Anyone who has paddled at all with me over the past year, or even just read an occasional blog post, has probably heard me raving about the Jackson 2016 Rockstar. Yes, it is an awesome model, but the main cause of my constant excitement is the fact they brought out an extra small version; perfect for kids and vertically-challenged adults alike. They’ll have heard me frequently exclaiming something along the lines of “AT LAST, A BOAT THAT FITS!” and likely wondered if I’ll ever get over it. The answer? Probably not. When you’re an optimistic 5’2’’, most people are larger than you (not just in a male-heavy sport but also the world population, I checked) and everything being too big is the norm. So when a piece of kit that fits comes along, it’s something to shout about.
Warning: it has happened again.

Last Wednesday down at Lee Valley Paddlesports Club, I got to try out a brand new Sandiline ladies XS drysuit. It had already been worn around the house (as is customary for new kit), and so far so good: comfortable, light, no swathes of excess material and a great blue, red and white colour scheme! And it didn’t disappoint on the water either. Two hours of freestyling and some intentional swimming later and I was still warm, completely dry and keen to jump back in the lake! While the extra layers around the core which come with wearing a drysuit as opposed to a cag deck initially felt restrictive for playboating, this soon went away once on the whitewater and I didn’t notice it for the rest of the session. I was especially grateful for it at Sunday’s demo day (how else would a McGaley spend Easter?) where, for the first time, I could jump in and out of boats without getting cold in between and as a result, racked up a decent list of different craft paddled on the legacy!

Another bonus besides the general fit is the location of zips. Having been designed for ladies, instead of the normal ‘relief’ zip on the front which is of little use to females, especially if you are wearing a ladies thermal onesie/ suit underneath (trust me, I’ve tried…), it has one long zip on the back. Dubbed the ‘bum drop panel’, this will be ideal for longer river trips as well competitions where you’re in kit for the whole day. I have heard from so many girls and ladies who purposefully dehydrate themselves on river trips because of the faff and time needed to get in and out of drysuits mid-trip – so glad this is no longer needed!

I have to say a huge thank you to Femke and Sandiline for designing, making and sending over this awesome suit and, as always, Aaron and Squarerock for sorting it all out!

At the risk of jinxing the amazing recent weather we’ve had, I am actually excited for paddling in the colder months this year now I’m armed with this suit; another piece of kit that fits!
Bring it on, winter!

By Jen McGaley