As the Yampa River flows fall during mid-summer, I turn to flatwater paddling to get my water fix. There are so many different ways to enjoy it. For one, paddling at sunrise and listening to the meditative rhythm of the paddle dipping into the water as I glide across the lake is so soothing and peaceful. On hot days, I love venturing out to the middle of the lake and practicing yoga or my board skills until I fall in, the cool water catching me as I play. And there is no better way to experience a sunset than cruising around glassy water that mirrors the portrait in the sky.
However I choose to enjoy it, there are several key items that I never leave behind to make flat water paddling safe and enjoyable.
There are a number of different crafts you can paddle, but my absolute favorite is the Hala Playa Tour Ex inflatable paddleboard. Hala just unveiled this board this spring and it is A BLAST! The new strengthening material combined with the 4.75” board thickness creates a fast glide that reminds me of floating through the snow on a powder day!
Safety is cool. Although flat water safety can often get overlooked, I still maintain my healthy respect for the water at all times. Here are a few things I won’t leave shore without:
This low-volume PFD zips in the front, making it easy to put on and off. If I am not paddling with my PFD on, as Colorado State Law only requires the PFD to be on the craft, this PFD fits nicely in the bungee of my Hala board’s nose.
I always wear my ankle leash (especially if I am not wearing my PFD). It is imperative that I have the ability to get back to my board and gear easily and swiftly. Without the leash, I could become stranded quickly.
Note: NEVER wear an ankle leash on the river--this creates very dangerous entrapment situations!)
Stella doggie is my favorite paddle buddy. To keep her safe, I always put her Astral Bird Dog PFD on her. It has a handle on the back that is great to help her get back on the board if she goes swimming.
These are a must-have for night paddling safety. They are bright enough to keep you safe from other watercrafts in the dark, yet subtle enough that they don’t detract from the sunset or moonlit peace.
We had a very creative customer who came up with this solution for her pooch, Ginger, who likes to ride right on the nose of the board. Ginger would continually slide in, making it tough for her owner to paddle. I have yet to add this to my board for Stella, but think that this is a genius solution! Simply create a pattern of the area with a piece of cardboard, and cut this peal-and-stick traction pad to fit.
Sun Protection + Apparel
Over the last couple of years, I’ve become a Carve Designs girl. I LOVE that this company uses sustainable materials, is women-owned, and creates athletic yet cute clothing for any type of water sport.
Cute, comfy, lightweight, and I love the hood! It dries quickly and keeps the sun off my shoulders on hot days. This can also be utilized as a nice cozy layer to stay a little bit warmer once the sun goes down.
This swim top is fantastic support. It’s athletic and easy to move in while also being stylish and fun.
These shorts are made from coconut husks! They are quick-drying, light, and the spandex waistband keeps them securely in place as I paddle.
The 15L option is the perfect size for me to pack extra layers (sweat pants, neoprene if needed, etc.), snacks, sunglasses, and treats for Stella dog! It fits nicely on my board under the bungee, I can easily clip to one of the handles or rigging points.
Water, snacks, and a beverage
There’s no better picnic spot than in the middle of a serene lake. I love having my morning coffee and some fruit out in the middle of the lake as the birds wake up or a DIY charcuterie board and happy hour beverage while the sun paints the sky.
If I plan to be out on the water for a long time, or have had a long day of playing elsewhere, I love strapping on a kayak seat so I can lean back and relax as I paddle. If I do this, then I definitely want Hala's Butterknife Paddle. The handle in the back allows me to stand up and paddle, or utilize the dual blades so I can relax in my seat and paddle the SUP like it's a kayak.