Eugene Mora III, a Wilderness Systems Ambassador and avid kayak angler, reviews his Wilderness Ride 135.
Fishing from the Wilderness Systems Ride 135 has been amazing. Although there are many platforms to choose from, this is the ATV of kayaks for me. The pontoon hull design allows for maximum stability and weight capacity. This kayak weighs in at 85 pounds and has the ability to carry up to 550 pounds of gear.
Not too long ago I picked up a new Malone Scupper Cart and I’ve found it’s made it easy to transport my gear-loaded Predator kayak. Just a reminder that the Predator kayak is quite heavy at 82 lbs and that’s before adding your gear. The Malone Scupper Cart is a great solution for this and very easy to use.
Here’s a short demonstration of the Malone Scupper Cart in action.
Gun mounts are not just for atv’s, four wheelers and trucks…they can also be used on kayaks! Kayak hunting is a favorite pastime for many paddlers, including myself and it all starts with the gun mount. The Pack Rack Plus Kayak Gun Mounts make it easy to carry and secure your shotgun or rifle to your kayak while you move through the water. These are basically the same design as most gun mounts for off road vehicles but have a base designed to be mounted on most any kayak or canoe.
The Good & The Bad of the Pack Rack Plus Kayak Gun Mount
I am a big fan of these mounts and have them installed on my personal kayak. I find that they make it very easy to access my firearm quickly when I’m trying to get a jump on wild game. Flexible rubber grips inside the mount that act like teeth and the locking rubber strap work in tandem to create a secure connection so I never have to worry about loosing my gun by knocking it off or flipping my kayak. These will fit most any long gun so no matter what type of game I’m after, the mounts work well. Mounting these brackets are fairly easy and are designed to fit most any application. In some cases you may have to purchase additional hardware depending on where you want to mount them.
The one negative I’ve experienced when using these mounts is that they sometimes get in the way when exiting my kayak. Granted, the opposite side from the mount is not affected and still easy to exit, but that means I’m constantly forced to remember which way to pull up to the bank or dock. These mounts will sit several inches off the deck of the boat so make sure you don’t get anything snagged on them, or you could end up tipping the boat over. It hasn’t happened to me yet, but it’s always a concern.
ACK Web Developer Jeremy Arntz is one of the company’s most frequent paddlers who is typically found on the water at Austin’s Lake Travis once or twice a week. Recently, he landed a new piece of gear and wanted to share his excitement about it – the Kelty Noah’s Tarp. See what he had to say:
Take Your Time And Enjoy The Outdoors With the Protection of the Kelty Noahs Tarp
It may sound weird that one of my favorite pieces of paddling gear is the Kelty Noah’s Tarp 9. However, as much as I love paddling, it’s also nice to relax near the water and to do that you need something to shelter yourself from the sun and elements. The Noah’s tarp is compact and light weight – both important factors for kayaking. When combined with a pair of Kelty Staff Poles and a cheap rubber mallet the whole kit weighs only 4 pounds and easily fits into the front hatch of my Wilderness Systems Tarpon 160 with plenty room left over for the rest of my gear. As the sun shifts during the day, only minor adjustments of the tarp are needed to maximize shade. Adding a Nite Ize Figure 9 small line tightener to the mix makes line adjustments even easier.
It has plenty of loops and grommets to make different configurations possible. So far, I’ve found the “Flying Diamond” (pictured) to work best for my needs. However you choose to use it, the Noah’s Tarp provides a light weight and versatile way to escape the elements and comes in three sizes 9, 12, and 16 feet.
Some Elements Can’t Be Beat
The tarp is great, but it isn’t made to handle every condition. For example, setup is fairly easy for two people to get done in minutes but on a windy day – not so much. My wife and I had such a hard time one outing that we decided against setting it up all together. It makes me worried about trying to set it up on my own, although I am sure that with some practice it could be done. In addition, the tarp could be thicker to completely block the sun. I would compare it to the material of a tent in the fact that if you are laying under it and staring straight up, you can see the sun right through.
Still, the Noah’s tarp has quickly become my new favorite paddling accessory. There really isn’t anything more relaxing after a long paddle than pulling up to a sandy beach and relaxing in the shade. For all of you Austin area paddlers, keep an eye out for my wife and I laying under it around Lake Travis next time you go out. (Hint: Our favorite spot is Windy Point!)
After leaving for Greece just under a month ago to take on an exciting sea kayaking adventure vacation, Cutter Aquatics paddling instructor, Barbara Cutter, reports back with intel on her experience with the Adventure Technology Quest Paddle.
Finding the Right Paddle Is No Easy Feat
Have you ever noticed that people who paddle are picky about their paddles? There is a wide assortment of picky, paddler types out there. Like a Greenland guy, or a paddler hung up on high-angle, or a lady who likes long, light and low. However my buddy Brian, the BCU coach in Greece, who with tongue in cheek, says “rubbish”! (Truly, you haven’t lived until you listen to a Scotsman from Glasgow roll his “R’s”, drop his consonants and say “It’s quite a load of cr*p.”)
