After a warm and sunny February, stoke for the 2016 paddling season has officially arrived. Runoff is just around the corner and the snow pack is looking good heading into March. With that said, it IS still early. March and April tend to be heavy snow months, especially in an El Niño year. Now is the perfect time to crack a beer, open up the gear locker, dust off the cobwebs and take inventory of gear. Making sure that everything is in at least semi-functional condition and nothing too important was lost in the off-season can be crucial. This list is for the beater creek boaters. If you're still rocking gear that's older than the average middle schooler, it may be time to upgrade. (Yes, I'm looking at you, guy with the Grateful Headz helmet and Green Jacket that's more faded than that guy in the corner of the bar). This list has everything from a boat to replace your Dagger CFS to shoes that can replace those old custy booties you've been using since 1997.
- What more needs to be said? The best creek boat of all time just got better. The 2016 Nomad is available in 3 sizes (S, M, L) for the first time ever and even comes in colors that people who boated in the 90's will love.
The view from the driver's seat of the new Nomad is pretty sweet. According to Atom Crawford, the performance isn't too bad either.
- Again, there is nothing else to say. The Astral Green Jacket has been the choice PFD of creek boaters everywhere for years now and the 2016 face-lift made it even better. Astral kept all of the old features that drew paddlers to the PFD in the first place, but beefed up the lash tab, added a metal zipper to the roomy clamshell pocket, and offers some fresh new colors. More details can be found here.
- Another classic. The Kokatat GMER is as bomber as it gets, as far as dry suits go. The only change for 2016 was colors, so make sure to grab one that matches that new Nomad of yours.
The GMER is the drysuit of choice for 2 out of 3 creek boaters who were interviewed. Photo by Fred Morrison
- If you haven't already knocked out a tooth or 2 in your years of creeking, this will keep all of your pearly whites in place. If you have, screw it, rock those missing teeth like a badge of honor.
The Full Face is a confidence inspiring gear on runs where there is more rock than water, such as OBJ
- Lighter weight and stiffer than the Fiberglass model, the Carbon Powerhouse helps to maximize your boof stroke. This is especially important for us Colorado boaters, who are coming off the couch after 4 months of drinking beer and eating pizza.
The Carbon Powerhouse in its natural habitat
- This is the skirt you should buy if you want to tell people, "Hey. I paddle class V." With a sticky rubber rand, this skirt is the most implosion resistant skirt on the market and will stay on even while getting pounded under a 20 foot waterfall. I know this because I've had it happen.
- The Rassler shoes were designed specifically with creek boaters in mind and will be a huge improvement over those neoprene booties that you should've retired years ago.
So there you have it. The best creek boating package 2016 has to offer. Stay tuned for next week's article on the top play boating package of 2016.