Big Savings for Paddlers at ACK

Zydeco Bend
Grab a new (to you!) kayak and hit the water!

Save at Your Local ACK Store

Our stores are full of savings for paddlers with plenty of ways score a good deal on a kayak, canoe or SUP and the best place to start is the Used Kayaks section on our website which shows you everything you can find at our various store locations. Do those price tags excite you? I thought they might…but that’s not all, oh no! On top of big savings off of the regular price, our stores offer a $50 store credit* towards accessories with the purchase of a used, blemished or clearance kayak.

But wait, there’s more! If you’re on the fence about a specific model, we always have our rental reimbursement program to help  you make your decision. Our rental fleet is full of models that you can try out with 24 hour rentals and the freedom to take the kayak anywhere you want at reasonable prices. If you’re thinking about one that’s not in the fleet, we’ll do our best to accommodate you needs. And if you decide to buy a used or new kayak, we’ll reimburse your first 24 hour rental fee!

Online Savings for Paddlers not in Texas

Sorry out of state customers, due to the nature of used kayaks we do not sell them online, but we do sell a large number of clearance, discontinued or blemished models in the ACK Outlet! Save up to 30% on an ACK Outlet kayak and score our ongoing deals like FREE kayak shipping to your door* and 15% off* accessories with purchase. Not bad, right?

So what are you waiting for? These kayaks won’t be here forever, jump on this opportunity before it’s too late!

Here’s the fine print:

*Free shipping offer excludes Hobie kayaks and accessories. $50 Store Credit offer only applies to in-store purchases. $50 Store Credit offer and 15% Off All Items offer excludes Hobie kayaks and accessories, Thule and Yakima products as well as all kayaks, canoes, standup paddleboards and other boats, trailers, electronics, gift certificates, lessons, trips, events, any closeout or specially priced products.  All offers exclude prior purchases and cannot be combined with other offers. Free shipping excludes all items of hazardous materials. HI, AK and international orders are never eligible for free shipping.

3 Simple Steps to Better Sun Protection

After four consecutive weekends of ACK events this month, I’ve gotten my fair share of sun. It’s been a lot of fun, but the bad news is that I haven’t done my best to consider sun protection while I’ve been out there. It wasn’t until a visit to my grandfather’s house prompted me to reconsider my way of thinking.

I had just spent the day working at the Texas Ski Ranch for our San Marcos Demo Days and decided to pop in to say hi to my grandfather who lived nearby. We caught up and watched some football and eventually he commented on the sun burn I had gotten that day. I told him I had put on sunscreen but still managed to get a little burnt, no big deal. He proceeded to tell me about how he’d recently been fighting with skin cancer, brought on by some carelessness to protect his skin when he was younger and spending a lot of time outside just like me. He gave me a info sheet he had gotten from the doctor and that was the end of the conversation.

What the info sheet had on it and what he told me wasn’t anything new. I knew sunburns were bad and could lead to long term skin problems, but for some reason it’s an easy danger to dismiss. It’s also an easy danger to beat, and next weekend when I was out at the National Hunting and Fishing Day I took some extra precautions for the sake of protecting my skin. Just 3 simple steps to protect myself from the sun that’s easy for anyone to follow.

Step 1: Keep Sun Protection in Mind When Planning

Even on a cloudy day like this one you need to consider sun protection.
Even on a cloudy day like this one you need to consider sun protection.

Start protecting yourself from the sun before you even get going. When you plan an outdoor adventure, consider the time of day you’re going out. UV rays are strongest when the sun is directly overhead (usually between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM) and during the summer months. If you’re going out during these times, be extra conscious of protecting your skin! On the other hand, you probably don’t have much to worry about if you’re going out for a night paddle.

Also, don’t let the weather fool you. Fall often means more overcast days, but a cloudy sky doesn’t mean you shouldn’t worry about the sun. UV rays can penetrate cloud coverage and sometimes even reflect off of a patchwork of clouds to result in more rays on the ground. Even on cloudy days, you need to prepare yourself with proper sun protection.

