Kokatat Tempest Paddlewear

Author: [ smburt ]   Contact Author: smburtTue Sep 01 18:42:07 UTC 2009

This summer I had the opportunity to test out Kokatat’s new Tempest waterproof/breathable paddling gear. The new Tempest line features Kokatat’s own TROPOS fabric which offers near Gore-Tex quality performance at a much more accessible price. I was very impressed with how dry I felt while paddling in rough seas or during a lengthy downpour. The double skirt design adds extra protection from the wet stuff and also allows you to mate the jacket with a matching pair of Tempest pants. The bungees on the double skirt were very easy to adjust and stayed tight even after a swim. Factory sealed seams add to the solid waterproofing making this a very dependable jacket.

I was also very impressed with the breathability of the TROPOS fabric. Even during hot sunny weather a small breeze was sufficient to keep me cool and comfortable. It also blocks enough wind to make it comfortable when the temperature drops, giving you the best of both worlds.

Latex wrist gaskets help to keep you dry but I found them very constricting on my arms. I had to use two tin cans to stretch the latex but after that I did not have any trouble. They are great for regular paddling or for fishing from your kayak. Unlike the wrist seals, the neck features a soft neoprene collar that is very comfortable to wear but prone to leakage in immersion scenarios. The jacket is detailed with reflective strips on the stowable hood and sleeve adding to the overall safety of the garment.

I really enjoyed using the Tempest paddling jacket but it is certainly a jacket and not a dry top. While it kept dry and airy while paddling in virtually all conditions it did not hold up as well during immersion, even when mated with the matching pants. Water leaked in through the neoprene collar and through the mated waist. I would still recommend this jacket to serious paddlers but just beware that you will get wet if you go for a swim.

Kokatat Tempest Pants with Socks

In addition to testing the Tempest jacket, I also had the opportunity to test the new Tempest paddling pants, another innovative addition to Kokatat’s 2009 line-up. Constructed with the new Tropos T3 fabric these pants feature a great combination of waterproof protection and breathability. The kayak I used for half of this summer leaked very badly, leaving me sitting in a puddle of water after only a short time on the water. I wore these pants for up to six hours in this puddle with only a minimal amount of soak through at the end of the day. The breathability of the fabric was very good as well, leaving me quite comfortable even on the hottest of days.

I was a little curious to see how the integrated socks would hold up to the rigorous stress of working as a kayak guide. I must say that I am very impressed by their durability and resistance to rips and tears. They also fit well inside a pair of Crocks or sandals so you don’t need to worry about doing damage while on the beach.

The pants feature a wide neoprene waistband designed to mate with the double skirt on the Tempest jacket, or a double shelled drytop. It fits together very well and is quite comfortable once you press all of the air out. My only complaint is that it is not completely waterproof during immersion. Water seeps in through the waistband after a few minutes of swimming and after ten minutes in the water the socks begin to fill up, making it quite uncomfortable once you get back in your boat.

In all, the new Tempest pants are a great value for any paddler. The material is very durable and performs nearly as well as much pricier Gore-Tex. Despite the leaky waistband they will keep you dry in everything but a long swim. I’ll defiantly be using mine for years to come.

I would say that the Tempest setup is suited more towards the shoulder seasons here in the Newfoundland, but also quite functional during wet rainy weather. It really shines during cold damp weather. I've used it on multi-day paddling trips and it was much more comfortable than wearing wet neoprene. When realy pushing the spectrum, I'd be a little nervous to use it in extremely cold water.

It holds up quite well while rolling although there is a small amount of seepage through the neoprene collar leaving you with damp shoulders.

Ryan Young,
Newfoundland Editor

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