Our picks for the latest, greatest paddling gear will get you out exploring and enjoying those long, sweet summer days.

Nirvana Self-Bailing X

Big and beefy enough to take on major endeavors, this self-bailing pack raft can run whitewater and haul a bike or backpack, but it’s still easy to hike the boat into remote spots. It rolls down to just 14 inches by 10 inches and tips the scales at an impressive 16.2 pounds with key accessories. Don’t worry that this packability makes it any less of a performer on the water—the Kevlar construction on the floor and up the sidewalls can handle a lot of abuse. $1,499; kokopelli.com


This front-entry PFD puts comfort foremost. The back works with the high setbacks of many new canoes and kayaks, and the wrap-around fit is easy to adjust to any body shape. Bonus: The hand-warmer pockets are a simple innovation you will wish was on every PFD. $139; kokatat.com

Studio; Footwear; PFD Sandal

The PFD Sandal

Here’s a boating shoe that was specifically designed for the needs of river guides who spend all day standing in the water and navigating random terrain. Webbing straps (the same as Astral’s famed PFDs) batten down for the perfect secure fit, and a proprietary rubber sole grips to wet rocks and logs. It’s the technical shoe you need for that big river trip but you will want to wear everywhere. $115; astraldesigns.com

Flare LL H2O Polar

With big lenses and frames, these polarized shades offer up plenty of protection when you paddle. But the big benefit here is that they float. That means you can confidently wear them without the annoyance of a retainer strap and not lose them if they slip in the drink. $209; dragonalliance.com


Pooping requires some forethought when you are out on the river in pristine environments. Dispose of your waste wrong and you degrade the environment and the experience for everyone. This clever all-in-one kit gives you all you need to relieve and clean up after yourself responsibly outside—including a shovel that can dig into tough soils, hand sanitizer, and mycelium tablets that help break down your waste. $50; pactoutdoors.com

Model X

Designed specifically for SUP fishing, this big, stable board (35-inches wide and rated up to 450 pounds) is the perfect deck not just for fighting beefy trout in the middle of the lake but also for taking off on overnight adventures on the far shores. Two cargo areas hold plenty of gear, and it’s fully compatible with a fishing rack attachment that will give you the ability to manage multiple rods. Oh, and it’s also just fun to paddle. $800; irockersup.com

Body Glove
Performer 11 Inflatable

Thanks to a new wider tail shape, this inflatable tracks easier and provides a lot of stability out on the water, making it a nice option for beginners as well as experienced paddlers looking for a reliable ride. And here’s an upgrade we really appreciate: an electric pump means you won’t feel beat by the time you get on the board. And paddle easy: For each board sold, Body Glove donates a tree to reforestation nonprofit One Tree Planted. Want more? If you are a Costco member, look for it at select stores where you can grab the board for a killer deal at $399. $999; bodyglove.com

Sport Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50

Don’t mess with the sun when you are out on the water at altitude. The Sport formula (we go with the highest SPF we can) goes on easily and provides moisturizing for your mountain-dry skin and, most importantly, it’s resistant to water and sweat (but reapply frequently). $19; dermatone.com

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