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Long before I could afford a drysuit, I saved up for a quality paddling jacket. Today, descendants of this jacket continue to be staples in my touring kit. Why? Because a versatile touring jacket like Level Six’s updated Chilko is often the best fit for all but the coldest weather and water, or heaviest conditions. To find a jacket that can go the distance, I look for a few key features. The material needs to be breathable for summer showers yet robust enough to handle spring deluges; a hood is a must, a removable and stowable hood is even better; and a double-tunnel design mates with my skirt tunnel for a drier seal around the waist. The Chilko offers all these features and


more. Level Six’s eXhaust 2.5-ply nylon fabric is waterproof, breathable and lightweight for an athletic fit without a lot of bulk. Reflective details throughout increase visibility in low-light conditions. Our testers loved the vented, generously sized hood, which zips cleanly away for days when we just needed wind or light


rain protection. Adjustable neoprene closures at the wrists and neck aren’t as dry as latex gaskets, but they’re more comfortable and add versatility for off- water wear. The deep neck zipper allows venting in warm weather, while zipping up the high, microfleece-lined collar feels like snuggling into a protective scarf. $254.99 | www.levelsix.com


The yellow rain slicker reimagined and re-engineered, the shiny rubbery face of Columbia Sportswear’s new OutDry Extreme Platinum Tech Shell hints at the downpour-proof dryness we enjoyed as puddle-jumping tykes. But while those rubber raincoats of old grew clammy the minute you started sweating, the OutDry Extreme has the light, well-ventilated comfort we’ve come to expect from modern waterproof-breathable rainwear. Founded in the Pacific Northwest in


1938, Columbia knows a thing or two about rain gear—the brand was the first to integrate Gore-Tex in their parkas in


1975. Since then, Gore-Tex and similar microporous membranes have remained the standard in waterproof-breathables, by keeping water out while allowing vapor to escape. The formula is simple: sandwich the fragile waterproof membrane between a comfortable next-to-skin layer and an outer fabric treated with DWR (Durable Water Repellent). But DWR coating doesn’t last forever, and a soaked-through Gore- Tex jacket is every bit as soggy feeling as sweaty rubber. OutDry Extreme does away with


that problematic outer layer, placing a tough-yet-breathable polyurethane waterproof membrane on the outside of the jacket. The result is a shell that never wet out, no matter what we threw at it. A single ply of wicking fabric on the inside kept us feeling cool even in sticky summer heat. Plus, we love the unique look of Columbia’s bright colors and contrasting exterior-taped seams. If you want the tailored fit, premium features and breathability of a performance shell,


72 | ADVENTURE KAYAK


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