Step 2: Cover Up What You Can

ACK Developer Jeremy covered up for a summer paddle.
ACK Developer Jeremy covered up for a summer paddle.

Protecting your skin involves covering it up. No, this doesn’t mean that you need to be covered head to toe, but covering up in a comfortable and responsible manner is important.

Something for your head is a must have – I don’t know about you, but when I try to apply sunscreen to my scalp, my hair usually gets in the way. The problem is that hair usually isn’t enough to protect your noggin from the sun and an easy and effective way to compensate for this by putting on a hat. Ideally, your hat should be wide brimmed giving 360 degree coverage to your whole head, neck and face. A popular option to do this are the sun hats from Outdoor Research, including the Seattle Sombrero which is perfect for colder Fall weather because of its GORE-TEX fabric crown. Buffs are a popular alternative to hats and come in a wide selection of styles that can cover your entire face. In the end, it’s a personal preference whether you prefer wearing a buff versus a hat, or both like Jeremy choose to do in the picture.

In addition to covering your face, it’s a good idea to wear clothing that offers sun protection as well. Find long sleeve shirts or pants that offers a UV Protection Rating (UPF) that are loose fitting and comfortable so they don’t interfere with your adventuring, like our apparel from Columbia. Gloves, closed toe shoes, sunglasses and other apparel accessories are there if you want to go completely covered, but remember you can always use sunscreen to take care of anything not covered up. In colder weather, you’ll probably want to wear clothing that provides extra coverage to keep warm anyways!

Step 3: Use Sunscreen – and More Than Once

Applying a first application before a paddling trip.
Applying a first application before a paddling trip.

For anything not covered, bring a tube of sunscreen and keep it with you. Aim for one that has a SPF rating of 15 or greater and if you’re planning on participating in some water sports make sure you get a brand that’s waterproof! When applying, cover everywhere from your ears to your toes – easy to forget spots like these are often the first places to get burnt.

Finally, it’s important to remember is that you need to apply more than once if you stay out for an extended period. Unfortunately, there’s no hard and fast rule for how often you need to re-apply as factors like the SPF rating, weather conditions and even your propensity to burn play a factor in how often you need a new layer. When participating in activities where I’m not heavily perspiring or constantly getting wet, I’ve found that it’s best to re-apply every 3-4 hours. Even if you are using a waterproof brand of sunscreen, water sport activities require more frequent re-application of sunscreen, approximately every hour and a half.

Remember Sun Protection on Your Next Outdoor Adventure

Don’t let the sun keep you from adventuring, but remember to take the appropriate steps to be protected. Even if you don’t see direct results of it now, improper steps to keeping your skin healthy can lead to long term problems in the future. It’s best to just be safe!

So how do you protect yourself from the sun? Do you have a favorite brand of sun screen or wear a buff to cover your face? Comment below and let me know!





Youngest Stand Up Paddling Kid You’ve Ever Seen

Stand Up Paddling Is Easier Than You Think

Or maybe this 2 year old just has some serious skills! I came across this video posted by the Paddling Headquarters and loved it. It showcases just how easy and fun Stand Up Paddling can really be. The beginning is a bit tedious with the unnecessary slow-mo’s but when little Kiara Goold finally climbs up on her little SUP, paddle in hand and grin across her face, well…that’s when you’re going to be wishing you were on the water too! Check out this stand up paddling kid for yourself:

Got a Stand Up Paddling Kid of Your Own?

I’m not sure what board Kiara is using but we’ve got the perfect SUP for your little one, or grom, in surfer speak. The Tahoe SUP Grom Kids paddleboard is a great size for younger paddlers and comes with the quality you can only find from Tahoe SUP. Grab one your your stand up paddling kid and then hit the water family style!



