Best of Adventure: Water - Gear | Trends | Destination
1. The Tide Watch (pictured above)
Tested and approved by surfing wunderkinds the Malloy brothers, the Nixon 51-30 has an oversize face with numbers easily seen underwater or when spray is flying. Add a tide indicator so you can catch the swell at its peak, waterproofing to 300 meters (984 feet), and slick modern styling (unheard of in most tide watches) and you've got a timepiece that beckons ($300; www.nixonnow.com).
2. The Kayak
Fashioned from carbon fiber, the Necky Chatham 16 Carbon is a leap forward for boaters. Even at a wispy 46 pounds (21 kilograms), the 16-footer (5-meter) is über-tough, making it perfectly suited for expedition-worthy beatings and surf-zone hammerfests ($3,500; www.neckykayaks.com).
3. The Surfboard
Traditional foam surfboards are so fragile, it seems they'll crack if you look at them wrong. But the Surftech 7'6'' Bear Versatile is made from nearly indestructible Tuflite epoxy. It isn't ding-proof, but it's close, making it ideal for travel as well as everyday use. And the shape is the perfect blend of shortboard and longboard: It's stable but fast, paddles quick but is highly maneuverable, and works for surfers from fledgling to expert ($786; www.surftech.com).
4. The Wet Suit
Nobody likes the thought of swimming in oil—so why squeeze into traditional petroleum-based neoprene wet suits? The Body Glove Eco full suit uses nonpetroleum rubbers (including one inventively derived from corn) that are created with one-tenth the energy of garden-variety neoprenes. What's more, the zippers are recycled plastic and the logos are printed with water-based inks ($325; www.bodyglove.com).
5. The Dive Mask
Most dive masks leech on to your noggin, pull at your skin, and leave you with raccoon eyes—but not the Mares X-Vision Liquidskin. Fashioned from dual-density silicone, the material against your face is 45 percent more pliable than on traditional masks, making for a snug but buttery soft fit ($95; www.mares.com).
6. The Water Shoe
It's a shame that most "amphibious" shoes incorporate the worst of water and earth instead of the best. Not so the New Balance 920. Though it fits just like a comfy multisport sneaker, the 920 features 12 screened H2O ports: Water flows out, but grit and pebbles can't flood in. Plus, new materials in the shoe's upper and insole make for the fastest dry times we found. Pair that with rubber that grips like a gecko even when wet and you have our new fave ($90; www.newbalance.com).
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