Winter is well and truly here and I'm sure you can feel it every time you step outside. Well its just as bad when you have to get on the water for a flat water training session or a day on a white water river. Having good thermal base layers is the key to staying warm in these conditions. There is a huge range of base layer products on the market now that offer varying degrees of protection and comfort. For me I have been using CRAFT sportswear products for about 3 years now for all types of kayaking and training. CRAFT are a Swedish company that specialise in making performance sportswear for cycling, running and skiing and have done so for the last four decades. Why CRAFT? Three reasons
1. FIT- CRAFT base layers have a brilliant fit and its one of their strongest selling points for me. The cut in particular is the deal clincher. All their thermals have an extended back section or tail that keeps your lower back protected from the cold when you are sitting. Most other brands don't have this and they ride up leaving your lower back exposed, not a good place to get cold! They also have flat locked seems that do not chaff or rub after hours of paddling or running. The material is also very soft and extremely comfortable next to the skin.
2. FUNCTION- The CRAFT layering system is very simple, it goes from layer 1-3. You start with 1 and the colder it gets the more layers you add. I usually only ever wear layer 1 with a light cag on flat water sessions, as its enough to keep me warm for paddles up to 1.5 hours on mild days. If it's cold I use two Layer 1 tops and if it really gets cold I put on Layer 1 & 2. This is the system I used earlier this year for the Devizes to Westminster kayak race when the temperature dropped to minus 7c and I was snug for the whole 21 hours. This stuff really works!
3. COST- What first brought me to CRAFT was not only the fit and function but also the value for money they offer compared to other leading brands. CRAFT sit about mid price range and make great quality products that
last for years. I have a few tops that have had heavy use for the last three years and they are still working perfectly.
TOP TIP- Do not to put your thermals in the dryer as this destroys the micro fibres that help quick moisture away from your body.
Thanks to CRAFT for kindly sponsoring me this year. I know I will be staying warm this winter on and off the water.
For more details on CRAFT products check out:
craftsportswear.co.uk or www.craft.se
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David Horkan from Paddle & Pedal. Posting info on various outdoor adventures in Mayo and around Ireland.