All posts by Vermont SUP

GEAR REVIEW: Ink Blaat Insoles

I recently came across a product that claimed to help with foot odor while looking good at the same time. I was given an opportunity to test some of these products in exchange for an honest review to post on Vermont SUP. The company is Ink Blaat Insoles, they have a ton of great styles with sizes from Mens 4 up to Women’s 14. Click Here to read more about their company.

The best thing about these insoles is the fact that when they get dirty you throw them in the wash they’re good to go again. I’ll be honest, my feet always stick. I know its gross but keeping the odors at bay has always been important to me. I’ve tried things like baby powder, odor balls and even vehicle air fresheners but nothing seemed to really work.

I was interested to give these Ink Blaat Insoles a try. I put them in my running shoes that were 6 months old and already getting a funk to them. It was different running in them the first time because you simply place them on your existing soles. I then replaced my insoles with Ink Blaat ones only and liked that feeling much better. After several days of using the insoles the smell seemed to diminish and within a few weeks didn’t really smell at all. After about 2 months, I did send them through the wash just because I could.

I chose the Uh-Oh style because I liked the bullseye design. They have a ton of different designs to choose from even though no one will really see them other than you. Below is just a few of their options.

The one negative thing I have to say is the fact they have no support for your feet. I have very flat feet and having some arch support is imperative for me to be comfortable. I currently use a separate arch support insole under the Ink Blaats. I will keep them in to use but would be very interested if they decide to make new models with arch support.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the Ink Blaat Insoles for free from Ink Blaat Insoles as coordinated by Outdoor PR in consideration for review publication.

GEAR REVIEW: Orsden Slope Jacket

Growing up in Northern Vermont you get used to the long, cold winter at a young age. It’s not unheard of for temperatures to be negative double digits for weeks on end. It’s essential to have the right gear for those situations. I’ve always loved the saying “there’s never wrong conditions just wrong gear.”

The Slope Jacket from Orsden is an essential piece of gear to have with you on those cold mornings when you’re scraping ice from a windshield and shoveling a long driveway. They make a Men’s and Woman’s versions. 

On a side note, I grew up in Vermont and spent 30 cold winters enjoying the snow, cold & some of the best ski resorts on the east coast. I started to dislike the cold more and more in my late 20s and decided to move to Florida in the winter of 2013. I currently don’t live in the cold, but I sure do remember it. I’m happy to tell you some winter stories, just come down here to Florida and we’ll sit on the beach in shorts and flip flops and talk. Ha ha

Anyways, back to the review of Orsden’s Slope Jacket. Upon getting the jacket I instantly noticed it is made of strong materials that feel like it could withstand some serious use and not rip or wear out. The stitching is strong and it has a ton of built in features. I personally don’t normally wear a hood and the fact that this jacket has one that zips off is a nice touch. The 4 way stretch construction gives you a nice looking fit without feeling like it restricts your movements. It has 5 pockets around the jacket and interior tapered cuffs to keep the snow out in the deep powder. It also has under arm pit-zips allowing you to cool off in a hurry after hiking to your favorite powder line. 

With all the features this jacket has I’m holding onto it until I decide to  move back up North for the the cold winters. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants something stylish and sleek but also warm and super comfortable. It’s a great mix of style and comfort, in fact it’s the most comfy jacket I’ve worn. 

 Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the Orsden Slope Jacket for free from Orsden as coordinated by Outdoor PR in consideration for review publication.

LOCATION HOTSPOT: USA Raft Erwin, TN

Over the past few years I’ve started paddling more & more. My main focus has been Stand-Up Paddleboards or SUPs. Starting out on flat water and soon migrating to moving water, rivers. It’s opened up even more places to paddle and explore. Naturally after mastering slow moving rivers I began to explore whitewater. Now what used to be boring wave trains in a kayak, are hard and challenging obstacles to stay standing up thru. From my first rapid on the Winooski River, Hugo & JunkyardI WAS HOOKED!

Over the past two years my girlfriend and I have been spending our summers in Vermont and our winters down in Florida. With this option we get the best of both worlds. The warmest months up in the beautiful Green Mountain State and the coldest months down in Florida where sometimes its warmer than the warmest months in Vermont.

This spring, before we travelled back up North, we did a little research. Knowing we were going to driving up through western North Carolina and possibly Tennessee we started looking for outfitters in those areas where we could test out some whitewater SUPs. We quickly came across USA Raft on the Nolichucky River in Erwin, Tennessee. I contacted them and spoke with Matt Moses, the owner of the company, who told us they have some of the best whitewater in the Eastern US. He also had lodging options right there on site. It sounded good to us and we decided to stop and paddle on our way to Vermont.

