Hometown- Twin Falls, ID
Weight: 165lbs/74.84 kilos
Favorite Sandwich bread: Pumpernickel
A solid dry top for the minimalist kayaker, looking for a solid top at a reasonable price that comes with a killer warranty.
In todays world of Gore-Tex, H2No, NanoPro, Scotch Guard, etc, etc, it’s easy to get lost when choosing a dry garment. When choosing a dry-top for kayaking, “dry” can be a relative term depending on how many patches of blackberry thorn bushes you’ve hacked through while portaging manky boulder strewn rapids in torrential downpour.
Some gear is better than others. While some companies tout their dry-material as the “best on the market,” we can probably find a product with comparable performance at half the cost that simply doesn’t use a hyper-marketed fabric. One thing is guaranteed in the world of paddling dry-gear though, time and moisture will always win. Your brand-spanking new dry suit or dry top will eventually become a damp-suit. Whose going to treat you the best when the end of the season comes and it’s time to show that trusty gear the love that it needs?
NorthWestRiverSupplies(NRS) has been on the forefront of paddling equipment since your grandpappy decided it was a good idea to shoot the shoots. ( A River Runs Through It reference..anybody?) Out of Northern Idaho, Bill Parks had a love for frigid rivers and whitewater. Recognizing the lack of reliable equipment on the market available to freaks like himself, he started sewing straps and building river specific equipment out of his garage. Once the idea of a recreational pursuit completely based on drinking beer and letting gravity do all the work caught on, NRS began to build momentum that has now snowballed it into one of the worlds leading providers of whitewater and ocean going equipment. With the elbow-grease, development team and multi-million dollar budget to back it, NRS has been pushing their waterproofing fabric development hard in the past decade. This past fall I was able to take one of NRS’s new Flux drytops down to Tlapacoyan, Mexico to fall off a few cascades in the middle of the rainy jungle. I slogged through muddy stands of banana trees and under barbwire fences. I kept a vigilant eye, hoping the entire time that a bullet wouldn’t whiz out of a cartels firearm and compromise my dry gear.
The Flux is a loose fitting dry-garment made from NRS’s proprietary fabric 4-layer Eclipse material paired with NanoSphere technology. Whew, that was a mouthful! Eclipse, like other waterproof fabrics, includes a breathable barrier that allows vapor molecules out, which are smaller than water droplets, while keeping chilly waves and droplets from inundating the fabric and soaking your dry layers. However, it is not bullet proof, so watch your step while traveling through certain pieces of Mexico.
Loose fitting- Upon initially wearing the Flux, I was surprised to find so much material included in the garment. It was slightly baggy, even though it was my size according to the companies fit chart. I was worried that the excess material would hinder my paddling. Once on the water, the loose fitting armpits allowed for a full range of motion while either taking big strokes off of waterfalls, getting beat down in nasty hydraulics or firing off back deck rolls after flipping upside down. I am 5′ 9″ and have paddle both the Medium and Small. I prefer the slightly more athletic fitting small.
The long tunnel construction is simple and allows a spray-skirt to nestle high on the ribs and be separated by two layers of fabric to doubly prevent water from getting in. I would like the inner layer to be a little stickier prevent the skirt from slipping down during long days of paddling.
The neck and wrist gaskets fit snuggly, disallowing any surprise shot of water from making it into the top. (HELPFUL TIP: When receiving a new dry-garment, I suggest placing softballs in the wrist gaskets and a football in the neck gasket. This to promote a little stretching in order to help prevent that fresh-gasket from feeling like a weak man is constantly choking you) There is also a drain between the rubber and neoprene gasket.
The rub: I really like that the neck gasket comes with a volcano style neoprene outer gasket. I wish that NRS would make the same adjustment to the FLUX wrist gaskets, which are standard on some of their other products. Instead, they use a Velcro closure, which I always forget to unstrap before pulling the drytop off after long days of paddling.
Simple: For the gear junkies that are looking for a drytop with endless sets of pockets to stash goodies in, this is not for you. NRS has streamlined this Technical piece of clothing, leaving out any fluff. Considering that I am always wearing a PFD(personal flotation device) and most often, bottoms, I had no problem finding a place to put my snickers bar.
Durability- Unlike other companies, NRS isn’t slapping 5000-grade Cordura on all of their gear. Apparently they don’t think preventing grizzly attacks from piercing skin is a realistic worry when whitewater kayaking. Debatable.
Warranty- If you feel that your NRS gear is reaching the end of its life, the company is homegrown. They can be found right in our own backyard, Moscow, Idaho. When I wasn’t out kayaking on manky creeks in Northern Idaho, I attended the University in Moscow. Being so close, I wandered into the NRS warehouse regularly. I tore through copious amounts of NRS gear, which lead me to test their customer service to its limits. The results? Insanely helpful and fairly liberal with warranties.
While the Flux does not have the sexiest or most athletic fit, it keeps the paddler dry and gets the job done. No frills non-sense here, just pure kicking a##.