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    2021 Holiday Gift Guide - Whitewater

    2021 Holiday Gift Guide - Whitewater

    We may not get many white Christmases, but at least we have plenty of whitewater here in Virginia. If you’re looking for ideas for the whitewater boater in your family, we’re here to help. Here are 10 picks we love and we think your loved ones would be stoked to receive. Or hey, gift them to yourself—we won’t judge.

    Jackson Antix 2.0

    Jackson Antix 2.0 - $1190 to $1549

    If someone on your list is looking for their first whitewater kayak but doesn’t know what they want yet, we bet they’ll find it in the Antix 2.0. We think of the new Antix as the crossover SUV of whitewater kayaks – just reassuring enough to have your back on unfamiliar water, but enough edge and slice to make a tired local run look like a new playground. It surfs like a dream and locks onto waves with just a slight switch of the edge. It still has enough volume and bow rocker to carry you up and over waves and boat-stopping holes, so it’s truly an all-around boat that’s perfect for new paddlers or experienced boaters who need a one-kayak quiver.

    Jackson Zen 3

    Jackson Zen 3 - $1190 to $1549

    If the Antix still looks a little too spicy, consider its higher-volume, more stable cousin, the Zen 3. The Zen lends an impressive amount of confidence to beginners thanks to its ultra-wide beam, high bow and stern volume, and less aggressive rocker profile. Remember that whitewater kayaks are not one-size-fits-all, so if you need any sizing help, don’t hesitate to call us for assistance.

    Astral GreenJacket

    Astral GreenJacket - $300

    Raft guides and river professionals of all kinds consistently pick Astral’s GreenJacket as the most popular rescue vest on the market. Theres’s a good reason for that—actually, a bunch of good reasons. Its signature two-panel construction allows for a comfortable fit for almost any body shape. The oversized clamshell pocket can fit a full pin kit plus snacks for the day, and the quick-release belt allows trained rescuers to safely perform tows and live-bait rescues with the ability to quickly detach if necessary. Please note that the GreenJacket isn’t suited for those who aren’t trained to use a quick-release harness. For those folks, take a look at our next pick, the NRS Ninja.

    NRS Ninja PFD

    NRS Ninja - $129.95

    Arguably the lowest-profile whitewater PFD on the market, the NRS Ninja is a perennial favorite among playboaters and river runners. Its concentrated design keeps all of the foam centered in front and behind, giving plenty of arm space and a full range of motion. The large zippered pocket is super convenient for snacks, sunglasses, or lip balm. Choose from classic black, high-visibility red, or a fresh-looking teal to suit almost anyone’s style.

    Astral Throw Rope

    Astral Throw Rope - $59.95

    There’s an old adage among paddlers: “we’re all between swims.” As much as we hope that next swim is far off, we never know when we’ll need to rescue or be rescued. Help your loved one prepare for that situation with a simple throw rope. They’re easy to use with some simple training, and they can easily save a life (or, more often, a pinned boat). This particular rope is sized to fit perfectly in the GreenJacket’s rope-ready pocket, but it will also pack conveniently into a kayak for anyone not using a GreenJacket. 50 feet of Dyneema-core rope are used to craft this durable and reliable rescue tool.

    NRS Co-Pilot Knife

    NRS Co-Pilot Knife - $49.95

    If you’re going to have a throw rope, you also need a way to cut that rope if it becomes a hazard. A solid river knife is always a good idea, so consider the tried-and-true Co-Pilot. The Co-Pilot’s sheath attaches directly to most PFD’s knife tabs so it’s always easy to access when you need it. A blunt tip minimizes the risk of accidental raft or skin punctures, and serrated blades help quickly cut through rope, fabric, and fishing line.

