13038 Hwy 61 North
Burlington, Iowa

phone: 319-752-1857 or 1-800-RIVER-12




1) Box stores don't train associates in the skills of paddlesport.

2) Box stores select boats based on height in a truck, and not the growing size of the customers needing to not overweight the craft and avoid a dangerous or scary first experience. No selection is done by buyers based on the boats actual hull performance. Non paddlers are buying from a catalog for reasons that serve their interest of low price discount = high sales, not yours. Their goal is a retail price point below $800.00, and not about comfort, safety of adequate displacement, and rescue minimal features like a bulkheaded air section of 1/3 kayak total displacement, or even minimal added flotation minicell material.

3) Gear that works for you. Corporate buyers select cheap offshore paddles when we have a quantity of top American made products that won't ever break, get actual warranty replacement, and perform - so much better, its not a fair comparison. Because this industry is becoming China commoditized, standards for paddle size aren't even reaching the buyers at corporate chains. We see paddlers every day struggling with a China made product that is shorter by 10" to 20" than every instructional sanctioning organization will tell you the paddle needs to be. The staff at the stores have no clue what a high angle stroke versus a low angle stroke is and why you don't want what they are selling. Do they consider the effects on your body from learning bad stroke habit, from crossing the centerline constantly becaue you have too short paddle - which only accentuates the overly short kayak's propensity to snake across the water. Does anyone know about the delicate shoulder area and how you can cause serious sports injury from constantly powering the kayak way above shoulder plane? Sports medicne professionals and Orthopedic Surgeons know, and that isn't how you want to learn post injury. You saved $50 on a low grade paddle displayed next to your 9 or 10 kayak, but it was free (included most likely). Ask us how much a year of therapy and Orthopedic surgery / specialist care adds up to, because we have that experience personally. We are a specialty shop, know sizing techniques for your boat choice, and teach you correct strokes so you enjoy this sport for decades without injury. We will offer you 10 models in multiple colors and sizes that provide the right catch area, blade construction materials for your level of usage, and weight that fit your budget and level of participation. You won't find sloppy ferrule couplings, inferior blades that snap in the field, and any lack of warranty coverage.

4) Premium materials in a kayak you will enjoy for your lifetime. We have all of them - 7 different construction choices today, weights down to the 35 pounds. Why is this box store boat so incredibly thin? The boat you are pushing your thumb into, and watching flex badly, is single layer blow molded material. It is heat formed, and popped out in a few minutes time, devoid of human construction, then the two halves are thermo welded. If you drag it on a parking lot often, you have a hole in the heel, something I daily watch occur. Now, you have 30 lbs of additional landfill material that won't break down in more years than you and your grand kids will be alive. Our goal at River Basin is to put you into a boat you will use for a decade or two, and then pass on to your family members. That is a green long term approach. We are re-cycling 1960s era aluminum canoes into the 4th and 5th owners. Why not a quality plastic kayak as well? If you throw away the box store kayak 5 times, you could have owned an actual tracking, quality, adjustable seat kayak, and not wanted to ever throw it out.

5) What is DISPLACEMENT? Why is that important? It is EVERYTHING! Your foot can't fit a size 6 ladies shoe, nor should it. Your body has x pounds that demand a hull support somewhere north of 250 lbs maximum capacity. Now, a 250 lb tagged capacity tiny kayak I see in Walmart or sporting goods store X. is one heavily overloaded boat if the average adult I encounter every day I have run this shop crams their body into it. First of all, there is NO SAFETY STANDARDS organization setting capacity standards, or how they are arrived at. This industry is OWNER RESPONSIBLE. That means the maker of the kayak can spew whatever B.S. they want to about how much weight it can hold. It could be a float tank test in a factory where they put jugs of water weight into the kayak until it literally submerges the cockpit rim.

The hard truth is you don't get a do - over with the River, or the Lake, so respect the water, your limits, your honest weight, and get the kayak that is at least 25% greater than your weight in its rated capacity. This is a rough guide, my personal advice. No standardizing organization or rule regulates kayak capacities, and how or if a company applies a maximum capacity number. So you need to ask questions and compare how the boat handles your weight. If you are sitting low, and feeling tippy (unstable), you way under bought on your kayak size. If you need a big boys boat, I first ask your weight, and then do the number crunching to make sure I am correct on my picks. This goes for gals too. No one escapes the hard criteria we must use when it comes to your safety. Even if you rent, or participate in a class, I will know what boat you require to not have a miserable afternoon, or unsafe event. Your safety is our first concern, and every single customer I deal with is asked about weight and steered to correct boats for their body type.

6) Don't buy blind. We tell everybody that visits our shop, "we suggest you make your final selection based on a demo". We can hone you in on 2 or 3 kayaks that are right for you in the first 5 minutes we spend with you; but from there subjective points only you can sort out, come into play. How does it fit, how does it move, do I like the stability versus the speediness? Do I really love that kayak chair more than a lower profile seat back? Kayaks are very diverse these days. We have the gamut here, white water to expedition trekking. We will get you to the water, safely launch you, and help you exit safely, and give you enough strokes info so you can manage a demo.We provide free annual demos that are highly valuable experiences seeing what is new, and comparing better grade kayaks against each other. We are doing demos for individuals almost every weekend. As shop owner, I only buy in this manner, even if I have to travel 3,000 miles to get access to new stuff I need to touch and feel. There is nothing equal to a demo experience. If its in my shop, I have paddled it!

