Sizing/fit: I wear a 12 in just about every pair of shoes I've ever owned, and the Hiyaks are no different. They fit fine with no socks, a 1.5 mm neoprene sock, waterproof socks, or a Smartwool like hiking sock.
Warmth: The water I paddle in is hovering just below 40 degrees right now, so a pair of waterproof or neoprene socks are a standard at this point. There's a bit of cushion around the ankle and above the heel that also works as a bit of insulation. The rest of the inner shoe is lined with an almost grid-like quilted material- Astral calls it "Airmesh" - that traps bits of air in the channels which leads to some warming. If I were standing in the sub-40 degree water for extended amounts of time, I'd have less than warm feet, but after a quick dip during loading, my feet stay plenty warm propped on my foot pegs inside my boat.
Drainage/Drying: One of the features that Astral touts about the Hiyak, along with their other shoes, is that they are better than traditional booties because of their ability to dry quicker than neoprene. If you have any neoprene gear, you're probably well versed in the potential funk associated with the material. I'm not saying that the Hiyaks will be funk-free, but they do dry quickly. The outer shell is made of a hydrophobic bombproof 1000D nylon, so not absorbing water in the first place lends to drying quickly. As for the inside of the shoe, the Airmesh allows water in, but like all synthetics, allows water to drain quickly. With drain holes in the toe and heel paired with raised bumps/channels on the insole, any water that does enter (through those drain holes, the laces, or over the top) has an easy way out. When walking the water squishes out the toe (pretty fun little squirts), and when in the boat it drains out the heel holes. One thing I really like about the drain holes is that they act almost as a scupper - with a bit of nylon just inside them, they allow water out (and in) while keeping out a lot of the dirt and sand that comes with stirring up the bottom. As far as drying goes, Astral is right, the Hiyak is dry and ready for tomorrow. I paddle every day, and when I'm done I prop them up so they can drain and they're good to go for the next day. The part that remains wet the longest is under the insole, but even that is set by paddle time.
Support: The shoes are pretty minimal; super lightweight and thin - both top and bottom. With this, they're comfortable and fine for walking around, but they don't offer a ton of support. I wouldn't want to carry my boat any serious distance on a cobbley beach with them. The insoles allow some drainage with the circle patterns on them, but also provide some cushion for the rocky entries. If you've got high arches, you're gonna need a bit of extra help. The part of the Hiyak that excels in support is the heel cup - its stout and great for resting your foot on while in your boat in true paddling fashion.
Soles: The soles on these have curved diamonds as a main tread pattern, and like high end snow tires, each diamond is siped with small zig-zig slits. The traction is about as good as it gets for such a low profile sole.
Laces: Obviously, laces are the best way to get premium fit in a shoe, and the laces in the Hiyak do exactly that. I've found that really cranking down the laces puts some unneeded pressure on certain spots and becomes uncomfortable, and preferring loose shoes (I rarely tie any shoes I wear) I usually tie them pretty loose. Because I tie them loose, the laces are a bit short, so I skip the top lace hole (like anyone does in a pair of sneakers) which I wasn't a huge fan of anyway. (I like the height of the shoe, just not having the laces tight that high on my ankle!) The Velcro strap across the top is great for keeping the laces from catching on anything inside of the boat, and also helps to keep the knot tied.
Wish Hiyaks had: A spot for the Velcro to be when not stuck across the top. I'm pretty renown for less than properly tied shoes, and they've gotta be at least almost laced up to get the strap across the top. Also, when sitting on the floor drying for tomorrow, the copious amounts of hair that my pyranees/newfie mix leaves lying around tends to gather on un-stuck Velcro. Channels under the insole would add to the drainage. Just a few grooves or a little river system would help to dry under the insole. Some side tread would add to the grippiness. It would have to be a balance between gripping the ground and not gripping everything on the inside of a kayak, but I think it would be a beneficial addition.