Two days into our trip up North we arrived at USA Raft, and were impressed by the property. It has several larger buildings to support the staff, retail store, mess hall and lodging options for their customers. Walking around the property was amazing. It’s right on the river with beautiful mountain views within the Cherokee National Forest. The vibe is relaxed and casual, something you’d expect from a paddling outfitter. There is a pond next to the river where they offer weekly Sup Yoga lessons. After speaking with the staff in the office they said there was a Sup Yoga class that afternoon we could join if we wanted. I Love to paddle board but I’m not much for Yoga especially on a SUP so we graciously declined but said we’d love to come and watch.

The weather was beautiful and was expected to stay in the low 70s that night, so we decided to setup our hammocks in the trees near the Yoga pond. After getting settled in we walked back up to the office to rent a few paddle boards to run the 2 mile stretch of river below the outfitter. There were several different SUPs to rent and we decided on two of the Corran Streetfighters. They were short, wide and made of strong plastic and reminded me of a whitewater kayak only with a flat deck rather than a cockpit.

The rocky beach area on property was our launch spot from where we  began to paddle down the Lower Nolichucky River. Almost immediately there were some fun wave train sections of Class I/II. Its a shallow river, on average about a foot and a half deep so there were rocks to maneuver around and small wave trains to follow.  Further down there were some more Class II rapids with many different waves and eddies to play on and around. When we reached the end of the 2 mile stretch we loaded the boards onto my car, which the staff helped shuttle down earlier, and headed back up to USA Raft. 

We quickly ran to the grocery store within just a  few miles to grab provisions for the night, before the evening paddle session. The Hala Sales Rep, Jack Nelson, brought his boards to USA Raft for the yoga sessions and after yoga, the company does a group SUP paddle. We were able to join in, and I jumped on a Hala Hoss and my girlfriend jumped on a Hala Atcha with the StompBox (a retractable fin). As a group we headed down the Nolichucky as the sun was quickly dropping below the mountain ranges. This was the same section we had done earlier in the day, but it was even more fun to share the rapids with 8 other SUPpers of varying ability level. This was by far the largest group of white water SUP paddlers that we’ve encountered! USA Raft’s shuttle driver was waiting for us at the take out with van and trailer which we loaded and headed back up river.

After the typical post paddle drink and chat session, we all went our separate ways. My girlfriend and I were abel to hang out on the porch of USA Rafts tiny house as darkness took ahold of the valley and the stars began to twinkle. The tiny house is rentable on Airbnb and sleeps 6 people! The tiny house was actually made on Tiny House Nations so it has some really specialized features! It has a full bathroom and kitchen, although all miniaturized! But our favorite part is the deck, its wraps around the house and is ideal for relaxing into the evening.

 The next morning we got up and joined USA Raft for their most popular trip, The Nolichuky Gorge with a river side lunch. First, the raft guides did their safety spiel and tried to scare us all away before boarding the bus, but it didn’t work! We gathered our gear and loaded up. The bus took us up river over a sketchy, twisty, turny mountain pass. Thanks to our skilled driver, we made it safely without problem. I’ve always found, the narrower, the steeper and the twistier a shuttle ride is, the better the rapids following it are… so we just got more and more excited as we continued up river. At the top we unloaded and helped carry the rafts down to the river and off we went. The river was on the low side, but still plenty of fun. We had 6 people in a 6 person raft so we had no problem maneuvering around the rocks and getting through the numerous class 3-4 rapids while enjoying breath taking canyon scenery. About half way down the river we stopped at a river side lunch spot and the guides unloaded a feast! it was set up buffet style and we helped ourselves. After lunch, we continued downriver and landed back at USA Raft. Yup, thats right, they are right on the river at the perfect take out location after a morning of fantastic whitewater in the Nolichuky Gorge!

After rafting we reluctantly headed out of town. USA Raft was so welcoming that we found it hard to leave, but we’ll be back again!

A huge thanks goes out to Matt Moses the owner at USA Raft for hosting us and sharing his truly unique place in TN.

GEAR REVIEW: Paleo Meals To Go

paleo-meals-to-go-banner-logo-vermont-sup

Paleo Meals To Go was born out of love and passion for health and exercise, the spirit of the great outdoors, and advocacy for a holistic, wholesome Paleo lifestyle. We provide the best in class, freeze-dried Paleo meals to those on a path less traveled. Wherever our customers go, Paleo Meals To Go gets them there. With unexplored territories on the horizon, backpacking food that gets back to your roots and to your adventure is our prerogative. We balance experience with passion, providing the ultimate combination of nutrition, taste, and convenience to enhance the journey ahead. ~ https://paleomealstogo.com

Paleo Meals has several options including breakfast, snacks and dinner. They are super easy to make, just pour some hot water in the packets, close it up and wait. Once your meal has rehydrated itself, dig in because these meals are tasty and healthy!

