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Submitted: 07-07-2010 by amf
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Touted as a "jack of all trades" foam paddle float, the Northwater 4-Play is a nylon covered foam "accordion" with several buckles & straps that allow for multiple configurations. And while Iím not one to rush out & buy the latest new gadget, I can say my Paddle Perks made me do it! Overall the product seems very well made with a certain amount of versatility. Hereís my take on the many uses it can be put to:
  • Paddle Float - while I have not used other foam floats, this seems a little bulkier & heavier that those I have seen. I found it too bulky to fit nicely under the bungees on my Romany, but the multiple buckles provide a lot of options for fastening it to the deck. It has not impeded rolling in any way while fastened to the rear deck. On the front deck, it can interfere with paddling and requires more thought as to placement. In use, a closed double sleeve allows insertion from either side and keeps the paddle securely in place with one adjustable buckle and much less fuss than an inflatable float.
    Iíd give it a grade of B+.
  • Lounge chair - the float can be configured to serve as one of those folding foam "loungers" that are popular. For this use, the back does not really come up high enough to offer good support. It is serviceable as a lounger if you really tighten up the straps to the point where the back is actually leaning forward.
    Grade: C.
  • Lounge pad - For just laying about on a pebbly beach, it will unfold to a full-length pad and is adequately comfortable for napping. However, assuming it was strapped to the deck it could be wet. But for napping in the sun I donít think this would be an issue.
    For this use, Iíd give it a B+.
  • Sleeping pad - In camp it can be used as a sleeping pad and you can leave the thermarest at home. However, as with the lounge pad it could be wet, which would not be good inside a tent. Use as a pad under the tent would be possible, but only if you have a single tent or you have a paddle partner that has one too.
    Grade: C+.
  • Car pad: Many folks like to protect the back of their vehicle in some way when loading a boat. Towels or carpet pads have a way of sliding off. The straps and length of the pad allow you to securely fasten it to a cross bar and drape over your vehicle.
    Grade: A.
  • Bench seat: Folded up, its just high enough to make a low bench seat for sitting around a campfire (just watch for burning embers on the nylon!). More comfortable than a log.
    Grade: A-
Overall, its an interesting take on the paddle float.
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