I’ve already posted about acquiring my Reed Chillcheater Long Sleeve Cag but I finally got around to using in the wild. I originally bought it to paddle in winter and by the time I got it and because of some things that interfered with paddling (like getting fired!) I couldn’t get it into the water. Then summer was on us and I thought this ruled the cag out for another season but at training last weekend the weather was mild and overcast with a little rain so I thought I’d give it a go.
To my surprise, this cag was better than I anticipated. It was not as steamy as I thought although the neck and cuffs, being black rubber, were hot in the sun. It’s not a dry suit so once you get water in it there seems to be a nice insulating layer which kept my temperature constant. I had freedom of movement because when you order, Reed take your measurements and cut it a little bigger so when it’s on it’s a perfect fit. I had no restriction and the whole package above the cockpit, complete with PFD, was very snug and very comfortable. In the water, this cag was bulletproof. It was warm and bouyant and made me feel pretty safe. It took me a while to get used to the tightness of the neck and cuffs but eventually I got used to it.
This is my first Reed experience and it won’t be my last. If you’re looking into buying a cag this is pretty hard to beat. Reed call it “entry level” not because of quality but because of its thermal properties. I spoke to Chris Reed via email and he said this cag would be great for Eastern Australia. He was bang on. The price was pretty good too. It came in at about $240 delivered which is about the same as a top Kokatat, so for a made-to-measure cag it was a bargain.
On the NSW coast where I paddle, the standard upper body attire is a rash shirt under the PFD. I wear this too on warm summer days but I will always carry the cag for when there’s a cool wind or a cold change is on. I doubt I will ever find the need for most of the Reed range as I probably won’t get to places that cold but where possible I will look for a Reed solution first.