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Gift Ideas for Paddlers

gift ideas for paddlers title and photo of kayak

With the holiday season upon us, here are a few gift ideas for paddlers. For this year’s gift guide, either I used and loved the gear or I have it in my hands awaiting promising review. These items also tend to be items that I’d love to have, but probably wouldn’t buy for myself. In other words, great gifts for the canoeist, kayaker or paddleboarder in your life or maybe just something to reward yourself with at the end of a couple of difficult years. Regardless, these are great gifts for you to consider.

You may also want to head over the Garage Grown Gear, a small online retailer specializing in gear made by small companies. There’s almost always something over there that I want to buy for myself but don’t (because I’m cheap). At the very least, you could pick a paddler up a bag of Trailtopia’s Bent Paddle Beer Braised Chicken Stew

Goosefeet Gear Down Socks

Toasty Feet for the Shoulder Seasons

down socks as a gift idea for paddlers

Goosefeet Gear’s Down Socks keep your feet toasty when the weather starts to get chilly. During those cold fall and spring trips when a paddler’s feet start to freeze during the day, switching into a pair of fluffy down socks feels like heaven. They also keep your feet warm at night in a sleeping bag. Goosefeet Gear also makes a waterproof over boot for the socks so you can walk around camp. This is a luxurious gift idea for a paddler. Since I got mine, I haven’t stop wearing them around the house. My wife had to laugh because I’ve wanted down socks for camping for about 20 years, and I finally got a pair. I can’t believe I went 20 years of cold, fall trips without these.

Platypus QuickDraw Microfilter

The Best Designed Squeeze Filter

Platypus QuickDraw Microfilter on a rock

Platypus’ QuickDraw Microfilter is by far the best designed squeeze filter that I’ve used to date. The bag has a wide mount, stiff opening and a loop to hold onto, which makes it they fastest filing bag for any squeeze filter. Using the loop also keeps your hand dry. The filter itself uses hollow fiber filter and claims to filter up to 3 liters per minute, but the best I got was about 2 liters. I really like the lids on this filter. They screw on or snap close tp make the unit watertight. When the temp drops below freezing, the lids make this filter much easier to sleep with in your bag at night. The filter is also threaded for Smartwater or soda bottles. While I’ve only used it on one trip, I’m looking forward to putting this through the paces and doing a full review in the future. As of right now, this is a great gift idea for a paddler who is looking for a low-tech water filter for camping.

Orange Mud Transition Wrap Extreme

Easy Surf Changes and a Towel to Protect Your Seat

using the Orange Mud Transition Towel and Seat Wrap to change in the snow

I’ve reviewed the standard Transition Wrap before and loved it. The basic idea is take a towel and add hooks to better secure it around your waist while doing a surf change in a parking lot. Then it converts to a seat cover for your car. I’ve been using the towel every paddling season for the last eight years. The Transition Wrap Extreme makes a few upgrades to the original. The biggest is that it features a waterproof membrane sandwiched between two layers of towel. That prevents moisture from getting to the car seat. I’m excited about the upgrade and am looking forward to using it for the next ten years and beyond. This is the gift that will keep on giving in the rewards of dry car seats.

Lightload Towels Extra Strength 3 Pack

Ultralight and Compact Towels for Paddling Trips

lightload towels on a log

The perfect stocking stuffer for a canoe or kayak camper is a three pack of Lightload Extra Strength Towels. The 12 inch by 24 inch towel weighs just 0.5 ounces and come compressed in a 1.5 inch by 1.5 inch by 5/8 inch package. When you need to use a towel, you open the package and out comes the 12 inch by 24 inch towel. The towel itself is made from Lyocell, a wood and plant fabric. After use, you can clean it, wash it and reuse it. At $8.99 a three pack, it’s a no-brainer gift.

Lightload Puer Tea Sampler Box

Five Gallons of Black Tea in a Tiny Box

Lightload tea on a rock in the Boundary Waters

When Lightload sent sample towels, they also tossed in a box of their Purer Tea. Basically, the tea is compressed black tea and 1 ounce can make up to five gallons of tea. The compressed format works well for camping trips where weight and space counts. To use, you open one of the five packages, break off some and boil it in about eight ounces of water. Afterwards, you’ll have a richly flavored cup of black tea. Lightload claims the longer you store the tea, the richer the flavor. I’m looking forward to digging back into this box after it sits all winter.

North Fork Gear Faran Sport Bug-Repelling Tee

Baked-in Insect Shield Repellent Keep Mosquitos Off

Faran Sport Haleum shirt

The North Fork Gear Faran Sport uses Insect Shield repellent to keep the mosquitos from biting you through the shirt. It also offers moisture wicking and a 40+ UPF sun protection. It’s a nice cut and weighs only 2 ounce. The Insect Shield eventually wears off, but they say it last 70 washing. That’s a lot of trips for a paddler. It comes in many colors and fits great. Paddlers will get a lot of use out of this shirt.

Crosskix APX Soft Foam Shoes

Waterproof and Comfy

Crosskix APX Soft Foam Shoes on display as one of many gift ideas for paddlers

Imagine if a tennis shoe and a Croc had a baby, and you’d end up with the Crosskix APX Soft Foam Shoes. These shoes fit like a tennis shoe but are made from a soft foam material that feels similar to the foam used by Crocs. There are drain holes so water that gets into them drains right out. The APX has laces and the 2.0 has a plastic strap that closes them. Both are unique shoe options for a paddling trip. I got these towards the end of the season, so I’ll be doing more testing in 2022. So far, these are promising shoes that feel secure on the feet, are airy, drain fast and protect your toes.