    Immersion Research Microwave Pogies

    Immersion Research Microwave Handwarmer Pogies -$45

    Winter paddling is COLD. We bundle in dry suits, union suits, and wool. We pile on two or three pairs of socks under insulating booties. We throw fleece or neoprene liners under our helmets. But by far the hardest thing to keep warm when paddling is our hands. That’s why pogies are the first choice for toasty digits all winter long. Pogies are neoprene oven-mitt shaped things that attach to your paddle shaft. You simply slide your hands in and you have unobstructed grip on the paddle. These ones from Immersion Research are warm, cozy, and easy to use.

    Immersion Research Shittens

    Immersion Research Shittens - $45

    Okay, okay, we know we just spent the last paragraph convincing you pogies are the best, but there are some situations where they don’t work so well. They only work on double-bladed kayak paddles, so rafters, canoeists, and paddleboarders won’t find them very helpful. And pogies attach to your paddle shaft, so if you’re out of your boat and not holding your paddle, your hands just aren’t protected. Swimming = very, very cold hands. You can trust me on that because I’m basically a professional swimmer. If you know someone who swims a lot, or a paddleboarder or open canoeist, the new IR Shittens might just be the answer. They feature the same toasty neoprene as IR’s pogies, but in a palmless mitten shape that allows both warmth and grip.

    Immersion Research Rival Jacket

    Immersion Research Rival Jacket - $275

    If you know someone who’s stuck inside for the winter, but can’t wait to get after it when the spring rains come, gift them the Immersion Research Rival Jacket. Ideal for shoulder season boating, the Rival provides most of the dryness of a dedicated dry top without the heavy fabric or painful neck gasket. It uses tight-fitting neoprene at the neck and wrists to keep most water out, and features a double tunnel to mate with a spray skirt and keep water out of the kayak.

    Immersion Research 7 Figure Dry Suit

    Immersion Research 7 Figure Drysuit - $1249

    For those who just can’t wait out winter, the 7 Figure dry suit is there to make them feel like a million bucks. The sleek back entry zipper keeps bulk off your chest and away from your PFD, and the front entry zipper allows a quick answer to nature’s call. Reinforced DWR fabric and super-dry gaskets round out one of the best suits on the market. It’s tough. It’s rugged. It’s steezy. It also has a women’s counterpart, the Aphrodite, which provides an innovative clamshell zipper for both entry and relief.

    2021 Holiday Gift Guide - Fishing

    2021 Holiday Gift Guide - Fishing

    It’s that time of year again! Whether you love or hate holiday shopping, it’s trickier this year than ever to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list. Fortunately, you’ve got an ace up your sleeve—the fishing experts at PaddleVA! We have trouble thinking of gift ideas for the non-paddlers in our lives (I mean, come on, what are you even supposed to give those people?), so if you’re looking for the perfect gift for the kayaker on your list, you’ve come to the right place. Here are our top picks for everyone from the casual Sunday fisherman to the serious tournament angler.

     YakAttack DoubleHeader

    YakAttack DoubleHeader - $20

    The DoubleHeader is the easiest solution to limited track space on a fishing kayak. Compatible with any standard size gear track, the DoubleHeader allows you to offset paddle and rod holders and other YakAttack accessories over the side of your kayak, giving you more space available for transducer mounts, eyelets, and any other accessories you might need.

    YakAttack Omega Pro Rod Holder

    YakAttack Omega Pro - $40

    Speaking of rod holders, why not gift the most versatile rod holder on the market? YakAttack’s Omega and Omega Pro holders fit almost any rod out there, and any kayak fisher can always use another one. Fits any standard size gear track.

    Old Town Sportsman 106

    Old Town Sportsman - starting at $949.99

    If the fisherman in your life doesn’t have a kayak yet, consider the Old Town Sportsman 106 or 120 as a stable and all-around versatile platform for new and experienced anglers alike. Whether you opt for the shorter, lighter 106 or the faster 120, the Sportsman offers an impressive weight capacity and enough stability to stand without tipping over. Complete with a removable high-low seat, gear tracks for accessories, three flush-mount rod holders, and a bow hatch, the Sportsman has just about everything a new kayak fisher would need to get on the water. It’s customizable and comfortable enough that they won’t grow out of it anytime soon.

