Favorite gear

I’ve had my storm cag for several years now and have found it to be an integral part of my kit while paddling. Be it rain, snow, or cold weather, all I have to do is reach for my day hatch and pull it out. It’s roomy enough to put over my PFD.

Last weekend on Lake Azischohos in Maine, we were subjected to high winds and cold temps. The storm cag kept me dry, warm and comfortable, Worth every penny I paid for it.


I have both mine and the one my husband

– Last Updated: Sep-27-16 9:16 PM EST –

Neither are leaving the house. Two is not too many of such a useful item.

What happens if you capsize
and don’t roll?

Is it inhibiting?

It is quite lightweight and fits over your skirt. So if you have to pull the skirt this cag will easily come right with it. You will feel some material floating around you, but as long as you have the wrists closed it won’t be in the way.

I have never personally practiced a self-rescue wearing one, but you probably would tuck the bottom of the cag into something the same way you would your skirt to keep from it getting caught on something on the deck. Or probably it’d just slide, it doesn’t have a pump-grabbing loop like the skirt. Like many smaller paddler, the pump lives on my back deck because it is not going to fit easily into the cockpit.

This cag is a lifesaver at a lunch break because it’ll fit over everything else. So for those chilly days when you do not want to remove your under layers, just pull this out and it becomes a personal tent for someone who is smaller. We have a number of photos of me at break in a big orange thing from cooler weather paddling.

For canoeists
who lack a cockpit, how long is it. Is it like knee length as in my current MEC raincoat?

privacy pee "tent"
Oversized baggie weather gear like this also makes a handy “pee tent”. I don’t have a storm cag yet (it’s on my list) but I used a cagoule for years, which is a baggie knee length rain anorak. Sometimes there just isn’t a well placed tree or rock to discreetly hide behind for digging a cathole when Nature calls. If you are careful about how you arrange the hem, you can squat in relative privacy and without the chilly wind blowing up your nether regions.

I have a long raincoat
but it comes to just above the knee. There used to be many cagoules around but aside from this NRS one I havent seen any. Better take good care of yours!

I wonder if this one is kayak specific and wearing it on land will have your buns exposed… It seems shorter in back to fit the cockpit.

How it fits on me

– Last Updated: Sep-28-16 9:20 AM EST –

Because it is shaped to fit over a cockpit, the front is longer than the back. I just grabbed one out of the spare bathroom and this is how it fits me at 5'3.5". They are one size fit all so this stuff is always big on me.

Back stops slightly above my knees, I am sitting on it. The front goes from there to it peak about halfway between knee and ankle where the bungie knots together.

The hood opening is loose, no inner neo lining or anything like a splash top. But when I most need it I usually have my hood up too. The hood can be tightened around the face.

It is baggy and a bit noisy because of the bagginess, but it flattens out a good bit if you are getting rained on.

There is a double-edged sword with these jackets. Last I looked there were two, one in Tropos and one in a Goretex variant Packlite. The less they breathe, the warmer thet are. That is why the original ones made of lightweight sailcloth from Valley found limited traction. They were great on land, but their lack of breathability made them hard to wear while actually paddling. I knew a couple of people who had one of those early ones, and neither of them could paddle with them on for more than 10 minutes without overheating. Obviously you would prefer a rain item to be wearable when it was raining while you are in the boat as well as out of it.

So Kokatat released them in two more breathable versions, which have been very successful because they work on land and in the boat. If you know that Tropos is too hot, or that Paklite tends to be uncomfortably chilly, you may want to go for the other version. And check your finances, there is a noticeable diff in price. In the usual event that the air/wind will feel chillier on the water, both materials will hold heat as long as you are actively paddling.

They squish up really well to a smaller size, which is an advantage. I can easily stuff one in the top of my day hatch.

Interesting that change
My first such garment was a very basic, unconstructed pull over the head Tropos jacket with a hood. I got in size extra large so it fits me as you describe your rain anorak does.

I just looked at the Kokatat site and they don’t have anything like that right now. Choices are either the garment we are talking about in this thread, designed to go over the cockpit if desired, or much more sonstructed jackets that involve zippers or inner necks and might not fit as generously.

I still have that first jacket, though its age is showing. Guess I will hang onto it as recommended by kayakmedic. It goes to Maine with me so I don’t have to pack a proper raincoat for that stay.

I take it these are not worn
over a drysuit?

Yes, they are
I thought I was clear about that when I said it was nice for a lunch break to be able to pull it on without taking anything off. By anything I meant drysuit, and PFD.

It is intended to be pulled on OVER you while paddling. It would not make much sense if it didn’t fit over everything else.

Being new to drysuits,
I’ve no experience how dry the exterior remains while it’s raining.

