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Who Uses What: Tao Berman

Tao Berman 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…

Tao Berman

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.

Kayak Company

Tao Berman Dagger KayaksI paddle the Dagger Nomad 8.5. It's a great creek boat, and is also very fast for racing. It also has good outfitting and has strong plastic.


Tao Berman AT PaddlesI use the AT 2. It gives me a powerful forward stoke. The pistol grip shaft also gives me really good grip. This is really important to help keep my paddle from spinning or sliding in my hands.

Tao Berman Level SixDrytop/gear

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.


Tao Berman snapdragonI use Snap Dragon spray-skirts. They are made out of Kevlar so they are really strong. They also almost never blow off when I impact off of big falls.

Tao Berman Grateful HeadsHelmet

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.


Tao Berman Mion FootwearI use Timberland and Mion shoes. They are really functional for walking around on wet rocks near the river. They also drain well.

Tao Berman

Second Choice

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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