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The List: 10 things Olympic kayaker Adam van Koeverden can’t live without

Adam van Koeverden Adam van Koeverden

1 | My Oakley shades
I have dozens of pairs. I know it’s excessive, but I need a different pair for everything I do—mountain biking, hiking, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, kayaking. In London, I’ll probably wear my Radarlocks. The lenses clip in and out, so I can quickly change my tint for sun or cloud.

Adam van Koeverden2 | My Turbo paddle
My oars are custom designed and handcrafted in Smiths Falls, Ontario, by Peter Patasi, a kayaker who represented Canada at the Montreal Olympics in 1976. He makes them with carbon graphite—the same material that’s used in Space Shuttles and Formula One race cars.

3 | My guitarlele
I like playing guitar, but I can’t justify lugging one around when I’m travelling. I got this six-string ukulele hybrid last year in Germany. It relaxes me, even though I’m not very good at it.

Adam van Koeverden4 | My trophy
The Bert Oldershaw trophy, named for one of my mentors, is presented to the winner of the K-1 1,000-metre Canadian kayak championship every year. After my 10th win, they made a replica of the real trophy and gave it to me for keeps.

5 | My favourite author
When Kurt Vonnegut died in 2007, I felt like I’d lost an uncle. If I ever get a tattoo, it’ll be my favourite quote from his essay collection A Man Without a Country: “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

6 | My fixie
I bike everywhere on my Specialized Globe Roll—to the bank, to the movies, out for dinner. I’m always showing up sweaty. I’m definitely one of those bike-riding pinkos Don Cherry complains about.

7 | My running shoes
I’ve been running for longer than I’ve been kayaking. It’s good for my mental health—a run in the woods is the best therapy. I like Asics Gel-DS trainers. They’re the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn.

Adam van Koeverden8 | My cabin in the woods
I’ve built my own small place on South Tea Lake in Algonquin Park—it’s 250 square feet, with a steel panel roof, uninsulated walls and pine siding. There’s no running water or electricity. My days are consumed with chopping wood and clearing brush. It’s endless work, which I love.

9 | My decrepit hoodie
It’s a decade old and tattered, and it smells like campfire. I could get a new one, but I like the feel of soft, well-worn cotton. I wear it everywhere. Fortunately, this is Canada, so wearing a hoodie is acceptable pretty much all the time.

Adam van Koeverden10 | My African instruments
I’ve been to Africa twice with the charity Right to Play. I got a drum at a Liberian market in 2007 and a stringed instrument in Mali in 2011. The latter was a thank-you gift from a young man I took for a kayak ride on the Niger River. Both instruments sit on a coffee table in my condo. They’re good conversation starters.

(Images: Liam Mogan)

  • mitch

    In shocking news.. he is sponsored by all the companies named… these articles are pointless advertisements.

  • COol

    He’s sponsored by Kurt Vonnegut? Amazing! Sign me up

  • Jen

    Is that a beaver canoe hoodie?!?!

  • vnhm

    I didn’t think Adam was old enough to own anything from Beaver Canoe, as I think they haven’t been around for at least a decade and a half!! It was a great store and I believe I own a forest green version of the same hoodie!

  • betsey

    “Fortunately, this is Canada, so wearing a hoodie is acceptable pretty much all the time.”

    Really?!!? I completely disagree! Although Adam is a total nature loving/granola kayaker so I guess it’s possible in his social circles a hoodie is acceptable dress. I’m also sure if you’ve won an Olympic medal you can pretty much wear what you want and no one will bat an eye. However, for the rest of society the only time a beaten up hoodie is acceptable dress is while you are actually camping or at the cottage.

  • Meow Meow

    I’ll pass on the hoodie, but I think I might choose him as one of my top ten things. Nice arms, etc., etc… rawwr!

  • m

    …as uninteresting as he appears. blah.

  • Annie

    I agree; all he discusses are products which he is paid to wear/talk about. I mean, really, are these truly the top 10 things he cannot live without? I find him rather narcissistic, self-indulgent, kinda phony and un-Canadian. He tries too hard. Just chill and be yourself. Girls need to have some respect and get a grip about “take your shirt off!” or “rawwr”. Grow up! There are tons of great-looking Canadian guys out there. They just don’t take off their shirt at the drop of a hat like Mr. van Koeverden loves to do.

  • chillpeeps

    haters gonna hate, huh? srsly people, chill out. maybe a nice time-out on the water would do y’all good. :)