Thanks For Another Great Kayak Demo Days!

Kayak Demo DaysOur 2014 Spring Kayak Demo Days took place earlier this month and as usual we all had a blast putting them on. This bi-annual event is a company wide favorite to host each year because of the opportunity it gives us to interact with customers and manufacturer representatives plus do a little paddling of our own.

For those not familiar with our Kayak Demo Days, we have been putting them on since 2006 and every year they seem to get a little bigger. Manufacturer representatives from all over the country come together along with their line-up of kayaks, paddle-boards, camping gear, and other accessories. Then, we tack on gear and kayaks of our own and paddlers from all over Central Texas have the opportunity to try it all out free of charge. Not only that, but our expert staff put on a series of educational outdoor clinics on a wide variety topics which have become very popular.

This year, we hosted a total of four events across Central Texas over two weekends and had a huge range of new models to try out as well as our biggest line-up of educational clinics to date. Despite some rain both weekends, we had a great time meeting paddlers from all across the state and helping them to find the best model for their needs.

Kayak Demo Days

 Especially given the weather, we wanted to give a big thank you to everyone who joined us. It wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun without you…we’ll see you for the next round come fall :)


Gearing Up For Stand Up Paddling (SUP)

Stand Up Paddling Kid & DadStand up paddling (SUP) has been popular for many years now but it’s still a new and exciting concept for many paddlers. One of the greatest things about SUP is that it requires minimal gear and can take on just about any body of water (though having the right board for the job certainly helps).

Another reason for the rise in popularity of SUP is that it delivers a full body workout and in a very unique environment. Wouldn’t your prefer to fill your next cross-training activity with waterway wildlife and unique coastal views?

Keep reading for an overview of basic SUP gear and some other common accessories to get you started.

SUP Gear – The Basics

One of the highlights of SUP is the simplicity. A few pieces of basic gear and you’re all set to enjoy some time on the water.

Stand Up Paddle (SUP) GearStand Up Paddleboard: From inflatables to fiberglass racing boards, SUPs come in all shapes in sizes these days. As you might expect, your board will be the most important (and expensive) investment towards getting started paddle-boarding. At ACK we offer a wide range of boards to choose from and encourage you to begin your selection by reading our Choosing a SUP article.

Personal Flotation Device: In 2012, a survey by the American Canoe Association cited that 35% of stand up paddlers never wear a life jacket on the water. We get it, SUP seems like a harmless activity and sometimes the whole idea of it is to keep things simple. Nevertheless, the best way to be safe is just to wear it. If you want to avoid something bulky, try using an inflatable PFD or a low profile one like the NRS Ninja.

Paddle: SUP paddles are made up of a shaft and blade with an angle to maximize efficiency. When picking out your paddle, go for one that’s rougly 6″ to 8″ taller than you are. To learn more about picking out the best paddle, refer to our How To Choose article.

SUP Gear – Other Accessories

SUP Accessories
Using a SupStow Hip Pack with leash

A wide range of SUP accessories exist to help you make the most of your time on the water. Depending on your intended use of your board, some of these items should be considered a necessity.

SUP Specific Apparel: No, In the recent years, manufacturers like Level Six have begun to develop SUP specific apparel to help you maximize your comfort on the water.  Like all paddling apparel, you’ll want synthetic clothing (avoid cotton!) that handles water well.

Ankle Leash: Wearing an ankle leash is a good idea in any water conditions as it will keep you connected to your SUP no matter what happens. If you plan on playing in the surf or taking your board onto rough water, a leash should be considered a requirement. If you fall off in rough water without a leash, getting separated from your board is a real possibility.

Protective Bags: These exist to protect your investment from damage minor dings and heat damage. Find a bag sized to fit your board or your paddle and make a long lasting product even longer lasting.

Storage Systems: Whether you have one board or three, storage racks and slings exist to help you store your SUP safely.

Transportation Accessories: One of the best things about SUPs is that they’re lightweight and easy to transport. The best way to do it is by using pads or a specialized SUP carrier.

A wide range of accessories exist for stand up paddling, remember to check out your options and see if there are any that can improve your experience on the water. You can find all of our SUP Accessories here.




10 Pieces of Advice For 1st Time Paddlers

Giving some advice to a 1st time paddler.
Advice for 1st time paddler.

We asked our Facebook fans, “What’s one piece of advice you’d give to a 1st time paddler?” Some of the responses were serious and some were just downright funny. Here’s 10 of our favorites:

1. Don’t go without wearing your PFD. — Advice from Don P., JT L., Gary L., Lisa W., Billy M., Jonathan B., Travis A., Michael P., Laura B., David F., Alan D., Heath G., Erica H., Eric B., Robert R., Chuck B., Lee H., Bobby C., Robin L. and Randy V.

When 20 paddlers give the same advice, you gotta think it’s important, huh?

