Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Great gear

My good friend and occasional paddle partner Wendy Killoran has posted a thank-you to Kokatak on her blog for supplying her with some of their great paddling gear. I’d like to second everything Wendy has to say about Kokatak, I have one of their Gore-Tex storm cags and value it as one of my most versatile pieces of essential kayak equipment.
The Pac-Lite material packs down small enough to fit in my deck bag, and provides almost instant protection from the elements when things go sour on the water. I can don it quickly, right over my pfd. Once it’s snapped in place around my cockpit coaming and the drawstring pulled tight around my face, the weather can do whatever it likes, I’m warm and dry.
It also functions well around the campfire, the breathable fabric and generous sizing make it a great rainsuit. In a pinch, I’m sure you could hunker down for the night in it and be comfortable. I’ve wanted one ever since I saw Freya Hoffmeister’s jet-black version she used while paddling the South coast of Newfoundland with Wendy last summer.
On the downside, the one-size-fits all feature means that small to average size paddlers may find the cag to be a bit voluminous, especially in a stiff wind. Also, the brilliant orange hue of the fabric has made me the butt of more than a few pumpkin jokes on the water. Small stuff, to be sure, but if you’re going out in known windy conditions, I’d suggest relegating the cag to your day hatch and wearing something a bit sleeker to avoid the sail effect. Keep the Kokatat handy for days when the weather is questionable.
In winter, this garment really seems to come into its own, functioning perfectly as a windbreaker and auxiliary spray deck, while breathing just enough to avoid a potentially deadly perspiration buildup. On minus 20 days, I could actually feel a difference in cockpit temperature thanks to the snug coaming fit. While I’m not sure if it’s a design feature or not, I noticed much less ice buildup on the cag than I normally get on my bare drysuit and neo spraydeck.
The Kokatak storm cag is one of those items I can’t bear to leave behind, even on a seemingly benign sunny day trip. It invariably gets tossed into my deck bag or behind my seat along with a bailout bag, extra snacks and water.