Book Gift Ideas for Paddlers – Kids and Adults, too

Books to Inspire Their Dreams

Canoe Days book cover

I’m a big fan of giving books to kids, especially adventurous kids who need to engage their minds and be inspired by adventure. My kid is a 6yo, so the books I’ve given him reflect that age group. Here are a few of my favorites: Canoe Days by Gary Paulsen, When We Go Camping Paperback by Margriet Ruurs, A Cat in a Kayak by Maria Coffey, Me and You and the Red Canoe by Jean E. Pendziwol.

If the kid in your family is an young-at-heart, adventurous adult, then inspire them with a history of canoes in the Canoes: A Natural History in North America by Mark Neuzil and Norman Sims. If they are crafty and you have legal access to harvest birch bark, How to Make Birch Bark Baskets: Wilderness Survival Skills Series by John Yost is a fun book with lots of projects that are useful around the house.

Superior Fleece Brule Hoodie

Polartec Alpha Direct fleece is light and warm

Polartect Alpha Direct fleece hoodie on a table made by Superior Fleece

Superior Fleece’s Brule Hoodie uses Polartec’s Alpha Direct fleece to make a light and warm hoodie. At 5.3 ounces for a men’s size large, it won’t weigh you down and the warmth per weight is amazing as long as you have a windbreaker over it. Last spring I was given a Polartec Alpha Direct hoodie from Superior Fleece to try out. I got it mainly for canoeing and camping, but have now tried it a few times while kayaking. It is by far the best next to skin clothing that I’ve worn under a drysuit. It’s warm, but breaths so well that even during a high intensity paddling session that you don’t get sweaty. I can only say, amazing. Alpha Direct fleece hoodies are hard to get. Cottage clothing makers are basically the only companies using this stuff. Superior Fleece only takes orders on Mondays, and they close the store when they book the number of fleeces they can make in a week. Don’t delay. They open the orders for this winter’s season on November 22nd.

MSR PocketRocket Deluxe Stove

The best canister stove I’ve ever used

 MSR PocketRocket Deluxe Stove cooking in the Boundary Waters

After using the MSR PocketRocket Deluxe Stove all year, I’ve found it to be the best canister stove that I’ve used. That’s saying a lot, because back in my retail days, I bought or was given by manufacturers many canisters stoves. While there are slightly lighter canister stoves, the RocketRocket Deluxe at 2.9 ounces isn’t that much heavier, and it offers extra features. Those features include a piezo ignition and a regulator. The regulator keeps a even burn even in cold temps or with low canisters. This stove is also a champ in the wind. I found that it saved so much fuel on one two week trip that I didn’t need to bring a second canister. It was a worthwhile upgrade to what I had and would be a great gift for kayakers and canoeists.

O-Pen Pen-Sized Ozone Water Purifier

A Tiny Water Purifier for Shorter Trips

O-Pen water treatment

Water filters and purification has been on my mind this year as new filters hit the market. The O-Pen Water Purifier generates ozone to purify water. The purifier is tiny and weighs only 1.2 ounces. It has a rechargeable battery that can purify about 25 liters on a charge. That’s about six days of water for one person. Using ozone in the field is a new technology and Roving Blue has plenty of testing data and explanations over on its website. It claims to destroy cryptosporidium and giardia which are two of the biggest concerns in North America. The O-Pen runs $149. This pen will interest paddlers who love cutting edge technology and are willing to give new tech a go.

Xero Z-Trail Sandals

Barefoot sandals perfect for camp shoes or summer-long wear

Xero Sandals on a log

I bought a pair of Xero Z-Trail Sandals to replace my Chacos this spring and wore them all summer. I found them comfortable, and they held up great to a summer of use. The straps on these sandals dry quickly, and they didn’t pick up perma-stench in the way that Chacos do. When they got smelly, a quick run through the washing machine cured the stink — no flossing of the straps required. I believe I only washed them once this summer and I wear sandals daily in the spring through fall months. The sizing charts on Xero’s website worked perfectly for me. Just make sure when you print, print them full-sized. Don’t allow your printer or pdf reader scale the pages. The one big change I had to get used to was that instead of having a stiff sole underfoot, the sole was more flexible. At first, I found the front of the sandal bending over now and then as I walked. I adjusted to the and found that I had more feel of the ground under my feet which I was a change that I enjoyed. I can’t imagine switching back to a stiff sandal again.

Hilltop Packs Food Bag (Bear Bag) with Hanging Kit

A lightweight bear bag

My old bear bag bit the dust this year, so I upgraded to a Hilltop Packs Food Bag and Hanging Kit. I did the large with a flat bottom and upgraded the throw line. I went with a simple gray color, but if you want to spice it up, they have a bunch of cool colors and patterns to pick from. The USFS is now suggesting a modified hang system in the Boundary Waters. It takes two 50-foot ropes, but makes it way easier to bear bag. It’s called the Single Tree Pulley Method. If you want to use that method, and you do, then pick up an extra length of rope. I also picked up a BearVault and that would make a good gift idea for a canoeist who is sick of bear bagging.

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