Review: Bomber Gear Women’s Gauley Drysuit

Before spring hit hard here in the southeast, I had the pleasure of trying out Bomber Gear’s new Women’s Gauley Drysuit. To be honest, my initial impressions were hesitant, but knowing the BG reputation, I gave it a good old college try, and ended up super impressed with Bomber Gear’s innovation.

Here’s a break down of my favorite features of the Women’s Gauley drysuit.

  1. It’s actually MADE FOR WOMEN! WHOA! Unlike the classic model of “shrink it and pink it” to create women’s specific items, Bomber Gear actually put time and thought into shaping this suit to fit a woman’s body. If you’re like me, and you’ve got curves and hips, this suit will feel like your favorite pair of jeans! While the legs are slightly baggy because of the inseam zip, I didn’t find that to be a hinderance at all. They really nailed the fit, everywhere from my butt, through my shoulders, down to the arm length and bicep circumference.  The cut is so comfortable and freeing, it almost feels like I’m paddling naked!

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  1. Total Upper Body Freedom. The inseam zip allows for the most free-flowing, body-contorting, lack-of-restriction from any drysuit I’ve ever worn. With no zippers across the back, or chest, your upper body is totally free to do whatever it wants! This also goes back to the cut, in that no bulky hindering zippers + a perfect upper body cut = total freedom (and therefore, your best kayaking!)

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  1. Bomber Tunnel Seal. The tunnel on the Gauley drysuit is coated with a super sticky, seal on the neoprene. This allows the tunnel to grab hold of your spray skirt, and create a bomber seal for a totally dry experience. You may not think lots of water creeps into your boat via the tunnel, but if you’re upside down a lot, or playing in holes (intentionally or not) water will find it’s way in. This well thought out tunnel sealant keeps that leakage to a minimum.

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  1. Dry and Affordable. The Gauley line is Bomber Gear’s mid-grade series of drywear. What it lacks compared to the premium line (Palguin series) is a little less breathability, and a slightly heavier material. I’ve worn both Palguin and Gauley drysuits a fair bit this winter, and did not experience a difference, at all in dryness between the two suits. The Palguin material is next level. It feels like drysuit made out of tissue paper. This being said, the Gauley drysuit actually feels and performs better than most other brands premium line! It’s lighter, comfier, and just as dry as a suit that cost $300 more from other brands. SO, for the price, this drysuit cannot be beat! It’s that absolute best price to performance ratio on the market. Hands down.

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  1. It Looks Good. The Bomber Gear team really hit the mark when they designed a women’s specific drysuit that doesn’t look too “girly”. It’s not pink, and you don’t feel like an easter egg. The classy and elegant dark purple makes me feel stylish, womanly, and most important, bad-ass.

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Check out the entire Women’s Gauley line at http://www.bombergear.com/products/dry-gear

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All kayaking photos were taking during the 2015 Girls at Play Creek week in Asheville, NC by Stef McArdle.

By inthegoodflow

Getting Sporty and Saving Rivers in ECUADOR

ECUADOR, what a place! This country is surrounded by magic, enclosed by beaches on one side, and Amazonian jungle on the other. In between, are hundreds of world class rivers with some of the most fun whitewater I have ever paddled!

I was lucky enough to travel in this beautiful country for a good portion of this past winter. While everyday seemed to hold a new and thrilling adventure, two experiences of the trip emerged as overwhelming highlights.

Part I: The Boat.

What made this trip so special was of course the local people, the friends I travelled with, and the mix of beautiful and quality whitewater. There was another unforeseen element that made this trip super memorable as well, and that’s the boat I paddled.

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Paddling down the Jondachi in the Nomad 8.1 Photo: Laura Farrell

My creek boat of choice for the last 5 years has been the Dagger Nomad 8.5. As it’s sometimes difficult to get boats on internation flights, I opted to buy a friends boat who was already down there, although it was the smaller version of my soul-mate boat, the Nomad 8.1. I decided to give it a go anyway, and boy did I learn a lot!

Paddling a different or smaller boat in class V whitewater was an experience I had never truly had. It was slower, sportier, squirtier, and went deeper. Now, the Nomad 8.1 is an incredible kayak, don’t get me wrong! But for my weight, and with my experience in the 8.5, I found myself having to work way harder in the smaller boat. The most noticeable feature I found differences in, was actually while boofing. The 8.1 didn’t resurface for me as quick as the 8.5, so I committed myself to keeping my bow lifted as much as possible, even in small or benign looking holes. This got me in the habit of boofing bigger and more often. In the end, I noticed a HUGE difference in my boof muscles fitness and stamina, my precision with timing, and the essential use of core strength and rotation while boofing.

