Whitewater paddling is a hobby, workout, and a passion. If you want to buy a gift for someone who loves whitewater, this is a great beginning. Maybe you don’t kayak or canoe yourself and all the lingo is going over your head. Or maybe you are a boater yourself, but don’t want to try and get something crazy specialized- regardless, this list has you covered. If you have any questions or need more information beyond this, give us a call or come into the shop, we have it all in stock. This is #3 in our holiday gift guide series, feel free to give our Disc Golf Gift Ideas and Hiking/Camping Gift Idea posts a look.
1 Whitewater of the Southern Appalachians: Vols 1 and 2 by Kirk Eddleman – $35/$40
For the local, Kirk Eddleman’s new guide book to every whitewater creek, river, and waterfall in the region is just two years old, making it the most up-to-date and authoritative guide book around. This also means that not everyone has it yet and that it’s a great gift option for the paddler in your life. The beta boxes are invaluable, the pictures astounding, and the descriptions are both accurate and relatable. If you’re looking for just one book, the mountains volume is what is closest to home, but the plateau volume has some great options for the boater who has exhausted the local runs. Read Canoe & Kayak Magazine’s review of Whitewater of the Southern Appalachians here. If your kayaking pal is a traveler, consider The River Gypsies’ Guide to North America: A Whitewater Travel Guide to 294 of the Continent’s Best Rivers.
2. Cam Straps – $6-10
I don’t know a boater in the world that wouldn’t love to have an extra strap or two. These easy tie-down systems make securing your boat to the top of your car a breeze. They are better than ratcheting straps, which can be over-ratcheted without notice and can break your boat and are way easier than tying knots in rope, especially in the cold. Go for the 20 foot long strap if you want to be able to tie anything to your rack, be in a few boats, some gear, or a mattress. At the cheap price, they’re an easy add-on gift or stocking stuffer!
3. Dry Bag- from $18 or 4. Dry Box – from $20
A dry storage solution is crucial for any kind of water activity and, because they come in so many styles, shapes, and colors, you can get exactly what you need or use one for everything. They’re great for keeping valuables in while hiking (for that sudden downpour) and as first aid kit containers. If the paddler in your world is heading out for a multi-day trip like a paddle through the Grand Canyon, grab a 55L Black Canyon dry bag, which will hold everything they need and more. Alternately, a small bag to hold a safety kit, pin kit, or just some snacks is always welcome. For added security, make it a hard topped dry box like a Pelican 1150 to take your valuables (such as your camera) on the water.
5. Whitewater Instruction DVD: The Combat Roll – $21.95
Arguably the hardest skill to learn in kayaking is the combat roll. This instructional dvd is a fantastic guide to this move, starting with the basics in the pool and progressing to complex rolls against rocks and in holes. Give a beginner whitewater kayaker the gift of a new skill this year with this wonderful dvd (pair it with a local pool session to get muscle memory).
Sidenote: this is also a great tongue-in-cheek gift for the experienced kayaker in your life who recently had a humbling day on the river. Just remember, we’re all in between swims.
6. AW Membership – $35
American Whitewater is a national non-profit organization with a mission “to conserve and restore America’s whitewater resources and to enhance opportunities to enjoy them safely.” American Whitewater works to protect and restore rivers, maintains a national inventory of whitewater rivers, works with government agencies, advocates for legislation protecting our rivers and their aquatic resources, and so much more. Membership includes tons of discounts at events like Gauley Fest and shops like FBO, as well as a bi-monthly journal of paddle stories, conservation updates, and river information. If you are a whitewater paddler, you have used their website for information and benefited from the recreational releases they have negotiated on your favorite dam-controlled river. Give the wonderful gift that keeps on giving.
7. Anything by William Nealy – from $9.99
For those who don’t know, William Nealy was a legend and is still extremely highly regarded in the whitewater community. Before youtube and waterproof cameras, Nealy hand-drew cartoon guides of rapids, rivers, and kayaking techniques that were made into books, posters, and prints. These were genuine instruction manuals as well as good-natured paddling humor. Most of the information held in these funny drawings is still accurate and all are well beloved. We have posters for Chattooga III, Nolichucky, and Nantahala, as well as his book: Kayak: The New Frontier.
Most kayakers and canoers begin their love affair with the water in warmer months and then are left cold and unprepared when there is an atypically cool day in late August or the 40 degree water in spring or fall. Get your drytop to last through shoulder season with one or all of these: Much of the body’s heat escapes through the head, so a skullcap will keep you super toasty. The body part that gets wettest while paddling are your hands, which are crucial for controlling your body and craft safely. So make sure they stay warm with pogies, a neoprene pocket that keeps your hands warm, drier, and doesn’t create a layer between your hand and the paddle (like gloves do). Another extremity that you should try to keep warm is your feet. Especially if they get wet, feet sap energy and your body’s concept of heat. Keep them cozy in a pair of neoprene or wool socks designed for staying warm after getting wet.
11. NRS Gear Bag – $49.95
If you hang out with this whitewater friend of yours, you’ll have probably noticed a few things: their car and gear sometimes smells of river funk, their gear has exploded everywhere, and they are always complaining about nothing being dry. Enter the NRS Gear Bag, a rugged, ventilating bag, that comes with an external pocket, perfect for stashing your changing pad. At 30″ long and a 16″ diameter, this bag holds 6005 square inches of gear. The mesh on top is heavy-duty and the sturdy 600-denier urethane coated polyester fabric at the bottom and ends can take a beating. Removable shoulder strap included. While the NRS is the best bag, we also carry a few other brands if you’re looking for a different design or price range.
12. FBO Gift Certificate