The Watercraft Journal’s 2016 Top 10 Christmas Gifts For Jet Skiers


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How do you shop for the jet ski enthusiast who has everything? It’s a rough row to hoe because not everybody’s interests are the same, nor are their preferred ways to ride. While we’ve listed here a short collection of our favorite products that we’ve reviewed this year, some of you will find little use for them. Others will absolutely love ’em. We suppose that’s the joy of this sport. So many different kinds of people can enjoy it in their own way. For this year, we were looking at both price and usefulness, but ultimately, we wanted to focus on value and innovation, because c’mon, there were some pretty cool things to come out this year. So as you’re squeezing in your last minute shopping for the jet ski lover in your life (who just might be you!), and see if any of these would make a great gift for the holiday season!

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1. Jettribe’s GRB 2.0 Race Boots – $98.99
There are few companies – especially those dedicated to designing and manufacturing apparel and riding gear expressly for jet skiers – with a larger catalog of product than Jettribe. Every year their line expands in to new and diverse places, but at their core, they’re a jet ski racing brand. Earlier this year (actually, late last year to be precise), we picked up a pair of their 2016 Jettribe GRB 2.0 Race Boots with a bit of skepticism. If there are two things that we regularly destroy in our testing, it’s gloves and boots and frankly, our hopes for Jettribe’s GRBs just weren’t that high.

With over a year’s worth of beatings under their belt, we’re still happily impressed. The GRB is technically a “2.0” version, showing superior design, construction and materials used on the predecessor. Gone are the traditional laces that are prone to rot and snap, eyelets that corrode and tear, and hooks that break off. Instead, Jettribe has integrated a zippered entry running half-way up the boot with two large, adjustable Velcro straps snugging one’s foot inside. Although priced at $98.99 and sized half of a size too big on purpose to require people to buy their Gator Lycra socks, the GRB 2.0 boots have outlasted all other boots we’ve tested and that’s saying something.

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2. Jet Renu Stank Away – $14
While we’re on the subject of our Jettribe boots, we did encounter one small issue: ventilation. Even if left out to air dry in the sun, our boots had a tendency to mildew. Traditional soap and water worked well, but not enough to eradicate the stink of long hours of use in a myriad of water types. Although Jet Renu’s “Purple” is the brand’s all-purpose watercraft cleaner, and when mixed in a slightly concentrated form, will work well for gloves, boots and vests (not to mention wetsuits and rashguards), Jet Renu didn’t have much not in the way of conditioning and deodorizing these items.

Neoprene (much like Spandex) collects pretty much everything and can leave a pair of riding boots or gloves pretty rank, especially if left to mildew over night or trapped away in a front storage bin. To battle this, Jet Renu answered with its new “Stank Away” wetsuit and neoprene cleaner and conditioner. “Stank Away” is still very new and not found on the official Jet Renu website, but comes in a 16 oz. bottle and is priced at $14 a bottle HERE. Jet Renu managed to formulate a cleanser that not only penetrates the porous neoprene and extract bacteria left by human contact, salt residue and other deposits, but also leave the neoprene intact, without stripping the material of its natural oils; and leaving it smelling fresh with a gentle hint of citrus.

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3. RIVA Racing MaptunerX – $399.95 to $1,011.60
Possibly the item with the single-greatest potential impact on the future of PWC racing, weekend hot rodding and home garage-level tuning, the RIVA Racing MaptunerX is the handheld tuning computer that takes the science out of tuning and cuts the cost of maximizing your personal watercraft’s ECU tune down to a fraction. The days of purchasing a $2,000-to-$3,000 aftermarket ECU, or extracting your factory ECU to ship it off to be permanently reflashed are all but gone, as the MaptunerX merely plugs into your PWC’s OBDII port, removes the factory preset engine tune, and subplants it with one of RIVA’s ready-to-run tunes or a customized tune specific to your particular application. The process takes minutes instead of weeks and is entirely reversible so that you can take your watercraft in for regularly scheduled maintenance and warranty service.

The MaptunerX can tune all Kawasaki, Sea-Doo and Yamaha 4-stroke watercraft, as well as side-by-side, ATV or UTV computers. Equally, the MaptunerX also has a built-in library that can store hundreds tunes, allowing you to switch between performance tunes instantaneously, as well as a standard “Service App” that quickly reads and clears fault codes (BRP only at this time) and can reset the fly-by-wire throttle (TPS). A large, full color, high resolution touch screen display makes the MaptunerX easy to use and navigate. Sold separately, the MaptunerX is staggeringly affordable ($399.95); but that’s without the tuning license ($549.95 – $599.95) and MaptunerX cable specific to your brand of vehicle. Thankfully, RIVA Racing sells the entire bundle required to tune a vehicle for an affordable package price ranging from $921.35 – $1,011.60.

