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Old 04-08-2008   #11
caspermike's Avatar
Bozeman, Montana
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astral makes a hella comfy pfd.
xtracts i think come with the armored spine from what i remember.

somebody should design a little plate that could slip into the hydration compartment on the back of the astrals. that would be sweet.

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Old 04-08-2008   #12
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Denver, Colorado
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Thanks for the tip on the WRSI facemask; that looks like it answers the helmet question.

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Old 04-08-2008   #13
pnw, Washington
Join Date: Oct 2003
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I have an xtract that I have been wearing for years. Its solid but isnt as sexy as the astrals but it does the job. If it matters I noticed that Mike Mathers, one of the SWR gurus wears an xtract.
"Yesterday I was clever and tried to change the world. Today I am wise and try to change myself." -Rumi
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Old 04-08-2008   #14
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185 lb. waste of space, Keeping Glenwood Springs real
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My list would be a Astral 300 ($200), Kokatat GMER DSuit ($975), and a Sweet Fullface ($330)

You can Obviously search around and find these for a little cheaper. I got my Gmer for 830. If you want to save a little money on the dry suit go with a IR Double D suit for 775. They have some of the best customer service in the biz. Just sent my Drytop into them cause some barb wire messed it up. They fixed it and shipped it back in a week for free!

I like the WRSI helmets but that removable face plate scares me a little, Sred ready has a similair looking helmet coming out for about 100 bucks. Otherwise try an FNA for about 230

Hemlets obviously the most important part so spend the bucks there.
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Old 04-08-2008   #15
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Boulder, Colorado
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I had a free WRSI so decided to get the facemask to solve my full coverage problem on the cheap. It just came out and I got it in the mail a couple days ago.

The attachment mechanism feels solid to me and I have no worries about it slipping off. However, I don't think this is much of a feature for most us, as most people that have been boating for a while already have another helmet.

I would definitely try it on first though before you buy it. My head's pretty normal sized, certainly not wide, and I find it's a bit of a squeeze to get the face guard over my face. I kind of have to flex the plastic out a little bit while I pull it down.

The guard is also made out of some sort of flexible plastic material with a very thin pad lining the inside. It will definitely offer protection on a blow to the face, but I wonder if the composite faceguard like the FNA or Sweet offers better protection.

The Shred Ready isn't supposed to be out until May, but it's the obvious competition with the WRSI (price point and construction). It isn't detachable, but I was looking at the pictures and it looks like they foam out the inside really nice on the SR, which I think would be a plus in terms of skin abrasion, and the height of the SR facemask looks to be a little larger and maybe offers better coverage (this is just my guess from looking at pictures). If you can wait, it might be worth checking out the SR version.

I also still wonder if the helmets with composite outer shells offer better overall protection than the plastic with liner absorption (i.e. the WRSI). I'm kind of putting faith into the fact that the WRSI has been well researched, but the composites sure feel more bomber on the head.

Once I actually have some water time with the WRSI-facemask combo I'll try to post my experience as I imagine there are a number of people interested in this low cost full face setup.
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Old 04-08-2008   #16
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Seems like the WRSI would be good for me, especially since my current helmet, a SR, doesn't fit me terribly well.
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Old 04-08-2008   #17
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Boulder, Jackson Kayak, Colorado
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Best dry top/suite is without a doubt the Kokotat Gortex. I have one, and it's the most reliable peice of gear I own. The meridian is a step back in performance and I would expect that IR's fits in that category. Bottom line Gortex is the shiznit. IR makes great stuff and their customer svc is great, but you can't beat goretex period.

I am going to get on a soap box here. Although I too am always looking for a good deal, it's really important to support local dealers. The best way you can support them is to buy what you can locally. You may pay a bit more, but imagine what it would be like if there were only websites to buy from...
If you must buy something over the web, maybe keep it to one of your three items?

my 2 cents.
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body. But rather...To skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming... WOW !!!! What a ride!!!!!!"
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Old 04-08-2008   #18
Join Date: May 2004
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I've got an new-with-tags extrasport rescue vest I'll sell you for $100. Send me a PM if you're interested. I'm in Boulder.

I really wish I had the sweet full-face, but it is SO expensive. My FNA seems pretty solid though. The WRSI looks like a nice budget option.

Lots of discussion on drysuits, but nobody ever regrets the Kokatat. I'm also really curious about the new NRS drysuit with eVent. I have an eVent ski jacket that outperforms XCR for breathability.
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Old 04-08-2008   #19
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I just have trouble stomaching the price difference for the Kokatat gore tex. Anybody else want to chime in on that one?

craw, as for local retailers, once I'm in CO I'll be buying locally, but I won't get to Denver until the pre-job paddling trip, and there aren't any gear shops in northern Indiana. I agree with your point though.
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Old 04-08-2008   #20
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The Road, Colorado
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Love my Kokatat GoreTex drytop. Had it for a season and put 100 days on it or so and it is still dry as a bone, have not really had any trouble with it.

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