Entry level kayaker - Need a bit of gear advice? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 07-28-2013   #1
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2012
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 9
Entry level kayaker - Need a bit of gear advice?

Basically been guiding rafts for three years, and just now started kayaking. So I have a good deal of gear, but want to upgrade and grab a few more things.
Just picked up a dagger juice, and want to start creek boating soon. Basically with my company we have an NRS, kokatat, and stohlquist pro deal.
As for skirts, I've found a k-bomb for cheap, and I'm looking at the level 6 king through NRS. I've had some friends that were unhappy with level 6 dry gear, but who knows about skirts? Any thoughts on any of these? I've been told snapdragons tend to leak, so sort of steered clear of those.

As for the dry top, I was looking at some top line NRS one's, but I know the quality with kokatat is generally better, but how does kokatats warranty compare to NRS?

Any feedback and thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Trying not to drain funds, but would like to invest in some gear that will hold up well.
Unfortunately I haven't had any luck finding anything on mountain buzz or boater talk, and even craigslist seems limited, which is why I was browsing the NRS catalogue for a few examples.
*Live in front range, off clear creek*

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Old 07-29-2013   #2
Littleton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 350
May I ask, as a raft-guide, what exactly was enticing about getting into hardshell kayaking? Is it just having full-control over your own boat, being able to roll up, go fast, etc?

Leaky skirts tend to mean the boat is at fault, more often than not.

For instance, due to the Dagger Kingpin's cockpit shape, it's extra-difficult to prevent leaking (the curve-down on the middle-to-front of the cockpit rim.) A solid flat egg/oval shaped cockpit is best at preventing leaks. Either way though, with some (window) weatherstripping and a rubber-rand, it shouldn't be too hard to prevent leaks, at least somewhat. I always take in water but it's never to the extent that it makes my runs unpleasant.

Playboating is probably where you have to be more concerned, like with your Juice. I have a Transformer 2 and have used a snapdragon skirt and am currently using an IR Kling-on. The skirt/rim still leaks like a sieve, no matter the brand or level of quality of the skirt. Also, I haven't noticed any major advantage, leak-wise, with my IR Lucky-charm over my older Snapdragon (standard) on the Creek Boat. The problem with the Snapdragon I always ran into, is they tend to have the bungee eventually come undone at the front seam. When this happens, at least on my Prijon Pure, it means it's going to come off the moment I flip in a powerful hole (which it did). Until it gets worn out though, the Snapdragon skirt can hang with the best of them (it lasted me quite awhile before it wore out; and is still useable at pool-sessions). When it wasn't coming apart, it saw me through some of the worst Class V holes, never imploding/coming off without my permission. The IR rubber-rand skirts seem to last forever though. My friend who boats way more than I can ever hope to has an IR Lucky Charm and he gets way more river miles than me, on the same skirt. It's showing some wear on the grab-loop, but I haven't heard of his coming off without permission (he does post on the swim board, should the occasion happen).

I just basically geared up my girlfriend for the opposite; packrafting; with the help of Matti of Ten Mile Creek Kayaks. We got her the PFD, river-clothing, and helmet. One thing that surprised me as a kayaker, is how little river-clothing she actually needs. I'm used to using a drysuit for everything; because too-much-heat just means more bracing and rolling practice between drops. I didn't really consider the fact that wearing a dry-suit in a rafting scenario isn't quite the same. More akin to wearing a sauna-suit.

So keep that in mind. Colorado Creekers tend to wear full dry-suits; they require no planning for weather. As long as the river isn't iced over, you're good to go. If the dry-suit is too much (it won't be), you just strip down to your swimming trunks. There's just no reason not to out here. Plus, it carries me through some winter runs here and there. As for the NRS brand itself; well, I wouldn't personally ever consider buying a drysuit from them. They simply aren't on a short-list of brands I'd consider, which are (in no particular order)

- Stohlquist
- Immersion Research
- Kokatat

Not an absolute requirement by any stretch, but every cold-water creeker seems to eventually uses a dry-suit.
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Old 08-04-2013   #3
ranamafana's Avatar
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1800
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 69
gear misc.

I just got a new Patagonia/Lotus drytop from Sierratradingpost for under $100. It's sweet, works great, is comfy & what a deal! my old one is a kokotat & held up great, aside from the usual having to replace the gaskets here & there over the years. But when I was looking for a new one, I couldn't resist that price. Good luck, kayaking is awesome!
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Old 10-01-2013   #4
catfishbates's Avatar
Red Lodge, Montana
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 14
NRS and Kokatat both have a bomber warranty. You will be happier with your Kokatat. Although you may pay more for it, you get American made with better tech and the seams will hold up better in a Kokatat. I own a Kokatat GMER and its a good durable suit. I used to own a NRS Flux. The Flux is not a bad top but I got wet since the first time out and after about three years the seams started to delaminate. Granted that was my experience, they still warranted it.
That being said watch out for the Chinese labor. Better yet look at all the products before you buy. Look enough and you will know when a corner is cut.
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