Outdoor Retail Gear Trends: 2016 paddlesports accessories

Paddlesports accessories target growing variety of water activities. See what's ahead for retail in 2016.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2015 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Aug. 5 – 8

Add-on sales:They’re the Holy Grail for specialty retailers. Luckily, the paddlesports category is rife with them, to make every outing on the water as safe and enjoyable as possible.

The range extends from essentials such as personal floatation devices (PFDs), paddles and sprayskirts to more extraneous items like apparel, footwear, coolers and dry storage. While design innovations differ for each, plenty of competition and new tech — from eco-friendly construction to lightweight materials — ensure brands are leaving the status quo in their wake.

Marking its first-ever entry into the kayak paddle market, SUP-paddle maker Kialoa debuts its Deschutes Carbon two-piece (MSRP $389), a 23-ounce paddle marrying a featherlight and durable Carbon Fiberlite blade with a carbon shaft for impact resistance and a paltry swing weight. It’s also strong on the enviro-front, utilizing post-manufacturing recycled material.

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A great, versatile-fitting rec PFD, Stohlquist’s new Thinback OSFA (MSRP $80), which stands for “one size fits all,” fits a 30- to 52-inch chest range and comes with a cross-chest cinch harness to eliminate ride-up, a thin back panel for seat backs and ample stash pockets. For kayak anglers, its new Spinner Fishing PFD (MSRP $70) employs a traditional three-buckle entry system and fit, but with greater mobility for paddling and ever-important casting. Bells and whistles include large front pockets to accommodate fly and bait boxes; a small Velcro rod holder and barless hook patch; and multiple attachment points for accessories.

Taking versatility to new levels, Kokatat expands its SwitchZip technology — debuted last year in the Idol as a fully separating watertight waist zipper, allowing full dry suit or dry top application — into its new touring-specific Gore-Tex Radius Dry Suit (MSRP $1,295), Surge Paddling Suit (MSRP $850) and Passage Anorak (MSRPs $499-$589.) The tops can be warn alone or mated with any other SwitchZip compatible pant. Kokatat also brings customization to its fishing PFD line with the Predator (MSRP $139), made from Cordura to reduce hook snares and featuring articulated front panels, variable-thickness foam back for seatbacks, and a pocket that unzips to 90 degrees as a work surface shelf.

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Experimenting with materials in drysuits, Sweet Protection unveils its Gore-Tex Pro Intergalactic Dry Suit (MSRP $1,300) with a textured, polyester laminate face for durability and anti body-cling. A diagonal zipper makes for easy self-supported entry and exit, a Hypalon Velcro waist ensures a tight and secure fit, and a handy, mesh-drain thigh pocket provides accessory access.

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Ice Mule hops on the versatility wagon with its new waterproof, soft-shelled IceMule cooler, which keeps ice for up to 24 hours and rolls up for storage in its own stuff sack. A portage-able cooler revelation for every paddler under the ice-melting sun, it comes in a variety of sizes, with paddling classics including the 20-liter Pro (MSRP $80) — perfect for canoe and raft trips — and the 15-liter Classic (MSRP $48) with 9-inch-diameter base ready for a sea kayak hatch.

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--Eugene Buchanan

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