I have a love/hate relationship with Costco. On the one hand, the big box wholesaler has a crate of mac ‘n cheese on sale for around $19. On the other hand, do I really need 18 boxes of Kraft dinners in my life? This is the paradox of buying in bulk.
Fortunately, Costco is good for more than large tubs of animal crackers. It’s also a place where you can get sneaky good deals on gear from reputable brands. We ordered some of the best you can get this summer, from sleeping bags to a recreational kayak that would be a welcome addition to any boater’s quiver, and put it all in the field through a month of car camping, lake lounging, and river paddling. Here are four gear deals you should pay attention to.
Klymit Double Klymaloft ($180)
Is it fair to call the Double Klymaloft a “sleeping pad?” It might be classified as a pad, but at 5-inches thick and 78- by 53-inches across, we’re in full “mattress” territory here. That’s part of the charm—it’s so comfortable, it’s borderline opulent. The Double Klymaloft combines inflatable air chambers with a thin foam mattress topper that helps absorb the bony parts of your body while reducing the “partner bounce” you can experience with other plush, double air mattresses. (You know what I’m talking about—you lay down on the mattress and your partner rides a wave of air to the tent floor.) There’s also plenty of real estate for two adults without eating up the entire tent floor, unlike some other plush mattresses. The only bummer: it takes time and effort to get all of the air out of this mattress when you’re putting it away. Plan accordingly. It also doesn’t come with an air pump when you buy it through Costco—and you’re definitely not blowing this thing up with your lungs.
Body Glove Performer ($400)
High-end SUP technology has trickled down to the point where you can now get a fully featured board, something that would’ve cost you $1500 a few years ago, for about $500. Case in point: the Body Glove Performer, an 11-foot paddleboard built to handle everything from flat water cruising to river surfing. I like the svelte shape, which is reminiscent of old-school “gun” surfboards but has a wide platform for your feet that beginners will appreciate. The combination is both stable and fast in flat water and incredibly surfable on river waves. Three built-in fins at the back are long enough to help the board track but short enough to not get in the way on shallow rivers where rocks have the tendency to snag longer fins. It’s 5.4 inches thick, which is a little thinner than some whitewater-specific boards, so I have to make sure I inflate it to the max PSI to keep my 200-pound frame from creating sag in the middle of the board.
A few other cool features of note: a built-in GoPro mount at the front of the board, a handle that also secures water bottles, and a tow point at the nose so you can hitch a ride from a boat across the lake. It also comes with two pumps—a traditional hand pump and a small electric one (I couldn’t get the latter to work). Still, out of the many SUPs in my quiver, the Performer has quickly become the first I grab on most occasions because it is both fast and stable. Body Glove also plants a tree for every board sold.
Bote Zeppelin 10 ($900)
Typically, I don’t like inflatable kayaks because they’re too “squishy” to paddle well and uncomfortable to sit in for long periods of time. In most duckies, you’re sitting in the hull of the boat, soaking your rear in cold water. The Zeppelin is not like most duckies. The three-chamber design combines a base deck that inflates to a rigid 10PSI, surrounded by separate inflatable pontoons. The result: a cruiser of a boat that tracks well while keeping your butt out of the water below (a detachable, inflatable seat also helps avoid this). You can also ditch the seat entirely and paddle the thing like a SUP.
Two small, permanent fins sandwich a six-inch detachable fin on the rear of the boat, while a rigid keel guard helps protect the bottom against rocks. I also dig the Velcro straps that can hold your paddle, and the slide-in rack system (sold separately) that can hold a cooler. It’s not a fast boat, and it’s not meant for hard whitewater, but it’s a comfortable cruiser that I could fish from or tool around in all day.
Wavestorm 5’8” Retro Fish ($120)
This was the one piece of gear I couldn’t test out personally because I live a few hours from the nearest beach break. But Wavestorm’s foamies are low-key icons among surfers who don’t care about their ego—pro surfers have even ridden Pipeline and Mavericks on Wavestorm’s foam boards. Their Classic is a must-have longboard that marries performance with a crazy budget-friendly price, and the updated Retro Fish applies the same sensibility to a snappier, more performance-oriented ride. At just 5’8” long, it doesn’t have the security-blanket vibe of a longboard, but the wide build adds stability and the 49-liter volume makes the board incredibly buoyant and easy to paddle. The question is, are you cool enough to paddle a foamie from Costco into your favorite lineup?