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4. Blacktip Jetsports Elite Traction Mats – various
We’ve been heaping quite a bit of praise on Blacktip Jetsports’ Elite series of traction mats lately, and for good cause. Besides a seat, traction mats suffer the most point-of-contact wear and tear on a PWC. The shuffling of feet, climbing on and off, and the impregnation of dirt, sand and grit can quickly discolor, disfigure and destroy your factory mats. More importantly is customization and we’re all about making our PWC “our own,” and there’s no better way than to change up your mat kit. Blacktip Jetsports, whose Elite line of traction mats can immediately add a splash of color and personality to your personal watercraft.

The variety of colors and material patterns offered through Blacktip can put the “personal” back in personal watercraft as you can design your own seat and traction mat combination to match your tastes, saving you from having to stick to a stock look. Blacktip Jetsports uses the most advanced CNC cutting machines and lay-bonding process in the industry, guaranteeing that each kit is precise, perfectly cut to the right pattern, and made with the same high level of quality each and every time.  Each portion of their kit comes with a simple peel-and-stick application, eliminating the use of messy contact cement. Just apply a little bit of pressure to make sure each panel adheres properly and you’re done.

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5. XPS Watercraft Cleaning and Detailing Kit – $45
We’re big believers in the value of a combo pack. Give us fries and a drink with our burger purchase and we’re happy campers. Sea-Doo’s parent company BRP did exactly that with their XPS Watercraft Cleaning and Detailing Kit and even tossed in its own bucket to lug it around. The kit provides an All-Purpose Cleaner (32oz.), a bottle of Boat and PWC Wash and Wax Concentrate (32oz.), a bottle of Vinyl Cleaner (32oz.) and Spray Cleaner and Polish (14oz.), as well as two (16-inch x 16-inch) microfiber towels, a deluxe wash sponge and it’s own resealable (3.56-gallon) storage/wash bucket (as mentioned).

While we’ve found other cleaners and polishes that might do a little better job knocking off built up grime or dried-on waterspots, but few of us have the time or energy to go on a scavenger hunt to pick everything up, so while the XPS Watercraft Cleaning and Detailing Kit aren’t perfect on their own merits, together they make up a great package – especially one that can be stored in your trailer’s storage box or in the bed of your truck. BRP is all about maximizing your enjoyment out of their products, and offering this pre-packaged kit is just another step in that direction.

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6. SureCan Gas Cans – $39.99 – $49.99
We just got our hands on a pair of SureCan gas cans and can’t get enough of ’em. In fact, we’re admittedly burning up more gas in our lawn mower, weed-eater and skis just to use ’em more than we ought to. The ingenuity put into such a simple thing like a portable fuel can, makes the SureCan one of our favorite items on our list. Gas cans are something we all carry with us or store in our garage and are often something we don’t give a second thought to, but now the SureCan has given us a reason. Available in 2.5 and 5-gallon configurations, there’s also cans for diesel and kerosene.

Every facet of the SureCan has been re-engineered or re-thought. From the articulated filler neck to the drip-free trigger system, the SureCan is lightyears ahead of your old jerry cans. The neck’s screw-top cap is pressure sensitive (like a prescription pill bottle), the accordion-like filler tube is flexible for tight spots, the thumb trigger is thick plastic and spring loaded, the can itself is durable and thick, the fill cap has a plastic push lock, the list goes on and on. There’s a million little details in this can, and we know you’ll love it as much as we do.

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7. Sea-Doo Carrier Dry Backpack by Ogio – $139.99
Right now, we’re struggling to find a way to properly explain how awesome this gearbag/backpack/drybag combo is. If you were to commission one of the most successful duffle/backpack manufacturers to make the ultimate gear bag for PWC enthusiasts, you couldn’t get much better than the Sea-Doo Carrier Dry Backpack by Ogio. Because it is literally three bags in one, we’ll try to break down how it does each job masterfully and why you must have one:

As a gearbag, it’s got two tote handles, one on either side. It’s large enough to stow a pair of riding boots and a traditional vest (not one of those bulky, slab-sided race vests). It’s bright yellow liner is easily cleaned out and makes visibility inside of it a lot easier. As a backpack, there are two padded, velcro-locked pouches for a full-sized laptop and a tablet, as well as half a million zippered pockets to tuck away your wallet, keys, phone, and anything else you can imagine. And as a drybag, the backpack itself rolls up tight and keeps out water enough for Ogio to be bold enough to include laptop pouches. Although we’re not brave enough to dunk our Carrier Backpack underwater with our laptop inside, we have done our watertesting, and sure enough, is watertight.