Overall: I was a disbeliever. I had calf high rubber boots, why did I need booties or special shoes for paddling? Wrong. The Hiyaks are awesome. I moved my foot pedals up two clicks, and now have a better, tighter stance in my kayak. Not to mention that my heels no longer overlap. It's pretty awesome having specific gear - like shoes made for cold water Sea-kayaking.
-We'll start with the padded knees.
The extra padding during a long day of touring, not only improves the comfort level, but also helps to keep you a bit warmer. The pads feel like closed cell foam- think the blue foam sleeping pads, but half the thickness.
I usually paddle in rubber boots- Xtra Tuffs. The water up here is pretty cold to have anything short or not completely water proof. These cuffs go over the boots no problem and seal out water when tightened down without restricting movement or circulation. They don't open quite as wide as i would like, but for most paddlers (not wearing rubber boots) this will not be a problem. The cuffs also do a great job around the ankle and with getting stuffed in the boots.
Woah. Super comfortable. I've got a bit of a gut, and this fits right over it. It sits up higher than normal pants would, but that's the advantage of it. When you sit into the yak, there's no exposed back. The band is super soft, and comfortable. Also, its not restrictive in the least (I've ridden my bike with em on..)
tiny, but better than most rain pants with out. perfect for a tide book, keys, or something similar. These babies are pretty heavy weight and I am not in the least worried about durability. No problems on post paddle hikes, while setting up camp in the trees, or washing dishes on the rocky beach - again with the knee pads.
I'm a 36" waist and 30-32 inseam and the large is great. Plenty of room in the butt, through the thighs, and down the legs. Not overly long or baggy.
Outstanding pants. Highly recommended.
I've had this paddle for going on 4 years. I love this paddle. (Take note of the period.)
Right now I'm working on a year of paddling- going for 300+ days of paddling this year and nearing the 100 day mark. I paddle in all kinds of weather, including strong consistent wind and strong wind gusts, and waves (non-breaking waves) of all sizes including wind generated chop and large swell. Our temps are pretty mild, maybe cold by some standards, with winter time temps between 25F and 45F and summer between 45F and 65F. I usually start on beaches with small rocks rather than sand, and paddle in the salty sea. So there's that for putting the amount and type of use into perspective.
I'm 6 feet tall with a wider grip and paddle a boat that's 22 inches wide. I've got the 240cm straight shaft, which- according to the sizing chart- is a bit long for my situation. Regardless, I think it's an outstanding fit.
This paddle is exactly what it says it is, a low angle touring paddle, and is perfect for that. Its boundaries can be stretched to rougher days and speedier paddling, but the performance declines in situations when a fatter blade is needed.
On a calm day the Camano's blade is the perfect combination of width, length, curve, and overall shape. The blade pulls through the water easily and provides consistent and un-fluttering propulsion. The blade allows good water entry and exit, and also has sufficient surface area for strong supportive bracing when needed. I've had this paddle out in plenty of days that were or became less than calm. In rougher seas more of a high angle stroke is needed, and despite its narrow profile, the Camano holds its own. With waves, the longer blade tends to catch on the crest as it exits the water, and when you really need the power of a wider blade, there is some left to be desired. But, just as a skier with skis, a paddler should have a few paddles in their quiver!
The shaft of the Camano incorporates Werner's locking ferrule to adjust the feather angle of the blades. While my stickers with an arrow and the degree of angle are long gone, the inside of the ferrule has the numbers clearly printed where they have shown no wear. The big advantages this system really stand out in constant salt water use. Regardless of how a multi piece paddle locks, sand and dirt are the enemy, but paddles with the steel button tend to freeze up with all the salt exposure. I'm not sure exactly what's inside of the paddle working the mechanism (it's sealed so that it floats even when taken apart), but mine rarely has time to dry before the next day and is doing great. It goes together and comes apart without issue every day.
