H2Core Lightweight Pant: Long Johns Begone


“I should have played tennis.”

I’ll admit it, the thought has crossed my mind once or twice in the past 18 years. Yes, it stems partially from the rationale that it would be easier to check a tennis racket than a creek boat for a flight half-way around the world, but in full confession, it’s mostly because of one thing: historically speaking, kayak clothes are not cute. Until now.

Since the age of 12, I’ve wrangled into awkwardly-fitting kayak leggings and various base layers. They were baggy and tight in all the wrong places. Black and fit for grandma was the name of the game. The thought of trading it all in for a short little tennis skirt had immense appeal, but obviously, kayaking is way too fun to hit the courts on account of wardrobe.

Last spring, I discovered the NRS H2Core Lightweight Pants and it literally changed everything. Chartering new frontiers, NRS had done the unthinkable: they made kayaking apparel sexy. So to speak.

Standing in the desolate sagebrush of the Owyhee put-in, I first slid into the lightweight, fleece-lined H2Core Pants. It was February and it was cold. Immediately, I felt like doing yoga, like running and leaping and bending and stretching and kayaking! I’m often inclined to do such things, but this was at a new level.

I put on my drysuit, zipped up, and made my way to the river. I was incredibly impressed by the breathability and warmth of the pants under my drysuit, as well as the comfort of the unobtrusive flat-lying seams. When I helped launch a raft, my legs were warm, even when submerged in the icy water. Sitting in my boat, my knees could easily bend into my kayak’s thigh braces, and the waistband didn’t slide down and expose skin (which, when that happens, is beyond uncomfortable and the potential for chaffing skyrockets).

This winter in Idaho, the snow started falling in December, and it didn’t stop until mid-March. One day in the Sawtooth backcountry, I traded my paddle for poles and tried out my H2Core Lightweight Pants under my ski pants. I was stunned by how well they performed both skinning up and skiing down in terms of warmth, comfort, and breathability. My body gets really hot when I move and then bitter cold when I stop, so any layer that allows temperature regulation with movement is a lifesaver for me. Whether on the lifts or earning turns, I have a new favorite long john replacement.

And then, there’s yoga. For me, the outdoors is the best studio. To center in, and make due with inconsistencies in terrain for a good flow is so healing and fun. While these pants would be a little much for a hot yoga class, for gentler yoga or for a practice in the great outdoors, they’re perfect. Whether namaste-ing or paddling on a SUP board, the UPF 50+ protection is a gift, and the flexibility and fit are ready for anything.

In the end, the H2Core Lightweight Pant was just the beginning of my personal discovery of look-good, feel-good kayak apparel. Their versatility even has me wearing them all the way to the bar (when I make it there, which is rare and only upon the condition that there will be dancing).

Through countless washes and activities, my H2Core Lightweight pants have even managed to fully maintain their fit.

With all this new gear, NRS is changing the whole game of comfort (and cuteness) in kayaking. Tennis isn’t even an option anymore…Unless I get to wear my H2Core Lightweight pants.