Paddle Articles

CP Review - Garmin GPSMAP 86 Review for Paddlers

Garmin GPSMAP86 ReviewSafety is not something paddlers always equate with technology. We think of PFDs, leashes, and in some cases the all important marine radio. All of these are important for safe paddling, but there are many dangerous situations that can be helped by a little bit of tech.  Introducing the Garmin GPSMAP 86sci and 86i models. A high-end water-ready satellite communication device with GPS tracking, and emergency SOS beacon capabilities. So. Many. Features. We paddled over 90 miles along throughout California across 4 days, day and night, ocean and bay to put it through the test. Enjoy our review.

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CP Review - Level 6 Padling Gloves

Level Six Paddling Gloves ReviewI know its not the most macho thing to be putting on before a paddle, but hey, I admit to rocking paddle gloves. And over the years I have used gloves from DaKine, West Marine and Water Sports Warehouse. So when these new paddle gloves, called the "Cascade", from a Canadian paddling company called Level Six came to my attention as I was gearing up for a 4 day 120 mile paddle adventure, I figured what better way to give them the ultimate test!

Find them online here at West Coast Paddle Sports.

Unique Features

Gel Padding: I don't always get blisters, but when I do, its always in the same place(s) on my hands. And whether I am paddling OC6, OC1 or SUP, once the blister starts, it is hard to let it heal and still paddle as much as I want. Once my mileage goes over 12 miles I usually start to have them start. I have found gloves to really help buy me another 8-10 miles on top of that. But most gloves don't offer well-placed padding, just leather to reduce the friction. And that helps. But these gloves offer 2mm gel padding in several pockets on the hand, in addition to offering protection from the friction that other gloves offer. The padding helped me in the base of my hand by the wrist not have the usual tender spot that accumulates after many miles of pushing down on the paddle handle. There is gel and padding also along the main blister spots for me, at the base of each finger. For me, my middle and ring fingers tend to get it the worst. So those spots are protected with these a bit as well.

Paddle Gloves

Pull-off strings: This was a feature that I have never asked for, but once I figured out what they were for, I was immediately grateful. If anyone has ever taken wet, half-finger gloves off, you know it can take several minutes to pull them little fingers off, grab the glove, and get the darned thing off. And if you do, chances are you got impatient by the end and turned the whole thing inside out! So more time spent having to fix them before you get on the water the next time. Well, these gloves have little fabric bridges that are unnoticeable while paddling, but you can pull on each on to help get the glove off quickly. Each glove has two, between pointer and middle, and rind and pinky fingers. Pulling on those helps get the glove off. Subtle touch, but actually pretty sweet!

Paddle Gloves

Nose-Wipe: Ok this one made me laugh out loud! They actually list on the marketing that these gloves have a nose wipe. But as someone who is way to often trying to wipe sweat, spray, snot and spit off my face, it makes sense. There is a little spot on the back of each glove by the thumb and pointer finger that is a soft non-abrasive material with no seams. Unlike rigging gloves and other glove alternatives I have paddled with, these are actually designed with a paddler in mind. And yes, we do sometimes need to wipe our face, nose, eyes while paddling. And do this was pretty welcomed!

Paddle Gloves

Durability

Most gloves out there will last me a good year of paddling. I wear them 1-3 times a week, for 5-25 miles a paddle, depending on the time of year. Sometimes intervals, sometimes long slow paddles. Even some 9man change races sprinkled in there where I am grabbing the gunwales of moving canoes 8-9 times to hoist myself up. The Level Six gloves tested here have not had a full year of testing, but 120 miles in a week was certainly enough to notice any defects. The gloves held up great so far. No loose stitching, no separation yet on the fingers where the circle of material meets which often fails on the other gloves I use. The gel packs seems as full and cushy as when I started. The only thing that fail was one of the finger pull-off strings I mentioned above broke its seems where the stitching met the glove. If they weren't so darned useful I would not have cared, but I was disappointed by this. The other ones are solid and working fine still. I will reach out to Level Six and see what they say.

