Gear Review: North Water PaddleBritches

Wednesday, 17 December 2008
North Water PaddleBritches. Photo Credit: David H. Johnston This fall North Water released a brand new spare paddle holder for sea kayakers called PaddleBritches. It's easy to see where they got the name from as they look just like a pair of doll pants.
Like other North Water gear on the market, it is a well designed and well thought out product. It's made of 1000 weight Cordura so you know it is super tough. Installation was very easy and it only took me about 10 minutes. There are several sewn "belt loops" that you thread deck lines through making it impossible for surf to wash it off your deck. The openings have stiffeners so it is easy to retrieve or store your paddle while you are out on the water. A nice little feature is a large sewn reflective loop that enables you to quickly stow your primary paddle. You could also use this loop to temporary stow a fishing rod or a Greenland paddle when you need to go hands free for anything.

Of course, there are lots of other methods to store your spare paddle. As I did for many years, you could store them under your decklines or bungies on your back deck. That works great until you pull them out while on the water. Try to stow them away again and you will quickly discover it's impossible to do.

I have also seen some paddlers build their own paddle holders out of PVC plastic tubing. That is also another good method if you are handy. Me? Not so much so this is more up my alley.

North Water PaddleBritches. Photo Credit: David H. Johnston
The view from the cockpit.
Photo Credit: David H. Johnston
I took the PaddleBritches out for a thorough testing in 3-4 foot breaking surf for a couple hours. They performed very well and held in the spare paddle securely. The only time that one blade slipped out was when a very large wave broke and crashed directly on the PaddleBritches. In that case, it squeezed the paddle shaft out like a tube of toothpaste. It wasn't a huge issue as it pushed the paddle towards my lap and I was easily able to push it back in place again. If I had encountered the wave with my old paddle storage set-up (under my bungies) they would have been washed away for sure.

Except for that one time, the PaddleBritches held the paddle in place when paddling out through breaking surf, side surfing, and getting knocked over several times! After rolling up the paddles were still in place and I was quite pleased indeed.

One thing that I did notice about them is that they tend to wiggle around a bit if you have loose decklines. It wasn't a big issue; I just tightened them down a bit until it stayed put. Standard manufacture tightness of decklines on 90% of sea kayaks out there is more then enough to keep the britches from wigging around.

North Water PaddleBritches. Photo Credit: David H. Johnston
To keep the unit from sliding forward, thread one loop on one side of your deck eyelet and the rest on the other side. Click photo to zoom.
Also, a little tip to keep the unit from sliding forward is to place the first set of loops on one side of your deck eyelets and the rest on the other going towards the bow of your boat. That prevents forward slippage and locks the Britches in place. Of course it will depend on your deck hardware set-up and you might need to adjust the placement a bit for that perfect fit. As I mentioned, it only took me about 10 minutes to install so it's a quick adjustment after your first day out with them.

All in all, I think that this is a great addition to my regular paddling kit.

Price: $29.95US
More Information: North Water

For those who are interested, below is a short video of our test conditions:

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David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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