Let's be honest – it can be difficult to find river gear for women that can strike the balance between functionality and style. Frustrated with this fact, my coworkers and fellow paddlers Julia, Victoria, Mary and I set out to fix this problem before the summer's paddling season began.
The result? We scoured through catalogs upon catalogs and hand-picked our favorite items from Carve Designs. While Carve traditionally designs surfing apparel, our selected pieces are river and whitewater appropriate.
1. Borneo Swim Shorts
I LOVE these shorts! They are constructed with a colorful and light material that I can easily move around in. The waistband is a soft spandex that hugged around my hips, making me feel secure yet comfortable.
I could see myself wearing these shorts paddle boarding on a hot summer day around Steamboat Lake or while riding in a raft down the Upper Colorado River. Even though they're designed to be wet, my Borneo Swim Shorts will get added into my workout wear rotation for when I run. Honestly, these are cut in a way where I would also feel comfortable wearing them around town, as well.
Colleen's Rating: 15/10
I have already bought two pairs. Enough said.
2. Alani Sunshirt
I've had the hardest time finding a functional swim shirt that I also think is cute and stylish. The Alani Sunshirt accomplishes both!
The soft, light material is UPF 50. The arms are long enough for me and have thumb holes to keep the sleeves in place.
I love the hood. It is large enough to wear with a helmet or hat on, and has a loose material that looks a bit like a trendy Melanzana neckline when it's down.
The Alani Shirt is light enough to wear on the hottest summer days and will keep me sun protected on paddles and adventures where I am exposed to the sun. Much like the Borneo shorts, the Alani Shirt is versatile and can be worn in other scenarios like camping, biking, hiking, or playing volleyball.
Colleen's Rating: 10/10
I am going to buy this in a medium Dark Azalea before my next river trip.
3. Stella Zip-Up Swim Jacket
This jacket is so cozy and very athletic looking – think Lululemon meets river rat. The Black Cascade Embossed color has a sleek look and subtle pattern that made me feel fast just putting it on!
It is made out of Carve's traditional swimsuit material but is thick like a neoprene to keep you warmer on chilly days or early morning lake paddles. This item is not a perfect replacement for traditional neoprene, but I would feel comfortable wearing this around water and trust its water-resistance capabilities.
Since the Stella is a zip-up, this piece is easy to throw on and off and can fit well in my dry bag. I would also wear this as an athletic jacket or extra layer going for spring-time jogs.
Colleen's Rating: 9/10
I love the look, I love the feel and it offers great functionality. I do wish it was neoprene, but the fact that it isn't allows for more breathability. It really is a stylish and sleek jacket.
4. Noosa 2.0 Shorts
FINALLY! Some cute board shorts for women! I have always bought men's board shorts because women's cut board shorts traditionally hit mid/quad and look awkward. Other times, women's paddling shorts are too short and just not functional.
The Noosa 2.0, however, is just right. These shorts are sporty, feminine and frankly - badass.
I'll wear these while playing volleyball or as an easy way to offer extra coverage over my swim bottoms when on a SUP, raft or IK. I could really see these being useful for when the raft rubber gets a bit too hot in the summer and I need to throw on an extra bottom layer.
Colleen's Ranking: 8/10
They do what they're supposed to do, and they do it well. I wouldn't necessarily wear these around town, but for board shorts on the water? They are perfect.
5. Rowan Skirt
A skirt that can double as activewear! Count me in.
I'm not normally a skirt person, but when the Rowan Skirt arrived to our warehouse I figured I'd give it a shot. Turns out? I am, actually, a skirt person. The skirt is made from the same soft material as Carve's swim suits. As such, this skirt will dry quickly and feels light on the body.
This skirt would be great to wear if you're rowing a raft – you can pull it down and cover your knees for some sun protection. It's one of those items that is easy to put on when you've reached take out and want some added coverage. This piece could also double as something that's appropriate for around-town wear after a late afternoon paddle in the summer.
Colleen's Ranking: 9/10
I'm only giving it a 9 because skirts aren't my traditional style. However, I am adding the Rowan Skirt in Navy Stripes to my wishlist and I think its ease and comfort would make it a great addition to my dry bag.
We've been eagerly anticipating the arrival of this active wear since November of last year and gave some serious thought to what pieces would work both on and off the river.
We recommend our paddlers observe Carve’s sizing chart before ordering. I am 6’1” and a size 8-10. A lot of times this places me in a “Large” for clothing. I found with Carve Designs that I am truly a Medium in their clothing.
I also think that the Platte Tights would be a favorite if my legs weren’t so long. I always have a hard time finding long enough pants. However, my shorter coworkers here tried them on and LOVED them. They have the same feel and functionality as the Stella Zip Up, but in pant form. Alas, my long legs with a 35” inseam would have these pants leaving my ankles out in the cold. I might still buy some and wear warm, tall socks as a compromise!
I cannot wait to see what the next shipment will offer! We have swimsuits and more women’s apparel arriving soon!
Post by Colleen King.