Chillcheater touring cag

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Mark R
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Chillcheater touring cag

Post by Mark R » Tue Feb 25, 2003 11:30 pm

Another review written for the paddling press. This is a review of Chillcheater's touring cag (see www.chillcheater.com/catalogue.htm for a picture) which is their newest toy. They gave me the cag as a present in return for advertising and I was under no obligation to 'plug' or promote it. But I simply think it's a rather natty bit of kit and worth describing.

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Chillcheater Touring Cag Review

Chillcheater are well known for their thermal under layer clothing which have been around for a few years now. The thermals used innovative materials and the proof of their success is that they have become a common sight among paddlers, affectionately nicknamed ‘gimp gear’! The thermals were aimed at all watersports participants. Chillcheater have now concentrated on canoeists with a range of cags for whitewater and touring. Like the thermals, these show some radical design thinking. I tried out their touring cag which is designed for sea and inland paddling.

The first thing noticeable about the cag is the material; this is slightly shiny and much softer to the touch than other cags. This luxurious feeling material is Aquatherm, a new material developed by Chillcheater. Surprisingly given its lightweight nature, it is waterproof, windproof and breathable. For the purposes of paddling, this is very comfortable and unrestrictive. The material is flexible but strong; however I would not be inclined to wear it on a trip where contact with rocks was involved. Hence, the material seems ideally suited for touring paddling. The Aquatherm material is tapesealed, at some points both inside and out.

The neck and wrist seals also show fresh thinking. A touring paddler does not require heavy duty latex seals and indeed these often cause the dreaded salt water rash when sea paddling; I’m sure we’ve all returned to work on Monday morning with a noose mark around our necks. Instead of latex, the cag uses Aquatherm material simply rolled over at the ends. This is effective; the material is stretchy enough to form a good non-restrictive seal on the neck and wrists. This proved perfectly sufficient in testing to keep water out, and was considerably more comfortable than latex. The neck seal has a zip opening right down to the stomach, with a flap of material behind to protect your skin. I wasn’t convinced by this on first appearance, the zip seemed likely to chafe the neck. I made a point of wearing the zip done up full for a few hours of paddling, and actually didn’t notice any discomfort at all; presumably as the stretchy Aquatherm seal compensated to take the pressure off. There are press-studs in the neck seal to attach a hood. The hood is well shaped and warm but could use a drawcord for tightening it around the face; I found it flapped a bit in the wind.

The waist is a double seal. The body tube is generous in length and the outer layer is tightened by webbing straps. The final feature is discreet reflective patches on the arms and back. These are just the thing for signalling from the water to helicopters in the middle of the night; I’m sure we’ve all been there.

So how well does it actually work? The short answer is very well. I have tried several touring cags previously and ended up never wearing them. All were simply too hot and too heavy; over-designed with force 10 survivalists in mind. Great if you’re going penguin harpooning in the Antarctic, but you get the picture. I wore the Chillcheater cag on a long river trip on a cold windy day, and at sea on a mild sunny day. In the cold, the cag material offers a surprising amount of insulation in itself; equivalent perhaps to an extra fleece below a normal cag. I only wore a single Helly Hansen underneath. More importantly, I could regulate the temperature; the breathable material was effective at preventing the ‘turkish bath’ effect and on warm days I simply undid the neck zip. Very impressive, comfortable and dry in a range of weather conditions; just what I want from a touring cag. The cags are available made to measure. I imagine that these innovative cags will generate a lot of interest among touring and sea paddlers. Now, I wonder if they have any salopettes planned…

Mark Rainsley.



Graham Dore
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Touring Cag for Sea Kayakers

Post by Graham Dore » Fri Feb 28, 2003 5:21 pm

I've got one too - I think it's brilliant, having used it on some of the coldest nights over this winter.

jonathantheobald
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Aquatherm cag

Post by jonathantheobald » Wed Mar 05, 2003 7:47 pm

Mark, Graham - are you satisfied Aquatherm genuinely is breathable in salt water?

Gortex is in theory and it costs top dollar. But I've heard salt clogs the fabric which means that if you're a sea kayaker the premium you pay for breathability is money wasted.

Thoughts?




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Mark R
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Re: Aquatherm cag

Post by Mark R » Wed Mar 05, 2003 10:54 pm

I honestly don't know. I doubt that it is as effective, for the reasons you suggest.

All I can note is how comfortable (and unsweaty) I was on a long trip.


