Bomber Gear Skirt Review: Kbomb
Tapping my foot waiting for some snow to start melting, it's a good time to contemplate gear for the upcoming season. For me, it was time for a skirt replacement. One thing I've noticed is it can often be difficult to find objective reviews of kayaking gear (have you noticed every "review" from CKS says the product is awesome?). So, I thought I'd write my review of the Bomber Gear Kbomb skirt. I'm just an enthusiastic average Joe class IV/V kayaker with no industry affiliations and very few friends, thus completely objective.
My skirt wearing history has mostly been with Snap Dragon. My take on Snap Dragon has been mostly positive. Their sizing is predictable, the skirt durability is reasonable (I first used the cheaper version, then the Kevlar version - durability proved to be relative to price), the skirt is fairly easy to take on and off my body and on and off the cockpit. Implosions were only an issue on the old one that I think was a little past it's prime. I had a brief flirtation with an IR skirt, but found everything about it difficult and ended up getting rid of it.
So why change skirts? Is it man's eternal quest to evolve and improve? In my case it was largely driven by parsimony. I could pick up a Kbomb for $110 and the cheapest I could find the equivalent Snap Dragon was around $180. SkirtWorks, Wildwasser are probably reasonable alternatives, but also more expensive.
I have a friend who has had good success with a new Bomber Gear skirt (the cheaper model). There were various positive mountainbuzz reviews, but many seemed to be from Steamboat guys whose objectivity were questionable to me. But being a local CO company, and having had good luck with a couple other Bomber Gear items I've picked up (they make the best poggies around), I decided to give it a shot.
My conclusion at this point is the Kbomb is a fantastic skirt (not even accounting for the lower price). Time will tell how great the durability is, but the first thing I noticed is that the re-enforcement is in all the right places. There's Kevlar material all long the rim where my paddle tends to make contact with the skirt and is always first to wear out, as well as re-enforcement underneath the deck. It has a couple nice thoughtful additions like a clip on the grab loop that you can use to clip to your vest while portaging/scouting/hiking.
The Kbomb uses a rubber system around the cockpit instead of the bungee system like Snap Dragon uses. My experience with the bungee system is that it tends to work great for the first season, but after that it loosens up and doesn't seal around the cockpit tight enough to prevent leakage. The IR I'd tried used the rubber rand system, but that seemed to contribute to the difficulty in getting the skirt on and off the boat. The Kbomb was relatively easy to get on the cockpit even when the skirt was completely dry. I think this has to do with the deck's shape and stretchy material used. Once on though, the seal was fantastic and I got barely a drop of water in my boat. This was probably the biggest positive over the Snap Dragon which never seemed to be all that water tight. What a pleasure not to use my sponge for the entire trip.
Another major Kbomb plus was donning the skirt over the drysuit or drytop. The tunnel is made out of some super stretchy neoprene material that is much more elastic than the Snap Dragon's. This made the always awkward process of hiking up the tunnel over your stomach a much quicker process and the stretchy material created a nice seal around the body.
Lastly, the graphics overlaying the front of the skirt, though a bit more garish than the typical black facade, serves a useful purpose. As a man who appreciates function over form, I liked that the graphics create a water repellent layer over the portion of the deck that gets bombarded most with water. This means a less waterlogged skirt with less heat loss and less chance of water permeating through the deck. I'll let the art critics decide the merits of the graphics, but at least I'll be more visible while swimming.
- Stetchy tunnel makes it easy to don and creates nice seal around waist
- Good fit/seal on cockpit rim (tried on Jefe and EZG)
- Super dry - almost no water leakage, even doing some playboating
- Smart placement of re-enforcement material
- Graphic layering sheds water
- Very price competitive
- Local Colorado company based out of Steamboat
- Graphics may not be to some people's liking
- No implosion bar option for extra implosion resistance
- Not yet sure about long term durability
- Have not made a plunge worthy of testing implosion resistance.