

Next thoughts: Interval training is definitely the way to go for me! While I don’t run much, I do bike a few times a week, so the cardio in the first week schedule isn’t challenging, but the tendons in my feet and lower legs were ready for a break every time the podcast told me to “walk”.

The aftermath: My lower legs and feet were a little tight this morning, but definitely weren’t sore. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s work out and am heading out of the house in just a moment for an easy (FiveFinger) walk just to stretch everything out.

I won’t be boring you with a full run down of every workout, but I’ll be sure to let you know how it’s progressing over the next nine weeks. Two things on my horizon: 1) I downloaded a C25K app for my iPhone (there are a couple available) so I can listen to my own music while doing the intervals and 2) a pair of KSO’s to replace my Classics if I keep jogging on cinder tracks!

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Ramblings from a Puddin Cyclist: Zen and the art of Kayak Rolling

With Lance Armstrong’s phenomenal return performance at the Tour de France fresh in our minds, I ran across this and thought such a great description of a roll from a cyclist/paddler/cancer survivor was the perfect way to start the week.

Ramblings from a Puddin Cyclist: Zen and the Art of Kayak Rolling

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Nalgene polycarbonate water bottle health risk?

I just had this forwarded to me from a friend. I’m not sure what the sorce for the article is. If you know please let me know so I can give them credit for it. Crazy article about Nalgene – Lexan water bottles. I didn’t know! Please read:

