This space age shorty paddling top combines padded
protection with an almost-PFD for out-of-this-world
If Batman kayaked, he would wear NRS's new Anti-Gravity
That's the first thing that came to mind when I saw
this futuristic piece of river garb from the
innovators in Idaho. This sleek-looking, shorty type
paddling top has an aura about it, on first sight,
that makes you want to try it on. With its articulated
chest and back padded panels stitched to NRS's thin,
neoprene-like Mystery Material, you might also imagine
California Gov Ah-nald wearing one in his next
kayaking action flick.
It's all tailored with ergonomic and futuristic
looking polyolfin foam, the color of which can best be
described as lunar silver. Picture a rash guard
outfitted with mountain bike torso pads. True to its
name, this piece of paddling garb looks like it would
float you, whether in the water or not.
But the Anti-Gravity's appeal goes beyond its slick
looks. When I tested it out at Sacramento's San Juan
Hole on a cool evening in early June, I found its
design to be a smart, one-piece solution for the play
hole layering blues.
We've all been there. Kayaking, even in its most
minimal forms, is a gear intensive sport. By the time
you get to the play spot, pull on your layer of
polypro, your skirt, paddling jacket or dry top and
PFD, the length of your after-work play session -- not
to mention your motivation -- has just been cut in
half. What I found in the Anti-Gravity shirt was one
simple, warm and comfortable piece of gear that did
the work of three usual requirements: polypro,
paddling top and PFD.
Not that NRS overtly markets the shirt this way. In
its catalogue description, as well as via an unsightly
tag on the shirt itself, NRS makes it clear that the
Anti-Gravity is not intended to be worn as a
stand-alone PFD. Instead, the company labels it as a
"supplemental" piece of gear to help you float higher
and stay warmer.
Indeed, with only 10 pounds of floatation -- most
Coast Guard approved vests today boast around 16
pounds -- you wouldn't want to depend on the
Anti-Gravity's powers alone to save you on that Class V
swim, but I felt there was plenty of lift for my
relatively benign evening sesh at the play spot.
On top of that, the low profile of the Anti-Gravity
makes it slim enough to wear underneath a regular PFD,
something I also did, with comfort, while boating. As
NRS suggests, you could easily use the Anti-Gravity to
add extra floatation on big water days. And if your
one of those lucky paddlers whose suffered a broken
rib or two -- believe me when I say I feel your pain
-- the padding will also serve as welcome extra
protection going off the big drop.