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|Who uses what gear, and why? Part 3: Tao Berman.|
Who Uses What, and Why?
This is part 2 in a series of articles on Playak in which we will present some of the world's top paddlers and the gear they use. Now of course these guys are typically sponsored, so I hear you ask: 'how independent can that be'? To which the answer is: we are not talking about the average sponsored Joe the plumber here. This is about people who are so good that they can actually choose from a wide range of sponsors...
In this third article we present Tao Berman's gear. As in the earlier articles, we left Tao's text mostly unedited.
Tao Berman - What Gear and Why…
Criteria for choosing brands
The way I choose what brands to use is based on the product and management. I always look for companies that have a history of making great products.
In a dangerous sport choosing the best product is really important. I believe it's vital to minimize the risks that we can control. Having the
best product is part of minimizing the risks. Of course having the best gear also makes for the most fun experience.
It's also very important that the management care about the sport, and are easy to work with. It makes me feel good to promote a company that cares about our sport, the environment, and their employees. I believe that as an athlete or as a consumer I can influence a company's decisions. That's because ultimately it's the consumer that decides whether a company remains solvent. We all decide this by our choice to purchase, or not purchase, a company's product. I've learned the hard way that working with bad management is almost never worth it.
I use Stohlquist paddling gear. Their dry-tops and dry-suits are really functional and dry. Their life-vests have the floatation I need and don't obstruct my range of motion when paddling. I also think they make gear that looks really good.
My helmet brand of choice is Grateful Heads helmets. I like their designs and I think they are well built. After seeing a friend get knocked unconscious after hitting his head I pay more attention to the integrity of the helmet design.
I use Timberland and Mion shoes. They are really functional for walking around on wet rocks near the river. They also drain well.
To give this series of articles an extra independent touch, we ask every athlete the following question: "If the above companies wouldn't exist, what brands would you be using?". Tao's answer to that:
- Boat: Pyranha kayaks. They do a great job with their creek boats and I really like Gram, Jim, and everyone else that works at the company.
- Gear: Kokatat. They make good gear.
- Shoes: Teva. Teva worked with their athletes to make a good water shoe that does a pretty good job at sticking to wet rocks.
- Paddle: If I wasn't using an AT paddle I would choose Werner for sure. They make an excellent paddle that is really strong. They also use their athletes to help test prototypes.
- PFD: If I couldn't use my Stohlquist PFD I would choose to use a Kokatat. It's also a nicely designed PFD and like Stohlquist they have a good warranty.
- Spray Skirt: My second choice of spray skirts would be Mountain Surf. They don't leak much and the company has a good reputation.
- Helmet: Sweet because of its cool design and quality construction.
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3 night sup camping trip exploring Big Island Lake Wilderness in the Michigan UP