Kit: Rob Crowe's Top 2!
The last in Rob's kit countdown takes us to his all time top 2 pieces of Peak UK kit...
2. Stretch Fleece Base Layers
I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that until the Stretch Fleece base layers were released, Peak UK didn’t have a really heavy duty base layer for the winter. This led me personally to have a heavy reliance on thermal wear from the company most famous for their fleecy one pieces. Am I still partial to a fleecy one piece when it gets really cold? I’d be lying if I said no, but the Stretch Fleece range has become a crucial part of my base layers all year round.
In the spring and autumn they can be worn on their own or over a rashy and are great for those sessions when you know it may be warm when you get on, but once you’ve got out to empty your boat a couple of times or the sun has gone down it’s going to get a little chilly. It is however the winter when they really come into their own. They are really, really warm and for me work great as the final layer on top of however many other thermals I have on. They are especially good at wicking the sweat away from your body keeping you lower layers dry. I also find that when they’re new the fabric is water repellent, again beneficially adding to the dryness of lower layers. For me this is always important as there is nothing worse than having to put a damp cold thermal close to your skin for a second session if you’re doing a double session day. As the thermals are so warm and I’m using them as the last layer this also means that the fact they’re separates is actually quite useful. I will wear the top from October through to May but I’ll only bring out the bottoms when it gets very cold.
A couple of useful side notes. If you’re worried about the zip and high neck and how it will feel under a cag and also if it will damage your neck seals then so was I on my first try; I’m pleased to say that neither is an issue. The neck is nice and warm, the zip stays done up and so far I’ve not had any neck seal damage. One other thing to bear in mind is I believe the stretch fleece top was designed to be used a little bit as off the river wear on multi-days or when staying in bunk houses. This means if you’re looking for it to be skin tight thermal wear, go a size down. I take medium in all other Peak UK kit but for the stretch fleece top I’m in a small and I’ve still got room to get some more layers under it.
Rob flying high in his Semi Long & Racer Custom
1. Semi Long Top Deck (with added latex neck)
The humble cag deck, for me one of the most classic bits of freestyle gear along with the iconic Sweet Strutter. Many moons ago, when I first started paddling, Peak UK seemed to be the only company which made cag decks as standard. Other manufacturers would do it but it would cost extra, would take weeks to get and may only be available to team paddlers. Fast forward to now and the cag deck is still a staple of the Peak UK line. For the current generation, the Semi Long, the fabrics are the most lightweight yet and the cut is close to the body making for the perfect freestyle cag.
Two things I dislike about paddling are having water in my boat and getting too wet. On the very rare occasion when I do wear separates, I find both of these things have happened within the first 20 minutes of a session. You also have the restrictive element of wearing separates on your core, probably the most important bit of your body for freestyle. You end up with a cag with two layers, the inner and the outer, and then the deck tube. Inevitably the deck tube and cag outer are either pretty tight or elasticated to minimise leakage and so hug and potentially restrict your body. With a cag deck you have just the one layer of neoprene which you can have as tight or as loose as you like. It’s win, win and the reason I think the cag deck is such an awesome bit of kit, is that you should not only be dryer, but also have more mobility in you core.
There’s not much more to say. For me I would always go for the added extra of the latex neck since if you’re going for a cag deck the aim is to stay as dry as possible. I would also always go custom print given the option since it looks cool and you can always go full matchy, matchy and get the custom PFD to go with it.
Well done if you’ve read all 5 posts! As usual I went on a bit, but hopefully unlike my previous ramblings this one will hopefully be useful to some of you and gives as impartial a view as possible from a sponsored paddler who’s using this gear day in day out all year round!