7) The box store only sold ratchet straps. They had no boat straps - anywhere. I am standing in F and S, the geekiest outdoor store in the wide area, and befuddled at only China made inferior J cradles, and ratchet straps. They are the premiere fanciest brand of all the box store brands, and they haven't honed their skills at transporting and strapping these watercraft so they don't fly off your roof top and become a liability projectile. Riverheads in this industry tie bowlines behind our backs, taughtline hitches in the dark, and know rescue techniques. But for the average human, knots are like calculus. Who the heck needs it?

So we live and test our boat handling skills with tried and true American made rack products that don't bust, don't rust, and have two web strap surfaces on each securing position with a padded cam buckle that will never over crunch your boat hull or let sharp steel cut into the boat hull. I panic stop at highway speeds, and my boats don't budge. When we rack your vehicle or even send you out on a day rental, your boat will not budge - even on soft blocks resting on the roof top. If you give us a shot at setting up your vehicle rack, which used to be a mainstay service for our shop, we will professionally set it up and teach you how to do the same.This is a free service, always has been, even if it takes us a good hour plus. All our rack solutions are warrantied, something the China knock offs will not provide you. We stock 3 leading brands of racks - all the time: Thule, Yakima, Malone plus specialty pickup truck racks as well. Because we are constantly handling boats on vehicles, we have worked out all the best methods over the years. That experience will save you money and headache.

8) We teach, and we train. I have a handful of ACA (American Canoe Association) certifications, and continue working on advanced skills. I've paddled 45 years now, in serious pursuits of wilderness canoe, sea kayak touring, and white water. I was teaching this sport to young Boy Scouts at age 16. The only reason I got into this retail trade, is because I was tired of getting smoked each morning by Wenonahs as I broke camp and began my long day of paddling in my trusty Grumman on my extended Boundary Waters / Quetico trips. When I am able, I pull away from the daily retail chores, and go far away to participate in clinics, and train on challenging rivers or large ocean bodies. I tend to do this on my vacation destinations as well. Paddling is a lifestyle for those of us who are in it with passion. So, when you are ready to grow your skills, we are able to give you insight with teaching content you need, and methods that will ensure a long time enjoying your watercraft safely. Kayaks are freeing, and also hold greater responsibility. You can get yourself into great risk, and must learn preparedness ahead of time. The depth of learning factor here is one reason seasoned paddlers continue to be challenged and love this sport. Our class content is 8 hours minimum just to get you grounded in the basics. We break this down into manageable 4 hour bites so as to not overwhelm, and so you have time to process the content we are imprinting through on water practice.

9) This is a western invention, and we hold huge loyalty to those who created, and continue upping the bar. If the product choices you are weighing are from China, stop right there and look around. Nothing about kayaks we know, or canoes we settled this country by, originated from China. This activity, method to live, pre-date every single immigrant to this land. At least 15 boat manufacturers and a whole bunch more accessories, rack, PFD life jacket, and paddle makers are sustained by River Basin Canoe & Kayak in Tennessee, North Carolina, Minnesota, etc.. That is easily thousands of Western jobs, sustained by shops just like this, who innovate great designs and make awesome high quality leading gear in the West. We don't like knock offs, and we don't let them in our shop if we can select alternatives that keep our industry thriving right here. Most of our brands are built entirely in the West, which entails Canada, where far more than half the various sects of native tribes developed uniquely different watercraft that inspired our current versions. Canoesport is huge in Canada, much more vibrant than most of our country. This history is chronicled in the amazing Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough, Ontario. To visit is to understand the peoples and culture and develpment of great lands. A symbiotic relationship between natives, European fur traders and cultures tells the story of our history. The kayak and canoe were the vessels that made it possible. We wish to honor this history by keeping our sport Western, where it originated. In a age of lowest common denominator we watch play out in all our premium industries, it will take your direct commitment and becoming an informed consumer for this industry to not go the way of the dodo bird. We currently are experiencing a frenzy of innovation and dynamic small companies pushing us to greater highs in fishing and white water boats. The future is still bright, but only if we commit to support these product innovators and not the ability of a China crank out knock offs, which displace the entire industry. Once the innovation dies, the industry withers. We need informed consumers who understand that where you spend your dollars determines if we have a sport in the future.

10) We love what we do and it shows. Our shop is pretty cool, once you step inside. Maybe not the building while we wait out a highway expansion ordeal, but the actual retail store content. We put all our squirrel nuts into the inventory, we know a huge amount about this business, where to go, what to do, and have a lot of fun with our customers. If you get to visit, suddenly, that shiny box store on the hill isn't so pretty.

The industry is showing signs of strain. Corporate chains are going away, major brand lines are suddenly ending. Regional specialty paddling shops are feeling the pressure and closing. We need your support, or specialty retail will become irrelevant, and all the extras we provide like post sale support, river events, expert advise, and technical instruction.



Last revised 10/7/17

Copyright © 2016 River Basin Canoe & Kayak. All rights reserved.