I imagine some of you reading this are hoping to find a kayak shaped present under the Christmas tree this year. Let’s be honest though – for most of us that is only happening if we put it there for ourselves! Kayaks, drysuits and other larger items are big investments and something that you save up for. Yet there are so many smaller items which I’ve added over the years which make such a difference to my paddling days. Many of which are much more reasonable to put on a Christmas wish list.
Two years ago, I wrote an article called 5 paddling items to add to your Christmas wish list. Since then, I’ve gained a few more items which I absolutely love. Some of which would make great gifts. Here are 5 more suggestions of items to add to the Christmas wish list.
1. Ear plugs
Ear plugs should definitely go to the top of any wish list if you don’t currently wear them whilst paddling. They are important in protecting your ear from ear infections and also from developing surfer’s ear. Surfers ear is a common ear condition you can develop if you spend a lot of time in cold wet conditions. Essentially it is a bony growth inside your ear which can ultimately lead to permanent hearing loss.
I have two pairs of whitewater ear plugs for kayaking. I have recently got a pair of surf plugs which are specifically moulded to the shape of your ear and designed to keep water out. I got them for when I am spending a lot of time in the water during my playboat or white water SUP sessions. They are fab.
I also have a pair of surf ears. These are non-moulded ear plugs which are designed to let sound in but keep water out. They are not completely dry in the way my surf plugs are but the advantage is that you can still hear. I wear these on river days when I spend far less time in the water. Being able to communicate is important on a river and so being able to hear still is a definite benefit of these.
The important thing is ANY ear plugs are better than none! You only get one pair of ears and they are worth looking after! I would recommend ear plugs over jamming any old items in there though. There is no point in keeping the water out if you accidently perforate your ear drum in the process!
2. Dewerstone life shorts
I recently picked up a pair of Dewerstone life shorts and I can now see what all the fuss was about. I absolutely love them! They are by far the best shorts I have ever had for paddling. They fit well and are actually designed for active people. I primarily got my pair to wear for SUP and so can confirm they are fully squat proof! They have a design for both men and women and come in a range of awesome colours and designs.
3. Dewerstone beanie
Whilst you are browsing the Dewerstone website, it is well worth checking out their awesome collection of beanies and caps. Personally, I am a big fan of their chunky knit beanie. It’s just so warm and soft. Not to mention colourful! I love to have mine ready to put on at the end of a cold river day so that my ears stay toastie whilst we sort out boats and get changed.
4. A waterproof case for your phone / keys
A waterproof case for your phone or keys is an absolute must. I see lots of people put their keys or phone in a drybag in the bag of their boat or on the front of their SUP. I would always advise keeping both your keys and phone in your buoyancy aid in a waterproof case. This way you can still get into your car or call for help even if you lose your craft. I have an overboard one but there are plenty of options available.
5. Angry Fish Sponge
If you are a kayaker, don’t underestimate how useful a sponge is! I started regularly using one when I bought a playboat as I found I gained water more quickly. As playboats don’t have a drain bung you can either sponge out the extra water or empty it over a shoulder. It is much easier with a sponge. Any sponge will do but let’s be honest – the Pyranha Kayak’s Angry Fish Sponge is pretty awesome.
It is also useful in a big boat too! I’ve started keeping one in the back of my creek boat so that I can use it as a little bit of extra padding for my shoulder when carrying it. It works wonders.
Plus, it makes a great tree ornament as you can see in the photo of my Christmas tree below!
Finally, if you are looking for a paddling gift for someone special, I would suggesting popping into your local paddling shop. Have a browse and you might find just the thing you were looking for!
I know I said 5 items but I wanted to add one more. The best present I have ever received wasn’t bought in a shop but instead handmade. A talented student of mine made a flipbook for me about kayaking – see video below. I love it SO much and I have showed pretty much everyone I know! Just an idea! It doesn’t have to cost money to be appreciated. Forever grateful to Max for his kindness in making this for me.