Boofing the 8.1 Photo: Laura Farrell

Boofing the 8.1 Photo: Laura Farrell

Making the big move in El Toro on the Quijos River Photo: Laura Farrell

Making the big move in El Toro on the Quijos River Photo: Laura Farrell

When I returned home to my beloved 8.5, all that new muscle memory I had created transferred into my 8.5 with amazing results. While we all miss boofs here and there, I found that overall my boofing was more consistent, stronger, and in the end, MORE FUN! So if you ever want a new challenge, or want to be put in a situation where you have to paddle in a new way, just try a different kayak!

Part II: Saving the Jondachi.

It wasn’t until the end of our stay in Ecuador that the Jondachi Fest even seemed like it was going to happen. There was buzz in the kayaking community about a festival, a race, and of course, a good party, all in support of raising awareness of the Jondachi River and the proposed dam site at the start of the upper section.

The charge to hold the event was led by Matt Terry, a US native who has been living in Ecuador for years now, and runs the Ecuadorian River Institute. While I only paddled with Matt once, it was clear that his knowledge of the area and love for the Jondachi river as beyond that of any other kayaker. When the festival weekend rolled around, Matt and ERI put on a better event that I had ever imagined.

Laura Farrell and I did a gruesome-twosome lap of the Upper Jondachi the day before the proposed race. The official course had not yet been announced, so we tried to remember as much as we could from the 6+ miles of class IV/V whitewater. This river quickly became one of my favorites, as it’s filled with endless boofs, big rapids, beautiful gorge scenery, and plenty of scary moments to get your thrills in.

Tres Huevos Rapid on the Jondachi Photo: Laura Farrell

Tres Huevos Rapid on the Jondachi Photo: Laura Farrell

One of many great Jondachi boofs Photo: Laura Farrell

One of many great Jondachi boofs Photo: Laura Farrell

Day 1 of the Jondachi Fest started with a race on the section of the Upper at which the dam is proposed to be built. Per usual with my racing record, I had a great time, and loved the race environment, but did not go very fast. Laura and I continued to paddle downstream after our race laps, trying to stay ahead of the 30+ other kayakers about to paddle this tight river just behind us. We were caught near the end by the Banos Kayak Club; an awesome crew of local kayakers, led by Andres Reyes, whose members also work for the Banos Fire Department!

Race mode! Photo: Nunatak Designs

Race mode! Photo: Nunatak Designs

Andres Reyes getting through the crux move of the Jondachi Race Photo: Nunatak Designs

Andres Reyes getting through the crux move of the Jondachi Race Photo: Nunatak Designs

Chilling out after the race at a big rapid called Typhoid on the Jondachi. The stoke was high! Photo: Laura Farrell

Chilling out after the race at a big rapid called Typhoid on the Jondachi. The stoke was high! Photo: Laura Farrell

The race was a huge success, as was the party to follow in Tena that evening. Surrounded by new Ecuadorian friends, friends from home who I travelled with, and friend I’ve met all over the world who came to Jondachi Fest, I was again reminded of the incredible kayaking community we have these days!

The following day we returned to the Jondachi for a continuation where we left off, paddling through the Middle and Lower sections. This stretch of whitewater starts out with some stout class IV moves, and eventually tapers off to class II/III, until the confluence with the Hollin River, where the grade steps up a bit to big water class III+/IV. SUPER FUN!

The festival rounded off with a group campout at a Jungle Lodge on the shores of the Hollin. With flush toilets, real beds, and roofs atop, we had another awesome international social night, basking in the glory of amazing Jondachi whitewater.

Fun crew of ladies on the Lower Jondachi Photo: Laura Farrell

Fun crew of ladies on the Lower Jondachi Photo: Laura Farrell

Truth. Photo: Laura Farrell

Truth. Photo: Laura Farrell

This river is such a gem, it would be an incredible shame to lose not only its whitewater but its resources to the local people. Hopefully this event, our political support, and Matt Terry’s work with ERI and the dam builders will #savethejondachi soon!

By inthegoodflow