The Best New Gear for Canoeing, Kayaking and Standup Paddling This Summer

Shutterstock_254566111 Rock and Wasp copy
Rock and Wasp / Shutterstock

Months spent hunkered down at home have us all itching to get back to the great outdoors. And what better way to stay reasonably close to home, and yet safely get out and away, than by hitting the water? Be it via board or boat, kayak or raft, you’re outside, responsibly maintaining social distance from others, exercising and retaining sanity with every stroke. Here are 10 of the latest pieces of innovative paddlesports gear to help make every stroke there a little easier.

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Epic kayak surfski
Epic Kayaks

Epic V9

Want to take off that quarantine 15? Epic’s new V9 surfski blends speed, stability and agility. With a hump under the knees for leg power and an adjustable footboard, at 19 feet it’s built for downwind surfing, open-ocean crossings, racing, fitness sessions and more—with a narrower beam that optimizes flatwater speed. Bonus: Made from a Nomex honeycomb core with woven carbon, Kevlar and fiberglass, the Ultra version clocks in at just 26.5 pounds. $4,395;

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Dagger rewind whitewater kayak stern
Dagger Kayaks

Dagger Rewind

Dagger has rewound the clock with the Rewind, a whitewater kayak rekindling the classic river play of yesteryear. Instead of being bulbous like a creek kayak or stubby like a freestyle boat, it’s a mixture, combining speed, stability and surf-ability for whatever the river throws your way. Available in three sizes, the medium (paddler weight: 140-220 lbs) comes in at 8’9” long and 43 lbs, with 67 gallons of volume for whitewater of all walks. $1,259;

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Hala Hoss inflatable standup paddleboard river SUP Steamboat

Hala Carbon Hoss

All-around inflatable SUPs don’t get much better than the Hala Hoss, whose 33 inches of width make it perfect for paddling with the kids and dog and even casting a line. While its glide rocker makes it speedy in flatwater, its shape also lends itself to moving whitewater. Bonus: Hala’s Inflatable Carbon Technology (utilized in the recent attempt to break the Grand Canyon speed descent record) integrates the stiffness and performance of a carbon touring board with the light, portable feel of an inflatable, making it feel just like a hard board. $1,399;

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Keen footwear river paddling shoe

Keen SOLR Sandal
Seas, Oceans, Lakes, Rivers: That’s what Keen’s SOLR stands—and delivers footwear—for, with its latest sandal perfect for paddling all these watery mediums. Made with recycled PET plastic webbing, it uses Aquagrip rubber with razor-siping for grip when it’s slick, and a low-profile design for agility. What we like most: Its signature Keen closed toe, snuffing out all things stub. $110;

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Kokatat life jacket PFD

Kokatat Hustle

Two thoughts describe Kokatat’s new side-entry Hustle PFD: low-profile, high comfort. Both stem from two stacked and sculpted GAIA, PVC-free foam panels, covered with ripstop nylon, that wrap around and float to fit varied torsos. A large front pocket keeps small items accessible, plus adjustable shoulder straps and side-adjustments keep the vest snug should you swim. For a rescue version, try the HustleR. $139;

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Hobie Pro Angler 12 fishing kayak 360 pedal drive

Hobie Pro Angler 12

It’s not fair for the fish. Hobie debuts its new 360-degree rotating pedal drive in its Pro Angler fish kayak line, letting anglers easily maneuver in every direction—backwards, forward, sideways and diagonally—for close-quarter maneuverability. Stand and cast on its stable hull, then sit down and pedal toward the next rise. Keep rods rigged in six rod holders, use its handy H-Rail for rigging accessories, and chill in its comfy Vantage ST seat when pedaling or prying loose your lure. Bonus: Kick-Up Fins automatically retract upon impact with underwater obstacles. $3,73; 

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Rocky Mountain Rafts mini raft thundercloud PVC whitewater rafting

RMR ThunderCloud

Honey, I shrunk the raft! That’s the word from Rocky Mountain Rafts, whose new ThunderCloud measures 9’7” with room for up to three paddlers. Diminishing 20-inch tubes and progressive rocker help it rip out of eddies, punch through waves and carve up technical boulder gardens. And at 72 lbs, it’s light enough to carry into the backcountry for remote runs and off-the-beaten-path angling. $1,549;

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Advanced Elements inflatable kayak
Advanced Elements

Advanced Elements StraitEdge2 Pro

The rigidity of drop-stitch construction from the inflatable SUP world comes to kayaks in the new StraitEdge2 Pro, a 13-foot sit-on-top tandem whose drop-stitch floor hints of a hardshell. Add aluminum rib-frame tech in the bow and you get a craft that can tour the flats and tackle Class III whitewater while storing in your closet back home. Bonus: self-bailing ports that can be opened in rough conditions and closed in calm, as well as high-back seats, rod-holders and gear tie-downs. $999;

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Aqua-Bound paddle recreational paddling

AquaBound Tango Touring Paddle

Keep your strokes mirror-smooth with this lightweight (26-ounce) fiberglass touring paddle from AquaBound, which will get you to the cove and back to camp in record time. Hand-crafted blades forego flutter thanks to high-pressure compression molding, while an ergonomic carbon shaft—with infinitely adjustable Posi-Lok ferrule—makes your palms feel part of the team. Bonus: Try the sleek Green Tide pattern for porpoise-like propulsion. $289;

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Level Six kayaking drysuit dry suit Level6
Level Six

Level Six Odin Drysuit

From SUP-ing to sending waterfalls, the front-entry Odin will keep you martini dry. Made from tough Exhaust 3.0 waterproof-breathable nylon, it features latex wrist and neck gaskets, a double tunnel for your sprayskirt, articulated spine, reinforced knees and elbows, adjustable waist-belt and fleece-lined pocket. $900;

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