Q: I want a Snapdragon skirt that will be good for Fla paddling and rolling. I want something to seal well. Which Snapdragon do you recommend? I paddle a Force 5 and a rm Chatham 17….Thanks. Dave
A: Dave, For full disclosure, I’m a Snapdragon team paddler but I bought Snapdragon before I was sponsored, they make a great product.
I have multiple skirts that I choose depending on my activity/conditions. The most bombproof skirts are full neoprene, they are dry but also warm (not an advantage in the Florida heat).
If your priority is a solid seal (good for surf, rolling practice, rough water play, etc), then I recommend the Ocean Tour EXP Reinforced skirt; this neoprene skirt is dry and tough enough for heavy surf zones. If I had to pick only one skirt, it would be this one. I used this skirt for paddling around Iceland where it withstood the nasty dumping waves of the South Coast without imploding. It works equally as well with the dumpers we have at Canaveral on the East coast. If you don’t need the heavy-duty rim guard and other extreme durability features then the Ocean Trek is a good choice, it’s just as dry.
For touring in the Florida heat and in areas where heavy surf play is not expected, I prefer a skirt that can be adjusted for ventilation. I recommend the Glacier EXP Breathable Reinforced skirt. This skirt has an adjustable, breathable top tube (cooler in the Florida heat), and a neoprene deck (stays in place). I keep the top tube slightly loose and snug it down when conditions deteriorate. A fabric tunnel will not seal quite as effectively as neoprene for rolling practice but will be fine for the occasional roll. I find an adjustable top tube is also an advantage on trips lasting many days or months to help prevent skin irritations. This skirt was my choice on my Newfoundland circumnavigation.
For warm-weather paddlers in less demanding conditions, there are other options, including all nylon skirts. These are cooler, making them nice for touring, but aren’t as secure on the cockpit rim and might “pop” if you roll.
While not a Snapdragon product, if you get heavy into Greenland rolling, consider a Brooks tuilik (traditional jacket/skirt combo). This is a very warm garment that is comfortable for Florida in Winter for rolling practice, however it’s much too hot to use in Florida for touring. A tuilik offers extreme freedom of movement.