5 Tips to Extend Your Paddling in Cold Weather Season

Paddling in Cold Weather

It may not feel like it everywhere now, but September marks the end of summer and, eventually, the coming of cooler fall weather. This time last year, our team was talking about kayak storage options to help people get ready for the cold winter months. Boy, did we get an earful (or eyeful, technically, since responses were sent via email). We were reminded that many of our customers have yearlong paddling seasons and that ‘kayak hibernation’ wasn’t a term they were interested in hearing!

It makes sense that paddlers would want to stay on the water. With less recreational activities taking place, fall and wintertime water offers a more quiet and solitude experience. It means less bugs too! Pests like mosquitoes seem to disappear from cooling waterways as soon as Labor Day passes. But before you jump in your kayak and hit the lake, remember that long exposure to the cold can present a safety factor: hypothermia. I’ve outlined 5 things that I think anyone looking to extend the length of their paddling season into the winter months should consider.

1. Start With The the Basics

Keeping warm on the water as temperatures start to drop isn’t as hard as you think. Make sure you have all the basics like your PFD, spray skirt (for sit insides), bilge pump (also for sit insides), whistle, paddle leash and first aid kit. Add to this list a complete change of clothes in a dry bag just in case you fall in the water and want to change later. It may go without saying, but be sure that none of the clothes you wear or pack are cotton. Cotton dries slow, meaning you’re going to be cold if there’s even a slight breeze out, plus it weighs you down. Just don’t do it. What should you wear? Well, I was getting to that…

Guide for Paddling in Cold Weather
Cold Weather Paddling Apparel Layering Guide

2. Layering Is A Paddlers Best Friend Against the Cold

You’ll want to take on the cold with the appropriate paddling apparel, and that means layering with synthetic materials proven to keep you both warm and dry. I’d recommend starting with a good base layer in early fall and then adding piece by piece as the weather gets colder. Refer to our Cold Weather Paddling Apparel Layering Guide to see how you can best do this.

Keep in mind that when it gets colder it will be more important to keep as much covered as you can and this means investing in things like neoprene socks, paddling gloves (or pogies) and headwear. One really great headwear option that’s just arrived at ACK is the Buff Thermal Pro, which uses a Polartec fabric to cover your neck and head as well as merino wool for your chin and mouth.

3. Don’t Paddle On An Empty Stomach

It’s important that you hydrate whenever you’re paddling but it’s easy to forget when the sun isn’t beating down on you. In fact, keeping well fed and hydrated will help minimize the risk of hypothermia if you happen to fall in the water. Carbohydrates and foods high in fat will give you both energy and warmth. On especially cold nights, I recommend bringing along a vacuum sealed flask of your favorite warm beverage (non-alcoholic) like hot chocolate or cider.

4. Familiarize Yourself With Rescue Techniques

Even for a paddler who is dressed for cold water immersion, a swim can still bring on hypothermia if you aren’t prepared. Knowledge of rescue techniques and regular practice with your paddling companions (and cold water paddlers SHOULD have partners) are essential. Rolling is particularly important to know for sea kayakers or anyone else in a sit-inside because the inability to perform this will mean an extended exposure to cold water. All paddlers should also be able to re-enter their kayak should an accidental capsize occur. If you aren’t comfortable with these skills, make sure someone in your group knows this and is prepared to help.

5. Wear Your PFD!

At risk of sounding like a broken record, my last tip is a reminder to wear your PFD. Not only is it an added layer of insulation but they will keep your head above water, increasing your ability to fight against hypothermia dramatically. Just take a 10 minute lesson from the Cold Water Boot Camp if you don’t believe me:

Cold weather might be hard to imagine for some of us (like my fellow Texans) but for many cooler fall temperatures are just around the corner. Don’t let them mean an end to your paddling season but also remember to be safe on the water. Have something to add to my list? Just leave a comment below!

And the SUP Photo Contest Winner is…

SUP Photo Contest Winner - ACK
Kimberly out for a paddle with her little friend.

Congratulations Kimberly!

