Greg Parker’s Top 5 Gear Picks:

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bobby@coloradokayak.com

Greg Parker

Jackson Kayak All Star Review
The Allstar is simply the best playboat. If you don’t want to take my word you can look around and you will notice that 3 out of 4 playboats on the water are Allstars. You will also notice who is paddling the best, looping the biggest, and winning competitions. For a real test watch someone get into an Allstar for the first time and watch how big they go. Anyways back to my opinion.

The Allstar is the biggest looping boat on the market. Even my 54 year old dad can loop this boat big. The Allstar will help beginners learn how to loop because they will have more time to react and less resistance because less of the boat will have to pull through the water. Advanced playboaters will be able to loop big and they will be able to achieve decent pop off of phoenix monkeys and mcnasties which will help them pull the trick through.

Even though the Allstar loops the biggest, it is also the sliciest modern playboat. It sounds like an oxymoron but the distribution of volume allows it to achieve this. A lot of volume by the knees, low volume at the ends, and a small amount of rocker. These slicey ends allow the user to do effortless cartwheels as well as more advanced tricks such as tricky whu’s and phoenix monkeys. Okay, maybe tricky whu’s and phoenix monkeys still won’t be effortless.

Aside from the design, the Allstar has many other benefits over other boats. It is light, comfortable, durable, and dry… LCD squared. Okay, I know I sound like EJ but it is true. Of those features, its weight plays an important role in its performance. It is the lightest boat on the market which makes it easier to bounce high on a wave, throw down in a hole, or carry to the river.

Once again, don’t take my word for it. Take one out as a demo and you won’t be disappointed.

Jackson Kayak Happy Seat/Thruster Combo
When the Happy Seat/Thruster Combo came out I was skeptical. Now I couldn’t image paddling without it. The obvious benefit is that the thruster is the biggest on the market so it makes a huge difference when looping. I feel that it is impossible to get a huge loop if I don’t have my thruster in and blown up to the max. Without it when I drive the boat in for a loop it never pops back up. The seat part is also great because it holds your legs up making the boat more comfortable and fit tighter which gives the paddler more control.

A downside is that it is expensive and seems to be made cheaply. If you buy one put aquaseal around the valves. Also partially deflate it every time you get out of your kayak or else it will expend in the sun and the seam will split. The good news is that Jackson Kayak is really good about warranty and will replay it if it breaks.

PeakUk Deluxe Long Dry Deck
Last year I had a brand new drytop. The first day I wore it the water beaded up just like any new drytop, but after an hour play session I still had 3 sponges full of water in my boat and my under polypro shirt was soaked through. As time went on it got worse. I would have up to 10 sponges full of water in my boat after a play session and could ring my shirt out afterwards. I was constantly adjusting my tunnel as it got twisted and rode up. Sometimes I even got out of my boat to readjust my tunnel and empty the water.

This year I bought a PeakUk Deluxe Long Drydeck and have stayed comfortable and dry. The first couple weeks with my new drydeck I didn’t get a single drop of water in my kayak and I’m not exaggerating. Now after 2 months of heavy use I get about a half of a sponge worth of water in my kayak. My shirt will be damp in some places and dry in others.

The biggest contributing factor is that a drydeck combines a skirt and a drytop into one piece. Therefore it is one solid piece and water can’t slip in through the tunnel. It is also more comfortable and allows for easier movement because it fits loosely around the waist.

The next factor is that the skirt fits tightly around the cockpit rim. It has a sticky edge and a ruffle which both help prevent water from leaking in around the cockpit.

A third selling point is the material itself. When you look at and feel the material you can tell that it is thick, durable, and dry and after 2 months of paddling I have noticed the difference. The water doesn’t feel cold through this top and I feel that the seems are leaking less than other new drytops I have owned. I also think that it is more breathable because my polypro shirt doesn’t stink nearly as bad as last year.

A PeakUk drydeck cost $350 which is about the same as a new drytop and skirt. The down side is that if the drytop wears out you have to buy a whole new drydeck. Therefore, it can get a little more expensive, but is definitely worth it.

If you’re still not convinced that a drydeck will keep you warm and dry listen to this. Last year my dad wore his drysuit, a hood, and gloves until mid July and he was still cold almost everyday. This year he has a drydeck and occasionaly wears a hood and hasn’t once complained about being cold. The Friday morning before the Fibark competition only 3 people came out at 7am to beat the lines. They were Jeremy Laucks, my dad, and myself. We all had on drydecks, hoods, and gloves but we weren’t cold. I checked the air temperature when I got out around 8am. It was 30 degrees. Later that day I put a thermometer in the water. It was 38 degrees.

Shred Ready Full Face
I was excited to see that there were a couple new full face helmets on the market this year. The Shred Ready Full Face caught my eye and I am not disappointed. It is a ABS injection molded shell so it is lightweight yet strong. It is easily adjustable with pads and the retention system so it fits great and doesn’t slide around on your head. Other full faces felt big, bulky, and heavy on my head. Another important design features are the ear and mouth holes which don’t impede your voice projection or hearing. Lastly, at $100 it is quite affordable. This helmet will feel great and give you confidence while the run the gnar.

Werner Double Diamond
The Double Diamond is Werner’s foam core play paddle. I have used this paddle for playboating for 2 years now and have been very happy. The blades still looks new so it is durable just like all Werners. The foam core gives you added power to your strokes especially when rolling, bracing, or pushing down on the water during a trick. My teaching/creeking paddle isn’t foam core and if I play with it I can feel that I don’t get the same powerful strokes.

I am 6’ and I use a 197cm with 15 degree offset. I think a long paddle gives me more leverage but be careful if you have weak shoulders because it will cause more stain. I like 15 degrees but my next play paddle will definitely not have any offset. It makes back deck rolls and some other tricks easier. I also feel that no offset is easier on your wrists and elbows.

Check out more pics:




The All Star Loops It Up

More All Star Loops

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