Just Going, Pt. 3: The Gear
On May 28, Rachel McCarty and Casi Rynkowski took to the waters off Massachusetts for a doomed two-day, 50-mile paddling adventure. Rynkowski told us their story in two parts, below. Here, McCarty gives us the lowdown on the gear they used.
We are often asked what gear we bring on our trips, and in the interest of getting more people paddling long distances, we've put together a list of our favorites. For this trip, our trusty BIC 12'6" Wings carried a total of 50 pounds of gear, which also included water and food. This is not a complete list by any means, and includes some crossover outdoor gear. We purchased most of this gear at our local Eastern Mountain Sports.
On the Water
Werner Carve 3-piece Paddle
Werner carbon fiber paddles are lightweight and practically indestructible, but they can still float away from you, so we carry a fiberglass 3-piece paddle for that "just-in-case" scenario. Taken apart, the longest section measures 24" and fits nicely strapped to the deck. I like the red laminate color because it is bright and easy to see - perfect if you need to use it as a signaling device.
MTI Fluid 2.0 Belt PFD
The new low-profile Fluid 2.0 Belt from MTI makes the compactness of an inflatable PFD even more appealing. Three different models cover all different types of paddling, but we love the Race 1 Belt for our expeditions because the sewn multi-loop attachments are easy to clip gear onto.
Lifeproof LifeJacket Float
Our phones multi-function as GPS trackers, cameras, and as, well, phones, and as such we need an easy and safe way to keep them close by. With the LifeProof Nuud case, I feel confident my phone is protected from water and drops, but the LifeProof LifeJacket Float brings total peace of mind to the package. Attachment points make it easy to tether to a PFD or deck bag, and included lanyards slip around the neck or the wrist.
Sea to Summit Rapid 26L Drypack
Camp isn't always close to shore. Sea to Summit's new Rapid 26L Drypack held a sleeping bag, pad, extra clothes and food, and the integrated shoulder straps meant it could be carried easily, leaving your hands free for board and paddle. Perfect for portages on river trips, too.
Loved by SUP racers around the world, the VestPac WilsonPac is a revolutionary design for hydration packs and perfect for long distance paddles too. The unique fit system is extremely comfortable to wear and doesn't place weight solely on your shoulders. We loved the chest pockets for carrying our VHF radios, snacks, and sunblock.
Camelbak Podium Bottle
I don't like to put electrolyte drink mixes in hydration packs because they are difficult to clean on a trip, but I was having a hard time finding a water bottle that fit my paddling needs. Caps you have to unscrew are too cumbersome, and most "sport tops" require at least a little fiddling to open. Enter the Camelbak Podium bottle, with its JetValve top that is totally leak proof, even in the "open" position.
NRS Taj M'Haul Deck Bag
SUP expeditions require a lot more gear than your casual day paddle, and having a way to store it and stay organized is key to avoiding a lot of frustration later when exhaustion sets in. Mesh water bottle holders on each side were perfect for our Camelbak Podium bottles and snacks. The integrated - but removable - dry bag had plenty of space for dry clothes and first aid supplies.
SUPreme Neoprene Pants and Catch Hybrid Jacket
The SUPreme Contour Quantum Foam Neoprene pants are perfect for in-between seasons, giving you the protection of a wetsuit on your lower half and the freedom and breathability to wear whatever works for you up top. They also make bathroom pit stops a breeze. Wetsuit tops have a tendency to be sweaty. Not so with the SUPreme Catch Hybrid Jacket, which uses neoprene on the chest and arms for warmth and Polyolefin fabric on the back for breathability. The full zipper made it easy to layer other wicking tops underneath for warmth, and quick to remove when temps warm up. A go-to piece for every paddle.
This surprisingly simple paddle holder made floating breaks worry free. Especially when you are hunting through your bags on the water looking for gear, knocking your paddle everywhere. Paddleport keeps the paddle tucked to the side and out of the way.
Just Going, Pt. 3: The Gear
EMS Sugar Shack 2 Tent
Most "two-person" tents leave two people in very tight quarters, but not so with the 32.7 sq.ft. EMS Sugar Shack 2. First-time camper Casi found setup to be a breeze, and I barely noticed as she thrashed about next to me trying to get used to a mummy-style sleeping bag. Mesh pockets on the walls were great for organizing gear and two big vestibules kept everything dry overnight.
EMS Pemi 20° Sleeping Bag
Down sleeping bags used to be a big NO for paddling trips, because a wet sleeping bag was a cold one. New DownTek technology has changed all that with specially coated feathers that resist water. I curled up in the EMS Pemi 20°, which was plenty warm with 650-fill DownTek-treated duck down and packed down small. I was glad to have this bag when temps dipped to an unseasonable low that night.
Jetboil Flash Personal Cooking System with Coffee Press
Casi needs coffee, there's just no way around it, and we're all happier if she has it. Enter the Jetboil Flash PCS, an ingenious camping stove that lights easily thanks to a Piezo igniter, boils water fast, and packs down small. With the Java Press attachment (which disassembles and packs inside the cook pot just like all the other pieces), making hot coffee was simple and quick; a lifesaver after Casi's cold-water dunking.
Black Diamond Storm Headlamp
At night, these headlamps lit up camp brilliantly, but during the first day of our trip when soupy fog closed in on us, we kept them on so others could see us. With 160 lumens and uncomplicated adjustability, the Black Diamond Storm is bright - and dim - enough for any task. The IPX7 rating means it's safe for splashes and quick dunks in the water.
Paddling is an inherently wet activity, but camping doesn't have to be. The PackTowl Personal (we used the XL) dries quickly after use and packs down so small there's no excuse not to bring it. The XL size is perfect to cover up completely if you're lucky enough to enjoy a luxurious campground shower.