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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Outdoor Retailer 2015 : Day 1 : Hobie, Gear Aid, NRS, 5.10, Jackson, Confluence & much more!

Another year, another exciting Outdoor Retailer show with a ton of fresh goodies from current and potential vendors! Grab a cup of coffee, sit back and let us show you around what’ll be available from your favorite brands in the coming season. Have any questions? Requests? Let us know and we’ll do our best to get the answers and the beta you’re looking for!


First up, Hobie Kayaks! We caught these guys before we’d finished our coffee and weren’t quite awake enough to take notes – so we thought we’d just let them speak for themselves.

Gear Aid
Gear Aid makes repair tattoos which are cut outs of everything from a swatch to a foot print. Designed to replace that roll of duct tape you keep handy for gear repairs and make your kids jackets all fresh and steezy for the new year. They also make reflective tenacious tape for those of you that like to get your workout on at twilight. Safety first, folks!

We love the NRS crew! Not only are they extremely nice Idaho folk, they consistently kick out high quality, award winning gear. This year is no exception! We’re digging the new tri-color shorts (on fleek, son!) but the super star in this year’s line up is the all new Sidewinder Bibs. If you’re a kayak fisherperson, these fishing wader/dry bibs should go on  your Christmas list right now! At $449 you’ll need to stay on Santa’s good side, but these will be worth the effort!

Also targeted towards the kayak fisherperson, the Guide shorts are super versatile, made of 4 way stretch and have 5 pockets with plenty of go-anywhere-do-anything in them.

These folks are determined to become the brand you think of when you want to carry anything. Skis? Check. Bikes? Check. Boats? Check. Tent? Check. Schoolbooks? Check. Cellphones? Check. No, seriously! Cell phones! Thule is coming out with a whole line up of backpacks and cell phone carriers to make sure there are there for anything that needs to be carted/towed/picked up.

The Eddy is a sick river shoe and, at $99, should be competitive in the market. That said, we’re wondering where 5.10 will fit in the mix of brands that have been doing water shoes for years (NRS, Merrell, Columbia, Astral). Your thoughts? Is there room in the market for another shoe brand? Time will tell friends, time will tell.

Immersion Research
Ahhh, our Southeast brethen. The water, so warm. The drawls, so charming. The gear, so awesome. IR has always produced excellent women’s gear. No “shrink it and pink it” when one of your founders is not only female but a whitewater pioneer as well – the new IR Shawty is actually purple. It’s also made of 7 figure drysuit material and includes a front pee zip for $899, making it a bargain for a top of the line drysuit!

If you’re one of the Wells brothers, or you just really wanna be like them (who doesn’t??), the new IR Devil’s Club is for you! Designed for the explorer who is bush whacking into the next First D, the Devil’s Club is ultra durable and ready for anything.

The boat company that is “for paddlers, by paddlers” keeps churning out the rad boats, complete with some new designs and accessories for the fish folks and those looking for something that’ll do everything.The Karma Traverse replaces the Rogue series. It’s a little more whitewater focus and has a direct line of site on Dagger’s Katana. It’ll be coming in two lenths, 10′ and 11′ and will include a drop skeg.

Also new is this cool small yellow cooler. Significantly smaller than it’s big brother, it’s retains Jackson’s Orions bomber quality and gear tracks. $99 retail should be a much better pricepoint for some folks than the Orion.

Alright all you mini-anglers! You’re finally getting your own boat! No packing around with mom and dad, now you getta go where you wanna go & fish what you wanna fish! The Skipper is Jackson’s new, ultra stable 9′ fishing kayak with a 50-125lb weight range. Leave it to Jackson, one of the pioneers in kid’s boats, to keep all of the bells and whistles in the mini version: fish grippers, 2 rod holders and gear tracks included. They also looked a safety and cut a front hatch that all but renders the boat unsinkable in the event of a flip. Nice work watching out for our little people, guys! At $999 we’re thinking this will be a kid that is definitely on Santa’s good side or maybe working the family past time.

See this? Sure, it looks like a non-descript black thing-a-ma-bob (feel free to whip out your technical term dictionaries on that one) BUT what it really is is a line cutter that will be on all Jackson fishing kayaks and, if you don’t want it, no problem – it comes right off.

And moving on to the adult fishing kayaks (1/2 of you have fast forwarded to this point – that’s cool, we get it):The Kraken 15.5 is actually 15’7″ – as many of you know, that came out this year… Next they are adding a 13.5 (actually 13’3″) to the line up. There will be three different levels of outfitting: standard, elite and pro. The 15.5 will come in all three outfitting options, the 13.5 will lose the pro option and will be available in standard and elite only.


The 14′ 6″ Tandem Kilroy is a solid tandem kayak with some serious outfitting potential. The metal cross bars are removable and the gear tracks that are end to end on this thing make it easy to add whatever rod holder floats you & your partner’s boat (get it! hah!).

Just a few quick shots of the Cuda LT. Sure, it came out last year, but it still looks gooooood!

