The most innovative and interesting piece of kit for 2017.

Did you watch the Rio Olympics? It was a great spectacle for the sport of slalom kayaking and for the Team GB paddlers. As good paddling geeks we watched none stop and noticed that Team GB were wearing something a bit different, their top decks and PFD’s din’t look quite right, Or did they ?

After 4 years of testing, prototyping and trials Peak launched the Racer ST and what a bit of kit it is! Cag, Deck & PFD all built into one, and the result is really pretty special.

The Racer ST is constructed from Peaks SS3 material, light weight, 4 way stretch and with a hydrostatic head of 20m! And 20k of moisture transmission! What does that mean? Well, work hard in it and your sweat less in this than anything else you’ve worn before, but it’s also manages to keep your warm on the chilly day. I’ve got a really nice M&S lambswool jumper, it’s to is light to wear and comfortable  and that’s what this top deck reminds me of, easy to wear and not restrictive at all, just innovative.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The way Peak have managed to keep the the Racer ST so comfortable is really very simple. They’ve removed most of the foam that normally sits around you (Your PFD) 30% and stuck it under the spraydeck. The remaining foam that is left is then only 20mm thick and allows for totally unrestricted moment and lets you get proper close to the poles on the course.  The ST is still safe however and features a fully integrated body harness. Webbing threads through injection moulded rubber sewn slots, anchoring around alight weight stainless steel ring, very similar to what you find on many white water rescue PFD’s . This also lets you tighten everything, just like your normal PFD and get a nice comfortable fit. Side release buckles allow quick access, as well as adjustment.

The only thing that concerned me a little with the ST was I thought the foam on the under side of the deck might make it difficult to get your deck on and off. But there is no issue, it’s a little different than a standard deck to get on but it’s in no way difficult, The deck is also constructed from 4mm think neoprene and the boats i’ve tried it on fits and works well. The Racer ST comes in either long sleeve or short sleeve. The long sleeve version is finished off with latex cuffs and 2.5mm neoprene neck that keeps out all the wet and cold. The short sleeved version has just 2.5mm neoprene neck and bicep seals that work just fine.

I really like the Racer ST, Peak have done a great job of thinking outside the box and come up with something that is truly unique in the industry. There have been a few mutterings that it’s going to be outlawed next season but personally I think thats rubbish, it comes fully ISO tested and ICF tested. How can they? Buy one love it and enjoy it, It will make you go at least 10% faster…. :-)

And lastly I hear you cry. Why is it called the Racer ST? Well, apparently when in testing all the samples were white with black stitching and made you look like a Storm Trooper, so got the working name ST and it stuck.

 

 

 

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