Summer Essentials for Dragon Boaters + Travel Essentials

Summer is here (for those of us in the northern hemisphere), and that means it’s time to stock up on the very latest in dragon boat summer essentials. Here is a short list of my favorite items, as well as some great suggestions for traveling, as many of us are heading out soon to race internationally.

Paddle Jewelry

I was recently approached by Strokeside Designs who shared their beautiful jewelry with me. From the moment I received my heart necklace and earrings, I was in love. The company began with a focus on rowing, but quickly expanded into our wonderful paddling sports, which makes me happy! And the best thing of all? They offered my readers a discount when they use the code PADDLECHICA. So, check out their awesome paddle designs and start sporting your paddle jewelry now that you’re not bundled up in hats and scarves. How great is this pendant? I’ve been wearing it every day!

Strokeside Designs Heart Pendant

Photo: Strokeside Designs


This phone case has been on my summer essentials list before because it is so awesome. It’s a waterproof case for your phone that floats! I got mine last year and have used it ever since. I’ve been able to take fun selfies and never once worried about getting my phone wet or worse, dropping it to the bottom of the lake. A waterproof case isn’t really enough. This case floats, too!

Ugo phone case


HoldFast Grips

These grips will give you a solid grip on your paddle without the bulk of the typical grip tape or the mess of wax. They come in three colors (black, clear and pink, as shown below), but black and pink are my favorites.

Holdfast Grips



I have these locking straps and have used them many times on my OC and SUP. I can leave my boat or board on my roof rack without worrying about someone taking it, which means that after a great session of paddling, I can grab lunch or dinner with a friend instead of rushing home to stow my boat or board in the garage. There are other locking straps available, but these are made with reinforced stainless steel straps and can’t be cut with a knife.



Lip Protection

If you’ve followed my blog for a while now, you know that I’m always on a quest for good lip protection. Years ago, Burt’s Bees made a lip sunscreen called Lifeguard’s Choice, but had to discontinue it for some reason. I was devastated. Thankfully, this year I found that Burt’s Bees is now making All-Weather lip protection with SPF 15 and zinc oxide to protect your lips. And best of all, it doesn’t have that nasty chemical taste that many lip sunscreens have. You can imagine how happy I am!

Burt's Bees All-Weather


Protein Pancake Mix

I was introduced to this pancake and waffle mix last weekend by a paddler in Pittsburgh where I was coaching a clinic. Wow! I was in love. There are many different varieties such as peanut butter, dark chocolate, cinnamon and maple, or almond and poppyseed. I tried the almond and poppy seed one and immediately bought a box for myself. You can add water to the mix, or for more protein add an egg and milk instead. I plan to make some pancakes ahead of time and take them with me to races. Yum! They are so tasty that you don’t even need syrup (though when I made them this morning I added a little pure maple syrup on top…I’m in Canada, after all!).

Kodiak Protein Mix


Hornet Paddle

You know how much I love my Hornet paddles. Not only are paddles lightweight yet durable, they also have awesome designs so your paddle can express your personality. I’m loving the new designs like the God of Water (left) and the Artists Series by Gareth W. Smith (middle). For those of you traveling to Florence for the IBCPC festival, Hornet has made a beautiful commemorative paddle (right). Use the code PADDLECHICA for a discount on your new Hornet paddle.

             Hornet Paddle              Hornet Paddle              Hornet Paddle

Great Items for Traveling Abroad:

Whether you’re heading to Hungary or Italy, or even to an out-of-town race, these items will make your trip less complicated.

A Travel Clothesline

I was lucky enough to have a friend make a travel clothesline for me, but this one is very similar. I take it to regattas to hang up my wet gear after each race, and I will be taking it to Hungary for sure because it’s also great for hanging up clothes that I’ve washed in the hotel room. It’s basically a braided bungee cord and you simply push the clothing in between the braided cords. The tension of the cords keeps the clothes hanging from the line.

Travel Clothesline


Camping Mat

This lightweight, portable camping mat rolls up to a tiny, packable size, which is perfect to take with you for an international regatta. Race days can be long, so it’s nice to have a comfy place to rest or nap between heats, and even better that it is small and lightweight! (If you aren’t worried about the luxury of a camping mat, I suggest using a basic vinyl pool raft that you can get at your local Target, Walmart, or similar store – it’s fairly easy to inflate and decently comfortable, especially if you cover the vinyl surface with a towel)

Camping Mat


Helinox Mini Chair

This packable chair is durable, yet portable enough to bring with you abroad. It certainly beats sitting on the hard concrete floor of the athlete’s areas.

Helinox chair


Travel….umm…Air Freshener

OK, so no one wants to talk about this, but when you are living in close quarters with teammates for multiple days, things are going to happen. Touted as the original “Before-You-Go” toilet spray, this actually works to prevent odors in the toilet. And when you’re sharing a hotel room with teammates, it’s a nice preventative spray to ensure that you and your teammate stay friends. Just spray it in the toilet before you go and the essential oils block odors from escaping the bowl. I love this stuff! Too bad it doesn’t work in the porta-potties.



Portable Charger

This portable charger is super small and can recharge your phone when you are nowhere near an outlet. So, for long days at the race site, or the long airplane trip, all you need is the charging cable to connect to your phone and in no time at all you will have a fully charged phone without having to search for an outlet.

Portable charger


Travel Adapter

Don’t forget that you’ll likely need an adapter to plug your electronic devices in while traveling abroad. Not only does this adapter cover more than 150 countries (so you can use it for future travel!), but it also has 2 USB ports for charging your phone.

Travel adapter


Travel Muscle Recovery Set

Foam rollers are typically too big to bring on an airplane, but this travel kit by JAXJOX is small enough to pack in your luggage, yet big enough to get the job done. And the bonus is that you get the foam roller and two different massage balls. A hollow foam roller means you can pack items inside the roller, which also saves space.

Travel muscle recovery set

Microfiber Towel

Compact and super light, yet absorbent, this towel is great for travel and comes in seven different colors, so you might even find one to match your team’s jerseys. Instead of “borrowing” the hotel’s towels to take to the race, this towel is packable and you won’t have to violate any hotel rules when you take it to the race site.

Microfiber towel


There are many different brands of wipes available. Some are antibacterial, some are chlorine-free, some are designed for babies. Whatever your preference is, bring some wipes along. They are great for when you can’t get to a proper sink to wash your hands, when your feet feel all funky from your paddle shoes, when you are dying to wash your face but can’t find any running water at the race site, or for when the toilet paper runs out in the porta-potty. They are just all-around useful!



Paddle Bag

This paddle bag is large enough for you to transport two paddles, or if you have to check your paddle as luggage on the plane, you can wrap your paddle in bubblewrap for extra protection and still fit it inside the bag.

Hornet Paddlebag


Travel Backpack

If you like to travel light, this carry-on-sized backpack is for you! The three cubes make packing a breeze, and there is even space for your laptop. It comes in a variety of colors so you can match your personality (or your team’s jersey!).

Travel backpack


Do you have a summer essential you’d like to share? Let me know about it!

Best of luck to all teams heading abroad to compete this summer. I hope to see many of you in Hungary in July!

If you enjoyed reading this post, please consider donating to my Make A Champ campaign to help me compete in Hungary next month. No amount is too small, and every penny counts. Thank you in advance!

Photo: Christine Ekeroth

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