Debate Over Polycarbonate Water Bottles Grows…The reputation of Lexan polycarbonate water bottles received another blow last week after yoga retailer Lululemon joined Mountain Equipment Co-op in pulling waterbottles containing bisphenol-A (BPA) from their shelves.Vancouver’s Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) created a firestorm on December 7 after pulling most products containingBPA – used in the production of polycarbonate plastics- due to studies that have linked BPA to infertility and cancer. Although best known for hard-plastic, see-throughwater bottles, the material is also used for baby bottles, dental sealants and the lining of most food & beveragecontainers. MEC’s move was partly driven by the decision by Health Canada, the country’snational health agency, to conduct an assessment of BPA. The agency intends to release a report on its safety next spring that could recommend that manufacturers phase out the use of the chemical. Environmental groups have long expressed concerns about potential health risks posed by the BPA chemical, and recent studies have heightened them. In January 2007, Yale researchers found that when BPA was administered to pregnant mice, it altered a gene responsible for normal uterine development. The study theorized that exposure to the chemical could lead to infertility in people. MEC says it decided to pull the bottles not only because of the government review but also due to growing consumer concerns from its members. “We felt it was a prudent measure to take at this time, given the regulatory uncertainty on the one hand and the increasing concerns we’re hearing from customers about BPA,” says MEC’s spokesman Tim Southam. “They were saying, ‘How can you in good conscious, as a responsible retailer, continue to sell BPA given the potential health risks?’” The bad press around polycarbonate water bottles comes as the water bottlecategory has been galvanized by a push to reduce the use of disposable waterbottles. The biggest publicity came after Nalgene teamed with Britt for the Filter For Good campaign. But it also comes as plastic bottle makers areexploring new materials not using BPA.
THE REACTION FROM U.S. RETAILERS In the U.S., Patagonia was actually the first retailer to pull polycarbonate waterbottles from its stores in December 2005. But so far, other retailers continue to sell the water bottles partly because many consumers still prefer the clear and fairly indestructible properties of a polycarbonate bottle. REI has no plans to stop selling polycarbonate bottles. Spokeswoman MeganBehrbaum says REI has told its employees about MEC’s decision so they can offer alternatives if customers express concerns. REI also sells stainless steel and aluminum bottles as well as those made from polyethylene, a softer, nonclearplastic. “We have chosen to continue to sell the bottles, but we en courage our customers to be informed,” she says.REI is also working on coming up with educational material for both its stores and its website to provide relative information around BPA and water bottle safety. Meanwhile, the retailer will continue to monitor the situation and look to the guidance of scientific and regulatory authorities that have so far been approving the safety of polycarbonate bottles. “There’s lots opinions on both sides,” says Behrbaum. “If we see a significant body of evidence, we’ll definitely look at take action.”At Rock/Creek, Mark McKnight, marketing manager, says Klean Kanteen was bought into the stores when it heard from its floor staff that customers were looking for alternatives to plastic bottles. But the Tennessee-based retailer has no plans to pull polycarbonate bottles.”We’re just kind of watching it at this point,” says McKnight. “My understandingis that the signs are still inconclusive. If it were pretty clearly proven, we’d pull them.”At Backcountry.com, Christian Castellani, merchandise division manager of accessories, says, “Basically the way that we are handling this is by offering the customer the choice. Some people are still very tied to the Nalgene Lexan plastic bottle. We have brought in brands like SIGG and Klean Kanteen andthey have really exploded since this discovery. It really hasn’t slowed down the sales of the plastic bottles but I think as the public becomes more educated, we should see a drop off in sales. I imagine that the companies that are using the plastic in their water bottles will either start to treat them with acoating on the inside or just move away completely.”THE REACTION FROM BOTTLE MAKERS Bottle-makers and the plastics industry vigorously defended the safety of theirproducts. While Nalgene says it continues to sell a wide range of Nalgene products madewith different materials, it also offered strong defense for its polycarbonate products. Nalgene noted that agencies worldwide and researchers – including The Environmental Protection Agency, The Food and Drug Administration inthe U.S., as well as similar agencies overseas – have studied the safety of BPA and polycarbonate since it was introduced approximately 50 years and continue to find that that food and beverage containers manufactured from polycarbonate do not pose a health risk to humans.“Rarely has a chemical been the subject of such intense scientific testing and scrutiny, and still important agencies across the globe agree that there is nodanger posed to humans from polycarbonate bottles”, says Tom Cummins PhD, director of new product research and development, Nalgene and NuncBrand Products. “We’ll continue to work closely with our polycarbonate suppliers and monitor research publications and regulatory developments worldwide to ensure the safety of our manufactured products.” But some bottle vendors have already been decreasing their exposure to polycarbonate materials. CamelBak is switching to a BPA-free bottle in by Spring 2008. It has partnered with Eastman Chemical Co. to come out with Camelbak Better Bottle product line usingnew Eastman Tritan copolyester. The bottle with thesame properties customers have come to expect from polycarbonate – vibrant color, clarity, durability, dishwasher-safe, and with no residual taste – but is BPAfree.”Customers asked us for a BPA-free alternative to polycarbonate,and that was reason enough for us to moveour entire line of Better Bottles,” says Shannon Stearns,marketing director at Camelback. “We willfirst launch the CamelBak Better Bottlewith Classic Cap in February 2008, and will transition our Better Bottle with Bite Valveto Tritan in Spring 2008. This will mean that all CamelBak bottles will be free ofBPA and phthalates—including our new Performance sport bottle and Podium bikebottle.”CamelBak is still assuring customers thatits existing polycarbonate bottles havebeen proven safe by many authorities, butis still moving to a BPA-free line becausecustomers asked for it.”We’re unsure how consumer reaction [growing concerns around] BPA will impact the bottle market as a whole, but we doknow consumers want choice,” addsStearns. “We’re proud to be among thefirst to offer that choice in a clear, durable, dishwasher safe material that is BPA- andphthalate-free.”GSI Outdoors is also working with EastmanChemical on a BPA-free bottle, and aims to eliminateBPA across all its product lines by 2009. Mike Glavin, GSI’s director of sales and marketing, sayshealth concerns have increased and it might be hard toerase all of them even if polycarbonate proves to becompletely safe.”It’s no longer disputable whether BPA is leaching frompolycarbonate bottles,” says Glavin. “It’s now a questionof how much concentration is harmful for humans.”But regardless of whether BPA turns out to be completelysafe for humans, he says better materials arecoming to market to replace polycarbonate. Althoughconcerns around BPA have been around for a few years, substitutes couldn’t match the durability or clarity ofpolycarbonate until now. “It seems that the new technologiesare going to be available prior to any conclusivehealth information so our position has been to move forward with alternative materials, just like we do a varietyof reasons, whether it’s stronger or lighter, etc.”One big advancement with Eastman Tritan copolyester is its improved dishwasher durability.And Technology Finds a Logical Solution…
Continual exposure to high heat and aggressive cleaningdetergents can be used without crazing, cracking or hazing the bottle.Another more subtle difference, according to Glavin, is that the sound from a Eastman Tritan bottle is more of a”thud” than the higher pitch “ping” coming from a polycarbonatebottle. Although Eastman Tritan may be “alittle bit squishier” that a polycarbonate bottle, he doesn’texpect consumers to notice any difference betweenthe bottles.Meanwhile, non-plastic bottle makers arealso clearly benefiting.”Our sales are fantastic,” says Steve Wasik.president, SIGG USA. When SIGG first arrivedin 2006, Wasik says the outdoor marketlooked to the brand as a premium alternativeto polycarbonate bottles “whichhad become some what of a commodity.”The current year was helped by a rise ineco-consciousness around excessive plastic.”While the majority of the negative press was aimed at PET, many Americans arejust now learning that all plastic bottles aremade from petroleum,” says Wasik. Wasik says 2008 could to be shaping up as”the year of BPA” in the water bottle market.Continued tests show that Sigg bottles do not leach any harmful chemicals, hesays. And although polycarbonate bottlesmay prove to be safe, it will be tough toerase growing consumer concerns.”Perception is reality and consumers aresaying it’s better to be safe than sorry,” says Wasik.Michelle Kalberer, co-owner of Klean Kanteen also saysher company has been helped by anti-plastic fervor overthe last year. She found Klean Kanteen with her brotherlargely due to environmental issues around throwawayplastic bottles.”Even with recycling efforts, the landfills are getting sofull of these one-time use bottles,” says Kalberer.But she also noted a “rush in Canadian orders” with thenews coming from MEC as many Canadian retailers arelooking for alternatives to polycarbonate bottles. Shenoted that it’s been a “slow road” for both Klean Kanteenand Sigg as consumers had grown accustomed todrinking from clear, hard plastic bottles. But concernsover plastic’s impact on the environment have clearlyhelped the non-plastic categories, and any growingawareness of possible health risks around BPA will onlyfeed that momentum.”Once it kinds of gets in people’s mindset, it takes awhile for them to think differently,” says Kalberer.