The Kilroy LT is now available in real tree camo.
The Coosa HD Pro outfitting version is no lightweight, weighing in at a solid 92lbs, but you get a lot of bling for the weight: pads, power pole wireless anchoring system, Nocqua battery power system, Buck knife splizzors (oh yeah, that’s spelled right – we checked) and a low j krate.

Check out the NEW Nomad! So, so pretty. Pictured is a large and medium – a small will be added to the line up. It looks to us like the excellent designers at Dagger took some notes from the stern of Pyranha’s 9R and mixed it up with the tried and true Nomad, threw in a dose and love and BOOM! New classic creeker! Thank you much, Confluence, for holding on to Dagger.

How has it taken this long for a kayak manufacturer to come out with a fishing boat called Pescador?? These fish, at 10′ and 12′, are going to be the perfect sit-on-top solution for the aspiring kayak angler who is looking at getting their feet wet. No gear tracks but with a nice seat and attractive price point, we this this boat will be a big hit.

And let us not forget the SUPs! Ya’ gotta have ’em and these beauts look good!
Anchor Wizard 

Kanu Lock
Seriously? Can’t they repackage it or rename it for the us. Kan-they? A webbing strap with cables inside you can lock so now you can lose your keys to your kayak, sup, and what ever else you can call a Kanu. Seriously Kanu?

Why do we keep thinking of Cross Fitters when we see this rubber wedding ring? We have now tested it for 4 hrs and can safely say that, while a bit daunting in black, it is certainly comfy. Fellas get a camo alternative and ladies get the more uplifting color choices of white and pink. It certainly HAS to be the best profit margin any manufacturer is getting anywhere at $19.95 but may be the solution for some folks who really want put a ring on it on while playing.

How could we resist showing you guys this? How cool are these custom shoes Olukai had a Hawaiian artist doing for the show.

Robot Grill Cleaner
We know you’ve been wondering ‘when oh WHEN will there be a roomba for my grill??’ Well folks, that time is NOW.  Set it and forget it – we just highly suggest keeping it out of your kids reach!


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2015 Gorge Paddling Film Festival : Immersion Research Arch Rival Drysuit

We all know that very few companies walk the walk like they talk the talk like Immersion Research. Truly a “for paddlers by paddlers” company, they are stepping it up again to support the great work of First Descents and the Gorge Paddling Film Festival by pitching in for one of our best prizes yet, an Arch Rival Drysuit! Made with IR’s proprietary WhiteOut laminate to withstand years of abuse, the Arch Rival is bound to make one of our film fest winners a very happy (and dry) paddler!

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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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Immersion Research Kling-On Spray Skirt Review


I was fortunate enough to get my fingers on an Immersion Research Kling On Spray Skirt this spring. Prior to buying this skirt, I had used a few other skirts with my Jackson Villain and found issues with them imploding in big or deep holes, having the rands break or just being leaky. As dry as Jackson boats are, if you don’t get a great seal on your cockpit rim, you’re not going to stay dry inside.
Immersion Research Kling-On Spray Skirt
After a few years of solely trusting randed skirts to my cockpit, I was a bit skeptical of going back to a bungee design. However, after putting my Klingon through the paces over the last year or so, I have been nothing but impressed by its ability to keep my dry and stay on my boat where it belongs.
The key to the dryness lies in the neoprene edge that wraps a burly and tight fitting bungee cord. The bulk of the neoprene under your cockpit rim fills the gaps that let the water in your boat. I’ve seen other designs like this that have worked fairly well in the past, but I remember them being a pain to get on the boat. The secret of the IR design is that the bungee is wrapped in the neoprene lip, which keeps the flap from getting in the way when you’re getting the skirt on.
What really impresses me about this skirt is it’s sturdiness under conditions in which I would have expected to have my skirt to pop. I believe that the key lies in a tight bungee fit with a loose deck. The folks at Immersion Research must have figured that out also because it stays on and leaves me out of excuses after a swim! I’ve felt my skirt on my legs more than once now as the skirt stretches to respond to the increased pressure of the water, that’s all design folks.
  • Very easy to get on
  • Seals well on the cockpit for a dry ride
  • Stays on your boat when you need it to
  • Cockpit grab handle could be easier to grab
Any questions about the Kling-On? Hit me (Luke) up at customerservice [at] kayakshed.com!
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Immersion Research Double D Drysuit Review

We just got some Immersion Research Double D Drysuits in and they look awesome! But you can’t judge a dry suit based on its cover, so here’s a review by Colorado Native Jason Stingl.

When I first learned to kayak someone once told me before you leave the house make sure you have 5 things. Helmet, PFD, Skirt, Boat, Paddle. With spring kayaking comes cold water and hopefully lots of it. With how far drysuits have come in the last few years, it has become an essential piece of safety gear both to keep you warm and reduce the hassle not having one can create for your crew. I bought a new IR Double D drysuit a month ago and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. IR is using a new breathable material for their suits. It really feels BURLY. I can’t see wearing the thing out.

