Living in Fort William as a kayaker means one thing – a good, comfy and durable dry suit is a must! Lochaber has rain even in the driest months. In fact, we have an average annual rainfall of approximately 1777mm or 70 inches; a kayakers paradise. However, for those of us who feel the cold, a mean annual temperature of only 8.6 °C can be a enthusiasm-killer if you’re body isn’t guaranteed to be warm and dry whilst paddling, even in the summer months when you’re catching post-work Moriston laps until 10pm.
It’s no secret that in the world of paddling, females are the minority. Therefore it is very hard for us to find comfort in most paddling kits, as they are generally tailored to a male figure. I’m sure many ladies will agree with me that finding a snug fitting yet practical drysuit is probably one of the most challenging parts of being a paddler. But as the female paddling community continues to grow, the increase in women’s kit means a huge improvement in the overall experience for us all.
When I first began kayaking, I was 13 years-old and strongly against cold weather paddling. It only took a couple of winter club trips to persuade my Dad that a wetsuit just didn’t cut it. When choosing my first suit, I felt DamX was the best option, as their suits are made to measure. I loved my suit, but as I progressed, I found it to be restricting, mainly due to its weight.
“Ooh I love the colour”, “Such a pretty drysuit!”, “It matches your boat!”
These are comments that I’ve had about my Immersion Research Shawty drysuit which I’ve been using for the past couple of months. Don’t get me wrong, I love the colour but I also think it’s a great bit of kit and am disappointed that no one’s asked me why I actually bought it rather than assuming I got it because it’s purple!
Here’s my tuppence worth:
I’m 5ft 3, size 10/12 with short (T-Rex!) arms and I have a medium Shawty. I use my drysuit for coaching (when it’s cold), WW Kayaking, “freestyle” (being upside down a lot!), SUPing and bizarrely, rescuing sheep!
The Arch Rival drysuit gets an upgrade and it’s looking pretty good. We are hoping to get one in for review.
The Arch Rival Rear Zip Dry Suit is one of Immersion Research’s hardest working garments and certainly one of the best values. Maybe it isn’t as flashy as the 7Figure, or brooding and mysterious like the Devil’s Club but that is about to change. Introducing the Arch Rival Rear Zip Limited Edition!
We employed the Devil’s Club and Arch Rival Rear Zip pattern, which is well articulated for better paddling performance while eliminating extra fabric. Then we utilized our 7figure fabric in the body of the suit which offers excellent waterproofness and breathability. Finally, we included Devil’s Club Fabric Feet for increased durability. This is the culmination of our best dry suit qualities in one spectacular looking package.
Gerd is the older half of the famous paddling Serrasolses brothers. Hitting big whitewater, competing in world class competitions (and winning) and crafting superb GoPro edits is where Gerd spends most of his time. If a country has quality whitewater the chances are that Gerd has already been there or is planning an expedition to seek out first descents.
I’ve been following Gerd’s travels and adventures for some time and am super stoked that Gerd agreed to take part in the Unsponsored Q&A series, especially as he was in training for the Sickline event (which he won).
How did you first get into kayaking? Who introduced you to the sport?
One day I was biking along our local river, the Ter and saw some people paddling around. I got curious and with some persuasion from my mum I decided to join the local kayak club, the Salt-Ter. It all started really slow with only a couple hours a week on Saturday morning, but as soon as I could go to the river by myself riding my bike and pulling my playboat on a little trailer I started to get obsessed about kayaking until it became my life.
I bought myself an IR (Immersion Research) Arch Rival drysuit for a trip to South America, and it got some pretty heavy use over the 6 months I was there as it’s not always as warm as it looks!
It’s had some long multi-days and endless hikes through forests full of spikes, been in strong sunlight pretty much the entire time and all the abuse you’d expect from a long paddling trip. I’d guess I used it around 3-4 times a week (as my cag had no neck seal) and the river water is usually really cold!
Location: I split my time between Somerset and Voss, Norway
I have been paddling for the last 11 years and during that time, I have been lucky enough to paddle in some of the coolest locations around the world from the UK to Chile, France, India and New Zealand. My personal favorite and the place that constantly draws me back is Norway. It’s a land full of amazing rivers with still so much undiscovered potential. For the last 5 years I have spent my life working as a raft guide which allowed me to be closer to the river and to get as much boating in as possible. I also have the pleasure of being supported by some of the best companies on the market: Zet UK, AS watersports, System X and Silverstick.
About me: Been paddling for a while now, maybe 24 years?? Christ I’m old!!! I have however been fortunate to take my passion all over the world and paddle in a whole lot of places including New Zealand, Nepal, Chile and Canada. For the last 2 summers and next I have been running the Sjoa Kayak Camp in Norway along with my beautiful wife and the Gene 17 boys. I’m lucky enough to be supported by Colorado Kayak Supply in the US, super cool guys, check em out.
Location: Currently, Chamonix for the winter. Stoked.
Boat:ZET Raptor. Now when these came out I thought they looked a bit industrial, rough around the edges and wasn’t that keen. Then I ended up paddling one for a bit, and after a couple of runs was completely converted. It does everything a creek boat should do. Fast (for a creek boat), boofs and rolls easy, light, comfortable and most importantly, bomb proof. I do think its not really a great beginners boat, it definitely needs to be driven around the river and will kick your arse pretty fast if youre not a pro-active paddler but I love it. It really suits my paddling style. I’m pretty excited to see the new boat they’ve got lined up, details boys details!!! Also a Bliss-stick Smoothy for my play boat, like a project in my size, love it.