The end of July marks the conclusion to our “How Do You SUP?” Photo Contest on Facebook. Just as we expected, paddlers from all over take advantage of SUP versatility in a variety of different ways. We received submissions featuring SUP Racing, lounging, surfing, exploring, hand stands, fishing, yoga, & even some tandem paddling with pets and children. With an astounding 47 votes, the winning photo , posted by Kimberly, features a very cute pair of paddlers sharing a board.

SUP Photo Contest Prize

As our winner, Kimberly will receive…

  • BIC Sport Adjustable SUP Paddle
  • BIC Sport Multi-Least SUP Leash
  • BIC Board Cover
  • NRS Self Inflating Belt Pack PFD
  • NRS MicroLite Foundations Shirt
  • SUPThings Super Suction Cargo Net
  • Danuu SUP Paddle Bag

Again, congrats Kimberly and thanks again to everyone who participated!

Social Media Contests to Come!

Whether it be a photo contest, sweepstakes or something completely different, keep an eye out on the ACK social media pages for more ways to win free gear!

ACK Facebook ACK GooglePlus ACK Twitter ACKtv Network

Team ACK Heads to Outdoor Retailer for a Peek at 2014 Gear

Checking out kayaks at Outdoor Retailer 2012
Attendees checkout kayaks at the 2012 Outdoor Retailer Expo

You could hear a pin drop today in the main ACK office. The offices are about half empty as team ACK heads to the airport  to be whisked away to Salt Lake City for Outdoor Retailer (OR). For those not familiar with OR, it is outdoor sports show of its kind. Catering to manufacturers, retailers & enthusiasts, the show provides a first look at new technical innovations, outdoor sports apparel and educational conferences. Team ACK will be using this opportunity to familiarize themselves with gear they want to add to

Representing ACK at the event will be company owners Steve, Peter & Chris as well as Merchandising Team members Jerron & Jenny.
Being first-timers, I took a moment to talk with Jerron & Jenny about their expectations for this event:

Have you ever been to Outdoor Retailer before and what type of expectations do you have for this year?

Jerron: In my 3+ years of working for ACK, I have been to many different types of shows. Boat Shows, RV Shows, Fishing Shows, you name it! However, I have never been to Outdoor Retailer. This is a show that pretty much every serious outdoor retail shop attends to get a sneak peak at the new product available for the next season from over a thousand different companies. Being the avid kayak angler that I am, one could say that I am drooling over the opportunity to visit the various booths that display some of the new fishing equipment in search for that next hot product.

Jenny: Just like Jerron, this is going to be my first time attending the event and I am very excited – actually my first trade show for the outdoor market at all. I’ve heard things can get pretty wild on the show floor from Peter & Steve so I’m doing my best to prepare. There’s going to be a lot going on and I have a pretty long list of booths I want to visit with new paddle-sports gear.

Outdoor Retailer Crowds from 2012
Crowds of people at the Outdoor Retailer Expo in 2012.

What kinds of things have you done to get ready?

Jerron:  For the past couple weeks, vendors and manufactures that will have booths at the show have been sending updates about stuff they’ll have at the show. There’s been a lot of stuff to look over product wise, especially on the kayak fishing side of things.

Jenny: Plus, there’s a lot of work to get done around the office before we go since we’re going to be gone for almost a full week so we’ve all had to put in some extra time to make sure everything will run smooth while we’re out. For the show itself, I’ve packed my most comfortable walking shoes, a water bottle (empty, thank you very much TSA), a box of granola bars, and downloaded the OR floor map to my iphone; I don’t want to miss a thing!

Any products you’re particularly excited about?

Jerron: I’ve been hearing a lot of chatter about kayak fishing stuff ever since the big ICast fishing show happened about a month ago. We weren’t able to attend that one so I’m looking forward at getting close up time with some of those products. Some of the more anticipated products that I am looking forward to getting my hands on are the Raymarine Dragonfly (a new fishfinder), the Power Pole Micro Anchor, and of course all the new kayaks coming out.

