Name: Kirstie Macmillan (Kmac)
Above: Falls of Feugh, Banchory
Current Kit: Wavesport Diesel 65/Wavesport EZG 50, Playboater Workdeck, Werner Sherpa 191, Sweet Wanderer, Palm Naiya Cag and Sidewinder Pants, Astral Bella, Palm 15m throwline, Palm Granites/Lomo boots.
My Wavesport Diesel 65 is my prize possession even though I’ve only owned it for 1 year! It has been used most weekends on trips ranging from leading beginners on grades 1-3 to bashing down the Moriston at Wet West. It has also had 2 weeks of paddling in the French Alps. I really don’t know what I’ll do when this boat wears out; I really hope it’ll last forever! It’s safe and a great boat for progressing onto harder rivers because of its defined edges and decent speed. The only thing which may put me off the Diesel is the new Recon… To spice things up a bit I’ve also just bought a smaller EZG50 which I fell in love with at NSR 2013! This boat is incredibly fun for playing in holes and ideal for surfing on the sea! I’ve stuck to paddling Wavesports since my first boat, an old-school EZ, but soon found (as a novice) that swimming out of this multiple times in a day would result in some terrible shin-bashing on the cockpit rim! Luckily the EZG50 is a lot more spacious and equally fun to paddle!
Above: Briancon Gorge, French Alps
Perhaps my favourite pieces of kit are my helmet and my BA. My Sweet Wanderer (with old-style peak) is just on its way out after over two years of paddling. I originally wanted a purple sparkly Shred-Ready but got an instant headache when trying them on! The Wanderer offers supreme comfort and warmth although you’ve got to be prepared to splash out on the price. On the other hand, the helmet protects your noggin and therefore price shouldn’t be a problem if it fits well and does its job correctly. I originally owned a Palm Symbiant BA, bought because most other ladies in our club had one and it was cheap. Over time I came to really dislike this bit of kit because it would constantly ride-up during a trip and I found rolling incredibly difficult because of its bulky nature. I’m also quite short and the shoulder straps were always adjusted to the maximum, creating even more ride-up. In anger I gave up on it and bought an Astral Bella which I’ve had for a year now and I think it’s a superb (and well-priced) piece of ladies-specific kit. No riding-up, very snug fit and looks great. The only downside is that I feel like I should be wearing a harness and need to save up some pennies for a Green Jacket! The materials on the Astrals are sturdy and no stitching has come undone (despite some frantic sling-grabbing moments) and I’ve never heard a bad thing about them from anyone else! As a Scottish paddler, I often find myself in freezing conditions and have found the perfect thermals for the job: Reed Chillcheater Transpire tops. I now own 2 and they are simply fantastic for winter paddling as well as skiing and camping! Cosy, not too bulky and a very reasonable price!
Having only paddled for just over 3 years I’ve learned not to rush into buying kit! Always shop around and see what is best for you and don’t just buy something because your friends wear it or because it’s cheap! I recommend visiting a paddling show like the Perth ‘Paddle’ events so you can compare loads of kit. There are good products and there are bad products, but there are also good and bad purchases! Always make sure that all of your kit fits correctly and safely, this way you won’t end up wasting money on a product which does not do the best job for you!
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