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8. GoPro HERO Session – $199.99
You’re probably sick of hearing about GoPro by now. They’re everywhere, and if you don’t already have one, you’ve all but made up your mind that you aren’t getting one. That’s why we need you to reconsider. We were in the same boat for a while, that is until we encountered the GoPro HERO Session. Technology has allowed for the minimizing of items once 50-times its size. Remember a camcorder? Not only does this 1.5-inch by 1.5-inch cube do everything that your old Sony Camcorder did, but it does it a whole heck of a lot better. Not only can you capture amazing video from all sorts of new perspectives, but the quality of the camera is staggering.

The Session is the ideal “starter” GoPro or better yet, a second or third GoPro. It’s waterproof
to 33ft (10m) without a housing, durable, compact, and features a single-button use with an LCD screen allowing you to toggle through time lapse photography and video, as well as burst of photos (up to 10 frames per second). Additionally, the Session is Bluetooth and Wi-Fi compatible so you can turn it on/off and even see what you’re filming from an app on your smartphone (we’ve used this a couple of times. It’s super easy and really cool). You can even upload and share video instantaneously from your Session to your phone to social media. Also, it’s the cheapest GoPro on the market, so you’re not blowing the budget to pick one up.

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9. Abaco Dockside Sunglasses, Polarized Blue Mirror Lenses – $40
After having so, so many pairs of glasses blown off of our face during rides, we’ve come to believe in ZZ Top’s admonition to always don a pair of “cheap sunglasses” because there’s nothing worse than watching $150-worth of Oakleys vanish into the water. And we’ve tried those “other guys'” floating sunglasses and can’t get past the big puffy patches of Hydro-Turf foam pressing against our temples. During our last photo session, we lost a pair of cheapo $18 gas station shades. After posting our loss on Facebook, a message came through asking us to try out a pair of Abaco‘s.

Admittedly, we hadn’t heard of the brand before, but were happy to give them a try. Their website is rife with hundreds of designs and color combinations, and Abacos are found in several major sunglass outlets. There’s nothing particularly PWC-specific about the pair of “Dockside” shades we’ve been using, except for the polarized blue mirror lenses which are simply superior to any off-the-rack junkers we’ve been wearing. Polarization is still a premier treatment for lenses and radically helps to reduce glare and damage to your retinas. And priced at $40, it’s so painful if you lose a pair to the drink.

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10. Flexxloader 2 By Truckboss Decks – $6,599 to $8,662
Statistically, 85-percent of personal watercraft owners own some other form of recreational boating, motorsport or powersport equipment, be it a motorcycle, quad, snowmobile or otherwise, and chances are that your PWC trailer isn’t going to help you in hauling your dirt bikes or sled to your next riding location. To eliminate the need of a motorcycle trailer, a snowmobile or quad trailer and a separate PWC trailer, the Flexxloader 2 from Truckboss Decks not only eliminates ALL of those trailers, but also perfectly serves as hauling all of the above. We’ve illustrated all of the bazillion features integrated into the Flexxloader before, so it’s all but impossible to cram it all into two tiny paragraphs, but we’ll give it a shot:

The Flexxloader and the new version of the Flexxloader the skid system makes loading and unloading so much easier. Using an electric winch, the cradle is easily and safely hoisted and lowered from the deck, allowing you to unload almost anywhere; boat Launches, beaches, parking lots, etc. The Flexxloader deck incorporates a low resistant surface for the cradle skid system to move along easily, and provides the “guide and slide” and new “push back” systems with multiple tie down points and a winch. Even the new Flexxloader’s ramps are now lighter and easier to engage. Best of all, the new buggy system uses better wheels for almost all conditions, allowing the cradle to become a beach tote (and portable beach dock) in less than a minute, as well as a storage tote when your skis are put away for the winter.

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Kevin Shaw

Kevin Shaw

Editor-in-Chief – kevin.shaw@shawgroupmedia.com Kevin Shaw is a decade-long powersports and automotive journalist whose love for things that go too fast has led him to launching The Watercraft Journal. Almost always found with stained hands and dirt under his fingernails, Kevin has an eye for the technical while keeping a eye out for beautiful photography and a great story.

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  1. Avatar
    linkman 2 December, 2016 at 14:04 Reply

    Even those $40 sunglasses need some sort of flotation device attached to them. And if you wear them while riding they need some bright visibility thing on them. My first venture into some foam-attached floating sunglasses went into me searching for 20 minutes for a pair that fell off while riding — I just couldn’t spot a black pair barely floating in the water. And yes, I tested that they indeed floated beforehand.

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