A simple way to tell how much care and effort a company puts into making their suits is easiest to see if you turn it inside out. The seams on the Double D are the most meticulously sewn and taped seems out there. The tape is centered on every seam. You can see on other suits they aren’t. Perfect seams and taping leaves it perfectly dry. They also put a silicon-like material on the feet. It doesn’t take long for most drysuit owners to poke a hole in the socks of the suit. Sticks, sand, and dirt that get stuck inside your paddling shoes all wear on the suit with each step you take. Even when you are careful, hiking in to runs or long portages are going to be hard on the socks. This suit has the toughest socks out there, so I know they will last longer and stay dry longer.

Even though the suit is a rear zip, you can still zip it yourself. Adding a 4-6″ cord to the zipper makes it even easier. The suit feels really good once you start paddling. It has good freedom of movement without extra bulk that can make a suit uncomfortable.

IR stands behind what they make. If you need a gasket replaced, they will do it for you with a quick turn around time. I generally replace my gaskets every year as a personal preference. It’s nice to know I can send it in, have them do the work, check for any wear on the suit, and get it back ready to go for another season. Think hard about which color you pick…you are going to have the suit for a while.

Thanks, Jason, for the great review!

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Whitewater Paddleboarding

Some of you know that we’ve been checking out the paddleboarding craze that’s going on here in the Gorge. We looked at some Hobie and Tahoe paddleboards at Outdoor Retailer and our Stohlquist rep, Ethan, just brought out a bunch of Tahoe boards for John to try (thanks, Ethan!).

We might bite our tongues in the future for saying this, but while the workout benefits of paddling around the Columbia seem great, it’s hard to see how you’d work up much adrenaline. The Gorge has some of the best whitewater on the planet, it seems a shame to just paddle around on flat water, right…?

Of course you knew that the paddleboard wasn’t going to stay on flatwater for long. Local legend, Dan Gavere, has been spearheading the whitewater paddleboard movement, winning the 2009 SUP Nationals and taking many SUP 1st D’s, but when this came into my inbox this morning, it definitely made me sit up and take notice.

Photo courtesy of Immersion Research

This is Luke Hopkins, founder of Stride River Boards. What are your thoughts? We’re thinking this paddleboarding thing is getting more interesting and it might definitely be worth a demo or two.

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Congratuations, Jesse!

For those of you who haven’t heard yet, we’re excited to pass on the great news that Immersion Research (IR) just welcomed Jesse Becker to their family as their new National Sales Coordinator and West Coast Representative! Jesse was formerly with AT Paddles, which just moved their Hood River, OR operations back east to join the rest of the Confluence family.

Jess – we’re excited to see more of you around the shop in your new role and we’re even more excited we’ll continue to see your smiling face around the Hood & on the river!

IR’s full announcement:

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Outdoor Retailer : Day 2 : Immersion Research

A few additions and updates to Immersion’s Research line of paddling gear. As always, in addition to doing a great job across their line, the IR team is spearheading technical women’s paddling gear that the usual “shrink it and pink it” methodology can’t touch.

Starting with their dry gear, IR is moving all of their 4 layer garments to a new, heavier duty 4 layer fabric. Many of their existing pieces are already in the new material, but they’ll continue to roll out those that aren’t.

The 2010 drysuit gets a new zipper this year that is drier and feet that are treated with an extra layer of polyurethane to improve durability.

If you require the driest of the dry, IR makes a stitchless drytop, the X Jacket, that is the dry top for you. Made of entirely glued construction, there isn’t a place in this top for the tape to peel up and leak. White Salmon paddlers, you asked for – they made it!

We’ve been looking for some good splash pants and IR’s version with neoprene gaskets, reinforced abrasion locations, and a well placed hidden pocket is a strong contender.

Ladies – this year’s Comp LX in Butter looks great! Made with 4 layer Entrant, it’s the closest thing to X-Jacket-dry this side of the X jacket and will have the great women’s specific fit that has become the hallmark of IR’s ladies line up.

Also with the ladies in mind: the union with the drop seat. Between these and products like Go Girl and Whiz Freedom, the women are getting some options!

Skirts are the only thing to receive a complete overhaul this year. With Jackson taking the boat market by storm, IR redesigned their skirts with every JK boat from the All Star to the Hero in mind. That said, don’t worry all of you Liquid Logic, Pyranha & Confluence fans – they made sure they fit your boats too! Two of the skirts we really liked are the Lucky Charm, a great rand skirt, and the Shockwave, a bungee skirt. Brand new to the line up, the Lucky Charm will be great fit for the intermediate/advanced boater while the Shockwave, with it’s user friendly bungee and user friendly price ($100), will take care of the someone just getting into the sport.

In addition to their dry gear, layers & skirts, IR always does a great job with paddle wear. If you’re familiar with it, the Guide Short gets its grommet back this year and everything from the surf trunks to the business casual shirts (paddler style, of course) looked really good.

On a side note, John Weld – who along with his wife, Kara, owns/operates IR – called us ninnies and said he thinks the cold water of the PNW is over-rated. He promises to leave his balmy East Coast bath water and come out with a Silk Skin, a Shorty, a Speedo and some sun screen and show us how it’s done. If we can hold him to it, I promise some entertaining pictures for the blog.

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