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. . . All I want for Christmas

Posted Dec 17 2004 12:00am

Well, my boat is still in the shop so I don’t get to tell any amazingly cold paddling stories today. So if I’m going to keep this blog active I had better think of something. So with that in mind,

. . . All I want for Christmas

This was a funny year “Christmas Shopping” wise. In our world like many others we came from extremely poor backgrounds. As life began to turn around Christmas tended to reflect our subconscious need to over compensate. ( Before that creates too big of a picture in your mind, over compensation meant getting a $100 gift instead of a $4.00 gift.) This year we found that we had plateaued. There is nothing anyone really wanted. (Well maybe a new whitewater boat but no ones springing for that!) It’s like asking if you want a 3rd piece of pie after thanksgiving dinner. I can remember thinking “Man, am I going to pig out today” yet now staring at that pie I’m thinking I will never eat again. And that’s ok. No one needs more than one slice of pie anyway. (How’s that for a down-home metaphor?. . . ) So this year gift giving had to become more personal and more creative. Interestingly, much less expensive as well. Funny how that works out.

So what are you going to get that kayaker friend or family member for Christmas? I know many non-kayakers have no idea where to start. Well I have a suggestion. Let’s not spend money this year on T-shirts and Santa Kayak ornaments. Let’s get them something that they will use when the whole world seems to be crashing down around them. Here are my low cost kayaker Christmas present suggestions:

1. Paddle Float – These are the things kayakers use to get back into their boat if they don’t know how to roll. There are two kinds. Inflatable and Foam. The inflatable take more time to deploy in the water, but are more buoyant. This means if you need more support the inflatable ones are the best choice. However, if the person you are buying it for is a pretty strong person and paddles in cold water the foam might work out well. The thing about the paddle float is that it won’t do much good unless the person takes a class or reads up and PRACTICES how to use it. See: Rutabaga, REI, NRS

2. A hand pump – So what do you do when you boat’s full of water? Pump it out. . A hand held pump runs around $30 bucks. See: Rutabaga, REI, NRS

3. Emergency Mirror & Whistle – I know a guy who actually flagged down a plane and was rescued because he had an emergency mirror. Cool Beans! Again this costs under $15 and could save a life! See: Rutabaga, REI, NRS

4. Emergency Strobe Light – Again, what a useful inexpensive gift. Cost from $10 to $35 bucks. These little lights attach to the kayakers PFD (life jacket) and can be seen from up to 3 miles. There are a few different brands. Personally we have had some issues with ACR brand lights, but that could just be us. Hard to tell. See: Rutabaga, REI, NRS

5. River Knife – This is a short little knife that attaches again to the PFD and most of the time is used to spread cream cheese on something. However, If a kayaker gets tangled up in a paddle leash, towing gear or whatever that little knife could be a life-saver. Costs range from $35 for something like a “Gerber River Shorty” to $150 or more. But even a cheap knife is better than none when you need it. See: Rutabaga, REI, NRS

6. Flairs – If your kayaker person is of the “sea” kayaking variety and spends time out on the great lakes or Oceans. They can always use a flair gun or hand held flairs. No they’re not expensive. You can go to Wal-mart actually. What a Christmas present that would be to help them be rescued if the ever did get in trouble out there! Cost? $20 – $100 depending on brand, type etc.

7. A Book – If the person you are buying for has been kayaking for years they will/may/should have all this stuff already. In that case I would suggest a book “SeaKayker’s DEEP TROUBLE”. You could order this from Amazon. This is a book that basically tells true stories about kayakers who got into dangerous situations in one way or another and then analyzes how they may have avoided the situation or gotten out of it. I think this book really can really open the mind to more critical analysis of each trip as well as provide tips and concepts we may not have thought about before.

That’s my list of 7. It’s not that a kayaker wouldn’t enjoy kayak refrigerator magnet, but my thought is that you get them a gift that keeps them safe so they can buy their own silly magnet. – Happy Christmas

Under the “Everything Needs A Disclaimer These Days” category

* For the Uber-Kayakers out there there will be a lot of different concepts about brands, types, colors, etc., and that’s great. This list is meant really just to help non-kayakers get a useful gift for beginner or intermediate kayakers who may not have all the gear they should/could have.

None of this stuff will help anyone if they don’t know how to use them. (including the book I may add). People who are going to take an itty-bity boat into a great big sea or lake should have some lessons. Really. :)

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