The nights are drawing in. The temperature is dropping, and the rain is falling. I should be excited; the Scottish paddling season is kicking off. Months of blustery days, where the heavens open and you go paddling almost every weekend.
This year however my drysuit is stranded in Canada. Summer boating plans got kiboshed due to the pandemic and I’m back in Scotland without my trusted latex companion. The long john wetsuit drafted in as a reserve haunts my hallway. It was great in the summer. Warm weather days, and a laugh at the retro styling meant I was happy in it. Now it hangs in the hallway, dripping, like a form of psychological torture. Reminding me of what lies ahead. Cold. Wet. Miserable.
I’ve paddled for many years, mostly on the river Tay where I honed my skills with help of some pretty handy people from Perth canoe club. With a solid base I gradually progressed to local Perthshire runs, opening my eyes to what was possible in a kayak. I now regularly enjoy pushing the grade of my paddling to class 4/5 and tend to get out twice a week to keep me sane. Paddling has brought me all over the world, from India to Iceland, and over time I have come to appreciate quality equipment.
Even though I’ve paddled for a long time, my slalom experience meant that semi dry cags and neoprene shorts were initially the norm. I only recently experienced the luxury of a dry suit when five years ago I bought my first dry suit with the prospect of a brief visit to Iceland that October. I pushed aside the slalomer’s stigma against dry suits and got a new Immersion Research Arch Rival front entry dry suit. My first dry suit was a revelation! It opened my kayaking up to harder grades on cold, mind numbing Scottish winter days (when the paddling here is at its best).
I swithered for while between a L and XL with my tall skinny stature. I found I would be too tall for the L yet too skinny for the XL. With help from the Immersion Research customer service team I decided on the XL size (although if you have more time and money to spare, you can get sleeve and leg lengths modified). I received the XL dry suit which I found to be a good fit apart from the seals. I told this to Immersion Research and they happily put smaller seals on it which made a huge difference. I very quickly put a hole in the knee after running and tripping on the bank during a spate of carnage on a tree infested, fence interspersed Scottish ditch. This was expertly fixed by Immersion research and remains one of the toughest parts of the suit.
Immersion Research have a new dry suit landing in stores very shortly. The Aphrodite dry suit is specially designed for female paddlers. Check it out.
Our new women’s dry suit, The Aphrodite, is coming soon! The innovative, clam shell style zipper functions as both the entry point and drop seat. Featuring polyester shell fabric made from recycled water bottles, high wear areas reinforced with heavy duty, abrasion resistant nylon fabric and adjustable waist belt that keeps the suit sitting perfectly on your hips. For all you ladies waiting for us to make a suit with a drop seat, here it is. Limited amount available next week with more to come in February. (Comes in Quetzal Green, not the Blue shown in the video).
Looking after your gear is super important as it will hopefully last longer and look after you. Keeping your drysuit stored correctly in your kit bag can really help look after what can be a seriously expensive piece of gear.
NRS have put this short video together on how to correctly fold a NRS suit but is applicable to most makes.
Gul is a UK based company with over 50 years experience in the watersports industry. We have received a couple of bits of gear from Gul for review at Unsponsored. First up is the paddling specific Napa Drysuit.
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.