A kayak and ski store located in a retail/industrial area in North Vancouver, B.C., Deep Cove Outdoors is something of a misnomer. Its namesake bay is five miles away, where the store has a waterfront center and rental operation. But within the city confines, Deep Cove has built a reputation for not only outdoor gear, but as a hub for community events and get-togethers.

First, the store. Step inside the neon-green door, and you enter an industrial space, high-ceilinged and roomy, once used as a warehouse for pet food. The store is a carnival for freshair aficionados—kayaks, and their sleeker surf-ski cousins, hang from above or nestle in neat rows on racks. Standup paddleboards are propped along a wall, and Nordic skis and boots take up a good portion of another. The store has more than 100 kayaks in stock. There’s clothing and accessories like PFDs, paddles, spray skirts, roof racks, footwear, ski waxing gear. Top brands include Madshus Nordic skis and Epic surf skis, along with Darn Tough socks.

“A lot of people come in and say, ‘Wow, this is like a candy store,” says co-owner Bob Putnam.

What’s good about Deep Cove is that it doesn’t serve only the high-performance types—novice to competitive paddlers and skiers can find what they need, along with helpful advice from staffers, many accomplished in their sports, who love the outdoors and act like they want to help you enjoy it too.

Putnam has also helped build a pipeline with the surf ski community in Bellingham, about 90 minutes across the border. Bellingham, Putnam believes, possesses “the largest per-capita surf ski population in America.” Bellingham paddlers participate in his events, including the Canadian Surf-Ski Championships, which he founded, and Putnam makes regular trips over the border to paddle with his Bellingham counterparts at Marine Park, Bloedel Donovan Park and other launch spots, keeping tabs on wind and water conditions.

 “Like most products we carry, we like the activity,” says Putnam, proudly noting his weekly kayak race series, which invites ocean kayaker, surf skiers, and standup paddleboarders of all abilities, is celebrating its 20th year. The business also holds Nordic races and a “Penguin Plunge” that draws 2,000 people for the traditional New Year’s Day bracing dip. Business partner Erian Baxter started a Women on Water (WOW) group paddle for all abilities that is popular. “We’ve built a community around the store. We do lot of events, and a lot of them are race-based,” he says

reference point: the Canadian Tire next door) is a decent-sized parking lot that’s perfect for outdoor sales, fundraisers, and post-race parties with live bands. Says Putnam: “We can make as much noise as we want, and no one will get mad at us.”

352 Lynn Ave., North Vancouver

604.987.2202 | deepcoveoutdoors.com

"'A lot of people come in and say, ‘Wow, this is like a candy store,' says co-owner Bob Putnam."