I often wear mine as a raincoat
but it does not have a hood. Drysuits are waterproof… They have to be to keep you dry.

And changing items under a drysuit requires it be removed and sometimes you just don’t want to.

The only downside to a cagoule ( I don’t have one) is that a PFD might not fit over it…

I dont like raingear over PFD’s as if God Forbid I ever need a Hand of God. Nothing to hold onto on raingear.

To two replies

– Last Updated: Sep-28-16 11:08 AM EST –

Rookie, the cag is about additional warmth in raw very chilly weather and dryness plus warmth in not-yet-drysuit weather. I don't know how late you paddle, but in my earlier days when I gladly went out to paddle in 20 degree air and 36 degree water temps any additional layer was welcome. Somewhere around midday my inner layers started getting a bit damp from sweat and it was usually too chilly (and exposed, no leaves) to want to strip to dryer inner layers. So the cag becomes a welcome layer to get you back to the launch point.

Kayakmedic, there is no reason you could not put it under a PFD. But in most cases where I have pulled it out on the water, the confines of a kayak and skirt have tended to make it unattractive to pull off the PFD in order to don the cag. You are correct, it likely would complicate a hand of God rescue. But if we are talking winter, my husband and I long ago stopped paddling with anyone other than well skilled paddlers.

On shore for lunch, I find it most effective for warmth over everything.

Thinking of making a cag
Though a storm cag is something I’d like to have in my kit, since I retired this year I’ve begun to accept that I have to be a bit more frugal if I want to remain a lady of leisure. So I’ve been reluctant to drop $220 plus on the Kokatat version.

But I’ve considered sewing one. I have a stash of Goretex fabric and even an older pattern for a cagoule I bought years ago from Seattle Fabrics as well as a pattern for a Greenland tuilik (grandaddy of the storm cag). But I also have a ghastly yellowish orange oversized hooded Goretex paddle jacket that I picked up on sale some time ago and have been thinking of modifying it by cutting off the bottom drawcord tunnel, splitting the side seams and adding a triangular gore to expand the circumference and then constructing a sprayskirt to attach to it – voila! home-made storm cag with not much work. I’ve been stitching up cockpit covers for the fleet lately so I already have tracings of all the coamings and could approximate a size that would fit most standard keyholes.

Cagoules are nice – they do seem to be scarce these days but I sold a lot of them in the 1970’s. Many moons ago I custom made a cagoule for a mountaineer boyfriend that had an extension on the bottom that turned it into a full length bivouac sac, going down and over his feet if he had to sleep out in the open. The extra length folded back up inside the garment and fastened with velcro to be out of the way for normal use during activities.

One drawback is that cobbling together a “frankenstein” cag would not be as nicely compact as the Kokatat real thing – the 3 layer Goretex I already have is a little bulky and the paddle jacket I would modify is taslan rather than ripstop or taffeta. Then again, I can get 5 yards of light Goretex for under $50 so maybe it would be worth starting from scratch. Just have to weigh the effort of all that sewing and seam sealing (plus I would have to line the 2-layer Goretex).

I suppose I could cheat by ordering the Kokatat cag and tracing a pattern from it before returning it for a refund (don’t know anyone in town from whom I could borrow one.)

If I was going to make my own, what would owners of the original suggest might be improvements on it, or is it perfect as is?

Wouldn’t change much

– Last Updated: Sep-28-16 4:29 PM EST –

The big pocket up front is nice, given its likely use in messy weather. Pretty good chance you are going to have something light but a little bulky you may want to throw in there. If you were fussy about the closure around your face you might want to make sure the way it sealed up was pretty grippy, more like the tuliks. I sometimes find myself stopping it from falling down over my face. Note that I have a fairly small head, my riding hat size was 6 3/4.

But overall the biggest complaint I have heard is that the material is a bit noisy due to its volume. It is less noisy on a local 6'4" paddler than on me though.


– Last Updated: Sep-28-16 7:04 PM EST –

"Kokatat products cannot be shipped to Europe." I saw that in the link above.

That is not what it says
Not that I am Kokatat or a spokesperson for them. But I just looked at the site and the restriction only applies to online orders. They have an international number and I assume they can do phone orders from that.

roll roll roll
eees attached to it…

super on a calm day in the Misty Fiords

My 2 cents
If you’re making your own. I have one but seldom use it (I get by okay with a hat in most instances) but I’m not sure how breathable the material really needs to be. I wonder if a silnylon version would be lighter, more compact, cheaper, and just as effective? I suppose there’s a reason it’s made out of breathable material, but I would currently be hard pressed to cough up $350 for the gore-tex version, and feel I could get by with a sub $100 non-breathable setup. Maybe put a big zipper with velcro up front to vent it if needed. The fuzzy hand warmer is a must though.