Da Funk

I don't wash my gloves after every paddle. In fact, they usually get left in the van and never fully dry. So I know what kind of funk they can incur. These went 4 days of camping and paddling, 8 hours of water time, then sitting wet overnight when I would then put them on again the next morning. About as gross a circumstance I would throw at them. And they don't have an ounce of odor to them. I have to say, I was pretty pleased, since I had a long drive after with them sharing the car-ride home. When I got back I hosed them in fresh water and let them dry in the sun. Smelled brand new and odorless when I paddled a few days later. (Too bad my towel can't have this same result.:)

Aesthetics

I could care less what they things look like really. But the fact they are black with red accents makes them more noticeable than my normal DaKine gloves, but less flashy than the West Marine gloves that were a bright Cali Paddler turquoise blue. The only bummer with black is being a dark color it shows salt stains more, but a quick rinse on these and the salt washed right away. I was in cold water in Monterey, so maybe black is good for heat; bad for Hawaii and warm weather paddling though. So take that into account, if you are sensitive to heat in your hands as it could be a plus and a minus. Coverage is important with sun exposure. And I never got a sunburn on my hands when wearing them, as some gloves on the back of my hand leave an uncovered half-circle portion by the velcro of skin exposed which gets burned.These were full back of hand coverage. One last thing of note, the velcro-like attachment was not something that catches on other fabrics, only itself. Plus smoother and less abrasive if rubbed on your skin which can sometimes happen when you wipe your brow mid paddle-stroke.

Price

I usually pay $30-35 for gloves. My wife who steers OC6s more, prefers full finger gloves and pays a bit more. These were actually cheaper than what I usually pay though. They were listed at ~$25 bucks at West Coast Paddle Sports and I was super pleased to put that extra 10 bucks back into my wallet. (Actually, who am I kidding, towards another accessory, a floating cellphone case I will review another time.)

Impressions

I paddled more miles in 4 days than I ever have. Even at the Gorge, or on previous adventures. And the final results? A single blister when it was all said and done. Compared to my normal blisters, this matched what used to occur after a 15 mile paddle. So really, this was minor and pretty much was a non-issue within 24 hours. I would have loved no blisters, but considering this was all I got, and less than what I usually am facing, I am pretty thrilled! The gloves were comfortable and never intrusive to my technique. And while wearing them and not paddling (carrying gear, rigging, helping load the canoe) they for practically not noticeable when worn. The padding on the palm helped my comfort at the end of each long day as well, since there was no bruising.

I will update after a few months of use, but I have to say, I just found my new gloves of choice! They were better performing, just as comfortable and much cheaper then other gloves worn.

Pros:

  • Gloves actually designed for paddling, vs. rigging or dive gloves.
  • Better protection than normal gloves from blisters with gel padding not just leather.
  • No bruising on hands due to padding.
  • Didn't stink after paddling with gloves fr 4 days and never properly rinsing.
  • Gotta love the finger pulls for easy removal.
  • Gentle non-abrasive and seamless 'Nose wipe' sections are actually welcomed.
  • Full back of hand coverage, no sun exposed semi-circle.

Cons:

  • Sad that one of the finger pulls broke, as that was a great feature. Not sure design flaw or just a one-time production QA issue.
  • I miss the snap-to-each other feature that some gloves have where each glove can snap to the other and helps keep me from losing them. I go old-school though and just velcro them to each other which works.

Available online and in store at West Coast Paddle Sports here.

 


Cali Paddler Team Writer Clarke Graves

Team Writer Clarke Graves - If there is water, he will paddle it (regardless of craft). Clarke is a surfer turned paddler who grew up in San Diego but has traveled every corner of California enjoying its beauty and appeal. He has had the privilege of racing SUP, OC6, OC2, OC1, Prone, Dragon-boat and surf-ski.

One of Clarke's goals is to paddle as much shoreline in California as he can, with as many paddling friends who are willing to join him. If you have an idea for Clarke to write about or any questions, send it our way and we will pass it along!

SoCal Winter Series Preview - La Jolla Invitational

SoCal Winter Race Series
This series of race previews is an 'unaffiliated' effort to share experiences from each of the races that comprise Southern California's Winter Series of Races for OC1, OC2, Surf-Ski, SUP and Prone Paddlers. - This week we spotlight the La Jolla Invitational! All ocean. Beach Launch. A great opportunity for those first timers wanting to try oc1, surfski, prone or sup.
And be sure to check back for other race previews as they come up this winter. Gonna be a fun season! NorCal, if anyone is interested in contributing similar paddle and race previews, we'd love to team up!

