Mike Tavares Top 5 Picks
WaveSport Project 52
Over the past few years, many different playboats have come and gone, but few still remain that stand out among the crowd. The Project has been Wavesport’s main playboat for many years, and still has a design that has been tough to beat. Top contenders in the world still use the project to keep them on the podium. I have been paddling the project for 2 years now and here’s my take on one of the best playboat designs out there.
- Smooth lines and seamless design helps the boat move through the water without any bulky areas.
- Super fast hull makes it a perfect boat for Waves and Holes.
- Good Distribution of Volume allows for ease of both aerial and more traditional style tricks.
- Simple, strong, and Dependable outfitting makes boat comfortable. No strings or inflatable’s attached!!
- Length of boat makes it ideal for throwing down in the hole as well as feeling comfortable going down river.
- The boat only comes in 3 sizes- This leaves out really small people and a few sizes in between.
- Backband webbing that comes in the boat breaks over time. Replace it with climbing webbing and it won’t ever break!!
- They won’t make it in Purple. Maybe next year.
Despite being the only freestyle boat from Wavesport in a number of years, the project is one of the best on the market. Despite what others may say, I think that most boats that have been made since the project all look similar in design and shape, making the project an un-beatable design. If your in the market for a new boat, the project is worth checking out or keep your eyes out for another boat from Wavesport in the near future. I have been told that it is on the way!!
AT2 Flexi Shaft Paddle
The AT2 paddle had long since been a trusted paddle for both creekers and playboaters alike. The quality construction and performance design has shown to be effective in all aspects of boating. The AT2 Flexi paddle in particular brings quality construction and a more flexible and forgiving shaft into the equation, giving it a more natural feel.
- Flexible shaft that provides a more natural feel, similar to wood without the weight.
- Flexibility gives your joints and muscles a break offering longer surf session and less injuries.
- Light weight construction gives solid performance without fatigue from weight.
- Strong material ensures that paddle will last for many years to come.
- Buoyant blades are shaped for power and give a very predictable and solid feel with every stroke.
- Flexible shaft isn’t for everyone. Some don’t like the feel and would be more suited with the standard AT2 which has considerable less flex.
- Is not available in a breakdown model. It would be nice to have the same paddle in the boat for back-up.
- Only comes with a bent shaft. Works for most, but some prefer the straight shaft for a lighter and more traditional feel.
The AT2 Flexi is a solid paddle with quality materials and construction. If you have achy joints or want to spend more hours in the hole without feeling it afterward, this is the paddle for you.
Immersion Research Comp LX Dry Top
As we all know, being cold and wet on the river sucks. That’s why its important to know that your drytop is going to work when you need it. After a summer of abuse, here is my take on the IR Comp LX drytop.
- 4 layer Waterproof breathable Entrant fabric is highly waterproof and breathable, even after months of use.
- Aggressive fabric cut ensures the jacket fits comfortable and is not bulky when paddling.
- Latex Gaskets ensure that the top is dry when you need it. Great for paddling in Cold conditions where getting wet is not an option.
Chest pocket is good for odds and ends such as a power bar or something you need to stash.
- Jacket comes in many sizes and colors including Plaid!!
- 4 Layer jacket is bulkier than others. The IR X-Jacket is an option for those who like a little less bulk.
The IR Comp LX jacket is a highly dependable dry top that is at the high end of the market. If you are in need of something tough and dry, this jacket is for you. IR, as always, is backed by the best customer service in the business and will always back there products 100% of the time. After I abused this jacket for most of the summer, it is still as dry as anything I have ever used. I would highly recommend this jacket for anyone looking to stay dry while paddling.
Shred Ready Shaggy Helmet
Over the past few years, I have had the unfortunate experiences of hitting my head time after time. After going through many helmets, I have determined that it is indeed important to have a helmet that is both strong in construction and doesn’t make you look like an idiot. Shred Ready helmets in my opinion, fulfills both of those requirements, both keeping you safe and helping you not look like a gaper.
- Fiberglass/ Composite construction is super strong. Meant to take hard hits and keep your head safe. I know from experience.
- Shape of the helmet provides good all around coverage to keep you safe in all types of boating.
- H.O.G. retention system actually works and keeps your helmet snug.
- Helmet comes in a variety of colors and can be custom painted with graphics of your liking.
- Shred Ready works and is trusted by top pro’s in the industry.
- Helmets might not fit all head shapes and sizes, but I haven’t seen that happen yet. Shred Ready makes many different models to fit most sizes.
Shred Ready helmets actually work and are the toughest in the industry. They have been around for a long time and are trusted by top professionals. If you need a helmet that looks good and keeps you safe, Shred Ready may be for you. Remember, don’t look like a Gaper!
Snapdragon LipLock Skirt Review
Snapdragon’s LipLock skirt is their answer for people with leaky boats or those who focus mostly on playboating. The skirt has an extra piece of fabric around the rand that acts as an extra barrier against water coming in and is a must for those with boats that leak around the cockpit, like some dagger boats, and other boats that have odd shaped cockpits that tend to leak a little bit. For those who like to playboat a lot, like me, the liplock is a must. Here are some of my pro’s and con’s about the skirt after paddling it for over a year.
- Extra fabric around the rand provides an extra dry seal for the cockpit. I can playboat for an hour with almost no water in my boat.
- Durable material takes tons of abuse. I use my skirt everyday for 4 months in the summer and it holds up to my abuse.
- Snapdragon can build skirts in any size and can custom order to even the oddest shaped cockpits
- THIS SKIRT IS RIDICULOUSLY DRY!!!
- This skirt is primarily for playboating and doesn’t have any extra reinforcement, such as implosion protection. So it may not be the best for really steep creeking. Snapdragon makes other skirts for those that seek the gnar.
Snapdragon’s Lip Lock skirt is an amazingly dry skirt that works best for people that like to tear up waves and holes. After paddling with it for more than a year, I cant imagine using a skirt that leaks.