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Kokatat repair / service review

As part of an ongoing reviews and general consumer info portion of our blog I found a couple good ones regarding Kokatat service. This comes from a couple posts Sandra and Mike B made on a local kayak chat group (used with their permission) .
Thanks Sandra and Mike!
john

Sandra wrote:
I just had a wonderful, easy experience with my Kokatat Meridian repair.

My gortex booties suffered tears in them from packing my suit in my
paddlebag and flying. It looked like someone had taken razorblades
and sliced through one bootie several times. I fixed it with duct tape and
used it once before biting the bullet and calling in repairs. I was quoted
two weeks when I received the RD number with full disclosure that the rips
happened while packed and traveling..

I didn’t expect the bootie repair to be under warranty, however, when they
called me during the repairs and testing for leaks, they informed me that
they would replace both for free and they noticed a crack in my wrist gasket
and wanted to know if I wanted to spend the $27 to replace the gasket. My
whole expense for countless patches, wrist gasket replacement and gortex
bootie replacement was $40. It was done within a week, however I had sent
it in with a friend’s suit and so I asked them to wait and send it back with
his. Exactly two weeks for the turnaround including my friend’s repairs.

Fantastic job for customer service and worth every cent.

A wonderful persuasion for expedited customer service: A thank you note
and candy bars in the box expressing our gratitude for their help in getting
the suit back lickity split. Brett, you’re a genius.

Mike Wrote:
You get what you pay for with Kokatat – no question. I sent mine in
for some holes in the rear that originated from falling into a thorn
bush, and they leak tested it and patched and taped an absolutely
staggering number of pin holes that I’ve obviously poked in it after
many years of bush-whacking. The holes must have bubbled air during
the test, because the suit stayed dry until the thorn incident (I
like to “field test” my drysuit in rapids at least a couple times per
winter to make sure its dry). They also noticed a marginal gasket
and replaced it by removing the 2 layers of old gasket, adhering,
stitching, and seam taping in a new one. I have had gaskets replaced
at other places, and they simply cut off the free area of the old
gasket and glued a new one on top. Very ghetto when compared to
Kokatat’s workmanship, and I’ll never use anyone else for repairs
from this point on. I was charged $47 including shipping for the
leak test, neck gasket, and an unbelievable number of small
patches. I had it in about a week round trip, but I did it in the
off season. Of course, I didn’t think to include candy bars, which
obviously explains why my repairs were $7 more than S’s.

Yes, buying Kokatat is tough to take when handing over the credit
card, but you don’t need to do it very often due to the quality and
you can rely on great ongoing service by the same people who actually
make the product.

More Reviews
Vibram Five Finger Review
Vibram Fivefinger Review
Vibram Fivefinger review

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Outfitting Jackson Kayaks

There have been a lot of questions on how to do this right. So, here’s a couple hints on how to do it right:
How to Outfit your Jackson Kayak

Jackson Kayak has improved comfort and performance in kayaking. They have designed what is called “boat armor” outfitting that works great and is easy to use and modify. Jackson Fun and Jackson Star series are outfitted with Sweet Cheeks seat cover, the Happy Feet foot system, and adjustable hip-pads, seats and backbands. These are all designed to be comfortable, lightweight and easy to use. Here are a few tips to get your Jackson Kayak fit for you.

