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 2 : Field Candy, Sweet Protection & Astral

Day 2 at the show and we’ve got some great stuff for you! Grab your beverage – here we go!
Field Candy 
All of Field Candy’s products are all made in England, so it’s not the cheapest stuff we saw at the show but it is definitely some of the most fun!
The Hang About
Even the name sounds British! These awesome hanging chairs for the kids have an inflatable floor so they retain their shape when sat in. Made of a very high quality waterproof nylon, you could hang this outside all summer and bring it into the kid’s room for winter. Priced in the mid $100s, we think Santa will be delivering a lot of these this Christmas!


While we don’t see them replacing your 4 season expedition tent anytime soon, Field Candy’s tents are legit and more than just a pop-up play thing for your kids. With a fun twist on graphics, some even customizable!, we can’t wait to see these crop up during summer camping season.
Now for our favorite item at the Field Candy booth: The Snoos Pillos! These pillows are a home run with super fun graphics that have British flair, are relevant and fun! A perfect stocking stuffer for the kids and the young at heart this Christmas!
Sweet Protection 
Sweet always brings something fresh and new to OR and this year is no different! All new merino wool tops and bottoms will be available in men’s and women’s, fit under your paddling gear perfectly and sport some mad steeze with the Sweet logo. At $99 for the top and $89 for the bottom, they aren’t cheap but this is the kind of investment that will not only be around forever but will make you much more popular with your paddling homies than if you were rocking a set of stinky polys. To top it all off, they come in cool black and white Star Wars like packing. Those Sweet designers – they think of everything!




In addition to the underwear, the Generator jacket will be available in a heavier weight wool. Be on the look out for these – the pics don’t do the colors justice!

We had to throw in this cool ENO blanket with flashing led lights on the edge. We’re not sure what this is for but it seems cool. Maybe for those occasions when you need a night time UFO landing pad?

If the new Astral Layla reminds you of the Lotus Lola from years past, there is good reason! With a new spin on an old frame, this is going to make a lot of ladies that have been waiting for the Lola’s return very happy (and comfy)! $139 in the 2 colors (purple and red) shown!




If you’re looking to get a solid vest at a great price, the YTV is definitely one to check out! Great colors, lots of features and a mere $119!


You know it, you love it! The ever popular, expedition worthy Greenjacket has been freshly updated and comes in black, Cherry Creek Red and Deep Water Blue.



If you’re thinking of buying water shoes from any company other then Astral, stop. Go find you some Astrals and try them on. There isn’t a shoe on this wall that we don’t think is great. It took a couple years of tweaking to get it perfect, but Astral shoes have arrived and we think you’re gonna love them!

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2015 Gorge Paddling Film Festival : Sweet Helmets Package

What’s Sweet-er (hah!) than a new Sweet Wanderer Helmet? How about a new Sweet Wanderer helmet, a new Sweet sweatshirt AND a new pair of Sweet shorts! Any way you cut it, that is a SWEET deal for one of the lucky winners of the Gorge Paddling Film Festival!
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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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2010 Jackson Kayak Reviews & Paddle This Tuesday!

We’re really excited to have one of Jackson Kayak’s factory pros in town with us this Tuesday (3/23/10) to fill us in on their line-up for this year! Stephen Wright will be around the shop all day if you have questions, but better yet – he’s taking us out for an after-work paddle so we can use his boats and get a good on-water feel for the new designs. Want to join us? Please do! We’re going to head out from the shop around 5pm and would love to have you give us your thoughts on the new boats too (give us a call if you need to meet us elsewhere so we’re sure not to miss you).

If you want to use your coffee breaks (it IS a Friday after all) for a little “research”, here are some reviews to keep ya’ busy!

The 2010 Stars

We have yet to meet a playboater out there who doesn’t love the Star family. They’re a fantastic playboat and it sounds like Jackson is just raising the bar with the updated 2010 line up. Here’s a quick review courtesy of Phil Boyer:

The shorter bow and stern along with the increased volume around the cockpit allow the boat to spin faster, rotate from bow to stern more quickly and maximize retentiveness – on holes and waves. These enhancements offer many benefits:

-an increase in energy reserves
-longer surfs
-faster boat response from edge to edge
-stable while front, back and side surfing
-secondary stability while surfing
-spins on a dime
-bigger bounce and pop for bigger moves
-ease of dropping the bow or stern for arial moves
-easy to roll from all positions

The 2010 Allstar is a play boat like no other. It will help every paddler become a better play boater.


