Saturday, October 13, 2007

Cheapskate Paddler

As a 2 STAR paddler, you're now going for more expeditions and spending more time in the sport.
So here's a how to article.

How to have essential gear for kayaking and not burn a hole in your wallet.

1. Footwear
I strongly advise paddlers not to wear slippers. You have trouble keeping them on and may lose them when you capsize. Walking around barefoot might get you injured and its worse if you haven't had a tetanus jab in the last 5 years.
Sandals are better, but they still leave a large portion of your feet exposed. However, I believe they are adequate for paddling in Singapore.

If you'd like, a pair of low cut wetsuit boots only cost about $22 and can be bought at Beach Road Army Market. Avoid those with the bungee/elastic cord at the ankle. The bungee can get caught in the foot pedals of the kayak. High cut ones cost more and have a zip at the side. Sand tends to jam the zip and requires you to rinse with water to get it free, so I'd recommend low cut boots.

2. Sun Protection
This comes in the form of hat, sunglasses and sunblock.
Let's talk about hats first, they block out 50% of UV light entering your eyes, so wearing one while paddling can save your eyes!
Baseball caps with a peak in front only shield your face, leaving your ears and the back of your neck exposed.
Consider a wide brimmed hat, aka jungle hat.
Commonly found at beach road and available in all sorts of camouflage designs, black, blue and khaki.
The camouflage ones are free, for guys in the army who have e-mart credits. Hehe... The rest of us will have to part with $8 for one.

Next up, sunglasses. Not a necessity, but they block out 95% of the remaining 50% of UV rays still entering your eyes if you wear a hat.
What's more, a pair of polarized sunglasses cost as little as $20 and can be found at petrol stations with many designs to choose from too.

Ahh... we now come to sun block. How many of you actually apply sunblock before paddling? Consider Banana Boat's Sport series. They are waterproof and sweat resistant. It is best to get one with a SPF 30 rating.
$16.90 at most pharmacies.

3. Clothing
Avoid cotton, it sucks away body heat 25 times faster when its wet. Not a good thing if the weather turns foul during a kayaking expedition. Get yourself a wicking shirt like Nike's Dri-fit or Adidas's ClimaCool. Reebok has Play-dry which is cheaper at about $29.
Please don't wear singlets, they provide zero coverage and expose you to wind chill.
Event tees are now usually quick dry type, so if you participate or volunteer your services for triathlons, marathons or adventure races you can get a free shirt which you can use for paddling.

4. Hydration
Want an alterative to Nalgene bottles popular with the outdoors fanatics?

A Gatorade bottle with the slightly wider mouth is hardy and easier to clean compared to the flimsy pepsi bottles. Unfortunately they only come in 700ml bottles. At around $2 a bottle that's 10 times less than a Nalgene, plus you get a sports drink!

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