    Watersports Warehouse Anchor Trolley Kit

    Watersports Warehouse Anchor Trolley - $40

    It’s hard to fish when you’re constantly paddling to stay in the same spot. To help counter drift and spin, the Watersports Warehouse anchor trolley allows you to place an anchor at any point along the side of the boat and easily adjust position to suit current and wind conditions.

    Ketch Karbonate Board

    Ketch Board - $34.99

    For the tournament angler, a reliable and durable measuring tray is essential. A Ketch Karbonate board is the perfect accessory for catch-and-release tournament entrants.

    Huk LoPro Pursuit Hoodie

    Huk LoPro Hoodie - $55

    Breathable UPF protection in a lightweight, stain-resistant hoodie? Sign us up. The Huk LoPro hoodie is a versatile sun protection layer that your angler will actually want to wear. If you know someone who has a tricky relationship with sunscreen, gift them this comfy UPF hoodie to keep sun off their arms and neck.

    Pelican Elite Series Cooler

    Pelican Elite Series Cooler - $119 to $178

    What’s a day on the water without some cold beverages? Boring, that’s what. The Pelican Elite 20 Qt cooler is the ideal size to fit in most stern tankwells and can hold all the refreshments they’ll need for a whole day of fishing. If they’ve got a bigger crew, take a look at the 30 Qt or even the 70 Qt versions. All sizes come with a lifetime guarantee so you know you’re buying quality.

    YakAttack BlackPak

    BlackPak - $130

    If your kayak fisher has everything, they could probably use a way to organize it all. The YakAttack BlackPak elevates tackle storage by providing a customizable, riggable system. They can mount up to ten rod holders directly onto the crate, and it can accommodate camera mounts, flags, and other accessories using the built-in top rails. Three rod holders are included in the package.

    NRS Chinook PFD

    NRS Chinook PFD - $139.95

    The Chinook is the vest to beat when it comes to high-performance, high-comfort fishing PFDs. A high back stays out of the way of kayak seats, and the mesh below it provides plenty of cool air flow on hot days. Graded sizing means you’ll find the perfect fit for anglers of any stature, and they all come with large tackle box pockets and various attachment points for gear and rigging. And of course, it’s US Coast Guard certified.

    Werner Camano Bass Green

    Werner Skagit/Camano - starting at $135

    A car doesn’t move without an engine, and a kayak doesn’t go far without a reliable paddle. The Werner Skagit features the perfect blade shape for anglers in wide fishing kayaks and uses a lightweight carbon blend shaft that won’t wear the paddler out as fast as heavy aluminum shafts. If you’re looking for a more premium paddle, look at the Skagit’s sister model, the Camano, which features a full fiberglass blade for enhanced durability, performance, and weight savings.

    NRS Forecast Gloves

    NRS Forecast Gloves - $34.75

    If you get cold just thinking about your loved one paddling through the winter, keep them warm and toasty with a pair of NRS Forecast Gloves. NRS HydroSkin 2.0 Forecast Gloves deliver the warmth of 2 mm neoprene with convertible thumb and finger tips to give extra dexterity for fishing and knot tying. Tips of the thumb and first two fingers can be slipped out for tying knots, working camera controls and other fine motor operations. Hook and loop patches hold the glove tips out of the way.

    Old Town Discovery 119 Sportsman

    Discovery 119 Sportsman Solo Canoe - $1099.99

    Does the sportsman on your list fish, hunt, and camp and need a craft that can do it all? Take a look at the Old Town Discovery 119 Sportsman. It’s a compact, solo canoe that weighs in under 60 pounds. For the modest weight, it overdelivers on features, with a comfortable, adjustable seat, foot pegs, molded thwarts with track mounts for all your fishing accessories, and flush-mount rod holders for easy, versatile performance. We suggest a double-bladed paddle with this boat, because even though it provides the cargo capacity of a canoe, it maintains the sleek handling and feel of a kayak.

