The Crux of Cold-Water Boating


It’s cold. Outside it’s raining, snowing, sleeting or a combination of all three. It’s the middle of winter and your buddies are trying to talk you into going paddling. You look to your cozy futon covered in dog hair. The tea pot is about to start screaming for you to stay in and nestle into a good book. What’s the game-changing factor in this equation? A drysuit for gods-sake! It’s been waiting all season for you to take it out of the closet and hammer it through some pounding waves, pouring rain, and some miserable brush filled portages.

These past winter months living in and out of books has left me yearning for whitewater more than ever, and with the Payette river less than an hour away, I can’t be too picky on my weather conditions. You can’t label me a fair-weather kayaker. Rain, sleet, or sunshine, when I schedule ‘freedom’ into my weekly schedule, I’ve got to go. I throw my NRS Crux drysuit on straight from the line in the drying room, load up the boats, grab the gear bag—packed and leaning against a boat in anticipation—and go.

Through years of early season North Fork laps and late season bird hunting trips on Middle Fork multi-days, I’ve put the Crux through the gear grinder.

My relationship with the Crux has fluctuated as my needs became more apparent and its need for design changes more imminent. From rubber booty catastrophes, fit, and function to name a few, I watched the NRS design team return to the drawing board. What emerged: a new cut, re-configured wrist and neck gaskets, new material, a new TIZip® zipper. The friendly faces and thoughtful gear design of the boys and girls at NRS brought my drysuit and me back up to speed.

I love the punch through design on the neck gasket as opposed to the old version, which used a hook-and-loop fasten to create a ‘first defense’ against would be wet invaders. I cringe just thinking about cold water shooting down the inside of my drysuit. The new punch through style and material conforms to your neck, isn’t abrasive and fits snugly enough to prevent the dreaded rogue wave from entering your happy warm place that you call the inside of your drysuit.

The hook-and-loop wrist closures have been replaced by the same punch-through neoprene as the neck. The relief-zipper is clutch. And if you’re that guy who prefers to paddle with female chargers, the ladies will appreciate the drop seat on the women’s Crux. The rubber booties of boating-days-past have been updated to Eclipse fabric socks. The TIZip zipper is easy to move, unlike past models that used metal teeth. In other words, you don’t—hypothetically—need to incorporate the buddy system for getting geared up. (But stick to the buddy system for all other reasons—scouting, setting safety, making bad decisions after too many post-paddle brews…)

The cut is roomy in the legs and more athletic in the torso. I never feel constricted when tucking up for a combat-roll, or running down the beach to throw a front flip off of the riverbank. And, sometimes I huck myself from waterfalls to avoid arduous portages, reuniting with my boat and paddle below. (Don’t try that at home, kids.) Wearing the Crux doesn’t make you invincible, but it does keep you toasty warm while clinging to rocks and regretting your reckless decisions.

There you sit, contemplating what to do while your buddies tap their feet. What do you do? The answer is simple. Grab your drysuit. Load up the truck. Leave the couch for your old toothless dog—she’s earned a day off anyway—throw the tea in a thermos and get to the river!