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CP Explorations - Monterey to Morro Bay

Monterey to Morro BayJoin us on a Cali Paddler Exploration journey along the Big Sur Coastline. 4 day, 120 miles from Monterey to Morro Bay. From socked in fog, to gorgeous sunny days. Hillsides, cliffs, dolphins and sea otters. Helpful tailwinds to horrible up-winds. And a finish for the ages!

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CP Review - SharkBanz Shark Deterrent Band

SharkBanz Review

 

I recently embarked on an adventure OC1 paddle from Monterey to Morro Bay that placed me in some of the sharkiest of waters. In fact I paddled in what is called the Red Triangle. Don't know what that is? Here is a Wikipedia excerpt for you:

The Red Triangle is the colloquial name of a roughly triangle-shaped region off the coast of northern California, extending from Bodega Bay, north of San Francisco, out slightly beyond the Farallon Islands, and down to the Big Sur region, south of Monterey. The area has a very large population of marine mammals, such as elephant seals, harbor seals, sea otters and sea lions, which are favored prey of great white sharks. Around thirty-eight percent of recorded great white shark attacks on humans in the United States have occurred within the Red Triangle—eleven percent of the worldwide total. The area encompasses the beaches of the heavily populated San Francisco Bay Area, and many people enjoy surfing, windsurfing, swimming and diving in these waters. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Triangle_(Pacific_Ocean)

So, yea, I was in THAT. Paddling alongside delicious elephant seals, dolphins, otters, sea lions and tons of fish. Solo for long stretches with no beach-able entries, access to towns, roads or nearby people. I figured if I was going to willingly put myself in this situation I better take some precautions. One of those was acquiring two SharkBanz to wear and affix to my canoe.

SharkBanz Review

A little bit about the product

So if you know me, sea-life is something I love. Including sharks! My respect for sharks and their importance of our ocean balance goes hand-in-hand with me being in their home when I paddle. So the last think I want to do is disrupt their habitat or harm their ability to thrive. So when I heard about SharkBanz I was interested to learn more. Their goals are to "develop simple, effective and affordable strategies to reduce the risk of a shark bite".

Their device and approach can be described as follows:

"Sharkbanz utilize powerful permanent magnets to create an effective shark deterrent that’s always on and requires no batteries or charging. When sharks approach Sharkbanz, they detect the device’s strong electromagnetic field, which provides a sudden sensation that is thousands of times stronger than the signal produced by anything in a shark’s normal food chain. Consequently, sharks are deterred away from Sharkbanz. This cause and effect is analogous to having a bright light suddenly shined in your eyes in a dark room. You would not be hurt, but you would want to turn away." (https://www.sharkbanz.com/pages/how-it-works)

So I had two of these bands which were very much like a heavy watch band. I wore one on my left ankle which fit fine in my foot-well. The second one I strapped to my ama behind the front iako/ama joint. This way I always had one in/near the water and one on me should I fall in, lose my craft, or need to swim for any other reason.

SharkBanz Review

SharkBanz Review

My impressions

Once I strapped the items on I never noticed them again. In fact the only time I had any reminder of it was when I climbed up on my van to unstrap my canoe and my ankle pulled to the side of the vehicle and my leg attached to the steel metal side. After chuckling at the powerful magnet, I just pulled my leg away and proceeded to do my task. While the bands are heavy by comparison to a watch, they are not so heavy as to impede my movement while paddling, or make the canoe and ama so heavy that I couldn't paddle efficiently. In fact, I paddled over a hundred miles with them, and never gave it a second thought. Except of course the thought of what they are helping me avoid.

So let's be honest, if these really worked I would have a boring story to tell. And as far as sharks go, it was in fact very boring. Thank goodness. An average of 7 hours a day, between 23 and 30 miles, in calm and overcast to windy and surfing conditions. I never encountered any sighting of a shark. That doesn't mean they weren't there, but for whatever reason, I was not very interesting if they were. Which is exactly what I would hope for. I did encounter otters, sea lions, a sunfish and a dolphin. All within 4 feet of the canoe. I had a fin whale breaching about .25 miles away. They all seemed to have no problem keeping me company during the trip. I even had a curious seal follow me for over a mile surfacing every minute or so with a big exhale and make me flinch.

Disclaimer regarding Great White sharks

One disclaimer that gave me pause about how effective this product would be was that Great White sharks are ambush predators. They see you from a distance, and levy a high speed attack on their prey. This is different than bull, tiger and other breeds of sharks. So in my case, they might not sense the magnetic pulse and be deterred until they had gotten so close it was too late to pull back. So the website makes a point to say that Great Whites, are not included in their list of shark species that this is designed to help with. That said, if one was curious about me, and not throttling towards me to attack, it would be helpful.

