By Michael Frank
According to a 2013 study by the Adventure Travel Tourism Association (ATTA) in cooperation with George Washington University, year-over-year growth in adventure travel is at 65 percent, and the market size two years ago had hit a whopping $263 billion.
The study portioned out $82 billion spent on gear and apparel, and a subsequent study published in October 2014 by the World Tourism Organization (WTO) found that adventure travel attracts especially wealthy travelers – on average spending $3,000 per person, per trip, and trips last, on average, eight days. Notwithstanding my parents, the average age of adventure travelers according to the ATTA study skews younger – 36, with an almost equal split between genders.
If all of this suggests a healthy, well-heeled customer seeking your advice on what to wear for their spring 2016 vacation to the desert, ocean or mountains, you’d be correct.
Kayaking Coastal Maine
Not unlike the Wild Atlantic Way, The Maine Island Trail (MIT) is a 375-mile “path”- but this one isn’t for walking, it’s for paddling. The MIT hopscotches between more than 200 islands of coastal Maine. What’s fantastic is that there are overnight campsites throughout the waterway, so it’s easy to pick a section to paddle and map your route based on what you want to see and where you want to provision and camp. And because coastal Maine is such a vacation hub, it’s just as easy to lodge in civilized B&Bs. There’s even an app, mita.org/app, which is handy for tidal and other updated coastal information. MIT is a public-private partnership and, as a result, land changes hands each year, with some islands coming into the system and others being blocked off. Novice paddlers should also consider hiring a guide for trickier crossings, as well as picking sections that don’t require plying huge expanses of open water. Fortunately that’s easy to do, especially down east, where fingers of glacial-carved peninsula bisect the Atlantic and effectively calm the coastal waterway.
- Patagonia Black Hole 60L Duffel
- Fjällräven High Coast Shorts
- Craghoppers NosiLife Pro Trousers
- Kokatat Unisex X Jacket
- Icebug Aeshna RB9X
Although it’s not new, we’ve used the Patagonia Black Hole 60L Duffel, $119, around the world and love it for two big reasons. One, it’s not a dry bag. What we mean by that is it’s not waterproof for submersion (more on that shortly), but by the same token it’s adaptable with backpack straps that make it easier to carry when you’ve got one hand occupied hauling a boat ashore at low tide. Two, it’s more versatile than a dry bag. There’s internal organization and a rip-stop polyester padded base, so it’s great as checked luggage and ideal for all adventure travel. True, the lack of full-tilt waterproofing would be a problem if your luggage gets tipped off a boat, but there are easy dry bag stuff sack solutions to shove inside of the Black Hole Duffel so all your gear is impervious to salt water, should a little get splashed en-route.
Whether you’re setting up camp or strolling through a coastal town, Craghoppers NosiLife Pro Trousers, $100, will look great and stand up to multiple days of travel. There’s both a special RFID Protection Pocket for your credit cards, as well as washed-in Insect Shield Repellent. The lightweight synthetic material is quick drying and wrinkle resistant and comes with integrated loops to hang dry in a tent or hotel room. There’s even a built-in sunglass wiper.
The super lightweight Kokatat Unisex X Jacket, $119, is made of four-way stretch nylon that dries instantly and is all but impervious to the wear of rocks, pack straps, sand and being stuffed into the bottom of your luggage for a week. The fabric unwrinkles instantly, and a UPF rating of 50 makes it an ideal sun protector when you need shade (like during a long day on a kayak) but the shore is still a distant spec on the horizon. One very clever feature is an adjustable belt, tucked into the rear pocket. Snap the belt as a tether around your waist, tie the arms across each other at your mid-rife (at the base of your PFD) and the X is readily in reach the moment you need it.
Fjällräven makes a lot of products out of its own G-1000 fabric. The 65/35 blend of polyester and cotton is tough, lightweight, breathable and can be waxed to give it weather resistance. By default the material has quick-drying attributes. The cotton also gives all-day comfort in a not-too-technical appearance. We like that the Fjällräven High Coast Shorts, $85, come not only with hand pockets but with one that’s zippered, to protect cash, and that there’s a belt loop, so even after a day on the water you can dress the shorts up slightly for a visit to the local bistro.
Although Icebug made its name as a brand to help with traction on frozen water, the footwear maker’s new Aeshna RB9X water shoe, $170, takes the same RB9X rubber from the Enlight trail shoe and gives this new design excellent traction on rocks and gravel, as well as when you’re working the pedals of a kayak rudder. The midsole is designed for support and drainage, and the sandwich-mesh upper is designed to prevent fatigue of the small tendons in the tops of your feet.