MY GEAR REVIEWS

Acadia Park Kayak Tours

 

Here you will find candid reviews of much of the equipment that I have used kayaking and camping along with links to those companies websites.

All of the statements made on this page represent my personal opinion and come from my first hand experience using the equipment.

A good company will sometimes make a bad product just as a mediocre company may make some good products.

It is always incumbent upon you to individually research the reputation of any outdoor gear you are considering purchasing especially if it is a piece of gear that your safety may depend on.

Wilderness Systems Kayaks

They make plastic, fiberglass, and composite kayaks


This company makes, in my opinion, the most reliable and stable plastic kayaks on the market.  I use these kayaks on my tours.

 

This company has become a part of a larger corporation and the customer service person you get on the phone, who is answering questions about several different product lines, often seems to know little about the products.  They are also very difficult to buy replacement parts from.

Extrasport

They make PFD’s, paddling clothes, and accessories


Their lifejackets are well made and reliable.


They recently changed the material they used to make their ut3 lifejackets that I use on my tours.  They call the material the same name as the old material, 200 denier cordura, but it isn’t.  The older material was obviously much more durable and I hope they go back to it.


Their cockpit covers are flimsy and unreliable mainly because the bungee they use does not grip the coming of the cockpit.

Pacific Outdoor Equipment

They make many paddling accessories as well as bags and some camping gear



Most of the products they make including dry bags, paddle floats, waterproof pouches etc... are well made and reliable and the company as a whole is very environmentally conscious.



Their deck bags are junk.  The material they use to give them their form is too soft and will dent in over time and the Velcro straps on the bottom which hold the bag to the deck of the kayak will delaminate from their attachment points to the bag.

NRS

They make many paddling accessories, a few boats, and sell other companies products



They make some of the best equipment available for kayaking including some items specific to paddle sports that no one else makes


Sometimes they make a bad product that breaks or doesn’t work well but on the plus side they are quick to respond to concerns and/or to provide replacements for defective items.

North Water

They make many paddling accessories especially safety and rescue gear



Their sea kayaking gear is some of the best gear made and their customer service is great



On the rare occasion that their stuff has broken or not worked well because of defective manufacturing or design they have been quick to admit the problem and provide a replacement. 

Snap Dragon Designs

They make mostly spray skirts but also pogies and other accessories. 


Their products are well made and their customer service is good.

Seals Spray Skirts

They make spray skirts and cockpit covers


Positive-

Their spray skirts are generally well made and work very well and thier cockpit covers are great.


Negative-

They could stand to go a lot farther in being an environmentally conscientious company.


Their spray skirts have a deck stay built into them to keep the skirt deck curved so water will roll off of it.

On the skirts without an added nylon or plastic edge guard the ends of the stays are continuously pushing up against the fabric of the skirt which causes the fabric in the those ares to wear much more quickly than the rest of the skirt.  Even with an edge guard the fabric above the stay still wears much faster.


Their nylon skirts also tend to delaminate after only a couple of years of use.

Aquabound

They make kayak paddles and a few accessories


Positive-  Their paddles are well made and reliable and competitively priced and their customer service is good.


Negative-  Their kayak bilge pumps should be considered hazardous to your health.  The plunger on the pump is very stiff and it takes a lot more effort to pump it than it does with any other bilge pump I have ever tried.  I am in fairly good shape, paddling as much as ten hours every day, and my arms are exhausted after pumping out a tandem kayak with one of these pumps.  Stay away.

Native sunglasses


They are junk with lens coatings that peel off and parts that often break.


I am not providing a link to their website.

Smith Sunglasses


They are well made and well priced for the quality.

Western Mountaineering Sleeping Bags

They make down sleeping bags


These are the best bags on the markets in my opinion.

All of their bags are made in the USA.

NAU

They make outdoor and urban clothing


One of the best outdoor clothing manufactures, as well as my favorite, and possibly the most eco-friendly clothing company in existence


They do not currently offer a pro-deal for professionals (wink wink)

Patagonia


One of the best outdoor clothing manufactures and very eco-friendly in their business model

Borealis Kayaks

They make plastic, fiberglass, and composite kayaks


In my opinion this company makes the second best plastic kayaks on the market and makes excellent fiberglass and composite kayaks


One of the other large kayak guide services in the area mainly uses these kayaks


Update:  They have surprisingly gone out of business however there is no doubt that their used kayaks will be on the market for years to come.

Necky Kayaks

They make plastic, fiberglass, and composite kayaks


Positive-

Their kayaks can be well made


Negative-

Their kayaks seem to be hit or miss with a certain model of kayak they make being great one year and the same model being junk the next.