We tried the dinner meals first and were pleasantly surprised by the flavor and quantity. One packet filled us up and tasted great! We’ll definitely be taking these on our next paddle trip to use once our frozen meats are used up. This is the next best thing after a fresh cooked meal!

We are excited to try to the other options Paleo Meals has to offer.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the Paleo Meals for free from Paleo Meals To Go as coordinated by Outdoor PR in consideration for review publication.

GEAR REVIEW: CrossKix APX

Most of the time when I paddleboard I’m barefoot. When paddling, going barefoot allows me to “feel the board” which give me more control on the water. 80% of the time I paddle this way, barefoot and loving it!

There are some situations where I don’t want to be barefoot and require something protecting my foot. The major situation I encounter includes rivers and most specifically whitewater rivers. When paddling on a river, or anywhere you might have to get out and walk, having a good sole supporting your feet and protection covering your toes is essential.

Recently I had the chance to test out one of the newest products offered by CrossKix, a pioneering footwear company creating functional footwear. The sleek, aggressive and stylish designs coming from this newer organization sets them apart from your normal EVA (Ethylene-vinyl acetate) mold injected shoe company.

I instantly noticed how light yet solid these shoes felt. The soft EVA material seemed to hug my foot as I slipped them on. The holes on the bottom of the sole and sides of the shoe give the water a place to drain out as your paddling through rapids or just walking in the rain.

You can be sure that I’ll be keeping these shoes with my quiver of paddling gear to protect my feet when paddling.

Key Features: 

  • Ultra Lite Kix Upper
  • Wear Moldable Footbed
  • Completely Water Submersible
  • Daily or athletic use

Crosskix 2.0 and APX

Crosskix behind the brand

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the Pannier Backpack Convertible for free from crosskix.com as coordinated by Outdoor PR in consideration for review publication.

GEAR SPOTLIGHT: Imagine SUP Board Release Valve

Vermont SUP Gear Spotlight Imagine Inflatable Pressure Release Valve

Imagine Surf has been a leader in the paddleboard industry since 2006. Their commitment to performance and safety is one of their biggest goals. This year they have come out with something new. All of their 2016 Inflatable models SUPs now have their patented, automatic air pressure release valves.  One of the safety features we have built into our inflatable boards is an automatic air pressure release valve. This solves the potential problem of over inflation which could lead to seam failure. Now you have one less thing to worry about so you can get on the water worry free.

Check out the demo given by Dave Kalama.

Vermont SUP Gear Spotlight Imagine Inflatable Pressure Release Valve

IMAGINE… what does this word mean in our paddle boarding company? Well when we started Imagine Surf in 2006, we were a handful of paddlers and surfers that imagined living a lifestyle of fun and adventure. We imagined dawn patrol surfs and sunset bonfires. We imagined epic river trips with friends and fun coastal runs with family. We imagined exciting fishing missions and crossing the finishing line excited. We imagined weekends of escape from the grind and weeks filled with daily escape. So we used our imagination and dreamed big! The dream came true and Imagine has now grown up to be one of the most fun, authentic, and exciting paddleboard brands on the market. We are constantly inspired by this amazing sport and humbled at how it changes lives.

Our product philosophy is pretty simple. We build boards we want to paddle. Paddleboarding is all we do. Our boards are not just things we sell to make a living, they are a part of us. We all paddle and share a common philosophy to make Paddleboarding accessible. Our tag line “We make Paddleboarders” is the cornerstone of this philosophy. This is reflected in every board we build from affordable durable entry level construction and designs, to the highest end surf and racing shapes. We are very fortunate to have a true Iconic Waterman, SUP pioneer and board designer Dave Kalama as an integral part of our team ensuring each Imagine board is designed, tested and proven before we put it into production. For 2016 we have once again built a balanced line of versatile, affordable, durable and great performance boards. The journey so far has been an adventure but trust us… if you use your Imagination it has only just begun.   – ImagineSurf.com

GEAR REVIEW: SUP Wheels EVOLUTION

Transporting your paddleboard is and important part of paddling. It’s not just strapping into your car and driving to a local river or surf spot but also how you carry it once you get there. SUP Wheels has a great solution for moving your board on location  once it’s off the car. The SUP Wheels EVOLUTION allows you to pull your paddleboard as you walk or bike to your desired secret spot. It makes it easy to move a big bulky paddleboard without having to be physically strong to muscle it to the beach or river.

It’s large heavy duty plastic wheels and sturdy cross axle makes it strong and easy to roll over bumps, curbs for maybe your best friend taking a nap on the side of the trail.

Vermont SUP Gear Review SUP Wheels

You simply slide the tale of your board into the sup wheels and secure the rubber bungee cord around the fin. The opening is large enough for even the biggest SUP and surfboards. Then attach the included handle at the nose and run the thick strapping down the board and around the fin. This gives you a nice solid handle to carry and drag your board to the desired spot.