-----------Mark Rainsley

Jonathan Theobald
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Chillcheater touring cag

Post by Jonathan Theobald » Fri Mar 21, 2003 1:06 pm

I liked the sound of this, bought one, and have been pleased by the speed with which Chillcheater turned the order round..

It looks like a nice bit of kit - though I have yet to try it on the water.

My only reservation concerns the zip. I hope water doesn't pour through. Even when it is done up, I can't see how it can be as waterproof as the rest of the cag. But we shall see.

I'll report back.

Graham Dore
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Cag

Post by Graham Dore » Tue Mar 25, 2003 3:51 pm

I can't really comment on the technicalities of how breathable the fabric is - I guess I have used it enough that if it was going to clog then it would have by now. I suppose I am quite damp when I get out of it after a hard paddle but I still feel that it is the most comfortable and effective cag I have used in cold conditions, both on the water and having a break on the beach mid paddle.

Jonathan Theobald
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Chillcheater touring cag - how good is the zip?

Post by Jonathan Theobald » Tue Mar 25, 2003 4:44 pm


That's good to know, Graham.

I wonder what you make of the zip? When I tested it under the kitchen tap, the cag was anything but dry. Water poured through.

I'd like to know how much that matters in practice, and whether ten inches of leaky zip means you risk a complete soaking or just get a little damp.

I hoped to put cag to the test myself but when I went out on Sunday it was such a lovely calm day there was no chance to see how the zip stood up to a soaking from either rain or spray.

Perhaps you've had more opportunity to form a judgment?

Jonathan

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Re: Chillcheater touring cag - how good is the zip?

Post by Mark R » Tue Mar 25, 2003 5:45 pm

I imagine that water would hiss through the zip if soaked or submerged. But I have never yet been upside-down in a sea kayak unintentionally - hope I never will - and otherwise, I don't get particularly wet when sea paddling. I would suggest that the primary function of a sea paddling cag is to be windproof, sprayproof and perhaps warm *when needed*...the zip makes all the difference with that last point.


-----------Mark Rainsley

Jonathan Theobald
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Chillcheater cag

Post by Jonathan Theobald » Wed Mar 26, 2003 11:18 am

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I’m more than capable of getting very wet and would like to think something sold as a "dry cag" will keep me reasonably comfortable when it's most needed - in driving rain and foul conditions

I have my doubts.

Going to the trouble of providing good seals and well taped seams, but then fitting a leaky zip with no baffle seems an eccentric decision, and one I fear risks letting down what's otherwise a good piece of equipment.

Perhaps what I’m really asking for is a really ugly day so I can satisfy myself the £110 Chillcheater had from me is money well spent.

Jonathan
========

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Jim
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Re: Chillcheater cag

Post by Jim » Wed Mar 26, 2003 1:59 pm

Jon - "I’m more than capable of getting very wet and would like to think something sold as a "dry cag" "

Unless I've misunderstood this was about a cag that was not designed as a dry cag, but as a touring cag. The primary function of the latter being to keep the wind off.

Now if you have a dry cag with a zip in, I would be extremely suspicious of it, unless it's a proper drysuit zip, and I can't think of any reason, good or spurious to put such a zip in a cag!

JIM

Jonathan Theobald
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Chillcheater cag

Post by Jonathan Theobald » Wed Mar 26, 2003 2:41 pm

Chillcheater do indeed promote this as a "dry cag".

http://www.chillcheater.com/catalogue.htm says:

"Aquatherm Dry Cag For Sea Kayakers.... this cag is completely windproof,  waterproof, fast drying, tough and breathable. It is a  vented cag which has a zip front."

Should dry mean dry?

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Re: Chillcheater cag

Post by sub5rider » Wed Mar 26, 2003 3:39 pm

I looked at several touring drycags at Brookbank last w/e - Palm, Yak, Kogg and several have zips, but all that did had a bloody great gusset behind to prevent water ingress.

Be looking at Knoydart's at the w/e as a mate has one that he rates highly

I've yet to find my ideal:

attached, wired, hood
non-latex cuffs
neoprene neck
neck/chest zip to allow ventilation
breathable
twin waist seal
chest pocket/hand warmer OK but not necessary

Nigel (ace self-rescuer, coz I get the practice) Crompton

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Jim
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Re: Chillcheater cag

Post by Jim » Wed Mar 26, 2003 4:21 pm

Ok, it's more clear now.

