On the hook: Paddlesports accessories allow for multitasking on kayaks and SUPs

A look at paddlesports accessories coming to market in 2014.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2013 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show July 31 – Aug. 3. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

If you’re looking for growth in paddlesports accessories, look no further than the SUP and kayak fishing markets.

“All of our research shows that’s where the growth is,” said Andrew Stern, marketing manager for Bending Branches. “Those two segments are on fire.”

While boat manufacturers are embracing the shift with new hull designs, those on the accessory side are doing so with lower price-point SKUs that help get paddlers out on the water. “We’re providing designs that provide more for less for the SUP customer,” said Ascent and Cannon Paddles’ Stuart Lee. “We’re also taking the principles of our high-end products and making them economical.” A case in point is its Moxie Women’s SUP Paddle (MSRPs $139, fixed; $169, adjustable; $189, 3-piece), featuring a high-cadence stand-up blade common in its paddling-race paddles at a low weight and price for the SUP market.

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In the world of personal floatation devices, SUP is all the rage as well, with inflatable belt-style PFD sales up 20 percent this year, according to the PFD Manufacturer’s Association. “SUP represents a substantial portion of that,” said MTI Adventurewear’s Lili Colby. “Consumers seem to be interested in comfortable, wearable devices.” MTI rolls out the new three-model Fluid 2.0 (MSRP $125, basic), with a slim-line shape, 3D mesh padded performance belt, zipper cargo pocket and signal whistle. The line also includes versions for racing, the Race1 SUP, and yoga, the AquaOm, with anchor-clipping carabiner (both MSRP $135). Fishing-specific models also are driving PFD sales, as illustrated by NRS’s new Chinook fishing PFD (MSRP $100), with a seat-friendly lower back, lure pockets, hook patch, tool retractor and more.

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All this isn’t to say that the conventional accessory markets have dried up. Bending Branches unveils its 21-ounce, Limited Edition “A” canoe paddle (MSRP $240) at this year’s show, made from basswood and available with an 11-degree bend in lengths of 48, 50, 52 and 54 inches with a blade size of 17.75 inches-by-8.25 inches. “The market is holding its own, but the number of quality canoe paddle manufacturers is declining,” said the company’s founder Andrew Stern.

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Refinements in the whitewater realm continue to focus on making products more durable and for higher performance needs. “People want gear that will perform great in the toughest of conditions,” said Immersion Research President John Weld. IR’s answer is its Royal spray skirt (MSRP $190). Features include a proprietary fin-shaped rand designed to make maximum contact with the rim and resist implosion; two sticky rubber patches under the deck for additional implosion resistance; extended deck neoprene for dryness; and four-way stretch Kevlar in high-wear areas.

PaddlesportsAccessories_ImmersionResearch_Skirt

Adventure Technology tackles the high-performance topic with its Advanced Series whitewater paddles, featuring composite construction and a variety of blade designs. The line includes the Geronimo for creeking; the Hercules, a hybrid creek/play paddle with slightly smaller blade; and the Samurai for playboating, with an even smaller blade (MSRPs $290, straight; $375, ergo). Each paddle employs a lightweight carbon fiber shaft and is available in ergonomic and straight shaft.

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--Eugene Buchanan 

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