For years, Brian has been supplying his sea-kayaking customers on Poros Island with durable equipment that must be one-size-fits-most, rugged enough for rocks, suitable for salt and tolerant of temperature. He bought new paddles this year and they are all 220 cm, 60 degree (!) feather, heavy plastic blades and sturdy aluminum shafts.
So in I come; always showing up to push Brian’s buttons and rattle his world a bit. Just like every other year, I arrived on Poros with a padded paddle bag packed with an assortment of carbon fiber, high and low angle blades and adjustable ferrules. He wouldn’t dare admit he had paddle envy, until now.
Enter the Adventure Tech Quest Paddle
This year I packed an Adventure Technology Bent Shaft Quest from ACK. This is a beautifully made paddle and I think it will be great in salt water since the two pieces easily slide together and lock with a little lever. It’s simple to rinse at the end of the day and shouldn’t get clogged with salt. The adjustable ferrule accommodates significant length adjustments, right or left hand offset and any style paddlers can dial in the degree of feather. Personally, I always paddle at 30 degrees right. The blade seems to rotate for a perfect powerful catch when you recover with a good elbow lift from the hip. (But we’ll leave the other components of a safe, strong, effective and efficient forward stroke for another time.)
Barb Tells Herself Not To Be Picky, But…
For this trip, ACK sent me off with an Ergo (bent) shaft version of the Quest. For many years, I paddled with a bent-shaft touring paddle and ultimately decided to go back to a straight shaft. My personal preference for the straight shaft is flexibility. I counsel a beginner paddler to use a specific hand position and then put imaginary super glue on the palm. Beginning paddlers need to memorize their blade orientation, have effective hand separation and learn to lighten up the common death grip. But I like to move my hands to different positions for sea conditions and different styles of strokes, rolls and (of course) the party tricks that paddlers learn for showing off. Therefore, I would not normally chose this ergo design. I keep my grip loose enough that wrist position is not a big problem for me. Another issue I have with the AT bent shaft is how it weights the paddle. If you put your hands into effective paddling position and loosen your grip, the shaft rolls down disorienting the blades. Quite annoying. However by the end of the day, I got used to it and learned to keep a strong control hand, but over long distances this is more tiring and should not be necessary.
Initially, I also had a problem with the shape of the blade. For the most part, I am a high angle paddler but I do adjust my stroke for sea and weather conditions. AT describes the blade as versatile for high or low angle stokes, however my first thought was that it was good for neither. But don’t be such a picky paddler, Barb! By the end of the first day, I discovered that, indeed, it is a very good low-angle design and when using an occasional high-angle stroke you will get an effective stroke if you employ the “salmon spearing catch” (again, we’ll talk about this another time).
The cool comfort of the carbon blend shaft is my favorite part. It is a smooth matte finish that never gets hot or feels slick.
So in all, even Brian thinks this paddle could work for him and actually didn’t want me to take it home . Have you ever negotiated with a Scot? He drives a very hard bargain.
After leaving for Greece just under a month ago to undergo an exciting sea kayaking adventure vacation, Cutter 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.
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!
Traveling to Greece is no picnic. It’s a nine-plus hour flight from DFW to the chaos of London Heathrow, 4 more hours to Athens airport and then you’re met by blast-furnace heat outside of baggage claim. Cross your fingers that the A-C will be working on the X96 bus to the Port of Piraeus or sweat for an hour and a quarter. Now drag the suitcase, balance the paddle bag and sling the daypack aboard an odd-looking water taxi that the Greeks call the Flying Dolphin. In just one more hour you can disembark on Poros Island totally jet-lagged. But waking up the next morning to a sea kayaker’s paradise to totally worth the effort.
My first morning on Poros I’m invited to join a group of six Brits and Scots finishing a four-day BCU Three Star training. I am promised that we all speak the same language, but it is hard to tell at first. We laugh at all the accents and different terms we use. “Fit your buoyancy aid (lifejacket);” “Tuck up that spray deck (skirt),” they say.
Breaking Out the Vanguard Spray Skirt
They admire the Bomber Gear Vanguard spray skirt that I’ve brought along and I am thrilled with the wide “hook & loop” band on the neoprene tunnel. It is nice and wide with durable pull-tabs that adjust easily for a really comfortable, snug-as-you-like fit. Another feature I discover on this cool new skirt is a very handy slide release buckle on the grab loop. Our BCU coach, Brian, is a bit of a safety nut (a good thing) and makes sure that everyone tucks up the decks of their spray skirts into a strap or something on their lifejacket. When out of the kayak this keeps you from tripping over unseen rocks and such. The extra little strap and buckle on this skirt is perfectly suited to this safety practice and will also make it easy to hang the skirt to wash and dry later in the day.
