When I started kayaking, I based a much my gear selection on one determining factor...Cost. I figured that the least expensive waterproof/breathable drytop that I could find would do the trick. All waterproof materials are the same right? All drytop companies use similar materials, and they all fit the same, so why spend the money on a nice top?Right?Not exactly.
Colorado is a land of extremes. 10,000 Ft high put ins are often cold, even in the summer (i.e-Numbers after work paddling in monsoon season). Spring runoff and dam release rivers can have bone chilling water, and there are shallow rocky runs with sharp obstacles that can tear even the strongest fabrics. Also, style is really important on a crowded weekend run in Browns Canyon. Why not sport some plaid? It works for Kayne West...
- The IR Comp LX is built out of a heavy duty 4 layer waterproof breathable material called Entrant®. I wore the top a few times this spring in The Arkansas and stayed nice and dry. In fact, I even took a leisurely swim in the crystal clear 49 degree water, and the fleece jacket I was wearing underneath was bone dry at the takeout.
- This dry top has a great neck gasket. It's beefy enough to withstand heavy use, but goes on very easily at the same time. I have a big head and neck, and sometimes have to stretch out the neck gaskets on my drytops before I use them. This was not the case with the Comp LX. My drytop went straight from the rack to the river, and the fit was great. The Comp LX would be a wise choice for a female paddler with long hair. The latex is supple enough to allow hair to slide through the gasket (similar to the ExtraSport Xpert Flex Plus)
- There is a large storage pocket built into the front of the top. Although it's not waterproof, it does have a water resistant zipper that will keep your accessories safe
- The double tunnel is very comfortable, and is also waterproof and breathable. There are also two Velcro straps that make adjusting it a breeze.
- The Comp LX has Latex wrist gaskets and Velcro hook and loop closures. They use the same smooth latex that is found in the neck gaskets.
- Another design feature is that the tunnel is taped into the garment as opposed to sewn. This eliminates about 3 feet of unnecessary needle holes and 4 way intersections of seams.
- As with all Immersion Research products, the Comp LX gets huge style points. IR switches up the colors every year, and adds in a wild card or two. This year, plaid was in full effect. On a side note, IR has a killer lineup of t-shirts, shorts and hoody's. They are by far the coolest designs that I have seen in the PaddleSports industry.
- The Immersion Research Comp LX is a heavy duty 4 layer drytop. The material that they use does not stretch at all. Tops like the ExtraSport Xpert Flex Plus have motion panels built in that allow for better movement. The Xpert Flex plus is not nearly as heavy duty as the Comp LX however. A CKS staff member wore his Xpert Flex Plus this past weekend on the Piedra river. The water was cold, as well as the air temp. He commented that his top may have been on the light side, and that the Comp LX would have been warmer for the trip.
- Some paddlers with long torsos have noted that the Comp LX rides up a little bit when play boating.
- Entrant® is not Gore-Tex and may not have the overall longevity as far as waterproofness goes. On the other hand, the Comp LX is about $100 less than most full Gore-Tex tops.
The IR Comp LX is hard to beat, especially if you live in the Rocky Mountains or Pacific Northwest. It's a heavy duty, 4-season top that will keep you warm and dry. It will also last a long time. The material itself is thick and beefy, which is perfect for manky Colorado creeks and rivers. If you are looking for a lightweight top to wear in warm weather/water, you may want to look at other lighter weight tops that have stretch panels. Overall, when you factor in cost, durability, waterproofness and style;it's hard to find a better top than the IR Comp LX.