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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Social Media Kayaking (and gear too)

As much as I strive to be zen, and detached from the technological world - no TV, I make very few phone calls, my phones ringer is only set to vibrate - I also love social media. I have a personal facebook account - I am toying with one for the paddling otaku world - a twitter account, and I am an active redditor.

And while I hike and travel and cycle, I am truly a kayaker at heart. In fact it is even a little more niche than that. I only paddle long touring kayaks, I don't dabble in whitewater or racing sculls, or surf skis or rec boats.

But I am regularly depressed by how little of the social media world is directed towards true touring kayakers. Is this section of the kayaking conversation so small that we warrant so little attention? Today I read the current copy of Outside magazine because they had an article on social media. There were exactly zero links to any social media that pertained to kayaking. I even went to what outside listed as the number one gear related site - Outdoor Gear Lab - which does look like a great site, but do a  search for the word kayak on their site and you get zero items returned. Gear institute, another recommended site has - much to my surprise - a paddling section. But when I clicked on it, it offered a review of one canoe, and one kayak (and whitewater at that). Another article in the same magazine touted '63 perfect things, our favorite trips, gear, booze, events, addictions and more'. You guessed it, zero directly related to kayaking. And just for the record I don't need wine made by Clif - of clif bars - for it to be considered 'portable'. I started drinking whiskey as a young man because it packed in so efficiently. Outside agrees with me, because they also offer a flask as a 'perfect thing'. About a year ago I emailed 'the Gear Junkie' Stephen Regenold - who also writes for outside - and asked him why he didn't do more reviews related to kayaking. His response was honest, I just don't kayak that much. A search of his site does show that he kayaks occasionally, as he has reviewed a fair amount of kayaking equipment. I must also say he does the best reviews following Outdoor Retailer.

Now, when I say kayaking I am referring directly to kayaking. A kayak. A drysuit. A paddle. A type of dry bag. I do appreciate a good tent or sleeping bag review, as those are products I use a lot. But why does kayaking get so little time? I find it very interesting that when we see kayaking in the media it is almost always whitewater - which in terms of participation has had negative growth the last five years, while recreational kayaking has had very good positive growth.

I know that the answer to that question is of course, money. Fewer people buy expensive kayaks than expensive bicycles. And media caters to who spends the money. But I think there are more people that enjoy the outdoors the way I do than the 'media types' think.

Here is what I am thinking. I don't think I have big enough readership to make this happen, but lets give it a shot. Post in the comments - or send me an email, what ever you want - A perfect thing (and how it related to kayaking) OR a kayaking related piece of social media. A link to a website, a twitter feed, a Facebook page or an app for your smart phone. If you want to post a piece of gear that doesn't directly relate to kayaking - like for instance the Gopro Hero HD2 - just tell me why it makes kayaking better.

If you're a long time lurker, I am going to ask you to break your silence, and post something that you like. If I get enough responses I will do something fun with the links.