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We don't sell gear because to do that right takes more money and time than we have. However we do know gear having tried just about every product on the market. We subject our equipment to some very harsh tests to see how it will fare in real-world conditions. We can advise you what to get, what to expect, and where to get it. And we can help you get the most out of gear after it's yours.

Sea kayaking gear is an important part of the sport. It doesn't replace the need for knowledge and skill, but quality gear can make your adventures much more pleasant and certainly safer. Since sea kayaking is one of the fastest growing segments of the outdoor industry you will see new manufacturers and products appearing on the market every month. Some are great, some are ok if they match your needs, and some are just dissasters waiting to happen.

We love cool gear and buy tons of it. We talk to manufacturers and designers all the time. We put our gear through serious tests, some real life and others simulated. You can bet the simulated tests are often harsher than we hope anyone ever has to exerience for real.

The bottom line is we know our gear and everything good and bad about it. We know the straight scoop on the manufacturers and will tell you forthright.

Disclosure: While we do get professional discounts on much of our gear it tends to be pretty level across all manufacturers so we aren't inclined to prefer one over other on special pricing. We do NOT get free gear or other compensation for saying nice things about a product. In fact, we do run a small but real risk of upsetting a manufacturer who reads something negative we have to say and decides to make us purchase retail from now on. Judge for yourself from our reviews how much we care about that risk. :-)

Kestrel 4000 Pocket Weather Tracker

Made by Nielsen-Kellerman this small handheld device provides quick reading of wind speed, temperature, humidity, wind chill, dew point, barometric pressure, and more. This unit is small enough to fit in most PFD pockets and water tight enough to keep there while rolling or practicing other capsize recoveries. Note NK doesn't outwardly claim "water-proof" but if your unit fails due to leakage they will replace free of charge. Their tech support line does say it should be waterproof. The batteries last a long time (weeks) and the unit is quick to report accurate values upon turn-on. The temperature sensor also responds very quickly to immersion so accurate water readings are easy to get. Especially nice is the logging feature which shows you a graph of historical values. For monitoring barometric pressure to predict weather trends this is key. Only negative is a single internal barometer handles both barometric pressure and altitude - that means you rather have to determine which you wish to monitor at any given time. A long day of climbing a mountain in changing weather will leave you uncertain about accuracy since barometric pressure has changed for two reasons. The Kestrel 4000 also has a clock/calendar so it can serve as a backup timepiece (or your only one if you prefer to paddle without wrist bands). Cheaper models are available but the 4000 is best suited for kayaking.

VHF Marine / Weather Radios

One of the handiest and most important pieces of equipment you can have on the water is a Marine VHF / Weather Radio. With one you can monitor NOAA weather forecasts and current conditions when planning your paddle, on the way to your paddle, and while on the water. Knowing as much as you can about the weather is great for safety and basic maximization of pleasure on the water. You can also talk to other boaters on their marine channels which is handy for getting directions, avoiding collisions, and even possibly getting some help if you need it. Of course if you have a couple of these you can also communicate within your group. The final value is being able to call on emergency channel if you need Coast Guard assistance.

Several good models of Marine VHF / Weather Radios are now on the market for sea kayakers. All the models mentioned here are waterproof to JIS7 standards (1 meter for 30 minutes) and small enough to be carried on a kayak. The best ones fit in a PFD pocket since worst case scenario has you alone in water with only what you are wearing. All those listed here are simple to operate, have decent battery life (all day), and are well supported by the manufacturer.

Uniden makes 3 models worthy of note. The MHS350 is a standard model at a reasonable price. The Voyager is quite small such that it would fit any PFD pocket. And the Mystic incorporates a Magellan GPS as well providing two functions in one package.

Uniden stands readily behind their products and provides excellent USA customer service. We had one radio that needed to go back 3 times for repair and they never blinked, just fixed it every time without charge. Because of the integral GPS some of us find the Mystic too large to carry on a PFD while paddling, but it does fit nicely on the front deck for tracking progress with the GPS. The combined function can be viewed two ways - good to have one package for both functions instead of two items to handle or bad because it's larger and battery is shared between both devices. That's a personal call.

ICOM make severals marine radios but two stand out for kayakers as top choices. The M1-V is a standard model that has performed very well on one of our instructors who spends much of his time underwater or at least under waves. ICOM stands behind their products but service is a little slower since they are not a USA company. The M88 is about the smallest radio a kayaker could operate with cold fingers. It's a bit pricey but sure leaves space in those PFD pockets. One ICOM or another has won top choice awards just about every year by boater's magazines.

Other brands may serve equally well. These are just what we have used and feel comfortable recommending. Note that while JIS7 waterproofing normally works quite well for kayakers (why would you be submerged more than 1 meter or for more than 30 minutes?) some feel it wise to put a radio, which is an emergency safety device, in a waterproof bag designed to allow operation. That too is a personal choice.