With all this use, the blade of my Camano is showing a bit of wear with scratches from loading and unloading on the beach, some on the back of the paddle, and very little around the edges. After 4 years of hard use, easily over 150 days, and probably nearing 1000 miles logged, this paddle is in outstanding shape and continues to provide high quality and light weight propulsion day in and day out.
This is an outstanding paddle.
Since paddle choice is based on a combo of the boat, the paddler, and the paddling style, I'll start out with the facts: I'm 6 feet tall and have a pretty average length torso, thus, I have a pretty average amount of upper body sticking out of my kayak. I paddle a Necky Chatham 16, which is a pretty quick and responsive sea kayak set up for play and short tours. My boat is 22 inches wide at the cockpit (relatively narrow), and my paddle style is pretty low and mellow- usually more of a low-angle paddler. Even with the combo of my height and the narrowness of my boat, I've gotten used to paddles that are a bit above the recommended size and have used mostly 240cm low angle paddles.
We'll start this off with the Bottom Line:
Despite being advertised as a High-Angle paddle, the Surge is suited more to a low angle paddler's needs. Regardless, the Surge is a high quality, light weight addition to your kayaking experience. Whether it be an evening paddle or a multi-day tour, this paddle gets the job done and does it well.
Now for the Surge indepth...
While this paddle is Aqua-Bound's high angle paddle with their widest blade, the blade is not much wider or longer than other brand's low angle paddles. The measurements for the blade are 6.8in wide and 19in long (17.27cm x 48.26cm), about an inch wider and two inches shorter than Aqua-Bound's Swell Paddle, their low angle piece.
The Surge is super lightweight for its class (not comparing to full carbon paddles), and for a touring paddle, weight is an essential thought. Reining in at a mere 29oz (822 grams), the Surge helps to combat fatigue. Think about how many times you pick up your paddle on any given day on the water. With its low numbers, the Surge is a pleasure to hold, lift, push, pull, and repeat for as long as your tour allows.
The fiberglass blades are light, glide well through the water with no flutter, and have outstanding color. I got the Bright Green, which I would call neon or fluorescent yellow, but this isn't a primary art class, and we?re not discussing the color wheel. The off set of blades from the paddle shaft is interesting. At first I didn't know what to think, but in the water, there is no noticeable difference. It seems as if the offset may add to the strength of the joint between the blade and the shaft- although not sure on the science behind that one. One possible drawback in the blades is the lack of reinforcement or extra layers of fiberglass at the tips; this definitely shaves off milligrams and nothing of note has happened in my month of use, but after a bit more time in play, I would not be surprised if the ends of the blades begin show their wear.
The shaft of the Surge is simple and lightweight. The sturdiness or strength of the shaft never came into question. The two piece design allows you to break it down to stuff it in your boat or the trunk, and the shaft snaps together with the tried and true stainless steel push button and spring in one of three positions- straight, left, or right feather. I have not had any problems, but the push button system has a tendency to get stuck with salt water use, so be sure to stay on top of rinsing your paddle (along with all your gear) after paddling in the salty seas. The shaft is round at the ends and in the center but at the hand placement it is slightly oval-ized. The overall diameter of the shaft is about 3cm, and changing to about 2mm less at the grip, the Surge fit my typically sized hands well, but the difference in the shaft is only slightly noticeable. The drip rings that come with the paddle do a great job (once adjusted) of keeping the water off my skirt and off my hands. The best thing about the drip rings is that they stay put- some tend to slide, but not these guys. With a checkerboard type pattern, I?d guess it has to do with the carbon weave, the shaft of the surge paddle not only stands out from others in my quiver but it also provides an interesting texture for the grip: smooth front to back, but ribbed from side to side; perfect for feathered paddlers.
Bottom Line: Despite being advertised as a High-Angle paddle, the Surge is suited more to a low angle paddler's needs. Regardless, the Surge is a high quality, light weight addition to your kayaking experience. Whether it be an evening paddle or a multi-day tour, this paddle gets the job done and does it well.