We strongly encourage river surfers looking for gear and training to support companies run by members of the river surfing community and who are giving back to river surfing outside of their business.
Bow Valley Surf / Bow Valley Sup
- Rents and sells river surfing gear and accessories
- 621 Main Street in Canmore
- Open 7 days a week except for rain days
- Run by Brandon Olstoorn. Supplier of river gear to surfing community since 2013. Helped with wave building since 2013. Pushing for additional waves in Alberta and particularly in Canmore.
- Bow Valley SUP Website
- Bow Valley Surf Website
Outlier River Surf
- Provides lessons, rentals and sells gear
- Outlier River Surf will be at 10th Street Wave during the summer through a partnership with Surf Anywhere and the Alberta River Surfing Association.
- Run by Luke Morstad. Supplier of river surfing lessons since 2016, run the Mount Royal Surf Club and SAIT Surf Club and helping with Slam 2016.
- Outlier River Surf Website
- Local custom surfboard shaper
- Run by Tristan Gaudet. Tristan helps with Alberta RSA projects to improve surfing in Alberta.
- TAG Surfboards Contact
- Local custom surfboard shaper
- Run by Jason McQuade. Board member of the Alberta RSA, provide key assistance during The Mountain construction, helps with Alberta RSA projects to improve surfing in Alberta.
- Waveslayar Surfboards Contact
Wetsuits are a second skin that allows you to greatly increase your surf time. Typically mountain rivers require a 5mm wetsuit designed for the sport of surfing. Wetsuits designed for swimming, diving and other water sports are better than nothing but have clear design differences than those design for surfers. Usually a surfing wetsuit can be defined as such by looking at the brand. Wetsuits also add a thin layer of protection from impact from rocks. Even in warm climates if the wave is shallow a thin 2mm wetsuit is recommended.
For repair Aquaseal and Neoprene cement work well. For cleaning a few drops of dish soap in a bath tub then rinsing the wetsuit helps eliminate odors.
Gloves and Boots
Boots are highly recommended in Alberta rivers. Boots give added warm to surfers but also protect the surfer from sharp rocks or foreign objects that lay on the bottom. Again surf booties are a local favourite for their warmth and performance but standard water shoes will add the protection you require.
Gloves are greatly recommended in the shoulder season (Spring, Fall and Winter) and not required for the same level of protection but strictly for warmth.
Note: Both gloves and boots are subject to wear in the harsh Alberta conditions. For repair Aquaseal and Neoprene cement are recommended. Look at MEC and dive shops. For cleaning a few drops of dish soap in a bath tub then rinsing the wetsuit helps eliminate odors. It is also recommended you do not wear your booties while walking from the car to the wave as this increases wear and chances of slipping. Some locals have slip on covers or change from hiking boots to surf booties at the wave.
The board you choose is probably the first major investment you need to make in river surfing. There are many options in boards, and sizes ranging from 4'11" to 6'4" have been used by the Alberta RSA. Beginner surfers or surfers new to rivers should start with foam boards to avoid damage to the board and themselves. The river here are shallow and surfers new to rivers always bang their boards on the river bottom. For beginners choose wide boards with a lot of width in the nose and tail of the board. There has been experimentation with kite surf boards and wake surfers at the Mountain wave in the Kananaskis with varying degrees of success. Once you have learned how to stand and get some turns on a beginner foam board it may limit further progression. If the surfer is comfortable with the river environment, can stand every wave, raises their gaze away from their feet and to their surroundings and show control in their wipeouts the surfer is ready for a hard board. Local shapers can offer good and durable boards at a reasonable price designed specific to our local waves.
Helmets are a welcome and respected piece of equipment. Helmets are a personal choice and not enforced as a requirement. Make smart choices. Helmets are worn by:
Beginners not yet comfortable with the river environment (requires 100+/- hours)
Surfers visiting new and unfamiliar waves
Surfers riding heavy boards like NSP or Standup Paddle Boards
Surfers attempting more advanced maneuvers and unable to execute controlled wipeouts
Other scenarios where the surfer gains the added confidence and protection they seek
H In Alberta no one will be “made fun of” for wearing a helmet, we often see people wearing them for the reasons above and it is welcomed in the local scene.
Ankle leashes are very common to ocean surfers and those coming from an ocean background are likely to feel uncomfortable without them. Please read our safety section about how they endanger your life before making the choice to wear one.
Article on Leash Safety and River Surfing by Neil Egsgard of the Alberta RSA and Surf Anywhere
Floatation vests add warmth, keep your head above water and add extra protection from rocks and surfboards. Alberta surfers have experimented with lots of different flotation vests from official PFDs to wake surf vests. We have seen Alberta surfers who find something that is a comfortable fit, feels good when laying on the board and has a stylish look are much more likely to wear them in the water and reap the benefits of doing so. When traveling outside of Alberta to big river waves like Lochsa Pipeline the need for PFDs and wake vests with 16lbs of float are greatly recommended. Whenever using a leash alternative use a PFD. The surfboard is the river surfers source of floatation and if disconnected from their board they require that floatation from the life vest.
River Knife, Whistle and First Aid Kit
Accessories like a river knife, whistle and first aid kit are great to have one of inside of a group and not necessary for each surfer to have. Make sure you have an emergency plan when surfing. Discuss it with your crew and run through scenarios. Common first aid emergencies are cuts from fins and rocks, hard hits to the head and getting caught in some form of rope or something else in the river. As you gain more experience think through these scenarios and be prepared.