Base layers have been something I’ve battled both in central Canada and now out here in Newfoundland. Balancing bulk to not look like that kid on A Christmas story and still feel comfortable rolling or bobbing around after a incident in a surf zone is a delicate balance. While there are many articles on the importance of dressing for immersion, not many are out there discussing clothing options in cold climates. (You beautiful paddlers in the warm south feel free to enjoy the pic’s and ignore remainder of the article!)
My normal paddling base layers kept me warm while moving; yet restricted movement due to its bulk. Many combinations of bargain store shelf sales, old running gear (which somehow had shrunk over the years) and hiking gear had over time become my immersion protection. Finding the perfect combo for each paddling day was a chore and the term “fashion assassin” leaked from the lips of family. Dressing for a dip in the North Atlantic brine I usually found myself soaked in sweat; leaving lunch breaks during the winter paddling months a unpleasant “shiverfest”.
Don’t tell me you washed my thermals……
I tend to leave kayaking gear all around the household. Some drying, some accidentally placed down and forgotten about. Sometimes I have to explain why there are three kayaks in the living room, and that I spilled black paint all over the den painting a SOF. My lovely spouse tries to keep things straight. Being a forward looking person she seen my new thermals beside my drysuit in a pile, and washed em on day three of my trial…..start again. The confused look I got when I told her it was a test……
Looking at company claims of “scent prevent” and against my wife’s wishes, pleas, threats, both Comp 4 and Quattro went into the back porch hanging with my kayaking gear daily. Although I threatened to toss them at my wife during day five as a finale to my show…the reek test was a success. It didn’t smell period.
The brrrrrr factor.
I paddle in frigid waters…pretty well year round. My first thermal test happened to be an accidental one. A 3 meter breaking wave flipped me onto some rocks off the southern shore of the Avalon peninsula playing about. I was quickly towed out of the surf zone to get back into the kayak. Two rolls, a swim and a bit of a tow out of the surf in January was a lovely day to be alive. I was warm enough throughout the day to continue on (with ego bruised over the wet exit… but my core not chilled!). Hour long brain freeze/rolling practice’s I remained warm and dry.
Great thermal protection in 0 to 10 degrees Celsius (32 to 50 Fahrenheit) water with a wind chill of -10C (14F). No bulk and no seams to rub after longer paddling days. The Quattro alone tended to be a little abrasive under the weight of my PFD on my shoulders as paddling. This was mitigated by wearing the Comp 4 base layer.
Wearing the Comp 4 Tech Fleece layer is for those who powered through their workouts over the winter. With a few extra pounds on; I resembled a overfilled black garbage bag. Unfortunately I just can’t do the material justice enough for a photo. It has however made me reconsider running and laying off skittles for a while. It’s wonderfully comfortable….just not in a social/self-esteem sense.
My advice is check out the Polarmax site yourself. Check out their gears guarantee, and their company green approach. One item of mine came in recycled package from another one of their product’s relabelled. Fantastic. The company’s stance behind their product, with a truthful green approach, and overall functionality makes me want to recommend this product to other paddlers.
It doesn’t reek after five days, it’s comfortable, and prevents hypothermia/dying. Check it out if you’re into that sort of thing. =0)
About Lee Gilbert
Lee Gilbert is a PaddlingLight sponsored paddler. He blogs about paddling at A whole bunch of Ing’s.