Moving the Seat
The first thing you need to do when you get in your Jackson Kayak is make sure your knees fit comfortably in the knee cups. Move the seat forward or backwards until your bent knees are supported comfortably in the padded knee braces. You also want your boat to “trim ou” in the water when you sitting up straight (the parting line of your kayak should be the same height out of the water in the front and back).
If you are short and heavy with alot of room in front of your feet, move your seat forward to the front notch. If you are medium height and weight and have some room in front of your feet, keep it neutral. If you are tall and lightweight and have no room in front of your feet, move it to the back position.
To adjust the seat forward and backwards, move the hip-pads out of the way. Reach in the side of the seat and loosen the thumb screws that stabilize the seat. Move the seat forward or backwards and tighten the screws when you have found the perfect position.

Happy Feet
The Happy Footbag has a beanbag compartment with a valve and an air bladder with a pump. To form it to your feet, open the blow tube valve and blow air into the beanbag. Fold the front of the footbag in on itself to make a small pocket that goes across the entire front of the bag. Tuck your toes into the pocket you made and push your feet into the beanbag until they make comfortable foot pockets with your legs in the thighbraces. Close the valve and your footprint will be placed in the Happy Feet Footbag. Suck the remaining air from the beanbag tube and close it tight (keep it closed from now on unless you want to change it).
Next, make sure you are sitting up straight and tighten the backband. Using the bulb (make sure the valve is closed) pump up the air bladder. Tighten the bag until you have the right amount of pressure to give you the control you like. When you get to the bottom of the rapid or into an eddy you can hit the release valve. This allows for excess room to lift your knees out and relax.

Sweet Cheeks
The Sweet Cheeks is an adjustable, inflatable, nylon, beanbag seat cover for firm butt support. It is a perfectly locked down pad that won’t slip around on your seat. The bottom of the pad is made of Velcro and it stays in place firmly on the Velcro in your kayak. It deflates to form around your rear and makes a perfect bucket seat. The Sweet Cheeks is great because there are no pressure points and it prevents you from sliding around on your seat.
When you sit on the Sweet Cheeks your legs make the beans into a wedge in front of your crotch to prevent you from slipping forward. The back of the Sweet Cheeks meets up with the backband behind your rear for firm support and to protect your tailbone.
To use the Sweet Cheeks, open the valve and inflate it about 4 breaths. Get into your kayak. When you sit down the air will rush out of the tube while the beans rush around and settle. When the majority of air is out, lock the beans in place by sucking the remaining air out like a vacuum pack and closing the valve.
If you want to be higher up in your boat for better leverage and knee support, blow air into the Sweet Cheeks before getting into your kayak to allow more beans under your butt cheeks. Suck most of the air out before you get into your boat. Get in and wiggle around just a little to make it comfortable.
For a lower seat, blow lots of air in. Get in your boat and wiggle around while the air is being forced out. When all the air is out, lift yourself off the seat while staying in the boat. Blow two or three breaths of air in and sit down again. Wiggle around while the beans form around you and move from under your butt. Do this as many times as you want until you are the height you want to be.

Adjusting the Backband
Backbands can be easily adjusted while sitting in the kayak. The “prostraps” or nylon straps on the sides of the backband should be loose so that you will be able to tighten the backband far enough to pull you forward in the seat
Once you establish proper seat position, sit up straight and pull the prostraps that are above the knee braces. These are connected to the backband so that when you pull in towards the center of your boat it tightens the backband up against your lower back. Pull until you get good support and lock the cord into position by pulling forward and out to the side.

Hip-pads
To adjust the hip-pads, loosen the webbing securing the hip-pad to the seat. Pull the Velcro hip-pad off the seat. They are designed with a pocket on the backside. Each boat comes with 2” and 4” foam shams. To prevent your butt from coming out of your seat and prevent side to side movement, add or remove shams into the back pocket until your hips are supported snugly in the seat. If the hip-pads are too tight, pull them off the Velcro seat pan and rotate the front of the hip pads upward. Move the entire hip-pad back far enough to prevent it from extending beyond the front of the seat.
When you find a comfortable position, secure the webbing around the side of the seat and tighten the strap down. The hip-pads will stay in place with the full Velcro coverage.

