Tim Kelton's Top 3 CKS Gear pics

#1-Sweet Protection Rocker Full Face Helmet

People look for different features in helmets, but in the end you are wearing a helmet to give you the best possible protection against head and neck injuries. The Sweet Rocker series helmets have a thermoplastic, carbon re-enforced shell and EPP liner. It is one of the few helmets to have passed the EN 1385 Watersports protection certification. But more importantly, the full face features protect your jaw and mouth without hindering your visibility or adding a ton of weight. In fact the entire helmet weights under 2 lbs, making it light, comfortable yet still durable enough to take big hits when needed. As someone who fractured some teeth in a bike injury, and who flips more than I would sometimes like, I am sensitive the protective role helmets have especially around the face. A little extra face and jaw protection would have saved me literally thousands of dollars in dental bills not to mention a lot of pain I really don't want to go through again regardless of the sport. Best of all, you don't notice you are wearing a full face, which is how it should be!


  • Light but strong jaw protection
  • Removable and Adjustable visor
  • Full face protection is out of the line of sight
  • Light weight
  • Works great as a ski helmet


  • Need to speak really loud to be hear with the Full Face
  • Do not make a small size.
  • They don't give away stuff made in Norway

The Verdict:

I've tried an number of full face helmets over the years and the Sweet offers the best combination of light weight, good fit, and excellent protection for the head and jaw without making you realize its there.

#2-Werner Powerhouse 4 Piece Breakdown Paddle

A breakdown paddle is probably one of the most un-interesting pieces of gear you carry. It just sits in the back of your boat for years, never seeing the light of day until that one time someone breaks or looses a paddle. Then in a instant it becomes that piece of gear that becomes essential to getting you home. Which is why it becomes so important to have a solid, dependable breakdown. What makes Werner's breakdown paddles so great is basically that they are identical to their straight paddles. They use the same durable shaft. They have small hand options along with different blade shapes such as the Powerhouse and Player shapes that many of us are so familiar with and use so many days each year. So after a moment of crisis or when you need to travel with paddle that folds smaller, its nice to have a familiar feeling paddle that's every bit as strong and durable as your regular paddle.


  • 191-200cm
  • 30 degree offset (others available)
  • Glass blades
  • Straight shaft
  • 4 - Piece breakdown


  • Same durable Powerhouse and Player blades used on Werners 1 Piece paddles
  • Strong shaft
  • Same blade shapes (Powerhouse, Player, etc) as regular Werner glass paddles
  • Same offset options as any Werner paddle 30 degree/45 degree
  • Works great for traveling


  • No bent shaft option

The Verdict:

On a remote river or when traveling, its great to have a soild feeling paddle that you are used too. This familiarity and strength can give confidence in a sometimes not so confidence building situation.

#3-Salamander Bak Yak

When the need to carry your boat into a remote, hike in run such as Colorado's Los Pinos or even a short hike like the Upper Taos Box or Vallecito, a good carrying system can be the critical link between a fun trip and misery. Over the years you see everything from homemade swimming pool toy strap "systems" to mass produced carrying packs. The two critical components become strength and comfort. To achieve these, the weight and awkward length of a kayak needs to be distributed as evenly as possible between your shoulders and hips. The Salamander Bak Yak does a excellent job of this with its two straps which cinch the diameter of the boat two the system and its bow and stern stabilizer straps to keep the loaded boat as stationary as possible. There is an additional pocket which I've been using to store my spray skirt. For me, this had ended up providing great lower lumbar support and cushioning between the back and the boat. This has made the Salamander Bak Yak a light, efficient, and stable system to carry your expedition boat into remote locations.


  • Soft hip belt, shoulder straps, and sternum straps connect to the kayak at 4 points.


  • Comfortable hip, shoulders, and sternum straps
  • 4 straps to distribute the weight
  • Stabilization straps for the bow and stern to prevent unwanted shifting of the boat
  • Light weight 29 oz
  • Folds up the size of a throw bag for the trip down the river


  • Limited adjustment for really short or tall torsos.
  • The lack of a "MacGyver" engineering project can be a disappointment to some.

The Verdict:

So far, this has been the best system I've used. Over the years I've had quite a few other systems rip out on me in the middle of a hike. This can often leave you miles from the river with a 100lb kayak to shoulder, leaving you even more tired. The Salamander Bak Yak is light, simple, and so far has passed all my durability tests. Comfort....well carrying a 60 to 100 lbs creek boat can only get so comfortable!

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