2. Relax, breath deeply, and enjoy the view. — Advice from Loretta H.

3. You are going to get wet. Plan on it. — Advice from Don I.

4. Just enjoy yourself! You will never forget it! — Advice from Cathie G.

5. Remember, however far you go, you have to go the same distance to get back. — Advice from JW E.

6. Buy from Austin Kayak. — Advice from John M. Have to agree with this one! :)

7. Bring a fishing pole and enough beer for you and your kayak buddies you’ll meet along the river! — Taylor S.

8. Paddle faster if you hear banjos! — Advice from Norman T.

9. Your paddle is just as important as your kayak. — Advice from David T.

10. Tie your gear down! — Advice from Carla M.

 Share your advice for 1st time paddlers by commenting below! The entire collection of responses can be found here.

You Saw What?! 10 Interesting On The Water Finds

Canoe Relaxation

We asked our Facebook fans, “What’s the strangest thing you’ve found while out on the water?” As you might imagine, there were some interesting responses. Here were 10 of our favorites on the water finds:

1. A canoe which had been lost in a tornado and floated 30 miles down river. (It was returned to the rightful owner) — Found by James H.

2.  A baby deer! It had fallen off an island in a large lake we were paddling. Several live on it and swim across to forage. It must have been born on the island. It’s mom got our attention by grunting at us and kind of lead us to it while we paddled – until we heard it cry. It was probably a few days old. We aren’t sure how long it had been paddling. Hubby got out – (water was only a few feet deep at the shore) picked it up with one hand and put it on the land. It curled up and fell asleep immediately. We’ve seen it since – growing and doing well. — Found by Jan G.

3. Chupacabra — Found by Gabe G.

4. I found an old Nazi belt buckle while fly fishing in Germany. Also a bowling ball in the same stream! — Found by Kevin I.

5. Bongos, oh yeah and a tongue in a jar! — Found by owners of Diablo Paddlesports

6. I was on a date after a big rain and there was a long-stemmed rose floating in the debris. Too bad my date couldn’t take credit! — Found by Stacey B.

7. Myself — Found by Dave E.

8. A waterproof Digital camera that I still use today.  — Found by John N.

9. 5 baby alligators — Found by Bob M.

10. Brand new Bending Branches paddle. No 1 claimed it. — Found by Rodney M. (he’s a lucky guy!)

So what have you found out on the water during your paddles? Let us know by commenting below! The entire collection of responses can be found here.

CamelBak Paddle Collection Updated for 2014

Stay Hydrated on the Water with the CamelBak Paddle Collection

It’s important to bring water with you on any outdoor adventure and paddling is no exception. That’s why we were thrilled when the Camelbak Paddle Collection was released in 2013 with an assortment of hydration packs designed specifically for paddlers. After spending the year receiving feedback and making improvements, they’ve just released the updated Camelbak Paddle Collection for 2014, a total of three packs designed specifically for a paddler’s needs.

CamelBak Paddle Collection Lineup for 2014

Cortez Deck Mounted System.
Cortez Deck Mounted System.

1. Cortez Deck Mounted Hydration SystemCompletely new for 2014, the Cortez is an insulated hydration bladder that easily clips to the deck of your SUP or kayak using snap clips and a grip strip on the back that prevents sliding. For kayakers, this would fit great on the bow of your ‘yak!

2. Molokai Hydration BackpackThe Molokai is a backpack designed specifically for stand-up paddlers. It’s made from quick drying materials, offers hands free hydration and includes a 70 oz. reservoir so it’s great for long treks with your board. It’s also designed to carry waterproof electronics cases, sunscreen and snacks (not pictured) and is compatible with inflatable PFDs.

Tahoe LR Hydration Backpack
Tahoe LR Hydration Backpack

3. Tahoe LR Hydration BackpackFor stand-up paddlers hoping to avoid anything going over the shoulders and encumbering upper body movement, the Tahoe LR is for you! This waist-mounted paddle pack includes a 50 oz. reservoir and will hold gear ranging from an inflatable PFD, waterproof electronics case, sunscreen and snacks. Compared to the Molokai, the Tahoe is great for lighter SUP outings.

So how do you stay hydrated on the water? Let us know by commenting below!

FCS SUP Shop Talk: Insights from Professional SUP Athletes

Ever Wanted to Pick the Brain of a Top SUP Athlete?

FCS Shop Talk with SUP AthletesOn April 24th, paddle boarders around the globe were given the chance to do just that! FCS held an all new exclusive FSC SUP Love webcast called “Shop Talk”, a series for paddleboarders and retailers like ourselves to call in and communication directly with some of the most experienced SUP athletes.

Who were those SUP athletes?

Non other than Candice Appleby and Danny Ching, two SUP racers with impressive resumes including numerous big race title wins under their respective belts.

Plenty to Glean for Aspiring SUP Athletes

The live-streamed show allows users to submit questions via twitter, over the phone or prior to the show and hit a wide range of topics including apparel, race training, safety and much, much more. This unique event has since been published online, and we wanted to share this great resource with you.

We’re certainly looking forward to the next one and will be sure to share more details as they come! Do you have any SUP related questions? Just comment below!