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Top 5 West Coast Class V Kayaking Rivers

Here’s another fun one from Lane. We’ll have some fun fotos of the runs soon so check back in a couple days. Thanks and enjoy
John

“Top 5 West Coast Class V Rivers – According to Lane”

First off, let me say that this list of rivers is totally my personal opinion and is very debatable. Also, by West Coast I am referring to Cali, Oregon, Washington, and BC. Sorry Idaho and MT – you guys didn’t make the cut.

So in no particular order here goes:

1.) Little White Salmon, Columbia Gorge

The L-Dub, as many refer to it, is 3 miles of some of the most quality whitewater in North America. What really makes this river great beyond the rapids is that it an aquifer makes it runnable an average of 8 months a year. Usually peaking in January or February, the level gradually drops until the Fall. The Little White is the signature run of the NorthWest and may qualify as my favorite run in the US after considering all factors.

After a half mile of class II, the river enters a steep boulder strewn section known as Gettin’ Busy. This section may be the most technical on the river but the biggest holes and waterfalls lay downstream. After Gettin’ Busy the river changes character and goes into bedrock ledges and waterfalls. Towards the end of the run the river climaxes at Sprit Falls. This 32 footer has produced quite a few swims and even more injuries. After Spirit, Master Blaster is the last serious rapid on the run and then there is a quarter mile paddle out.

2.) Ashlu/Tatlow, SW British Columbia

The unique beauty of this watershed alone is worthy enough to make this area a Provincial Park. Add to that some of the best whitewater in the world and you have the tenderloin run in SW BC. Unfortunately, it has become the site of a micro-hydro project. In the last year this area has undergone drastic changes that have forever changed this place. What used to be a quiet, undeveloped river and road system has now become a bustling construction project. Dump trucks speeding up and down the newly built road, powerlines running up and down the creek, and a security check point have brought an entirely new feel to this area.

Nevertheless, this watershed provides four separate sections of class V within a few mile radius of the 50/50 bridge: Tatlow Creek, the Mine run, Box Canyon, and the Lower Mile. All different and quality in there own respects. This watershed is a must for any paddler visiting British Columbia.

3.) Middle Fork of the Kings, Kings Canyons National Park

In Kings Canyon National Park flows one of the greatest multi-day kayak trips in the world. Five days of non-stop class V is what ensues after a grueling 13 mile hike up and over a 12,000 foot pass. The river character changes with the elevation. At the top are rapids that are a little manky. The lower in elevation you go the cleaner the rapids become. This is pretty reflective of California in general; high elevation mank and low elevation boulder gardens. The Middle Kings is probably one of the only places in the world where you can paddle steep class V for five days straight.

4.) Big Kimshew, Feather Drainage, CA

Although the Feather River drainage has a few world class sections of whitewater, Big Kimshew stands out by itself. This 4 mile section of whitewater rivals any run for being the best one day run in the world. Usually starting to run in April and May, this river is usually at the beginning of the Cali season.

In its gorge, it contains a couple 40 footers, multiple 20 footers, a 60 foot cascade and quite a few slides; all of which are runnable. The river winds through a beautiful bedrock zone up until it flows into the West Fork of the Feather. At the take-out bridge is a beautiful 15 foot waterfall.

5.) Stikine, Northwest BC

One-hundred kilometers from the Yukon border, where the bears outnumber humans, is one of the most savage whitewater canyons in the world. Put some of the biggest whitewater in the world in a box canyon in the middle of the nowhere and you have the Grand Canyon of the Stikine. This river ranks among the top ultra-classic runs in the world.

The immensity of the whitewater makes you feel like a foam boater. One rapid in particular, V-Drive, has a 25 foot curling wave that looks like Mavericks, no exaggeration. Since the first decent in 1981 there have only been about 21 successful descents as of September 2007. If you go up there for the right reasons, the Stikine will reward you with a positively life-changing and unforgettable experience.

6.) Upper Cherry Creek, North of Yosemite National Park

The closest thing to paddling on the moon is found on the north side of Yosemite National Park. The smooth rolling granite of the Sierra Nevada provides a perfect riverbed for big clean waterfalls and slides. Multiple 40 foot waterfalls and slides make sections of this river drop 400+ feet per mile.

Traditionally Upper Cherry takes one day to hike into and two to paddle out. Recently it has been done in as little as one day. The signature gorge on the run is Cherry Bomb. Cherry Bomb gorge has been called the spiritual epicenter of creek boating. It is the ultimate in commitment as the walls are vertical and the only way out is down.

Thanks Lane. Hope you enjoied that one, I did.
John

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