A Winter Island Adventure in the Ultralight Backwoods Purist 65

When I finally reached the beach, I shook off the sand, deflated the Purist, stuffed it back in the bag, and began planning my next island adventure as I started towards home.

No matter where you're standing in the world, islands call to people searching for adventure. I think the romance of an island is about isolation within reach - a mound of rocks, sand, and trees standing alone against nature's most brutal forces has inspired imaginations and stories throughout human history.

My Island is a short paddle from the beach that's closest to my house. It’s clearly visible from the shore and the surrounding neighborhoods. It feels both close enough to touch and also just barely out of reach.

Much of the Puget Sound shoreline is private land, meaning public launches aren’t always exactly where you want to be. Getting to the Island usually requires a long paddle from a launch farther away, or hauling kayaks up and down a steep trail. That’s a lot of work for an adventure that’s only a few minutes from home.

Aquaglide's new line of ultralight kayaks gives me an option to carry less gear while hiking into more convenient boat launches. Weighing just over six pounds, the Backwoods Purist 65 is light enough to carry from my house to the water. More importantly, it's the minimalist kayak I've been waiting for to explore the island in my own backyard.

The Purist comes with a lightweight foot pump, but to shave off even more weight, I opted to inflate it on the beach by using the included carry bag, packraft-style. The inflatable seat provides stability and comfort for short trips with room left over for a small dry bag or other essentials. I was able to carry my PFD, paddle, and the Purist on my back as I walked towards the beach.

Puget Sound tidal swings can be massive. At a winter low tide, most of the paddle from the beach to my Island is in just a few feet of water. Sometimes less. The Purist doesn't have a tracking fin - that's partly how Aquaglide achieved such a lightweight craft. Instead, it relies on its teardrop shape to stay the course.

Where other inflatable kayaks might get stuck, the Purist’s minimalist features allowed me to pass through low tide without disturbing the thousands of sand dollars beneath the water.

I started my approach in calm waters near a small network of inlets. With the tide at such a low point, the water felt more like a lake than a saltwater channel. The current was gentle and the weather was on my side - perfect conditions for the Purist 65.

Riding the outgoing tide, I kept a leisurely pace as the snowcapped Olympic Mountains loomed over the Island. Harbor seals surfaced nearby to investigate while the Purist danced across the placid water.

As I approached the Island, a winter storm was rolling in over the mountains. The air felt heavy and the sky grew darker. With only enough time to plant my feet on the Island's sandy beach, I quickly began the return trip. My day started with a tranquil winter backyard adventure to catch an Island view sunset. It quickly transformed into a frenzied paddle to outrun rain.

A paddler dragging an ultralight kayak up an island beach while looking towards dark clouds

By the time I returned to the narrow channel where I began my paddle, the tide had dropped so low, that even the finless Purist needed to be carried. I appreciated the weight of the ultralight kayak as I struggled to keep my boots on while the sand and muck tried to rip them off with every step.

When I finally reached the beach, I shook off the sand, deflated the Purist, stuffed it back in the bag, and began planning my next island adventure as I started towards home.

As I walked back through my neighborhood, I thought about how the Purist handled when the storm crept up behind me. Even as a mild wind picked up, the Purist kept spray to a minimum as I pushed through light chop. I was dry and warm.

Turbulent winter weather cut this adventure short. I didn't get my Island sunset, but the Backwoods Purist 65 did give me the hometown adventure that I had been searching for.

A man wearing a red coat carrying a black bag and a kayak paddle over his shoulder while walking down a long hill towards water

Wild Human is a Pacific Northwest-based media agency that tells stories about people and brands that are doing good things for their communities and the planet.

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