Cold-weather paddling with Immersion Research & Charlie Mix

The following article comes courtesy of Rock/Creek paddlesports manager Sara Horne.

With temps dropping and creeks rising here in Chattanooga, paddlers are faced with a choice: (1) Hang your boat up until spring, or (2) dress for the weather and get out on the water. Obviously, we’re going with option number 2.

On a recent chilly evening I stopped in on a good friend, Charlie Mix, hanging his gear out to dry after a day of paddling. For some time now, Charlie’s been my mentor, guide, and voice of reason for anything kayak related. We started talking about the weather (really original, I know) and how the next day of 60 degree, sun’s out guns out, skin to the wind kayaking is several months away.

Because he’s been so helpful to me, and such a gentleman and scholar, I asked him to share some thoughts with you good folks. After some reminiscing about poor fashion decisions, he shared some good advice and awesome photos. Here’s Charlie’s life story, I mean recommendations:

I’ve been kayaking for 11 years now and have always been a fan of Immersion Research. I still remember the first pair of board shorts I bought circa 2000; they were a tacky, hideously shiny gold color popularized by the likes of Corran Addison and Eric Jackson, so of course I had to have them at age 14. Damn has this company come a long way.

A year ago I got a whole new set of cold weather gear from IR, with the headliner being the Comp LX dry top with the new water proof and breathable Entrant Fabric. I’ll admit, past IR tops I’ve owned began to leak after only a season of use. However, with the new fabric and after a year of heavy use there are still no signs of leakage. The fit on this dry top is superb. It fits slim but not tight, which provides mobility for play boating, creeking, and hiking into runs with a boat on your back. (Note: We can order you a Comp LX top if you’re interested, but are currently out of stock.)

IR has always been famous for providing stylish gear in a seemingly unstylish sport. I’ve had some cold days wearing the comp top, but coupled with an IR Union Suit and a pair of Comp Pants, this combination is almost as good as a dry suit and a much cheaper alternative for those of us dirt bag kayakers trying to be thrifty. Throw on your poggies and grab beers for the takeout (beer not provided by IR) and you got yourself a comfortable day kayaking in cold weather.

Immersion Research is a great company run by great people trying to feed their passion for paddle sports. So this paddling and holiday season support a core company while shopping locally at Rock/Creek.

Here’s a short video Team IR member Adam Goshorn put together after a cold run on Little River Canyon last winter. (Note: Rock/Creek does not recommend or condone running the Canyon this low, or cold weather paddling without the appropriate gear.)

See ya on the river and remember kids, friends don’t let friends Brown Claw. -Charlie Mix

We definitely agree with Charlie’s sentiments. While the union suit may be our all-time favorite layering piece, they make other great stuff as well. We particularly enjoy the fleece-lined guide shorts, Thin Skin rashguards, and the short sleeved Competition Jacket on warmer days. If you’re wondering what makes IR so good, besides the fact that it’s a small company of paddlers making gear for paddlers, let’s take a quick look at the construction of their garments.

  • They use top quality materials, like Polartec Fleece, Entrant waterproof/breathable, bamboo, and recycled poly.
  • They avoid putting 4-way seam intersections into their garments, opting instead for arching seam lines and 3-way intersections. This creates less stress at joints, and hopefully fewer blow-outs.
  • They make a wide variety of “do everything” layers, from a full body union suit for warmth to silkweight rashgaurds for sun protection. All of their layers are cut to provide maximum mobility, with a slim fit and extra room in the shoulders and across the back.

Thanks for reading! ~Sara


Little River Canyon Falls, AL. Photo by Jordan Sherman