On numerous occasions after OC-6 practice last season I raced to my car to tear off my wet clothing and pull on something warm. The adrenaline of blasting up and over the waves with the wind in your face has gone leaving you with nothing but the feeling of cold, damp clothing. Kayak paddlers regularly wear a spray jacket and I thought, why not in outrigger too?
A lot of it may have to do with traditions passed down from the craft’s Hawaiian lineage. But hey, I’m a Lithuanian-American who grew up in the Midwest and I’ve never even been to Hawaii. That’s about as non-traditional as it gets, so why not gear up and make the experience a bit more comfortable? The final straw was chasing Leah Ching around in an OC-1 during morning practice this past winter. Leah regularly wore a bright pink rain shell jacket and is among the top female outrigger paddlers in the world. If it works for her, it will probably work for others as well.
Putting in some miles in the OC-1.
Turning to my favorite outdoor brand, I selected Merrell’s Micro Shield Rain Shell and could not be happier with my choice. I have a few Merrell products and appreciate the fact their sizing is reliably consistent across their range. This rain shell is superbly comfortable. You don’t even realize you are wearing it. Equally as important, it is lightweight, packable and adjustable. And unlike some rain shells, the Merrell version is fully breathable so it won’t trap your body heat, even during times of heavy exertion.
Technical features include:
Nylon stretch dobby 2L
20K/20K waterproof breathability rating. The most important attribute.
Fully seam sealed
Bonded hood, cuffs and hem
Vented zip chest with lower zip secure pockets
Packable rain shell
As a paddler, I have a designated gear bag for my paddling equipment. If it doesn’t fit or cannot be strapped to the exterior of the bag, then I don’t use it. This rain shell can easily be stuffed into the smallest recess of a pack. You can wear it on its own, or as the name suggests, layer up after paddling and wear it as a shell over your favorite fleece. Best of all, the rain shell’s flexible, adjustable construction means it comfortably fits beneath a backpack or PFD.
I’ve worn mine during OC-1 workouts on windy days, but where the Merrell rain shell really comes into its own is during OC-6 practices. Not as light and nimble as a one man, paddlers in the large six man canoes tend to get hit with a lot more spray. Be it from the ocean conditions or simply because the paddler behind you occasionally showers you with water, wearing a rain shell to deflect the water on a cold day is a transformative experience. On a particularly cold OC-6 practice I’ll even wear my Vaikobi V Cold Storm top beneath the Merrell rain shell. The Vaikobi top provides great warmth, while the Merrell rain shell keeps me dry and shielded from the wind and spray.
Lastly, if do huli, i.e. flip your canoe, the Merrell rain shell will not retain water. This is important because you don’t want to wear clothing which soaks up water and then bogs you down if you get tossed out of your canoe. Similarly, because it’s fabric doesn’t retain water it will continue to deflect wind and water once you’ve righted your canoe and are back to paddling.
So bring on the wind, waves and ocean spray. I’m ready for it.
Learn more at merrell.com