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Kokatat Nor'wester and Sunwester
Next time you visit a typical Canoe meeting, have a look at the
hats people show off with. There are two things you should avoid on these
occasions: Making fun out of felt hats and helpful hints on head
wear in general. Yea, real men don't need no advice about what to cover
their head with. And now I recommend you a Northwester right here -
But, seriously now, besides the minor matter that the
good old felt hat doesn't look quite stylish together
with your rain gear or dry-suit, it is also not very suitable for
paddling open water in rainy conditions. A northwester is much better
for this purpose. Add wind and cold and you might do better with a hood,
but as long as it is not too bad I prefer a northwester to have my ears
free and not too much of that wrapped feeling. (Note that many dry-suits
have no hood, so take a balclava with you.)
An example for a well made one is Kokatat's "Nor'wester". It has the
time- proven design combined with modern materials. GoreTex "XCR"
makes it completely waterproof, breathable enough to ovoid that damp
feeling on your skalp, light and small to pack. There is a soft mesh
liner inside with a Polartec "powerdry" patch at the forehead.
The head width is adjustable which provides a good fit with or
without a cap for warmth underneath. On the Ellice River expedition in 2003,
we used to combine the Kokatat SurfSkin Bill Cap with the Nor'wester.
This was the perfect protection against these cold arctic storms.
Another adjustable strap at the chin prevents the Nor'wester from being
blown off your head. But with all these great things to say about the
Nor'wester, there is also some criticism: We sadly miss some nice
decoration like an eagle feather or the mandatory anchor
Kokatat also offers a variation of the "Nor'wester", called "Sunwester",
the same hat but with an outer shell made from superlight, fast drying
'supplex' nylon. Available in white, khaki and light blue it is meant
mainly for sun protection. However, it is water repellent and woven tight
enough for a short rain shower.
The idea is to use the northwester shape as a good sun protection,
especially in your neck. The material blocks UV rays better than
comparable cotton hats while being lighter and packing smaller than the
popular canvas hats. Likewise, you can cool your head by wetting the
Comprising, the "Sunwester" is a highly versatile hat for summer
paddling, as long as rain doesn't dominate the day. It will soon
become your first choice on lakes and bigger rivers where you can hardly
escape from the sun. Jan and I liked it a lot when we made our way through
the canadian tundra, where no trees provide no shadow from the July sun which
is burning down for 24 h a day.
Years before, we were paddling with towls wrapped around our heads,
looking like bedouins who sold their camels for a canoe.
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