Jenny: Ya, there are a TON of new kayaks that we’ve been hearing about and we’re waiting to take a look at them at the show before deciding whether or not to pick them up for There’s the new Slayer Propel, the Diablo Amigo, the Ride 115X, Ocean Kayak’s new Big Game 2 and I’m sure there are more that’ll be there. Who knows, maybe we’ll pick up a whole new kayak brand to add to the site! Ok, probably not, but hey – it could happen! I’ll personally be keeping an eye out for SUP gear too – I’ve been hearing good things about the new Astral Porters.

It sounds like you both have plenty to think about on the plane ride over, anything else you want to add?

Jerron: It’s definitely a good thing that these guys aren’t selling product at this show because I would be needing multiple suitcases to bring back some goodies. I’ll cover all the awesome kayak fishing gear I find out there, so stay tuned for my Outdoor Retailer recap once our team gets back!

Jenny: You’ll see plenty of updates from us at the show too- we’ll be doing our best to take pictures of new gear with our phones for the ACK Social Pages and maybe even leaving an ACK sticker on a booth or two. It’s going to be a blast and I can’t wait! Keep an eye out for my event recap when it’s all over as well.



Save the Date – Fall ACK Demo Days Almost Here!

ACK Demo Days - Fall 2013
Hope to see you there!

ACK Demo Days – Fall 2013

Mark your calendars – The ACK Fall 2013 Demo Days are only two months out!  As always, this FREE event will feature a HUGE selection of paddlecraft for you to check out plus paddling & outdoor clinics from our vendors and other experts, and of course, some killer deals.

Dates & Locations

ACK Austin: September 14th & 15th
ACK North Houston (Spring): September 14th & 15th
ACK Houston: September 21st & 22nd
ACK San Marcos: September 21st & 22nd

We’ll be posting more information on locations, available models, clinic schedule & more on our ACK Demo Days webpage as the event gets closer.

What To Expect at the ACK Demo Days

Well, we’ve already told you about the massive selection of canoes, kayaks & paddleboards to demo, the free paddling & outdoor clinics put on by our vendor representatives and local area experts and some great prices. All that’s left to do is show you what it’s like! Check out this gallery from our 2013 Spring Demo Days in Austin and watch this video from the 2012 Spring event:

Think Paddling Safety First And Always Be Mindful Of Mother Nature!

Remember Paddling Safety: Kayaking Comes With Exposure to the Elements

Lately, as I have been scanning the various kayaking forums, I’m starting to notice a very disturbing trend among some of my fellow paddlers. In just the last 2 months, I have counted over a dozen instances where paddlers aren’t taking into account paddling safety when it comes to weather conditions. Many are passing over the opportunity to check out the forecast for their paddling area so that they can know what mother nature has in store for them that day. Without the ability to get back to your land or your vehicle as quickly as you have with boats with motors on them, they are taking a huge gamble that is just not worth the risk.

Paddling Safety - Bad Weather
Example of less than ideal paddling weather.

These scenarios are easily remedied by always being mindful of the changing conditions and by utilizing local TV weather channels prior to your trip, weather apps on your smart phone that incorporate live radar, VHF radios that can tune into Coast Guard weather channels, or even a cell phone that allows you to call someone who can check weather patterns wherever they are for you. Mostly these instances seem to involve new kayakers who are anxious to hit the water and explore the opportunities their new plastic boat gives them. While I share in their enthusiasm, it’s important to stay alert and keep paddling safety in mind so that there will be many more trips in the future. Technology has come a long way and a lot of it is accessible even while kayaking. Waterproof cases for your phones, like the lifeproof case, instantly gives your electronic device protection and allows you to scan weather conditions with the peace of mind that if you drop the phone overboard that it will still work when you retrieve it.