    2021 Holiday Gift Guide - Rec Kayaking

    2021 Holiday Gift Guide - Rec Kayaking

    If you have a kayaker (or aspiring kayaker) on your list, chances are they'll love a thoughtful piece of gear for time on the water. We have plenty of great gift suggestions for anyone who enjoys a quiet day on the lake or a river party with friends. 

    Old Town Vapor 10 Kayak Package

    Vapor 10 Package - $589.99

    Do you have someone on your list who wants their first kayak, but you don’t quite know where to start? Old Town has you covered here with the Vapor 10 Package. The Vapor 10 is an ideal first kayak for small to medium paddlers, including older kids and teenagers. It’s nimble, easy to paddle, and comfortable enough for hours on the water. It’s a great gift on its own, but with this package, you also get a universally sized PFD (designed for anyone over 90 lbs) and a 230 cm paddle perfectly sized for the Vapor 10. Christmas shopping? Done.

    Jackson Staxx Kayak Prism

    Jackson Staxx - $699 to $849

    Need kayaks for the whole family but puzzled on where to store them? Enter the Jackson Staxx. Like its name implies, the Staxx is meant to be, well, stacked. You can store all your family boats on top of each other in a small garage space, or stack a few boats together to save roof rack space on the way to the lake. Convenience isn’t the Staxx’s only strong point—it also offers a stable platform, plenty of space for small kids or dogs, and a comfortable adjustable seat back for more time on the water.

    Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL Kayak

    Malibu Two XL - $999

    Another great solution for families with small kids, the Malibu Two XL is a classic tandem sit-on-top that can fit two adults and a toddler or one adult and an older child. It’s a convenient, flexible platform for families or couples looking to spend some quality time together. Made of sturdy, rotomolded plastic with enough weight capacity for two adults, the Malibu Two is sure to serve you well for years to come.

    AquaBound Manta Ray Hybrid Kayak Paddle

    AquaBound Manta Ray Hybrid - $149.95

    No matter how perfect the kayak is, it isn’t going far without a paddle. For a high-quality, durable paddle at a mid-range price, check out the AquaBound Manta Ray Hybrid. A carbon shaft offers a light swing weight, while a plastic blade keeps the price down and AquaBound’s signature PosiLock ferrule allows for a full range of blade offset angles. It’s our go-to for a lot of reasons. If you choose to gift this paddle, check out AquaBound’s sizing chart here to select the perfect length.

    Stohlquist Cadence/Glide - $119.95

    Did you know that you should replace a PFD after about 5 years? True story—the foam loses buoyancy after a while, so older PFDs often don’t float as well as they used to. If you have someone who needs a comfortable new vest, look for the Stohlquist Cadence (men’s fit) or Glide (women’s fit). These designs have a thin back to avoid interference with high kayak seats, soft foam for comfort, and plenty of pocket space for all the snacks and accessories you might need on the water.

    NRS Women's Boater's Gloves

    NRS Men's Boater's Gloves


    NRS Boater’s Gloves - $29.96

    Who has time for sunburns and blisters? These fingerless gloves from NRS offer grip, sun protection, and freedom from pesky blisters. Offered in men’s and women’s sizing, there’s a fit for anyone. Pretty simple gift, really.

    Huk LoPro Pursuit L/S Shirt Carolina Blue

    Huk LoPro Pursuit Long Sleeve Shirt - $40

    While we’re on the subject of sunburn, I think we can all agree we should avoid it. It’s hard to stay on top of sunscreen application, though. The Huk Pursuit shirt keeps the rays off in style. It’s a lightweight, moisture wicking fabric that’s easy to wear around town or over a swimsuit on the river. Did we mention it has our sweet logo?