Final info

Cost: The cost is $84.00 per band. So not as affordable as the awesome "I am not a seal" stickers by Better Surf than Sorry. But considering the potential hospital bills of a bite, perhaps a bargain! I had two, one black and grey, the other black and turquoise (which matched my canoe perfectly). Other styles and colors are available too, but really, I was mostly worried about their effectiveness. And well, I am here writing a review, with all my fingers (and toes) intact, so I am going to say I am pretty pleased. Would I wear them every time I paddle? Maybe not both of them. Perhaps just on my ankle in case I have to go for a long swim and lose my canoe in conditions due to broken leash. But the piece of mind when I paddled, especially solo, and even when I huli'd on a lunch break and wasn't paying attention to a rogue wave is pretty nice to have. So if you have visions of long ocean paddles, solo or with groups, and happen to be in areas that have been run by 'the landlord' or frequented by 'the man in the grey suit', I would consider this a worthy accessory. Plus, one last thing, having these helped my wife and mom feel "better" about my crazy adventure ideas. And you can't put a price on that. :)

See you on the water!

 


Cali Paddler Team Writer Clarke Graves

Team Writer Clarke Graves - If there is water, he will paddle it (regardless of craft). Clarke is a surfer turned paddler who grew up in San Diego but has traveled every corner of California enjoying its beauty and appeal. He has had the privilege of racing SUP, OC6, OC2, OC1, Prone, Dragon-boat and surf-ski.

One of Clarke's goals is to paddle as much shoreline in California as he can, with as many paddling friends who are willing to join him. If you have an idea for Clarke to write about or any questions, send it our way and we will pass it along!

California Race Preview - Another Dam Race (ADR)

Another Dam Race ADRAnother Dam Race (ADR) - Parker Arizona

For those of you who haven’t paddled Another Dam Race (ADR), you are probably wondering what it is all about. So, having gone last year and gotten the first hand experience, we wanted to share with you some answers to common questions that we had, and you might too.

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CP Explorations - Catalina Island

CP Explorations - Catalina IslandFor many years now, I have wondered what was on the other side. Beyond the little pocket town of Avalon and gates to dirt roads and bison. Far past the waters where the half day fishing boats stop. Catalina Island marked to me a giant body of land begging to be explored by water. I just knew there were coastlines with giant mountains and cliffs, pocket beaches that may not have ever had people walk upon, and of course, crystal clear water teaming with sea life. So when I became friends with Ernie after the Salton Sea Race and the CP Retreat in March, I asked him if he had paddled the islands perimeter since he moved there this past year. And when he answered "no", the next question was immediate...“would you like to?”

 

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CP Review - Inflateable SUP from XTERRA

Inflateable SUP Review - XTERRA BoardsEvery been curious about what it is like to paddle an inflatable SUP? Want to know the impressions of one from someone who is used to fast race boards and traveling far on paddles to explore as much as possible? Well, look no further, because we just finished a 10 day trip with lots of paddling, various conditions, and all sorts of water types. Check out our impressions of the 10' XTERRA board. What did we like, and not like? And did it pass 'the family test'?

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10 Tips to be a Better Paddler

Tips to Become a Better Paddler

We here at Cali Paddler are always striving to be better, and have more fun, on the water. Whether it is related to fitness, technique or attitude, there are many well documented ways to becoming a better paddler. However, some ways to improve your SUP, Prone, Outrigger Surf-Ski or Dragonboat performance are not as commonly known as others. We wanted to share the following top 10 tips to help you paddle better, and open up our Cali Paddler Treasure Chest of Secrets....to YOU! Enjoy

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CP Review - SUPerior by Motionize

SUPerior Motionize Review

A review of the SUPerior motion sensor by Motionize. You might have heard about this product with their recent collaboration behind the innovative force at QuickBlade who will be embedding this sensor in QB paddles. Pretty cool! In our case, the stand-alone product is what we have our hands on and we are excited to see how the product not only helps us analyze our stroke and paddling effort when paddling SUP, but improve it! Does it get in my way when I switch sides? Was the weight noticeable? Was it easy to setup before, and use during a paddle? I was excited to get on the water and see how it stacked up against other products.

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