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Old 04-13-2010   #1
KSC
 
KSC's Avatar
 
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,698
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.

My conclusion:

Positives:
- 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

Negatives:
- Graphics may not be to some people's liking
- No implosion bar option for extra implosion resistance

Untested:
- Not yet sure about long term durability
- Have not made a plunge worthy of testing implosion resistance.
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Old 04-13-2010   #2
 
student
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 359
Paddled with this skirt all last season and have logged about 50 days in the northwest this year. Although I get some questionable looks when I put it on out here, this skirt is awesome and works as well today as the day I first tried it. Highly recommend it to anyone in the market.
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Old 04-13-2010   #3
 
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Steamboat, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 756
What boat do you have?

I am in the market for a new skirt as well, but with the Pyranha Everest the cockpit is very large. Anyone out there have experience with these skirts on the Everest?
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Old 04-13-2010   #4
 
mhelm's Avatar
 
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 215
I've used one of the new Bomber Gear skirts for 2 full seasons and it seems to fit most anything, and has held up very well. As far as no implosion bar... I've done plenty of 30 ft plus drops and paddled with it on the Futaleufu with no problems. I've never had an implosion in two and a half years with it. Also the poggies are awesome and the new dry tops look great!
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Old 04-13-2010   #5
 
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Newport, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 195
Indeed. I have used the skirt for about a year in the NW now (that means more than 2 months of runoff...) and while I don't feel I have tested the implosion resistance, everything else said here is absolutely true. It has had no problem fitting any boat I have been in: Micro, Kingpin, EZ, Jefe and even a Duo with Paul...

Props to Bomber Gear.
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Old 04-14-2010   #6
 
student
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 359
evan, there is nothing wrong with two grown men wearing matching skirts and boofing together
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Old 04-14-2010   #7
 
latenightjoneser's Avatar
 
steamboat, Colorado
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 387
If you are concerned about it not stretching on to the Everest, I would avoid buying the kevlar-type reinforced model. Go for the significantly less expensive model that is reinforced with a stretchier material.

Bomber Gear - Bomb Shelter Spray Skirt
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Old 04-14-2010   #8
 
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Newport, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 195
And matching everything else....

that's how we get it done in Oregon!
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Old 04-14-2010   #9
 
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Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 76
I am very pleased to see positive commits:
Here are pictures of my new ones that will be available in a week.
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Old 04-14-2010   #10
 
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Bremerton, Washington
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 294
Rick, I don't see any pics. Did they drop off or did you forget to attach them or were you going to put up a link to your website?

Kevin, which size did you get? I'm in the market for a new skirt, and you're about the same size as me. Also, thanks for the review, specifically the logical aspects of it.
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