Posts Tagged ‘Gear Reviews’

For Christmas my wife asked Russell at Sweetwater Kayaks to special order me a pair of Kokatat Tempest pants with socks and relief zipper.  I did not know about this gift… 😉  Unfortunately it arrived after Sean and I left for the Suwannee River.  So, during the Sweetwater Symposium I lived in them and mated them with an old dry top.

I have been told that these dry pants easily combine with a double skirted dry top to make a nearly dry system.

I combined these pants with my discontinued Stohlquist double skirted dry top.  I folded the bottom of the inner section of my dry top up.  And snugged the waist band of the Kokatat pants on top of the inner section of my dry top.  I then pulled my neoprene spray skirt on with the tunnel over the dry top.

For most of the time during my BCU L-1 coach training I was dry.  It was only after the third water rescue that water started to enter into the system.  As I floated in the water warm cold Florida water seeped into the waist.

I discovered that even with a gallon of water in my pants I remained comfortable because of my Smartwool pants and socks.  I love Smartwool.  As I sat in my kayak I also attempted to remove the water with my  bilge pump by way of the relief zipper.  It worked.

For Florida paddling these pants with a dry top are a good choice.  Granted when I travel to Sea Kayak Georgia in October I will be wearing a Kokatat GORE-TEX® Expedition Dry Suit EXP


Sometimes it is necessary to take a class after we buy a new piece of gear to add to our kayak kit.

A good friend and student of mine recently purchased a new paddle.  He was surprised to discover that after paddling with it that he had less control over his boat in heavy winds.  He paddles a Titan by Atlantis Kayaks normally with an old Scotland made Lendal Kinetik 215 cm paddle.  His new paddle is a Werner Cyprus 215 cm paddle.

forward stroke werner cyprus

I know from experience that both paddles are designed to enter the water at a high angle.  The Cyprus is lighter in weight and has a more aggressive concave spoon shape than his Lendal.  His Lendal is about 10 years old.

This past weekend I discovered a few things about his paddling.  He was accustom to a strong purchase when he paddled with his Scottish Lendal.  And he was trying to get the same feel from his Cyprus.  Consequently he was over powering the paddle and finishing each stroke in a stern rudder position.

After an hour of practicing he is back to taking short strokes and is loving the quick catch and firm purchase of his new Cyprus.  Granted he still says that he misses the strong grip that his Kinetik has in the water.


Campfires… I have spent many a night watching the flames dance and mingle among the stars on a moonless night.  I have heard many tall tails and ghost-stories become accentuated by the glowing embers and nocturnal sounds emanating from under a blanket of darkness.  I could not imagine not having my son enjoy a campfire.  But times are different.

Today we are more sensitive to soil erosion and ground damage caused by campfires.  When I first started camping it was an activity that only a few people did.  And it was easy to leave the camp the following day looking like we were never there.  Unfortunately, the outdoors are being hit by the weekend camper who is more interested in parting than melding into the darkness.  I have come across many designated campsites covered with signs of people.  There are piles of ash, burnt logs, and partially burned garbage.

I do not want to add to the damage of campfires built by careless people.  So I do my cooking over a camp-stove.  And when it is time to recapture the memories of the past I use a Fire Pan.

A fire pan can be as simple as an old cookie sheet or a complex as a collapsible concave disk.  I prefer the old cookie sheet method.  I can fold it in half.  And when it wears out, it is easily recycled and cheaply replaced by another used one from a garage sale.

For our expedition I will be using an MSR DragonFly stove, a Backpackers Oven, and I will have an old cookie sheet.  Pictures of my cooking system will be posted after the trip.


In six weeks we will be paddling the Suwannee River.  And the question from our friends is “Jeff…Sean how is the back?”  The answer is “today it is good” 🙂


Sean and I both have suffered from lower back pain.  Some people have theorized that the pain comes from kayaking.  Our pain was due to doing stupid things on dry land…And we now practice what we preach when it comes to back health.

Kayaking can improve a person’s core muscles and flexibility.  The more we stretch, exercise, and paddle (with a safe degree of rotation) the less we experience back pain associated to disks putting pressure on nerves.

Next weeks post will go into depth on what exercises were prescribed to us from physical therapists and a spinal surgeon.

Occasional I have a student in one of my classes talking about their back pain.  Before I see them on the water I ask them to consult with their doctor about their pain.  And then I request that the student brings me a letter from their doctor informing me that it is safe for them to be on the water.  Then after an evaluation of their technique, and looking inside of their cockpit, the plausible reasons for the pain turn out to be…

  • slouching
  • arm paddling
  • no rotation
  • strangling the paddle shaft
  • no padding within the cockpit
  • too much padding within the cockpit

Too much padding and high seat backs do temporarily mask back pain.  Unfortunately, this type of outfitting can lead to the weakening of abdominal and low back muscles.  It works similar to a doctor prescribed corset used to stabilize the back after an injury or surgery.

I wore such a corset to help mend a bulging disk.

When a corset is used, the patients have to wean themselves off it through therapy because the muscles have lost their strength and flexibility.  It is these muscles that support our spine and keeps or disks in a healthy position.

The best solution to surviving or preventing back pain is practicing proper techniques.  Seek out qualified ACA instructors or BCU coaches who will help you develop a fitness-paddling plan.  Hopefully the instructor / coach will also have a background in physical therapy.  Do not fall into the retail trap of fancy paddling gadgets.  Most gadgets promise to minimize pain without focusing on improving core muscles and flexibility.

– Jeff

PS.  Qualified ACA instructors or BCU coaches should be able to show you their membership card.  If they act oddly when asked, they maybe claiming to be certified to increase their chances of making money.

PS2 – If you are experiencing leg numbness tell you doctor.  This could be a sign of a pinched nerve.  Consult your doctor  immediately.