Kit: Rob Crowe's Top 5 (Part 1)
Originally I was tasked with writing a blog post about kit which was interesting and informative with the aim of hopefully filling a few minutes of your day in these troubling times. As usual I went well over the word count for one post so instead the folks at Peak UK will be posting separately my thoughts on my top 5 bits of Peak UK kit for freestyle; in reverse order. The first ones a short and easy read so here we go…..
5. Racer Custom PFD
I think I’m right in saying that back in 2011/12 when the Racer Custom first came out Peak UK was the only company offering any item of fully custom printed gear. Needless to say as a designer I was excited! I had just got my first custom paint job carbon boat and now I could have a BA to match. It does exactly what it says on the tin. It takes the Racer Pro PFD, which is cut to allow maximum shoulder movement and torso rotation, and allows you to add whatever design you want.
The bit of kit which is most on show when you’re in the boat is your PFD so arguably it doesn’t matter what cag you’re wearing underneath, you can still join the custom kit party and get maximum visual effect.
Storm Pants X2.5 - Men / Womens
4. Storm Pants
For some reason I was a very late convert to dry trousers, but now I’ve had a pair for the last 3 years and I’ll never do a winter season without them again. My previous winter wear of shorts and thermals is fine whilst you’re in the boat but at some point you have to get out for the first time. Then the water runs off your top half and deck and you have soaking wet legs, now at the mercy of the wintery wind. This is especially problematic if you often find yourself in long post-paddle carpark discussions, as I often seem to, or you’ve travelled and are doing a two-session day; no one likes wet thermals.
Storm Pants X3
Another option is a full dry suit. I’ve never favoured this as dry suits, understandably, are generally geared more towards river paddling so are made from heavier weight materials, have reinforced shoulders and elbow and have a slightly baggier cut so you can get all the thermals underneath that you’ll need to keep you warm for a full day on the river. All of the above make for a restricted top half which is going to impact your upper body movement, which is key for freestyle.
So in my eyes the best option is your usual long sleeve cag on the top and dry trousers on the bottom. Peak UK now offer three different dry trousers. If you’re on a budget the Semi Pants are a good start as they’re going to keep your legs dry and keep the wind off. If possible though I’d go for either the X2.5 or X3 Storm Pants as they have dry socks. Your feet get a pretty rough deal in the winter, they’re crammed into a boat, pushed up against a surface in direct contact with very cold water and they get to move the least of any part of your body so don’t get much blood flow. Treat them well and go for the ones with the dry socks so you can get some fluffy socks in there too. Whether you need the pee zip and X3 thicker fabric is up to you though personally I’d go for the X2.5 as the pee zip could get uncomfortable when used with an inflatable overthruster and the X2.5 fabric should be enough as our legs hopefully shouldn’t be getting too wet.