Field Tested: Reed’s Chillcheater Aquatherm Touring Cag

Reed's Chillcheater Aquatherm Touring Cag

Reed's Chillcheater Aquatherm Touring Cag

(www.chillcheater.com, $250)

The first thing you notice about the Chillcheater touring cag—a pullover, anorak-style shell—is its impeccable construction. The stitching is robust, the buttons well placed, and the fabric without flaws. UK-based manufacturer Reed's is wildly popular amongst British sea kayakers, and it is steadily gaining traction on the North American side of the pond. The touring cag is designed for shelter from the elements, but not quite full immersion protection. It's the type of garment I reach for four times out of every five on the water.

Reed's innovative Aquatherm fabric is unique. On the outside, it feels like the rubbery, rain-impervious foul weather gear preferred by sailors. On the inside, a soft weave that wicks perspiration. Paddling full-out in 40- and 50-degree temperatures, I had no problem with condensation. What's more, Reed's says the 0.5-mil Aquatherm fabric provides insulation equivalent to a two-mil neoprene wetsuit—a big, life-saving difference compared to typical hard-shell paddling jackets.

The smooth, tight-fitting wrist seals are impressively dry, as is the neck closure, which can be opened wide for ventilation. The hood can be removed for more clement weather—a nice feature that minimizes bulk. A double tunnel forms a watertight seal with your sprayskirt. There's little not to like about the touring cag, except, perhaps, the hassle of ordering one in from the UK. But trust me—it's worth the wait, especially if you're looking to impress a serious sea kayaker on your holiday shopping list.

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