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Who uses what gear, and why? Part 4: Nick Troutman.
Who Uses What, and Why?
This is part 4 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 Nick Troutman's gear. As in the earlier articles, we left Nick's text mostly unedited.
Nick Troutman. What Gear and Why?
Criteria for choosing brands
EJ, Pat and Tao have covered buying from companies you support which give back to the sport, products with functionality, products that work and are right for you, and management that is supportive and cares about the customer. I will try and give a different approach.
I have been kayaking for 7 years now, only being a sponsored athlete for the last couple years. Meaning I have bought and used many of the different kayak gear that is on the market today.
I also feel that the gear that I use is import to my confidence and has a direct correlation to my paddling abilities on the river. I look for gear that has functionality, durability, light weight, and is safe and stylish.
It can be easy to go for the cheapest piece out there, which I have done before (I was and still am a bit of a kayak bum), but in the end if it breaks, wears out sooner, or is not everything that I wanted, then it isn't worth it. There are only a couple of reasons why something is cheaper, mainly either made from cheaper materials, or made with cheaper labor. Either way, you will most likely find yourself having to replace your cheaper gear sooner, costing you as much or more than just buying better gear in the first place.
Here is the gear I use and why.
Jackson Kayak: a family owned company who care and give back to the sport. They use the strongest, most resistant plastics (cross-linked plastic), and they have one of the best customer services in the business, truly caring about the customer and consumer.
Play boat: 2010 All-Star: The best freestyle boat I have ever seen. Easy to edge, pick up off the wave (aerial moves), comfortable, less swing weight, fast, and loose.
Creek Boat: 2010 Villain: Plenty of rocker to get up and over any obsticles the rivers have to offer. Stable yet easy to roll, and has a shock absorbing bulk-head.
Kokatat: A grass roots company, that cares about all aspects of watersports. Making quality gear with the best materials.
Dry Top: Rouge: Fits well, not restricting, stylish, durable, and made with Gore-tex material, which lasts longer than anything else I've ever tried.
Insulation: I use the Kokatat insulation fleeces because they are light, comfortable, non restricting and dry quickly if they ever get wet.
PFD: Safety: Ronin Pro: It has the floating I need, a high back for spinal protection, plus the safety equipment that comes in handy is necessary including quick release and tow tether options.
PFD: Play: Orbit tour: It is super low profile, keeping my full range of motion, yet has enough floatation to keep me safe if I ever needed to swim, plus a handy pocket if I need to carry anything down the river with me.
Snapdragon: A company run by kayakers, making products for kayakers. They also make all their products in the USA.
EXP Armortex Reinforced: The skirt fits great, is easy to put on and off, and is completely covered in Kevlar making is last longer. It also comes with an implosion bar to help prevent skirt implosions, making it confident inspiring whether play boating or creek boating.
Shred Ready: Standard Half Cut and Full Face: I use these helmets because they are some of the safest helmets on the market, easy to outfit, form fitting, and stylish.
Teva Cherry Bombs: They are comfortable, grippy, and small enough to fit in my playboat, but solid enough to take creeking.
Lightning Paddles: Freeride Carbon Bent Shaft: It has a solid powerful stroke, lightweight and strong materials, and a large bent hand grip helping always know where my paddle is even in the biggest beat down. They are also starting molded in graphics, making some stylish paddles.
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?". Nick's answer to that:
Playboat: Bliss Stick Smoothy
Creek Boat: Riot Magnum
Paddle: AT 2 Superlight
Dry Top: Level 6
Spray Skirt: Mountain Surf
Shoes: Five Ten
More info about Nick: http://nicktroutman.com/