Saturday, February 25, 2006

New gear!

This morning I was in a shopping mood. Sometimes it just just feels good to buy yourself something nice. Is it typically Dutch to feel a little bit guilty about this? We are all human. In Dutch there is a saying: "... als je jezelf niet kietelt, doet niemand het!" I should better not try to translate it.
My shopping action was only partially spontaneous. I bought two peaces of gear. This post is about the British part I bought. That was the deliberate decision. The American bit was spontaneous. That is a nice subject for another post.

So now I bought myself a drysuit. I have been doubting about this for a long time. Dry suits are not common in the Dutch seakayaking scene. In all the years I have been kayaking I only once met a Dutch seakayaker wearing a dry suit : Lenze Middelberg (I am not sure if Lenze agrees, but after all those years in Svendborg I tend to call him more Danish than Dutch seakayaker?). Neoprene long johns, chillcheater underlayers and a good paddle jacket work, but there are good reasons for a drysuit: comfort and safety.
Because of this I knew few paddlers I could ask for advice. I asked Lenze, Leon and Shawna (I met them in Anglesey 2003, preparing for their Icelandic Adventure) and they all favored the Kokatat gear. But that is very pricy stuff, not sold in the Netherlands, and I don't like to order clothing by mail order. Above that: I might use my gear rather intensively, but that is nothing compared to what those pro's do! Somewhat simpler should do for me. With this in mind, I did my "research" on internet. The UKseakayakguidbook and the German Spierentonne-forum were good resources. Finally I found the Palm Sidewinder Torrent Dry Suit to come very close to my specs, and (very important) it was sold in a Dutch shop. Douglas Wilcox has written an extensive review of the Palm drysuit.

This morning I went to Arend Bloem: the biggest Dutch kayak retailer and probably the only one having a few drysuits in stock. Arend was surprised by my visit. He told me he normally sells about 5 drysuits in a whole year. But this week he already sold 3. Regarding this numbers Arend offers a surprising wide collection of drysuits: some Hiko-drysuits and the complete Palm collection. Palm size L was the perfect fit for me. After trying and comparing the different Palm-drysuits, I changed my mind. I choose the Sidewinder Classic in stead of the Torrent. The main reason for this is the zipper: the Torrent has a zipper on the back, the Basic over the shoulder. With the zipper over the shoulder I can open and close it all by myself. I can't manage this with the zipper on my back. To be independent is important to me! The reason why I previously set my mind on the Torrent were the sew-on booties of this drysuit. But (as Douglas) I have mixed feelings about this: pro is comfort, con is the vulnerability. And with a combination of chillcheater socks, neoprene socks and booties I never had cold feet. (I am wondering if I shoud wear the (very tight fitting) chillcheatersocks over or under the drysuit. I wonder if the latex seals make a good seal over the socks. I will try it!).
The decision was made easier by the fact that Arend sold the last Palm Sidewinder Torrent in my size one day before. And by coincidence we found out he sold it to Hanny Kreuk, a friend of mine! Hanny and I didn't know from our mutual plans about drysuits. Now I am neither the first nor the only Dutch seakayakcoach in drysuit... I must be looking for another way to boost my reputation!

I can hardly wait to jump into the water: I want to try out my new gear! Alas: no time this weekend. I must wait till Tuesday: my paddling-evening. I will tell you how cold the water feels!


Susanne said...

Is het schuldgevoel of cognitieve dissonantie?

Mooi pak? Maar even in het Nederlands: waar is het nu precies voor? Wel of niet tegen het water, warmte, kou? En wat had je hiervoor dan aan?



Hans said...

Hoi Susanne!
In een droogpak wil je vooral droog en warm blijven: bescherming tegen water en koude dus. De andere aanpak is het wetsuit. Dat gebruik ik meestal. Maar zoals de naam al zegt: dat is een nogal kleffe boel.
De amerikaanse dresscode voor zeekajakkers zie je op: (leuke animatie!)

Probleem is dat, als je je op de watertemperatuur kleedt, het vaak te warm is zolang je droog blijft. En meestal blijf je dus droog. Het blijft zoeken naar een compromis tussen comfort en veiligheid...
Ik ben benieuwd of het puffen wordt in het droogpak!

derrick said...


Let me know how that suit works out for you. I'm a bit curious. :)

Hans said...

Hi Derrick!
I'll keep you informed. The first impression is not bad, I am wondering how it works in warmer conditions... Temperature should be rising once?!