Top Picks for Autumn Winter 2019/20: Kayak & Canoe Jackets for Touring

Looking for a new touring jacket to provide protection from rain, wind and spray while paddling on sheltered water now its getting wetter and cooler? Here are our thoughts on 4 of our favourites this year, the Yak Sumit, Palm Vector, Peak Marathon Wind and Kokatat Jetty.

Yak Sumit

For the most part Yak kit has always been a good bet if you wanted good features for a little bit less than the competition and the Sumit is no exception. The Sumit stands out from the rest with its Glideskin Neoprene wrist seals, that provide a comfortable and drier paddling exprience and also ticks the expected boxes with its fully taped seams, gusseted velcro adjustable neck, a central zipped chest pocket ( personally i dont understand the need for these as the pocket zip and anything in it will always be trapped between your buoyancy aid and body but they keep making them so someone must like them), adjustable neoprene waist band and paddling specific cut. Yak’s DX10K 2.5 layer fabric has quoted Water Resistance performance of 10000mm which stacks up well against the competition at this price point and is certainly enough for most people’ss requirements given the intended usage, but does give up some points with breathability quoted at only 3000g/m2/24hrs (testing method not disclosed) although having the option to vent from the neck does stop things getting too sweaty inside if needed. There are no figures provided on the weight of the fabric but the Large we weighed came in just under 600gms and packed down easily enough into a 5l drybag but didnt leave a lot of room for much else (easily solved by getting a 10L drybag). If packability and ultralight weight arent super important to you then the Sumit is the most robust feeling which is what you’d expect from the heaviest cag in this group review. We found the fit around the torso and shoulders good with no restriction or chaffing, while the arm length was longer than most. It was however a little shorter in the body with a less generous waist diameter than some others, not a problem when sitting in a kayak but perhaps not ideal in a canoe or on an SUP when you might want a more of an overlap between top and bottom. The PU coated collar is comfortable open, with the diagonal gusset creating a good gap for your chin, or closed but has no way of securing the velcro ‘hook’ tab while open. Its also worth bearing in mind that while the Glideskin wrist seals will stop water running off your hands and down you arms it does make getting the Sumit on and off a little tricker and slower than some others and the Glideskin isnt the toughest of materials so needs some care to avoid it being damaged.

Palm Vector Jacket

The Palm Vector is billed as an all round spray top and comes in mens, womens and kids sizes and colours which is not always the case at this price point and a great point in its favour. Easily taken on and off as required the waist, wrist and gusseted neck all feature velcro adjustable jersey covered neoprene finishes giving the wearer the freedom to tighten and loosen them off as needed to aid ventilation or heat retention and protection from water and wind. The Vector also features a central chest zipped pocket and fully taped seams. Made from Palm’s XP 2 layer fabric with DWR coating. Palm specs give it a rating of 5000mm waterproofness and breathability of 5000g/m2/24hrs (A1 method). Palm list the Mens Large at 420gms and we made it 450gms, either way its noticeably lighter and thinner feeling than the Sumit with which it shares many common features but without feeling too delicate for the intended usage and certainly able to keep the wearer comfortable on the water. The lighter weight fabric also lends itself to a smaller pack size only filling about 60% of our Ortlieb 5L drybag. The fit is comfortable and unrestrictive despite using a simpler pattern than some of Palm’s more expensive jackets, the sleeves finished just at the wrist while compared to the Sumit it was longer in the body and with a large diameter waist. Worn open the centred straight neck gusset is large enough to sit off and away from your chin and a small velcro dot allows you to pin the velcro ‘hook’ tab down to keep it tidy and prevent it catching you face or hair. The central position also reduces the amount of overlap between it and your buoyancy aid although there is still a small amount. While the wrist cuffs in particular are nice and easy to get on or off you do scarifice some dryness as a result and overall the lighter weight fabric might not be as warm on its own but the Vector is a great versatile option for paddlers.

Peak Marathon Wind

The Marathon Wind is a super lightweight option from Peak aimed mostly at “fast paced paddling” although it also makes a great jacket for recreational paddles on those in between days when the sun, wind and rain all take it in turns and a heavier jacket might be too much. The key performance feature of this jacket is its ability to block the wind while being still being highly breathable, very light and packable – ideal for those out for an exercise paddle and working hard. As the weather gets colder, or for those not working as hard then the windproof fabric will allow your insulating layers to keep you warm. The trade off is you dont get the waterproof performance of the other jackets but it is spray proof with a water repellant finish so will protect you from drizzle and the water from your paddle. Peak dont give any performance rating on the fabric but our Large weighed in at under 200gms and packs down to fill about 25% of the Ortlieb 5l bag although its possible to squeeze it even smaller. Its not intentional but the small zipped pocket on the waist can be used to stuff the jacket in for when space is a premium although you cant properly zip it shut. In terms of design you get Peaks articulated cut with bent elbows, an elasticated single waist which is cut longer at the back than the front, adjustable velcro aquaout wrist cuffs and half zip opening neck with fleece lined collar and with no panel or gusset behind the zipped collar you can really maximise ventilation. One other thing to note about the collar is there is also no baffle behind the standard non splash proof zipper – I assume because of weight considerations and because this jacket isnt really about keeping you dry. The sizing felt generous with nice long arms that covered past my wrist and the thinly elasticated waist is simple and confortable, allowing the wearer to shift the postion of the waist easily and quickly without having to worry about velcro tabs, drawcords or bulky wide neoprene finishs.

Kokatat Jetty Jacket

Kokatat introduced the Jetty in early 2019 as being ” Ideal for everyday paddling, light touring and canoeing, the Jetty is a versatile, waterproof, breathable splash jacket that is exceedingly lightweight and packable “. To achieve that claim Kokatat have used their Hydrus 2.5 fabric which although doesnt come with any ratings certainly does feel very nice and light with a ‘dry touch’ interior finish to help reduce the any feelings of being clammy by raising the waterproof coating away from the skin as well as improving durability. Our large weighed in at 400gms and when stuffed into our drybag left about 50% of the usable space left. This includes the weight of the removable hood which is held in placed by 5 snap fastners and can be adjusted at the rear and sides via elasticated drawcords. It also features a stiffened peak. Waist and wrist closures are simple and narrow neoprene bands with velcro tabs for adjustment and fit while the fleece lined quarter zipped collar allows for excellent ventalation by not including a gusset but features a taped and splash proof zip that is backed with a PU coated baffle for a little extra weather protection. If you need it a small zipped pocket has been placed nicely out of the way on the left sleeve. Fit is a little more slim line but not uncomfortable with plenty of room to take it on and off. The large jetty hung to an inch or 2 below my belt and the sleeves were long reaching covering almost all of the back of my hand. Dont dismiss this because of Kokatat’s reputation for high prices, although the most expensive or these four jackets the Jetty combines the highest spec fabric with great features and is certainly comparable with other similar products at a similar price from other brands such as the Palm Vantage. The Kokatat Jetty is available in both womens and mens sizes and colours.

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