The ideal time to paddle white water is during the annual spring freshet when the snowpack melts and releases massive volumes of water into local watersheds. This cycle typically lasts several weeks and sometimes longer depending upon the ambient temperature but no matter what, the water is always cold, very cold. This is why a wetsuit is a good idea if you want to get after that April/May whitewater since it's typically in the 8-12°C range. Which makes sense given the fact that that water was snow and ice mere hours ago. This is where NRS’s Radiant 4/3 Wetsuit comes in, it uses a blend of 4 mm and 3 mm neoprene to provide warmth without limiting mobility.
The full NRS set up with the Quiver 10.4 SUP, 4/3 Radiant Wetsuit and Paddle Wetshoe.
You’ll find 4 mm PowerSpan neoprene in the torso and thighs of the Radiant 4/3 Wetsuit for maximum warmth with an interior layer of quick-drying Checked VaporLoft. This adds to the comfort and warmth while speeding up the dry time which eliminates that dreaded cold, damp wetsuit feeling the day after a paddle. NRS has also placed 3 mm PowerSpan neoprene in the arms and lower legs to provide enhanced mobility. To help reduce friction and facilitate entry and exit of the Radiant there is a soft ThermalPlush lining inside against your skin.
The Radiant Wetsuit has a heavy-duty YKK zipper on the chest to make it relatively easy to put on and take off. This eliminates the need to be a contortionist to zip up traditional back zip wetsuits. The butterfly opening, as it is called on the Radiant 4/3 Wetsuit is user friendly and ensures a tight seal around your neck and good fit over your upper shoulders and arms.
The glued and blind-stitched seams on the Radiant lie flat against your skin so there are no hot spots or irritating lumps and bumps. All the seams are fully taped and Liquid-sealed to keep you drier and thus warmer. The Titanium laminate adhesive is designed to reflect heat back to your body which also helps to keep you warmer longer.
The integration of NRS’s Fuse Cut technology effectively seals off the cuffs, ankles and the neck to impede water’s entry without limiting the neoprene's stretch. NRS also placed ToughTex pads in the wrists, ankles and knees to help protect you from abrasions and pressure points should you be kayaking.
An ideal accessory and pretty much necessity to the Radiant 4/3 Wetsuit are NRS’s Paddle Wetshoe because if the water is cold enough to need a 4/3 wetsuit then you are going to want some footwear to keep your toes warm too. As the name suggests this is a wet shoe and will not keep your feet dry but the principle is that the water inside the Wetshoe will warm with your boddy heat and thus keep your feet warm.
Upper - 3 mm neoprene
Sole - 3 mm rubber
Insole - 5 mm neoprene
Shim - 2 mm plastic shim
Having received the Quiver 10.4 Stand Up Paddle Board from NRS for review the addition of the Men’s 4/3 Radiant Wetsuit and Paddle Wetshoe was a logical choice given that spring paddling water temperatures are typically 10°C. My go-to river to paddle is the Slocan River here in the West Kootenays of BC with high water generally peaking early June as the snow up high in the mountains quickly begins to melt. Needless to say, the ideal time to paddle is when the water is flowing the highest which is also when the water is the coldest. In years past I would have to wait until air temperatures were in the 20-25°C range in mid-June since I didn't have the protection and warmth of a wet suit. Thankfully this spring I have the 4/3 Radiant Wetsuit and Paddle Wetshoe to keep me warm and allow me to start padding much earlier when the water is at its best.
My initial reaction to the Radiant Wetsuit was how dry it keeps me and also how comfortable it is to wear. I credit NRS’s use of the checked VaporLoft lining in the torso and thighs where you need the most warmth, as well as the ThermalPlush lining in arms and lower legs. Other wet suits I’ve used were just neoprene on the skin which was cold, clammy and hard to get in and out of, especially if the wetsuit is not dry the day after a paddle. NRS’s Radiant Wetsuit does none of these things and I am impressed at how fast it dried. Most of this credit again goes to the checked VaporLoft lining which is hydrophobic.
While the Radiant Wetsuit provides a snug fit (as wetsuits should) it isn't too tight and didn’t limit my range of motion in any way which is important for paddle sports. I am 6’1” and 180lb and the NRS’s web site suggested I order a size large and it was spot on.
Having spent the last month testing both the 4/3 Radiant Wetsuit and Paddle Wetshoe on local BC rivers I can tell you that the Radiant is by far the best wetsuit I have ever used. Not only does it keep me warm and relatively dry (even after lounging around in the river to cool off a little) but the fit was ideal from head to toe. Other than the price and environmental footprint there is nothing I would improve upon.
The NRS Paddle Wetshoe performed equally well but it would be nice to see the same kind of dry performance that the Radiant provided. While this is a wet shoe as the name suggests, having my feet remain drier would be a huge plus, it’s not that they got cold since the VaporLoft lining was more than warm enough, it is just the contrast of having my feet wet and the rest of my body much, much drier.
The Paddle Wetshoe is easy to get in and out of thanks to the zipper which provided a wide opening and the wrap around 3 mm rubber sole was durable and grippy even on slick rocks while the stabilizing bands did provide some added support, albeit modest. The fit was very generous and my average foot width found plenty of extra room in the toe box. My feet were much more comfortable wearing the Paddle Wetshoes versus going barefoot but if I had to walk for more than a few hundred meters along the shoreline the looser fit could be an issue.
Overall, if you plan on paddling white water or just hitting the lake on your SUP or Kayak I would highly recommend you take a look at the NRS Radiant Wetsuit (be it 4/3 or 3/2 versions) as it is much more than just your standard neoprene wet suit. In combination with the Radiant, the Paddle Wetshoe make a winning duo that will keep you warm and comfortable all day long.
NRS Paddle Wetshoe
NRS Paddle Wetshoe
NRS Radiant 4/3 Wetsuit
Price: $399CAN / $289.95US
Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL, 3XL
Weight: 3.55lb (size large)
NRS Paddle Wetshoe
Price: $79.95CAN / $59.95US
Sizes: 6-14 in full sizes
Quality / Price 1.5/2
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