T H E G R E E N L A K E P A D D L E R
REED'S FLEECE LINED PADDLE SUIT
PADDLE SUIT, INSIDE AND OUT
A drysuit? A wetsuit? A paddlesuit ... a PADDLE SUIT? Hmm interesting name and that's what
Reed came up with. The Aquatherm Fleece Full Paddle Suit to be precise. Instead of using
a woven fabric Reed is using a waterproof polyurethane polymer and in comparison that
offering feels a lot less restrictive and bulky in wearing and moving. The difference that
it gives in feeling free is huge. It's like wearing no suit at all. The inside is lined with
a black fleece layer and the suit can on warmer days be worn without any other
additional layers underneath. In real cold weather extra layers are necessary.
Decals and reflectors making the suit look sharp.
Here is where things are getting interesting. The ordering process includes taking a lot of mea
surements first, because this garment is sort of a custom made thing. Sizewise the finished
suit turned out less roomy than expected, especially the arms. Maybe I was spoiled by
the generous dimensions of my old drysuit, but in winter I could wear two extra fleece
undersuits in it. That I cannot do in this outfit, at least not in the arms. But hey this
garment is fleece lined already, so probably there is no need for. What I can
do though, is use an armless fleece undersuit as a third insulator. Have
to see about all that, time will tell. So if you order, make sure to take
your measurements on the loose side especially on the arms.
The outer polyurathane layer has a rubbery touch to it, it's extremely flexible and very quiet
when I move my arms about. The zipper on the back is supple as well, and when I am
wearing a PFD over the suit, I do not feel the zip popping in and out which can be
annoying indeed. The rubbery texture of the suit has one drawback as I have
discovered, it makes it harder to get in and out of the kayak. As you have
read I am paddling Greenland style boats and these boats have small
cockpits. I am using an entering/exiting lubricant now ... shampoo,
just to be on the safe side and not rip the seams out of the suit.
For quick entering a Greenland kayak, nothing beats an old
fashioned Surfboard Wetsuit as that has no extra flapping
material hanging about. But a wetsuit can be restrictive
in the armpits and inner elbows and typically a wetsuit
is cut for standing in and not for sitting ... so pulling
at the neck's back side is what likely will happen.
Supple plastic zipper, now what about a neat black glue?
A response from Reed at the bottom of the page.
A positive thing about the rubbery outside is that I am better planted home on my sitting
location. With that I mean, I do no longer tend to glide towards my foot braces when
paddling along. The slip/stick nature of the polyurethane when wet, keeps me
fixed on the spot ( I do not use a seat in my boats ). I can now ease off
my foot braces a bit, and life in these cramped boats becomes
noticeably more freed up. Big difference!
Adjustable waist seal, helping to keep water out of the boat. The underside
of the seal is not very grabby on my sprayskirt.
Reed reacts, down below.
DOES THIS SUIT ACTUALLY BREATHE ?
I am not sure ... The thing is, after an intense paddle the amount of moist inside
the suit, on me and in my undersuit is less than what I was used to find. But
when the Reed suit is hanged for drying I noted that it takes days to dry
under the overskirt / waist seal ... The suit needs to be hanged
upside down to dry in that area. My thoughts about this
material err to the not so breathing side. Maybe
Reed can make a comment on this ...
And so they did, down below.
To get the suit to dry under the waist seal, better hang it upside down. My routine
now is: Dry inside out, dry upside down and last put on a very large hanger
to dry in the normal upside up position. Note: except for the under
waist seal area the suit is really very fast drying.
Crawling into the suit is easy, the zip is over the shoulders so plenty of space to
enter, the feet find their way into the socks, no problems. Wriggling the hands
past the wrist seals needs some attention as there are no latex seals here.
The seals are made of the same material as the rest of the suit and the
amount they can stretch is a lot less than a latex version. As there is
a sewn and taped seam right through the whole length of the seal
care must be taken not to overstretch that area. Best insert a
finger from the other hand opposite to the seal to help out.
Tip: Use some shampoo as a lubricant to get in and out.
Wrist seal, looks odd but does the job alright.
Take care not to overstretch the seam. Reed comments below.
My arms are quite long and I am sitting low in my boat, my wrists submerge
pretty often, but the seals manage to keep the wet out.
GETTING THE REST IN
The neck seal is made in the same manner, so here as well care must be taken
in pushing the head through, but this seal is more spacious and has an extra
velcro flap that must be closed in order to make it watertight. Interesting is
if you forget to close this velcro flap you will take on water when you go
rolling or swimming, not a nice prospect when it's cold. I do not like
this single velcro flap, it can become undone unintentionally, it's
better to have a double interlocking velcro flap in this area for
safety reasons. Question to Reed: Idea for a later version?
Again, see Reeds answer at the bottom of the page.
Neck seal, a double interlocking velcro flap would be safer.
The outside of the suit is taped on all the seams, not so for the inside, which is taped
in these areas: the wrists, lower legs, crotch, body circumference, and neck.
Knee and bum area are doubled for extra wear protection.
And the socks, also made from the same material. When they do fail at some
point, Reed will be happy to replace these, as well as other
parts of the suit at a reasonable charge.
One year later Dec 2019, so far so good ...
Two years and counting ... no problems yet.
I am not sponsored by the manufacturer of this suit, just a user, so my comment
here is unbiased. I will keep you posted on how it fares in the future, but for
now I can say this suit keeps me dry and is really comfortable in use!
And then, an email from England: A response from Reed on my findings.
I have managed to find some time to look through your review properly
and have these remarks to make:
Regarding the waist seal not being 'grabby enough'. A quick rub
with surf wax under the seal should help this.
You are right to say the fabric is not breathable and in that light
is, indeed, better to dry inside out and upside down.
Aquatherm is tough stuff and so a person doesn't have to be
too gentle with the seals, I have never known them tear.
We do have the option for a single seal neck and cuff seal
which is a better fit and easier to use if requested.
It doesn't, however, look as finished
as the double layer seal.
I have requested to the production team your suggestions
of both the black glue on the relief zip and the double
overlocking Velcro seal on the adjustable neck
which they will consider.
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