I don't see how it can be "dry" but then I haven't seen it close up. I think I'll stick to my 3 cag strategy - an ancient wind cag for calm days, dry cag for rough days and a shortie for the hot and sunny days. Needless to say I never have to carry all 3 in scotland :-)

JIM

Jonathan Theobald
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In search of the ideal cag

Post by Jonathan Theobald » Wed Mar 26, 2003 4:32 pm

=====================================
Good check list, Nigel.

But why non-latex cuffs?

Is that because of what Mark said when he started this topic: "A touring paddler does not require heavy duty latex seals and indeed these often cause the dreaded salt water rash when sea paddling"?

Wonder what you've found that comes closest to the ideal?

Jonathan
=====================================

Mike B
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Cags and kit generally.

Post by Mike B » Wed Mar 26, 2003 5:07 pm

Surely a "dry cag" is a cag that is intended to keep you dry? :b But seriously, we generally understand it to refer to a cag which has wrist seals, a neck seal and is constructed of water proof material. The intention being to stop water getting in which one is doing ones aquatic bat impression, either voluntarily or involuntarily.

Now, a sea cag is generally designed to stop water entering and wetting the body beautiful, but the focus is one providing that protection over a much longer period of time and in generally less "hostile" conditions.

I accept that the sea can be very hostile, but seldom as hostile as the Gr5/6 runs of which I hear tell. I accept also that people who go out playing in the various races round the country probably have different expectations of their cags, but then is it not also true to suggest that they are indulging in an activity closer to river paddling than to the generally accepted definition of sea paddling?

When I'm sea paddling I dont normally expect to have water up (or over) my chest for any long periods of time. Neither do I expect to have to worry about water getting into the cag thro the neck seal when I'm inverted (or swiming) as I dont expect to either be inverted or to swim.

When I'm on a river, the opposite is true. I usually do both, with monotonous frequency. Escpecially the swiming. . . . . :o

So, back to the sea cag specs, and I'm all for the suggestions made so far, especially about hoods, cuffs and necks.

Maybe there is a marketing / product development opportunity here for someone ??????????

Lets consider the evidence:

There seems to be a view towards having a soft, waterproof, breathable material. Maybe not Gortex, but the Kogg and Chillcheater material seems to be a good 'un.

Hoods! Preferably wired, or stiffened - with a peak and with a draw cord. I'd suggest they also need to roll away, as do Kogg and Knoydart ones.

Neck: Something with a velcro flap system to allow decent closure when its horrible. And with a zipped closure with a baffle. Kogg and Knoydart.

Cuffs: Must keep the water out, not be too restrictive, fit a range of wrist sizes, not irritate the skin etc etc etc. Probably an impossible design spec. Knoydart's removable latex cuff concept is innovative but doesn't work for me personally (big hands). Others love it. I also know of someone who doesn't, as she finds the cuffs pop out when taking the cag off. Kogg have a trad dry cuff and neoprene outer which certainly keeps the water out. Tight though and a bit of a struggle to get into, especailly with wet hands!

Sleeves: Not too baggy and not too restrictive either. Again, a "difficult to achieve" design spec! Kogg I find a bit tight, Knoydart is a bit big. Having said that, the Knoydart cag is probably the more "wearable" as a result.

Body: Space to move, handwarmers are "nice to have". Double or single seal as an "option" perhaps? (Same basic cag, different seal system). Personally I prefer a single seal, the Kogg one works for me. Knoydart likewise. Cag length may also be a factor for some. Kogg is very long, intentionally, as I beleive the thinking was to produce a cag which could also serve as a waterproof jacket in camp.

Apologies to all the other manufacturers - I concentrated here on Kogg and Knoydart as they are the only sea cags I tried and which I like. Palm, Nookie etc etc all either didn't fit or didn't have the basic features I wanted.

On a purely personal basis, I'd like either a slightly shorter Kogg cag with slightly more room in the forearms and a somewhat bigger wrist seal OR a Knoydart cag with a wrist seal I could actually use and slightly less roomy sleeves.

Come on Cam and Dave! Get to it :D

(Perhaps Chillcheater could develop theirs with a gusset type neck closure and a decent hood - just a thought).

Moving on now to Salopettes - what are our basic requirements here then?

I think you've got to go a long way to beat a pair of drop-seat, "relief-zipped", waterproof Knoydart ones but thats just my view - - - - - - - (how on earth can anyone buy a pair of salopettes that dont have a zip?????????)

And finally, what about footwear? Wellies (and if so, what types?) or booties? What about sandels?

