I’m a huge fan of tuiliks (read The Tuilik: a Perfect Bit of Kit for Winter Kayaking), which are a combination of a hooded paddling jacket and sprayskirt. I like them because they’re warm, they give you a larger freedom of movement vs. a neoprene sprayskirt, which helps with torso rotation. They make rolling easy, because they’re buoyant. They keep your head dry, which in the cold water I paddle in (usually doesn’t get above 55°F), makes rolling more fun and warm!. Until this spring, I had only used neoprene tuiliks, but this spring, Paulo from Comfort Paddling approached me about his waterproof/breathable tuiliks. I was excited to try one and write a review about it.
Paulo runs a cottage industry making paddling clothing in British Columbia. His tuiliks are made from a waterproof/breathable fabric. The wrists are sealed with latex gaskets and the hood is sealed with neoprene using a nylon strap and a cord. The only option for the tuilik is the addition of a tunnel which mates with bib dry pant.
Ordering and Sizing
Before I could get one sent to me, I had to fill out a sizing form on Comfort Paddling’s website to make sure that I got a custom fit. The requested measurements were:
- Circumference Of The Kayak Cockpit (outside of rim)
- Length Of Cockpit, At The Longest Point (outside Of Rim)
- Width Of Cockpit, At The Widest Point (outside Of Rim)
- Circumference Around your Chest, Just Below Your Armpits, With The Clothing You Will Be Wearing To Paddle
- Length Of Arm, From Wrist To Armpit
- The Length Of Your Torso, From Shoulders To Floor When Sitting down On The Floor
- Circumference Of Your Wrists
- Circumference Of Your Head, Just Above The Eyes
- Make And Model Of Kayak
When I received the tuilik, it fit perfectly both to my body and to my kayak. I also got the optional tunnel to mate it to a pair of pants or bibs, although I didn’t order the bibs. During spring on Lake Superior, it’s still pretty cold so I wore a drysuit under the tuilik the first time I tried it. The drysuit fit perfectly under the tuilik and was still comfortable except at the wrist were the drysuit’s latex gaskets and the tuilik’s gaskets pressed hard on my wrists. I’d rather wear this with a wetsuit or pair of dry pants, which is what I’ve done since then.
Putting on the Comfort Paddling tuilik was easier than a neoprene one and taking it off was also easier. When in it, it felt much more comfortable than a neoprene one. Versus Brooks neoprene tuilik, I found it also sealed around the face better. The most complicated part of putting on the tuilik is actually adjust the hood and unless you do it correctly and follow the recommended steps, you probably won’t get a perfect seal.
To adjust the hood, you start by using a nylon strap that runs to pull the neoprene seal away from your eyes. After it’s tight and away from your eyes, you pull the chin cord and tighten it with a slider lock. When adjusted correctly, you get no leakage. I’ve used the tuilik on hour-long rolling seasons and pulled the hood off and had dry hair. It’s really impressive. All drysuits with hoods should use this design.
Speaking of rolling, I found that this tuilik was surprisingly as buoyant as a neoprene tuilik. I think it is, because the air trapped inside the cockpit and suit provides extra flotation when lying on your side. It felt easy to hold a balance brace with the tuilik on — much easier than when using just my drysuit. Because there’s no restriction to torso rotation from the tuilik, I got a couple of more rolls that I haven’t been able to get before (keep in mind, I’m not a Greenland rolling enthusiast, so I don’t have that many Greenland rolls). I easily got the crook-of-the-elbow roll, chest sculling and a few others. The chest sculling easily transferred over to my drysuit.
I’ve also used the tuilik while playing in waves and rocks. It’s nice to have my head covered from the cold water. The only downside that I can see is that water pools up in my lap. It’s not as tight as a neoprene sprayskirt there and it sags slightly when drenched in water.
You may notice in the pictures that I’m wearing a lifevest, which is something that many Greenland paddlers forgo. I’m just not that kind of guy, so I appreciate paddling clothing that feels comfortable under a lifevest. Comfort Paddling’s tuilik feels very comfortable even with a vest over it. It’s much more comfortable than wearing a vest over my neoprene tuilik.
I’ve used cottage industry gear before (see: Tarptent Double Rainbow Review), and I’ve had some hits and some misses. This one is a hit. The quality of construction is high and that level of construction justifies $400 price tag. The material is high quality and the sewing is done well. It’s just as good as if not better than high-end production clothing, such as The North Face, Marmot, NRS and others.
Overall, I’m happy and impressed by Comfort Paddling‘s tuilik. I still think that the tuilik is the best thing to wear during winter and now that I’ve used a waterproof/breathable tuilik, I’m even more sold on tuiliks. If you’re looking for one or if you have a few benjamins to burn, then I suggest you look hard at this tuilik. You won’t be disappointed when you buy it. It may just be my favorite piece of paddling clothing.