Before leaving Texas I worked with Joseph at ACK to choose the correct spray skirt size for the large cockpits on our Rainbow Oasis boats in Greece. XL seems like a good choice. It snaps easily onto the stern cockpit of the big tandem boat I’m assigned with my buddy. We launch out into the blue, blue sea and follow the 3-star candidates to the Poros lighthouse.
By lunchtime we have reached a beautiful beach on the far side of the island and there are a few scrubby trees under which we can find some shade. While others dig into dry bags for lunch I grab one of the solo boats to try some rolls. The spray skirt fit so easily onto the cockpit combings I want to make sure it is snug enough to keep out water while upside down. Besides, the heck with shade trees, the water is absolutely the best relief from the heat.
Admittedly I am surprised but the cockpit stays dry. The roll trials were great. Now everyone wants to try and we spend the next hour working with lots of different folks to learn to roll. There is success all around. This beautiful clear water with the sandy bottom turns out to be a better teaching space than a Texas swimming pool and Greece is a perfect place for a picnic after all.
After finishing up at the Houston Boat Show this past Sunday, it was time to go have a little fun on the water. I had been eyeing and slightly drooling over the new Old Town Predator 13 kayak that has been on display in our Houston store this past week. With advertisements boasting it’s user friendliness and stability, I figured there is no better way to find out if it is true than to take it for a test drive myself.
First Impression of the Predator 13 Kayak
Right off the bat, I was impressed that that rumors of the Predator 13 being a very quiet hull were true. Moving into the cockpit area, the layout was very well designed. The seat DID NOT block the mod pod hatch which allowed me easy to access to my gear in both the low or high position. Also, the side mounts were close enough for me to reach without obstructing my paddle stroke. One thing I did feel it was missing were brass inserts for an anchor trolley similar to what you find on the Ocean Ultra 4.7, however, it was overall a very nice set up.
Beyond Expectations for Stability
Standing at 6’1” and 230 lbs., I must say I was most excited about the kayaks stability. It was easy for me to fold up the seat and get it out of the way, letting me stand and move around quite comfortably. Putting it through a true test, while kneeling I pulled a loaded Yeti Tundra 45 from the rear tank well and place it where the seat normally goes. I was then able to sit sideways on the cooler and even stand up on it and paddle. After paddling for a while, I can tell you that you will definitely not win a race with this boat. However, I am willing to give up a little bit of speed for the added stability. In my book, the Predator 13 definitely gets an A+ for stability.
To sum it all up… I can truly say I was blown away by this kayak. Other than a few additional features that would have been added bonuses, the overall layout design, stability and smooth paddling make the Predator 13 Kayak top notch. Way to go Old Town!!!!
For those interested in purchasing the Predator, we are currently accepting pre-orders online or via any of our locations and expect to have them sometime near the end of July.
Several people have asked me about my gear and why I chose what I did. Being a convert from whitewater boating, I started completely new with kayak fishing, so pretty much all of my gear other than my rods and tackle are brand new (I have fished in a bass boat for many years). I did countless hours of research to make sure I was getting the best deal and the best product for my money. I didn’t go with the highest end gear for everything, simply because it’s not necessary for me. The products I did pick though were what I deemed the best bang for my buck, and none of them have let me down so far.
As far as my PFD goes, I knew it would be difficult to find another as comfortable as my old Lotus Lola, which my wife now uses. As mentioned before, I did quite a bit of research, mostly looking through reviews and message boards. The product that seemed to stand out the most for my specific application of kayak fishing, appeared to be the Astral Ronny, so I bought one to try out. I was not disappointed.
This is by far the most comfortable PFD that I’ve ever had the pleasure of wearing. It’s completely adjustable from the shoulder straps to the side straps. The back panel of foam is only 1/2″ thick, so it’s extremely comfortable when leaning against a full backrest such as the one on my Ride 135. There’s no big chunk or wad of foam making you feel awkward or uncomfortable, which is a very welcome change. The back panel also has a small vent in it to keep the air flowing a bit better. I’m not sure how much it really helps, but it looks cool and I feel cool, so that’s pretty much all that matters to me.
The Ronny has one front pocket made out of mesh that I use to hold my Gerber EZ-Out knife and glasses strap. It’s not a very big pocket, but would at least fit a cell phone in a waterproof case or similar.
Overall, I am very impressed with this PFD and will certainly keep on using it for quite a while. While I am satisfied with this PFD, especially for the price it typically goes for, there are a few things that I would like to see either changed on this model or possibly for a future creation. I’d like to see thicker fabric such as 400 or 500D nylon. The nylon on the current Ronny seems tough enough as-is, and it dries out super quick, but I’d just like to have a tad tougher material. I’d also like to see another pocket or two on the front for additional gear. This is where if they did take that into consideration, it might be for a completely new model made specifically for fishing, but still keep the 1/2″ thick back panel. That’s pretty much it! As I mentioned before, I’m very happy and look forward to using this PFD for many seasons to come.
Check out the video below for a quick look and basic overview. Comment with any questions, thanks! — Travis Abner