The problems I have seen their kayaks have include tipping over easily, cracking around the joints and screws, and being very uncomfortable to sit in.


Two of the other larger kayak guide services in the area mainly use these kayaks

Bending Branches

They make kayak paddles



Their products are well made and reliable.  Their wood paddles are extremely light and the only bent handle wood paddles I have seen on the market.


The plastic or varnish they put above the graphics on their wooden paddles has peeled off my first paddle from them over time.  I now pay a twenty dollar custom order fee to have them leave the graphics off the paddle.

Kayaks Review

Kayak Accessories Review

Outdoor Apparel and Accessories Review

See Also NRS in the kayaks accessories section

Astral Buoyancy

They make PFD’s and PFD accessories


Their products perform well and are reliable.


Their customer service is great.


They are a very eco-friendly company.

Camping and Hiking Review

Moss Tents

They made tents


This company has been out of business for more than a decade.

They were located in Camden, Maine which is a town next to the town I am originally from.

These are still some of the best tents I have ever used and you can sometimes find a used one for sale in good condition.

MSR

They make tents and stoves and many other types of camping and expedition gear


Their products perform well and their warranties and customer service are great

Werner Paddles

They make kayak paddles


They make great paddles.


I have not had to deal with any warranty issues with them.

icom

They make marine VHF radios


These are the radios I use.


They are a little more expensive than most other VHF radios but I have never had or heard of anyone having a problem with them and this in not a piece of gear that you want to have not work when you need it

This is a new page and I will be adding more information

Electronics Review

Garmin

They make GPS devices


As far as the industry talk goes they have the reputation for being the best GPS devices on the market although they have a few close competitors.


My Personal experience is with the GPS map 76csx and the colorado 400c.


The GPS 76csx worked perfectly and was more watertight than a submarine and it floats.  Unfortunately you have to buy all of the costal charts for the united states, or elsewhere, separately and they are wicked expensive.


I bought the Colorado because it had some new features, a larger screen, and it included all of the coastal chart information for the United States.


It turned out that the Colorado’s memory card slot was susceptible to getting water in it.  It took Garmin two fixes before they got it right and they never issued a recall.  Not only was this a bad design the lack of a recall was irresponsible for a piece of equipment that people’s safety may depend upon.


The o-ring (what keeps the water out) for the compartment that the batteries are stored in has friction put onto it anytime the back cover is taken off or put on.  This means that that o-ring will eventually come off at some point when removing or replacing the back cover.  I have read on paddling chat rooms several reports of the device getting water in it and breaking even though the o-rings were still in place (this is what others have written and I cannot say if it is true or not).


I asked Garmin for a trade in or a refund and they said no and they knew I was a professional guide and outdoor business owner.


I keep mine in a waterproof and floatable see through dry bag so it won’t necessarily be an issue but for 600 dollars a piece of equipment should work flawlessly and not have multiple ongoing issues.


When they make great products they are great but when they make a bad one they are apparently slow to take responsibility and unwilling to stand behind their products.


***UPDATE***


My Garmin waterproof GPS went into the water and the waterproof case was not perfectly sealed and that was the end.  The screen is filled with water and water got in the battery compartment as well.  All the O-rings are still in place and it should have worked if it was designed well.  This thing is pure junk.  I am in the process of requesting a replacement GPS of a different hopefully non-junk model and am waiting to hear Garmin’s response.


I heard back from Garmin.  At first I was repeatedly told that they could only provide a refurbished unit of the same model but after I repeatedly insisted that this was not a satisfactory solution they agreed to send me a different unit.

The North Face

They would have fit under several categories on this page since they make so many different outdoor products


Once upon a time this was a good company.


Now much of their stuff is junk.


Some of their products are still very good, usually their higher end ones, but I do not enjoy trying to figure out the secret code that tells you if a particular product of theirs was manufactured for serious use or just as an overpriced fashion accessory.


They do not get a link.

Black Diamond

They make a wide range of serious outdoor equipment


Their products are incredibly well made and their warranties and customer service are great.

Outdoor Research

They make a wide range of outdoor equipment and apparel.


Their stuff works great and their customer service is friendly and reliable.  About the only item of theirs that I have not yet tried are their tents.

Brunton

They make a wide range of outdoor equipment.


Some of their stuff works very well such as their compasses and their cook stoves. 

Much of their stuff works for a while and then promptly breaks the day after the warranty is up, even their more expensive items.

I have found the key to buying their equipment is to keep it simple.  Stay away from anything from them that is complicated like electronics or binoculars or anything else expensive that it would make you sad to see go into the garbage after you payed a bundle for it.