I planning a week-long sea-kayaking trip to the Queen Charlotte Islands, so I need a paddling jacket that ideally could double as raingear around cp. Most jackets I have tried are clmy and hot. Does such a beast exist in Gore-Tex or some such "breathable" cloth? Tim Toronto, Ontario
Kokatat even makes a paddling jacket that for all the world looks like an everyday piece. Called the Paclite Full-Zip Jacket ($299; www.kokatat.com), it's made with Gore's ultralight version of Gore-Tex, a good choice for a piece such as this where a lot of abrasion on mud and dirt is not likely. As the name implies it has a full front zipper, and also a hood for those really wet days. Kayak-specific features include a left sleeve pocket for must-reach accessories, fast-draining pockets, and splash-proof cuffs. So itll work well in the boat or in camp.
NRS makes something similar called the Na Pali Semi Dry jacket, which sells for $200 (www.nrsweb.com). Like the Kokatat Paclite, it looks a lot like a traditional rainjacket, with a full hood and moderately long cut. It has a three-quarter zip rather than a full zip, latex gaskets at the wrists, and two high chest pockets plus two sleeve pockets. The fabric is a proprietary waterproof-breathable, so breathability is perhaps a bit less than Gore-Tex, but not bad.
For my money, you'd also do fine with REI's Taku jacket ($199; www.rei.com), which uses a new waterproof-breathable laminate developed by REI. It has a cut designed for full motion, and torso panels that have stretch material. Two high chest pockets give you plenty of storage space. And while it doesn't have elastic sleeve seals, its hook-and-loop closures will keep most moisture out if you stick an arm in the water. I think it would be a great paddling jacket, myself.
Check out the review of REI's Taku, a Gear of the Year winner, along with hundreds of other products in the Outside's 2005 Buyer's Guide, on newsstands now.