Need some more “from the water” reviews? Here ya’ go!

The 2010 Funs

This boat is hands down one of our most popular boats: it runs rivers, it plays, it’s (pardon the pun) FUN! Here’s a quick review of the 2010 from Scott Dougherty, owner/teacher of World Class Kayak Academy:

The new Fun series is a terrific improvement on what has been a staple choice for paddlers who prefer a more classic design over the more freestyle specific 2010 Star series. It feels much more balanced in volume distribution between the bow and stern in comparison to the previous model, making it easy to maintain balance when linking ends.

This seemed to contribute to the boat’s stability in the more challenging whitewater, as well, as it felt very comfortable in the rapids on the Upper Gauley. At the same time, the new Fun retains the narrower width and longer length in the tail retaining the design’s ability to initiate stern squirts and stalls easily. Finally, one of the biggest improvements over the previous design in my opinion was the hull. On a wave and in a hole it had the release I seek in a playboat, spinning easily on smaller green waves. This is a quality I enjoy in the Star series, which combined with the length of the Fun series made it easy to catch every variety of play feature all the way down the river. I can see a lot of potential in this boat and look forward to paddling it downriver in big water.


Also check out JK’s announcement of the redesigned Fun series for official specs.

The All New Villian

This is Jackson’s latest creek boat offering and so far all the feedback we’ve heard is nothing but gold! I thought I’d post a review from Stephen Wright, since we’re getting to paddle with him, and his post has a video along with it – and who doesn’t love a good video, right?

The new Villain S rocks my world! This video is of the 49 to Bridgeport section of the South Yuba near Nevada City in California. This is my first attempt at a video with my new GoPro Hero HD helmet cam-I learned the hard way that Transcend SD cards don’t get along with GoPro-it stopped recording after about 1/3 of the run.

The Villain S is SWEET! It’s FAST, nimble, boofs EVERYTHING, stable, forgiving, holds a line at speed yet easy to spin at low speeds, carries TONS of speed through foam and away from drops. This is a great run to highlight how well the Villain S paddles: plenty of rocks and boofs, but lots of boils and pushy curlers as well. Keep an eye out for how easily this boat goes where I want it to-love that. You’ll also get to see my creeking style: boof every rock I can see-I just can’t stay away from them.I have a real problem.


More proof required? Here’s a ladies take on the Villian from Kat Levitt as well as a fairly extensive review from Darin McQuoid.

One more thing

Playak.com posted an article the other day on color customization for Jackson Kayaks. If you have the perfect color scheme in mind, here are the details on how to make it happen. Give us a call and we can get you set up with the prettiest (or coolest, or toughest) boat you’ve ever laid your eyes on!

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Outdoor Retailer : Day 2 : Sweet Helmets

Sweet was one of our favorite visits of the whole show! With a new helmet, new drytop, new layers, new outerwear and new casual wear, there were a lot of exciting products to check out!

The Wanderer is Sweet’s new helmet for 2010. In addition to all of the great Sweet technology you’ve come to expect (Cool Max liner, carbon fiber reinforcement), the Wanderer get an occipital adjustment called the Occi Grip that gives single handed adjustment for the very best fit. This helmet will come in three sizes (for those with that smaller noggin’) and will retail for $159.

The Rocker will still be in the mix next year. With it’s full carbon fiber mask, included ear pads and Occi Grip, we think it’s the most complete creekin’ helmet out there. Two sizes and $399 for the Rocker in 2010.

Everyone loves the Strutter and it’ll be back! The only change this year is a limited edition run of natural matte carbon helmet. It might not be the highest vis helmet out there, but it looks great!

Probably the single most exciting product of the show was the Prophecy Dry Top. There’s just nothing bad to say about this top. GORE TEX, welded and taped seams, two sided tunnel adjustment… I’ll let the pictures tell you the rest of this story, but while $449 doesn’t make it the cheapest top out there, we think it’s one of the best deals on the market.