This is a perfect item to keep in your car and use as needed depending on the paddling location. It folds down to store relatively flat in your trunk or closet.

Sun shines on Bolton Dam
Sun shines on Bolton Dam

I wish I would’ve had this sup wheels on my Winooski river trip two years ago. We paddled 65 miles in five days but had to portage nine dams. The worst was 4 damn in one day through the Vermont State Capital, Montpelier. The longest of the portages was at the Bolton Dam where it would have been nice to use the SUP Wheels on the 1/4 mile hike.

What I like about these SUP Wheels are that it’s lightweight yet strong plastic. It could take some abuse on the trail or river and still work no problem. Its large diameter wheels makes it easy to roll over bigger objects like rocks or logs. I also really like the strap and handle that comes with it. Much better design than some of the suction cup models on the market today.

CLICK HERE to view the full specs from their website.

SIC Introduces F.A.S.T – Foot Actuated Steering Technology – 2016

The mission with the new and patented F.A.S.T. (Foot Actuated Steering Technology) was to revolutionize the same steering that SIC created in the beginning. The new system is focused on durability, reliability, serviceability and flexibility.

“This year one exciting thing that we are coming out with is the new Foot Actuated Steering Technology, which is an improvement on our current steering system,” said Mark Raaphorst, SIC Founder and Master Shaper. “After all the long hours of design, research and development, FAST takes controlling and navigating your paddleboard to the next level.”

It features a hot-swappable tiller arm that can quickly and easily be swapped for goofy or regular footed paddlers. To improve on the safety features we minimized the mechanical components, changed cables to push-rods and added multiple fail-over systems should you encounter a problem with the system on the beach or at sea. Of course it also needed to perform as well or better than the original system, which is hard to do. However, after more than 2.5 years of development we are confident that we exceeded all of the key design and performance requirements. We are stoked and we’re sure you will be too.

“After three years of intense development and testing, we are proud to be releasing our all new FAST Steering system for 2016,” said Jeff Baillargeon, SIC Brand Manager. “Innovation is at heart of what we do at SIC and the new FAST steering system is something that will change the way we paddle forever. This is a revolution in design that is bigger than just downwinding. Steering assisted paddling will change the way we tour on lakes, float down river and tour the coast. I am proud of the work that our team put into this design.”

vermont sup smart stearing

F.A.S.T. Models Available in 2017
Bullet 17.4
Bullet 17.0 V2
Bullet 14.0 V2
FX Tour 14.0
FX Tour 12.6
Contact your local retailers to get your hands on this new F.A.S.T. system from your O’hana at SIC.

About SIC Maui
SIC is the stand up paddling industry’s premiere manufacturer of high quality, race proven stand up paddleboards and accessories. Founded on the island of Maui and cultivated on a legacy of world class open ocean racing, SIC is an authentic stand up paddle board maker proud to lay claim to a heritage of designing the most winning board share together with out team of elite athletes, brand ambassadors and customers around the globe. Five Star Performance is our motto and we wear it with pride each day through our commitment to extending the SIC experience on and off the water to our growing family. SIC is committed to delivering the very best paddling can offer; for any condition, discipline or ability level.

vermont sup smart stearing

 

GEAR REVIEW: Urban Armor Gear iPhone Case

Urban Armor Gear iPhone Case

I recently purchased a Urban Armor Gear case for my iPhone 5S. I loved the look of them and seemed like a good solid case. After getting it I was relieved that it wasn’t some flimsy cheep China generic cover.  This case had some strength to it!!!

It’s hardshell outside is strong plastic that has already withstood many, many many accidental drops from heights up to 10 ft. I wouldn’t recommend trying to drop your iPhone from 10ft with this case on it but the one time mine did fall it landed on the corner and was fine.

The inside layer is a softer rubber material thats gives a little more cushion and protection for the phone.  It also helps when your holding it but giving a bit of sticky grip so it doesn’t slide out your hand.

All in all this case is great. Its sturdy and rugged while keeping a small profile so it doesn’t take up your whole front pocket. I’d recommend this case to anyone looking to add a little bit of protection for their phone without breaking the bank.

My one con would have to be that Urban Armor Gear doesn’t offer a waterproof case solution. I would imagine and hope there is one in the future. As a paddler and being on the water all the time it important to keep your gear safe. I’ll be watching their case line-up waiting for that waterproof option.

Key Features:

  • Armor shell and impact resistant soft core
  • Feather-light composite construction
  • Oversized tactile buttons
  • Easy access to touchscreen and ports
  • Scratch resistant skid pads and screen surround
  • Meets military drop-test standards (MIL STD 810G 516.6)