    Watersports Warehouse Tie-Down Cam Straps

    Watersports Warehouse Tie-Down Cam Straps - $20

    There aren’t many parts of river days that we don’t like, but loading and unloading can certainly be a pain. Cam straps simplify the process. No knots required, no risk of overtightening a ratchet strap. These sturdy 15-foot straps come complete with a carry bag, buckle pad, and the Appomattox River Company logo.

    Astral Loyak Men's

    Astral Loyak Women's


    Astral Loyak - $90

    Who said water shoes couldn’t also just be great shoes? Not Astral. Astral’s Loyaks are stylish, comfy, and water-ready. On the river, they drain water and silt through built-in drain holes. The removable rubber insole doesn’t absorb water, and the super-grippy G-Rubber outsole helps us balance on slippery rocks. Out in public, no one would have any clue they’re water shoes. We wear our Loyaks around town every day.

    Rumpl Original Puffy National Park Blanket Grand Canyon

    Rumpl Original Puffy National Parks Blanket - $96.74

    What river picnic is complete without a great picnic blanket? Rumpl’s Original Puffy sheds sand and beads water. It’s made of all recycled materials and comes complete with corner loops and a cape clip for those chilly nights by the campfire. The National Parks collection whisks you off to scenic places while supporting the work of the National Park Foundation.

    Recreational Kayak Buying Guide: Seats and Outfitting

    Recreational Kayak Buying Guide: Seats and Outfitting

    Once you've determined the hull type you want to look for, it's a good idea to consider what comfort features you'll want on the deck or in the cockpit of your kayak. These are usually called outfitting. Simply put, outfitting is the user interface of the kayak: the seat, foot rests, hip and thigh braces, and anything else used to connect you to your boat.


    For most rec kayakers, the seat is the most important piece of outfitting in a boat. We like to consider seats in three main categories: simple molded or padded seats, adjustable non-frame seats, and frame seats.

    • Molded Seats: The least expensive and most durable seats are simply molded into the deck of the kayak, and sometimes the manufacturer adds foam padding or an adjustable backrest to these. While they are hard to break, they don't provide a lot of support or customization. Since they usually sit right on the deck of the kayak, you may find that they don't drain water well and that you end up sitting in a wet seat more often.

    • Adjustable Non-frame: These seats are generally considered mid-range, and you can find them with a wide array of features depending on the brand and model of kayak. Most seats in this category use a raised seat pan, which drains water below the seat to keep you drier and more comfortable. They also usually feature more advanced foam and mesh padding for ventilation and moisture wicking, and you can often adjust the back height and even leg lifter straps on some models. These seats usually sit lower to the waterline than frame seats, so they are a good balance of comfort, control, and stability.

    • Frame Seats: The most comfortable kayak seats use metal frames much like stadium seats. They are removable and many offer more than one position--high or low, or even forward or backward adjustments. Many come with large amounts of padding and even lumbar support. Frame seats usually raise the price of a boat by at least $100, sometimes much more. They are easier on those who have back and knee issues, and are much easier to stand up out of. Since they are removable, always make sure to secure them before hitting the water--they don't float and they can be hard to replace. Because frame seats naturally lift the paddler higher above the water line, the center of gravity is changed and the boat will feel less stable and harder to control. Most kayaks add stability to the hull to offset this effect.

    Foot Rests: 

    All kayaks need some type of foot rest, but they are all slightly different. The most affordable foot rests are simply a series of molded in footwells, where the paddler chooses the most comfortable one based on leg length. Mid-range and higher end kayaks feature adjustable foot pegs, which are more customizable and tend to keep your ankles at a more natural angle. 

    Hip and Thigh Braces:

    When sitting inside a kayak, your hips are your most powerful control point, so snug hip pads give you more direct control over the boat. Thigh braces lock your legs into the right position for ultimate control, so you usually only find these in performance day touring or whitewater kayaks. While these pieces aren't common, you'll want to consider them if you plan to cover long distances or are simply looking for the most efficient boat. A few sit on top boats meant for mild whitewater use also offer thigh straps as a way to achieve this control.