Sweet is also bringing us layers this year: a zip up union suit that could easily be used in the mountains as well as on the river (the midcalf length stops the garment right about your boots) and top/bottom separates. These look fantastic and are competitively priced with the rest of the layer market.

With outerwear inspired by their experience in the ski industry and a great line up of casual wear, we were impressed with the whole Sweet line up and hope to have much of it in store this spring so you can see this up close and in person.

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Lane’s excellent Canadian adventure

Here’s one from Lane Jacobs (and friends) latest trip to Canada…. Nice work!

Water levels in the Columbia Gorge treat paddlers great the majority of the year. The White Salmon, Little White and other local runs flow far more than the majority of whitewater rivers in the US and we are spoiled to have such great whitewater so close. Consistent water levels 8 or 9 months a year is something that you can’t complain about. However, as with most rivers, the rivers are getting low this time of year so this gives paddlers in the area an excuse to go up to British Columbia where the creeks and rivers are just dropping into prime water levels. I got five days off work at the Kayak Shed to check out a few rivers that I thought would be dropping in.
After hours and hours of scanning topo maps in SW BC, I had a few on hit list that I thought may have a lot of potential. The entire summer was basically a waiting game, watching levels and weather to try to get an idea of when a creek is going to have enough, but not too much water. The first on my list was one of BC’s newest Provincial Parks: Mehatl Creek. This creek flows in to the Upper Nahatlatch and drops about 1000 feet in 2.5 miles. What we found was an almost epic section of waterfalls. It ended up being a beautiful hike but a little too burly and manky to safely paddle. A few photos:A beautiful 30 foot falls into a 40 footer that was so close to being good but notice the boulders at the bottom of the 40 footer. Spectacular sight nonetheless.

Evan Garcia wishing it were a bit cleaner.

These would have been the signature drops on the run with some quality class five mixed in but it ended up being a not very attractive work/fun ratio. So our game plan changed.
Next on the list was a section of river only about 10 minutes away: the Upper Nahatlatch. This was a steep section of river that dropped about 500 feet in a mile and a half. What we found was similar to the Lower Mile of the Ashlu at high water levels. Not sure if this section has been run but it would be a great end of season run if your in the area and want to get into some steep boulder gardens! Half the water in there it could have been a great run.

A stout section on the Upper Nahatlatch.

So after a few other semi-unsuccessful scouting missions we decided to go and paddle some whitewater which we knew would treat us well: the Ashlu Watershed. The Ashlu has three of the best class V runs in the states within a few miles of each other. I was lucky enough to get on the elusive Tatlow Creek which is a tributary to the Upper Ashlu. The run is short but probably the best 2K of whitewater I may have ever paddled. The waterfalls go something like: 6-6-6-20-25-5-5-twisting drop-s turn-35-10-45-20-portage-5-5-2. So yeah, the number speak for themselves. Being in the depths of the Tatlow Gorge is a pretty amazing experience. A few photos I snapped:The boys amped up and ready to get their shred on at the putin. From here the creek just starts dropping deeper and deeper into the gorge. Once your in, your in.

Storm Trooper Evan Garcia with the Sweet Rocker Helmet styling the 25 footer in the new LiquidLogic Jefe. If you haven’t seen the outfitting in this boat it is awesome. Super simple and basically a lazy boy in a kayak!

German Max taking her deep , but surfacing upright in the stable Pyranha Burn!
A kinked 40 footer on the Upper Upper Ashlu. AT2 in hand and ready for meltdown!

A photo by Chris Korbulic of the boys , in two Liquid Logic Jefes and a Dagger Nomad, dropping in to the Box Canyon.

The Ashlu is such an amazing place and is so close to us here in the Columbia Gorge that any paddler should make it there. It has something to offer for everyone, from class two up to class five. The water is a glacial blue and there are huge snowcapped peaks all around. It is only about 30 minutes from Squamish, BC and is well worth any paddlers time. Unfortunately, the Ashlu has undergone drastic changes in the last year due to a micro hydro project but the river is still absolutely amazing. For more photos and updates on the hydro project check out http://www.therangelife.blogspot.com/.
Thanks for reading and we will have more whitewater updates soon!

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