The Best of Surf Expo 2018: Great Gear, Old and New

At Surf Expo in Orlando this January we kicked around and saw some of the best new surf and water gear to drop in the coming year, but that doesn’t mean we covered all the best gear. Some of the best stuff in the surf, swim, and sail categories came out in 2017 or prior, but still deserve some love. Regardless of when a product launched, though, these were our favorite overall gear at Surf Expo 2018.

Bote Rover

Take a high quality stand up paddle board, add a bunch of storage and mounting points to the deck, and a 6hp motor to the back. Now you have Rover, the latest creation from Bote.

At 14 feet long and 40 inches wide with a sunken cockpit, it’s a stable platform for fishing, exploring, or just hanging out. Paddle, pole, or cruise at 16 mph with the small engine that you can get separately. The Rover is a paddle board at heart, however, and comes with a carbon-fibre paddle or Sandspear to quietly move around the shallows to find your fish. Grab a drink from the Kula 5 cooler anchored to the deck with the Bucket Rac. Then have a seat and hold on to the Grab Rac for the quick ride back to the dock.

There’s no shortage of places to mount things on the Rover. Each Rac has slotted fishing rod holders and other attachments to hold your gear. Plug in the universal ConnexSUP mounts in the deck to hold your phone, GPS, cameras or an unused Sandspear.

Art in Surf Weber Performer surf board

Dewey Weber became a bit of a legend in surf culture in Hawaii and then California. One of the best surfer’s of his generation, he appeared in many surf movies in the 50s and 60s. Founding Weber Surfboards in 1960 he made a name for himself building boards as well. Dewey died in 1993, but his name still lives on in boards he designed.

surf expo 2018 favorite gear old new artin weber performer

Marcus Pettini of Art in Surf is working with the Weber family, recreating the popular Weber boards Dewey designed decades ago. The Performer, one of the most best-selling long boards of all time, offers both performance and forgiveness, and doesn’t look too bad either.

Ecoboardin Carver Electric Surfboard

Gas-powered surf boards are fun, but they’re loud and terrible for the environment. Now you can hop on the battery-powered Carver from Ecoboardin and hit the flat water. At 26 pounds without the battery, it’s easy to get the Carver to the water. Add in the battery and you’ve got about 40 min of 24 mph cruising to do. Easy buttons on the handheld-remote control the dual-core brushless electric motor and an axial water jet pump.

Ecoboardin Carver Electric Surfboard

And don’t worry about falling off. A thin cord attached to the leash pulls the kill switch if you bail. Once you’re done, recharge the battery in 90 minutes.

If high-velocity isn’t quite your thing, try the larger, more relaxed Manta board. Using the same battery, the Manta can glide along for 5 hours at 6mph.

Otterbox Venture 45 Cooler System

The Otterbox Venture series coolers take camping to the next level. Not just a cooler, the Venture 25, 45 and 65 have a growing number of attachments and accessories to make life easier in camp.

otterbox venture

Clips on the front and back and the handles on the sides become mounting points for dryboxes, cupholders, table trays and, of course, bottle openers. Organize food and drinks inside with a dry storage tray and vertical dividers. To keep your food from floating, the 3 degree angled bottom takes water to the drain port which has threads for a regular garden hose.

Designed in Colorado and built in Detroit, Venture coolers are tough. They’re certified bear-resistant if using the extra Locking Kit. Anti-slide rubber feet keep them in place on a rough drive. And the most important feature of all: they keep ice up to 14 days.

FRESHeTECH Drifter Android Speaker

Playing music around the water is tough. Electronics and liquids just don’t mix well. Some phones are waterproof now, but what if you’re out paddle boarding and drop it in the drink. FRESHeTECH is addressing this with their new Drifter Android speaker. Fully waterproof, with 8 hours of battery life, and only 6 inches long, you can take this little speaker anywhere you want.

surf expo 2018 favorite gear old new freshetech drifter 1

Instead of it just being a bluetooth speaker for your phone though, they’ve added an entire touch screen computer to it, letting you run any Android application like Spotify or Google Music. If streaming isn’t your thing, load up the built-in hard drive with up to 4000 songs. The Drifter even has a small photo and video camera on board. They say new features that use the camera are coming, but won’t say what. Do we need face recognition when trying to handstand on paddle boards?

Rheos Eddies Floating Sunglasses

If you do any water sports, there are two certainties: First, you need some decent sunglasses to protect your eyes from the glare and UV, and, second, those sunglasses are going to end up in the water at some point.

surf expo 2018 favorite gear old new rheos sunglasses 1

A couple in Atlanta were sick of losing their sunglasses overboard and came up with Rheos Gear Floating Sunglasses. Made of a very lightweight and durable TPX material and polycarbonate lenses, the Rheos Eddies are strong and very light. Scratch resistant layers on the lenses help keep them pristine for longer and polarized layers shut down glare from water, snow, or wet roads.

Since the frames are so lightweight, they make the glasses very comfortable but also (the kicker!) buoyant. These suckers float! No more having to dive down to the depths to retrieve your favorite pair of glasses.

Hobie Mirage Eclipse Pedalboard

The Mirage Eclipse by Hobie is more of a pedalboard than a paddle board. Like a bike with a paddle board around it, you stand up and pedal when you’re out on the water.

hobie mirage

Handlebars with fingertip steering on either side let you balance and keep the whole ship upright. Pedals under each foot power the MirageDrive fins under the board. Like a Stairmaster, the Eclipse uses the larger muscles in your legs for propulsion instead of the smaller muscles in your arms.

To pack up, simply pull the MirageDrive fins, rudder, and handle bar off the board and transport like a paddle board. Pick up a wheeled Standard Cart or Trax Cart for easy transportation to and from the beach.

For more Surf Expo coverage see New Year, New Gear: Our Favorite Brands and Top Product Picks at Surf Expo 2018.


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