NRS Hydroskin river apparel are well designed, good fitting watersports wear-ables in a perfect price range for the average paddler. It has similar properties to neoprene wetsuit, and for the average person, it can suffice as a decent layer for shoulder season river apparel.
I spend about as much time on big boats as I do on small craft like SUPs and Kayaks, and I really don’t need a drysuit all the time. There is a time and place for drywear and the more you use drywear, the sooner you have to fork over the dough to replace it.
Sometimes it's better to rock Hydroskin layers or a wetsuit instead.
As great as the drysuit is, it's hot to wear, and I feel as if I am being born again every time I have to squeeze my head through gaskets. Nothing like the feeling that you are being choked by a three-year-old all day!
Wetsuits are the staple of rafting companies and provide cost-effective warmth to ill-prepared commercial customers, but do they have a place in your packing list?
What’s so great about NRS Hydroskin?
Hydroskin wears like normal clothing, or closer to it anyway. It’s pretty tight fitting, but that’s to be expected with any wetsuit.
Ever had a friend that’s just getting into boating that picked up a full wetsuit off of Craigslist and ends up stripping half naked during your run to survive the hyperthermia, suit dangling around like a cape everywhere they go? Not with NRS's Hydroskin!
If you get hot, just take the shirt off and skin it to win it. If you get cold? Throw on a splash top.
The ability to layer and de-layer with Hydroskin is the key to why it’s earned a place in my river bag, especially when layering for specific activities. When I ride my SUP, I ditch the top and just wear full-length pants. When I kayak, I go long-sleeve top and wear shorts under my skirt.
It's pretty impressive how many products NRS makes with Hydroskin.
It comes in several thicknesses as well. No matter your personal preference on your layering situation, Hydroskin has you covered.
Let’s talk nerdy for a second... The features of Hydroskin are the most advanced of any wetsuit I’ve come across. Hydroskin isn’t neoprene at all, in fact it’s not even oil-based like all other wetsuits.
Hydroskin is made of a material developed by NRS called “Terraprene.” This is going to sound crazy, but it actually is made of limestone! Terraprene is thinner by a longshot than a traditional neoprene suit; a 4/3mm thickness neoprene suit is fairly equivalent to the 0.5mm Hydroskin. Give NRS's Hydroskin a stretch, and you’ll see it shining back at you.
NRS adds a titanium micro-weave into the terraprene to reflect body heat and prevent conductive heat loss. This is one of the major reasons that you can get away with a much thinner layer than traditional neoprene and still have similar warmth. I know a few people that get skin rashes from using neoprene often, but have no problems with Terreprene.
The thermoplush liner on the inside of Hydroskin garments may have something to do with this, as the Terraprene material isn’t in direct contact with your skin.
There is something particularly grimacing about putting on a wetsuit that is still wet from the day before, especially on a river trip: it stinks, its sticky, you have to dance around like a crazy person to get it on, and it’s usually like 15 minutes of misery before your body heat warms the suit up.
Not with Hydroskin! The 0.5 Hydroskin dries pretty quickly when you take it off, ready to serve you again the next day dry and easy to put on. Just leave it in the sun for about a half hour and your good to go!
Smell Better, Longer
I’ve noticed that NRS Hydroskin tends to take awhile to start getting river funky. All the items in your bag are eventually going to smell like low tide mixed with a high school mens locker room, but it seems to take Hydroskin awhile to get to that point as long as you give it a bit to dry out after use. I can’t say the same about polypro or fleeces that I wear under my drysuit...
Conclusion: I feel like Warren Miller here, but if you don’t add Hydroskin apparel to your river bag this year, you’ll be a year older when you do. This stuff is worth it, very worth it! Stay toasty, my friends!