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Real Men (And Women) Wear Skirts

By Jim Sullivan

Gear Essentials: Part 5

The pinnacle of kayaker fashion is the sprayskirt. That’s right, the skirt. The funky piece of gear we kayakers wear around our waists to keep water from pouring into our boats. Essential? Yes. Stylish? In a way.

There are two keys to proper sprayskirt fit. The first is the tunnel; the part that sits around your waist. This is usually the same as your T-shirt size, but it’s sometimes good to check the measurements on the skirt company’s website. Deck size is the other crucial factor. The deck size refers to the area that’s actually going to be covering the cockpit opening of the boat. Boats come in all different shapes and sizes. If you have multiple boats, one skirt may not necessarily fit them all.

Skirts are made of several different materials. The most basic skirts are neoprene with a bungee to go around the cockpit rim like the River Trek, and for women the Flirt River Trek with a lower tunnel. More advanced skirts will include reinforcement in high wear areas, like the expedition series Whitewater Reinforced EXP. The highest performing skirts will be reinforced with tough, wear resistant kevlar, like the Snap Dragon Armortex. Some skirts also offer a rubber rand instead of bungee. These are harder to get on because the rand is much less stretchy, but they do offer a great seal.Upgrading your skirt can mean better implosion resistance and a drier boat. Consider the difficulty of whitewater that you’ll be doing as well as how often you’ll be boating to decide whether or not a higher performing skirt may be right for you.

Zoar Outdoor carries Snapdragon Designs skirts to fit every boat and paddler! And don’t forget, if you don’t see what you want right away, we can custom order skirts with features like implosion bars or lower waists.


Did you miss some of our previous installments of Gear Essentials? Check them out here: Boats, PFDs, Helmets, Paddles.


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