If you find yourself on an outing and the weather shift and you can’t get back to your vehicle in time, here are some great practices to help prevent worst case scenarios. In the case of lightning, lay tall items in your kayak down flat, paddle to shore as quickly as possible, get out of your kayak and hunker down till the storm passes. The last place you want to be is exposed out on the water where you are one of the tallest things available for lightning to strike. Dealing with heavy winds can be a challenge as well, combat them by zig-zagging across the wind’s direction instead of going directly into it.  If you have no choice but to go straight into it, feather your paddle accordingly and if need be, take a break and rest every so often to regain your strength. In strong currents, you can attack the problem similarly as your would strong wind with the zig-zag approach as well as taking rests.

There won’t always be a solution to every problem that arises, but it is best to know basic paddling safety procedures that can help you in times of need. Preparedness is the key, and awareness can save your life. If possible, always scout conditions before you ever hit the water. The phrase “dying to hit the water” has no reason to be taken literally.


Getting Dressed for Greek Sea Kayaking with Bomber Gear’s Solar 50 Rash Guard

After leaving for Greece just under a month ago to undergo an exciting sea kayaking adventure vacationCutter Aquatics paddling instructor, Barbara Cutter, reports back with intel on her experience with Bomber Gear’s Solar 50 Rash Guard.

Dress for Your Environment

Have I mentioned that in June it is hot in Greece? Not hot like Texas, the humidity is much lower so you don’t sweat just stepping outside. If fact, in Greece we live outside. It’s just 50 yards from our blue front door to the blue, blue sea, there is always a light breeze and the nights cool down, so sipping a Mythos (local beer) at the sidewalk Taverna is a perfect after dark pass time. But I digress. I was talking about heat and what to wear while sea kayaking.

Solar 50 Rash Guard
Barb Cutter wearing Bomber Gear’s Solar 50 Rash Guard

To my paddling customers visiting Greece I always recommend wide brimmed hats and loose fitting long sleeved shirts to protect from blazing sun, but what I say and what I do are different. I put on poly shorts with a sleeveless top, slather on SPF 30 and don my Cutter Aquatics cap. It’s my Greek paddling uniform. Truthfully, I put off trying out the Bomber Gear Solar 50 Rash Guard that Joseph at ACK asked me to pack for Mediterranean paddling. I thought it would be too hot.

Wrong! This shirt is made of comfy, comfy fabric. The seams are nice and flat and the shirt feels wonderful under my lifejacket. It never felt sticky when I was wet and it dried very quickly. I got a couple of compliments on the color, too. Who says gray is boring? With the teal stitching it is a great combination.

Understanding the Sizing for the Solar 50 Rash Guard

The big question is fit. How do you like to wear your shirts, ladies? I usually buy size large these days. I have a good sized frame, broad shoulders and an aging middle. The collar, neckline and sleeves of this shirt felt very good, but for a size large, I think it should be just a bit broader through the shoulders and, frankly, I need more room in the waist.

Take a look at these pictures:

The first is of a woman who usually buys size Small clothing. I think the shirt looks great on her, but I understand that Bomber Gear may think rash guards should fit snugly under a wet suit or PFD.

The next photo is a young woman who is a competitive cycler and very fit. She buys Medium sized clothing almost all of the time. I think this is a good fit. Shoulder seams look like they are in the right place, too.

Sadly, the final shot is me. I’m starting a diet just as soon as I finish all this great Greek souvlaki (skewered chicken, beef, lamb or pork served with tzatziki, wrapped in a fresh pita) and Mythos!






ACK Austin Caught in the ACT!

Never a Dull Moment at the ACK Austin Store

With the beautiful weather and the 4th of July weekend  quickly approaching, I’ve been dying to check out one of our performance paddles and get out on the water. The ACK Austin store being the closest of our 4 ACK stores to me, I decided this afternoon would be the perfect time for me to pop in and see what they were up to.  I guess I’m not the only one with the water in mind this weekend because the store was hoppin’! We had guys running around doing all sorts of things. One was giving advice to some first time customers. Another was installing a new rack system on an SUV and third was even repairing a kayak! Sometimes I wonder, what can’t these guys do!?!