Mike.




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Re: Cags and kit generally.

Post by Snogun » Wed Mar 26, 2003 6:06 pm

You are basically descriping the new Nimbus from Bombergear and the Kokatat cag as well, except Kokatat has goretex which in my experience does the job very well and does not clog up with salt, that is just old fashinoed fairytales.It comes however at a somewhat hefty price 285 quid at knoydart.

The Kogg salopettes work very well with latex socks and a relief zipper-

Slip on neopren booties do the work for me as I have large feet, wellies those are rubber boots right? does anyone still wear those in a seakayak?

Cheers,

sno

Mike B
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Expensive kit

Post by Mike B » Wed Mar 26, 2003 7:16 pm

Yes, I think the £285 bit for the Kokatat is quite relevant!

Looking at Bombers site, the Nimbus certainly seems fully speced! I LOVE the "watch window" idea :rollin $336 will probably equate to £336, no doubt.

Returning to the real world, yes, people do still wear wellies in sea boats, although I have to admit the latex-sock-and-booties concept has its attraction as well.

Its always interesting to see / hear what others wear and there does seem to be a trend for people who paddle together to tend (inevitably I suppose) to adopt roughly the same clothing mix.

The same is true of other kit - there are lots of Kogg cags amongst the core group of people I paddle with, lots of wellies (various sorts) and there is a small, but growing group using those folding, deck stowable trollies mentioned elsewhere. IN that particualar case, the various users are friends / paddling companions of the "inventor" so thats inevitable I guess.

Come to think of it, all those items hail from Scotland anyway!! (If you wear Hunters, that is.)

Mike.

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Jim
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Closed shop????

Post by Jim » Wed Mar 26, 2003 9:14 pm

"Come to think of it, all those items hail from Scotland anyway!"

No prizes for guessing that a lot of your group paddle with Lendal paddles too?

There is a definite pattern here, if you want to sell kit to the Scots you have to make it in Scotland :-)

Now, if I do decide to buy a new paddle, through Knoydart, it will be a custom job so will have to be ordered from Lendal special - I wonder if it will go to Keswick first and then on to me or if it will ship direct from Prestwick to me? Oh well, when I finally decide what kit to buy I'll drop them an e-mail and find out!

JIM

Mike B
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Very closed shop

Post by Mike B » Wed Mar 26, 2003 9:36 pm

Yep, I'd forgotten about Lendals!!! Lots of Lendals amongst my paddling companions - oh, and a weird Werner thing weighing about .5 grams and looking like something off some high-tech spy plane.

Well, both my Lendals (one from SPS, the other from Knoydart) came direct from Lendal. So yours will too no doubt.




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sub5rider
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Back On Topic ??

Post by sub5rider » Thu Mar 27, 2003 11:02 am

I emailed the Reeds re this 'ere cag; this is the response..

"Let me have a mailing address for you and I can mail you our latest flyer with the technical breakdown of the cags. I think that the cags have moved along quite a bit since the last tech info you seem to have had. It would be good for you to get the up to the minute spec for them."

So, it sounds like they might've modified the design somewhat - I'll post the details here when I have them.
Nigel (ace self-rescuer, coz I get the practice) Crompton

Jonathan Theobald
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Chillcheater cag

Post by Jonathan Theobald » Thu Mar 27, 2003 8:11 pm

=========================================
Well, after thinking about it, I've sent my cag back and asked Chillcheater for a refund.

A zip that leaks is not what I expect in something I wanted for when conditions are foul. I also think it inconsistent with the sales literature's promise.

I've only had the cag ten days so it may be early for improvements. If they got the zip sorted, I might think again.

Jonathan
=========================================

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Mark R
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Re: Chillcheater cag

Post by Mark R » Thu Mar 27, 2003 10:55 pm

Sorry to hear the cag wasn't for you. If immersed dryness is really important to you, maybe you simply need a normal latex sealed dry cag, ie. a whitewater cag. These represent good value compared to 'sea' cags.


-----------Mark Rainsley

Mike B
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Cag

Post by Mike B » Thu Mar 27, 2003 11:31 pm

I'd guess that the only way to be fully dry when fully immersed has got to be a full (one piece) dry suit. That said, you wouldn't want to wear THAT paddling all day.

I've only seen (briefly) the Reed cag once - at the time I thought the front zip had to be a "weak" spot in the design, lacking as it does any form of baffle or gusset to provide protection. But, unless one is being regularly doused by shoulder high waves, is water ingress really a likleyhood?

