“Dry is warm” may be the mantra of cold-weather sports enthusiasts everywhere, but sometimes complete dryness just isn’t an option — during winter surf sessions, say, or kayaking after Labor Day. For any recreational activity where you’re in or on the water — you’re just plain going to get a little wet. In other words, splash happens.
So for those of us who like to brave the waters past, say, September, staying dryish is the goal. If you can keep your core relatively un-soggy and wind-protected, you’re likely to remain pretty comfortable throughout the extended season, at least where I live, in New England. Enter Bomber Gear‘s terrific new Blitz Splash top. With neoprene cuffs and lightweight, breathable fabric, it’s perfect for the transition season between warm weather paddles and the cool, grey days leading up to winter. Paired with their new Halo 5.0 fleece underneath, you’ve got fall covered.
Of course, sometimes dry can mean hot — and when you’re skirted up and tucked into a 17-foot sauna sea kayak in the middle of the bay, stripping off layers isn’t quite as easy as it is in the backcountry. Which makes the breathability of Bomber Gear’s combo key.
Lugging my kayak half a mile to the beach in October or November, then putting in in 50-something degree water, I tend to get a little chilly. But, once underway, things start to heat up fast with a dry top above and a steamy kayak below. Bomber Gear solves this problem beautifully. When I tested the women’s fleece and spray top combo on a cool but very windy and choppy day, I left the beach very comfortable…and guestimated that I’d overheat in approximately 15 minutes. About an hour into my paddle, I realized I hadn’t noticed my body temperature once — a testament to these fabrics’ excellent climate control.
Notable features of the designs include cuffs that are snug but not tight, which allow water to infiltrate the wrist area, but stop it from dripping down past the mid-forearm, an adjustable gasket at the neck that allows for some ventilation or can be sealed up tight, and a softer breathable-yet-waterproof fabric. The fleece offers a nice snug-but-stretchy fit with a waffled interior along the side of the torso that wicks moisture well and provides extra breathability. The spray top also has a sealed zipper pocket on the left arm — an idea I quite liked — though, the pocket also has a drainage hole, which meant I still needed to put my iphone in my “summer wallet” (a.k.a. a sealed Ziplock bag).
In addition to wearing the fleece kayaking, I also test drove it on a few landlubbing adventures (a jog with the dog, a walk in the country). It performed well — it was soft and comfortable, and looked sharp. I will say that on my 5’8″ frame, the medium shirt was a tad short for my torso, and while the sleeves were long enough to fit well, they were a bit too short with the thumbholes engaged.
Likewise, the spray top was just the slightest bit short for me. I also felt slightly a tiny tug through the shoulders — but only at first. Once in the boat, neither factor was an issue. The top was plenty long to fit well while seated. And the cut of the shoulders, it turned out, was perfectly suited for the ergonomics of paddling. Once underway, I understood exactly why the top was cut the way it was — it allowed for the circular movement of one’s shoulders, without being too baggy. Lady paddlers, take note: If you’re accustomed to wearing bulky splash tops that bunch in all the wrong places (and really, who among us isn’t?) and make that annoying woosh-crunch sound with each stroke, consider your prayers answered. The Blitz spray top provides a much-improved — elegant, even — experience. Priced at a reasonable $99.99 (a short-sleeved version is available for $89.99, and the Halo 5.0 fleece will retail for $69.99, with a short-sleeved version for $69.99), the top will be available soon at the Bomber Gear web site.
If you’ve ever been flummoxed by ill-fitting gear or just generally lament the onset of cold weather, know that the extended season just got a whole lot better. Women especially will find that Bomber’s stuff will fit your body and understand your temperature swings; try it out and you’ll be paddling farther, faster, and further through the year. Now that’s the kind of stuff that deserves a high (and dry) five.