Lake Superior–ready Gear

We recently tested some paddling accessories on a trip to Lake Superior’s Slate Islands. We were conscious of the Great Lakes Freeze-up of winter 2013/14 – and the dramatic effect on water temperatures, even in August. In mid-July, we were reading average surface temps off the Slates at 3°C (fortunately it warmed up to 12°C for our trip).

This is why we opted to test the Bomber Gear Bomb Dry Top on this trip. We found that it worked almost too well – even after full immersion in shockingly cold Lake Superior, our tester was still dry and toasty (and a little hot under the August sun). But for northern paddlers who never let weather stop them, this is exactly what’s needed.

Bomber Gear's The Bomb Dry Top.
Bomber Gear’s The Bomb Dry Top.

The Bomb, redesigned this season, includes several upgrades and a little extra armour. Unique ‘Bomb’ key features include double-stitched, taped and patched seams, Toray 4-ply Entrant HB fabric, and gasket system with 4-way stretch Slickskin neoprene volcanic neck system and cone-shaped Sub-Screen cuffs and fused (not glued) gaskets, the hidden emergency whistle, and glass bead reflective piping.

They’ve beefed up the design by adding abrasion-resistant oxford nylon to the elbows and polyurethane reinforcement to the shoulder panels for additional durability in the areas where you need it most. Other improvements include a sleeve pocket with a drain and a dual-adjustable overskirt incorporating a hook-and-loop closure system with J-mesh sticky neoprene, rubber closer flaps, and a thinner material for less folds and a drier, more comfortable fit. Available in Canada at Trailhead Paddle Shack.

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We also tested out the ridiculously light Adventure Technology Oracle carbon kayak paddle – a supremely powerful touring blade. Its blade design has less dihedral than other AT touring paddles, providing a more powerful stroke and better stability when bracing or rolling in choppy conditions. Ideal for a more aggressive stroke style, the high angle blade improves boat control and maximizes efficiency. All this adds up to a featherweight paddle with the stamina for Lake Superior’s consistent chop and boat-upending swells.

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Available in ergonomic shaft with Full Control Grip or straight shaft. Available in Canada at Trailhead Paddleshack.

Another essential piece we tried out is the Hummingbird Travel Pak. Clip it around your waist or tuck it into your trekking pack for side excursions or urban adventures. Thanks to its removable waist belt and shoulder straps, this tidy pack is as versatile as it is rugged. It can swallow everything from a camera and lunch to an extra layer. As long as you always close the roll-top tightly, you can withstand all manner of downpours and capsizes and keep your water-phobic essentials safe and at hand.

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  • Roll-top closure system is fully waterproof.
  • Removable waist belt and D-rings provide multiple carrying options.
  • External pocket offers quick access to essentials.
  • Top-loading access makes packing and unpacking a snap.

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When you have more gear than hatch space (we always do) this expedition-ready SealLine Baja Stern Deck Bag allows you to stow cargo securely on top of your kayak’s stern deck. Ideal for light items like mattresses or additional clothes, it’s constructed with durable 19 oz. vinyl with RF welded seams and a DrySeal roll-down closure.

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It attaches easily with elastic clips and has bungee cords for holding additional items such as a spare paddle or bilge pump. Shock cords allow for additional lash points, which are particularly useful when using a paddleboard.

And the innovative spoon-shape of the Nemo Nocturne 30 unisex sleeping bag gives you extra space where it matters most. Wide in the shoulders, the bag tapers down to the hips then gently flares back out to allow room for your knees to naturally bend and shift throughout the night.

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The result is comfort – far beyond a constricting mummy bag – thermal efficiency and low weight. Features include DownTek water-resistant down, skin-friendly interior lining, a retractable Blanket Fold for cooler nights, and a waterproof/breathable footbox. Weighing in at 900 grams, this is a premium summer bag, rated to 30F/-1C. You’ll really appreciate its extreme compressibility when shoving it into a tiny kayak hatch.

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