It has to be a practical impossibility to provide a neck seal that is both totally dry when immersed (upside down?) and yet which allows the flexibility of being able to open the collar for ventilation.

The Knoydart and Kogg system certainly gives a decent enough seal when fully closed to allow one to capsize and roll with a tiny bit of dampness. I'd expected a less robust performance I have to say.

The only true test of the Reed set-up would be to do likewise and also paddle in seriously big, chest high seas and see what happened.

Be interesting to hear how they handle Jons case though, "customer service" and all that.

Mike.

Jonathan Theobald
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Re: Cag

Post by Jonathan Theobald » Thu Mar 27, 2003 11:46 pm

I'm not expecting to stay dry upside down - just want a cag I feel confident will be good in heavy rain and spray when I need it most. That zip did not perform well in my kitchen sink test and that's what worried me

Will report back about customer service.


Jonathan Theobald
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Chillcheater Cag - postscript

Post by Jonathan Theobald » Wed Apr 02, 2003 2:59 pm

Full marks for customer service - Reed have promised to credit my mastercard with the £110 I paid.

I've told them that even if we don't see eye to eye on their cag, I'll cheerfully recommend their commitment to customer satisfaction.


Mike B
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CS on CC - ps

Post by Mike B » Wed Apr 02, 2003 3:25 pm

Not bad!

Never did get a follow-up from TISO when I mailed them with compliments and "brickbat" following my Platypus story. Clearly Reeds CS is up to the mark :D

So, what are you going to get now?

Mike.

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Jim
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Re: CS on CC - ps

Post by Jim » Wed Apr 02, 2003 3:38 pm

"So, what are you going to get now? "

Presumably wet until he finds a new cag :-)

Like Mark says a river dry cag will probably give you the best water resistance, and I think I mentioned already that I usually take mine along with my old, long sleeve, neoprene sealed, wind cag with all the waterproofing delaminated, for the less serious days on the sea and choose which to use each day (keeping them handy to change over if the weather really takes a big swing).

As I see it the touring cag would be a replacement for my old cag (which cost <£30 10 years ago) and for £110 I don't think I'd need one either. If I didn't have the old cag maybe I'd want one.

I might take my shorty with me at Easter too, if the summery weather comes back I'll need it!

JIM

Jonathan Theobald
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Re: CS on CC - ps

Post by Jonathan Theobald » Wed Apr 02, 2003 6:31 pm

What am going to get now?

Good question, and one that has caused me considerable headscratching

I've just ordered a C-Trekker from Knoydart because it seems to offer most of what I want - it's breathable(ish), has an easily stowable hood, removable latex cuffs, a long zip to let air in, double baffles to keep water out, and promises effectiveness in both fair weather and foul.

But if this useful discussion has made one thing clear, it's that no one piece of kit is going to work all the time. And since I'm participating in a club trip to Anglesey over Easter when there's talk of practicing rescues, I may go back to Chillcheater for a pair of their aquatherm trousers and shirt.

My stingier alter ego is urging me, however, to wait until the water is warmer so both of us can get soaked while luxuriating in the comfort of a pair of ratty old swimming trunks.


Mike B
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Trunks????

Post by Mike B » Wed Apr 02, 2003 7:10 pm

Trunks? NOOOOOOOOO - please dont admit to wearing trunks!

Sacrilige - posh Knoydart jacket requires decent salopettes and proper footwear. Hunters, ideally.

Mike.

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Jim
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Re: Trunks????

Post by Jim » Wed Apr 02, 2003 7:43 pm

" Trunks? NOOOOOOOOO - please dont admit to wearing trunks!"

OK then. I find a pair speedos work very well under my paddling kit, they don't rot when wet like other underwear and are quite comfortable. I'm not calling them trunks though as I'm not allowed to admit to wearing trunks!

"Sacrilige - posh Knoydart jacket requires decent salopettes and proper footwear. Hunters, ideally."

Lucky I don't have a posh Knoydart jacket then, just a selection of scabby river running gear (my new dry trousers aren't scabby yet) to wear. Lots of thermals, a fleece, chillcheater trousers (old microfleece ones), wetsuit shorts, dry trousers, shorty cag, wind cag, dry cag, C1 deck. Certainly don't have any Hunters, footwear is down to my knackered Yak slippers, or the Teva slippers that Knoydart are sending on when they get them into stock....and yes I am aware that they have hunters on the website!

JIM

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