As a bit of a gear hoarder I have been through a few dry cags/jackets. Here’s my thoughts on Peak UK’s newest version of its seminal Deluxe Dry Jacket.
I’m a bit of a funny/finnicky thing when it comes to my kayak gear. Generally I try to reduce bulk as much as I can and I’m not a fan of overly fussy designs due to potential failure points such as pockets and multiple seams, where they only seem to be there for the hell of it. So first of all, a rant. Be warned, this will sound like the kayaking version of Gok Wan.
Usually I go for Immersion Research. My current drysuit is from IR and it is serving me very well. My old Arch Rival semi dry jacket is also going strong and has been inherited by my partner Emily. But recently I have been a bit disenchanted. The Arch Rival I bought to replace the old one (because Em has taken it over) had a better fit in some areas, but some design issues in others.
I managed to come out of an extremely bad swim with my Arch Rival and dry trousers completely dry. Quite amazing really. The jacket is nowhere near as dry now, but it was when I first had it in 2013. But the newer version I bought (a 2016 model on sale) has a large area of neoprene around the neck area that falls onto a large part of the upper chest area. For some reason this lets water in like crazy, even without submersion, as in just hard rain.
You might say “well, it’s neoprene, what do you expect?”. Well contrary to some very badly thought out beliefs neoprene is actually waterproof. If you disagree with this you might want to ask yourself why we use neoprene spray decks and why your boat isn’t swamped if you go upside down or when you crash through waves!
My older Arch Rival also has a neoprene area around the neck (though smaller) and that never let in as much water. Further to this I am not liking the really odd colour choices, such as ‘surgeon gown green’ and some of the other garish combinations IR are putting together quite often now.
Don’t misunderstand me, I still think IR is a great make, and I understand that there are only so many colours in the rainbow, but when it came to updating my dry jacket I decided to try something different. In this case a Peak UK Deluxe 2.5 dry jacket.
1980’s geography teachers
Next to IR I really like a lot of the Peak UK stuff. I use it for my shortie and long sleeve top decks, as well as leg wear for spring/summer. I’ve never really fallen for its Deluxe dry jacket though. Something about that two tone “shoulder patch” style design. It was the same reason I didn’t like the old style Palm stuff. Patched looking shoulders and elbows gives off a very 1980’s geography teacher vibe that even Roger Moore couldn’t pull off.
It might have been a good jacket, but it fell foul of my “fussy design” criteria.
However I needed a new dry jacket. I looked at Palm, and okay the red Atom looked pretty good. I considered one of the NRS jackets, too. Almost pulled the trigger. But then I thought no, let’s give that Peak jacket a chance.
The 2020 version of the Deluxe dry jacket comes in four different versions. A male or female fit 2.5-layer in red or blue, and a male or female fit 3-layer in orange. The 3-layer is a bit more hard wearing than the 2.5, but since I was mainly going to be using the jacket on cooler summer days and into Autumn I went for the 2.5 version in red.
It uses a very similar design to previous versions of the jacket, but instead of using a different colour for the reinforced shoulder and elbow regions it is all one colour. Another difference from some previous versions is that is that the material is plain weave rather than ripstop. I’ve always thought ripstop material is a bit pointless on a kayak cag. Who cares if it stops a tear once it has started? The damage is done and the water will flood in regardless. When I have ripped gear in the past (I’m looking at you CIWW), the ripstop material hasn’t really done anything to stop large tears, and instead of putting an ugly looking patch over it (patches again!) I just replace the jacket. Plain weave just looks cleaner too.
Peak UK Deluxe 2020 2.5-layer jacket fit
The Deluxe is clearly designed to fit layers under, so it is a looser cut than the company’s top decks or Racer jackets, which tend to be more minimalist fit.
The material appears quite tough, particularly around the shoulder and elbow/lower arm areas. The material definitely looks and feels like it is built to last. My only caveat to this, and it is one I will only discover through use, is that the design does use a lot of seams due to the use of this extra reinforcing of areas. In my experience dry jackets usually always fail at the taping. The more seams there are, the more taping there is to fail. We shall see.
Wearing the jacket feels good though. It moves extremely well with the extremes of movement demanded of by kayaking with no pulling or bunching. The latex neck seal feels softer than on other jackets I have had, which is great for me because I really, really dislike latex around my neck. Quite often I’ll wear a semi-dry jacket even though I know I might get wetter and/or colder because of wanting to gag with latex gaskets. I don’t know whether I just got lucky with this jacket, but either way it’s fine by me. It just means I can use it more often.
The 2.5-layer fabric does mean that it might become clammier in warmer conditions than a 3-layer that has an extra barrier against the waterproof membrane. However so far the Deluxe 2.5 jacket is keeping me nice and dry despite the number of times I fall on my head while trying and failing at freestyle.
The 2020 Peak UK Deluxe 2.5 Dry Jacket fits well and has nice styling to it. I perhaps wouldn’t have gone so far with the recycle logo on the left shoulder myself because if you wear it in conjunction with Peak’s other gear you start to look you might be an employee for the council recycling service. It’s a jacket that should last you years with care and it does what it’s supposed to do without fuss.
The 2020 Peak UK Deluxe 2.5 Dry Jacket retails at £220, but it can be had for around £186 if you shop around.