The last couple of weeks here in North Carolina have definitely been Autumnal. Leaves are changing, even falling, there’s a pleasant lack of humidity in the air, the nights have dipped into the 40’s. And most sadly, my local lake temp has dipped below 70.
Time to pull out the hoodies, find my favorite beanie (or “Toboggan” as they are wont to say here in the South – what the? Toboggans are for riding, not wearing on your head,) my fuzzy Olukai slippers and suck it up.
Winter is coming.
It’s just around the corner. If you live farther North, you’re already in it.
That means it’s time for me to get the cold weather paddling gear sorted. Which is to say, run around my house in a panic, trying to find this pair of neoprene pants, that piece of Season Five and Virus kit, the wetsuit, the dry suit and those dang booties – all of which are scattered about and hidden in bags and closets where they were hastily and gleefully abandoned back in the spring.
I try so hard to put cold weather paddling out of my head during the spring and summer that I often forget how much I actually LIKE some of cold weather gear. I was reminded of one such item at Chattajack when my Team Leghitt mate from Arizona, Vince, showed up wearing his Surf-Fur changing parka. OMG! I love that thing!! As soon as I got home, I put an APB out on mine and was glad to find it- with only a modicum of panic that it might be lost – deep in the bottom of my main closet.
At first glance, the Surf-Fur Waterparka looks a bit old school in its styling – largely because of its snap buttons. It kind of looks like something Paddington Bear might put on, with a big ol’ pair of Wellies. The first time Katie saw me in mine, she thought I looked a little bag lady-ish,but I’d say that was more because of the cat and dog hair on it. (Everything I own has cat and dog hair on it.) Make no mistake, though, there’s some definite high-tech textile cred in this coat and you’ll be glad of it when it’s butt cold outside and you need to get out of your wet stuff fast.
Let start with the fabric first.
It is made from three different textiles bonded together into a single layer of polyester fleece that is both water and windproof and breathable! It’s fluffy and soft, too. While the single layer definitely holds the weight of the parka down, it is not what I would call especially light. Despite the snaps, and the gaps between each of those, nothing is getting inside this coat. It is cozy and comfortable and perfect for before and after paddling.
Now for the design.
The parka is long — in fact the company says it’s the longest parka of its kind in the market. It’s going to come down far enough to protect your backside if you are bending over when changing, or to sit on comfortably in the car on the drive home – since it’s waterproof, your seats are going to stay dry.
It has drawcord sleeves and is reversible. And the hood….well….it is big enough to make you feel empowered. Kind of like Obi Wan Kenobi. When I wear mine, I am almost compelled to pull it on, then off whilst saying something like “ This is not the surf break you were looking for.” The neck is lined with extra soft fleece and the hood has a drawcord too so it can be snugged up when you need more protection from the elements.
Inside, there’s a velcro pocket for valuables.
Key to this parka though are the side slits. These enable you to easily do a deck change with minimal muss and fuss. The coat is roomy enough too to let you maneuver around in and get out of even the trickiest wetsuit.
I’ve tried several changing garments and this one by far is the easiest to use. I wish the company would make a lighter weight, warm weather version for use in the humid summers here.
I’ve found the key to winter paddling is making sure you have the gear necessary to make the entire process, from pre-paddle, to paddle to post-paddle, as comfortable, easy and warm as possible. The Surf-Fur Waterparka is a big step in that direction.